Number one driver pairing in F1 history identified with Michael Schumacher missing out

Sam Cooper
Michael Schumacher alongside Rubens Barrichello.

Michael Schumacher raced 104 times alongside Rubens Barrichello.

Eddie Jordan believes the pairing of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost is the greatest duo ever seen in the history of Formula 1.

While greatest drivers is its own conversation, there is also an ongoing debate over which pairing was the best since F1’s inception in 1950.

Plenty of big names have shared a paddock in F1 history but former team owner Jordan believes Senna/Prost at McLaren was the best ever.

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The 1988 McLaren season was the most dominant ever seen in F1 until Red Bull last year but, unlike the Milton Keynes team’s exploits in 2023, success in 1988 was shared between the two drivers.

Champion Senna won eight of the 16 races with Prost winning seven and only Gerhard Berger being the non-McLaren driver to win that year.

But 1988 was not the only year the two were together with the pair continuing into 1989 and then Senna taking Prost’s old seat at Williams in 1994.

“I think the Prost Senna [partnership] will probably go down as the number one,” Jordan said on his and David Coulthard’s podcast Formula For Success. “Because they were so brilliantly talented.

“Prost winning four world titles, of course, Senna winning a whole heap of titles too and they were unbelievably quick.”

But while Michael Schumacher is considered one of the best ever, there is rarely the suggestion that his team-mates were on the same level.

“I think of Michael Schumacher, who has great success at Ferrari. Is it Michael Schumacher we give the credit to or do we give the credit to Ferrari?” DC asked.

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“But I guess the answer is he was alongside Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa for most of that time, and although Felipe came close to winning a title, not when Michael was there, none of the team-mates you will really remember.

“So we put the focus on the individual you’re absolutely right rather than the team. So if I look back through the great team pairings of history, I guess when I first started to really pay attention to Formula 1 it would have been around [Nelson] Piquet, [Nigel] Mansell then into Prost/Senna, I guess that was the more explosive as team pairings.”

Jordan agreed and said: “These guys didn’t win the championships when Michael wasn’t there.

“Michael did come back and told everyone that he was coming back to help Eddie Irvine win the championship. He did not do that.

“He did everything that he could because he didn’t want Ferrari to win a championship with a driver other than him. That’s what I believe and that’s what Irvine believes.

“When you look at the way he handled the race and Suzuka, he did nothing to help Eddie, whereas I think [Mika] Hakkinen was the champion. You’re his team-mate and everyone was happy because I think he was probably the deserved champion.

“I think Michael was always a difficult team-mate because even though he had Massa, as you rightly say, and Rubens Barrichello and Irvine, all great, great wingmen but they all knew what the score was.

“I never liked that I have to tell you.”

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