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Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Is Schumacher the greatest?
Michael Schumacher celebrates his fifth world title with victory at the German Grand Prix.
Is he the greatest Formula One driver ever?
This debate is now closed.
Schumacher has achieved his dream of celebrating his fifth world championship with a victory at his home race.
The Ferrari star, who won the title in record time in France a week ago, held off a determined challenge from his brother Ralf at the German Grand Prix.
Schumacher has equalled Juan Manuel Fangio's 45-year-old record of five F1 titles, and made a new piece of F1 history by wrapping the title up faster than any other driver.
His place in history is assured, but is he the greatest Formula One driver ever?
Why is that every F1-related story published by the BBC turns into a slam on Michael Schumacher? I mean, I was misled into thinking that Jon Legard's story about Mika Hakinnen was going to be about Mika Hakinnen. It was more about Schumacher.
The fact that the British hate MS so much proves that he is one of the greatest of all time. That's a common mark of a great person...they are adored by some and hated by others, but respected by everyone. The more you Brits bash MS, the more you prove that he is the greatest champ of all time.
It's really odd to see people giving Senna more credit for his poles than Schumacher for his wins! Are pole positions the criteria to judge a driver by or race wins? What do drivers aim for? One superfast lap versus 30-40 consistent fast laps?
To start first or to finish first? Surely the latter! If poles were everything, Montoya should've been champion this year by now!
Michael is the perfect ambassador for F1 in every way. He is the best driver ever, not through luck but by hard work, skill, determination, the desire to win, etc. I cannot understand people who think F1 is getting boring. I think Ron Dennis' constant gripes are getting boring!
The issue in my mind is not the dominance of one particular team or driver, but more to do with the impact that this is having on the "occasional" spectator/viewer. They are seeing a sport that once had variety and flavour being turned into a bland, predictable procession.
This is bad for the medium and long-term future of the sport, as without the above, sponsors will not come in and neither will manufacturers who see this as a closed book. We need to have a complete rethink, as this is now a business and total market dominance stifles the market.
Michael Schumacher the greatest? Really? Even better than the greatest of them all, Senna? I don't think so. For me, Senna was pure class...to be on pole position 65 times in a field comprising all-time greats such as Prost, Lauda and Mansell is pretty outstanding.
I can't believe that this is being debated still. Schuey is clearly the greatest ever. People talk about a lack of competition but that's because he's so superior. People say that there's a dearth of talent on one hand but then on the other hand they drool over Button, Montoya, Raikonnen etc. Which is it guys? Schumacher is king and long may he reign.
I'm sorry, but Ross Stafford's comments below amount to one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read - Senna only ever won titles in what was by far the best car (McLaren Honda). Only very recently has Schumacher had the best machinery.
I believe that Michael is one of the great drivers of our time but due to the untimely death of Senna we will never know how he would have faired. It would be interesting to see Michael race in Indy Car where the cars are evenly matched and it is driver skill that counts.
Would he be able to do what Mansell did and win the Indy championship? I believe that he could. I wish we would all stop trying to compare all these great drivers, they were all talented in their time and in their cars.
Michael Schumacher is the greatest driver of all time. He is a combination of the strengths of Senna and Prost - aggressive yet sensible. These two qualities have made him untouchable. His achievements have come in lesser cars up until recently, and it's not as if he hasn't had any opposition.
Hill, Villeneuve and Mika have all challenged him over the course of a championship, albeit in faster and better cars.
Half of the comments I'm reading are ridiculous. F1 is about results, and Michael's speak for themselves. Michael is the greatest ever combination of driver, technician, and strategist F1 has seen. There are plenty of worthy drivers out there today, but he beats them all.
As the great Murray Walker once said: "If all the drivers were put in identical cars, they would all be specs in Schumacher's rear view mirror." Nobody who has seen Schumi race live could argue with the wisdom of those words.
As for the comments that have been made regarding his personality, I rather suspect that those comments are based on the interpretations of the British press, as opposed to direct experience.
Michael Schumacher is without doubt the best formula one driver ever. Remember that he took his first three world championship titles despite not having the best car. For the last two years he has had the best car and yes, he has totally dominated the sport like nobody before him.
