Date:Wednesday August 10 2011
With the Formula One summer break in full swing, some comments from Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali have got us thinking.
'For me, Fernando is the number one driver in F1 at the moment, I see a lot of similarities with Michael Schumacher, a driver who made his mark on our history. In fact, in some areas Fernando is even better, for example when I think of the speed with which he integrated himself into the team and the way he became its leader.
'In this he was much quicker than Michael who took a while to do that.' Domenicali told Autosport Magazine.
Some high praise indeed, especially for a driver who is only in their second year with the team and has to-date has won just six races in Ferrari colours.
On hearing the news Alonso responded by saying: 'I don't know what to say, except that I immediately felt comfortable at Ferrari.
'But it would be very difficult to repeat what Michael did, because things are very different now to what they were a decade ago. Having said that, I am currently experiencing the best years of my career and that makes me very optimistic for the future.'
These comments got us at Vital F1 thinking, just who is better, Michael Schumacher or Fernando Alonso?
Obviously looking at the record books there is only one clear winner and that is the seven-time former Formula One World champion Michael Schumacher.
Between making his debut for Jordan in 2001 and his initial retirement at the end of the 2006 season, Schumacher won 91 races.
Alonso in just under ten full seasons in F1 has won 27 races.
But as Alonso alluded too in his comments, Formula One has changed dramatically in recent years and when Schumacher was at his unbeatable best, the Formula One landscape was unrecognisable to how it is today.
The past couple of seasons in Formula One have regularly seen three different teams winning races and having the most dominant car one weekend and apparently struggling at a different circuit a couple of weeks later.
But when Schumacher won five titles back-to-back between 2000 and 2004, F1 was not as open in comparison, with Ferrari dominating the competition.
For example in 2002 Ferrari won fifteen out of the seventeen races on the calender.
Schumacher for Williams and Coulthard for McLaren were the only drivers capable of breaking Ferrari's dominance with Schumacher winning eleven races.
In 2004 it was a similar story. Ferrari again won fifteen out of the eighteen races, with Schumacher claiming twelve wins in the opening thirteen races of the season, eventually ending the year with thirteen race wins.
But can you just discount Schumacher's record because his era was not as competitive as it is today? Or do you praise Schumacher and Ferrari for their dominance in a time when budgets were astronomical and in season testing was yet to be banned?
Or do you base your judgement on the drivers ability behind the wheel and give credit to Alonso for his style and race craft to get the best out of a car that isn't always as good as it's competitors?
It's an interesting topic and one that is impossible to judge simply because it's two very different era's of F1.
But with no action on the track it gave us something to think about.
Date:Wednesday August 10 2011
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