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Old 29 Jul 2005, 13:55 (Ref:1366587)   #31
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I'd second all of that. Most reviews of the greatest drivers ever have Moss in the top half dozen, certainly the top ten.

He wasn't only held back by his preference for driving British cars until 1954, when he bought a Maserati. Later on in his career he formed a strong alliance with Rob Walker and was therefore driving privately entered cars, rather than works ones.

He was way better than many drivers who have won World Championships. It's just difficult to understand that nowadays when the whole scene is so different.
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Old 29 Jul 2005, 15:17 (Ref:1366638)   #32
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Good points KRT - I'd rate Moss behind Fangio, but ahead of Ascari and certainly ahead of any of his other main contemporaries. Among British drivers he's probably behind only Clark, Stewart and maybe Mansell.
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Old 29 Jul 2005, 18:58 (Ref:1366812)   #33
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Originally Posted by deeks6
John, I think we have had a few discussions in the past and agreed to disagree - we may have to again. The answer is yes...but I agree he comes close to the exception.

My reasoning is this. A WDC is a driver who (even for only 1 season) is able to put it all together consistently, not just for a race or a few races. So I'm afraid he does rate (in my humble book) behind those guys in the big scheme of things.

Moss is an interesting case. His legend has grown for a number of reasons:

- He has been accessible to the media for a long time, he is outspoken, not shy about his own achievements and has also "subtly" denigrated other great drivers who beat him (notably Jack Brabham but also Hawthorn and Hill). Whetever Stirling says seems to end up as fact.
- There are more "British" GP media than any other and they tend to be a bit phobic about their "British" drivers to the point of euphoria. Moss is held up as their pin-up boy.
- His career-ending accident probably saved his reputation from decline because his career was definitely on the wane at that stage. If he had continued along with a bunch of ordicary results, he may not be remembered in the light he is.

He was, no doubt, one of the FASTEST drivers of all time. This is unquestionable and he would rate an most people's "Top 10" if that was the only criterium. But there is more to a "Great GP Driver" than pure speed...
Remember, he was beaten quite easily by Fangio when teammates in a good team and failed to win a WDC (whatever the circumstances) in other good (factory) teams. Yes, he won a lot of races but he also failed to finish a lot of races.

(Shock, Horror to all the British fans), with that record, I cannot honestly see why he should'nt rate (overall) with the likes of Rubens and DC - when all is aid and done, he did'nt achieve any more in F1 than they have.

I understand where you are coming from, John, and I understand that my comments might be ridiculed by some fans but you have to have something to judge it by. Speed is one thing but when all the factors are taken into consideration, the likes of Ascari, Fangio, Brabham, Clark, Stewart, Fittipaldi, Mario, Prost, Senna, Piquet, Schu, Hakk and even Mansell are streets ahead of him.
Deeks, your fine post on another thread inspired this one, as you know, so many thanks for that. However, I have to say that I disagree with almost everything you have have said in this post.

I will endeavour not to go over ground already covered admirably by Boots, Marshal, N I Tram and KRT but will add a few comments of my own in addressing those aspects they have not.

Of course, this thread is not solely about Moss but it is inevitable that in a discussion of this nature, he will figure prominently. You are quite mistaken to say that the Moss legend has arisen post his race career and mainly by his own utterances. In fact the reverse is true. The greatness and the legendary status were acquired while he was still racing (I know - I grew up with it!) and it is because of that, that his opinion has been sought and quoted in the media. I think you will also find that his status extends well beyond 'British' shores.

He did indeed win a lot of races; 222 out of 494. Many of those he didn't finish were those he had been leading where mechanical failure deprived him of victory, and the myth that he was a car breaker has not been supported by race analysis. He also chose to race for a privateer team (Rob Walker) when he was reaching his peak because he just loved the challenge of taking on the works teams. Acording to Phil Hill, the career ending accident in April 1962, interrupted Moss 'while he was in his absolute prime' and we need to be reminded too, that Enzo Ferrari was so anxious for Moss to drive for him that year, that he agreed to allow Moss to drive the works Ferrari entered in Rob Walker colours. So, career 'on the wane'? I think not.

