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Thursday 23rd October 2014

 

The best of British

As part of a special celebration during National Motorsport Week (June 30-July 8), to mark the UK’s domination of Grand Prix racing, we have teamed up with the Motor Sports Association to find out who the nation’s favourite British World Champion is.

Britain has produced more F1 World Champions than any other nation, with a roster of 10 since Mike Hawthorn became the UK’s first in 1958 and, with Brazil and Finland tied for second with three champions each, it looks unlikely ever to be surpassed.

So is your favourite? The hard-charging Nigel Mansell? Or perhaps the brilliant Jim Clark? Have your say in the poll at the bottom of the page and we will publish the results in the September issue of the magazine that goes on sale on July 27.

For our July issue we have commissioned top motor racing writers to write articles on the 10 and, in an extra twist, we’ve added an ’11th man’ to the roster: Sir Stirling Moss. Below you can read some extracts from the pieces that have been written. If you want to read more then make sure you don’t miss out on the July issue, on sale on June 28.

Mike Hawthorn (1958)
By Doug Nye

 The best of British

He had been a man of his time, a fun-loving, womanising, hard-driving ever-incipient hooligan – adored and lionised by his mates, a man of surprising extremes, often charitable concern, keen to see kids given a proper chance. Incorrigible, vulgar, tough outside, perhaps a deprived, too-often hurt small boy inside – how can we now tell? But Mike Hawthorn was, by the standards of his time, a true Brit: on track a real sportsman – racing first, money second – and many genuinely loved him for it. If I drank, I’d certainly raise of pint of mild and bitter in his memory. In Farnham we attend his grave on January 22 each year. Considered criticism is no bar to genuine respect.

Graham Hill (1962 and 1968)
By Colin Goodwin

 The best of British

They say that Graham Hill was never a natural driver, that he had to work at it. Really? To win two world championships? The Indianapolis 500? Le Mans? The only driver ever to win all three? Not a natural? Remember that Hill only started motor racing when he was 26 years-old. We should note that most of today’s ‘natural’ drivers will have been at the wheel since the age of 8. Yet within three years Hill was lining up on the grid at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix in a not particularly good Lotus 12. He won his first world championship in 1962 in the BRM, which itself wasn’t a brilliant car.

But hold on, I’ve missed a trick. Five Monaco wins. A circuit that demands precise driving, a ridiculous number of gearchanges with each one of them a chance to blow up a fragile ’60s racing engine. If there is a track that requires natural skill it is surely Monaco. Look at the others who have won many times there: Senna with the most victories of anyone with six. Schumacher with five. Prost with four. Stewart and Moss with three each. Do I have to point out the obvious common denominator? Correct, they’re all rightly considered naturals.

Jim Clark (1963 and 1965)
By Peter Windsor

 The best of British

After meeting Clark I left reluctantly, remembering that last thumbnail: Jim, his hair slightly longer than in previous years, his suntanned face a little more lived-in, smiling that smile, laughing that laugh. Always polite. Always humble. It was difficult to imagine that he was, too, the ferociously fast racing driver who only a few weeks before had been balancing a Gold Leaf Lotus 49 on a knife-edge right by my flag post at The Farm, dark blue Buco leaning left, fingertips guiding the wheel. That he was the driver who would never give up. Never. Even when he was dealing with the savage resistance of a Lotus 30, or competing in some minor F2 race somewhere in Germany, in the wet, between the trees, with handling that didn’t feel right.

John Surtees (1964)
By Alan Henry

 The best of British

John Surtees’ glittering celebrity status is rightly underpinned by his unique achievement of being the only competitor ever to win world championships on two wheels and four. Yet his F1 record of six Grand Prix wins out of 111 career starts could be said to short-change his status to some degree. Surtees was not simply a good driver, he was unquestionably a great driver, right up there amongst an elite group of contemporaries which included Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham.

Jackie Stewart (1969, 1971 and 1973)
By Nigel Roebuck

 The best of British

Once in a while, a driver comes along who is just different, and from the start there was something about Stewart, his whole being, which radiated confidence. His jaunty step brought to mind Stirling Moss. Both walked through a paddock as if they owned them, and in a way they did. Following Fangio’s retirement, Moss’s place in the protocol of racing was mirrored by Stewart’s after the death of Clark. They were the best of their times, and they knew it.

James Hunt (1976)
By Rob Widdows

 The best of British

The bare facts are nothing out of the ordinary. World Champion once, by a single point. Ten wins from 93 Grands Prix with three teams over 7 years. But when it comes to James Hunt, it is not the statistics that are of interest, it is the myth, the aura of romance and glamour that continues to fascinate. This most dashing, and maverick, of men made headlines that the average racing driver may only dream about. Why? Because he lived and played outside the comfort zone, beyond what is considered to be the acceptable modus operandi of a champion sportsman.

You loved him or you loathed him, few sat on the fence. There were the two James Hunts, the megastar racing driver and later the skilled broadcaster. Maybe there were two more. The swashbuckling lothario, then later the kind, loving Father of Tom and Freddie. You knew all four, sometimes your feet were in more than one camp, but above all none of it was ever dull.

Nigel Mansell (1992)
By David Tremayne

 The best of British

I watched Mansell at Brands Hatch in 1983 wrestling the awful Lotus 93T, and his driving was nothing short of breathtaking. But though the fearsome determination and bravery were the cornerstones of his career, they was much more besides. Forget all that mumbo jumbo about him being a grafter who made up in effort what he lacked in ability. There was massive natural talent there.

“Nigel was a very, very quick, strong, determined driver who knew what he wanted and was very clever at setting up a car,” designer and race engineer Frank Dernie says, before making a valuable distinction. “And he was forceful rather than aggressive.”

Lotus and Williams team manager Peter Collins, who gave him that Ricard test, concurs. “Everyone said that Alain Prost was brilliant at chassis setting, but when they were at Ferrari in 1990 Nigel sorted out his 641/2 much quicker. And he was one helluva race driver.”

Indeed. He was a warrior, a superb racer. Every test session, let alone every practice or qualifying session, he needed to be fastest, because that’s the way he was. He always attacked.

Damon Hill (1996)
By Adam Cooper

 The best of British

As he worked his way up he always had to fight against the doubters, and now that his F1 career can be viewed in the context of just how good his nemesis Michael Schumacher turned out to be, it’s still easy for the critics to downplay his achievements.

