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Senna vs. Schumacher

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What others are saying

With Michael Schumacher winning an unprecedented 6th Drivers' Title (now 7th!), people are again debating who is better Schumacher or Senna.
George from Greece and Mathew T from Australia have been debating this issue for some time now and we thought of setting up a special page where you can voice your opinion.

With the launch of the NewsOnF1 Forums, you can vote and add your comments at the Senna vs Schumacher thread by clicking here.

You can continue browsing these pages for earlier responses. (What others are saying)

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What others are saying:

The George - Mathew T debate

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Results as of 20/1/2005
For the latest results check out 
the Senna vs. Schumacher thread on NewsOnF1 Forums

Senna vs. Schumacher%
I rate Senna higher than Schumacher62.86
I rate Schumacher higher than Senna24.32
The 2 cannot be compared9.73
I rate them at the same level2.78
I don't rate either0.32

Senna had charisma to throw away. He donated millions of dollars to charities every year, and did his best to keep that as secret as possible. Any one who disputes the Senna & Schumacher argument, please just watch Senna speak in a press conference. You will see that this man has a charisma that no one can reach. He has been dead for 10 years, ten years. And STILL the great Schumacher cannot equal his pole positions, the true measure of race driver speed & skill over 1 lap - Jack - Turkey

I have had the privilege of seeing both Senna and Schumacher race. It is not fair to compare the two drivers because they raced in different eras and in different times. Senna was not always the lead driver for his team if one remembers, he and Alain Prost got into quite a few good arguments during the period they both raced with McLaren. Schumacher has had the luxury of having a docile back-up driver that has not tried to rock the boat. Rubens is probably the nicest driver in F1 and I am a fan of his so before I get corrected let me explain. Say, for example, Montoya was on Ferrari, then the fun would start for that team. Schumacher is a perfectionist as a driver, he needs everything to go right during the race, and he has been blessed that the engineers at Ferrari have got it right. Senna was a natural race car driver, pure and simple he could drive any car to victory and he did. 
The reason people bring up Donnington all the time is because Senna did the impossible in a piece of junk car that had no real chance that year to win the championship. I would like to see Michael drive a race or two for Minardi or Jordan and see where he finishes the race. (Sorry Eddie but your team has suffered as of late.) 
Another point to take into consideration is the technological advances that have been made in the past 10 years since Senna's death. The cars now practically drive themselves which is not a fair comparison. It is a shame we will never get to see Senna drive a modern F1 car. I think it would be safe to say that he could win a championship or two, or more - Jeff - USA

Well. Comments like: Believe me I've seen Senna race and he is the best are not valid. I've seen both race and I rate Schumacher higher, but I rate Senna high as well. What I find outrageous is people who say Senna is 1000 times better, Schumacher is "good", etc. Well, let's remind Senna's words in SPA 1991 (first Schumacher race) about Schumacher: "This guy has something special" - Jo�o P - Portugal

