It seems like a silly question, I know, but just think about it for a moment...
At first glance, it seems pointless to ask the question. However, if you observed the list of Formula One worldcChampionships since the 1960s, and comparing the relative strength of each world title, the truth strives out of a drab and otherwise ill-enunciated issue.
It must be said that the issue of drivers’ relative skills, competencies, natural ability and sheer unadulterated will to succeed compared with other world championships is a matter of observers’ personal preference and choice.
Furthermore, with racing, as with the winning of world championships, a favourable light of luck must (I believe), shine on the eventual winner.
Why, one may ask does luck play a significant role in the eventual outcome in aims for growth through improvements in tenths of seconds? This is a sport that prides itself on the interoperability of technological processes and seamless integration between the perfect driver and the faultless machine.
Consider the fact that prior to the 1970s in modern F1, one could expect at least one fatality multiple times during each year. A dotting of the numbers reveals that F1 has lost a number of potential World Champions, since the advent of modern F1 in 1946.
Nevertheless, excluding the innumerable drivers who have been deceased, looking at the drivers that have actually won the world championship since 1950 (whether they have died on track or otherwise or not), it is clear that it is a matter of personal preference and one’s personal emotional attachment and bias that decides whether a drivers’ World Champion is better than another.
For instance, is Jenson Button better than Mike Hawthorn? Considering that both have one driver’s championships, the preference becomes all the more clear as one’s judgement is clearly based on one’s preference for one type of generation of cars over another; or one’s preference for a type of personality over another.
The issue becomes a little bit more difficult to judge, if one compares for instance a driver that has multiple world championships with another who has enjoyed just one. For instance, is Juan Manuel Fangio (five championships), who many believe to have been the most skilful driver ever to have won the championship (better than Schumacher), given that the former won it with five different constructors and the latter predominantly with one? Let personal preference judge.
Turning to the most heated rivalry (so much so that a feature film has been made of it) in the history of F1, can one say that ‘le Professor’, Alain Prost was undoubtedly better than the ‘the greatest racer the world has ever seen’ in the shape of Ayrton Senna because the former had four and the latter three, before Ayrton lost his life in that tragic afternoon on the 1st of May 1994 in Imola?
Bringing it into more contemporary times, one is further enlightened on the prism of preference if one asks whether Sebastian Vettel, considering his four world drivers’ titles makes him better than Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton because they each have two and one respectively? An argument is currently being waged as to whether he’s even as good as those two are.
Conversely, an argument is currently being mooted by his detractors that Sebastian Vettel is not as adaptable to the new F1 rules as two of his fiercest rivals, Hamilton and Alonso have been.
Differing views precisely reminds us all that F1 is a sport and the viewers’ initial preference as well as institutional bias is precisely what drives continual followership. A final appendage by this writer should of course reveal that he of course has neither preference nor bias towards British or British-based teams and drivers.