And yet it’s all there in black and white – Hill won the 1996 World Championship, earned 22 Grand Prix victories, and took 20 pole positions. And he did it all with a dignity and good humour that others could do well to emulate.

For 1994 he was set to play number two to Ayrton Senna, but that all changed after Imola. It’s arguably that season rather than his title success two years later that Hill deserves most respect for. Suddenly thrust into the team leader role, he helped to pull the shattered Williams outfit together. His win in a dramatic rain affected race at Suzuka was magnificent, and it was only the crippled Schumacher’s desperate lunge in Adelaide that cost Damon the title.

Lewis Hamilton (2008)
By Ed Foster

 The best of British

Blisteringly quick, superb in wet conditions and someone who’s meteoric rise through the ranks surprised not only his fellow racers, but McLaren’s boss Ron Dennis: Lewis Hamilton marched onto the F1 track as if he had been there for two seasons already.

“Lewis is up there with the best of all the McLaren drivers,” says Neale. “He’s by far and away not the finished package yet, but we’re starting to see a new element to his game and the canniness that we saw in Fernando and Mika [Häkkinen]. His car control is very good, his will to win is unrivalled and if he decides to be in the sport for a long period of time he will be amazing. You’ll look back in a decade’s time and think ‘where were you when Lewis…’. He’s that good.”

Jenson Button (2009)
By Damien Smith

 The best of British

Was Button mad when he moved to McLaren, we thought? “For someone as intelligent as Jenson is,” says Whitmarsh, “to evaluate the situation and determine that he wanted the challenge of being measured in a McLaren against Lewis Hamilton showed an extraordinary level of self-belief, of commitment, hunger and bravery, because he was very comfortable where he was.”

The opportunistic wins that have followed, the hard-charging victories such as his unforgettable Canadian GP performance last year, the dominance of Melbourne in March… finally Button has delivered on the early promise of 1998, when I followed his almost-vertical progress in the cut and thrust of Formula Ford. During those first raw days in racing cars, he made mistakes, but those errors would rarely be repeated, and the sunny smile and easy-going attitude made him impossible to dislike. Nothing much has changed.

Stirling Moss
By Nigel Roebuck

 The best of British

Unless you were around at the time, it is impossible to appreciate just how much Moss was motor racing in Britain back then. There were others – Hawthorn, Collins, the prodigiously talented Brooks – but none captured the public imagination like Stirling, and I would venture that none has since.

Moss is the anomaly in this list – the intruder, you might say – because he never won the World Championship. To me, that diminishes only the worth of the title: I think Stirling the greatest of them all, no matter the points, no matter the country.

“If Moss had put reason before passion,” Enzo Ferrari said, “he would have been World Champion many times.” So he would – but then he wouldn’t then have been Stirling Moss.

 

Join the discussion 110 comments

  1. Stewart Hutcheson

    The quiet dignity with which he went about his business and the supreme confidence he instilled. He intimidated the others but not in a Schumacheresque way

    on 14th June 2012 at 17:50
  2. John Turner

    Nigel Roebuck is absolutely spot on about Stirling Moss, the greatest of them all, as he says.

    on 15th June 2012 at 13:17
  3. GP

    Time to rename this title Moss-Sport me thinks.

    on 15th June 2012 at 14:32
  4. Greg Price

    I’m confused by this. You make the valid point that the fact that SM didn’t win the title only diminishes the title yet lump him in with those that did. If you are asking who is our favourite champion, that is one thing and it should be restricted to those who won it, whatever the assessment of their talents.. However there are arguably other drivers in addition to SM who didn’t win the title or even raced in F1 who are better than some of those who did win the WDC. A more valid question is then surely, who was the favouite/ best Bristish driver.

    on 15th June 2012 at 14:41
  5. Rhys Ellis

    Damon Hill is my great hero. One of the very few motor racing drivers – or indeed any sportsman – that graced the harsh competitive world known as “the pirana club” with such dignity and integrity without the Senna-Schumacher style egoness. With such a true gentleman’s attitude that not only mirrors his father’s, but stands proud and apart in an era of intense media scrutiny, he really proves that good guys can come first. Damon: A world class Champion.

    on 17th June 2012 at 19:55
  6. Nick J

    Epitomised what all fans loved about the sport, and had fun doing it, without unnecessary pretentions.

    on 20th June 2012 at 06:59
  7. Terence Golub

    To those golden days when I was introduced to F1 and found my international driving idol. Chapman and Clark conquering new inovations, the way legends are made of.

    on 22nd June 2012 at 19:13
  8. John Fox

    Jimmy was my hero as a teenager. I was utterly devastated on 7th April 1968. I loved his quiet humility that disguised incredible speed. I loved his versatility, quick in a single seater, sports car, ERA or Lotus Cortina. I only saw him once at the Oulton Gold Cup in 1966. He was probably the last great champion of F1 when it was still a sport.

    on 22nd June 2012 at 20:24
  9. Greg Conchelos

    One of the great wild cards here is the increasing intrusion of technology between driver and car. Example: manual shift not paddles. I give weight to the earlier drivers for this and would like to see the return of a more “physical” form of car control in the future. Let’s see you magazine pursue this. Less drive by wire; more drive by driver.
    G Conchelos – American in Canada

    on 22nd June 2012 at 20:32
  10. John Ball

    “Our Nige”…”IL Leone”…who else in the list has garnered such affection through different decades and design changes in F1? His charisma may have been lacking out of the car but he had larger genitalier than most in it. Yes he may of had the best car in ’92 but generally most champions have in their winning year. Then to change disciplines in ’93 and come out on top, how many have that achievement? BIG balls!
    Jim Clark is currently leading the poll and perhaps this reflects the age of readership,nothing against his skill as we’re are all rose tinted to a certain degree.
    But the age old question arises, how can you compare different eras of driver? So this is such a personal and heartfelt
    subject.

    on 23rd June 2012 at 08:21
  11. John Harris

    Because he was head and shoulders above everyone he raced against and could also drive round any problem with a car and still lap quicker than most.

    on 23rd June 2012 at 15:49
  12. David Fisher

    I have been fortunate to see 9 out of the ten race. The best, without any shadow of doubt, Jim Clark, and he is my favourite. My second, for what it’s worth, Damon Hill. This man did it, won the World Championship when so many hailed as the best thing ince sliced bread did not, and he scared the young Schumacher. Simply Brilliant

    on 26th June 2012 at 19:05
  13. Peter Mann

    As I read through the potted biogs, I kept thinking how unfair to only be able to vote for one person, when, really, I wanted to vote for three – Button, Clark and Moss (okay, I should have made it four with Hamilton).

