There is some logic to this argument drivers are getting quicker. F1 magazine rans an article about it a few years ago. i can't remember the detail. But if you look at any sport, people have just got better and better at it, records tumble every year. There is nothing to suggest this evolution is not taking part in f1. I don't buy into Hamilton and Alonso would of blown away Senna or Prost, but i do believe they would shaded them over a season.
E.g everyone is an Alesi fan and regarded him as quick, but in the time he was paired with Prost he was on average 1½ secs a lap slower (you can look that up) If a driver was that far of his team mates pace now, he'd be fired. and you would be laughed of any forum for suggesting a driver so far off his team mate is quick , So clearly the level which the entire field is performing at is very high.
What i believe is the best of the next generation is always slightly better than the best of the previous, like any sport, however the best of the previous generation are still able to hang with most of the next generation. Hope that makes sense.
And this is where i feel MS will fit in if he gets back to somewhere near his best, able to best most of the field except the top two or three. I feel it is a pity we will never see him in a competative car again.
The biggest evolution in F1 is actually the cars whom get better and better for every year. The drivers today complain about tire degradation, high fuel loads,
poor visability in every damp/wet race, poor balance etc etc.
The cars of today are generating higher G-forces but in many curves the driver rests his head against the cockpit side walls. On a 80:ies or early 90:ies car the driver couldn´t
do that. The races back then also usually lastest for a longer time.
I rewatched a few races from the 80:ies a couple of weeks ago, I was amazed by how much more input the driver had over the race outcome than today.
The whole reliability issue was much more up to the driver, taking care of your tires and fuel which could earn you the race win. In every gearchange you had to
take away one hand of the steering wheel and heel-toe in every downshift, just imagine driving around in Monaco with no powersteering for 2 hours and one hand constant
changing gears and the other one steering the car...
If you missed that a few times you could overrev the engine or break the gearbox.
The race strategy was more or less up to yourself. Pitstops was more like a lottery, lapping cars was sometimes as hard as a real overtaking manouvre etc etc.