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The Ladder - How todays drivers got to F1


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#1 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 16:55

With the jumbled mess that is today's ladder of talent into F1 I thought it would be interesting to see the path that todays drivers took, I've used last years grid as this years isn't finalised yet. I gave up at Karthekeyan because it took him about 13 years to get to F1 and frankly, I just lost the will to live at that point.

I've only included full seasons or seasons where a driver competed in a large chunk of races, too many drivers did one off races that would just mess things up.

A red dot indicates a championship won in that class, the number at the end is the number of years between leaving karts and entering F1.

Some drivers like Grosjean and Glock entered, left and re-entered F1 but I have only gone up to their first foray.

Most acronyms are self explanatory but here are some of the less clear ones;

GK - Go-karts (ages of competition shown below).
FF - Formula Ford.
FR - Formula Renault 2.0 (unless specified as 1.6 or 3.5).
F3K - F3000.
NIP - Formula Nippon.
Lightning - First F1 test.

[edited for accuracy and clarity reasons]

driversu.jpg

 

 


Edited by Boing 2, 20 March 2014 - 10:18.


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#2 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:00

The first thing that jumps out for me is the lack of Formula Ford, only 4 drivers have gone through it and 3 of those started F1 before 2001. It was standard practice in my day that FFord was the starting point of a single seater career but most now seem to jump straight into wings and slicks from karts.

The other think that hits you is just how incredibly short Buttons and Raikkonens driving careers were, 2 years between stepping into a Formula Ford and starting your first F1 race!



#3 pRy

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:32

10/10 for the graphic if you made it. Top job.

I never knew Hamilton had such a long build up to F1. I assumed he was thrown into his McLaren seat fairly early in his career but I guess he just started younger than some of the other guys? As you say.. Button's lead into F1 was crazy short!

Would be curious to see some comparisons with some older generations, such as Senna/Prost/Brundle etc?

Edited by pRy, 31 January 2013 - 17:33.


#4 goingthedistance

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:34

Great work!

#5 peroa

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:37

Different times, different paths.

#6 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:47

10/10 for the graphic if you made it. Top job.

I never knew Hamilton had such a long build up to F1. I assumed he was thrown into his McLaren seat fairly early in his career but I guess he just started younger than some of the other guys? As you say.. Button's lead into F1 was crazy short!

Would be curious to see some comparisons with some older generations, such as Senna/Prost/Brundle etc?


Thanks, took a while :drunk:

It's not hard to see why Button self destructed so quickly after a strong start whilst Hamilton drove a double world champ out of the team and nailed the title the next year, they took totally different approaches to their build up. 2 years after Button stepped out of a go kart he's a millionaire F1 driver, he just didn't have the depth of experience to keep his focus or to deal with that dog of a Renault when he got it. Hamilton is a polar opposite with multiple seasons in the same formula, he was clearly polishing his talent before he hit F1 and was a much more developed driver when he landed.

If anything Raikkonen is the most impressive, 2 years from karts to F1 and never really slumped or slipped up, he just came in strong and kept getting stronger.

I might do a couple of older drivers when I've recovered, been at this for a couple of days.....

Edited by Boing 2, 31 January 2013 - 17:48.


#7 Beamer

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:50

The first thing that jumps out for me is the lack of Formula Ford, only 4 drivers have gone through it and 3 of those started F1 before 2001. It was standard practice in my day that FFord was the starting point of a single seater career but most now seem to jump straight into wings and slicks from karts.

The other think that hits you is just how incredibly short Buttons and Raikkonens driving careers were, 2 years between stepping into a Formula Ford and starting your first F1 race!

+ alonso

#8 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:52

+ alonso


:o

You're quite right, Alonso too.

#9 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:52

It needs a slight tweak, because it makes some drivers look they had longer pre-F1 careers than they did. For instance Hamilton did Renault Winter UK the same year he was karting. Likewise his solo Brit F3 appearance came in a Formula Renault year. Some guys did National and Euro Renaults at the same time, etc.



#10 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 17:55

It needs a slight tweak, because it makes some drivers look they had longer pre-F1 careers than they did. For instance Hamilton did Renault Winter UK the same year he was karting. Likewise his solo Brit F3 appearance came in a Formula Renault year. Some guys did National and Euro Renaults at the same time, etc.