    In the end I voted for Button on the basis that Clark was likely, and understandably, to be the favourite with Moss a close second (and well done Motor Sport for bending the rules and including him) so they didn’t really need my vote, whereas Button needs – and deserves – all the praise and encourgement we can muster for him right now.

    I wasn’t, though, expecting Clark to have quite such a lead – so well done Jimmy! And isn’t it incredible how England and Scotland has produced such talent?

    on 27th June 2012 at 22:21
  14. John Hostler

    The peerless Clark was a bit part of my young life, and I have felt the same about F1 since his death. He made winning look so easy, you wondered if the others were really trying!

    on 29th June 2012 at 08:44
  15. Graham Wilkins

    They are all great Champions in my opinion-to pick one is diificult, but for me it has to be Graham Hill. His humour, gritty determination and debonair Englishness, as well as his all-round driving skills puts him at the top. If it was on driving skills alone it would be Jim Clark or Stirling Moss. Oh, and Nigel Mansell for sheer excitement and entertainment. May the best man win!

    on 30th June 2012 at 12:49
  16. Rod Hollingsworth

    Stirlings 16 Grand Prix wins does not tell the full story.He won over 50 F1 races, the best in my opinion the 1956 Daily Express meeting in May that year. The race was about as long as today’s GP’s and he won in the then new Vanwall at an average speed of the old lap record! The works Lancia Ferrari’s of Fangio and Collins, BRM of Hawthorn and Scott-Brown and Titterington in Connaughts was competition at it’s highest. Stirling also came second in the sports car race in an Aston Martin the same day! I was there!!! I have followed his career since his XK120 win at Dundrod(my favourite car of all time)From 1954-1959 I was an RAF Policeman on active service half of that time but when I was abroard I always somehow managed to get hold of Motor Sport sometimes months old to catch up on the results of the best sport in the world and the best driver in the world and the greatest ambassador for the sport this country has ever seen. Being in the Motor Industry for over forty years I did meet the great man on a few occasions, Motor Shows, corporate events etc;
    and I have the June 1955 copy of Motor Sport (Mille Miglia) signed by both Stirling and Jenks!! courtesy of Mike Lawrence one of your past editors.Mr. Roebuck you have got it right!!

    on 30th June 2012 at 14:43
  17. Simon Barrett

    1976, I was fifteen in that long hot Summer, and the James/Niki duel filled it. You couldn’t write a script like that season, no wonder they’re making a film! I will always remember listening to the radio, to the decider. at Fuji, Sunday morning, only me awake in the house,

    on 30th June 2012 at 18:17
  18. Bruce Dixon

    No contest!
    Any driver who can win the world championship, skipping Monaco to win Indianapolis must get the vote.

    on 30th June 2012 at 18:59
  19. d. macnab

    This is a rather hackneyed and pointless subject. It has been done to death over the years and I’m rather disappointed in MotorSport wasting umpteen pages in rehashing all the pro’s and con’s. I think it is impossible to rate drivers against others who did not compete in the same era in comparable machinery, so why bother?

    on 30th June 2012 at 20:36
  20. Henning Sundhaugen

    This is a tough question! Not at least because it is not fair to compare across generations. But, personally I would like to pick one from my own time, and then my pick would be Nigel Mansell. I think he was by far the most spectacular driver of his generation. Far better than the statistics suggest. His determination was simply unbelievable at times. I think British tabloids, and even British racing magazines treated him unfairly. Judged for his on-track perfomance only, Mr Mansell ranks extremely high on my list-

    on 1st July 2012 at 21:12
  21. peter whybrow

    Jackie Stewart once said “you can only be the best in your own era and, beyond that,nobody knows.”
    So, a very difficult choice, as they were ALL great in their own way.
    My second place would go to Damon Hill-for what he did at Williams after Imola-and for what he managed to do at Silverstone.

    on 2nd July 2012 at 08:53
  22. David Baxter

    Age has to be a factor. How many voters were around when Hawthorn & Moss were active? I was a Hawthorn fan , my pals preferred Moss. As a Scot Jim Clark would get my second vote.
    Perhaps he was the most talented champion in the rear engine era. If you split England & Scotland the number falls from 10….
    We do in most sports in the UK, football, rugby, cricket,etc.
    Germany has only 2 champions but 9 titles with more to come…
    GrahamHill is the only English double champion surprisingly, but Hamilton may equal, indeed exceed, Hill. As usual a fascinating article. How do you keep the standard so high?

    on 2nd July 2012 at 11:16
  23. Nigel Gardener

    In terms of sheer talent its difficult to split Moss and Clark – but then you have to factor in the era in which they raced, the cars they drove ( or didn’t ! ) and then, for me, Moss has to be an outstanding “champion” in all but name.

    on 2nd July 2012 at 14:41
  24. Steve Bell

    Bravery comes in many forms – to stand up for ones beliefs in the face of at times, ridicule and intimidation, and at best, indifference, takes immense courage. We will never know how many young driver’s lives have been saved by the selfless bravery of Sir Jackie in his tireless crusade for safety. His effortless and sublime skills behind the wheel would have made his great hero Jimmy Clark proud.

    on 2nd July 2012 at 22:27
  25. Graeme Inglis

    It took a lot of thought, you rightly include Sir Stir, but then you have Damon who came in with little money and the burden of his fathers name, fought his way to the top and then went on to be such an ambassador. In a similar way James Hunt came through with little money, but brought fun style and charisma (of a type Lol) to the sport. But in the end it had to be Jimmy, he just made it look so easy and as we all know, it’s not!

    on 3rd July 2012 at 13:40
  26. Ross Neilson

    Although a keen student of Grand Prix history, I’ve only been watching since the late 80s so my choice would have to be Mansell or one of his successors.

    As an impressionable teen I was in awe of some of Mansell’s performances for Ferrari, a match made in heaven. Hard to like off the track for his chippy demeanour but the hardest charger on it, and the only one Senna feared in wheel-to-wheel combat. So my vote goes for the Brummie!

