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The golden era of Formula 1


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Poll: When was the golden era of Formula 1? (137 member(s) have cast votes)

When was the golden era of Formula 1?

  1. 1950-1960 (1 votes [0.73%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.73%

  2. 1961-1973 (20 votes [14.60%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.60%

  3. 1974-1982 (17 votes [12.41%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.41%

  4. 1983-1993 (51 votes [37.23%])

    Percentage of vote: 37.23%

  5. 1994--2005 (29 votes [21.17%])

    Percentage of vote: 21.17%

  6. 2006-2013 (9 votes [6.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.57%

  7. 2014-2021 (4 votes [2.92%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.92%

  8. Other (6 votes [4.38%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.38%

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#1 F1Frog

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:23

In 2018, Autosport did a poll on what was the greatest era of Formula 1. I have defined the eras in the same way that Autosport did but changing the more recent years as I wanted every season to be included.

 

1950-1960 was an era of heroism in Formula 1. The tracks in the 1950s were certainly the best in the history of Formula 1, when ‘street circuit’ meant Rouen-Les-Essarts or the old Spa-Francorchamps rather than Sochi or Valencia, but they were extremely dangerous and there were a lot of deaths in the era. We had some all-time greats in the 1950s in Fangio, Ascari and Moss, while the likes of Farina, Gonzalez, Hawthorn and Brooks were good too, but there were plenty of amateurs on the grid and the average level of an F1 driver was at its lowest at the very beginning. However, the best were just as good as in any other era and Fangio’s drive at the Nurburgring in 1957 was one of the all-time greatest. The lack of footage of the racing also makes it difficult to rate as the golden era, and even those alive at the time would have been able to see relatively very little of the races. But with the little footage available the cars are more exciting. Dominant victories were also common, and in 1952, Alberto Ascari won every race of the season. The shared cars rule was also quite ridiculous and should never have been allowed. But there’s just something beautiful about the 1950s, even if the racing wasn’t as good. The old-fashioned and less advanced technology of it makes it somewhat charming, and they were indeed heroic times.

 

The 1960s were a better era, in my opinion. The cars were far better, and probably my favourite in Formula 1 history. It was an era of serious innovation, and most of the great tracks remained. The best drivers of the era were as good as those of the 1950s, in this case Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill, but there were more other good drivers than there had been previously, including champions such as Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Denny Hulme, Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi, as well as Bruce McLaren, Jacky Ickx, Dan Gurney, Jo Siffert and Chris Amon. It was easier to get a chance in F1 than it is now, with more seats available and generally less wealth required to make it up the ladder. But the drawbacks of the era are the same as those of the 1950s, namely safety, as the number of lives claimed in F1 was similar. Perhaps the danger of F1 added a level of excitement, but there is no doubt that far too many people were being killed in accidents. The lack of footage of the racing is also a problem, but there were some great drives such as that of Jim Clark in Spa 1963 or Jackie Stewart in Germany 1968, and some great races such as Silverstone 1965 and Monza 1971.

 

1974-82, chosen by readers of Autosport as the greatest era, was perhaps the most competitive era, as Niki Lauda was the standout driver as one of the elites of history, but there were plenty of other very strong drivers including Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Ronnie Peterson, Mario Andretti, Alan Jones, Carlos Reutemann, Giles Villeneuve, Nelson Piquet, John Watson and Keke Rosberg, and Lauda was the only driver to win more than one championship, while there were 11 different winners in the 1982 season. This was another era of innovation, but the last era dominated by it, and involved the likes of the six-wheeled Tyrrell and the Brabham fan car. The era included perhaps Formula 1’s greatest ever season in 1976 with the incredible title battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Footage of the racing was improving by this time as well. The loss of great tracks, either just before or during this era, such as Spa, Rouen, Reims and the Green Hell were a disappointing yet necessary feature for improving safety and while it was better during this time than it had been in the previous two eras, there were still a few deaths. The era had some improved racing, and included the legendary scrap between Giles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux at Dijon. It also included the crazy end to the Monaco GP in 1982.

 

The next era was 1983-1993, and a big positive of this era was further improvements to safety, with Elio de Angelis the only F1 death. It included the infamous rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, while the controversy between the two was exciting but of course had its drawbacks, while Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell were the other stars of the era. The race starts were particularly thrilling during this time due to the difference in speeds and the jostling about, with Jean Alesi taking the lead in Portugal 1993 one that sticks in my mind, and the cars looked extremely fast and were great to watch, playing a large part in why the likes of Senna, Mansell and Alesi are considered some of the best drivers to watch in F1 history. There was now far more footage of the racing, making the racing easier to follow. 1986 was another contender for the greatest season with an incredible championship battle and finale, and 1984 was another classic. The main problem with the era, in my opinion, is that reliability played too great a part in deciding the races, and championships, and that is a big problem for me. The innovation of the cars was also less compared to previous eras.

