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Schumacher's age query


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#1 Dunc

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 13:49

Schumi is coming back this year at the age of 41.

As we age our reactions deteriorate but, as F1 drivers have reactions that are way better than an ordinary person's, what kind of 'age' will Schumi be in this respect?

Would his reactions be better than those of an averge 31-year-old?

Edited by Dunc, 14 January 2010 - 13:49.


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#2 Felix

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 14:34

Schumi is coming back this year at the age of 41.

As we age our reactions deteriorate but, as F1 drivers have reactions that are way better than an ordinary person's, what kind of 'age' will Schumi be in this respect?

Would his reactions be better than those of an averge 31-year-old?



http://www.autosport...icle.php/id/540

#3 Rob

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 14:37

Would his reactions be better than those of an averge 31-year-old?


The difficulty is that it's not the average Joe that he's having to compete against.

#4 Buttoneer

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 15:05

My understanding was not that reaction times were particularly good for F1 drivers but it's the way they react. What they will do naturally is not the same as what we might do naturally. I have a recollection of seeing Jeremy Clarkson interviewing Michael Schumacher some years ago and he did the old reaction test where someone holds their hands apart while the other holds a ruler between them. Without warning the ruler is dropped and Schumacher would catch the ruler between his hands and a measurement would be taken. IIRC, he and Clarkson were about the same - close enough that you could say Schumie isn't super special in that respect. It's what he does with his reactions which count.

#5 glorius&victorius

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 15:06

i wonder if todays F1 is so demanding... maybe in the days of Senna and Mansell it was at the hight of physical demand... now there is all this crappy power steering... paddles for shifting and 2 pedals instead of three...

cars look more fixed to the asphalt instead of jumping around over bumps etc... tracks are smooth as silk....

so i wonder if one needs the same set of reaction skills as late eighties early nineties...

good for safety now... all this head protection around the drivers helmet... but in the past the drivers did not have much head rest... dunno if that counts as well...

Edited by glorius&victorius, 14 January 2010 - 15:07.


#6 jeze

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 15:30

i wonder if todays F1 is so demanding... maybe in the days of Senna and Mansell it was at the hight of physical demand... now there is all this crappy power steering... paddles for shifting and 2 pedals instead of three...

cars look more fixed to the asphalt instead of jumping around over bumps etc... tracks are smooth as silk....


Singapore anyone?

#7 BinaryDad

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 15:37

F1 are drivers are much like fighter pilots in that, it's not so much the speed of their reactions that counts but rather their ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time. We all do this while we are driving, but all of the top racing drivers are much better at it than we are :)

As we get older, our ability to do this probably becomes greater because a large part of this is down to muscle memory and learned responses with the ability to improvise. The one thing that becomes rapidly apparent as we get older is that we are unable to do this for long periods of time or our ability to do multiple tasks degrades along with the ability to improvise, after a certain age.

I think a degredation in ability to improvise is something that is hitting Webber at the moment, to be honest. Look how rattled he was at the start of the German GP, where he took his first ever win. Right at the start he was pretty rattled (from what I could tell) by cars appearing where he didn't expect them, first hitting Barichello and then coming together with Hamilton. He just wasn't up to dealing with such a rapidly changing situation and handled it poorly, in my opinion.

The same goes for Coulthard. Most of his last season was spent dealing with his own rapidly decreasing ability to mentally handle a rapidly changing situation. The unfortunate part was that a lot of toher drivers also suffered because of Couthards mistakes.



#8 Ferrim

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 16:15

i wonder if todays F1 is so demanding... maybe in the days of Senna and Mansell it was at the hight of physical demand... now there is all this crappy power steering... paddles for shifting and 2 pedals instead of three...

cars look more fixed to the asphalt instead of jumping around over bumps etc... tracks are smooth as silk....

so i wonder if one needs the same set of reaction skills as late eighties early nineties...


Mansell won the title at 39 and was able to qualify on pole at 41...

In fact the top of physical demand were the early eighties I think, before the skirts were banned.

#9 Souffle

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 17:21

I remember a reason given by F-1 drivers for retirement was loss of periferal vision as they aged.