I rate Rubens and DC highly but to to compare them with Moss's achievements does not bear even superficial scrutiny. As long as there is motor racing and discussion about great racing drivers, most will include Moss in their lists, whereas Rubens and DC, sadly, are only likely to appear, if at all, in the footnotes. Remember that Moss won 16 Gps (more than either Rubens or DC, so far) when there were far less races in a season. In so doing, he was WDC runner up in 1955, 56, 57 and 58. He was third in the WDC, in 1959, 1960, and 1961 when driving privateer entries.

So, now let us look at his contemporaries who won the WDC while Moss was an active racer. I echo KRTs view about Fangio, so will merely add that Fangio himself rated Moss as an equal to Ascari and as 'the rival I respected most during my sporting life'. I think it unlikely that there are many who regard Hawthorn as better than Moss, and, in fact, Moss lost the 1958 WDC through his own honesty and an appalling points scoring system (some things never change!). I agree that Jack Brabham is often underrated but I would struggle to accept the view that he was better than Moss. Certainly it was not Brabham that their contemporary F1 drivers used as the benchmark, but Moss. Finally, we come to Phil Hill, no mean driver either, but better than Moss? How many really think so? Hill himself has said that he regrets the lack of awareness amongst enthusiasts for the 'extraordinary' achievements of Moss.

As for your list of drivers you regard as better than Moss, I don't believe that there is a single driver 'streets ahead' (other than statistically, of course).

Moss is a true motor racing Champion in every sense of the word; the absence of a WDC title in no way diminishes that truth.
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Old 29 Jul 2005, 19:03 (Ref:1366819)   #34
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Eloquent and well argued.

I concur.
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Old 29 Jul 2005, 20:17 (Ref:1366861)   #35
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So do I KB. Deeks seemed to be onto a loser with this line of reasoning from the start. Winning a world title involves being in the right place at the right time, and there's always a big luck element. Even in those days, Stirling may have been too nice and honourable to take all his chances.
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Old 29 Jul 2005, 20:38 (Ref:1366890)   #36
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Nice and honourable, huh? Not what you would often be called doing the same thing today.
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Old 29 Jul 2005, 22:46 (Ref:1366958)   #37
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Originally Posted by deeks6
GP racing, like no other sport invokes a lot of emotion and passion. Fans have their favorites and nothing will sway them from opinions that they were "better" than the next guy. The point is, though, to make a case for them, you must have set criteria as to what makes the "best". Surely, the WDC is that criteria. To win it, you must be CONSISTENTLY fast, reliable, good at qualifying and development, work well with the team, win races etc etc.

Some of the ones that invoke the most discussion:

Moss - already discussed

GV - if you said he was the most entertaining driver ever, I'd probably not argue but best? Not even close...clearly beaten by Reutemann and Sheckter, Reutemann clearly beaten by Jones and not many would say Jones was the best ever.

Ronnie Peterson - could'nt get close to Mario...

Amon - never won a GP. Come on...

Alesi - please...

JV - much maligned, no doubt because of his last 6 or 7 years but he was a mighty good racer. Challenged for WDC in 1st year against a good teammate and then won it. He may have lost the plot now but I recall some fantastic drives in 96-97 with some daring moves to boot.

Dan Gurney - yes, probably the unluckiest driver of all time - should have won 3 WDC's if not for poor judgement moving camps. None other than Jack Brabham rated him one of the best ever and was desperate for Dan to head up his 66 challenge, which history shows would have been a walk in the park for the big fella. I rate him the best non-WDC. Check his overall record in ALL forms of motorsport. Impressive.

The much maligned (underrated drivers):

Jack Brabham - despite his incredible record, most "British" fans don't rate him (e.g. Murray Walker did'nt have him in the top 10). Crikey, 3 WDC's (2 of them against Moss) and one in a car he designed and built and he does'nt rate in the Top 10? Wow. If you want proof of his ability, check 1966 - despite the fact he was not going to drive (Dan Gurney was hid No 1 driver until leaving), he beat 7 past or future world champs (Clark, P Hill, G Hill, Stewart, Rindt, Surtees and Hulme), 10 other GP winners (Bandini, Bonnier, Ginther, Ireland, Scarfiotti, Baghetti, Gurney 7, McLaren 4, Rodriguez 2, Siffert 2) as well as other highly rated drivers Amon, Parkes and Spence. Not Top 10? You must be joking!

