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What Creates a F1 legend?

Oct 12, 2007
In fact, F1 fans still vote Senna the 'best driver in the world', despite the fact that Michael Schumacher is statistically the superior driver, and Fangio had won more Drivers' Championships. Most likely this is due to Senna's Romantic appeal, demonstrated by performances such as the 1993 European Grand Prix. This race saw Senna taking pole position for McLaren after the first lap, despite starting out in fourth place in a MP4/8 that lacked the technical superiority of the Williams FW15C, driven by Alain Prost and Damon Hill, and the Benetton B193 driven by Michael Schumacher and Riccardo Patrese. This is precisely the sort of thing that never happens in F1.

Perhaps it was also because he was competing against drivers of the calibre of Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell, which emphasised the personal qualities and controversial nature Senna needed to win. This included a passion for speed that allowed him to dominate the pole position, which he achieved in 65 of 162 races, a record that was still in place ten years after his death in 1994. In any case, Senna created a new type of F1 hero, one that ranks among the stars of international football, as an artist sportsman and hero to sports fans around the globe.

Since the tragic Grand Prix at Imola, other drivers have been vying for the title 'the greatest F1 driver in the world'. Michael Schumacher was the youngest driver to win two consecutive Drivers' Championships (1994 and 1995), and went on to win every championship between 2000 and 2004, beating Fangio's record of five championships in 2003. When he retired at the end of the season in 2007, Schumacher had won seven world championships, held the record for the most wins in a season, most podium finishes, most career wins (91), most points in a season (148), most consecutive world championships (5), most 'fastest laps', and most 'laps leading'. He beat Senna's pole position record in 2004. Michael Schumacher was also responsible for popularising the sport in his native Germany, and created the first real market for Formula 1 merchandise in that country.

In terms of who was the better driver: fans of the German driver believe that '94 was Schumi's first real chance of beating Senna to gain the Drivers' Championship, but we'll never know. The German driver had already won the first three races in 1994, although Ayrton dominated the pole position in a Williams vehicle that needed further development. Schumacher was trailing the Brazilian when he crashed at Imola, but he went on to win not only the race but pretty much every record in F1 history. Hard-core motor racing fans debate the merits of the drivers, but very often it comes down to subjective character preferences, since the nature and duration of the two men's careers were so different.

Each time a new F1 champion takes to the circuits they create a huge fan base in their home country, popularising the sport and creating a demand for Formula 1 Merchandise. Perhaps the UK is due its turn at Formula One glory: Lewis Hamilton has already been compared to driving legends before him. His recent victory at Japan in wet weather, foggy conditions has caused some to liken him to Senna. Rivalry with Fernando Alonso reminds some of competition at McLaren between Prost and Senna. And what he has achieved during his very first season in F1 have earned him comparisons with Schumi: he already holds records for most consecutive podiums from a debut race, most consecutive podiums for a British driver, youngest driver to lead the world championship, most wins in a debut season. With two races to go, it looks likely that Hamilton will be the first newcomer to win the F1 championship, and replace Alonso as the youngest driver to receive the title. What is certain is that Hamilton has boosted the popularity of F1 in the UK, and that we'll learn a lot more about this feisty young driver.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is a keen follower of Formula 1, and has a large collection of Formula 1 Merchandise. To find out more see http://www.official-merchandise.com
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