QuarterfinalsMichael Schumacher v. Juan Manuel Fangio
In the FIFA World Cup, the quarterfinals is the point at which the matchups are completely random, if you know what I mean. But even though the world's biggest sport is all right with that, it doesn't feel right that Schumacher and Fangio meet this early. Anyway, with "only" five titles, what does Fangio have to make up for it? After adjusting for season length, he has far fewer wins and podiums and a bit fewer poles.
Fangio tended to be dominant in the years he was champion, which is nice, but Schumacher has depressingly dominant seasons too. The best thing for Fangio might be to look at certain spans of years – who had the best five-year span, three, eight, whatever – and they're still too similar to separate based on that, what with Schumacher's time at Ferrari and Fangio's time at... four teams.
What I'm saying is that whatever you can come up with for Fangio you can usually come up with for Schumacher and serve it with another year at the top on the side. Fangio has the better percentages, but you could say it's because Schumacher has what Fangio has and a bit (a "bit" being dozens more wins, even considering how many races he had) of extra stuff. You could also say it's because Fangio never got the chance to collect championship F1 stats in his thirties the same way Schumacher did, and there's the problem. because we all know how many 1940s grandes épreuves he won
So I tried to find something for Fangio to make it more interesting than "one guy has two more championships", but there's no gap in another area big enough to defeat it. Schumacher moves on.Sebastian Vettel v. Fernando Alonsohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSYmb_IkHU0
Vettel has two more championships, but let's say it's all Grosjean's fault and give Alonso 2012. If we pretend they're tied on titles, it turns out they're quite close, with Vettel having more podiums 5–3. If we take the 1961 system and apply it to their season rankings, we get 62 points for Vettel and 53 for Alonso. So it's a slight edge for Vettel, but something that other stats could overpower.
So let's have a look at some other stats, from reality now:
Points (2003): 1293–1104
Poles as teammates: 1–0
It isn't working out for Alonso, which as you know is the story of his post-2007 career, epic driving unrewarded with epic statistics. Though this comparison seems like some sweeping thing covering decades, there's actually a specific point in time where Alonso lost: his decision to move to McLaren. Imagine the overall podiums he'd have instead of Vettel! But they made their decisions and that's where they ended up. Thanks to Alonso's "crystal" ball that's in fact glass, Vettel makes it to the semifinals.Lewis Hamilton v. Ayrton Senna
What could possibly be brought up to give Senna three extra championships' worth of statistical brilliance? Well, he'd likely have two or three extra championships without his death, but Hamilton isn't done yet.... In terms of championship positions besides first, they're very close, so that won't help. Nothing will. Not even pole positions will help. Multiplying Hamilton's count by .832 to put it on the level of a 16-race season still leaves him with 8.216 more. And when you're beating Senna in poles, well, that puts you in the semifinals.Alain Prost v. Kimi Räikkönen
Räikkönen has had two close calls to get this far, but can he defeat Alain Prost? Well, he has three fewer championships, and fewer wins (41% of Prost's total), podiums (97%), and poles (55%) even though he entered F1 about two decades later. So he's really got nothing going for him. Oh well.SemifinalsMichael Schumacher v. Sebastian Vettel
So! Last time I did this, Vettel had three titles to make up. But now that we're at the end of the decade he'll more than likely be most associated with, he has three titles to make up. Yeah. And they're pretty close to equal on other positions.
So how about wins? As you just might know, Schumacher has it, 91–53. Poles is much closer but still a win for Schumacher, 68–57. And he has, like, any other stat. This includes things like points in the 2010 system, engine makes driven for, and controversial collisions. And perhaps most embarrassingly and tellingly, best four-year span by fraction of potential points scored. I hate to say it for such a late round, but this is an easy one.Lewis Hamilton v. Alain Prost
They have the same number of championship top 2s and almost the same number of 4ths and 5ths. The thing is that two more of Hamilton's top 2s are 1sts. I don't know if you knew that. Other than that, accounting for season length, Hamilton has just over a whole extra season's worth of wins, they're almost equal on fastest laps, and the gap in poles in favour of Hamilton is quite big. I thought maybe Prost would be better at something
, like podiums per race, but that isn't how it is. Hamilton is just better.Third place matchAlain Prost v. Sebastian Vettel
The two four-time champions, together at last. Prost has slightly better final rankings otherwise, but it's by such a small margin that other things will make more of a difference. So let's look at those other things. Prost first, Vettel's numbers multiplied by .816:
Points (1961): 791.5–787.4
Points (2010): 2464.5–2585.9
Fastest laps: 41–31.0
You know when I said other things will make more of a difference? I was clearly too confident.
Vettel has his nice four-year run of championships, but judging just the peaks is mainly a way to deal with careers of different lengths, and besides, doing things further apart means more to me, it shows versatility. If I go by who I actually think was better, that doesn't help either; Prost showed well against all his teammates and was probably the best driver in more years, but Vettel has done quite well in both of those categories in a tougher era.
So adjusting for season length, Prost has slightly better championship results, slightly more wins, and reasonably more fastest laps. Meanwhile, Vettel has reasonably more poles. It would be really nice if they were majorly different on points, in any
reasonable system, but they were never going for the same thing and it's very close anyway. Should Prost win because he has the more important things – qualifying is a means to an end, after all – or should Vettel win because he's not done yet? Or should Prost win because he retired as champion and therefore he could've got extra stuff too and them having an equal number of seasons is something I may have mentioned as convenient? Vettel's got a few more years before he's as old as Prost was at his retirement....
All right, I'm going for Prost, because championship positions are what's most important. He has a 2nd instead of a 3rd, plus an extra 4th. Is that a lot, of course not, but neither is anything else here. Alain Prost takes third place in F1® StatsOff!® 2019™, emphasis on the 2019.FinalMichael Schumacher v. Lewis Hamilton
#1 versus #2. Not only that, the semifinals were #1–4 and the quarters were #5–8. So what I'm saying is that every round before this was a massive waste of time. But that's over, now it's time for the most important question in the world: is Hamilton done yet? The answer to this will be very important to F1 statistics until the day humanity destroys itself, which to be honest might not be that far off, but you get the point.
So okay, let's say this is 2019 and Hamilton just has to deal with the fact that he's down a title. What's he going to do about it? He doesn't have as many wins. Poles is pretty much all he's got, but it doesn't make up for a whole season of adjusted wins. He's even down on 2010-style points.
I even looked at ChicaneF1, not my oft favoured STATS F1 as it calls itself in the page titles or StatsF1 as it calls itself in the copyright notice at the bottom, in the hope of finding something to get him ahead so I didn't have to base things on speculations of future success. But all I found out was that Schumacher, at the time he retired, held the record for most 3rds in fastest lap classifications and was one of three drivers to have qualified 8th and been 8th in fastest laps en route to an 8th-place finish. Seriously, I love random records, even historical ones, but ChicaneF1 needs to settle down. Do we really need to know that, after setting a new record for most races led at USA 2006, he set a new record for most races led at France 2006? Especially in an eye-burning electric green and cyan on black colour scheme?
My point is that I want this section to be longer because the decision is disappointingly easy for a final round. Unless you consider qualifying the ultimate determinant of success, which it isn't because points are what the championship is based off and those are reserved for races, Michael Schumacher is still the best... for now.