How could we ever have thought this might be an easy task?
Well, I suppose you are right; the winner really had to be Ayrton Senna. After all, he won more grands prix than anyone else. And his was unquestionably an inspirational driving force during his time with the team.
Although, that said, Mika Hakkinen and Alain Prost all challenged in formidable style and, the author having cast his net widely in a bid to draw in as many fans and associates before making the final choice.
But there were other areas of rigorous scrutiny which had to be factored into our home-brewed equation. How good was a candidate’s legion of rivals? And, indeed, the team-mate of the driver under consideration, possibly lined-up against a recent team-mate?
How do you compare drivers from different backgrounds and formulae? Were Johnny Rutherford’s two victories for McLaren in the Indy 500 better than James Hunt’s F1™ wins in 1976? Or do we thrash around trying to include everything, while at the other end of the spectrum, and end up not satisfying a singular flavour of daunting uncertainty?
If James was a top bloke, then so, you might think, was Jochen Mass. But he wasn’t. On the day when the chips we down, then Jochen could not quite summon up the unforgiving toughness which was James’ touchstone. Gerhard Berger might have felt much the same during his three years as Prost’s successor alongside Senna. But then, Gerhard was shrewd enough to appreciate Ayrton’s unique class.
Lauda and Prost between them were also as cerebral as Ayrton, but Alain allowed the Brazilian to get him down, something which Niki allowed Alain to do to him. Prost scored well with the team, as did Senna, although one tongue-in-cheek mechanic was heard to mutter: “At least you absolutely know where you are with Alain. If he comes up to chat with you, it’s only because Ron has told him to!”
Dry humour works every time!