Can anyone drive today's cars?
Posted 26 October 2000 - 13:33
I readily believe this young man to be extremely talented but isn't this taking the latest trend of hiring fast teenage karters for F1 drives into the ridiculous? It seems today a talented racer is able to skip most (or, as a first in Kimi's case, all) of the F3000 and F3 "feeder" categories and jump straight into F1 after just two dozen car races! At least Verstappen, Trulli and Button did a season of F3, but they as well didn't seem to have any trouble adapting to F1.
You start to wonder what these feeder championships are for. To keep the lesser talented drivers occupied? Are we going back to the days motorcycle riders (or anyone with a raw talent for speed) could just jump in an F2, FJ or F1 and be quick out of the box? And what does this say about the relative difficulty of driving F1 cars in several ages?
Would it have something to do with the power curve? I would expect the '61-'65 1.5-litre cars to be relatively easy, and several drivers of the time are quoted on actually saying this, while an early 80s turbo car with light-switch power to me seems a quite a handful for any inexperienced driver. Quoting Sauber on Autosport.com: "Even more impressive is his [Raikkonen's] natural speed. He seems to crank out fast lap times effortlessly." This is what Raikkonen had to say: "I actually found driving the F1 car was quite easy – much easier than getting back in a Formula Renault car afterwards." Enough said.
In the turbo years you hardly had any of these meteoric careers. Does this mean these cars were harder to drive for inexperienced drivers? I remember Niki Lauda saying Schumacher's Ferrari was "an easy drive" after he had a guest run some years ago, while Michael was scared stiff after a run in Tambay 126C2 at Fiorano...
Posted 26 October 2000 - 17:29
Originally posted by Racer.Demon
Are we going back to the days motorcycle riders (or anyone with a raw talent for speed) could just jump in an F2, FJ or F1 and be quick out of the box?
You mean, like Nuvolari, Rosemeyer and Surtees? Yes, I certainly hope so. Max Biaggi didn't exactly cover himself with glory in his Williams test, but there's this kid Valentino Rossi (and, re: karting, there's this kid Lewis Hamilton)...
I would expect the '61-'65 1.5-litre cars to be relatively easy, and several drivers of the time are quoted on actually saying this...
Although Jim Clark was quoted as saying he didn't much care for the switch to the 3.0 liter formula, as he felt the added horsepower negated some of his overwhelming advantage, based as it was on finesse and perfection of line...
I remember Niki Lauda saying Schumacher's Ferrari was "an easy drive" after he had a guest run some years ago, while Michael was scared stiff after a run in Tambay 126C2 at Fiorano...
And you have to consider the sources, based on the two drivers' other public pronouncements: you've got the post-kidney transplant Niki, who I think still may have a little too much prednisone in his system and anyway has always loved winding up the press, and the born-again humble Schumacher trying to undo 1997. I wonder what Schumacher would've said had he tried Tambay's car in, say, 1993?
Vis a vis karting/F1, I think it just means today's F1 cars, built around twitchy grooved tires, fly by wire, 50cm of suspension travel and left-foot braking, are a lot more similar to karts than to F3000. There's always been "feeder" series, and sure, today it's karting. In the past it was F2 (lots of moderately good but ultimately non-champion French drivers, plus Surer, Cheever, Giacomelli and Stuck), F3 (Senna, Prost, Piquet...) or sportscars. F3000 seems a better feeder series for CART or IRL. These things, like everything else, go in cycles. A driver who's ultimately quick and ambitious enough is still going to end up in F1, whatever the path.
Posted 26 October 2000 - 17:51
I am writing this in Finland, and while the place is abuzz about another local in F1, I think even the most ardent of parochialists are scratching their heads. He certainly has got sponsorship, but nothing like the pot of gold than Pedro Diniz brings with him. So Sauber must believe he is the driver to have, even though he has a grand total of 25 car races, he has never seen any of the F1 circuits except Silverstone (maybe only the national circuit), and the most powerful thing he has driven is a Formula Renault. Surely if he has that much hope for him, then the best thing to do would be to give him a testing contract to get more km's in a F1 car and buy him a good seat in European F3000 to hone his race craft and learn the European F1 circuits.
