Thursday, July 28, 2005

News On F1 - Ayrton Senna vs. Michael Schumacher - The Debate - Page 6

Hello! Well, there were a lot of points to answer, so I hope you guys like reading! :-D
This is really for everyone, but especially for Ryan T, if he's still around!
“…The wrong/ manufactured claim was mainly from Paul D of Scotland…” Sorry, Ryan, but I have read over my last mail and I cannot spot ANYTHING in it that is “wrong” or “manufactured”. By the way, I have not accused YOU of fabrications or distortions despite disagreeing with many of the things that YOU say – if you ever read this and reply then please return the compliment. Anyway. I said that Benetton would have won without Schuie because it’s TRUE – e.g. Johnnie Herbert winning at Silverstone AND Monza in 1995 (in both instances Schumacher was out – for the significance of this, see below). I said that Benetton won AFTER Schuie left because it’s TRUE – e.g. Gerhard Berger at Hockenheim. I said that Lotus did NOT win after Senna left because it’s TRUE – he scored their LAST EVER victory. The number of points Benetton reaped after 1995 DID decline dramatically – but they would have anyway, with the overpowering strength of the 1996 and 1997 Williams…I bet even Ayrton Senna himself couldn’t have used a Benetton to beat the Williams to the title in those years! :-D
“…Didn't they have the money at that time? Weren't they capable?? “ You seem to have misunderstood the point I was making about mega-rich teams. ESPECIALLY where you wrote “…McLaren would have had a bigger budget than Benetton (correct me if I am wrong, that’s my one assumption). So, using your own argument about budgets as well, Senna had a better car than Schumacher…” No, I am NOT saying that the quality of a car increases directly with the amount of dollars available. That would be facile. My point was that the mega-rich teams that Schumacher has ALWAYS driven for never had to make do with a sub-standard package of engines, tyres, personnel etc. to the extent that Senna did when he drove for Lotus. This means that Senna’s achievements at Lotus, in a relatively poor car (because the team did not have the assets to make a better one relative to the competition at the time) were NEVER mirrored by Schumacher, who has ALWAYS driven for a team with much better resources. THIS means that I am more impressed with what Senna achieved before he won championships than I am with what Schuie achieved before he won his own.
No, Ryan, I am NOT saying that McLaren was poor. Ferrari and McLaren were both stable, rich teams. But Schumacher could only join one or the other, couldn’t he? He chose Ferrari, but HAD he joined McLaren, it would NOT have disproved my point, and it would NOT have implied that I thought that Ferrari had no resources.
You asked “…how come Ferrari didn’t win a Driver’s Championship since 1979 until Schumacher did it…” (Well, they’d have won it sooner than they did, as early as 1999, had Irvine NOT been required to submit track position to Schumacher earlier that year, to the detriment of his own point’s total). Anyway, that is an ENORMOUS question, and any answer would require amongst other things a complete regurgitation of the key events, deals and developments of all the championships from 1979 to 2000. Shorthand is - SOMEBODY was going to win the title back for Ferrari eventually, given the team’s resources. Had he been equal priority, EDDIE IRVINE could have taken it (see above). Also, it was NOT ONLY the arrival of Schumacher that changed the team’s fortunes; the revival of Ferrari was an ENORMOUS project, initiated and ‘sold’ to the sponsors, management and so on LONG BEFORE Schumacher signed for them, and which would have occurred anyway without him. The arrival of Todt, Brawn, Stepney and Byrne (and many others), revised sponsorship and investment levels, revised team-orders and even a new attitude (“There’s no point being fast if you don’t finish”) also helped turn things around. However, all this really doesn’t stick to the point of our debate, which is “Who’s Better – Senna or Schuie?”