    A close second would be Damon Hill, whose only initial mistake was to be second to Michael Schumacher. I thought Damon’s dignity and good humour throughout 1994 showed what a classy bloke he was, in stark contrast to his German rival who once declared “I’m not sure Ferrari have ever had a 1-2 before”… Damon was a worthy champion and has been a terrific ambassador for the sport since retirement.

    on 3rd July 2012 at 14:55
  27. Michael

    The Hill-Clark duels were my introduction to F1. Even though I’m a huge Lotus fan I always liked Graham Hill and was very happy when he returned to the Lotus fold. Not only was he a superb driver, but he was also a wonderful representative for the sport and for England. I would rank Clark a very close second and Stewart third.

    on 3rd July 2012 at 15:09
  28. Alan Parish

    I’ve voted for Graham Hill because although he may not have been the most gifted driver of his era (although that’s debateable I think), he somehow epitomised everybodys idea of the dashing, witty and accomplished driver of the period.

    on 3rd July 2012 at 16:00
  29. Peter

    In my opinion, Stirling Moss was the most versatile driver of his time. Apart from his season with Mercedes Benz, he had to cope with fragile cars which were not always the best ones. His Mille Miglia win in 1955 was probably the highlight of his career. I have been privileged to meet him in recent years and I find him to be a true gentleman.

    on 3rd July 2012 at 16:11
  30. T T Raghunathan

    Nigell , Damon , Jenson , Jackie & Stirling shouldn’t have made the list

    on 4th July 2012 at 07:09
  31. w.bangham

    Where is Stirling’s knighthood?

    on 4th July 2012 at 07:17
  32. alan burden

    I am glad to see that Moss was voted at least 2cnd. One must remember thought that he is/was regarded by many as the best allround driver of all time. I saw him in his 500cc days through to his dreadful crash and the amazing press coverage of that disaster. “Moss wakes up” screamed press headlines big enough for the commencmentoof the second coming. A truly wonderful genius of his sport. (and it was a sport then)

    on 4th July 2012 at 07:24
  33. Bert Young

    F1 driving today is not as tough and demanding as it was pre-70′s. Driver safety was practically non-existent .Nero muscular skills were needed to a very high standard as was knowledge of the track. Financial reward today is laughable -akin to that of idiotic football players . Stirling has my vote followed by Jim Clark.

    on 4th July 2012 at 08:18
  34. Barry

    I’m with Greg below. There’s absolutely no point at all in including Stirling moss in this poll! I find his inclusion bizarre. Either have a poll about your favourite driver, or a poll about your favourite champion – the two are completely different. My vote is for Damon Hill, not just because of what he did with the car (when his team-mate couldn’t), or because of the insipid attitude of Frank Williams, but because of his incredibly gentlemanly behaviour. He is a role model for English boys and men.

    on 4th July 2012 at 08:54
  35. Jimmy Dash

    Numbers speak for themselves – Jackie Stewart 3 times world champion – nuff said

    on 4th July 2012 at 09:54
  36. Jeff Newman

    It’s difficult to pick just one from this list, but Jim Clark was the best driver of these (only Senna and Fangio are better imho). Lewis may get there, but has a long way to go in this company.

    on 4th July 2012 at 10:13
  37. Ford Macfarlane

    Interesting that the poll shows Nigel Mansell in second place, albeit a long way behind “Gentleman” Jim Clark with his peerless skill on the track and his manners off it.

    Mansell was (is?) a driver who never gave up, and who would make the best of what he was given to drive, refusing to accept that he should not win. I still recall him being physically lifted out of his car at Monaco, being so exhausted and dehydrated that he could not stand up…but having still broken the lap record in that condition.

    What a fighter! And what an instinctive driver!

    on 4th July 2012 at 10:51
  38. Peter

    how anyone can vote for jackie, nigel, damon, or jenson is beyond me.
    jaskie is mr opinion and only made racing safer (bloody coward ruining the sport), nigel was a fair racer but not any kind of here and wlways complaining / bitter, damon was ok in his time but has blown it with his current associations and his comments and f1 penalty rulings, jenson isnt a good driver and gets lucky now and again and is always complaining while lewis gets on with it despite having an impossible time. I voted for James as he is just a legend and i wish f1 would go back this way and be less polished.

    on 4th July 2012 at 12:28
  39. Greg Price

    Having now read the latest issue, I’m with d macnab below. I haven’t seen anything that I didn’t already know about the 11 drivers profiled and it seems an easy way to fill magazine copy given there will presumably be further coverage devoted to this in future issues as well.

    on 4th July 2012 at 12:29
  40. David Price

    Sir,

    I began watching F1 as a schoolboy in 1955 with Fangio & Moss and in my teens was a track marshal at F1 meetings at Aintree, Oulton Park and Goodwood from 1960. Since I subsequently acqured 20 years experience as an amateur race driver and rally-ist, I therefore perhaps have a longer historical oversight than many of your correspondents.

    I am extremely surprised that Jim Clark currently leads the poll. He was certainly a very gifted driver (and I watched him drive as close to me at Aintree as I am now to my computer) but so were all the others, because you don’t win consistently at that level unless you are. At any sport all you can do is beat your current competitors, which is why any poll of this type must require unrepresentative and perhaps fatuous comparisons.

    However, it is an absolute provable fact, that no British driver has ever – or could now ever – exceed Stirling Moss’ record, not just in F1, but as the most complete all-round racing driver Britain has ever produced. He is without doubt the only driver of any nationality able to be ranked with Tazio Nuvolari and Juan Fangio, as the 3 greatest drivers of all time. He also achieved world land class speed records with M.G factory.

    Sir Stirling ‘gifted’ the 1958 championship to Mike Hawthorn; an act of sportsmanship only equalled by Nicklaus giving Jacklin the put in the Ryder Cup.

