Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: BlackJack’sBriefs
A few conclusions…
“In space, nobody can hear you scream – when surf-boarding nobody can see you cry…”
First I have to express my gratitude to ‘TJ13’ for agreeing to publish this series, and encouraging me to write it, and then offer a Big Thank You to those who offered their opinions – and hope that those who were unable to comment still gained a little pleasure from my words…
I conceived this idea with perhaps less understanding on what I was embarking than Vasco de Gama had when he set off to circumnavigate the globe. At least I knew where I could stop for fresh water – or a G&T…
I reiterate that this is not a personal view of twenty drivers who I think were ‘better’ than all those who didn’t figure here – if it were, there are a couple of drivers I would not have omitted, and there were one or two names here whose absence I might not have missed if they had failed to follow de Gama, and dropped off the edge…
To re-cap… I took the 820 drivers in the Wiki list, removed the Champions, plus those drivers who failed to score even one win, and then (because a little ruthlessness was inevitable) all drivers who had not lasted more than three seasons were also deleted… leaving me with 63 names.
In order to compare the performances of each driver I was obliged to ignore their existing Championship Points simply because the scoring system has changed several times since 1950, and I didn’t have the time to adjust everything to a common format. Additionally I do NOT, anyway, consider any points system to have ever been a finite measure of comparative talent. For the record I similarly do not consider the awarding of ‘Oscars’ and ‘Globes’ as being a measure of filmic talent – although ‘Bears’, ‘Lions’ and ‘Palmes d’Or’ are something else.
So, I invented my own system.
We all know of instances when a driver has dominated a race weekend, only to run out of fuel a couple of laps from the end, or be punted off by another wayward driver, and so the number of wins, and/or podiums cannot be taken as ‘gospel’. There are also the times when a faster, maybe even better (on the day) driver is obliged to relinquish his position… I am not against team-orders but they can interfere with the compilation of lists such as this.
There seems to be only one time when all drivers are ‘equal’ even if, occasionally, ‘some are more equal than others’. During qualifying there are no holds barred, unless a team deliberately ‘adjusts’ a car so that it cannot beat the No.1 driver… and that way, I’m afraid, madness lies.
I thus created a scoring system where the recording of pole position is awarded more points than a race victory.
Secondly it seems to me that the posting of the fastest lap in a race deserves much more than a mention in despatches. Again, all else being equal, this is one time when a driver is able to show his true worth. In the past the FIA used to give one point for this achievement, but it was dropped – on safety grounds…! It was common practice that a driver who had problems, and had fallen several laps behind, was put on a low fuel level, with fresh tyres, and sent out to claim that single point, to aid his Championship chances… and this practice was deemed dangerous… and was effectively banned. I would much rather see double-points awarded for fastest laps, than the last race or two – or seventeen… which is what we’ll end up with. NASCAR scores…!
Personally I feel that many drivers, like Villeneuve for example, showed more natural, raw talent in claiming a fastest lap than other less exciting drivers who perhaps played safe, and nursed their car home to 3rd, and a podium place.
So… after an initial over-cautiousness I gave twice as many points for a pole than a fastest lap, and twice as many for a fastest lap than a podium, and, so as not to disregard the ultimate need for drivers to actually win, I slotted the number of points for a win between those for pole and fastest lap (in the ratio: 4:2:1:3 respectively). The actual figures can be adjusted, and can bias the points to one or another of these four categories. Each driver’s points total was divided by their number of race-starts which, I think was the reason why some readers felt my ranking was occasionally odd.
Specifically, Carlo asked why I had placed Massa (10th) so much higher than Barrichello (14th), who had 57 additional podiums (2nd & 3rd) to Massa’s 25. First, I wasn’t scoring these podiums highly. Secondly, although both drivers had similar numbers of poles, fastest laps, and wins, Massa scored his results from 191 races whereas Barrichello had taken 322 races…
In fact I could have made a better claim for Brooks and Arnoux to have been placed above Massa, which would have moved Massa down to 12th, closer to Barrichello. Perhaps next time. Oh, for a second chance…!
