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View Poll Results: Round One Lauda vs Surer
Lauda 10 100.00%
Surer 0 0%
Voters: 10. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 3 Mar 2021, 19:05 (Ref:4038418)   #1
crmalcolm
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The GOAT - Round One - Lauda vs Surer

The twenty-fifth match-up in Round One sees Lauda vs Surer.

So who do you vote for as the greater driver?

Niki Lauda
Niki Lauda has the impressive distinction of winning world titles nine years apart, despite an intervening two-year retirement. He proved himself one of the top drivers of the 1970s and then came back to narrowly clinch a title against Alain Prost, the top-rated driver of the 1980s.

Starting his career as a pay-driver, Lauda took some time to get on terms with an F1 car, not being rated inside the top 10 by the model until his third season. In 1972, his rookie season, he was beaten by Ronnie Peterson (in his third season) 1-6 in counting races, 2-10 in qualifying, and 0-12 in points. In 1973, he raced alongside both Clay Regazzoni and Jean-Pierre Beltoise. Against Regazzoni, he scored 2-3 in counting races, 5-8 in qualifying, and 2-1 in points. Against Beltoise, he scored 2-1 in counting races, 4-10 in qualifying, and 2-7 in points.

Beyond 1973, Lauda rapidly improved. Ferrari (who were in a rebuilding phase, having failed to even score a podium in 1973) saw enough promise to sign him for 1974. By 1976 he was the best driver on the grid and Ferrari’s investment paid dividends. Since Regazzoni and Lauda moved to Ferrari together, Lauda’s improvement can be tracked across this time period by comparing his pace to Regazzoni.

In 1973, Regazzoni was clearly the quicker driver over one lap, with a median advantage of 0.71% of lap-time over Lauda. By 1974, Lauda had completely turned the tables, leading Regazzoni by 0.43%. This advantage increased to 0.57% in 1975 and 0.54% in 1976. Notably, there was no apparent dip in Lauda’s performance following his horrific accident in 1976.

By the model’s estimation, Lauda reached his absolute best in the period 1977-1978. In the 1977 season, he was paired with Carlos Reutemann at Ferrari. Lauda emerged as the clear team leader, winning the championship despite missing three races, while Reutemann, in full attendance, finished 4th in the championship. In 1978, Lauda moved to Brabham. The car was not quite competitive or reliable enough to make Lauda’s attempt at a championship defense viable, but he was still clearly driving at a very high level. He beat teammate John Watson 6-1 in counting races, 10-6 in qualifying, and 44-25 in points (despite 7 mechanical DNFs for Lauda vs. 3 for Watson).

Lauda was paired with the promising rookie Nelson Piquet from the last race of 1978 into 1979, beating him by the relatively narrow margin of 2-1 in counting races, 8-6 in qualifying, and 4-3 in points. Neither driver was helped by a hopelessly unreliable car, making a direct comparison difficult. As a highly pragmatic driver, Lauda was always focused on achieving ultimate goals, with little interest in individual qualifying sessions or races if they did not serve that purpose. As an example, he simply did not turn up for the last two races of 1977, having already won the championship. Demotivated by fighting for a paltry amount of points at Brabham in 1979, Lauda shocked the team by abruptly retiring from F1 in the middle of practice for the Canadian GP, aged 30.

Lured out of retirement by a $3 million contract (equivalent to $8 million today, and among the top driver salaries at the time), Lauda returned to race for McLaren in 1982. Initially, the contract was on a three-race basis, as Marlboro were reticent to commit to a full contract until Lauda could demonstrate his abilities. He won the third race and the contract was immediately extended.

Against teammate John Watson across 1982-1983, Lauda’s advantage in qualifying was actually more convincing than it had been in 1978, with a 23-6 lead. But in races, Lauda was not as competitive as he had been before his retirement, leading 7-6 in counting races, and trailing 42-57 in points.

In the final few races of 1983, under pressure from Lauda, McLaren experimented with their new turbo TAG engine developed by Porsche, which formed the basis for their 1984 championship campaign. In 1984, Lauda was joined at McLaren by Alain Prost. What became immediately clear was that Lauda could not compete with Prost in qualifying, when the turbo engines were dialed up. Across the season, Lauda was outqualified 1-15 by Prost and never qualified on the front row. He won the title despite an average grid position of 8th.

“You had for one lap you have 1,200 horsepower and for the race you have 600. I hated this system, so I didn’t really like these stupid engines. And therefore Alain outqualified me all the time. At the first race he was five tenths quicker. Then when I improved my speed he was three tenths quicker. And this went on through the whole season.”

“I realised I wasn’t going to beat him in qualifying and decided I had to try something else. So from Friday I worked on race set-ups and on Sunday I was generally in better shape, could look after the tyres and so on.” – Niki Lauda

Switching his focus purely to races, Lauda very narrowly won the championship, scoring 4-5 in counting races and 72-71.5 points.

In 1985, Lauda was again dominated by Prost in qualifying, 1-14. In races, he was completely derailed by 10 mechanical DNFs in 14 starts. With little left to prove, Lauda retired for a second and final time.


Marc Surer
In 1979 he made his F1 debut driving for Ensign in the final three races, not qualifying in Italy and Canada though he started at Watkins Glen. In 1980 he signed for the ATS F1 team. He qualified for the first two races (finishing seventh in Brazil) but sustained badly broken ankles in a crash during practice for the South African GP and was out until mid-season.

For 1981 he switched to Mo Nunn’s Ensign team and in the second race at Brazil took a superb fourth place and set the fastest lap. But, several races later, after he had taken a sixth place finish at Monaco he would be with Teddy Yip’s Theodore team, where his best results were eighth and ninth at Zandvoort and Montreal.

The following year saw the first of his three seasons with Arrows but in the first year he broke his ankles again in a crash at Kyalami and was out for four months. His first race came at Belgium, where he finished seventh and later strong results included fifth and sixth in Canada and Germany and seventh in the season ending Caesar’s Palace race.

The early part of 1983’s F1 season proved fruitful as the opposition teams’ turbos suffered unreliability and he scored points in three of the first four races and was running third at Monaco until a collision with Derek Warwick. 1984 saw the team running with Barclay Nordica sponsorship and it started promisingly in the first three races though after this he suffered retirements and only finished in the British and Austrian races. Arrows boss Jackie Oliver spoke highly of Marc, describing him as “a real team player who rarely made mistakes and always tried hard, despite the fact our cars weren’t particularly good. Both Thierry and Gerhard Berger went on to greater things than Marc, winning grands prix, but Marc was entirely comparable to them; he was just unlucky.”
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Old 4 Mar 2021, 15:02 (Ref:4038648)   #2
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Old 4 Mar 2021, 15:31 (Ref:4038666)   #3
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Yes, Lauda for sure(r).....
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Old 4 Mar 2021, 15:36 (Ref:4038672)   #4
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Although Surer was a great all-rounder I think Lauda's achievements are greater.
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