Yeah I know, I was going to include subdivisions to group winter series and GP2 Asia series along with main campaigns but I'm limited a bit in the space I've got to work with. I didn't want to have to scroll to view it.

#11 BackmarkerUK

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 18:12

Shows how far Formula Nippon has fallen. It was once a reasonable route to F1, but now that de la Rosa's gone, there are no ex-F.Nippon drivers in F1.

#12 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 18:14

A few extra numbers, Formula Renault has 14 drivers engaged in a total of 43 campaigns, Formula 3 has 17 drivers engaged in a total of 33 campaigns. So, more drivers entered F3 but spent less time there than F Renault. GP2/GP2 Asia has 12 drivers engaged in 35 campaigns.

The most common single series were the GP2 series with 12 drivers engaged in a total of 23 campaigns and Formula 3 Euroseries with 9 drivers engaged in a total of 16 campaigns.


.................................Drivers.......Campaigns

Formula 3-----------------17-----------33
Formula Renault ----------14-----------43
GP2/GP2 Asia--------------12-----------35
GP2-----------------------12-----------23
Formula 3 Euroseries--------9-----------16



#13 Myrvold

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 18:18

De la Rosa was the last guy coming to F1 from Japan! And actually from SuperGT.

#14 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 18:23

Sutil? Yuji Ide? Yamamoto?

#15 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 18:27

Shows how far Formula Nippon has fallen. It was once a reasonable route to F1, but now that de la Rosa's gone, there are no ex-F.Nippon drivers in F1.


Yeah, they've slipped right off the radar and very abruptly too, here's a few names

Japanese F3000 90-95

Herbert
Katayama
Ratzenberg
Frentzen
Irvine
Salo

Formula Nippon 96-2000
Firman
Takagi
Fontana
Nakano
De La Rosa
Ralf Schumacher
Yoong

Then, absolutely nothing after about 2000.

#16 Rob

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 18:34

Sutil? Yuji Ide? Yamamoto?

Sutil did Japanese F3 rather than Formula Nippon.

Edit: Found some more Nippon graduates. Esteban Tuero in 1997 and Narain Karthikeyan in 2001.

Edited by Rob, 31 January 2013 - 18:47.


#17 Viktor

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 18:54

Nice chart! Alonso did his first F1 test for Minardi in 99 before F3000.

/Viktor

#18 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 18:57

Cheers, I'm sure there's a few of those up there, I might go back and update it if I think it's interesting enough to people but I was really running out of steam when I was fact checking it.

#19 Myrvold

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:00

Sutil? Yuji Ide? Yamamoto?


Oh man. Brainfart-deluxe!

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#20 Brandz07

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:02

Great graphic!

How comes there's WSR & FR 3.5 though? :p

#21 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:16

I wasn't overly clear on that to be honest, I'm not an expert on Renaults different series and was under the impression WSR was separate from Formula Renault, are they different names for the same thing?

#22 Myrvold

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:18

WSR Became Formula Renault in 05 I think

#23 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:25

Right, I've corrected the Alonso test error and replaced WSR with Formula Renault 3.5 tags

#24 jonpollak

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:26

Excelent work Boing2
Jp

#25 Rob

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:32

The European Open by Nissan was an early form of what eventually became Formula Renault 3.5.

#26 Brandz07

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:40

Right, I've corrected the Alonso test error and replaced WSR with Formula Renault 3.5 tags


:) :up:

#27 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 19:41

cheers JP

#28 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 20:11

The European Open by Nissan was an early form of what eventually became Formula Renault 3.5.


Yeah I pondered on that at the time but if it wasn't actually called F Renault at the time I may just leave it as Nippon.

#29 gerry nassar

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 20:22

Yeah, they've slipped right off the radar and very abruptly too, here's a few names


Formula Nippon 96-2000
Firman
Takagi
Fontana
Nakano
De La Rosa
Ralf Schumacher
Yoong

Then, absolutely nothing after about 2000.


Based on that list I can see why Formula Nippon is no longer a key feeder series!!

Great thread and graphic Boing!!

#30 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 20:37

Cheers Gerry, yeah a formula's success really comes from the speed at which it's stars rise, I wonder how big a boost it was to have Kimi Raikkonen come straight out of Formula Renault and be fast in F1 immediately.

