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Which drivers are best at setting up their cars?


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#1 jjcale

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:32

So far this season we've seen drivers with good cars badly off the pace at some races because they made an error setting up their cars. The most extreme example was JB who lost a quarter of the season by leading his engineers down a blind alley. Aside from these very public and obvious examples of drivers getting their set up wrong (and the whispers now and then of certain drivers regularly having to take their team mate's set ups), how do we know if a driver is any good at set up - and if so, which of the drivers is best or worse at this? also how much of the set up work is down the drivers as opposed to the engineers.

I'd love to hear from the doers and not just the watchers like myself ... but all views on this are welcome.

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#2 pingu666

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:41

the driver should explain the handling and the engieneers will lead on what changes to make.

denny hamlin is pretty good imo

#3 gm914

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:46

Lewie Lew is the bestest at set up

What? :p

Edited by gm914, 01 November 2012 - 17:47.


#4 SamH123

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:48

It must depend on the cars as well
For e.g. the Mclaren drivers look bad this year but that's probably because it's a much subtler car than the other top cars

#5 jjcale

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:49

Lewie Lew is the bestest at set up

What? :p

:lol: dont take that out of context.

That's not the point of this thread... try to keep clean. OK

#6 jrg19

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:52

Would people say Alonso is good at setting up a car or is he just good at driving around problems?

#7 Trust

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:54

I think top4 are the best: Alonso, Kimi, Hamilton and Vettel, though Fernando seems maybe the most consistent this season.

#8 gm914

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:57

:lol: dont take that out of context.

That's not the point of this thread... try to keep clean. OK

:up: You know I'm just poking.

I realize most replies will be F1- centric, but pingu666 brings up a good point when she mentions NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin.

Because of the sheer length of the races, the car's set-ups evolve and change a huge amount in NASCAR. Whether its certain grooves rubbering in (or not) as the race progresses, to day/night transition to damage and wear rates, a top NASCAR driver has to know how and adapt to how his car will behave not only now, but when the temp drops 20F and he's on worn right-side only tires 400 miles from then

Fascinating.

Edited by gm914, 01 November 2012 - 17:59.


#9 TFLB

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:59

I think top4 are the best: Alonso, Kimi, Hamilton and Vettel, though Fernando seems maybe the most consistent this season.

So how do you explain the fact that Raikkonen has spent a lot of time this season moaning about his car, and that Hamilton has made some awful set-up changes like in Korea?

#10 Slowinfastout

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 17:59

Would people say Alonso is good at setting up a car or is he just good at driving around problems?


I think this needs a few other layers of vague.

So, would people say [insert Driver Name here] is good at providing accurate feedback? is he just good at driving around problems? is the team able to give him what he wants and will the car be fast adjusted that way?

#11 Skinnyguy

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:02

No one here has knowledge to answer this. We´ll never know.

#12 artista

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:07

It must depend on the cars as well
For e.g. the Mclaren drivers look bad this year but that's probably because it's a much subtler car than the other top cars

It does depend on the car.
For example, last year's Lotus was a nightmare. A team member admitted to me at the beginning of this season that last year's car was so sensitive that "turning a screw a 1/4 a turn would completely change the car behaviour".

Which car is easier to set-up this season and which is more difficult? I, sincerely, don't know. It may even depend on the track and weather conditions.

#13 Victor_RO

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:13

the driver should explain the handling and the engieneers will lead on what changes to make.

denny hamlin is pretty good imo


Going on the same non-F1-centric line, I would say Alex Wurz, David Brabham, Nic Minassian, Marc Lieb. When it comes to the latter... it probably helps to be a Porsche factory driver as well as a trained automotive engineer employed by Porsche. Of course, in endurance racing the challenge of setting up the car is different, you have to set up the car to be as fast as possible as well as being comfortable enough for your teammates to drive at similar speeds.

#14 Anderis

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:13

No one here has knowledge to answer this. We´ll never know.