It is my firm belief that Schumacher was the greater of the two. This is based on the fact that Schumacher just simply knows how to win races and now titles better than Senna ever could. 
Senna had more days of inspiration, take Donnington in 1993 for example. I find it hard to imagine even Schumacher bettering that. However taking a career as a whole the occasional act of pure genius does not compare to the ability and racecraft it takes to win for example 13 races in one season(2004).
I recently watched the 1993 season in review and Schumacher gave Senna a really good run for his money in many of the wheel to wheel battles. Then come 1994 and Schumacher was clearly the man destined for the title in spite of the widespread belief that this was Senna's year. Whatever might have happened at Imola (Schumacher perhaps making a better race strategy-and he is the all-time genius in this category) he would have beaten Senna fair and square in Monaco, the Senna's fabled power circuit. Schumacher took a 4 second advantage over the second placed car after one lap. This hadn't been seen since the days of Clarke. Even in Monaco '93 Schumacher had Senna well and truly beaten, however his engine cruelly gave up the ghost half way through the race. On top of this Senna was a matured driver at his peak when a young and inexperienced Schumacher came on the scene. Michael's development since those early years should leave most of us wondering just how Senna could have managed in equal equipment in say 2000. 
Having said all this had they raced for the same team year after year I think Senna may have outclassed Schumacher in the wet and driven several inspired races. However in the overall plan of thingsHello, I am the lucky one to be both Schumacher and Senna admirer. I became a fan of MS in Moncao 1994, because I was watching my first ever GP. Ironically it was the first race without Senna. But in 1997 and further one I heard about Senna. I searched info about him and I became a fan of Senna AFTER his death. I did buy books and read about him. I even ordered races from 1980's and 1990's to see him drive again. I have a whole vitrine dedicated to Senna, with a lot of carmodels (1:18), helmets (1:2 scale) and so on (lithographs). He inspired me FAR after his death and that is EXCEPTIONAL. I even visited his Grave one May 1st 2004 (10 years on exactly) in Sao Paulo all the way from Europe. Don't think I am Senna crazy or whatsoever.. I just love to collect things of him.. I am just normal. He was so charismatic and very a class of his own as a human being. It was like he never had to stay long with us on this planet... He is an idol for me and the only idol I ever had/will have. His qoutes/values guide me still a little bit in my life and I thank him for that. 
About the racing I think it is difficult to compare these two. Because for the first his career (MS) was just beginning and the other one going to his end. (AS) What you can say for SURE is that both were the ABSOLUTELY BEST of their own ERA and that is a fact. 
My opinions on several things: In the rain and changing conditions they are a class of their own. I would put them equal on this side. ( Maybe Senna an edge) 
I think on tactics Schumacher has little bit the edge. Of course he has a team around him, but he is so superb with those things. He can perform and transform in a race and can deliver a tactic... GREAT. Senna couldn't show us in the refuelling era sadly. (remember 1994 was the first year) 
Also on Racecraft I would put Schumacher a little bit ahead. I think he is more consistent than Senna. The consistency of his laps and hammering down on the key moments. Just look at the fastest laps in a race. I also regard Prost as one of the best on racecraft. Just reading the race. But they are very very close with each other. 
On pure mentality I would give Senna the edge. He had this ability to focus and put more out of his human body. That's very special.... its like a form of yoga. Some people are born with that and others not. This ability you cannot learn, he was born with it and it was God Given. 
I also believe that Senna had more raw natural (god given) talent than Michael, but Michael can compensate that with tactics and racecraft and he learns quick. 
Senna is one of the most talented driver Formula 1 ever has seen (including Jim Clark... and Fangio maybe, because I don't know much about Fangio) 
Qualifying: Senna was just the best ever (with again Jim Clark) I cannot say anything about this. Michael is not as good as Senna in qualifying. 
Under pressure: If the race was on I would give Senna the edge, I don't know why. My feeling says that he is better under pressure, but I don't know if I am able to say that. 
Some other things: Standing in a team: Schumacher: It is a fact that Schumacher like stated before transformed teams into wins and championships. He did it with Benetton and also with Ferrari. He made them better. Of coarse he has (still) a good team around him. Schumacher could choose for Williams in 1996 but chose Ferrari, which I admire really MUCH. He could have won more championships. He prefers to be absolute nr1 in a team. That is not that bad.. it is a way to achieve your goals effectively and if he wouldn't deliver, he never would have achieved that. Schumacher never complained really hard on the team, even when it was critical. He always was positive to the team even in bad times. He never slammed the team and this POSITIVE about him. I also admire this in him. This you CANNOT say about Senna. Senna: Cannot say that he transformed team into a better one. This is also stated before. He also choose for the best team, which doesn't mean that it was easy. Let this be clear!!. He drove against Prost at McLaren. Comparing to Schumacher he was not always that Positive on the team. He was upset in 1993 while driving for McLaren and said some things. This was his character. 
Other: I think if you look at the the last 18 years (1987-2004). The only man which I in my opinion can say that won the championships with a little bit lesser material is Schumacher. (Not much!!! please hold that in mind before people are going to shout, but still) All other drivers in my opinion became champions in the best car. Michael also came very near in 1997 and 1998 in less material. Although he didn't win the championship he made clear he was the best driver. Just like Senna did in 1993. What a great season that was. There are also some claims on that Senna had great characters to fight to and that is true. But remember in his prime days in 1988-1991 he fought only with Prost and had better cars than Mansell, Piquet, etc although they were great characters. Schumacher on the other had fought with lesser material against Williams and McLaren and that compensates this theory. Remember 1997,1998,1999 (not much). There are several things said about each other.. in the way I see them both, but to choose the best I really don't want to. I just admire them both. I can make my top 5 of the best ever, but this is personal. I just them list them: Schumacher, Clark, Senna, Fangio and Prost (order doesn't say a thing.. I just put it down) For myself I always have Senna as my only idol (not only was he a great F1 driver but an inspiration outside the track) Schumacher is no inspiration for me but I am his fan. On the track he is my man. 
Guys, I just want to say.. please be thankful that this world has known SENNA, even when it was not for a long time. He remains one of my ALL time heroes. With great respect - Vilash S - The Netherlands

