Nick’s comment yesterday reminded me of something that has annoyed me for a few years now but came to the fore at the end of last year. It’s Martin Brundle’s description of Michael when he was asked if Michael was the best. He would always say that he felt Senna was the best but that Michael was the most complete driver.
I do think that there is a difference and I can understand the difference. Some people when they are asking who is the better driver mean who can go fastest round the track if put in the same car and given exactly the same conditions. But that’s a failure to understand the sport. The sport contains elements such as strategy, looking after your car at any given moment, fitness and bringing your team with you so they prepare the car you need.
In fact at the moment I would say you can see this being played out between the two men at the top of the sport. Many think that Kimi is faster than Alonso. But that Alonso is the more complete driver. This is why, in part, people are worried about Kimi at Ferrari where they are used to having somebody tell them exactly what they need.
By the way for those who are thinking, “why isn’t it the fastest who wins”? The answer is, “there’s a reason keep-y-up-y isn’t a sport”.
So if I agree with Martin about the difference between the two then what’s the problem? The problem is first that he describes a less complete driver the best status which seems slightly backwards logic but secondly it is that Martin always then goes on to say that we can never tell how good he really was because he never had a serious rival.
While I agree that by having a serious team mate means that we can see that Senna was awesome and perhaps the fastest driver ever. Surely if you want to win as many world championships as you can you want your whole team focused on you. You want to get them all behind you so you can go out and win. It’s part of being the most complete driver. And it’s part of being the best.