#10 undersquare

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 17:47

Everything gets worse, that's the trouble. Muscle recovery, eyesight, resistance to stress, fine muscle control, aerobic capacity, the whole lot. Probably concentration too.

We see snooker players have a peak age range not all that different, also triathlon, golf, just about any sport you can think of has its Seniors series start at 40 or 45, because by then you can't compete with the young guys. Even if the sport in question doesn't seem to involve reaction time or any specific thing.

#11 Rubens Hakkamacher

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 18:48

The "normal" assessments of what happens to humans as they "age" is based on a "normal" lifestyle.

Which isn't the case for MS. He's been above athletically fit all of this life, and has no doubt received the best medical care possible and the optimal amounts of rest/relaxation.

Additionally, his sport is not (continuously) high impact as it is with an NBA player, for example. I would think if you took the impact-injury/RSI aspect from an NBA athlete's life, and kept their fitness level, you'd have guys in their 50's being way more fit than a "normal" 18 year old.

Mansell obviously was never as fit as MS, so even that is not a fair comparison.

This also takes out of the equation that MS is also probably blessed with preternaturally good genetics. This is a guy that hikes through miles of snow at night in the dead of winter for "fun". There isn't a proper yardstick for him.





#12 alfista

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 21:16

Schumi is coming back this year at the age of 41.

As we age our reactions deteriorate but, as F1 drivers have reactions that are way better than an ordinary person's, what kind of 'age' will Schumi be in this respect?

Would his reactions be better than those of an averge 31-year-old?


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.


#13 reason42

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 21:34

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.


I recall a feature on ITV F1 a few years back where a ruler was dropped between Schumi's fingers. This was compared to the interviewer (can't recall who). His reaction time was nothing special compared to the interviewer. That said, it was hardly scientific.



#14 alfista

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 22:10

I recall a feature on ITV F1 a few years back where a ruler was dropped between Schumi's fingers. This was compared to the interviewer (can't recall who). His reaction time was nothing special compared to the interviewer. That said, it was hardly scientific.


Yeah, but that's very simple kind of reaction. If you have to control your movements according what you sense then it's very different. I have tried Batak machine once and I scored something about 85. I imagine myself getting to 100 after some training but Heikki Kovalainen was told to have a record at that time which was over 130. And Heikki is not a very tall guy so he had to work hard to reach diagonal points on that frame.
Batak machine tests your vision, reaction, coordination, speed, fitness, concentration as well as endurance. Believe me, its not that easy to do a 1-minute test. Affter about 40 second you start to wonder how painfully long one single minute can be. Of course it says nothing about your driving abilities but I guess there are some relation between the result and your overall fitness.

#15 Gareth

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 22:30

My understanding was not that reaction times were particularly good for F1 drivers but it's the way they react. What they will do naturally is not the same as what we might do naturally. I have a recollection of seeing Jeremy Clarkson interviewing Michael Schumacher some years ago and he did the old reaction test where someone holds their hands apart while the other holds a ruler between them. Without warning the ruler is dropped and Schumacher would catch the ruler between his hands and a measurement would be taken. IIRC, he and Clarkson were about the same - close enough that you could say Schumie isn't super special in that respect. It's what he does with his reactions which count.

That was my understanding too, I think there was something published on it although I forget the article that it came from.

From what I recall it's not so much the speed of reaction to a given stimulus that an F1 driver is superior at (hence similarity in the 'ruler test') but the level of stimulus that an F1 driver requires to realise they need to react. In a given situation (say losing the rear end) they will notice that it is about to go way before you or I, and correct accordingly - so they will appear to have way better reactions, although the time between them noticing opposite lock/coming of the throttle is needed and them applying those changes is not significantly quicker than average.

#16 JarnoA

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 23:08

My understanding was not that reaction times were particularly good for F1 drivers but it's the way they react. What they will do naturally is not the same as what we might do naturally. I have a recollection of seeing Jeremy Clarkson interviewing Michael Schumacher some years ago and he did the old reaction test where someone holds their hands apart while the other holds a ruler between them. Without warning the ruler is dropped and Schumacher would catch the ruler between his hands and a measurement would be taken. IIRC, he and Clarkson were about the same - close enough that you could say Schumie isn't super special in that respect. It's what he does with his reactions which count.