“…Also, if Byrne & Brawn’s Technical interpretations are not correct, the authorities would have dealt with it...” Well, that is as great a display of blind faith in the sport’s decision-makers as I have ever seen. You only have to have seen the unpunished scandals of illegal barge-boards, de facto traction control, photographs strongly suggestive of banned differential braking systems, the controversy over flexible floors and rear wings, Michael Schumacher’s lead-weighted crash helmet that he took to an official weigh-in (depressing but true), and Benetton’s use of an unapproved fuel filter (that THEY said would actually SLOW refuelling down, but which reliable sources have stated would SPEED UP pit-stops by about a second). This second may not sound like much until you remember the pit-stop in Brazil, ’94, when Senna entered the pits AHEAD of Schuie – and left the pits BEHIND him…somehow!...There are many others, but most of these scandals and infringements have NOT been punished, despite having been either corrected or even being allowed to creep into the sport, to the EXTREMELY vigorous protests of fans, commentators and drivers alike. (Incidentally, as further demonstration of the advantage of having Ferrari putting most of their resources into one driver, look at the end of the 1999 season. After Schumacher crashed at Silverstone, Eddie Irvine became Ferrari’s championship hope, and, boy, Irvine’s points-per-race average fairly SOARED!...He was winning THIS, he was winning THAT…even taking into consideration Mika Salo’s self-sacrificing help, the man was somehow…mystically…REBORN! All of a sudden, the form of the Ferrari No.2 and underdog literally SKY-ROCKETED, to the point that he clawed back so much ground and reaped so many points that he was challenging Mika Hakkinen for the title by the last race of the season that year!)
In response to “…Why can’t you speak about ’92 ??.. I agree with you that Senna & Schumacher were not in comparable cars. Senna was in the car that won the Drivers Championship for the four years prior to that..” my reply is: because at the time of writing I was not immediately and intimately familiar with the results of that season, and the reasons for them. I was unprepared for someone to attach such huge significance to that one year, to the only complete racing year in Schumacher’s and Senna’s overlapped lives where Schumacher, for SOME REASON, scored more points. However, because this seems to be such a pivotal issue with you, I have decided to look into the 1992 season – here are my findings: The first thing I learned - and it was a strongly-recurring theme – was that at the start of 1992 the McLaren car was NOT by ANY MEANS up to the relative standards of previous years. In fact, by around half-way through the *1991* season McLaren were losing serious ground, and Senna took the title that year thanks to the amount of points he’d gained at the START of the season, when Williams were still trying to improve their package. This, Ryan, I hope will finally put the last nail into the coffin of your frankly EXASPERATING habit of insisting that a team that won championships in previous years must always logically still be front-runners the year after (or even SEVERAL years after!). Anyway. For various reasons, in 1992, Schumacher retired *4* times. My sources inform me that he scored 53 points that season. So far so good. Now, Ayrton Senna retired for various reasons *7* times, and scored 50 points. How badly did the different rate of fail-to-finishes affect the result? Well…looking only at races that they finished, Schumacher earned an average *4.8* points per race. Which is pretty decent. Ayrton Senna scored an average *6.25* points per race. This means that Ayrton Senna, rather more often than not, finished in a higher position when he finished a race than Schumacher did when HE finished a race. The inevitable conclusion, then, is that it was MACHINERY (*NOT skill*) that let Senna down. This means that in 1992, he retired on THREE more occasions than Schumacher. and yet finished only *3 points* behind him, in a season where, when he DID finish, he scored on average *6 points* per race. That really says it all. Given equally reliable machinery, Senna would have WHIPPED Schumacher. Further proof that when Senna finished he tended to BEAT Schumacher pretty convincingly can be seen in their tally of wins that year – Senna, *3*; Schumacher, *1*. I’m not taking anything away from Schumacher’s performance in 1992. He proved himself to be a bright new talent. Really impressive, beautiful. All I’m saying is that, adjusting for retirements, he just didn’t do as well as Senna, that’s all.
Incidentally, here you say “…Couple that with the fact that he had 8 years’ experience against Schumacher’s six races, Senna should have beaten Schumacher hands down...” Whereas HERE, you say: “…There are other factors such as the Chassis that could make a big difference…” And, even more damning: “…Statistics don’t say the whole truth, but longer the period (or larger the sample) the greater the accuracy. 10 – 13 years (160-200 starts) should give a fare result…” Oh? So you AGREE that the results over one year (16 starts) don’t give a representative result? So you AGREE that, say, 1992 on its own isn’t enough? OK, then how about we compare the race performances of EVERY race that the two men appeared in together? It’s easily done, and it would only be fair! Representing the results of 41 races, it is the biggest sample of comparative data possible for this discussion. Here are the results, pinched from PlanetF1’s superb archive…
Head to Head Race Results:
(Schumacher is on the left, Senna is on the right).
Won 5 10
Finished Higher 17 20
when both finished 7 10
Retirements 14 14
(Incidentally, this table DOESN’T display the fact that Michael Schumacher never achieved a single pole position while Ayrton Senna was alive).