To Compare Michael Schumacher with Ayrton Senna is like comparing Geoff Thomas to Rivaldo. Schumacher has won all his titles against a backdrop of poor drivers and increased driver aids. When Senna won his titles there were for or five drivers who could win the title.
Now, with Villeneuve driving for BAR, there is not even a consistent race winner capable of even winning races. Put Hakkinen in a Toyota and then we'll have a World Championship.
I have never been a big fan of Michael, but he surely is the greatest and most talented driver ever. Not only he is very talented as a driver, but he can also inspire the people working with him to generate the best possible outcome.
Michael will probably go on to prove next year that he is the greatest driver of all time. He definitely has the raw speed that Senna had and the tactical brains of Alain Prost - and his stats speak for themselves.
If Schumacher wins because he has the best car, how do you explain his team mate Barrichello winning only two grands prix in a Ferrari? Team orders haven't always been in place at Ferrari, as the race a few weeks ago proved.
Not only is Schumi the Greatest driver ever, he is also the fittest and most dedicated. People complain he wins because he is in the best car, but it is only the best car because of all the hard work, skill and knowledge he has brought to Ferrari. Along with Ross Brawn, Schumacher has made them a great team.
The anti-Schumacher comments from the begrudging British contingent here are embarrassing to say the least. We are all to quick to talk up the credentials of also-rans like Hill and Coulthard, but are loathe to give due respect to a man who by virtue of sheer talent has swept all before him in breathtaking fashion for three years running.
Xenophobic and myopic comments such as "maybe he's the greatest driver but he's certainly not the greatest sportsman" make me cringe. Senna was every bit as ruthless as Schumacher if not more (and rightly so), but he never suffered from this blinkered, ignorant nonsense.
Schumacher is the greatest. When he arrived at Ferrari they were not even challenging for the title. Today the car is so good it cannot even be compared with the others.
Michael is definitely the best driver ever. Not only is he the best driver, but he is also the person responsible for turning Ferrari into what they are today. Without Schumacher Ferrari would still have a "normal" F1 car. This is exactly what makes him so special - he is the only driver to have won the championship with different cars.
He's probably the best driver in the history of the sport but who cares? No one's watching anymore because it's so boring.
There is no doubt that he is a great driver. It is just a pity that controversy surrounds his sometimes dubious driving manoeuvres
I don't think there is any question that Schumacher is the greatest driver of the current generation. The problem of course is comparing across eras. My question is: has there ever been a worse field than the current one? For me Senna was the greatest as his wins came in lesser cars against greats such as Prost, Mansell and Piquet.
You cannot really compare drivers of this generation with previous ones like Fangio as the cars are so different. However, of the current generation, he is in a class of his own and it is Schumacher who has helped forged Ferrari into the best team. Before he joined the prancing horse was more of a donkey.
He fully deserves all the credit for his achievements and the people in this country don't like the fact that he is German - if he'd been English then it would have been completely different.
Its not fair to compare Formula One now to Formula One even 10 years ago - it's a completely different sport. Ten years ago you had to fight other drivers to win a GP - now you just have to have a better pit strategy! It's not fair to say that he is better than Senna, Prost or Mansell because they drove in a completely different type of race.
He's good, but that's all. He certainly does not have the talent of Senna or the brains of Prost.
He has been lucky not to have much of a challenge in the past few years in a sport that has become so dull to watch and so expensive to compete in that only a lucky few make it to the top.
Michael is the greatest ever and deserves the respect he has earned for his accomplishments. Even Williams and McClaren do not dispute what he has done for the sport of F1. His record speaks for itself. He won the championship for Benetton and his first championship in Ferrari using cars that were obviously not the best.
Yes, probably the greatest driver ever. But nowhere near being the greatest sportsman ever...
To all Brits who demean Schumi's wins by saying he has a better car: Id like to know what you have to say about your own countrymen, Hill and Mansell, who both won their championships in cars that were leagues ahead of the field!
Congratulations to Michael on sweeping the oppostion aside and taking his fifth title in such emphatic style. I don't understand either the controversy surrounding his win or Ron Dennis's claim that Michael was wrong in overtaking Kimi.
Did Ron expect Michael to park his car behind Kimi's and wait for him to get back on track? The move was completely justified.
He's the greatest driver in modern day F1 which is not comparable with F1 of 10 years ago. What we have now is a dull champion in what is a dull sport. Senna was the most gifted driver we have ever seen.