#31 Fontainebleau

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 20:51

Great thread! I find it very interesting that the most consistent correlation between winning a certain series and being an F1 driver comes from GK. I am not sure if it has to do with it being a test that everyone has to pass in order to progress into anything, or because it is the best reflection of a certain skill set - or both!

#32 Brandz07

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 20:52

It's quite telling that the further down the grid you go the amount of series increases, generally.

Edited by Brandz07, 31 January 2013 - 20:53.


#33 Beamer

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 21:08

:o

You're quite right, Alonso too.

No prob. Great graph and research!

#34 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 21:28

Cheers, one last edit and that's me, I've listed the drivers according to race wins down to Maldonado, then career points total from there down, might make it easier to spot patterns at the top.

#35 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 21:30

Actually, now I've done that, the absence of GP2 at the top is startling.

#36 mnmracer

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 21:33

Actually, Formula Nissan/and local Formula Renault (Alonso, Massa, Hamilton) are 2.0 series, so in the league of Formula Ford and Formula BMW.
Formula Renault 3.5 (Kubica, Vettel) is a step up, in the league of GP2/F3000.

But great work!

Edited by mnmracer, 31 January 2013 - 21:34.


#37 pingualoty

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 21:33

Very nice graphic, any other ideas for ones?

#38 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 21:44

Actually, Formula Nissan/and local Formula Renault (Alonso, Massa, Hamilton) are 2.0 series, so in the league of Formula Ford and Formula BMW.
Formula Renault 3.5 (Kubica, Vettel) is a step up, in the league of GP2/F3000.

But great work!



Looking again I guess the top guys pre-dated GP2, but most have equivalent experience. Schumacher in GT, Alonso/Massa/Webber in F3000, Vettel in F Renault 3.5 and Hamilton GP2. It's only Button and Raikkonen that had not intermediate step. It's telling though that most of those guys have only had a single year in intermediate series compared to the multiple seasons of GP2 lower down.

I wonder if that's down to talent, a lack of funding to step up or the relative lack of new berths available in F1 each year. Maybe they are 'circling the runway' in GP2?

#39 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 21:47

Very nice graphic, any other ideas for ones?



I've send some lovely graphics of an invoice to my clients before Christmas but they don't seem to be so enthusiastic as you guys......

I love stat attacks on F1 but they take a fair bit of time and to honest I wouldn't be thinking of doing another one soon, although someone suggested doing some historic drivers career paths which I might add on at some point. Just a few mind you.

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#40 Amphicar

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 22:00

The first thing that jumps out for me is the lack of Formula Ford, only 4 drivers have gone through it and 3 of those started F1 before 2001. It was standard practice in my day that FFord was the starting point of a single seater career but most now seem to jump straight into wings and slicks from karts.

The other think that hits you is just how incredibly short Buttons and Raikkonens driving careers were, 2 years between stepping into a Formula Ford and starting your first F1 race!

Indeed - the classic route for the really quick guys (e.g. Ayrton Senna) was always karts, FF, F3 then straight to F1 but now FF is seemingly redundant and F3 is no longer de rigeur. Your chart also highlights the vital importance of an early start in karts. I have previously posted that Damon Hill was the last WDC who didn't begin by racing karts and before Damon you have to go back to Niki Lauda. All of which makes Mark Webber's championship near-miss in 2010 all the more galling. Who knows - if he had begun by racing karts rather than bikes perhaps his ultimate car control might have been that fraction better and he wouldn't have slid off and out in Korea.

#41 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 22:11

I think he was pretty much at potential by Korea 2010. Extra karting probably wouldn't have saved him.

#42 Boing 2

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 22:36

Indeed - the classic route for the really quick guys (e.g. Ayrton Senna) was always karts, FF, F3 then straight to F1 but now FF is seemingly redundant and F3 is no longer de rigeur. Your chart also highlights the vital importance of an early start in karts. I have previously posted that Damon Hill was the last WDC who didn't begin by racing karts and before Damon you have to go back to Niki Lauda. All of which makes Mark Webber's championship near-miss in 2010 all the more galling. Who knows - if he had begun by racing karts rather than bikes perhaps his ultimate car control might have been that fraction better and he wouldn't have slid off and out in Korea.



