Can Hamilton beat Fangio?

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I have the greatest of admiration for Lewis Hamilton, but for me there are two types of competitor: racing drivers and Formula 1 drivers.

Today’s GP participants, drivers and cars are committed to an F1 which does not include driving at Le Mans with its night-time spells, or in a Mille Miglia at an average of nearly 100mph over public roads and up and down mountains. This is not to imply any disrespect for the sensationally brilliant Hamilton, who had years of training, with, I acknowledge, 100 per cent results in karts before Formula 3 and GP2.

In contrast, Juan Manuel Fangio (below), for example, got his racing baptism in hotted-up Chevrolet saloons, did he not? Such racing was fast and furious and no doubt has aspects of danger for the less skilled. But how soon afterwards was Fangio excellent in Grand Prix races? Going on from 1950 he took five World Championships. In his second F1 GP, at Monaco, he won in the Alfa Romeo 158, having retired from the preceding Silverstone race. Juan Manuel did not compete at Indianapolis, but he raced at Le Mans and in the gruelling Mille Miglia, something F1 drivers of today are not even permitted to do.

His engine let him down in the Swiss GP but he won at Spa and in the French GP at Reims, but had valve trouble (car not driver) at Monza. Not bad for a first season of GP racing. You can do similar records of other drivers, such as Sir Stirling Moss, remembering to take into consideration how much pre-GP experience they received.

So for me there are F1 drivers and racing drivers, without any disrespect to Hamilton. Fangio was second to Giuseppe Farina on championship points in his second full GP season and became champion in his third, 1951. Something for Lewis to beat?

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