The real champion

After winning his second title in 2014 Lewis Hamilton joined a very special “club” of Formula 1 drivers who has won WDC with two different teams. The Brit became only the 10th driver in F1 history who has achieved such a great result.

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Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport nevertheless it is a pretty young and not very widespread kind of sport. In 2015 we all witness only the 65th championship. And of course you should be a hell of a racing driver to win at least 1 race, not to mention the whole championship. So, we have 65 years of F1 racing and there are only 32 different champions among the drivers. 16 of them have won the championship more than once and only 10 did so with at least two different teams. Juan Manuel Fangio holds the record.

 Driver  Team
 Juan Manuel Fangio Alpha Romeo (1951)
Maserati (1954*, 1957)
Mercedes (1954*, 1955)
Ferrari (1957)
 Jack Brabham Cooper (1959-1960)
Brabham (1966)
 Graham Hill BRM (1962)
Lotus (1968)
 Jackie Stewart Matra (1969)
Tyrrell (1971, 1973)
 Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus (1972)
McLaren (1974)
 Niki Lauda Ferrari (1975,1977)
McLaren (1984)
 Nelson Piquet Brabham (1981, 1983)
Williams (1987)
 Alain Prost McLaren (1985-1986,1989)
Williams (1993)
 Michael Schumacher Benetton (1994,1995)
Ferrari (2000-2004)
 Lewis Hamilton McLaren (2008)
Mercedes (2014)

You won’t find Sebastian Vettel in this table. And I’m sure his ill-wishers will be happy. But you can’t find Fernando Alonso, Mika Hakkinen or Ayrton Senna there neither. Yes, Senna is not in this “private club”. These 4 drivers are multiple champions but they have won their titles racing just for 1 team** even though all of them drove for different teams during their careers and also won races wearing different outfits (except Hakkinen). But they are not as special as those 9 “real” champions. Or are they? And if they are not “real” champions what can you say about famous Jim Clark. He won 2 WDC but he raced all his 73 GPs for Team Lotus.

In recent years there was too much buzz about Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing. They won 4 titles (both WDCs and WCCs) in a row. Quite a record*. But many fans were not happy when Seb and Red Bull did their best. And it’s totally ok, if you are not their fan. But there was (and there still is) a lot of disrespect towards the driver and the team. Remember podium booing in Canada in 2013? Yes, Seb won titles in 2011 and 2013 in dominant fashion. But so were Schumacher in 2002 and 2004 or Mansell in 1992. The point is Red Bull wasn’t as dominant car in 2010-2013 as Scuderia Ferrari in 2002 or Mclaren in 1988 or Mercedes in 2014.

 year  Driver  GPs  Wins (%)  Podiums (%)  Poles (%)  DNFs (%)
 2004  Michael Schumacher 18 13 (72,2%) 15 (83,3%) 8 (44,4%) 1 (5,6%)
 1963  Jim Clark 10 7 (70%) 9 (90%) 7 (70%) 1 (10%)
 2013  Sebastian Vettel 19 13 (68,4%) 16 (84,2%) 9 (47,4%) 1 (5,3%)
 2002  Michael Schumacher 17 11 (64,7%) 17 (100%) 7 (41,2%) 0
 1965  Jim Clark 10 6 (60%) 6 (60%) 6 (60%) 3 (30%)
 2011  Sebastian Vettel 19 11 (57,9%) 17 (89,5%) 15 (78,9%) 1 (5,3%)
 2014  Lewis Hamilton 19 11 (57,9%) 16 (84,2 %) 7 (36,8%) 3 (15,8%)
 1992  Nigel Mansell 16 9 (56,3%) 12 (75%) 14 (87,5%) 4 (25%)
 1971  Jackie Stewart 11 6 (54,5%) 7 (63,6%) 6 (54,5%) 2 (18,2%)
 2001  Michael Schumacher 17 9 (52,9%) 14 (82,4%) 11 (64,7%) 2 (11,8%)
 year  Car  GPs  Wins (%)  Podiums (%)  1-2 (%)  Poles (%)
 1988  McLaren MP4-4 16 15 (93,8%) 25 (78,1%) 10 (62,5%) 15 (93,8%)
 2002  Ferrari F2002 17 15 (88,2%) 27 (79,4%) 9 (52,9%) 10 (58,8%)
 2014  Mercedes F1W05 19 16 (84,2%) 31 (81,6%) 11 (57,9%) 18 (94,7%)
 2004  Ferrari F2004 18 15 (83,3%) 29 (80,6%) 8 (44,4%) 12 (66,7%)
 1996  Williams FW18 16 12 (75%) 21 (65,6%) 6 (37,5%) 12 (75%)
 1984  McLaren MP4-2 16 12 (75%) 18 (56,3%) 4 (25%) 3 (18,8%)
 1963  Lotus 24-25 10 7 (70%) 9 (45%) 0 7 (70%)
 2013  Red Bull RB9 19 13 (68,4%) 24 (63,2%) 4 (21,1%) 11 (57,9%)
 1971  Tyrrell 001-003 11 7 (63,6%) 11 (50%) 2 (18,2%) 6 (54,5%)
2011  Red Bull RB7 19 12 (63,2%) 27 (71,1%) 3 (15,8%) 18 (94,7%)
 1992  Williams FW14B 16 10 (62,5%) 21 (65,6%) 6 (37,5%) 15 (93,8%)
 1989  McLaren MP4-5 16 10 (62,5%) 18 (56,3%) 4 (25%) 15 (93,8%)
 1993 Williams FW15C 16 10 (62,5%) 22 (68,8%) 1 (6,3%) 15 (93,8%)

And if we speak about switching teams…

The great MotoGP champion Mick Doohan won all his 5 titles with Honda; the most successful rally driver Sebastien Loeb got 9 WDCs and all of them driving Citroen; even Michael Schumacher won 5 out of his 7 titles exclusively with Scuderia Ferrari.

Hamilton’s achievement is astonishing and he should be given a standing ovation, but his rivals’ successes should not be underestimated. Only the best drivers become World Champions. Maybe you need some luck sometimes, but there is no such concept as “the true champion”, or a “more real” champion.

* Juan Manuel Fangio started 1954 season with Maserati and ended it with Mercedes.

** Sebastian Vettel has won all his WDCs with Red Bull Racing; Fernando Alonso – with Renault; Mika Hakkinen and Ayrton Senna – with McLaren.

*** This is a record in terms of winning first 4 titles. Only Michael Schumacher and Ferrari won more – 5 – championships in a row, but those were not the first titles neither for the German nor for Scuderia.

russian version

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The real champion