To say that Schumacher is not the greatest is a joke. His car has only become good in the last few years. There were times when you could have put Schumacher in a Morris Minor and he still would have whipped the rest of the field. The statistics do not lie (five world titles) I don't think it's down to luck. I'm sure if he was British all these comments would be very different!
Never will there be a driver with such consummate skills and incredible consistency. Both Fangio and Schumacher are great in their own respects.
Fangio won at a time when the season had only seven to eight races in a season, but at a time when racing was more risky. Schumacher raced at a time when each season has 17 races and has had to be dead consistent to win a championship.
Schumacher will be remembered as the greatest driver ever, bypassing three or four controversies of his career.
It's difficult to compare sportsmen from different eras; however Schumacher is definitely the best of his generation. His car control is fantastic and his ability to think at speed is unsurpassed. However, I think a great deal of his success is due to R. Brawn who has revolutionised race strategy and thinking to a new level. He links up beautifully with Schumacher. Throw in the best car and it is simply not fair.
He's good, of that there is no question, but give Montoya, Villeneuve or DC the same car, the same team orders, the same luck and we would be asking the same question of them.....it is not only the driver.
No matter how much some people may dislike him and his tactics; no one can argue the fact that he has shown himself to be the greatest Formula One driver ever. I have no doubt that he will beat Fangio's five championships. His skill and determination have combined with a great car designed by the Ferrari team to enable us to be witness to one of the most important times in the history of F1.
My heartiest congratulations to Schumacher and I know that he will go on giving us great drives and more records throughout his career.
Being the best at something is only relevant to your competition. He is certainly the best of his time, just as Fangio was in his time.
He is a good driver, but the are no drivers like Mansel, Prost or Senna.
Michael is really great not only as a driver but as a person. I have never ever seen him boasting of his success or claiming that he is the ultimate driver. He may have the advantage of better Ferrari package but so does Rubens. His skills on the track are really marvellous. I really like to see him racing. Hats off to him!
Everyone must admit, whether you love him or loathe him, he's making F1 boring to watch, I'd rather watch paint dry. He's proved he's the best of his era, retire and give others a chance.
I would say he's been the best over the past eight years compared with drivers such as Hakkinen, Hill, Villeneuve and a young Montoya, but I really don't think it's fair to say he's better than greats from past eras such as Prost, Senna, Piquet, Stewart, Clark and Fangio. The past two years has seen the competition practically hand him the championship on a plate.
Michael is undoubtedly the most successful driver of the modern era... he attracts the most funding, the most sponsorship, and the most publicity. This gives him the advantage over all the other drivers in F1. Strip that advantage away, put all the drivers in the same car, and then ask the question again... Michael would not be the best, only one of several very talented drivers competing in rip-roaring races!
Schumacher is certainly the best driver of this era but next season as the other teams develop their cars to become more competitive to Ferrari it will be interesting to see just how close the gap really is between the top drivers. Although with team orders I guess we'll never really know who wins the race on merit.
The man will never be as good as the likes of Fangio or Clark purely because of his attitude.
His car handling ability in poor conditions is exemplary, but his lordly flaunting of the rules makes me think that he has got a bit above himself. He cannot be fairly compared with Fangio for all the reasons that others have stated.
He is certainly the greatest driver of the modern era, but how can one realistically compare Fangio, Clark and Schumacher? He has only had the best car this year, the Benetton was certainly not the best and the Ferrari is this year largely because of the work he has put in. Winning four championships (and nearly three more) with an inferior car is the mark of a great driver.
These fellows from the UK who are trying to say Michael wins only because of a good car have very short memories. They forget what a bad car Ferrari was when he joined them. Yet he almost won the championship three times.
The likes of Coulthard can't even win with a better car. Michael made his car great, not the other way around. It is impossible to compare with other drivers from the past, but today, he is certainly way better than the rest of the field.
Schumacher does not win solely because of a good car and good luck. He is a good, solid, coolheaded driver. But I miss Mika Hakkinen out there, he is a nice guy with a right attitude about sports and sportsmanship.
I think the English don't give enough credit to Schumacher because he is not English. But how many of the teams are English? So many, without the British there would be no F1, so there is no need to be embarrassed, you will win again.
