I checked out this column after a very long time mainly to
wish you all a Happy New Year. I was amused and even shocked by some of
the comments some people have made. I thought that this debate will make
good reading & that I could learn something more about F1. All I have
learnt so far is that there are lots of people who are really lost. If you
want to rate Senna higher than Schumacher or the other way around, that's
fine. If you do that simply because you are a great Fan of either of them
that is acceptable. But don't rate them for the wrong reasons. Don't make
wrong/manufactured claims & don't make personal attacks. If you want
to give reasons, stick to Facts. Evaluate them both against same or
similar criteria. Also, I do not believe that Senna was a Truck Driver or
that Schumacher wins because of Poor Competition & Team Orders. I rate
Schumacher higher than Senna. The biggest single reason for this is that
while Senna won RACES in sub-standard equipment, Schumacher won RACES
& CHAMPIONSHIPS in sub-standard equipment. 1994 & 2000 are good
examples (even 2003 was not far off). Also 1994 was only his third Full
Season & Benetton had never won a Championship before. (Senna's
Championship wins came in the already dominant McLaren Honda at that time)
I am sad to say that most of the people who rated Senna higher, have
actually done injustice to him by giving not-so-good reasons, some even
stating the complete opposite of the truth (of Schumacher).
But I take my hat off to Gem D & Don G of USA. Gem D gave his reasons
& backed them with links to two good articles that described how good
Senna was & Don G stated a very good point : ie, None of us could
claim to know exactly who's better but we know whom we would prefer to
watch. If people rate Senna for that reason, I will not argue against it.
I love(d) watching both (plus Mansell & I like what I see in
There are a few points that I think needs clarification:
1. A gentleman from Scotland said that Schumacher was put into capable
Teams from the start of his career. Please tell me when did Benetton Win
or come close to winning prior to Schumacher joining them ? Then he said
that Schumacher never left a winning team. Well, after winning in 94 &
95 he left Benetton to join Ferrari - which in Senna's own words (end of
93) was NOT COMPETITIVE! And Ferrari only got worse in 94 & 95. When
was the last time a Ferrari driver won a championship prior to Schumacher
? Well, it was in 1979. (They won the Constructor's in 1982 &
Question for you, why didn't Senna join Ferrari in 1994 ?? Further, Senna
was with Toleman only for one season before moving to Lotus. Lotus had won
a Championship before (1978) though I agree that it wasn't comparable to
McLaren & Williams. Then he jumped ship to McLaren, which WAS WINNING
ANYWAY, and won his three Championships!!! Then when he couldn't win
anymore he left McLaren for the Williams Renault, which was by far, the
Best Car of the 90's. Now tell me who has only moved to a better car all
the time & who has dared to leave a winning team for an inferior one
& also turn it into a winning Team ???? Mate, the Answer to this
question is the biggest reason why I say Schumacher is better. Hang the
six Championships & 70 Wins.
As for the claim that Senna did better in 93 than Schumacher, what about
92 ?? When Schumacher did better than Senna in only his first full season,
in a much lesser known Car & Team than Senna's ???
2. Lots of people say that Statistics are not important & then pull
out one themselves (like Senna's 65 poles & that Schumacher lost to
Hakkinen by 16 points while his Team mate lost only by 2 in 98). Isn't
that ridiculous - contradicting themselves ?? I don't know about any Sport
where Statistics are not important. It is like telling the Brazilians that
their five World Cups in Soccer is just another Statistic & it is not
important, when we all know that they are the Best Soccer playing
3. Some say that Championships are not important. Can someone tell me what
these guys risk their lives for- Senna being the perfect example ?
4. Isn't it ironical that one person claims that Schumacher didn't have
good competition & say that Hakkinen, Hill & Villeneuve were jokes
while another say that Hakkinen was good Competition even as a Rookie;
both to justify that Senna is better?
5. For the assumption that Senna would have beaten Schumacher had he
lived. What's there to back this ? Between 1991 & 1994 (when both were
in F1), Schumacher has done at least as well as Senna if not better. So,
the same argument can be turned around to say that Schumacher would have
6. Finally, for those who want others to check their heads, Please check
if you've got one in the first place!!!
It is NOT my intention to try to force anyone into saying that Schumacher
is better, but it would be nice if people stick to Facts. Also, my above
comments are certainly not intended to belittle Senna in anyway. Cheers.
Have a good one - Ryan T - Sri Lanka
While its futile (but interesting) to compare drivers of
different decades, its safe to say that both drivers had the ability to
get the absolute most out of a very quick car.
What sets Senna apart from Schumacher (and others) is his ability to win
with sub-standard equipment. The performance he was able to wring out of
the 1993 Ford powered McLaren was nothing short of astonishing.
I don't claim to know which driver was better... but I do know which
driver I would rather watch - Don G - USA
Hey Mathew T, I agree with everything u say! All your
arguments and comments are true. I too agree that Ioana is biased - Jazz
- South Africa
Seriously you Schumacher fans are living in dreamland if
you really believe Schumacher is better than Senna. They were barely in
the same league!