Hi there... Schummy is the greatest driver in the world... actually. Maybe we can put him in the TOP 10 of all time, but certainly this ranking is headed by Mr. Ayrton Senna da Silva. No one is, was, or will be like Him, with capital H. Ayrton was fantastic, it was exciting when He was not at the 1st place, because we knew that he would do everything to get the win. We cannot say the same for the German great driver. It's boring to watch him race, we cannot expect anything but a good luck from him. He can wait for all the others to break their engines or gears, to catch the positions. He drives for the championship, is fantastic with his mind and strategy. Ayrton drove for the win, always (except in 90 when he slapped Prost for "revanche"). Ok, luck is a result of good job and excellent skills. But Ayrton could win as many championships as Schummy did, in an exciting way. We all lost probably the biggest duel in autoracing of all times. Ayrton crosses the checked flag in 1st, 0.5 seconds ahead of Schummy. "The second, is the 1st to loose". Goodbye for all, from a Brazilian friend that had the luck to watch then both racing against, live at Interlagos - Ricardo L - Brazil

senna fue mucho mejor que ese tal shumacher, no hay comparacion , senna fue mucho mas rapido, tenia mejor �presicion al volante , era 1000 veces mejor que cualquier otro piloto - David - Chile

I do rate Michael a slightly better racer than Senna, although I could never say that Senna was a second rate driver compared to Michael. Both are idols to me - Anthony - Australia

You make me laugh ... Senna was much better than Michael Schumacher ... and Prost too !! Schummi is a good driver, but I never saw him driving like Senna in Monaco 84, or Estoril 85, or Japan 88, or Donington 93 ... even Schumacher knows who is the best driver of all time ... some day asked MS who was the best driver of the world ... he told that he didn't know, but that the best drivers that drove with him were Senna and Prost ... so what is the conclusion ? The conclusion is that MS knows that he won his titles beating not so good drivers ... it is obvious ... Luiz F - Brazil

