I don't remember the source but I once read that Schumi's reaction was nothing special even among ordinary people. Plus reaction time is not the most important quality for F1 driver. IMHO it's overall fitness that counts most and that's where Schumi has been superior to anyone. Motor racing is not only physical but also ultimate mental stress. If you have fitness, you can keep your mind sharp. If you get tired, your brain will slow down and you will make mistakes. The question is if Schumi is able to keep his fitness on the required level. I remember him saying on his "retirement" that it became harder and harder with every year and that neck injury surely didn't help.
Try some track racing, even if it's at an amateur level. You'll know that reaction time is EVERYTHING. Assuming you know how to drive the car near it's limit, your reaction ability is what will get you round the lap successfully. Fitness gives you added reserves. It is what gets you to the end of the race. If you are at your peak in say the first 3 laps, good fitness will ensure that you're still at your peak in lap 40.
Reaction time IS very important because you have no time to 'think' what to do to the car. It has to be instinctive and in fact you cannot 'react' to what's happening as it will surely be too late. You have to somewhat anticipate what is about to happen.
Drivers do 'think' during the race but they are probably thinking about other things like cockpit management and strategies. The driving bit is already instinctive.
Schumi's reaction time being nothing special against ordinary people? I'm not surprised. Because it depends what type of reaction test was done to draw this conclusion. If the reaction test involves race cockpit operation, I guarantee Schumi would be far more superior.
As general rule of thumb in racing, between 2 equal drivers with equal cars, the driver with the better fitness will have the advantage. What I mean is, fitness is still no substitute for good technical knowledge, good driver abilities etc etc. In top level series these days especially F1, drivers are already at their best in the various areas of knowledge and skill therefore they focus hard on fitness to give themselves the extra advantage against their opponents.
Edited by ferruccio, 15 January 2010 - 04:23.