Or could it be that Jeremy would have won 7 WDC's if given the equipment Michael was given?

#17 zoombie

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 01:35

The reaction speed mention above tests your reaction with your hand, the majority of us use our hands daily so our reaction speed should be fairly quick. However, in cars racing, shouldn't it be the reaction of the foot that counts?
Racing car drivers have superior footwork, maybe that's why they all play soccer.

#18 ferruccio

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 03:42

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.


#19 pingu666

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:13

mark martin is doing fine, and hes 52? i think. as drivers get older they tend to move away from edgy setups aswell.

and clarkson wouldnt of won 7 wdc because he wouldnt of fitted in the car

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#20 marchi-91

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:20

i wonder if todays F1 is so demanding... maybe in the days of Senna and Mansell it was at the hight of physical demand... now there is all this crappy power steering... paddles for shifting and 2 pedals instead of three...

cars look more fixed to the asphalt instead of jumping around over bumps etc... tracks are smooth as silk....

so i wonder if one needs the same set of reaction skills as late eighties early nineties...

good for safety now... all this head protection around the drivers helmet... but in the past the drivers did not have much head rest... dunno if that counts as well...


How ignorant can you be. The older cars had massively wide and sticky tyres. The cars were not dependent on Aero to turn properly and thus mid corner speeds were lower.

G-Forces are far greater then they use to be and I'd dare say most of the old drivers 'including Senna' in their peak guise would be mid pack at best without proper training. And to correlate Mansell with fitness, you must be having a laugh. He used to be pulled from his f1 cars he was that un-fit. No idea how he managed to keep it together in the cockpit.


It seems like your trying to big up your legend when in fact, he was probably in the easiest transition of f1 throughout the decades. He was post ground effect and pre massive aero but still had the benefits of power steering, ABS, TC and four wheel steering and big **** of sticky tyres.

#21 pingu666

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:53

the g forces are higher, and maybe the brake pedal too?, and the cars may run hotter too in the cockpit.

physical workload is probably less, the the environment maybe more hostile.

if you watch the onboard camera's on the dakar the crews get shaken about alot, even with the trucks and the bouncy hummer (plus the heat and the dust...)

#22 Joe Bosworth

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:21


Dunc quoted in the first post of this thread, ¨As we age our reactions deteriorate but, ...¨

Not to be pedantic but I have never seen a medical quality study that confirms such an allegation. On the one hand it may be that some sedentary people display this problem on the basis of use it or lose it. On the other hand I have lots of evidence that this does not occur in people that remain fully active doing the things that they were good at in younger age.

If I am not wrong, Fangio won a WDC at age 46. Jack Brabham won the S African GP at age 44. Jackie Stewart got behind the wheel of a team car to prove a point at age 57 and turned a mid-grid time.

Their are innumerable examples of aged drag racing drivers winning into their fifties aand how about NASCAR´s Mark Martin. I can also point out world competitive sskeet and trap shooters in their 50ś and nothing is more reaction dependant than that, except for maybe the drag guys.

Unless Dunc can back up his assertion with good facts it would be well to disreard it!! It may be that his have but mine haven´t.

Regards





#23 ferruccio

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:42

the g forces are higher, and maybe the brake pedal too?, and the cars may run hotter too in the cockpit.

physical workload is probably less, the the environment maybe more hostile.


Doesn't mean it is physically less demanding though. The high g loadings these days are exhausting. Peak fitness in F1 today is mandatory unlike the old days


#24 Motormedia

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 07:28

The studies I have read on the subject of age and reaction times suggests a very marginal detoriation with age. It is easily compensated by experience. Other studies suggest that most skills can be learned to expert level by almost any normal person given enough time (about 10 000 hours, which is interesting - how many drivers get to spend that amount of time behind the wheel during their career). Schumacher has probably spent an enourmus amount of time driving karts at his family's track, same could prolly be said for Senna who was known to drive at his own track. One thing is for sure, Schumacher doesn't have less experience. Given his motivation is high I see no reason for him not to perform at the level we are used to see him. Remember Mario Andretti won his last CART race at the age of 54. As for the physical demands I have only one thing to say when it comes to age - George Foreman.