This. :up:

We can only guess. Racing is too sophisticated to know this things for sure. Insiders may have some idea, but there isn't any person who has worked with all drivers for long enough to make a verdict.

Edited by Anderis, 01 November 2012 - 18:14.


#15 pingu666

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:27

you have to average it out over a period of time, compaired to various peers, and looking at personal and car changes too, but we only ever hear snippets of f1 speak, and most of the time its very simple stuff :/

trophy truck drivers must be good with setting up shocks and suspension stuff



#16 r4mses

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:36

Since we don't have any inside knowledge, we have to take statistics

MSC >>> ALO, VET > HAM, BUT, RAI

:drunk:

#17 sailor

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:40

Vettel indoubtably

#18 Trust

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:47

So how do you explain the fact that Raikkonen has spent a lot of time this season moaning about his car, and that Hamilton has made some awful set-up changes like in Korea?

Raikkonen moaning a lot? Don't think so. Sure they had some set up problems somewhere, but not all the problems are mistakes of driver. There is no driver that can setup it perfectly for all the races, that's why I said Alonso seems the most consistent there this season.

#19 pingu666

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:01

the driver gives feedback (understeer/oversteer etc) and then the engineer will take that info, along with other data if avalible, and make the setup adjustments.



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#20 paulrobs

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:10

I'm just not sure that setup is down to the drivers nowadays, I think it is more and more down to the engineers and their systems. I find some of McLaren's comments regarding Perez not being the finished article and that McLaren can turn him into that to be part of the problem. The teams seem to knows best and the drivers don't. I'm not sure which driver is best at setting up their car because I'm not sure they get that much say. If I had to choose one driver though I'd say it's Alonso.

#21 discover23

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:18

it appears Kimi/Lotus are the worse.. followed closely by Button/Mclaren
is either that or their fans are the most vocal about car setup issues affecting these two drivers. .

#22 Risil

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:20

Peter Brock was a polarising figure but he knew stuff about car setup that even physics professors were in the dark about.

Edited by Risil, 01 November 2012 - 20:20.


#23 lambylamby

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:23

Gents, I'm going to wade in with the final answer and on this note, the topic should really be closed thereafter.

Timo Glock is the best car setup man.

Amen.

#24 motorhead

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:43

So how do you explain the fact that Raikkonen has spent a lot of time this season moaning about his car, and that Hamilton has made some awful set-up changes like in Korea?


Why count Alonso out of that moaning claim

#25 discover23

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:46

Why count Alonso out of that moaning claim

specifically about setup? are you sure?

#26 Shiroo

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:52

I believe we can give such "title" to driver only for a season, not lifetime. This season definetly NOT Kimi and Lotus, and Button and McLaren.
Gonna be probably Ferrari and Alonso, cause at the start they had pretty pos car and still got pretty nice results (compared to Massa), the next one would be Hamilton.

#27 Vesuvius

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:53

So how do you explain the fact that Raikkonen has spent a lot of time this season moaning about his car, and that Hamilton has made some awful set-up changes like in Korea?


Where and when has Kimi moaned his car? Recently it has been Alonso who moans about his car...

#28 Vesuvius

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:56

it appears Kimi/Lotus are the worse.. followed closely by Button/Mclaren
is either that or their fans are the most vocal about car setup issues affecting these two drivers. .

? Kimi is third in WDC table and has most of the time had magnificently set up car in races! You are just biased Kimi hater. For me Vettel and Alonso has had best setups most of the time and Kimi is close, when it comes to races

Edited by Vesuvius, 01 November 2012 - 20:58.


#29 discover23

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:57

Where and when has Kimi moaned his car? Recently it has been Alonso who moans about his car...

to not go to far - this was after qualy from the last race.
"I think that we probably should have been third or fourth after this morning and yesterday. But I made a decision to change the car a bit and it was completely the wrong decision.
"It took all the grip away from the car. I'm surprised that we finished seventh"

#30 discover23

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 20:59

? Kimi is third in WDC table and has most of the time had magnificently set up car in races! You are just biased Kimi hater.

what does that have anything to do with complaining about car setup ..