Schumacher is definitely amongst the best ever. It is just a pity that Villeneuve has chosen to stick with BAR as the only comparable driver around today is handicapped.
As for it all being the car, Schumacher has consistently shown that he can win races with poorer cars, both at Benneton and Ferrari. Especially in the season when he was injured and did not win the title.
Schumacher the greatest? Well stick him in another car, Jordan, Sauber even Arrows. If he could get one of them cars to the podium then he would be the best.
It's time people, and particularly those from this country, grew up and aknowledged Michael for the class act he is. He is one outstanding driver, no-one in the F1 paddock disputes his excellence, so who are we to do so?
The man has built Ferrari up from a shambles to become world champion again. He deserves credit and admiration for all he has accomplished, and I'm sick to death of the British press and British public refusing to grant him the respect he deserves.
Schumacher is probably the greatest. He won the '95 and 2000 titles in cars that weren't the best in the field and in these last two years he's finally reaping the benefits of all the hard work done at Ferrari. I'm sure he'll add another championship before he retires.
Michael Schumacher is not the greatest. He is always surrounded by controversy, even now as he wins his fifth title (for passing under a yellow flag).
The likes of Fangio, Stewart and Clark did not need team-mates to move over for them, and they would have taken no pleasure in winning with all the modern driver aids.
Michael Schumacher is one of the most overrated drivers - anyone could have won sixty odd races with the help he gets!
Schumacher the greatest? No. The best driver over the last five-six years? Probably. I can't fault Schumacher's ability, however it is the way he conducts himself on and off the track that stops him from claiming the title of the 'greatest'.
Yes Michael is THE best driver of all time, but it's unfair to compare him with the likes of Fangio, because they were completely diffirent cars and rules back then - I would also like to point out to Ron Dennis that Kimi wasn't even on the track when Michael "overtook", so therefore the world championship rightfully belongs to Michael. So, congratulations to Ferrari and Schui.
From the first time I saw Michael at Spa, it was clear he had a very special talent. His years with Benetton in a second rate car, but still being competitive, and now the work he has done with Ferrari, make him the best. Sadly, there is just no-one as good to compete with him.
Though it's safe to say that Schumacher is an outstanding driver, whether he is the greatest or not is very hard to say. In today's era, there is so much that has been taken away from the driver: with the advent of automatic gearboxes, traction control, launch control, etc. - even the race strategies are dictated by the team crew!
Granted, he has won five World Championships, but this in itself is not a true measure of greatness. To illustrate this, we need only consider the likes of Stirling Moss, Carlos Reutemann, Gilles Villeneuve and Ronnie Peterson....
Whether you like his style or not, he is the greatest ever.
Many people would argue that his win was a lucky one, and I have to agree with them. But winning the championship for the fifth time is certainly no luck. He has pure skills, and I would love to see him going on and breaking more records.
His determination and stamina set him apart from any of the drivers around nowadays. It is impossible to compare drivers of different eras, but in the times we live in at the moment, no one tries harder or has the precision of this great, technical driver.
Nerves of steel, amazing instincts backed up by the best F1 team of the moment. This man is unbeatable whilst he is still in his prime.
Statistics show that Michael Schumacher is the best ever. He certainly is better than Fangio who only had to win a few races to win the championship, as there were only about nine races a season back then.
Fangio always had the best car as well. Schumacher has won in cars that he should not have. There is no doubt Schumacher and Senna are the greatest two drivers ever, with Schumacher top because of his records.
Michael is without doubt the best driver of the last few years -driver as opposed to race driver- I can't think of more than four or five occasions during the last 10 years where he has actually been involved in a real race that wasn't decided in the pits- other than the Hill and Villeneuve incidents where his only answer was to try and drive them off the road.
Michael is not the greatest. He is the Man Utd of F1. His tactics during races puts lives at risk. He also intimidates officials like the infamous Roy Keane. Also he is over-rated like United are. He only wins because of a good car. Barrichello could have won the championship if it wasn't for team orders!
Put all the drivers in identical cars for a while and then see who the best is!
He may be good but he certainly isn't the greatest ever. F1 today is nothing like it was when drivers actually risked their lives and had to drive wild beasts for machines instead of the computer controlled machines around now days.
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