Your point about how easy modern F1 cars might be to drive is probably right though. The grooved tyres might no be very grippy, but the sophistication of the engine managment system and the semi automatic gearbox might make it relatively easy to drive from a power delivery point of view. In fact coming from a fairly "slippery" formula like the junior categories might be easier than coming from a much more grippy, powerful car like a CART car (cf Andretti and Zanardi with Button and Trulli, who both went from F3 straight into F1). Having a well developed left foot breaking technique still fresh from cart racing might also make adapting to F1 easier than old stagers with right foot breaking habits.
Still to paraphrase Murray Walker - driving is one thing, racing is quite another. Raikkonen might be able to cope in a test, but arguing with someone else over a line for a corner in an F1 car is something else entirely, I expect.
Posted 27 October 2000 - 01:47
Keep in mind that the term "easy" is quite relative...then as now.
So, "can anyone drive today's cars?" I doubt that many can drive them close to their limits....and fewer yet to the point where they can nudge the envelope...just like it has always been.
Posted 27 October 2000 - 19:38
This discussion came up on a different string last weekend, and people jumped in to say things like "what about Alesi at...." and "what about Irvine at...." etc etc etc. To me this merely goes to prove my point. Look back to the days of loads of power and/or no downforce. You will find one team driver consistently and comfortably quicker than the other one/two/three. Nowadays, if there is a big gap (more than a second) it is seized upon as a pointer to the fact that 'so-and-so' isn't very good. The point that is so-often missed is that at the last race, or maybe the next, that so-and-so was probably just as quick if not quicker than his team-mate. It's not the driver's fault. The cars simply do not give the guy with that little bit extra a chance to shine. Answer; burn the wings and widen the tyres!
Before you all start on me, by the way, I must exclude Michael and Jacques, who I believe are rather special.
Could anyone win in a McLaren? If Schuey wasn't there. Yes! Very probably!
Posted 27 October 2000 - 22:45
So I'll go with Barry and claim that we should get back to big slicks and elementary wings (just to make them look good), and above all, more design freedom. I admit that we had seasons of dominance in the early 70s (1971, 1975) but those in between were pretty good (and looked good too)...
I must also disagree with Don on his contention that the best drivers are quick in everything they get thrown at them. This might go for a few known versatile drivers such as Moss and Andretti but I believe the majority of drivers (even some of the very best) have varying talents and driving styles that fit in with a certain type of car. I think this gets more true each day now that cars become technically more advanced and drivers have less impact on the end result.
Would Rosemeyer have been as good in a 1.5-litre Lotus? We only know that he and the huge Auto Union were a match made in heaven. Why did Zanardi clean up in CART but was a dud in F1? Would Schumacher have won so many races if it hadn't been for "strategy" and refuelling? Why was Mansell usually beaten by De Angelis in Cosworth cars before ruling during the turbo era? I think it had a lot to do with feeling at home in the car, and the car responding to a certain driving style.
Posted 28 October 2000 - 00:25
The way I see it, and the way I think it always has been, is not a case of doing, but a case of knowing.
Knowing how to get that extra 10th once you have reached the limit, knowing that tiny variation in the racing line, knowing that secret about weigh transfer at a certain braking point that no one else has picked up on, this is where the great drives get there advantage not through being able to drive it on the limits.
Nigel Mansell knew the limits and drove at it constantly, he drove it much more and more confidently then Alain Prost, but Prost was better, why? Because he was smarter. He knew the "theory" of racecar driving, not the rush of racecar driving (go 4 wheel drift and look cool).
The traction circle
The slip angle
the weight transfer
To know how to utilise these WHILE at the limit is the trick to being the fastest, not just going at the limit. Only a select few know how to do utilise these at the limit though.
As for Raikkonen. Formula Renault is not that far off from F3000, I beieve a few horsepower but basically the same, F Renault doesn't have the reputation though. Remember Raikkonen was going up against one of the least respected drivers in F1, who had the flu at the time of the test. I think if you put Kimi up against Michael Schumacher in a one hour qualifying session battling his car to find that last 1000th of a second he would have a very different outlook. Kimi hasn't seen anything as far as F1 cars goes.