Ryan, what I hear from you is “..Schuie got higher numbers in 1992, Schuie got higher numbers in 1992…” over and over. Don’t be fooled by the bigger numbers from that one year, Ryan. If it’s JUST THE POINTS IN THAT ONE YEAR that matter - Patrese scored *56* points that season, which is more than either of them. So Ricardo Patrese was a better driver than Senna AND Schuie, right?...(Nope!)
”Tell me, what’s so good about “THE Alain Prost” compared to Hakkinen , Montoya or Raikkonen ??” I swear, Ryan, this is your finest yet! MUSEUM quality! Here are a few important pointers… Senna: Got NO sacrificial help from team-mate in all his Championship years.
Schumacher: Got CONSTANT sacrificial help from team-mate in all his Championship years. Senna: Beat Prost, who’d achieved many victories, and multiple championships.
Schumacher: Beat Montoya and Raikkonen at first when they were novices in different teams from him in years when he had a strong car and, later, beat them when they were more clued-up about Formula One when he had the DOMINANT car.
Senna: Beat Prost, a tremendously strong-running veteran of the sport, in an EQUAL car. Schumacher: Has NEVER beaten champion material in their prime in an equal car. POSITIVELY DEMANDS relatively mediocre team-mates, who must always take a subservient role. Schuie, recently, has beaten **Eddie Irvine** and **Rubens Barrichello** in equal cars (with UNequal team orders). Looking further back to his Benetton championship years, in an equal car he beat Johnnie Herbert (who was really never the same after the accident early in his promising career that smashed his feet to bits), Martin Brundle (a good man and solid driver but, sadly, never a race-winner), Ricardo Patrese (a former race winner but WELL past his prime when he - ahem! - ‘raced’ with Schumacher) and Jos Verstappen. Oooh! ‘Jos the boss!’ I’ll let others pick apart the rest of your argument, Ryan. I could type about the differences between Senna beating Prost and Schuie beating those other chaps all day.
Also, you said: “…You say that in ’94 Senna’s car was “Difficult” quoting Frank Williams. Paul you are the one saying that Senna was good & won in these sort of cars…” Yes, given time, mate! Fair play, even in that tricky car he got 3 pole positions out of 3. He was CRASHED INTO once, spun on another occasion whilst trying to catch what I and many, MANY others have always thought was a VERY SUSPICIOUSLY nimble Benetton, and lastly suffered a fatal accident whilst leading a race. Senna would have won eventually that year – even Alain Prost said that Senna could maybe have even beaten Prost’s record of 51 race wins in 1994, had he lived (Senna had 41 at the start of that year). No-one could possibly pretend that the outcome of those 3 races were anywhere NEAR representative of Senna’s actual talents (or Schuie’s, for that matter). Then you said: “…How come Hill managed to push Schumacher to the limit in the same car ??...” Where you yet again return to your INFURIATING tendency to imply that cars cannot be developed or improved throughout the course of a year. Well, the ’94 Williams WAS developed and improved throughout the year. So too, I presume, was the Benetton, but Williams seem to have clawed back more ground. Get this into your head – **THE WILLIAMS CAR AT THE END OF THE SEASON WAS OF GREATER QUALITY THAN THE CAR THAT STARTED IT**!! As a matter of fact, it was so good that in order to win that year, Schuie only managed it by intentionally ramming Hill, just because he'd knackered his own suspension and knew he was going to lose the championship by his own mistake. I say again, Schumacher had to punt Hill off, after Schuie had damaged his own car by hitting a wall seconds before, as the result of his own error! How can ANYONE who wants to talk about Schuie’s skill refer to the ’94 Championship, the world-renowned PINNACLE of underhand, spiteful skullduggery and foul play, without cringing with embarrassment for the man?
