The Olympic spirit has us all pondering the idea of a dream team. By definition, such a group consists of the cream of the crop, best of the best, a who’s who...you get the idea.
A “dream team” is the best group of individuals in a given sport. All its members know their roles, and fulfill them to the utmost satisfaction that their performance borders on perfection.
The Olympics present us with such teams in any one of a number of sports: softball, basketball, hockey, etc. However, in the world of Formula One, such a team has yet to actually be configured, even in a simple “all-time dream team,” consisting of the best the sport has seen.
Just what would a Formula One “dream team” look like? What drivers would the team have? What eras would they come from? Who would serve as Team Principal? What car would they drive? Who would the crew be during pit stops?
Formula One, maybe more so than other sport, is a team sport. The driver may get most of the credit and blame, but all members involved win and lose as a team. No role in a Formula One outfit is more vital than another. All responsibilities must be met for a team to be a success.
First, let’s start with the drivers. Comparing and contrasting drivers who competed in different eras is something many say is impossible. The cars they drive have changed, the skills they need for success have changed, and the demands placed on them have changed.
It would seem impossible to say Juan Fangio is better than Michael Schumacher or Ayrton Senna (all of whom are considered to be the best driver F1 has ever seen). But, wait, why should I have to leave one of those three out?
Every Formula One team has, outside of two racers, at least one tester. But, who of those three would race and test. Well, Senna and Schumacher both admit that Fangio is the greatest racer to have ever lived, so I’ll give him a spot in that role.
Now, who do I pick between Senna and Schumacher as the tester and second racer? Both are regarded as two of the best drivers motorsports has ever seen (meaning either could adequately fill the role of racer), but which of them would be better at developing a car?
Wait, I know the answer to that already! Even though he no longer races for them, Scuderia Ferrari remains dependent on Michael Schumacher to test and help develop their cars. His racing career may be over, but his knack for car development hasn’t waned. He’ll be my tester and car developer, as Senna will partner Fangio in the races.
Now, who would be the team principal? This role would require running a consistent and winning team and handling the sometimes hostile attitudes drivers have toward each other.
Frank Williams is the head of one of most successful F1 teams in history, but that team’s performance has dropped off too much recently. He won’t work.
Ron Dennis is also the head of one of the most successful teams in history, and continues to thrive today. But the spat between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton last year tells me he may be unable to handle two drivers who are antagonistic toward each other. No, he won’t do, either.
I think I’ll go with Jean Todt, the former Ferrari Team Principal, who kept in check Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello, even when circumstances (playing second fiddle to Michael Schumacher) said those two should have been more of a disruption.
Todt seems to have a way with keeping drivers’ emotions and egos from getting out of line. Plus, he shares the responsibility for taking the sports most famous name (Ferrari) and bringing it back to the fore after the team saw several lean seasons.
Todt's ability to achieve success, even when starting with an average team, puts him over the top.
Now, which car will they drive? I think the answer to this is an easy one: The McLaren MP4/4 that won all but one race in 1988.
All that prevented the McLaren team from sweeping the entire 1988 season was Jean-Louis Schlesser, whose Williams contacted Ayrton Senna’s Mclaren as he was leading. Giving my team this car would certainly result in a “dream” performance.
Finally, who will be the crew during pit stops? Again, the answer to this is relatively easy. Currently, gaining positions in Formula One is easier to do in the pits with a fast stop than passing someone on track. So, who is the best pit crew in Formula One right now?
Surprisingly, that honor goes to the BMW Sauber crew, who apparently are so efficient that Scuderia Ferrari taped them so they could see why the BMW Sauber team seemed to be much more effective. This last piece of the puzzle seems complete.
Comparing drivers and teams from different eras in Formula One is something that many people within the sport shy away from, because of how much the sport has changed over the years. Creating a Formula One all-time dream team may be something that is never perfected.
Surely, there are some greats who have been left out of my team (such as drivers Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet Sr., and Jim Clark, teams Williams and Lotus, and designer Adrian Newey, to name a few). However, I am confident that my team truly represents the best of Formula One’s history.