    For sheer variety of wins in so many cars over so many years
    Moss’ record is unbeatable. His Mille Miglia win of 1955, averaging almost 100 mph for 12 hours is worth a dozen modern Championships

    on 4th July 2012 at 13:45
  41. Ralph

    Stirling Moss would have been champion but for his commitment to driving British cars as a matter of patriotism and a gearbox design fault that took too long to be discovered.

    on 4th July 2012 at 15:59
  42. David Palmer

    No nonsense, Nigel just drove to win

    on 4th July 2012 at 17:30
  43. Steve

    Damon Hill robbed of a Championship by Schumacher who was treated with kid gloves thro’ his racing days.Today,he’s have had far more penalties and far less chance of bullying his way to the top.

    on 4th July 2012 at 20:45
  44. Declan

    I think I remember watching Mansell vs Schumacher a number times. As far as I recall Mansell’s speciality was the under/ over take foil. He would move to one side of the track as of he intended to overtake, let the forward party block him, then undertake him. If the other party didn’t block him, he would make a very gutsy job of trying to overtake him on the outside first, then the inside of the next bend. Very gutsy, very clever, very well timed. Few drivers could out drive Schumacher. Nigel was one of them.

    on 4th July 2012 at 21:42
  45. Will Lawrence

    From Saloon Cars to F1 to Indy Cars, Clark was a genius. He could ‘nurse’ a car to the finish, or out ‘race’ any driver on the grid when required. To be that good over a long period of time and in such a variety of machinery a driver requires an intelligent understanding of the machine he has under him plus great vision, balance and the will to win. Jim Clark had it all and would indeed have been a world champion in any generation.

    on 4th July 2012 at 22:20
  46. Bob Tomlin

    Moss is the boss!

    on 5th July 2012 at 02:48
  47. King Nigel Mansell

    Because of the fighting spirit, beacuase of the Mansellmania, because of Silverstone ’87, Mexico ’90, Barcelona ’91 and much more and because he’s my hero : my vote goes to Nigel Mansell !

    on 5th July 2012 at 09:44
  48. Graham Dalley

    I voted for Graham Hill, partly because my father named me for him (but only after my mum refused pointblank to call me Stirling, apparently) and partly because of what I have read and have heard from people who knew him. To me Graham was a grafter, not naturally talented like say Clark or Moss but what he gave away in natural ability he more then made up for with sheer determination and grit, he never gave up. That’s why in my humble opinion he is Britain’s greatest F1 world Champion.

    on 5th July 2012 at 11:16
  49. Graham Dalley

    At ‘Peter’, I think your opinion ‘s on some of the drivers on this list are way wide of the mark. Jackie Stewart is far from the “bloody Coward” you describe him as. Stewart won three F1 championships in one of the most dangerous periods in the history of the sport, his work to make F1 safer has come about because of the deaths of many of his friends Cevert, Peterson, Rindt to name but three, So “coward” never he has saved so many lives and put his own reputation on the line countless times to stand up for driver safety. Nigel Mansell did have a reputation as a whinger true ” a fair racer” you say, poppycock I say! The man sold everything he owned to go racing, his self belief was astronomic and he proved those who doubted his ability wrong, beat his contemporaries, Prost Piquet and Senna in straight fights with a spirit and tenacity that was simply staggering, the tifosi called him “Il Leone” and just to prove a point he went to America and beat the established Indy car drivers in their own back yard. As for your comments about Damon Hill, how much pressure, both from the outside and placed on himself do you think he was under? yet in his first full season he beat Prost several times in an identical car he was cruelly robbed of the 1994 crown in the year his team mate was killed in an identical car and one of his friends was killed on that black weekend. he didn’t crumble, he could have thrown the towel in and walked away but he didn’t coming back to become the first son of a world champion. I’ll answer your ludicrous comment about Jenson in my next post

    on 5th July 2012 at 11:42
  50. Phil Hammond

    Good role model, passionate, eloquent and loyal to family and friends.

    on 5th July 2012 at 11:56
  51. Graham Dalley

    At ‘Peter’ (cont)… Your comment on Jenson Button…”isn’t a good driver, gets lucky…” clearly indicates to me you have no grasp of modern F1, (no grasp of F1 period to be brutally honest). I have been lucky enough to watch Jensons rise through the ranks of the jr formulae, in formula ford he was ruthless but fair the Mygale chassis wasn’t the best but it suited his style perfectly, winning the Formula Ford festival at Brands (when it was still worth winning) in F3 again the Renault was not the best car but he still won races, the jump into the Williams team may have been a year too soon but it showed what he was capable of. In terms of being “lucky” well i don’t think you could be wider of the mark! he joined the championship winning Renault team the year they decide to get all radical with a new wide V engine which proved to be a technical blind alley, the car is rubbish yet he keeps his chin up and struggles on for a couple of years before Honda make him an offer and the following season, the bloke who replaced him wins the world championship! Then after taking his first win finally in 2006 Honda go all green with the earth car which is a proper shit box as is the 08 car and then decide after all that to pull the plug for 09. the mating of the Merc engine to the Brawn/Honda chassis that put him in the right place at the right time and was really the first bit of good luck he’d had. the move to Macca was question but he’s beaten LH many times since then. ok he hasn’t had the rub of the green this year but to say he’s no good and lucky hmmm i don’t think so Peter.

    on 5th July 2012 at 12:30
  52. Colin Neeson

    Only man ever to win both disciplines, what a fantastic champion and ambassador for Motorsport

    on 5th July 2012 at 13:14
  53. Francis Pickthall

    Jim Clark was the most talented British Racing driver in history. Had he lived longer he would surely have won several more world championships.
    He was brave, skilfull and drove with an economy of effort that was truly masterful.
    If he wins this poll it will not be on account of his early demise that so often wins polls of this type. It should be becuase he was an outstanding talent and a remarkable human being.

    on 5th July 2012 at 16:12
  54. David E.Amette

    I voted for Jim Clark. Watched him race in UK and USA.
    The fastest driver I have ever seen, driving “Any Car”
    He was fast and so smooth.
    Also a charming man when I met him at Riverside
    Raceway, CA
    Fangio was the fastest in an F1 car, but, Jimmy could
    drive any type of racecar and beat anyone!
    What a sad loss, DSJ was in tears at Brands
    when we heard.
    Keep up a great magazine, the best!

    on 5th July 2012 at 16:32
  55. michael

    I went to see a formula 2 race in Snetterton in 1965, seemed there were more people in the paddock than watching the race.
    I went with a friend in the Lotus pits and he tells me “you know who is the guy talking to the mechanics?” Jim Clark!! I could not believe it, I spent an afternoon seeing Jim Clark race (two batteries f2 and saloon cars) and in the pits in between. At a certain moment Colin Chapman talked to me but I could not understand what he said because of the noise of the cars and jut nodded. Great day in my life, unforgettable!!