The human brain goes through (I think) 3 neural 'purges' during its development to remove weak and unused neural connections, once as an infant, once at about 10 years old and once in late teens - early 20's. Any repeated activity creates a physical connection in the brain, this connection essentially stores that skill/memory/movement in the structure of the brain, any areas that don't form strong connections are deemed 'baggage' and are simply destroyed in these purge cycles. It's the brains way of evolving and specialising in often used skills to guarantee the development of those skills to aid survival.

This means that a kid who's involved in any sort of motorsport involving speed and balance will be investing in areas of their brain that may be getting literally flushed away in other kids who are playing ball sports or developing academic skills for example. When people say that a driver has a natural talent I think they mean a talent developed at an early age, (there's nothing 'natural' about driving a car) basically talents formed before these purges, whereas a driver coming to the sport later in life may have lost a little of this advantage.

Having said that, the brain can re-wire itself to a remarkable degree, stroke survivors brains can literally farm out the skills of a damaged area to surrounding parts of the brain to govern new parts of the body. So maybe the disadvantage isn't that great, but I'd imagine there is still a disadvantage to some degree.

#43 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 22:37

Yeah, I think a lot of our perceptions about what racing drivers can do age wise are from the stoneage.

#44 jonpollak

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 16:17

Holy Freekin' Phenomenology Batman ..I'm learning stuff on Autosport forums !?!?!?!
Would this action be aligned with cognitivism or behaviorism or part of the process of muscular motor memory?

Jp



The human brain goes through (I think) 3 neural 'purges' during its development to remove weak and unused neural connections, once as an infant, once at about 10 years old and once in late teens - early 20's. Any repeated activity creates a physical connection in the brain, this connection essentially stores that skill/memory/movement in the structure of the brain, any areas that don't form strong connections are deemed 'baggage' and are simply destroyed in these purge cycles. It's the brains way of evolving and specialising in often used skills to guarantee the development of those skills to aid survival.

This means that a kid who's involved in any sort of motorsport involving speed and balance will be investing in areas of their brain that may be getting literally flushed away in other kids who are playing ball sports or developing academic skills for example. When people say that a driver has a natural talent I think they mean a talent developed at an early age, (there's nothing 'natural' about driving a car) basically talents formed before these purges, whereas a driver coming to the sport later in life may have lost a little of this advantage.

Having said that, the brain can re-wire itself to a remarkable degree, stroke survivors brains can literally farm out the skills of a damaged area to surrounding parts of the brain to govern new parts of the body. So maybe the disadvantage isn't that great, but I'd imagine there is still a disadvantage to some degree.



#45 Boing 2

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 17:16

Holy Freekin' Phenomenology Batman ..I'm learning stuff on Autosport forums !?!?!?!
Would this action be aligned with cognitivism or behaviorism or part of the process of muscular motor memory?

Jp



The process is called synaptic pruning if you want to read up on it. I'm just an interested layman so I can only guess at an answer but I would imaging that any cognitive process if repeated often will strengthen and preserve abilities through these purges. After all, those suffering from dementia usually lose new memories first and old ones last, presumably that's because years of constant recollection have strengthened those pathways making them more resistant to degenerative conditions. If the recollection of a memory can do that without any behavioural or physical element than I'd imagine any repeated cognitive process will do the same.

#46 jonpollak

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 22:55

Fantastic..
Thanks again Boing 2.


Jp

#47 richie

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 21:49

The first thing that jumps out for me is the lack of Formula Ford, only 4 drivers have gone through it and 3 of those started F1 before 2001. It was standard practice in my day that FFord was the starting point of a single seater career but most now seem to jump straight into wings and slicks from karts.

The other think that hits you is just how incredibly short Buttons and Raikkonens driving careers were, 2 years between stepping into a Formula Ford and starting your first F1 race!


Posted Image

First Published in Motor Sport by John Wilson- known in the UK as 'Wheels Wilson'. Published here with permission.

"I nearly fell off the chair to see the photo of Emmo and me in dicing Merlyns at Snetterton in 1969 – how many lifetimes ago was that race!

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, because that was the day a major talent announced its arrival in Europe. The story of the race was recounted in Emerson’s biography, where he couldn’t remember who the other driver was.

Well, I remember, because it was me.

A couple of years earlier and unknown to my parents back in Australia, I had cashed in my return fare to go motor racing in England. I served an apprenticeship driving an E type Jaguar in the mod sports series, which was pretty exciting and very competitive with people like Pearce, Quick, Cowin, Schroeder and Lewis banging wheels, but Formula Ford arrived and the top drivers like Tim Schenken had leapt to stardom from the class.