#31 Vesuvius

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:03

to not go to far - this was after qualy from the last race.
"I think that we probably should have been third or fourth after this morning and yesterday. But I made a decision to change the car a bit and it was completely the wrong decision.
"It took all the grip away from the car. I'm surprised that we finished seventh"


So? He didn't moan the car only his own mistake. Kimi made wrong setup choice for the quali, it happends...has happened to everyone. In race Kimi's setups worked perfectly.

#32 Risil

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:04

Haha, Raikkonen's back.

#33 Vesuvius

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:05

what does that have anything to do with complaining about car setup ..


Well everything..because you wrote Kimi and Lotus are the worst to set up their car...but It can't be correct as he is third in WDC points, if they really are as bad as you succest, they should dominate the championship tables if they would be good.

#34 Jovanotti

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:07

Haha, Raikkonen's back.

:up: :lol:

Poor show from the usual suspects here...but what do you expect from a question that NOBODY here will be able to answer?

#35 FenderJaguar

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:24

Guessing:
Alonso is good at setting up his car and getting the development towards his preferences. And since his style seems to be a little different I think that the development part is hurting his teammates. I think Kimi is good at race setups and giving feedback. A lot better than what some might think. That the last races have been difficult I'd put down to Lotus Renault trying to keep up with the bigger teams and getting desperate. And that it is his comeback year. Even with his problems during part of the season I'd think that Button is good at setups too.
But thinking about it the standout seems to be Vettel. Or maybe it is the technical team at Red Bull helping him. When the car was no better than the rest earlier in the season they still seemed to get a lot from the setups. And thinking back to his earlier career and the win at Monza in 2008 the setup for the car was probably pretty good.

#36 PretentiousBread

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:32

How do we judge when a driver is good at car set up .... aside from the odd occasions when he very obviously and publicly gets it wrong?


Setup skill and raw speed are obviously not mutually exclusive, they tend to go hand in hand. So what I mean is that when we see Hamilton deliver a stonking lap, there's a common misperception that it's just all raw talent, when in actual fact he's most likely got a setup which is faster in theory than others and he is merely able to access it. I believe that he is the sort of driver who will live with whatever setup is best suited to the track and car (07' & 08' cars a good example of this, as is this year's car), whereas Button requires the car to be set up for him. Sometimes the way JB wants it happens to suit the track (Spa for example), but often it doesn't and that's usually when we see the biggest gulf between him and Lewis.

Edited by PretentiousBread, 01 November 2012 - 21:32.


#37 jjcale

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:42

Setup skill and raw speed are obviously not mutually exclusive, they tend to go hand in hand. So what I mean is that when we see Hamilton deliver a stonking lap, there's a common misperception that it's just all raw talent, when in actual fact he's most likely got a setup which is faster in theory than others and he is merely able to access it. I believe that he is the sort of driver who will live with whatever setup is best suited to the track and car (07' & 08' cars a good example of this, as is this year's car), whereas Button requires the car to be set up for him. Sometimes the way JB wants it happens to suit the track (Spa for example), but often it doesn't and that's usually when we see the biggest gulf between him and Lewis.


Good points ... care to post this bit of illumination in the other thread. There is not much useful re F1 drivers in there.

#38 TheSpecialOne

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:43

Setup skill and raw speed are obviously not mutually exclusive, they tend to go hand in hand. So what I mean is that when we see Hamilton deliver a stonking lap, there's a common misperception that it's just all raw talent, when in actual fact he's most likely got a setup which is faster in theory than others and he is merely able to access it. I believe that he is the sort of driver who will live with whatever setup is best suited to the track and car (07' & 08' cars a good example of this, as is this year's car), whereas Button requires the car to be set up for him. Sometimes the way JB wants it happens to suit the track (Spa for example), but often it doesn't and that's usually when we see the biggest gulf between him and Lewis.