I think the difference between the modern cars and old time cars, is they are both difficult to drive at the limits but the old time cars are more visible. Even modern drivers have admitted to being overconfident in the modern cars, thinking they had it made.
Hakkinen at Imola 99 after kissing the wall made a statment to the affect that at that point he truly understood how difficult his McLaren was to drive. Modern cars must be driven a certain way with no flaws to utilise there strength. There strength being downforce and stability (in contrast to old time cars with no downforce, like was on ice) A great driver like Schumacher or Hakkinen utilises this because they know how to drive it to it's strenths and they do it without mistakes most of the time, giving off the image that the car is on rails. But more easily then driving it properly, the car can be misdriven and can be just a difficult as old time cars.
A perfect example is at Benneton, where Johnny Herbert complained that the Benneton was undrivable, it was to twitchy, but Schumacher knew how to approach it, knew how to drive it, he knew the car like a best friend and drove to wins. The next year it was the same situation with Verstappen, except this time Schumacher won the championship with Verstappen complaining the car was undrivable.
Posted 28 October 2000 - 00:34
I think Don is right, the best drivers have a knowledge of what it takes to go fast that the others don't, and I think this theory of quickness with a few minor changes can be applied to any car. And with enough practice the best drivers are quick in anything.
When Senna tested a rally car the rally regulars estimated that Senna would be on the leaders pace with a couple of weeks. When he tested a champcar the Penske engineers were in awe, and to this day it is still refered to as "the test".
Same with Schumacher, he was very quick in sportscars, from what I hear the only reason he was beaten by Frenzten was due to team orders.
Actaully something just occured to me that relates to the original topic.
Take Ricardo Zonta, he is a sportscar world champion, when he came to F1 he tested with Jordan and then signed with BAR, in an interview Zonta admitted that after testing with Jordan he expected to be incredible in F1, he used the words "easy" exactly the way Kimi Raikkonen did. He actually was immidiatly quick in F1 in testing, which goes to show that good drivers can be moderatly quick in almost everything. Back to Zonta saying it would be pretty easy to get success in F1. Well to this day people in F1 still say that Zonta has incredible talent, enough to be successfull, but what happened when he went up against Villeneuve, he was destroyed, despite all his talent, despite his ability to drive cars, he couldn't hang with Villeneuve when it came to those extra tenths. Now hes out of a full time ride. JV said in an interview last week that Zonta is a very good driver, but it was a mistake for him to sign with BAR, for him to come into a new team and go head to head with a world champion such as himself would be career suicide.
So not nessasarily the car thats hard, but using that car to top your competitors, in this case such as Schumacher, and Villeneuve and Hakkinen etc.
Posted 29 October 2000 - 00:32
Today's machines are so adjustable and 'tuneable' for the current conditions -- track surfaces, race lengths, so do forth -- that they are tricky in their own ways. A 2000 F1 Ferrari on the old Spa circuit in a 500km race would be a fascinating sight to watch, as would a GP Ferrari from 1950 (125 or 340) would be on today's Spa.
In 1961 everyone thought the cars "too easy" to drive. Ditto argument is being made today. Little changes. Life moves on whether we like it or not.
Racers may not always be the "quickest" in a particular type machine, but they are always faster than mere mortals. Racing "tenths" are like the binary system in that the gap at the top in the last few 'tenths' is considerable. So can "anybody" drive today's -- or yesterday's -- racing machines? On a surface much like Edwards AFB where I couldn't do too much harm to my surroundings or myself, I am certain I could get above a few 'tenths.' However, given the opportunity to lap Spa -- old or new -- at speed in a pukka racing machine from the 2000 season or the 1950 season, count me out. I am now at the point in life where I have seen curiously seriously rack up a good body count of cats. [p][Edited by Don Capps on 10-29-2000]
Posted 29 October 2000 - 01:42
Posted 29 October 2000 - 04:04
Regarding whether anyone can drive today's cars I must agree with the thought that driving and racing are two different games. Schumacher's Benetton was so difficult for others to drive because he was mentally strong enough to make them build it to his needs without compromise. Much the same as with Senna. Drivers such as these demand such a high level of respect and are so bullish in their self belief that they build teams around their every quirk. Not even Hakinnen has managed to do that at McLaren. Yes anyone (qualified anyone) can drive these cars close to the limit, but Schumacher, Senna, Villeneuve have something more than driving ability and it is this which team owners should be looking for. Clearly Alesi is one of the best "drivers" but he has never taken control of a team in the way these others have and therein lies the difference.
