Juan Manuel Fangio is the greatest Formula One driver of all time, researchers revealed, adding that F1 teams were found to be around six times more important to success than individual drivers.
Doctor Andrew Bell from the University of Sheffield used statistical analysis to work out who the sport’s most accomplished competitor is – looking at who is the best driver because of their talent rather than because they have a good car.
Without considering the impact of his team, the greatest driver of all time in terms of most race wins is Michael Schumacher.
But the study found that once the effect of his team is removed, legendary racer Fangio claims the top spot, followed by Alain Prost in second and Fernando Alonso in the third position.
“Our statistical model allows us to find a ranking and assess the relative importance of team and driver effects, and there are some surprising results,” said Bell.
“For example, the relatively unknown Christian Fittipaldi is in the top 20 while three-time champion Niki Lauda doesn’t even make the top 100. Had these drivers raced for different teams, their legacies might have been rather different,” he added.
In fact, Schumacher drops to ninth place in this analysis – although his ranking is dragged down by his post-retirement performances in 2010-2012 when he was generally outperformed by his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
If his pre-retirement career is considered on its own, he ranks in the third position.
Of current drivers, Fernando Alonso is the highest ranked driver, and both he and Sebastian Vettel are ahead of reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, said the study appeared in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports.
A similar model could be used to answer a variety of questions in society — for example how much do individuals, teams and companies affect worker productivity or how much classes, schools, and neighbourhoods affect educational attainment.