Edited by Motormedia, 15 January 2010 - 07:31.


#25 Raincoat

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 09:52

The studies I have read on the subject of age and reaction times suggests a very marginal detoriation with age. It is easily compensated by experience. Other studies suggest that most skills can be learned to expert level by almost any normal person given enough time (about 10 000 hours, which is interesting - how many drivers get to spend that amount of time behind the wheel during their career). Schumacher has probably spent an enourmus amount of time driving karts at his family's track, same could prolly be said for Senna who was known to drive at his own track. One thing is for sure, Schumacher doesn't have less experience. Given his motivation is high I see no reason for him not to perform at the level we are used to see him. Remember Mario Andretti won his last CART race at the age of 54. As for the physical demands I have only one thing to say when it comes to age - George Foreman.



What about Hopkins and Holyfield? at least they are not fat lards like Foreman was


#26 Motormedia

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:01

What about Hopkins and Holyfield? at least they are not fat lards like Foreman was


Good examples too. Randy Couture deserves to be mentioned also. Foremans comeback was spectacular in the sense that he was a fat lard. He had to use his experience and wisdom to fight his opponents. With his brain engaged, as opposed to when he lost to Ali, he could compensate for his lack of physique. Age can do wonderful things.

#27 undersquare

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:27

There's a difference between odd individuals defying age to achieve great things and the general question of ability deteriorating with age.

In ALL sports, of whatever type, the peak performance is over well before 40. Whatever the exact demands - reaction time, concentration, coping with stress, and the rest - they all get worse.

So for me whatever Michael is about to achieve, he's giving the younger guys a head start compared to when he was 30.

I think he'll start pretty strong, maybe 0.15s behind his 'young' time, and run out of steam as the season wears on. His judgment will get worse and he'll make more mistakes, as we've seen with others when they get older. But we're about to see the best that can be done at 41 I think.

#28 Ellios

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:46

I think the below link tried to address some aspects of this thread...



Edited by Ellios, 15 January 2010 - 10:47.


#29 Mauseri

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:53

You'll know that reaction time is EVERYTHING.

I'm not sure about that. You need fast reactions when something unexcepted happens, but more important is to understand what you are doing, while you are doing. You need to have a good understanding of time and space. It's not about reaction time to turn into corner in the correct moment, but doing a fast corection when you have made a mistake might be.

#30 pacwest

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 16:02

Drivers quit beacuse they get tired of the circus. They slow down because they they take less risk - wisdom to fight the war and not the battle can have detriments in racing.

You live on a pile of money, hot wife, fame, business interests - as you age these become quite apparent. Racing becomes less the means or way. It becomes a hinderance.

I'm rapidly approaching 40. I ride a GSX-R 1000 which some could argue has formula 1 reflex demands riding on the street. I get the red mist, and often. As I age I find that I know I'll pass in the next turn because it will be safer or more dramatic. Not because of reaction times. I plot more instead of dive.

Experienced drivers plot more. Reaction times? Naw. Peripheral vision? Ever worn a helmet? You can't see shit. Same thing happened when I quit riding BMX competitively. I would crash on the half pipe or dirt and not get up as fast as the young guys. I'd not take that risk because I had to work the next day. My reaction times were just fine. I just got tired of hanging with young idiots and breaking bones.

When I'm karting I drive into people. I slay 20 years olds handily. My extra 40 pounds on some skinny 20 year old is nullified by my experience.

Blah blah. Schumacher will either be fast or average. He's driving the WDC & WCC car. WTH do you think he'll do?

#31 Kooper

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 16:54

WTH do you think he'll do?


The Chop, of course.  ;)

#32 Kenaltgr

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 02:50

Mansell was not in the best physical shape and 41 (older than Schumacher is now), it didn't stop him beating a prime 25 year old Schumacher to pole in Australia 1994(under equal fuel conditions) and winning the race.

Edited by Kenaltgr, 16 January 2010 - 02:55.