Senna will always be the greatest!!! - Adam - England
Mathew u have no idea what you're talking about. Senna was
a master in the wet ( remember Brands Hatch), he was the greatest
qualifying driver of all time ( u have no argument to this). I'm a
Schumacher fan but overall Senna is my favorite driver and the greatest
driver of all time. If Schumacher had have raced in the same era he'd be
lucky to get one championship let alone 6. Look at the past decade who has
Schumacher had to contend with? Hakkinen, Ralf, Villeneuve, again a joke.
u cant ever compare them to Prost.
Senna was the most gifted driver of all time and his desire to win and
passion for the car is second to none. he didn't have a teammate to help
him and as I said b4 the era Senna raced had superior drivers to the era
Schumacher raced? compare them Senna, Prost, Piquet, Mansell to
Schumacher, Hakkinen. It's not even close - Chris - Canada
I will always like Michael Schumacher better than Senna
because I think his driving skills are supreme and unbeatable, his
personality is out of this world, the media runs him down they should look
before they speak.
I'm doing research and a book about Michael and I have no bad thoughts on
him as for his team mate his is also fabulous.
When Michael's contract expires in 2006 grand prix racing will never be so
I wish Michael good luck and I hope he wins next year to become champion
again also happy birthday Michael on the 3rd of Jan 04 if he reads this
letter I hope one day to meet him and have a lovely long chat - Mrs
Gail G - England
Michael Schumacher is the best, hands down - Shaun D -
Now Mathew, who's being illogical? worse, you are
despotic, since you ask everybody to think the way you do!
Well, sorry, that's not the case, and yes, I dare to reply without
agreeing with you! You must have needed a substitution idol pretty bad,
haven't you? It's sad...
About team mates, ha ha , you chose your example well: MS had Nelson
Piquet for a team mate! The problem is that our friend Nelson didn't know
when to retire and he happened to stay a little too long in F1, making a
fool of himself and of his past glory. So the fact that MS was so much
better than him isn't relevant at all , since he wasn't the only
Senna had Prost for a team mate, and it's useless to comment upon any
further, we all know ( at least the ones who are honest about it ) that
they prevented mutually from winning more races and titles. And the same
Prost always acknowledged that senna had been the best driver he had ever
raced against and when MS got his 6th title the same Prost said it didn't
mean that he was the best pilot ever because of the last ten years'
contest in F1... don't be so contemptuous about Elio de Angelis, learn
first to spell his name correctly. He was a talented driver but he
happened to die too soon, did you know that, Mathew? Gerhard Berger is not
exactly what I would call a failure in F1 and Mika Hakkinen may have been
a rookie at the time but he was already very fast.
Yes, Senna prevented Warwick from coming to Lotus, and was always sorry
for having acted this way, but you got the explanation yourself: Lotus
didn't have the means to have two winners... Senna wasn't against
competition within the same team if the team could have afforded to
concentrate equally on the two drivers. So what do you imply, that Ferrari
doesn't have the money to have two champions??? then how can they pay MS
those huge amounts of money????
Your comments about changes of the rules in F1 who make that today the
winner is the one who scores more points are also irrelevant !!!!! Every
driver adapts to the rules in force, and therefore you can't know what
Senna's tactics would have been had the rules been different !!! So come
on, you have no better arguments? I'd like to see some logic from you,
since you are so keen on figures and statistics...
So I agree with you on one point: MS is not a bad driver, he is really
talented, and mechanics who worked both for senna and for ms also say so.
but this doesn't imply that he is better than Ayrton Senna, sorry to
disappoint you... to make a great champion, maybe the greatest ever, it
takes more than skill and great ability in a car and MS doesn't possess
anything else... Senna did! he was able to transmit all his force and his
passion for the race, not through press statements but through his way of
driving. He was MAGIC! It was an enchantment to see him racing, it was
pure art, especially when he was not in good cars because it was
especially then that all his skill was obvious. remember Donington 1993...
and above all, Ayrton Senna was such a special human being, and people
felt his personality and loved the man who lived behind the driver!
And to answer someone else here, I really do not wish MS to die on the
track, but had it been the case I honestly don't believe it would have the
same impact on people. I mean, I would be extremely sorry for him and his
family, and I hope he will have a long and healthy life, but that wouldn't
make me like him better!!! I don't like him now, so why should I like him
in that case?
Ayrton's death has nothing to do with his legend ! it is awful to say such
a thing... as far as I am concerned ( but I think the most of Senna's fans
will agree), his death induced only sorrow, and frustration of being
deprived of the privilege of seeing him anymore... it couldn't have added
to his legend, as his legend was already huge.
I was, and always will be, an unconditional of Ayrton Senna whether he won
or lost, can you understand this Mathew? I really don't care about
statistics and titles, and I would still consider Senna better than MS
even if he had survived his accident in Imola but lost his championship to
MS!!! Would you feel the same about MS if he hadn't won all those titles ?
Thank You , Ayrton, for all the passion and emotions and tears and for
having been so much alive outside the tracks but also on F1 tracks! My
memories can't be taken away nor can they be replaced by memories about
some other driver. You are irreplaceable... Sorry for my English, really
poor especially when I am carried away with my feelings. OBRIGADA! AYRTON
SENNA, SEMPRE O MELHOR! - Ioana - (Romanian living in France)