Mario Andretti - won everything except the Tour de France. A superstar...and one of the best set-up men of all time.

Phil Hill - WDC, 6 GP wins in 49 starts, Le Mans ... a lot of guys would love to be that bad.

Mike Hawthorn - beat Moss in 1958 despite having an inferior car (Moss teammate won 3 GP's that year also) and just to put a lie to the Moss speed factor, Hawthorn had 5 FL's to Moss 3.

If it was'nt F1, this would not be an argument at all. In any other sport, the greatest are the World Champs.
Would we remember Mohammed Ali if he'd just won an Olympic medal? No.
Ron Clarke set more distance running records than any athlete in history but does anyone rate him with Zatopek, Nurmi, Viren etc? No, because he failed at the highest level.

"Best" or "Better" means you achieved more at the HIGHEST level, surely ...

I can't resist responding to this as well! Do you really think that F1 engenders more emotion and passion than other sports? In Britain, at least Football (soccer) generates more, and, in America, I guess, baseball does!

I agree that the WDC is one criteria to judge a driver by, but not the sole one! Almost every facet of life in the world has its injustices, not all intentional, so why should motor racing be any different? We have already cited 1958, and there have been one or two other less obvious examples. However, I will come forward to 2003 to use as an example how such an injustice could have occurred again. We regularly hear how Kimi Raikkonen nearly won the WDC that year which is true, and he only lost it by 2 (?) points. In reality, he was miles away since he won just one GP to Schumachers 6. Had a couple of placings during the season been reversed, we would have had a result artificially created by the points scoring system completely divorced from reality. So you have to use other criteria, based on competitiveness of the machinery being used, performance of the driver during the races, even when he didn't finish (an example was the last GP - Kimi retired in the lead after less than half the race was completed, yet many have made him driver of the race) and others which are almost intangible.

Now, what about those you have mentioned in your above post;

Moss - as you say, already discussed and we are miles apart!

Gilles Villeneuve - regarded by many (but not by me, incidentally) as the greatest driver ever, and certainly one of the fastest. A man who would drag his car round on his back if he could. But why do you exaggerate so much? How can you say that he was 'not even close to' and 'clearly beaten' by Scheckter when in 1979 they won 3 races apiece and finished 4 points apart? And since you think, from your reference to Hawthorn, that fastest laps are important, Gilles also posted 7 fastest laps in 1979. In 1980 he finished ahead of Scheckter, in the same car. Now, tell me Scheckter was better! Yes, he was clearly beaten by Reutemann in 1978 but that was Gilles first full F1 season.

Ronnie Peterson. Regarded by many as the fastest driver of his generation (he died before GV really got going and was one of GV's heroes), he played No 2 to Mario, since that was what he was contracted to do, and won 2 races to Andrettis 6. But actually he did get close, and on 4 occasions, he finished a very close second to Mario. He also finished second to him in the WDC by only 13 points despite his tragic death with 3 races still to go. So, actually, a close call.

Chris Amon - Just find out about him. Very highly regarded by his contemporaries, particularly Jackie Stewart, he just has to be the unluckiest F1 driver of all time in terms of results, was usually in the wrong team, but occasionally lost races when leading through mechanical failure. Probably not better than any WDC winners but a whole lot better than his results show.

Jean Alesi - Tend to agree with you. Passionate and aggressive, he did not have the patience or the rationality to be a consistent winner. deserved more than one GP win though.

JV - a WDC, and deservedly so in his winning year, so I agree

Dan Gurney - a great driver highly regarded by both Clark and Brabham and capable of winning a WDC, he was probably better than some WDCs. But the argument you have used in his favour is in effect the same one you have used against Moss. He won far less Gps than Moss, and if you think Gurney's record outside F1 is impressive, check out Stirling's.

Jack Brabham - As I have said in my earlier post, I agree that he is underrated, but again there were some contemporaries who were as good if not better.

Mario Andretti; great driver but his edge over Ronnie (see above) was marginal.

