The greatest of all time debate in F1 is one that will never truly be settled, owing to the fact that you’re having to often compare completely different generations of the sport.
The cars and the way the season worked in the 1950s is a hell of a lot different to the way things are now and, naturally, it’s pretty impossible to tell exactly how each driver would have fared if we could line them all up on the same grid in the same equipment – though that would make for compelling viewing.
Of course, you can still put forwards certain names including Schumacher and Hamilton, as well as Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, Juan Manuel Fangio and Niki Lauda but, for a man in Ecclestone that has seen the sport from the very beginning in 1950, there’s one driver that stands above the rest: 4-time world champion Alain Prost:
“It is very difficult to assess.
“(Juan Manuel) Fangio had one-year contracts and could step out of different cars and jump into the best. It doesn’t make him any better or any worse than anyone else — it is just a matter of fact.
“I believe that Alain Prost was the best. He had to drive with a lot of difficult co-drivers and when the race started he was on his own and had to look after the tyres and everything else. These guys today are fortunate in that they get more information over the radio than they should — about their competitors, the use of the tyres and all of that.
“So the drivers have their hand held by people in the team. There are times Lewis had information given to him about tyres, and overruled the advice. That is as it should be. It shouldn’t be down to information over the pit wall or, worse, in the factory in Italy or Britain. It should be him, or any of the drivers, deciding everything.”
‘Le Professeur’ drove in what many consider the golden era of F1 in the 80s, where some of the very best battled in 1000bhp+ monsters, where safety – though improving – was still limited and the cars had far fewer gizmos on them to help them stay pointing in the right direction.
Prost took four titles when fighting the likes of Nelson Piquet, Keke Rosberg, Nigel Mansell, Niki Lauda and, of course, Ayrton Senna and, clearly, is the pick of the bunch for Mr E at least.