If you were seriously ambitious in the late sixties, Formula Ford was the way to join the queue to a F1 berth, so gathering every penny I had, plus a few I hadn’t, I managed to fund myself into a Merlyn Mk11A.

The little Merlin was like a toy after the brutality of the E types, which in those days still had lots of rubber in their suspensions and didn’t necessarily go where they were pointed and I soon discovered that although the Formula Fords were supposed to have identical power plants, to make sure that every driver had the same chance, the reality was quite different.

There are not two engines ever built that put out exactly the same power and the factory drivers always get the best in any formula. A couple of extra horsepower in a featherweight chassis makes one big difference. Formula Ford specs mandated standard road car camshaft timing, strangely however, there were some very rorty sounds coming from some of the engines in the paddock and there were some cars that pulled relentlessly away from you on a clear straight. Very odd that.

Like every other class of racing, whoever could keep their foot down longest while keeping the car neat, went fastest. It was just more pronounced in Formula Ford. It was also infuriating, because none of the hot-shots
would give an inch, especially as the pack headed for the first couple of corners;
from memory, I got wiped out five meetings in a row on either the first or second corner of the first lap.

However the major surprise on driving the car was the tyres. The regulations said road tyres were to be used and Firestone F100s were everyone’s choice. That sounded sensible, but there was an unintended consequence: until the tread was worn down to a virtual slick, the cars slid all over the place with no grip at all. Well-funded drivers had the treads skimmed off on a lathe, but we paupers just had to wear them down on the track.

Anyway, after a couple of races, I arrived at Snetterton with a now nicely sorted Merlyn to find a young Brazilian in the entry. The word was that he’d been Brazilian Formula V champion and had a big rap. In practice, my car started jumping out of gear, so I steered with one hand and held it in gear with the other. At the end of the session, the Brazilian was on pole and I was alongside in P2.

I had no pit crew and couldn’t fix the gear problem, so that’s how I drove the race. Emerson out-dragged me to the first corner but I managed to shadow him down the straight, through the hairpin and caught him at the esses. The next corner was the very fast Corum curve and I slipped inside to take the lead.

Now, when you’re driving a racing car, time is relative, you may be going quickly, but not relative to your competitors, so you’ve got plenty of time to observe them at work.
As Emerson and I went through the corner, both on our limits, I watched his beautifully graceful technique; he stroked the car along, it was like silk He was piling on every horsepower the Rowland engine produced, yet in that magical way only the very top drivers have, kept the car beautifully balanced so the engine power was forcing the car forwards with the minimum lost to the forces that try and throw it off the road.

Far from fighting the steering wheel, his hands were caressing.

I still remember thinking in those milliseconds, “Whoever you are, you are very, very good.” My ageing eyes may be deceiving me, but I think the photo you published was at that very moment and you can actually see me looking across at Emmo, rather than where we were going.

In the end, Emerson won, I came second, still holding the gearstick and John Day who I think it was an ex- Lotus works driver came third.

Over the next two years in Formula Ford and Formula 3, I saw Emerson as his career rocketed. His car control was sublime, streets ahead of the next best and that included at least two future world champions.

Memories flood back: we were driving in F3 qualifying, Emerson was fastest. After the session, other drivers were asking their pit crews how he’d done it. The answer was he was going flat through a top gear corner and no-one else was. It was that silken car control again. Maximum power, maximum efficiency.

Most remarkable of all though, was that he was likeable and charming, a shy smile and friendly eyes. That may not sound a lot in normal life, but believe me, amongst the massive egos of an International Formula 3 grid, it was saintly.

I was almost right on that day in May 1969, Emerson Fittipaldi was a very, very good driver.

Except now, I would substitute the word ‘great’ for ‘good’ ".

Edited by richie, 04 February 2013 - 21:58.


#48 bourbon

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 22:06

What a beautiful Chart. :up:

#49 Boing 2

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 14:36

Richie, 10 years from now young karters maybe saying 'formula what?' It seems to be an irrelevance in the food chain these days.

#50 michaelmyers

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 15:21

Awesome chart. Incredible how fast Räikkönen and Button moved up the ladder.

Oh and by the way, it's Kovalainen not Kovalienen like you wrote on the chart ;)