I whittled the Top-29 down to twenty by a small subjective adjustment: drivers who had been fortunate enough to spend their better years in better cars I dropped a place or two in the list… and conversely, if a driver had reached the Top-29 while fighting in middle-rank cars, or against an ‘Ace’ team-leader, I moved him up a bit – but I did not change anybody’s position because I was a ‘fan’.
For the record, three drivers just failed to make the cut: Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Peter Revson, and Wolfgang von Trips. And Jabouille especially perhaps deserved to have been tweaked into a higher position.
My main reason for not making this List a personal view is because one can argue back and forth until the cows come home, or until the Fat Hippo’s dining table overtakes you in a wind-tunnel, but as few people actually listen to other polarized viewpoints I feel it’s largely a waste of time – especially when people become short-tempered and personally intolerant… I was grateful that didn’t happen here, although we did have the gloriously sublime moment of The Judge shilly-shallying over the relative merits of Weary Webber and Better Berger, which he amusingly did all on his own, without anybody having to debate him. Talk about, ‘Judge’s Summation’ – “Well, I thought at first you murdered your wife,.. but, on the other hand…” 🙂
I had several surprises myself from this list. I had so quickly forgotten Montoyer’s sojourn in F1 that I had also forgotten his successes. I had also forgotten that Jean Alesi, who I had long admired, scored just one win and two poles in 201 races. Also, inadvertently, and quite unintentionally, there are no German or Italian drivers here, despite many who came close: Luigi Musso, Lorenzo Bandini, Riccardo Patrese, and Michele Alboreto… von Trips, and Ralf Schumacher.
Jacques Laffitte and Bruce McLaren also appeared in the Top-29, but there was then a big natural separation before the likes of Patrick Depailler, John Watson, Patrick Tambay, and Carlos Pace. I know some of you were hoping to see Bruce’s name appear but it seems he is remembered more today for the team he founded, and because of his premature demise. Perhaps he might have done better, as a driver, if he hadn’t had the worries of creating his own team. Much the same might be said of Gurney, Fittipaldi, and Surtees – although Gurney proved his various talents in so many ways.
Most drivers who have formed their own teams tended to drive for just one or two more years before concentrating on running the team… Perhaps my mentor was the only one who continued driving his own cars, for a further eight years, with continual success as a driver and a constructor. It must take a special kind of guy to do both, which is no aspersion on the others.
I cannot finish without thanking my regular respondents for wise, amusing, erudite and complimentary comments. Mr Bruznic excelled, averaging more than two posts per article, including a ‘Black Sabbath’ (I think) video which was apparently supposed to contain mysterious lyrics that, if listened to backwards, preordained who was to be No. 1 – although I might have been the only one who couldn’t even hear the lyrics, let alone interpret them. I haven’t heard lyrics on pop songs since Gilbert & Sullivan. Nevertheless he is forgiven, if only because he is an Ickx fan… which fact he took great pleasure in forcing upon me at all times. 🙂
Carlo kept me on the straight and narrow re: all things Senna/Ferrari oriented, without whom I might have inadvertently become a Prost-lover. 🙂 – and Scuderia McLaren (who, judging by his contradictory moniker, is one seriously mixed up individual…) had me laughing every week. Colin was more complimentary than I could have ever imagined, and Iestyn Davies (who I suspect hails from either Wales or Patagonia) made numerous salient points that made me think. And then there was the, initially, rather brusque ‘CTP’, who never uses three words when one will do, who provided my favourite comment. Following a complaint from someone else that Part 10- Webber wasn’t opening properly, CTP enquired: “Were the pages stuck together after the judge read it?”
I thank you all . . .
1st – Stirling Moss (‘Rafi’)
2nd – José Froilán González
3rd – Jacky Ickx
4th – Carlos Reutemann
5th – Ronnie Peterson
6th – Gerhard Berger
7th – Juan Pablo Montoya
8th – Gilles Villeneuve
9th – David Coulthard
10th – Felipe Massa
11th – Mark Webber
12th – Tony Brooks
13th – René Arnoux
14th – Rubens Barrichello
15th – Dan Gurney
16th – Clay Regazzoni
17th – Didier Pironi
18th – Richie Ginther
19th – Francois Cevert
20th – Peter Collins