Phil Hill; deserved winner of WDC, but certainly not the best of his generation

Mike Hawthorn; great and fast driver, but actually the Ferrari was an easier car to drive than the Vanwall which was only quicker because of the calibre of its drivers. The reference to 5 to 3 in favour of Hawthorn over Moss in fastest laps is pretty meaningless as a statistic when I point out that race wins was 4 to 1 in Stirling's favour - and one of those wins was in a 2 litre Cooper.

Finally, I have to say that you can achieve much at the highest level of F1 without winning the WDC.
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Old 29 Jul 2005, 23:17 (Ref:1366963)   #38
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I don't think the number of titles is enough info to judge a driver. Schumacher would probably not have as many titles if Senna wasn't killed or Hakkinen didn't retire so soon. On the other hand, Hakkinen could have had only one title if MS hadn't broken his leg in 1999. MS could have fewer titles if he had a good second driver in Ferrari, he could have gotten a few of his. Raikkonen has no title, but he was robbed by Mercedes and the FIA in 2003, and now it's surely not his fault that he can't do much. It's ridiculous to sort drivers this way. By average points per race, that would be better. But still there's absolutely no way to isolate the car from the driver, so any statistics are just worthless in my opinion.
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Old 29 Jul 2005, 23:51 (Ref:1366967)   #39
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Firstly, let me say that, in our many verbal jousts which I enjoy, I have nothing but respect for your opinion and I only "just" disagree with your opinion on most things. I think we may be of similar vintage (I'm 46) and certainly share the opinion of who was the greatest (Jimmy Clark). As I have always said, if I could park today's F1 fans at the esses at Warwick Farm and let them watch Jimmy through the most technical part of a racetrack, they'd convert in an instant.

I have no issue whith any of the things you have said - all true - and I have no issue at all with Moss. Crikey, my father is is quite regular touch with SM and if he got an inkling that I had remotely tarnished the great man's reputation, I'd be out of the will in 5 seconds. Now, I never actually saw him race (apart from when I was 2 or 3 so I cannot remember) but it is obvious to all and sundry that the guy was a hell of a race car driver. So why did'nt he win a WDC? He had 7 or 8 seasons or more to do it, he had great race cars every season (please don't give me the "privateer" line, the Lotus was a good car)...but he could'nt quite get the job done. You can't be that unlucky for that long without it being a flaw of some kind. If you are good enough, you do it. Some sportsmen just can't cap it off at the highest level despite being dominant for much of their careers. And honourable? They ALL were in those days ... and Moss was as tough a competitor as they come (read Jack Brabham).

Next, I have no issue with most F1 drivers ... sure, I have my favourites (Clark, Brabham, Mario, AJ, the little Frog, Nige, Mika) but I accept that ANYONE who gets there on merit to F1 is an extraordinary race driver anyway. I cannot remember who said it but, take out the pay drivers, and there is less than 1% between the best and worst driver on the grid in any year. Not much margin for error there but it's what seperates the champs from the also-rans. There is more than 1 % difference between a McLaren and a Minardi (for e.g.) so you need a good car to succeed - but the fact is that the best drivers will always get a chance in a good (maybe not THE best) car at some stage simply because they are good.

Next, we argue to we're blue in the face about the merits of particular drivers, the whys and wherefores of their fortunes and, let's face it, it is generally subjective. Driving styles have a lot to do with it - that is why the GV's, RP's and even Alesi and Bellof are fondly remembered far more than the more clinical types like Prost, Lauda and SchumacherM. Would I prefer the days of Jones vs Villeneuve or Brabham and Clark racing wheel to wheel in the Tasman Series? No doubt at all! But I don't (unlike a poultice of others on the forum) respect the likes of Shuey any less because of the way he gets the job done. Most would say that Senna was a faster driver than Prost ... so what, the little bloke ended up more successful. If there was a single race with a field of Moss, Hawthorn, JV, Alesi, Peterson, GV, Phil Hill, Gurney, Amon and Andretti all in the same car, I can GUARANTEE the Sports Book would have Moss at about $1.40 or so, a commanding favourite. Chris Amon would be $50. If the odds were for a season of 12 races, I suspect that Mario might be a $3 favourite. Perhaps that puts the relative abilities into perspective.