    on 5th July 2012 at 20:06
  56. George Boyter

    Jim Clark and Stirling Moss are a league above everyone else, save perhaps Jackie Stewart. As a lifelong motor racing fan Its been my privilege to see and appreciate their genius in full flow.

    on 5th July 2012 at 20:08
  57. Chris Cook

    I voted for Stirling Moss. He was a great at all forms of motor sport from rallying to grand prix racing from 500cc F3 to 450bhp sports cars. If Moss rather than Hawthorn had taken a drive at Ferrari in ’53 and stayed with Ferrari he may have been champion in 56/57/58. He may have been able to prolong front engine dominance for another year for the championship in 59 if Brooks had been his team mate. Both he and Brooks were better drivers than Brabham. Hawthorn was good on his day but won too few grand prix (3) to be the best, probably because he was unwell for much of the time due to kidney problems and possibly alcoholism. Jim Clark is unsuprisingly popular but maybe not quite so great because arguably he had the best car and his early achievements were in the relatively easy to drive low powered 1500cc era cars. Most underated is Surtees. Because of his motorcycle racing career he was pushed straight in to F1 with very little experience. He had a short F1 career and was unlucky not to win another championship. Graham Hill was a good driver and although a multiple winner never quite in the Moss/Brooks/Clark class. Stewart although a fine driver was never quite as good as Clark. It is hard to make comparisons with the modern champions from Mansell onwards. They are fitter than the older drivers with perhaps the exception of Moss, but are they better, I do not think so. They are certainly less rounded as drivers although to be fair with the comercialisation of F1 they have little time to do anything else.

    on 5th July 2012 at 20:37
  58. A41202813@GMAIL.COM

    One More Poll, The Same Vote:

    GILLES, NIGE And LEWIS.

    on 6th July 2012 at 04:14
  59. Robert COOK

    As good as many other drivers may have been and I use the past tense deliberately,because today’s drivers are amateurs compared to previous ones, for me there can only be one driver that stands out from the crowd and that is JIM CLARK. Jim was a masterclass in racing car driving and there is nobody around in the UK at the moment who comes anywhere close to him. R.I.P. Jim.

    on 6th July 2012 at 05:59
  60. allan trusswell

    Nigel was just brilliant to watch on the track I have enormous respect for his commitment to winning every time I watched him at work it sent shivers down my back. I just have to add Damon hill at the hungaroring in an arrows !! I did consider giving him my vote as well, inspiring drive.

    on 6th July 2012 at 19:15
  61. Dianne Court

    Nigel Mansell drove to win.

    on 6th July 2012 at 20:11
  62. Ed Gallagher

    Recognised by fellow competitors as a winner in any car, in any type of motor race in all types of weather.

    on 7th July 2012 at 08:07
  63. terry fletcher

    In my opinion Jim Clark could drive any car in any catagory, it would always be a winning combination, far superior to any of today,s drivers.

    on 7th July 2012 at 16:34
  64. Michael Moore

    Jim Clark had a collossal natural ability which makes him my favourite. He was almost always first off the line and once in the lead he just dissapeared into the distance. His smooth style was a delight to watch in F1 or that magic Lotus Cortina on 3 wheels around Brands Hatch. Above all he was a gentleman who loved his sport. His record says it all.

    on 7th July 2012 at 16:38
  65. John Candler

    Stirling Moss was the consumate driver who was able to achieve higher speeds from most racing cars compared to other drivers. Once in the car on race day he was mentally locked in to the task of circumnavigating the particular course of the day, so much so that he appeared unaware of persons endeavouring to speak to him.

    In his era the driver had to use all three control pedals and to select the appropriate gear using a floor mounted control (gearstick).

    Although he never won the F1 Championship in my mind he was the best there ever has been. Still drives quite well now!

    on 7th July 2012 at 18:01
  66. suzan spencer

    lewis hamilton is the only reason i got in to F1 he makes it exciting and now i understand F!

    on 7th July 2012 at 20:38
  67. Jeff Ellison

    It has to be Surtees, the winner on bikes and in cars. He has continued to support motor sport on 2 and 4 wheels ever since, by participation and in writing. Truly extraordinary and normal at the same time!

    on 8th July 2012 at 09:06
  68. Bruce Henderson

    Simply the best.

    on 8th July 2012 at 09:28
  69. Mark Williams

    You should allow us to vote our favourites 1 – 10 and not just one favourite (unless I haven’t read something properly). That way you’d get a truer picture.

    on 8th July 2012 at 10:01
  70. Tony Francis

    A great, brave driver and a great man who came to a tragic and premature end.

    on 8th July 2012 at 10:26
  71. Wade Hampton

    They’re all great and it’s very hard, if not impossible, to choose just one. But, when it comes right down to the wire, I have to choose Jim Clark. His outstanding natural talent, speed, courage and humility just make him, for me, “the best of the best.”

    on 8th July 2012 at 13:15
  72. James Adams

    Little natural talent,had to work hard at it – What BS!!!,hard, agressive, recalitrant,super quick huge balls – Absolutley what a champion !

    on 9th July 2012 at 03:41
  73. Joe Duca

    He has at least the best traits of all the other champions (only Stewart surpasses him in his drive for safety) but just lacks winning the championship. People who are in love with motorsport do not remember drivers because of the championships they won.

    on 9th July 2012 at 11:47
  74. Hugh Griffin

    Jim Clark could win in everything from vintage machines to the cutting edge of F1 and made it look easy. It wasn’t and still isn’t but JC was the master of smoothness. Always modest and charming, a true gentleman and in all the years I have followed motor sport he remains the driver I most admire.

    on 9th July 2012 at 12:15
  75. Nigel Gull

    I voted for Nigel Mansell because he was a great racer and eventually won his world championship in an era of great drivers.
    My second choice would have been Damon Hill because his win/race ratio is excellent, and as pointed out in your resumé he was robbed of an extra win and his first chapionship by a cheating Schumacher.( not your words I know but everyone to this day talks about Schumacher with reverence when he cheated 2 championships and he drove as king pin in the team with the most resources for most of his carreer)

    on 9th July 2012 at 14:53
  76. Roger Hoyle

    I was fortunate to see Jim Clark race in F1, F2, Sports cars and Saloons; often more than one of these on the same day. He was so spectacular in the Lotus Cortina! In F1 he has the highest ‘hit rate’ of almost everyone, despite the fact that the Lotus was not always the most reliable car

    on 9th July 2012 at 19:03
  77. Barry New

    Jimmy had the gentle magic, he was (mostly) very lucky to tie up with Colin, I and many others remember precisely where we we when we heard the terrible news from Hockenheim. JC, CC, the DFV and the beautiful Lotus 49 were all around in a magical memorable period of my life.

    on 9th July 2012 at 20:39
  78. Trevor Roberts

    In the pantheon of the greats Moss remains supreme. Internet polls reflect the average age of those responding, but if all who have voted had seen Moss drive there’s no doubt in my mind that he would top the poll by a clear margin.