Just my opinion...
Posted 29 October 2000 - 04:14
Posted 29 October 2000 - 04:23
Posted 29 October 2000 - 04:28
Posted 29 October 2000 - 05:38
Lots of karters struggle when they go from karts to Formula Fords because of the weight transfer. They also destroy lots of gearboxes but that doesnt make you much slower.
I think its very easy these days to get to 95% in an F1 car. Loads of power, but lots of brake, grip, traction, and stability to go with it.
The Benetton engineers said Pizzonia got to 95% in the blink of an eye, but it took him a very long time to get the last gasps of time out.
A race car is a race car is a race car. Kimi was saying that the braking points were the same at Mugello in the Sauber as his Tattuus Renault. That makes sense because again whilst the F1 car is going a lot faster, it corners and brakes just as impressively. So I imagine an F1 lap isnt much different in actual mechanics from a Formula Ford lap. It's just a lot more impressive
Posted 29 October 2000 - 23:19
Posted 30 October 2000 - 06:07
Again, just my view from my limited experience.
Posted 03 November 2000 - 16:42
Originally posted by Racer.Demon
Would it have something to do with the power curve? I would expect the '61-'65 1.5-litre cars to be relatively easy, and several drivers of the time are quoted on actually saying this, while an early 80s turbo car with light-switch power to me seems a quite a handful for any inexperienced driver.
Here's a view by Nigel Roebuck which fits my bill perfectly:
"My point is that, back in the mid-eighties, there were a great many more variables involved in a qualifying session than there are now, and these played a significant role in the lap time discrepancies of which you speak. You had really only two quick laps to play with, and unless one of them was clear you were in trouble.
It is interesting that people like Alain Prost and Gerhard Berger considered that period the absolute zenith of F1. "If today's drivers tried my Benetton-BMW - particularly on qualifying boost - they simply wouldn't believe the power," Berger says. "I can remember spinning the wheels at the top of the hill, before Casino Square - and that was in top gear, on a dry road!"
There is little doubt that those cars were considerably harder to drive than their modern counterparts, not least because they were the last Grand Prix cars to have more power than their chassis could comfortably handle. Thanks to turbocharging, they also had significant throttle lag, which meant putting your foot to the floor before you actually wanted the power - and hoping that you had judged it correctly, for when it arrived, it was fearsome.
As well as that, of course, you had a conventional gear lever and a clutch, rather than a paddle to flick with your finger. Unlike now, it was therefore possible to miss a gear change - and also possible to over-rev an engine. Back then, you changed gear when the rev counter was in the right place, not when a light came on, telling you to move a finger. And you didn't, of course, have both hands on the wheel at all times - very far from it, in fact..."
Posted 06 November 2000 - 21:07
Originally posted by Don Capps
Perhaps the ultimate person for coping with whatever he was dealt might be Denny Hulme. He didn't fiddle with his cars that much, he just got into them and drove them. Fast. Truly remarkable person.
Wondering if I'm stepping into a minefield, but isn't that man Moss more than a candidate for the role of coping with what he was dealt with? Not for the fiddling, though. I seem to remember reading somewhere that SM had a capacity for making bum notes when fiddling, so much so that Alf Francis would lie to him about having made requested changes. Moss would then drive faster, and claim credit for the success of his recommendations!