The point of the thread (and my original post) was that you have to draw a line in the sand to make a complete and logical argument. My line is that if you have won a WDC (remember, only 20-something guys have done this), then you deserve to rate higher, no matter what the circumstances ... because they are so hard to win. My logic is that, if you DON'T do this, you then get into all manner of subjective judgements and arguments. What if this, what if that, he had a slower car, no he did'nt, he had bad luck, his teammate was more favoured, it was his first year, blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum as you see every day on these forums.

The only way you could ever settle it is to bring them all back in their peak and put them in the same car and send them out - and that ain't going to happen. Even then, I'm prepared to bet that some of the posters here would say that their favourite only got beat because "the car did'nt suit them" or "the track conditions were biased" or his man got the worst of the qualifying times or some other excuse. Even a computer program would be biased.

So what do we have to measure greatness? The highest accolade is to win a WDC so why should that not be the first measurement?
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Old 30 Jul 2005, 01:11 (Ref:1366982)   #40
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John and Deeks,

I'm a bit older, having had the opportunity as a young man to have seen Ascari, if at Indianapolis. I've followed Grand Prix/F1 since that time, and have my own strong opinions.

Each of your arguments is well thought out and well presented, and each gave me something(s) to consider, things which had never occurred to me in all that time. (About Moss in particular; I wonder if he would have been so well regarded had it not been for Ken Purdy.)

My thanks to both of you.
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Old 30 Jul 2005, 07:37 (Ref:1367074)   #41
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Originally Posted by deeks6
John
Firstly, let me say that, in our many verbal jousts which I enjoy, I have nothing but respect for your opinion and I only "just" disagree with your opinion on most things. I think we may be of similar vintage (I'm 46) and certainly share the opinion of who was the greatest (Jimmy Clark). As I have always said, if I could park today's F1 fans at the esses at Warwick Farm and let them watch Jimmy through the most technical part of a racetrack, they'd convert in an instant.

I have no issue whith any of the things you have said - all true - and I have no issue at all with Moss. Crikey, my father is is quite regular touch with SM and if he got an inkling that I had remotely tarnished the great man's reputation, I'd be out of the will in 5 seconds. Now, I never actually saw him race (apart from when I was 2 or 3 so I cannot remember) but it is obvious to all and sundry that the guy was a hell of a race car driver. So why did'nt he win a WDC? He had 7 or 8 seasons or more to do it, he had great race cars every season (please don't give me the "privateer" line, the Lotus was a good car)...but he could'nt quite get the job done. You can't be that unlucky for that long without it being a flaw of some kind. If you are good enough, you do it. Some sportsmen just can't cap it off at the highest level despite being dominant for much of their careers. And honourable? They ALL were in those days ... and Moss was as tough a competitor as they come (read Jack Brabham).
Hi, Deeks, I, too enjoy these debates (we seem to be hogging this one!) and since our posts are so long, I'm going to break my response up a bit this time!

I'm flattered that you think that I am as young as you. I'm 10 years older, well, I will in a few days time! I don't think I ever said that I considered Jim Clark was the greatest - I said that I thought him the greatest 'natural' talent ever, although, as I have also said, Kimi may run him close - time will tell.

Actually, you do appear to have an issue with Moss, since you clearly don't place him in the pantheon of great F1 drivers, as many others, including myself, would. Nevertheless, I am a little surprised that my postings have not persuaded you to modify your view to a certain extent. I really think that you need to read some of the books on the subject to understand why he has this reputation but also why he didn't win the WDC. I do stick firmly to my 'privateer' comment and point out that as a result, in 1959, Moss drove a non works Cooper and had a one off BRM P25 drive. In 1960, the Lotus 18 was fast but fragile and in 1961, the year of two of his finest victories (Monaco & Nurburgring), it had been rendered obsolete by the Lotus 21, and was a slower than the Ferrari 156 which was the class car of that year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fazzaz
John and Deeks,

I'm a bit older, having had the opportunity as a young man to have seen Ascari, if at Indianapolis. I've followed Grand Prix/F1 since that time, and have my own strong opinions.