    I was a great admirer of Jim Clark, who is certainly second in this list, but Moss had all the skills of Clark and more besides. No other driver has matched Moss’s ability to take any car and make it competitive. Clark did not have Fangio to contend with and his opponents, including Stewart, were not in his class. This is not to take anything away from Clark, but Moss, along with Fangio and Senna, are, in my opinion, the supreme talents in the history of F1 since 1950.

    There are many amazing achievements to underline his greatness, not least of which was the victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia – ten hours at the wheel of the Mercedes 300 SLR over terrain including mountain passes and averaging nearly 100 mph, and his incredible victory at the 1961 Monaco G P in the out-of-date Lotus-Climax 18, holding off the considerably more powerful Ferraris for 100 laps.

    Moss competed in over 200 races and was victorious in over 60% of races completed, including the winning of over 50 F1 races. Some will criticise his decision to use privately-entered British cars, but he had made the decision to opt for the best available cars just before the crash at Goodwood ended his career at the age of 32. Had he raced on until Fangio’s retirement age of 46, one can only wonder how many World Championships he would have acquired in those 14 years….

    on 10th July 2012 at 00:16
  79. JOSEPH P. PIZZARELLO

    I PICKED SIR JACKIE STEWART BECAUSE OF HIS PROFESSIONALISM AS WELL AS HIS DRIVING ABILITY. AT MY FIRST GP AT WATKINS GLEN I WAS STANDING AT THE FARTHEST POINT FROM THE START. WE HEARD THE CARS TAKE TO GREEN FLAG AND HERE COME JACKIES TYRELL ALL BY ITSELF. WE THOUGHT THERE WAS A BIG ACCIDENT AT THE START BUT NO SIR JACKIE WAS WAY AHEAD OF THE PACK. THAT SEALED IT FOR ME.

    on 10th July 2012 at 02:45
  80. Michael Hill

    As Tina Turner sang
    “Simply the Best”, nothing more to say.
    As as sportsman, regarding the Hawthorn episode at Oporto, few other drivers would be capable of or willing to have acted in the same manner, certainly few in the modern era and especially one in particular who had an affinity for the colour red!!

    on 10th July 2012 at 08:56
  81. A41202813@GMAIL.COM

    @Michael Hill

    Can You, Please, Explain That PORTO Reference ?

    Thank You.

    on 10th July 2012 at 14:08
  82. Brian Spratt

    James Hunt was such a complex character but he was a genuinely friendly guy when you met him away from the F1 circus. Even my dog liked him!

    on 10th July 2012 at 15:44
  83. Richard

    By a narrow margin,Jim Clark,because he could drive the wheels off anything..! Closely followed by Nigel,and James-both superb examples of champions…

    on 10th July 2012 at 16:29
  84. c .kluyskens

    Jim Clark will ever be the best driver.

    on 10th July 2012 at 17:36
  85. A41202813@GMAIL.COM

    @Joe Duca

    “People who are in love with motorsport do not remember drivers because of the championships they won”.

    SO TRUE.

    on 11th July 2012 at 05:42
  86. Lynda Bennett

    Stirling Moss was the driver whose name everyone knew when I was a youngster, but Jim Clark with his self-effacing, modest demeanour was the driver who did it for me. No hint of the celebrity about him, he let his driving do the talking.

    Lewis Hamilton says that he cried when Ayrton Senna was killed. I went up to my bedroom and cried my eyes out when I heard the tragic news about Jimmy. Suddenly, the world no longer seemed a safe place, and it was about then that I grew up.

    on 11th July 2012 at 09:53
  87. Frank Deasy

    Just voted for the greatest of them all, yes, Jim Clark. He was the fastest, most talented and most modest. He should have been at least a five times champion maybe six or seven long before Schumacher. Fragile Lotus cars and his untimely death prevented him adding to his score of championships. By the way, Jim is not ahead because of all the votes from the ‘older’ generation, he is ahead because he was the best. I would place Jackie Stewart 2nd and Stirling Moss 3rd. Jackie’s tireless work for better safety has saved countless lives since. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous. It was criminal that so many drivers died needlessly in the past and this was accepted as part of the F1 scene.

    on 11th July 2012 at 10:38
  88. John

    Well, Nigel was unique wasn’t he! Fast, competitive and probably the only guy who could have handled that Williams in ’92. I will also never forget Murray walker’s GP commentary and his reference to red 5!

    John

    on 11th July 2012 at 21:31
  89. Martin Galley

    Jim Clark in a Lotus, nothing better!

    on 12th July 2012 at 08:26
  90. Geoffrey Williams

    Such diversity, such talent, such brilliance – each and every one, including, especially, the 11th man.
    I am pleased you have requested our favourite champion, and not the one we think is the greatest, for how could we – any of us – hope to distinguish between eleven magnificent champions, even if some of us raced for a few years.

    on 13th July 2012 at 13:31
  91. Chris Newman

    Although I always thought of Jim Clark as the best as I was growing up, Graham Hill was my hero. This could be simply the usual English preference for the perceived “underdog” as Hill always seemed to be portrayed. But for me, there was just something about Graham that spoke to me. Also, the very first race I attended, the ’71 Race of Champions, Hill set the fastest lap in the BT34 in an otherwise, for me, uneventful race. But my next race couldn’t have been more different. The Easter Monday meeting at Thruxton, Hill and Peterson swapping places throughout and GH finally nipping past at the chicane on the last lap! That set the seal on it for me…

    Also saw Jo Siffert driving David Piper’s 917 but that’s another story… :-)

    on 14th July 2012 at 13:21
  92. Bob Cather

    All great racers and individuals but only Jimmy had that calm measured ability to drive in any car and conditions and be quick. A boyhood idol much missed

    on 14th July 2012 at 21:00
  93. N.Nottingham

    As an enthusiast of the 60s motor racing era, have to point out that the drivers of the 60s drove everything in a wide range of events.
    Moss, Clark and Hill being a classic examples.
    It is vertually impossible to compare then and now as it is a completely different ball game.

    on 15th July 2012 at 08:15
  94. James Barnes

    Stirling Moss is simply an inspirational figure. He drove with skill, has lived life with spirit and showed us how to be competitive yet fair. He fought to win but not at any cost – fairness mattered.

    on 15th July 2012 at 23:02
  95. A41202813@GMAIL.COM

    If You Have The Time Watch “MCLAREN TOONED” On YOUTUBE.

