Alain Prost vs. Michael Schumacher

The first real comparison on the Web

This pages are part of an unofficial Alain Prost-site! The arguments in this comparision are mostly from Alain Prost-fans. Anyway, I think, everybody agrees, that Schumacher is a really great F1 driver, but still we think that Alain Prost was the better F1-driver than Michael Schumacher - and on this page we will give some arguments for that...

A. Prost vs. M. Schumacher - arguments

When Nigel Roebuck was asked on the British "Autosport" website, if he thinks that Michael Schumacher can be called the greatest driver ever, Nigel gave the following answer:
"Sorry, but no, I don't think Michael is 'the greatest driver ever in F1', although of course I count him among the greats. At one time we thought that Alain Prost's record of 51 Grand Prix victories was unlikely to be beaten, although the chances are that, had he lived, Ayrton Senna would have done it eventually; Senna was on 41 at the time of his death, in 1994.
Now, one really does start to think that Schumacher may be setting records that will never be beaten, but it has only begun to look that way in the last three years or so, since the Ferrari steamroller really got moving. Yes, he's won the World Championship three times on the trot now, but let's keep in mind that in his first eight-and-a-bit seasons of F1 he was champion only twice.
Why do I think that the sheer statistics of Michael's career may never be beaten? For one thing, he has had the best car for some time now, and I see no obvious reason why that situation should change, at least in the short term. For another, not only has he the fastest car, but also far and away the most reliable: his Ferrari always seems to finish...
....So why won't I go along that Schumacher's the greatest there's ever been? First, we have never seen him in equal cars with another truly great driver. At the end of 1987, Alain Prost could have said no to Ayrton Senna's joining him at McLaren the following year, but his belief was that the team should have the two strongest drivers available to it - and the arrival of Senna, however much it might hurt his own chances, guaranteed that. Almost throughout his F1 career, Schumacher has been partnered by a strict 'number two' - and one required to subjugate his own ambitions to those of Michael.
Second, I'm constantly amazed by the number of mistakes Schumacher still makes - although not so much in the races, I grant you. In practice and qualifying sessions, it's never a surprise to see the number one Ferrari spinning, and I find that curious for one of his ability and experience.
I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I saw Prost lose control of a car.
Third, under pressure Michael is definitely fallible - and in that respect was no match for Mika Hakkinen, who was invariably at his greatest when in a crucial situation, such as when a World Championship was to be settled in a single afternoon - as at Suzuka in 1998, when Schumacher stalled immediately before the formation lap.
Fourth - and to me this is the most crucial thing - we come to what the French like to call, 'le fair-play'. By his actions against Damon Hill, at Adelaide in 1994, and against Jacques Villeneuve, at Jerez in 1997, Michael showed that, when the chips are really down, he will do whatever it takes to win - including driving into his rival.
Apart from the move on Montoya at Interlagos, he has rarely needed to resort to such tactics this year (2002), such has been the superiority of his car, but time and again he has shown that he is prepared to do it, and I can't stomach that, I'm afraid. We all remember Hakkinen's classic pass of him at the top of the hill at Spa in 2000 - but do we also remember that, in the same place, a lap earlier, Michael moved over on Mika, at close to 200mph? Rather than fly off the road, Hakkinen backed out of it - but already Schuey's right rear wheel had clipped his front wing.
Hard racing is what F1 is all about, and rightly so, but to me intimidatory tactics have no place in it, and I'll never change my mind about that. I didn't like it when Ayrton Senna played this game, and I don't like it now, when Schumacher does it.
On sheer driving talent, Michael belongs in the pantheon, of that there is no doubt - but, in my opinion, there's a little more to it than that...."

(These are already quite a lot of arguments: Michael Schumacher has more collisions than Alain Prost and a lots more spins than Alain Prost)

"Michael Schumacher is the better driver than Alain Prost!"

(Many people wrote this. I would like to point out that Alain Prost was having several team-mates who were World Champions: Niki Lauda (3 times), Keke Rosberg (1 time), Ayrton Senna (3 times), Nigel Mansell (1 time), Damon Hill (1 time). So, five of Alain's team-mates were F1 World Champions. All of them together won 9 Championships! Michael Schumacher had only one team-mate, who was a F1 World Champion: Nelson Piquet (3 times champion). Anyway, they were team-mates for five races only. In these five races, Schumacher won 4 points and Nelson Piquet 6 points. Schumacher is the clear number 1 driver at Ferrari, and doesn't allow Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the team. And, as they say, "Fangio didn't need team-order"! Ask Eddie Irvine or Rubens Barrichello, how often they had to let Michael Schumacher pass (not only at the end of races). And we will never forget the Austrian GP 2002 - If Senna would have had to drive for Alain Prost in 1988, Alain would have won almost all the races!)