It's a tipical case where the numbers can mislead to wrong conclusions. It's my opinion that is impossible to understand the greatness and "shine" of each pilot achievements, without living the context and atmosphere of each GP they raced. 
As many have said before, the quality of the other competitors and equipment can distort the numbers in a very strong manner. Who can say Damon Hill was better than Schumacher (1996)? Or Patrese was better than Senna (1992)? Ok, I think no one, but what conclusions can you take if you look into the numbers of those seasons? So I don't make a case based in numbers that indicate a superiority to Schumacher. I think, to compare two of the most strong pilots of the history we have to go deeper. We have to compare their ability to produce "magic"!!! For those two guys, winning with the best equipment was nothing more then their obligation, in other case they would never be here being compared as two of the most talented drivers of formula1 isn't it? The "magic" is to win without the best equipment, to resist under pressure, to keep going with a semi broken car, to perform even with a pathetic team. 
I can say I'm very lucky to have seen every race of Ayrton's career and every race of Schumacher career's, and even if Schumacher is a very very good driver, a truly genius, Ayrton is better. I've seen "magic" from them both, but Ayrton could more often be brilliant than Schumacher. 
Lets begin with Monaco 1984!! And Estoril 1985!!! Donnington1993?! Monaco 1992?!!! There are very good samples from each one, but be honest and compare them. Ayrton was capable to perform with everything against him and this was one of his best qualities. In the most difficult moments he grew and could found a way to fight back. His character couldn't let him lose and I think because of that, he pushed to the limit more often and more strongly than Schumacher has ever done. This is a trace of personality which lead Ayrton to produce the most magic moments in Formula 1 I've ever seen. 
I haven't seen Fangio racing and I haven't seen Jim Clark, so I cant talk about them, but between Piquet, Prost, Schumacher, Mansell and others Ayrton is in another class. I know this is strange for those who haven't seen him race to believe and accept this, but believe me: Even if I can concede that he racing Schumacher in the same equipment eventually everything could happen, in the end would be a very clear image of who could perform better: Ayrton Senna!!!!!!!! - Felipe - Brazil


Some people talked about what some persons said about who is the best. Well there are some that think higher of Schumacher than Senna, like Lauda, Alesi, Piquet, Rory Byrne (worked with both).
I have big respect for Hakkinen, as Schumacher, but he has beaten Michael once - 1998 (1999 MS broke a leg),  all other years MS beat him. As for Brundle he was teammate for MS in Benetton (92) and MH in McLaren (94) - if you do the job to see their relatives difference you will find out that Brundle is not telling the truth. In 16 Qualifying sessions he was beaten 16 time by MS. Brundle said that to promote David Coulthard (MH teammate) which he represents.
As for Donington I of course won't deny that was a masterpiece from Senna, but people forget that he had traction control (reportedly the most evolved at the time) where Schumacher didn't have (only in Monaco some races after). I guess I don't need to explain the importance of that facility. On the other hand Senna always goes for the better team and when he leaves, it is not better than when he arrives (McLaren and Lotus) - with Schumacher the opposite happens, he improves the teams.
As for 94, Hill was only able to battle Schumacher because Schumacher had 16 points taken away and suspended for 2 races, so that is not an argument for Senna claiming that year's title, besides the fact that Senna had gone, Hill had already more points than him. I think that the accident of Senna denied Schumacher the opportunity to beat him - Jo�o P - Portugal

This so called `debate` has been going on for too long!.
The way I see it, Shuey has had no competition whatsoever, since Mika retired, it's easier to win when there aren't any serious contenders. When Hakkinen was racing, he out qualified, out drove Schumacher for the 2 seasons that he was champion. The worst thing ever to happen, which was the best thing as far as the mighty Shu` was concerned was Mika `quitting`, taking a sabbatical... whatever. Since then it's been Shuey and nobody else.
So why do people think that he is so great?, who has he beaten year after year to become champion? A bunch of good drivers with good cars, but no one exceptional. How many times did the Shuey Ferrari suffer technical failure last season? So, he has not only the best car, but also the most reliable one. His team mate, in the same equipment(?) is frankly pathetic, if he rates himself as a good driver, why is he so far behind Schumacher? Is it because he is nothing but an average/good journeyman? Couldn't be much easier, could it?
Senna, doesn't really need me to make a case for him, when he became champion he had to beat Prost, Mansell, Piquet. Furthermore some of his most outstanding drives came in an inferior v8 Ford powered Mclaren. I could go on and refer to specific races, but there really is no need, the people that even roughly share my view will know. As for the others let them go on thinking that their Schumacher is the greatest...
I will finish by saying that I'm glad that Montoya has signed for Mclaren.. even after 10 years I still want someone to kick Schumacher behind, come on J.P. !!!!!!!!! Let's see if you can wipe the floor with ``immortal one`` I'm sure that I'll be very popular with the legions of Schumacher fans after this! - Sax G - England