Each of your arguments is well thought out and well presented, and each gave me something(s) to consider, things which had never occurred to me in all that time. (About Moss in particular; I wonder if he would have been so well regarded had it not been for Ken Purdy.)

My thanks to both of you.
Thanks for comments fazzaz - lucky man to have seen Ascari, in action!

I'm not sure what you mean about Ken Purdy - can you clarify? I grew up during the Moss era, and had never heard of Ken Purdy until much, much later when I first read 'All But My Life' .
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Old 30 Jul 2005, 07:39 (Ref:1367076)   #42
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Originally Posted by Menelaos
I don't think the number of titles is enough info to judge a driver. Schumacher would probably not have as many titles if Senna wasn't killed or Hakkinen didn't retire so soon. On the other hand, Hakkinen could have had only one title if MS hadn't broken his leg in 1999. MS could have fewer titles if he had a good second driver in Ferrari, he could have gotten a few of his. Raikkonen has no title, but he was robbed by Mercedes and the FIA in 2003, and now it's surely not his fault that he can't do much. It's ridiculous to sort drivers this way. By average points per race, that would be better. But still there's absolutely no way to isolate the car from the driver, so any statistics are just worthless in my opinion.
I tend to agree with this with the exception of Kimi in 2003. My recollection was that Schumacher was nearly 'robbed' by a points system calculated to bring a halt to his years of dominance.
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Old 30 Jul 2005, 07:49 (Ref:1367078)   #43
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Dutton should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridDutton should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridDutton should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridDutton should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
The concept of titles being "robbed" is insane. Anyone who has won a title has done so, by definition, because things, for whatever reason, went better for him than his opponents.

Anyway, in terms of the topic. I am not sure if going through countless drivers and comparing their situations really helps us get any closer to the question posed by the thread. It can let people suggest why they consider somebody to have had the potential to have attained more than they did had their circumstances been different, or vice versa: but that is self-evident.

Are champions generally (as I believe the "always" was subsequently revised to be taken as) viewed as superior to non-champions? I would say yes, absolutely, otherwise the drivers and teams would not see any particular worth in striving so bloody hard to be champion! From the fan perspetive, too, I think this holds true.

Just look at this thread: it has been a case of people picking the odd driver as attempts to provide exceptions to the "rule" which, to me, shows that there is an overall perception present in the first place.

Hrrrmmm, I hope that is reasonably clear. My take thus far.
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Old 30 Jul 2005, 09:20 (Ref:1367128)   #44
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BootsOntheSide should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridBootsOntheSide should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridBootsOntheSide should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridBootsOntheSide should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
Whilst I'm sure they were 'all honourable in those days', I know of no other driver who declined a World Championship when offered to him because only he knew that he would have been winning it unfairly - least of all after having come close 3 years in a row.

'Always' was the word originally used, and I don't see deeks having made any attempt to revise that. His argument is that the top 27 drivers of all time are the 27 world champions, which I would say is completely inaccurate. The 27 drivers who've won the most racesd would be just as good a base to start from (although that is obviously biased against the guys who raced before the 16-race stanard began in the mid-60s)

As for 2003, I'm pretty sure that if Kimi had not retired from the lead at the Nurburgring, and Michael had not been allowed to resume after beaching the car in the gravel, he would ahve been champion under a 10-6-4-3-2-1 system. Even as it was, the new points system only meant the championship went to the final round rather than the penultimate one. The points work both ways - Michael scored for 8th in Hungary whereas I think Kimi didn't come 7th or 8th all season.
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Old 30 Jul 2005, 09:21 (Ref:1367131)   #45
Menelaos
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Menelaos should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
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Originally Posted by John Turner
I tend to agree with this with the exception of Kimi in 2003. My recollection was that Schumacher was nearly 'robbed' by a points system calculated to bring a halt to his years of dominance.
We totally agree. The point system was unfair to MS, the rest however still were unfair to Kimi. This point system must be changed right now. We'd have a more interesting championship this year if the point system was different

BTW, refering to the thread's title: I believe that any real life sentence which includes the word ALWAYS (especially capitalized ) can't be true. Things are never that simple, I believe.
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