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Km/year for GP drivers, through history


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#1 Limits

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 08:33

Title might be a bit cryptic, but I wonder if there is reasonably reliable data of how much actual tracktime a driver used to get each each in different eras. Reason I ask is that a modern F1 driver does not get so many kilometers with very limited testing and they almost never participate in oustide-of-F1 events. As a preofessional athelete you need to practice a lot, but the GP drivers does not really have that opportunity (to actally practice in their car) and I was wondering that maybe when a driver reaches F1 he stops developing? Sure, he learn stuff that makes him go faster in the F1 car, but maybe not from a pure driving skill point of view? Jim Clark, Ronnie Peterson and the guys from around that time, competed in F2, CanAm or whatever and it seems to me that the did spend a whole lot more time on track (they gad to earn money) than todays driver.

I migth be wrong.

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#2 WHITE

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 08:46

:up: Very interesting !

Could one say that drivers like say Denny Hulme who used to compete ( and win ) in F1, Can Am, Sport car, etc, were "complete" drivers compared to present F1 drivers ?

#3 Allan Lupton

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 09:42

Originally posted by WHITE
:up: Very interesting !

Could one say that drivers like say Denny Hulme who used to compete ( and win ) in F1, Can Am, Sport car, etc, were "complete" drivers compared to present F1 drivers ?


Or the generation before, where drivers such as Moss also did the Coupe des Alpes rally as well as the Sports Car championship including Le Mans where a good 1950's car would cover about 14 times the distance of a modern F1 race (o.k. shared drives so equivalent to 7 × F1)

#4 Wolf

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 10:32

That would be a bit hard to do. ISTR Moss had one or two 'tour de force' seasons with cca 50 races in a year...

#5 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 10:53

It would be hard to count in the likes of Le Mans as viable 'practice' for Grand Prix driving...

The likes of Rindt and Gregory driving flat out in the 250LM was a rare event. Most of those miles were a matter of keeping cars in one piece and driving around problems.

F2 racing, though, would certainly have kept them on their toes.

#6 bradbury west

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 17:42

In terms of pure mileage, I suspect that some of the modern F1 teams' test drivers cover some pretty high mileages, testing day in, day out, especially in the close-season when perhaps some of the stars, moving to the team, are not permitted contractually to drive for their mew employer until Jan 1. They also seem to work endlessly during the season too, trying new parts/setups, all presumably at competitive speeds.

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#7 Jerome

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 17:48

I think Bradbury hints at the right spot: the F1 drivers yesteryear (from the sixties, untill the late seventies, I think) did not get a lot of mileage outside the races. Granted, in the sixties the races were longer, but of what I can find about Jim Clark's start in F1 he did not drive more than one afternoon in a F1 car before he debuted (and he was fourth in the race when he had a mechanical failure!).
But ofcourse Clark was hugely experienced in F2, Tasman, etc, etc, etc.

I think F1 teams did not do a lot of testing before the seventies. Much too expensive. And F1 drivers drove in so many non-F1 races, it was not deemed necessary for their 'form'.


Nowadays a F1 driver has to have driven at least 300 kms, and most of them drive a multitude of that before they start in a race. So...

#8 Limits

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 20:14

Originally posted by bradbury west
In terms of pure mileage, I suspect that some of the modern F1 teams' test drivers cover some pretty high mileages, testing day in, day out, especially in the close-season when perhaps some of the stars, moving to the team, are not permitted contractually to drive for their mew employer until Jan 1. They also seem to work endlessly during the season too, trying new parts/setups, all presumably at competitive speeds.

RL

But testing is very limited. It has been for quite a while and now even more so. They can not drive "day in and day out". Valid is that driving in other series might not give so much in terms of F1 speed, but considering how young many of them are when debuting in F1, I would think that there is still some general driving skill, and more importantly racing skill, that they never really get a chance to learn.
What I mean is that their development curve in certain areas might be flattened out if they enter F1 too early.

Funny by the way that John Surtees is calling for younger drivers when almost all championship challengers are a lot younger then he was when he won his WDC.

