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Driver vs Driver Comparisons...


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#1 flatlander48

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 18:43

Quite often we see magazine articles or forum discussions where drivers of different eras are discussed and compared. As we know, this is a very difficult thing to do. It seems that what we are really comparing are degrees of success and not necessarily innate ability. Plus, in the time of Formula 1 for example, just about everything has changed. Race distances shortened, the lengths of many courses shortened, cars have had less power/more power, no downforce/massive downforce and pit stops have come and gone and come again. There are fewer and fewer among us actually saw Fangio and Moss; to say nothing of Nuvolari (who drove in pre-war Grand Prix races, but not Formula 1 races). Basically we only have film and written accounts.

So:

  • Is it fair to compare drivers from different eras?
  • How should we make comparisons?


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#2 Kingshark

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 18:59

1.) Yes it is.

2.) Statistics and achievements, long with how they performed against both teammates and rivals.

#3 flatlander48

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 20:03

Comparing records for Michael Schumacher, for example, would consistently turn out one-sided. No one is anywhere close regarding wins and titles. Does that necessarily imply that he is better than Fangio or Clark? That's the problem I have because there was no overlap. Even though there was some overlap with Senna, it was really too short to make some solid conclusions.

Also, in a number of cases, people had dominant cars. Somehow you would need to separate driver qualities from car qualities. For example, the Williams that Mansell won his title with was the dominant car that year. However, we have other parts of Mansell's career to evaluate when he didn't have a dominant car.

I have a DVD titled "60 Years of Formula 1 On Board". There's great practice or qualifying footage of many of the greats over that time. Fangio was amazing in a Ferrari testing at the Modena Airport; the degree of control and placing the car exactly where is should be was impressive. However, he never had to deal with 1000+ horsepower and downforce. These are some of the things that, to me, make it very diffcult to compare people and their times.

#4 DKMoto

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 20:29

You cant really compare.

Take a look at all sports, evolution happens big time. Training, competition and technology.

Some of the "all time greats" from before would never even make F1 today.

Today you need youth, natural talent and great reaction time/reflexes.

You cant be a 45 year old out of shape guy with money.

The competition is also much much greater, there's more parity today, more rules, more restrictions.

You cant buy yourself a championship like you could before.

Thats why I dont rate most of the old-timers like many here, because just like in other sports we have evolved so much that its impossible to compare them, like comparing a Turing Computer vs a new i7 intel.

Thats why I laugh when I see some saying that the best drivers ever were some out of shape 40+ year olds with cars with seconds of advantage and shaky rules/regulations.



#5 Bloggsworth

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 21:23

...are odious.

#6 Kingshark

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 00:28

Well, a scientific study has been performed on this subject.

Who is the best F1 Driver?

http://www.unifr.ch/...nn_formula1.pdf

#7 holiday

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 01:56

[*]Is it fair to compare drivers from different eras?

Probably the largest BS to do so, still we indulge in it, don't we?

A 47-old like Fangio would not even be on the grid today, while the current champs of today would not survive a season in the 1950s the way they are driving.

I can only recommend to watch old races to see how very different racing was from today, even only 20 years ago.


#8 SparkPlug

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 04:52

This is true of nearly every sport. Even in Tennis, there is a raging debate about whether the likes of Federer and Nadal would be able to win as much if not for advances in string technology and also the changing nature of grasscourts. There are such debates in football, cricket, hockey, even contact sport.

This debate of greatest of all time has no end, really. The only fair, measurable, and close to objective way of measuring greatness is statistics, since it explains the performance of one competitor in relation to the others in his time. All sportsmen are products of their times, and its just unfair to say "Oh he would not be able to do this in that era" since we dont know for sure. What we do know for sure is, how the athlete, or in this case, Formula 1 driver fared in comparison to the other people at the highest level of his sport over the course of his career. And that to me is the only measurable sign of greatness. This is why, even though I am no fan, I have to admit that Michael Schumacher is the only driver who can objectively be called to be the greatest of all time. If tomorrow, Vettel beats his record, that GOAT title goes to him. Everything else is just speculation.

