A while back GRANDPRIX247 published a piece in which I reasoned that Lewis Hamilton can rightfully claim to be the GOAT, unsurprisingly, this sparked considerable debate, the conclusion of which was that he is only the statistical GOAT – a considerable achievement, nonetheless.
The main reason for disagreement was that it is impossible to compare drivers from different eras. The cars simply change too much over time.
Yesterday, I read a very nice piece here about the artist Alan Dent. In this he suggested that rather than refer to Jim Clark as the Senna of the 60’s, we should refer to Senna as the Jim Clark of the 90’s. This got me thinking – if we can’t agree on the GOAT, what about the F1 GoDs – the greatest driver of each decade?
Before getting into it, a point of detail. I am referring to the fifties, sixties and so on, so each decade starts and ends with the same first digit. I haven’t used some other random split that might favour the drivers I like most. I have stuck with what is generally meant when we talk about the 60’s or the 70’s or whichever decade.
Fifties: I don’t think this one will cause much debate, with five championships it has to be Juan Manuel Fangio, the statistical GOAT for five decades!
Sixties: This one is more contentious. Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Jim Clark each took two championships in this decade. But, only Jack won a championship in a car he designed and built himself. Today, it is hard to comprehend the enormity of beating a team like Ferrari in a car you designed and screwed together in a small lock-up garage. Because nobody else has ever achieved this, the sixties have to go to Jack (sorry Jim).
Seventies: Again, three contenders each with two championships – Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and Emerson Fittipaldi. Because Niki had the stones to get back in the car after such a horrendous accident, this one has to be his.
Eighties: Two contenders each with three championships – Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost. I think most will agree this decade belongs to Alain.
Nineties: Three contenders each with two championships – Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen and Ayrton Senna. I’m sure we can all agree this is Ayrton’s decade. If the tragedy of 1994 hadn’t taken his life, he would have won many more titles.
Noughties: With five championships, and the then-new statistical GOAT, it is Michael Schumacher.
Teens: Again, with five championships, it is the current statistical GOAT, Lewis Hamilton.
What a fabulous list this gives us. The F1 GoDs are Juan Manuel Fangio, Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. (Opinion Piece by GP247 Reader: Nigel Marson)