Incidentally, I presume that the apparently tasteless comment ”…As for Williams cleaning the floor with Benetton : with due respect, Senna should have kept his car on the track in the first place. THREE IN A ROW in the best car is not good at all...” was unintended. Having been raised to have regard for folk and to give them the benefit of the doubt I will assume that you were NOT talking about Senna’s retirements when you stridently declare “…THREE IN A ROW in the best car is not good at all…” The reason being that not only was one of those retirements caused by someone else shunting him off, but also that another one actually resulted in a horrifying fatal accident that Senna, whilst negotiating an easy turn, for some reason could not avoid. So I presume in your defence that you are NOT implying, in ghastly terms, that Senna was so prone to lapses of judgement and skill as to be routinely incapable of keeping a car on a track. So you must have been talking about pole positions. That MUST be it, because the alternative “THREE IN A ROW” would be ghoulish. You must have meant “Three pole positions in a row in the fastest car is not an impressive performance,” but even so I remind you that Frank Williams himself said that the car at the start of the year was a difficult one, so either way you look at it, with that statement of yours, you are missing the point.
Also you said “…George from Greece: Firstly, please read my comments on Lotus again & try to comprehend – or ask someone else to explain it to you… “ You don’t need to patronize George as he made the same perfectly reasonable interpretation of your statement (about a team apparently having to be good in one decade after having won a championship in a previous decade) as I did.
“…On the subject of Contracts & Team mates, although I don’t think it is sporty, you can’t blame Schumacher for it…” Well, actually, Ryan T. from Sri Lanka, yes, we can! Schumacher’s “ME!-ME!-ME!” attitude has cheapened the sport for millions of fans and obscured his true level of skill. I actually really rooted for Schumacher when he was trying to beat Hakkinen, whom I saw as the dullest man in the world. But it was obvious even then that there were some serious questions to ask about Michael Schumacher. Eventually, I lost all respect for him in Austria 2002 when he took the win from Rubens, the guy who’d been on pole, and who’d led the entire race until the last few meters. Schumacher, with 10 points won as a direct result of his own demands, lacked the moral courage to even stand on the top of the podium while his country’s National Anthem played. He was getting jeered and booed by about 100,000 people anyway, why didn’t he just take his lumps? If he was doing something he could justify, and doing the right thing, why was he so humiliated?
“…Wonder what would have happened if Senna was the man at McLaren & Prost wanted to join ?...” Frankly, I think that after 1988 Senna wouldn’t have minded. Senna could beat Prost. That’s why Prost FORBADE Senna to join him at Williams when Prost joined them in 1993. (Just like Piquet vetoed Senna a few years earlier). Senna wanted to join Williams for 1993 as well, but was vetoed. He would have loved to drive against Prost, because Senna knew Senna was better.
Finally, in response to “…Team mates helping the No.1 driver has always been there. I don’t like it but that’s there to stay. The mistake Ferrari made was that they were open about it. However, you can hand pick the number of times Schumacher got help from his Team Mate. Most of the time his mate was behind his competitors…” Yes, team orders have always been a feature of F1, BUT NOT TO THE SPORT-DESTROYING, CONTEMPT-INDUCING EXTENT THAT SCHUMACHER DEMANDS. It is THIS more than anything else that cheapens Schumacher’s currency. And have you considered how much the-team-mate-usually-being-behind-him is INEVITABLE, given the difference in the way they are treated as the result of his own demands? How much of it is down to preferential budget allocation, testing time (remember when Schuie was given his 2002 (or was it 2003?) Ferrari before Rubens got his?) imbalanced resources and technical personnel (…ever noticed how many car failures Rubens suffers compared to Schumacher?...). Ever noticed how in the 12-lap qualifying, Irvine or Rubens would routinely be sent out first, to assess the properties of the track and let Schuie view the telemetry TO THE DISADVANTAGE OF THEIR OWN QUALIFYING POSITION. And remember how in the race Irvine would bunch the pack up and make overtaking difficult while Schumacher romped away?...The list goes on…
**Here is an open plea to team Ferrari – you are rich enough and strong enough to be able to run two Championship contenders, which has ALWAYS been the desire of the millions of fans who are the financial bedrock of Formula One. Millions of folk say that Senna vs. Prost at McLaren were among the greatest years of the sport. By now you must surely understand why NO-ONE likes to hear the words “…and Barrichello is in the lead, so that’s another 10 points for Michael Schumacher…!...” Ferrari, drop this attitude of putting all your eggs in one basket, give your team-members equal priority, with one of them eventually beating the other SOLELY ON MERIT like all of the other big teams and let’s go ‘RACING’ again!**
The logic is circular, and very, very tired. “Schumacher gets preferential treatment because he’s the Championship hope. And he’s the Championship hope because he gets preferential treatment.” Where does one cross the line, when does one change into the other? Regards all, Paul D - Scotland

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