This subject and debate will go on for many years ... sadly all too many who claim that Schumacher is better than the mercurial Senna are often too young to have witnessed the greatness of Ayrton Senna when he was alive and racing. And one has to say, blessed are the statisticians for they shall inherit the Earth! :)
Schumacher to all intents and purposes is a man-made, manufactured, star & champion of the sport ... Ecclestone saw to that post May 1994 and even has admitted as much! F1, claims little Bernard, needed a star to keep the millions watching and the millions rolling into his bank account!
Anyway ... Senna was a man gifted with enormous charisma and blessed with sublime talent ... although the word 'sublime' hardly does the 'Great One' justice in itself!
Senna also pioneered so much that is now taken for granted within the declining sport that is current F1 i.e. fitness, driver-marketing etc ... I could go on!
He was, and will always be, a man that transcended the sport ... a man that truly deserved living legend status - and now mythical status in his death!
To conclude Schumacher has raced in a largely benign period, and even then has been aided and assisted and abetted by 'whole-team back-up' and subservient team mates - quite tragic when you think about it! His abilities under pressure are questionable but he his without doubt a very accomplished and complete driver now, and thus deserved of Top 10 Greatest Driver Of All time status. But to compare Michael Schumacher to Ayrton Senna is like comparing Lennox Lewis to Muhammed Ali ... in other words it's a facile comparison and completely ridiculous imho!
To cap it all, I think you'll find even the current World Champion will tell you who was greater ... and without doubt (and I've read some of the nonsense written here about A.S. being 34 when he died ... largely from USA contributors sadly) Ayrton would have gone on to win 6 or even 7 WDC's although his sister Viviane has always maintained that her brother would have concluded his career at 5 WDC's in honour of Juan Manuel Fangio's record ... a driver who incidentally loved and admired his younger South American countryman!
To conclude I would put Ayrton at the top of the table with Fangio, Clarke, Nuvolari and Ascari sat at his side.
01 May 1994 was quite simply the most tragic date in motorsport history for more reasons than can be written by one writer! Nonetheless all 'real' and 'knowledgeable' F1 fans should rejoice that Ayrton Senna Da Silva gave us 10 years plus of amazing entertainment, pleasure and sheer feelings of awe!
Long Live Senna! - Regards Mark - R3MAF - UK

For me Schumacher is just one step higher than Senna, because of his capacity to transform a team, first Benetton then Ferrari, which Senna never did and never had the force and desire to do. MS critics to the team are constructive where AS were destructive.
In terms of driving I think they were pretty even and share same of principal characteristics, like speed, rain ability, calculating, etc, with a little advantage for MS in race speed consistency and tactics.
I find funny when people say that in 93 MS had an advantage in the engine (only one serie down - maximum of 8-10 horsepower, but had TAG electronics - in the first race AS use, Silverstone, it MS beat him by a great margin with a great overtaking in the middle) and forget the fact that in 94 Senna had a V10 with reportedly more 80-100 horsepower than Schumacher's V8 engine.
In 93 MS only had traction control in Monaco, were he got first line behind Prost and was leading the race with 15s advantage over Senna when he had a technical problem. McLaren had in 93 a lot more experience than Benetton with active suspension and semi-automatic gearbox, because in 92 AS use both were MS had to use a manual gear box and conservative suspension the entire year. Remember?
In 94 AS was loosing the championship, he knew it, and was obvious that he was feeling the pressure from MS, reason why he was making several mistakes.
BTW this debate has been going since 93, so even when MS was almost a rookie the F1 world was already questioning who was better Senna or Schumacher. For me Schumacher. Thanks & Regards - Jo�o P - Portugal

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1:43 Scale Toleman TG184 Ayrton Senna 1984
1:43 Scale Toleman
TG184 Ayrton Senna 1984


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