I remember about 40 years ago reading that the pre-war Auto Unions (or perhaps it was the Mercedes) used to go around the then GP circuit using only first gear. I recently saw another similar statement. How on earth did that work? I know these fearsome brutes had immense power but even so it raises a few questions (at least to me).
Presumably at the low speed end they were only doing about 20 mph at the Station and Gasworks hairpins, but must have been over 100 mph around the tunnel or the old quay. That's a ration of ~ 5:1 for the rev range. Some useable rev range!
How many gears did they use on the fast circuits? Presumably you would never need more than 2 gears as second gear could then easily accommodate a rev range from, e.g. 70 to 210 mph (which by comparison is only about a 3:1 rev range).
If they only used one gear, did they simplify the gearbox design and throw away all the rest of the heavy gearbox components and run the car like a bike on a fix? Was that the gain?
If they could get to the end of the straight with plenty of power still coming in, does that mean that they were vastly overpowered at slow speed and could only touch the throttle lightly to avoid burning the tyres up through vicious wheelspin?
Any insights would be greatly appreciated.