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Now that's what I call progress.


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#1 Barry Boor

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 15:51

Generally speaking, one might expect a slight increase in car performance in any given season, compared with the previous one - as long as there are not too many variables introduced between the two. However, I would like to put forward an example of a remarkable improvement by a particular driver in what appears to be exactly the same car on the same circuit over a two year period.

Step forward Monsieur Petoulet; at Albi in 1950 Maurice Trintignant qualified a T.15 Simca-Gordini in 3 mins 30'6 seconds. It appears that, if anything, the 1951 version of Albi was a few meters longer but Maurice's best practice lap this time was 3 mins 8'8 seconds. This was good enough for pole position and he won the race too.

I wondered whether the 1950 practice was run in the wet but Fangio's pole time was 2 seconds quicker than Trint's the following year so I'm guessing that was not the case.

Expanding the investigation, I find that team-mate Manzon was a second slower than Trintignant in 1950 but 16 seconds slower in 1951. To be fair, Simon in another Gordini was only 2 seconds slower than Trint in '51 so it seems that the progress made between the two years was as much made by Gordini as by the drivers.

I suppose there is some simple explanation to all this drivel but I just fancied starting up a thread that isn't "does anyone know where XXXX is?" or "can anyone recognise this old jalopy?"

Not that there's anything wrong with those threads, you understand - it's just that I can never help with either of them. :blush:

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#2 arttidesco

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 16:52

Generally speaking, one might expect a slight increase in car performance in any given season, compared with the previous one - as long as there are not too many variables introduced between the two. However, I would like to put forward an example of a remarkable improvement by a particular driver in what appears to be exactly the same car on the same circuit over a two year period.

Step forward Monsieur Petoulet; at Albi in 1950 Maurice Trintignant qualified a T.15 Simca-Gordini in 3 mins 30'6 seconds. It appears that, if anything, the 1951 version of Albi was a few meters longer but Maurice's best practice lap this time was 3 mins 8'8 seconds. This was good enough for pole position and he won the race too.

I wondered whether the 1950 practice was run in the wet but Fangio's pole time was 2 seconds quicker than Trint's the following year so I'm guessing that was not the case.

Expanding the investigation, I find that team-mate Manzon was a second slower than Trintignant in 1950 but 16 seconds slower in 1951. To be fair, Simon in another Gordini was only 2 seconds slower than Trint in '51 so it seems that the progress made between the two years was as much made by Gordini as by the drivers.

I suppose there is some simple explanation to all this drivel but I just fancied starting up a thread that isn't "does anyone know where XXXX is?" or "can anyone recognise this old jalopy?"

Not that there's anything wrong with those threads, you understand - it's just that I can never help with either of them. :blush:


What was the rate development of tyres like back in those days ?


#3 D-Type

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 16:55

With road circuits the layout can change subtly form year to year so it's always safer to look at average speeds when making comparisons.

The other big factor is if a track is resurfaced. Fangio broke all records at the Nurburgring in 1957 but the following year several cars matched his times, including private Maseratis, so there must have been an improvement in the track. There wasn't any change in tyres and I don't think there was any remodelling that year so it must be resurfacing. As you hinted, you should also look at relative times.

Given that he was in a Gordini, with its shoestring budget, we can expect the relative performance of individual cars in the team varied more than other teams. The Gordinis were fragile and all the components were used until they broke - they couldn't afford to time-expire them. The difference between a component that was about to wear out and a new one was significant. And all the bits wore out at different rates. Did he have a good one with a large proportion of good bits that suited his driving style in 1951 and a poor one in 1950?

I'm writing this at work so I'll have to look into things when I get home tonight - particularly Jenks in Motor Sport .

#4 Roger Clark

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 18:25

In the first 1950 heat, Trintingnant covered 17 laps in 58' 36.2", an average of 3' 26.8", so I think we can say that his practice time was not representative. The Gordinis arrived late for practice. In 1951 he had a type 16C engine which was usefully more powerful.

I think we can rule out tyre improvement as Gordini used Engleberts.

#5 Barry Boor

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 18:31

The average lap time in 1950 was not that much quicker than the practice time - given that we are talking about a 210 second lap - in fact just a couple of percent quicker.

BUT, the engine factor would seem to be the key. I wonder if Simon had a similar engine in 1951 but Manzon and Behra didn't.

#6 Michael Ferner

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 18:35

In the first 1950 heat, Trintingnant covered 17 laps in 58' 36.2", an average of 3' 26.8", so I think we can say that his practice time was not representative. The Gordinis arrived late for practice. In 1951 he had a type 16C engine which was usefully more powerful.


I think that may be the clue: at some point, Gordini began using superchargers!

I think we can rule out tyre improvement as Gordini used Engleberts.


Aren't you a little harsh on our Belgian friends, Roger? :D

#7 Roger Clark

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 19:40

According to Huet, both Gordinis had 15C engines in 1950, Behra had a 16 and the others a 16C in 1951.

I think the difference between Trintingnant's race and practice pace is significant. Race pace would normally be a good deal slower: there was a standing start and not many cars could be driven flat out throughout a race.

Didn't Ferrari have the same tread pattern on their Engleberts in 1958 as in the mid-30s?