Then there's Clark at Monaco speeding up in a vain attempt to convince officials that the broken anti-roll bar trailing on the ground wasn't such a big deal. And didn't he sometimes frustrate Chapman with a monosyllabic "Fine" to all requests about the effects of any changes made to his cars?
Thank you Don for another diversion! I love the way threads sometimes go off on different tangents.
Posted 06 November 2000 - 22:16
I've always considered the semi-automatic gearbox in F1 an technically interesting abomination. Shifting set the true drivers apart from the wanabes. I doubt, given the speed at which these cars react, anyone new to F1 would have anywhere near an 'easy' enough time to call it that if they had to concentrate on matching revs while going into a corner, let alone with another driver's wheels alongside. I recall even Michael Schumacher breaking quite a few engines prior to 1993, when he got the paddle shifters... You want to see finesse AND speed? Make 'em use an H pattern again.
Posted 06 November 2000 - 23:01
And while we are about it, take away the over-rev inhibitor; and the gear change lights. Then get rid of the downforce. Make 'em DRIVE the cars again. (see the wonderful Chris Amon shot on page 21 of The Great String.)
While we are about it lets lose safety belts, roll-over hoops, carbon fibre chassis, non-bursting fuel tanks........
sorry, sorry, I came over a bit faint there.........
Posted 08 November 2000 - 08:58
Posted 08 November 2000 - 10:51
Today's racing is so *healthy* that the tobacco sponsorships are complete anachronisms. They belong to the era of living life dangerously and to the full. James Hunt and Jochen Mass - those were Marlboro drivers. Rubinho? I often wondered at which moment in his life this gentle, quiet, caring person thought of becoming a race driver instead of a nurse... (The first time I had this experience was when watching Thierry Boutsen, who not only had the personality of a bank manager but even drove like one.)
Posted 08 November 2000 - 21:09
Posted 08 November 2000 - 22:19
Posted 09 November 2000 - 08:11
How much do those cigarette makers have to answer for?
Posted 09 November 2000 - 09:12
"Speaking in this week’s Autosport magazine, 1982 champion Rosberg said: “The world will change if Raikkonen gets a superlicence. It will turn the whole driver market on its head.
“In my day it would never have happened because there was massive power and a lack of road-holding. You just could not have done it.”
As well as rendering the traditional Formula 3/Formula 3000 staircase to F1 potentially redundant, Rosberg believes Raikkonen’s signing will force teams to contract ever-younger drivers and that it will also have a major effect on the driver salary market, with young drivers coming much cheaper than the established stars."
Especially the second paragraph underlines the fact that today's F1 cars are in fact big-sized karts (Kimi's own words!) which are relatively easy to drive at 95%, even for non-talents such as Mazzacane. At Sauber, where Räikkönen's main opposition for the seat is believed to be Enrique Bernoldi instead of Michael Schumacher (who would be able to get that last drop of performance out of the car), those 95% would be enough, I guess, whereas I believe the 80s cars Keke drove were extremely difficult to drive at 95% and sorted the men from the boys quite more easily.
The same holds true for most of the 50s cars, I'd say. Massive power, very poor traction and grip, and a lot of work in the cockpit with those big steering wheels and no 4-point seat belts.
Posted 09 November 2000 - 09:13
He had the reputation to broke all his bones during his carrer !
He won a motobike race attached to the bike (1925 Gran Premio delle Nazioni motocycliste at Monza) !
He drive without the sterringwheel (Coppa Brezzi Turin 1946)
He drove manytimes without being able to only walk by its own (Avus 1934, Tripoli 1936) !
He has at least once tried to die at the wheel but missed this (Mille Miglia on a Ferrari, the race he finished on an orange pack ?) :
'Aren't you afraid of dying in a racing-car?' he was once asked.
'I suppose you expect to die in bed?' Nuvolari retorted.
'Yes, indeed, I hope so,' was the reply.
'In that case,' snorted Nuvolari, 'I wonder you dare to go to bed at night.'
What he has done with a modern F1 today ?
He has win, of course ;)
Posted 09 November 2000 - 10:08
Posted 09 November 2000 - 11:54
Try search with Monza and Nuvolari, look for a thread about four or five months ago...