Very interesting theory!

Is the real 'raw talent' therefore in car setup, rather than being able to wring a cars neck on a hot lap?

Edited by TheSpecialOne, 01 November 2012 - 21:47.


#39 Wander

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:43

The guys who are consistently fast, are probably good with setups too.

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#40 MP422

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:55

Setup skill and raw speed are obviously not mutually exclusive, they tend to go hand in hand. So what I mean is that when we see Hamilton deliver a stonking lap, there's a common misperception that it's just all raw talent, when in actual fact he's most likely got a setup which is faster in theory than others and he is merely able to access it. I believe that he is the sort of driver who will live with whatever setup is best suited to the track and car (07' & 08' cars a good example of this, as is this year's car), whereas Button requires the car to be set up for him. Sometimes the way JB wants it happens to suit the track (Spa for example), but often it doesn't and that's usually when we see the biggest gulf between him and Lewis.


That sums it up, the driver has less input in this day of computers etc... I think alot of the driver concerns come from brake setups front wing etc. Gear ratios and Aero are probably more engineer circuit dependent. I tend to believe Hamilton doesn't specifically direct the mechanics what to change but more of a comparison from his feedback to what they are seeing. It's hard to say, they also do setup work in simulators think too.

Atm andy should be able to answer a question like this.

#41 Peter Perfect

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:56

So far this season we've seen drivers with good cars badly off the pace at some races because they made an error setting up their cars. The most extreme example was JB who lost a quarter of the season by leading his engineers down a blind alley. Aside from these very public and obvious examples of drivers getting their set up wrong (and the whispers now and then of certain drivers regularly having to take their team mate's set ups), how do we know if a driver is any good at set up - and if so, which of the drivers is best or worse at this? also how much of the set up work is down the drivers as opposed to the engineers.

I'd love to hear from the doers and not just the watchers like myself ... but all views on this are welcome.


Personally I think too much emphasis is placed on the idea that drivers perfect their set-ups with the implication that the engineers are just there to tighten a few bolts. F1 is, and always has been, a team sport. How do we know that the driver perceived as being the best at setting up his car doesn't just have the best race engineer in the pitlane?

#42 rijole1

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 21:57

This. :up:

We can only guess. Racing is too sophisticated to know this things for sure. Insiders may have some idea, but there isn't any person who has worked with all drivers for long enough to make a verdict.

:up:

#43 rijole1

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 22:07

Haha, Raikkonen's back.


:cool: :D So, let's enjoy the show!


#44 goldenboy

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 22:19

Nowhere near the amount of info required to make a call on who is the best at it.

All I can offer is remembering how highly williams regarded rosbergs feedback.

#45 BigCHrome

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 22:24

So how do you explain the fact that Raikkonen has spent a lot of time this season moaning about his car, and that Hamilton has made some awful set-up changes like in Korea?


You mean in Korea when had a broken suspension?

Edited by BigCHrome, 01 November 2012 - 22:27.


#46 pingu666

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 05:42

my personaly experience from iracing is the fast guys can typicaly drive pretty much any setup, heck when i played a guy called vinnie would post setups about 6 in 100 people could actually drive. wreck in a straight line while u do nothing kind of insanity, or "i never turned left" after a oval race... those top guys could actually drive those setups insanely well, and faster than i could on a well behaved setup.
but that was partly cos the game had odd physics for some cars.

better drivers can take something imperfect or down right horrible, and do more with it than a average driver, but you will still get more performance from both if you make the setup not suck (average driver will see bigger gains)


#47 rhukkas

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 10:22

my personaly experience from iracing is the fast guys can typicaly drive pretty much any setup, heck when i played a guy called vinnie would post setups about 6 in 100 people could actually drive. wreck in a straight line while u do nothing kind of insanity, or "i never turned left" after a oval race... those top guys could actually drive those setups insanely well, and faster than i could on a well behaved setup.
but that was partly cos the game had odd physics for some cars.

better drivers can take something imperfect or down right horrible, and do more with it than a average driver, but you will still get more performance from both if you make the setup not suck (average driver will see bigger gains)


They aren't necessarily bad set ups. IN LFS the hardest set ups to drive were often fundamentally the quickest because they exploit weird physics.

