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Senna vs. Schumacher

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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 Alonso). 
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 & 83). 
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 Nation. 
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 beaten Senna. 
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 good.
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 - USA

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 one... 
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)

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I think both were geniuses on the track. Back in the 80s, I loved watching Senna. It always bothered me when Prost beat him. LOL! 
There have been a lot of unbelievable drivers over the history of F1 but at the end of the day, Schumacher's results speak for themselves. If Schumacher dies on the track, his legend will grow just as Senna's did. Prost is right up there too and might also be in this mix if he would have died on track. 
IMO, both Schumacher and Senna are legends. It might be best to not compare the two but when it happens, Schumacher wins by any measure that includes results. 
Happy off season, Tom B - Canada

The best F1 driver: Senna 
The most lucky (12 years with no competitors): Schumacher - Wall�mbergen - Germany

I think both were geniuses on the track. Back in the 80s, I loved watching Senna. It always bothered me when Prost beat him. LOL! 
There have been a lot of unbelievable drivers over the history of F1 but at the end of the day, Schumacher's results speak for themselves. If Schumacher dies on the track, his legend will grow just as Senna's did. Prost is right up there too and might also be in this mix if he would have died on track. 
IMO, both Schumacher and Senna are legends. It might be best to not compare the two but when it happens, Schumacher wins by any measure that includes results. 
Happy off season, Tom B - Canada

The best F1 driver: Senna 
The most lucky (12 years with no competitors): Schumacher - Wall�mbergen - Germany

This is the last time I am going to comment on this issue. I was not going to comment again however Vagelis K from Greece posted comments that are equally as illogical and irrelevant as George's comments. Lets have a look at Senna's so called "great" competition:
1984 Toleman Jonny Cicotto never heard of him until I read it has anyone else ?
1985 Lotus Jonny Dumphries same again 
1986 Alio Deangilis, Satoro Nakajima 
1987 Satoro Nakajima 
1990,91 Gerhard Berger 
1992 Michael Andretti a total failure and then rookie Mika Hakkinen 
1993 Mika Hakkinen still a rookie and designated number 2  
In only 2 years of his career did he have a great team-mate and he lost one Championship 1989 and under todays rules where logically the person with the most points wins the championship, would've lost the other. as I've mentioned before not this 11 best finishes nonsense. 
The very thing that you and the like forget, that accuse M.S of doing selecting his team-mates is exactly what senna did with Derek Warick at Lotus. He refused to have Derek Warick a guy that never won a grand prix at Lotus because he said that Lotus couldn't have 2 front line drivers "unbelievable".
Senna also refused to go to Ferrari until they had a definite championship winning car unlike Michael who took up the challenge to build a great team and has done it so successfully and with such domination and expertise that it infuriates people like you that do not like him. If Senna had achieved what Michael had achieved you would never stop talking about it.
The other top drivers of Michael's era were tied to other teams eg Mika Hakkinen, Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell. It would've been impossible to get any of these guys to Benetton and then Ferrari no matter how hard they tried and you know it.
Let me repeat Michael had the great Nelson Piquet as his team-mate when he was just a rookie and thrashed him. As Nelson said, once Michael was there Benetton were not interested in me any more. He over 92 and 93 dove in a car that was not competitive with the championship winning Williams won races still as a rookie and in wet conditions such as SPA. He finished above Senna in the championship in 92 that's right Senna and has raced against Senna, Mansell, Piquet, Prost, Berger, Alesi, Hill. Hakkinen, Villeneuve, Montoya, Raikkonen. So not only has he had as much competition as Senna he has had more and then when we get to 94 we find that a young M.S still in an underpowered car beats Senna at Interlagos gets ahead of him immediately at Aida and is applying absolute maximum pressure at Imola before Senna's crash.
One of things about Senna dying was that I have been stopped from proving myself right. Why would any team give a driver such preferential treatment if he was not so vastly better than his team-mate why? 
The fact that he has been able to get a team to do exactly what he wants is not a weakness its a strength, something that every other driver on the grid dreams about but will never have because they don't have the level of talent that Michael has to make it happen 
If you look at M.S over his career he just does not have a weakness does he ? He's 1 Extremely fast always 2 great in qualifying 3 great in the wet 4 great at driving around the handling difficulties of a less than ideal car re 96,97 
The above are all the hallmarks of Senna as a driver but unlike Senna he plays the percentages and makes sure he always gets the car home and maximises points results, never gives away anything just like Prost. So what you have is a driver that has combined the best attributes of those 2 greats into 1 package and that's why he is the ultimate F1 driver. If Senna was close with Prost in 88 and 89 what do you think would of happened with Michael matching him in the wet, in qualifying and then refusing to give away points just like Prost Answer: Senna would've lost both championships.
I look forward to your reply email with your admission of defeat and admiration for the great German. Please do not respond to this unless you are going to use fact and logic instead of ill informed opinion - Mathew T - Australia (This post was edited)

We Senna fans are as passionate about F1 as we are about Ayrton Senna. However we don't think he is the greatest driver just because he died while racing. Myself - speaking as an individual - was a big fan of his when he was alive. Schumacher should count himself lucky he has fans who think he is the greatest. 
He knows he isn't, he was just lucky that there is no really great drivers anymore. 
Motor racing has changed so much in 10 years, drivers racing today have it so much easier. If they brought back full slicks, smaller wings, banned traction control, ABS and Fully automatic gearboxs, it would make things more challenging and interesting. We might actually see some action and Schumacher might spin out of a few races as well. We would then see some really great racing and the BEST driver would win - Adam - England

I think that Senna is absolutely the best (as driver and as man) - Carmela C - Italy

Ayrton was a special man, and a fantastic driver, he made me dream since I was young. He lives in me nowdays too.
Shumaker has been very lucky to drive in an epoca in which Ayrton there is not... Giancarlo

Schumacher is lucky, Ayrton not - Sebestan S - Romania

I think that Aussie, Mathew T is getting really annoying with his remarks. He and some others are desperately looking for a new idol, as George from Greece said. Mathew, my friend, I'll tell ya what: JUST THE FACT THAT YOU AND OTHERS ENGAGE IN THIS DEBATE SAYS IT ALL!!!!!!!! 

Most of the comments here are fair, except one (Jazz, South Africa) who reckons Michael is the best but gives no reasons. Why ? that's what I'd like to know. I can give a lot of realistic reasons why Senna is better and I have all my comments on this page. If you have a strong viewpoint on this then please explain it not just say it. - Adam - England

Senna will always be the best! Schummie needs his teammates (slaves) and the FIA to win titles! 
Senna won because he IS the best!!! - Michael W - Austria


The German is undoubtedly one of the best. I would dare to say that he is the...2nd best. But this is as far as he can ever go. There is one and only reason why he achieved whatever he achieved: Ayrton's death... If not for that, he would only have won a title AFTER Ayrton's RETIREMENT! 
Senna was unbeatable. The German may be too good, but definitely could not match Senna. The Brazilian would have won more titles, more races, poles, fastest lap records etc. And would have reached an inconceivable record. 
Not trying to diminish Schumi's worth as a pilot....but he is no doubt, I N F E R I O R to Ayrton Senna  - Vagelis K - Greece


Senna is greatest of all time, he is the fastest driver ever, and marvellous on the wet. I miss him a lot, and I remember the Sundays when he race, simply excitings. The formula one lost his memory when Senna dies. Bye Ayrton you simply the best  - Jose - Mexico

Schumi is a very good driver, but Senna was more than that: he was a genius  - Marten H - Germany

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