    More To Come Until The End Of The Season.

    on 16th July 2012 at 18:02
  96. Graham Newton

    I voted for Jim Clark, in my opinion by far the best, I remember watching him in the sixties, he could drive anything and win, but for that sad day in April 68 would have been World Champion that year and a few more. Surprised to see John Surtess so far down the list, the only World Champion on two and four wheels.

    on 18th July 2012 at 09:21
  97. brian willett

    In an era of legends , Moss, Hill ,Stewart ,Surtees to name just a few,Jim Clark was the giant. But it all ended too soon.

    on 19th July 2012 at 10:17
  98. Mark Keatley-Palmer

    Without the “Mike Hawthorn Society” at my school (Ardingly, where Mike “Snowball” was a pupil) my love of classic 30′s-70′s motor racing would not have been kindled.

    I have been fortunate to meet & discuss Mike with many pupils from his era, including the co-competitor in possibly his 1st race! One of his close friends often travelled on the floor of the D Type to races and then on to Mike’s preferred nightclub(S) after the race! Their stories brought Mike to life for me.

    Much like James Hunt, he was a mischievous maverick with a lust for life (& skirt) that is sadly lacking in today’s PR controlled drivers.

    Given my life-long fanaticism for Ferrari & a shared education at Ardingly – Snowball has to get my vote!

    PS – I attended, like over 600 others, the 50th memorial service for MH in Farnham a few years ago and was hooted at and encouraged to “get a move on!” by my 2nd choice, a certain Mr Moss.

    on 20th July 2012 at 16:37
  99. Allan Marter

    This is a hard one, but having watched motor racing since the 50s, I can only vote for Stirling Moss – the greatest British driver and a wonderful sportsman and one who was supremely qualified to be world champion but for who being sporting was more important than winning – always a racer! This is not to take away anything from anyone of the company of other great drivers in this list – sportsmen all.

    on 22nd July 2012 at 18:27
  100. david venables

    In 1965 i was a working the tunnel at Brands Hatch i was 16 at the time jim clark rolled up in a lotus cortina,he had to wait a few mintues to go trough,How are you he said to me,fine i said Jim!i could not belive i had said that,the bell rang and away he went.Later walking down pit lane he saw me and called out hello there on a break,yes i said for about half hour,O he said im just going to go test the car for a couple of laps,would you like to hop in .No need to ask twice ,with borrowed helmet i was in the car,holding on (there was no seat i was sitting on the floor for this and around we went the fastest two laps i ever did at Brands.after we returned to pit lane i got a autograph and walked away with the biggest smile anyboby had that day.He was the nicest of men i have ever met in this great sport,one of if not the greast drivers.

    on 1st August 2012 at 14:23
  101. Andy

    I voted for Jim Clark – not because I believe that he was the best (impossible to say), but he is my favourite British champion. I grew up in the sixties, watching (and glued to the radio listening to) Clark and Hill, Stewart & Rindt, Ickx, Amon, Brabham, Hulme etc.
    A special mention also for Nigel Mansell – whose charges through the field and refusal to be intimidated by anyone re-ignited my interest in F1.

    on 1st August 2012 at 15:09
  102. Andrew Robertson

    That Graham Hill could win the World F 1 Champoinship, Indianapolis and Le Mans says it all. The most complete driver….

    on 2nd August 2012 at 03:08
  103. John Lovell

    There can be only one winner – the greatest I have seen over sixty years .

    on 7th August 2012 at 07:00
  104. David White

    Jim Clark was my hero when I was a kid. Growing up in America it was difficult to follow the GP series. I got my news months after the races were long finished through Road & Track, Car & Driver and Sports Car Graphic. When Clark died in 1968 I was only 13 years old. I was crushed. I sent a letter of condolence to Colin Chapman. To my great surprise I received a personal letter back from Chapman. To this day it is one of my most prized possessions. It hangs on the wall in my office, framed with a classic Jesse Alexander photo of Clark.

    on 8th August 2012 at 17:24
  105. A41202813@GMAIL.COM

    Impressive.

    I Am 55.

    It Would Be Nice To Have A Poll Just To Access How Old Is The Average Motorsportmagazine Fan.

    I Bet It Is Older Than Me.

    Go, HAMILTON !

    on 9th August 2012 at 10:34
  106. Glen Petrie

    Anyone who wins a world championship is an outstanding driver, but Nigel Mansell always came across as someone who spoke his mind in the press conferences, tried his utmost in every race, and yet seemed like a man you would like to have a beer with. My biggest regret is not staying long enough in the paddock at the Vancouver Indy race to get his autograph. Clark was always brilliant, but after Nigel retired, F1 was relatively dull, until Lewis Hamilton arrived.

    on 13th August 2012 at 16:07
  107. Ted Collins

    It was once noted Errol Flynn looked like Graham Hill. One

    woman responded “Graham Hill is the man Errol Flynn pretends to be.

    on 15th August 2012 at 00:25
  108. Chris Sheldrake

    I voted for Stirling Moss, not just for his many achievements in F1 but for his overall towering ability and especially his win, with the help of Motor Sport’s very own Denis Jenkinson in the 1955 Targa Florio.

    I’m sure I’m not the only person who regards this performance as the single greatest achievement in the history of Motorsport.

    on 28th August 2012 at 20:22
  109. Simon du Buisson

    Jim Clark was the greatest racing driver that ever lived !!
    I remember the day he was taken from us , with absolute disbelief. The quiet , humble gentleman who tended his farm between races, was and still is, my all time hero.
    He was irreplaceable. We miss you Jim.

    on 3rd March 2013 at 22:47
  110. Lyndon Bournon

    I voted for Stirling because his achievements were particularly remarkable, bearing in mind he was often in the role of the underdog.

    on 17th May 2013 at 18:26