"Schumacher has the better statistics".

(That's true, but there are some things to remember: First of all, for the above reasons (no team-mates on the same level), it's easier for Michael Schumacher to win more points and races. Also, when Alain drove, he got 9 points, nowadays they get 10 points. Schumacher's Ferrari is more reliable than any car Alain ever drove.)

"Michael Schumacher won more World Championships!"

(Again, that's true, again I would like to remind you that there is nobody else in such a reliable car as the Ferrari is right now (in 2002) - Also, I would like to give a fact that Alain Prost-fan "Holiday" pointed out to me: with today's F1 scoring system, Alain would be seven times World Champion: 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1993)

"In 1983 Prost was beaten by Piquet 57:59 points. He won 4 races that year to Piquet's 3. Neither driver scored more than 11 times so didn't give up any points. Today's point system will give Piquet the title with 62 points to Prost's 61. Therefore Prost is 6 times WC if we use today's scoring system and you have to correct your above sig!..."

(In Brazil 1983 Keke Rosberg was 2nd but disqualified. No driver got 6 points in this race. Today every driver would climb up one place (3rd becomes 2nd, 4th becomes 3rd and so on). Alain Prost was 7th in this GP...)

"Schumacher is a dirty driver like Senna".

(This was written to me by a Japanese Prost-fan...)

"I've just read your comparative between Schumacher, Senna and Prost. For me, the most important point is that Alain was world champion in 86 with McLaren. Why? Because it's the only recent case of winning a F1 championship without the best car on the grid. Remember that Mansell and Piquet (Williams-Honda) used a Japanese V6 giving 150 - 200 Hp more than the V6 TAG-Porsche in qualifyings and more than 100 in the race. Schumacher, Senna, Piquet, Villeneuve, Hill, Mansell, Häkkinen won using the best car of the season. Not Prost in 1986. And he was able to do that for the second time in 1990. But unfortunately Senna didn't want him to do so... Senna was in this situation in 1993. He couldn't. Schumacher too in 96-97-98-99. And Jean Todt called Alain in 97: "Please go back to Ferrari, Schumacher needs help". But Mr Todt is a fantastic team manager and he transformed Ferrari in the best team".

(I got this e-mail from Olivier, a French Prost-Fan...)

"Schumacher is so arrogant. You just have to look at his helmet and caps! He has five stars on them, one for each F1 championship title. Did you ever see Fangio, Prost, Villeneuve, Hill or Lauda with something similar? No way! Also, Schumacher spun out in many races and still finished on the podium or even won the race. He is just very lucky!"

(This e-mail came from a German Villeneuve-Fan...)

"If Alain Prost hadn't retired at the end of 1993, he'd have won a lot more titles and been on top for a lot longer. That's where Michael is at now: he's in the best car and isn't about to retire, so he's setting a lot of records".

(A quote from Juan-Pablo Montoya in F1 Racing...)

"I think there is a point everyone has failed to notice in this discussion. The correspondent who pointed out that Prost had team mates who were champions gets close. - The more important consideration is this: Prost raced against multiple champions such as Piquet, Lauda, Senna and Mansell and single winners such as Rosberg and Jones. All at the same period. Schumacher has never had a serious challenger. Häkkinen and Villeneuve were only ever briefly competitive. Hill was always competitive but we know how dear Michael resolves those issues eh. He likes bashing people off the road. - The fact is, in every race Prost started anyone in the top 10 grid positions was capable of winning the race. - Turbo ground effects cars were not the semi remote controlled cars Schumacher drives. Automatics, launch control, traction control pace cars... what a joke F1 is now. I cannot imagine Kimi Raikkönen doing 3 or 4 crap races then getting into a Renault RE20B turbo and being competitive. I think todays F1 is a joke. - I firmly believe the turbo/ground effects era was a genuine golden age in F1. The cars were fast and unruly. The drivers had balls like very large round things. There were always 6 teams with fast enough cars to win. We had 2 distinct engine and chassis packages to choose from which just added to the spectacle".

(I received this e-mail from an Australian Renault F1 and Alain Prost fan...)

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To! © by Oskar Schuler, Switzerland