#9 Paul Parker

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 15:42

Given that latter day professional drivers tend to stick to their chosen category, especially the F1 brigade, it seems to me that racers of yesteryear were more versatile or at least had the opportunity to be so.

Contractual straight jackets, dictatorial sponsors and huge payouts mean that many cannot race in another category even if they wanted to. It would be interesting to see how many current F1 drivers for instance could cope with a WRC round where car control in extremely adverse conditions is paramount.

I suspect that a few of the current F1 field might be able to cope, but most would not. Then again how many of the top rally drivers would be F1 competitive given adequate training. Possibly even fewer. Whatever it is racing's loss and also that of the spectators that we can no longer see World Champions and top F1 drivers racing in sports cars, saloons, rallying et al against all and sundry.

You got far more for your money during the 1950s/60s/70s.

#10 Limits

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 17:23

I think many was quite surprised and disappointed to see for instance Alesi, Hakkinen and Frenzen go to DTM and drive midfield. Sure, they were not at their peak, but especially Mika and Heinz Harald retired while still quite young. The argument why they did not dominate, after being regerded as top level F1 drivers was "F1 is different". Well, how different? Sebastien Vettel came straight from the pram and dominated friday practices last year. If it is so different - why even bother to go through karting, Formula Ford, Formula Renault and GP2 since F1 is different. For decades F1 fans have been ridiculing NASCAR, now Montoya is there driving midfield.

If the F1 drivers are not the best of the best - how will that change the public opinion of the sport?

#11 bradbury west

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 17:31

IIRC it was Mario Andretti who said something along the lines of

If you can drive, you can drive, you can drive.

Paul , that was the glory of people like Mario and Sir SCM, and their small ilk. There is a brilliant shot in the Andretti biog of him on Pikes Peak in a US Indycar with heavy treaded tyres charging hard on the loose surface, with nothing but the sky and a long drop behind and olongside him. And SCM was just SCM, enough said in my book. Heroes.
RL

#12 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 21:57

Top-flight racing drivers 1946-1980 commonly accumulated many thousands of racing miles in all kinds of different cars. If one considers Formula 1 cars only - forgetting activities during the years 1952-53 ;) - the combination of practice ('qualifying') and race mileage was vast compared with today's meagre provision for the paying spectator at a Grand Prix meeting.

Considering BRM alone, just consider these mileage examples (taken from the chassis logs):

1961 British GP - Graham Hill - Day 1 practice 111 miles, Day 2 practice 63 miles - race 132 miles.

1961 German GP - Hill again - Day 1 practice 112 miles - Day 2 practice 42 miles - race 14 miles!

1961 Dutch GP - Tony Brooks - Day 1 practice 130 miles - Day 2 practice 62.4 miles - race 197.6 miles.

1964 Mexican GP - Richie Ginther - Day 1 practice 92.5 miles - Day 2 practice 112 miles - race 201 miles.

Then let's take a snapshot of contemporary testing mileage, for example March 13, 1961 - Graham Hill - Goodwood - 129.6 miles - followed by 52.8 miles the next day - Tony Brooks also drove the same car on those two days ('571') and he put in 60 miles followed by .24 of a mile!

During practice for the 1964 British GP at Brands Hatch, Jack Brabham flogged round relentlessly almost all day - merely to scrub-in the latest rock-hard Dunlop tyres.

These testing mileages were high for the period, yet they hardly compare with the mileages commonly accumulated today by F1 team's test drivers. Their experience merely adds to the one-dimensional aspect of modern Formula 1 - whereas those of the period specified at the beginning of this post would commonly filing similar mileages (and much more) in sports, GT, saloon, Formula 2, Indy cars - whatever was available - whenever available. And on circuits which would bite.

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#13 bradbury west

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 22:12

And for a long time the criteria for Grands Prix were durations of 3 hours or 300 miles IIRC, in cars where the wear rate of components was quite significant, in addition to the exhaustion rate of the driver.

RL