#9 mnmracer

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 07:03

QFT:

This debate of greatest of all time has no end, really. The only fair, measurable, and close to objective way of measuring greatness is statistics, since it explains the performance of one competitor in relation to the others in his time.


I think one of the things that makes a great a great, is that they find a way to the top. They are the best drivers, and no matter what car you give them, they will find a way to shine in it. Looking at the current greats, all (even Hamilton and Vettel) have shone with very different sets of rules: grooved tires/slicks, KERS/no KERS, DRS/no DRS, fueling/no refuelling, blown diffusers/normal diffusers. Next year, we can add turbo to that. Yet no matter what set of regulations, it's the same names that find themselves to the top.

That's why I think those that make the GOAT lists, generally, can be compared. I have no doubt that if Fangio were to drive today, he would have done what was necessary to be a competitive driver. I have no doubt that if Clark were driving with turbo's, or that if Senna was driving with blown diffusers, they would still rise to the top. Put Vettel and Alonso in the 1950's, and they too would have done what was necessary to win back then.

We can't make definite comparisons, that's true, but I think we can go a very long way to at least discuss these things.

Edited by mnmracer, 27 May 2013 - 07:04.


#10 03011969

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 07:14

  • Is it fair to compare drivers from different eras?
  • How should we make comparisons?

1 - No
2 - With a big 'This is unverifiable bullsh*t" warning attached.


#11 schubacca

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 12:43

I give respect to anyone that accomplished anything in F1.

Too often we have a belittlement of MS's accomplishments....

But also, we have people discounting Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve's feats.



#12 bub

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 14:36

1 - No
2 - With a big 'This is unverifiable bullsh*t" warning attached.


:lol: Funny and true.

I don't think it's fair but then life isn't fair. The reason I don't think it's fair is because the sport has changed so much. It may have the same name but it's a different sport.

#13 Force Ten

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 14:44

I give respect to anyone that accomplished anything in F1.

Too often we have a belittlement of MS's accomplishments....

But also, we have people discounting Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve's feats.

We have however had fascinating teammate vs teammate comparisons that prove that Hill was better than Villeneuve was better than Frentzen was better than Hill.

#14 Juggles

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 16:03

This is true of nearly every sport. Even in Tennis, there is a raging debate about whether the likes of Federer and Nadal would be able to win as much if not for advances in string technology and also the changing nature of grasscourts. There are such debates in football, cricket, hockey, even contact sport.

This debate of greatest of all time has no end, really. The only fair, measurable, and close to objective way of measuring greatness is statistics, since it explains the performance of one competitor in relation to the others in his time. All sportsmen are products of their times, and its just unfair to say "Oh he would not be able to do this in that era" since we dont know for sure. What we do know for sure is, how the athlete, or in this case, Formula 1 driver fared in comparison to the other people at the highest level of his sport over the course of his career. And that to me is the only measurable sign of greatness. This is why, even though I am no fan, I have to admit that Michael Schumacher is the only driver who can objectively be called to be the greatest of all time. If tomorrow, Vettel beats his record, that GOAT title goes to him. Everything else is just speculation.


This may be a reasonable argument in tennis but in F1, where such a large proportion of the ingredients required for success are out of the driver's hands, using statistics alone is simplistic to the point of irrelevance. This is of course if you are talking about drivers only rather than driver-team packages.


You cant really compare.

Take a look at all sports, evolution happens big time. Training, competition and technology.

Some of the "all time greats" from before would never even make F1 today.

Today you need youth, natural talent and great reaction time/reflexes.

You cant be a 45 year old out of shape guy with money.

The competition is also much much greater, there's more parity today, more rules, more restrictions.

You cant buy yourself a championship like you could before.

Thats why I dont rate most of the old-timers like many here, because just like in other sports we have evolved so much that its impossible to compare them, like comparing a Turing Computer vs a new i7 intel.

Thats why I laugh when I see some saying that the best drivers ever were some out of shape 40+ year olds with cars with seconds of advantage and shaky rules/regulations.


I rate them for different reasons. Less sporting excellence perhaps, but the balls/insanity required would probably have filtered out some of the robotically fit, polished prima donnas on the grid today.