#48 robefc

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 10:25

Setup skill and raw speed are obviously not mutually exclusive, they tend to go hand in hand. So what I mean is that when we see Hamilton deliver a stonking lap, there's a common misperception that it's just all raw talent, when in actual fact he's most likely got a setup which is faster in theory than others and he is merely able to access it. I believe that he is the sort of driver who will live with whatever setup is best suited to the track and car (07' & 08' cars a good example of this, as is this year's car), whereas Button requires the car to be set up for him. Sometimes the way JB wants it happens to suit the track (Spa for example), but often it doesn't and that's usually when we see the biggest gulf between him and Lewis.


In a way doesn't that still come down to talent over set up skills though? By which I mean it's not that hypotheticallyhe's able to set the car up better than JB for a track, it's that he's able to drive that set up whereas JB couldn't (the point I think you are making)?

Nice post btw.

Edited by robefc, 02 November 2012 - 10:25.


#49 PretentiousBread

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 10:59

In a way doesn't that still come down to talent over set up skills though? By which I mean it's not that hypotheticallyhe's able to set the car up better than JB for a track, it's that he's able to drive that set up whereas JB couldn't (the point I think you are making)?

Nice post btw.


Yeah I should clarify, Hamilton's ability allows him to access setups with more potential lap time than JB with certain car/track characteristics, so you're right this is just as much a form of innate talent as anything else. However, what I was alluding to was the difference between this and say, Ronnie Petersen who had a similar ability but didn't know what was most beneficial to him. For example, Lauda told a story about how when they were team mate, Ronnie Petersen first got to test a car said it felt fine, and when Lauda tested it he confirmed it was an absolute shitbox. Although Lauda looked up to Petersen as a driver and acknowledged he wasn't as innately fast as him, he was however cleverer and was able to get more out of a car with setup than Petersen could get out of driving the wheels off it. In the case of Hamilton, he is a combination of both, the best of both worlds. It's my theory as to was he's fast in almost all conditions, whereas Button, Webber and even Vettel seem to have peaks and troughs in terms of their outright speed at any given race weekend.

#50 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 12:23

First off it's extremely difficult for anyone other than an experienced race engineer to answer 'who is best' with any credibility but what is obvious that getting setup right can be the difference between winning and being nowhere, the infamous McLaren/Lewis setup twitter-gate drama at Spa this year being an obvious example. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) real F1 isn't like a racing sim where the driver can change any setup parameter at any time during a weekend. Things like rear wings have to be designed and manufactuered prior to a weekend and can't be tweaked like a front wing. A limited number of gear ratios have to be picked by the teams at the start of the season that are then chosen on friday for the whole weekend. These decisions are made by the engineers as much as the drivers which can then dictate everything over a race weekend and decide whether you'll be stronger in qualifying or the race.

The settings that the driver has open to him are relatively limited during a weekend. Front wing and are tyre pressures are probably the main ones as they are quick and easy but all the other major mechanical setup changes are so interconnected with other systems that drivers have to rely on the engineers to get this bit right and hope for the best. Drivers don't tell engineers what ride height they want, what strength ARB to use, what damping and spring settings they want, they provide the engineers feedback which is then interpreted and the engineers make the changes to the cars so in effect it's really a question of which drivers provide the best feedback that can then be interpreted by the engineers logically. Maybe back in the day when Motorsport engineering was nowhere near as scientific as it is now the driver's technical knowledge was much more important as the only feedback was the driver. Now, telemetry provides more feedback than a driver ever could and correctly interpreted this data analysis can provide a driver with a car that is 90% optimised before he has even turned a lap. The last 10% is fine tuning to the conditions and preferences of the driver.