 

The era that followed was 1994-2005, and I would probably say this was the worst era of Formula 1. It may always get the majority vote in fan surveys, but refuelling was terrible for the racing, and there was not as much overtaking as there could have been at this time. The era was dominated by Michael Schumacher, and while this was very much a positive for the first half, when he was not in the best car but putting in heroic performances such as in Spain 1996. But in the second half, when he did have the best car, it made the championship duller as Schumacher and Ferrari utterly dominated at times. But amongst the worst era was one of the best seasons in F1 history, 1997, a battle between a good driver in a fantastic car against a fantastic driver in a good car, which ended in controversy but with the right outcome, and the season also included almost-wins for Damon Hill with Arrows and Jarno Trulli with Prost.

 

2006-2013 wasn’t really an era of Formula 1. It is defined only by the V8 engine, and I included it more as an in-between time. It shouldn’t have been the best era, as it started with more refuelling and ended with the unnecessary use of DRS, but somehow this era produced some great championships. 2006 was a great battle between Schumacher and Alonso, the king versus the young upstart. Then 2007 was a good battle between Ferrari and McLaren and almost a rookie champion. 2008 saw better races, and the greatest ever championship finale, decided at the final corner. Then 2009 was one of the great team stories for Brawn, and 2010 was the only four-way championship decider, and was good as the one season between the refuelling era and the DRS era. 2011 included the Canadian GP, the greatest race of all time. Then 2012 was seven different winners in the first seven races, and a great season performance from Alonso. It also had the continuation of improved race footage and graphics to be able to follow what was going on throughout the race.

 

Really, the modern era should be the best ever. We have the greatest crop of drivers, everything that happens is filmed and the graphics are far better than ever before, so you can follow everything that goes on in an F1 race, there is more overtaking than ever before. But the biggest issue is the dirty air effect that means the cars can’t follow closely at all. To counter this, DRS has become too powerful and means that overtakes are too easy once you get close enough, but the difficulty is getting close in the first place, which just isn’t good racing. The tracks are also not as good as they have been in any other era of F1. Most seasons of the era were not great, and 2015 was the dullest I’ve seen, but it did end with one utterly incredible season in 2021, with a championship scrap between Hamilton and Verstappen that lasted the entire season, and almost every race being a contender for best of the season if it had occurred in any of the previous eight seasons. But it all ended with huge amounts of controversy, and this was made far worse by the fact that every moment of it was followed by unthinking and unpleasant outrage on social media, putting F1 in a bad light. But the priority of show over sport in the finale has created fears that it could become the new norm to prioritise the show, and that would be terrible for Formula 1 as a sport.

 

Looking at it objectively, I believe 1983-93 is probably the best era, but personally I look with most fondness at 1961-73. But every era has its merits, and I just wish I had been born in 1940 and could have lived through them all. Hopefully the era beginning with 2022 will be as good as the rest of them, but I confess I currently do not have high expectations, although it is good that the cars can follow more closely.

 

I know most people will choose the time that they first started following Formula 1 as the golden era, but I thought it would be an interesting discussion point nonetheless.


Edited by F1Frog, 01 July 2022 - 17:23.


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#2 F1Frog

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:24

And here is the original article about the question:

 

https://www.autospor...111553/5111553/



#3 LolaB0860

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:25

Most people are likely going to pick the era they started following the sport



#4 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:26

Agreed.

 

Equally, the 1995 and 2005 versions of F1 are so, so different. I think I'd start that era in 98 with the grooves and narrow tracks. Because 95-97 were pretty sweet cars.



#5 HerbieMcQueen

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:26

Most people are likely going to pick the era they started following the sport

I tried not to and plumped for the 60's and early 70's for the combining of Cooper, Chapman, and all the great drivers that passed through. When it started going from back of the garage to commercial.



#6 TauriJ

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:38

Most people are likely going to pick the era they started following the sport


I started 98, but 80s is an easy pick for me.

#7 Atreiu

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:47

83-93, IMO

Exceptional performance, competitive seasons, good blend between technology and outright racing, iconic title deciders and contenders, beautiful cars, turbos, V8s, V10s, V12s...



#8 Collombin

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:49

I think 1961-73 is possibly too wide a band, and worth splitting in two - some consider the 1961-65 era to be pathetic, with a return to glory in 1966.

#9 PayasYouRace

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 17:50

Other.

 

I'd call 1989 to 1997 a distinct era. It's after the turbos and before the narrow cars with grooved tyres. It's the era I was introduced to the sport in and I love it the most.

 

Most people are likely going to pick the era they started following the sport

 

Exactly. There's no way to have an objective answer to such a nostalgia driven subjective question.



#10 messy

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:00

Personally I think the late 1990s were not only a golden era of F1 but of motor racing all round. F1, WRC, BTCC, CART, Le Mans, even junior championships like British F3. But then, that was the era where I really got into it so I am biased.

#11 Leibowitz

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:08

Two great periods of my time watching F1 are 97-00 and 06-13 (with notable exception of 2nd half of 2013). Since you cannot define the 97-00 period as an separate era, my vote would go to 06-13 period.

#12 IrvTheSwerve

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:16

Two great periods of my time watching F1 are 97-00 and 06-13 (with notable exception of 2nd half of 2013). Since you cannot define the 97-00 period as an separate era, my vote would go to 06-13 period.

 

Same. I started watching in the mid/late 90s, so enjoyed it then...then it got a bit rubbish for a good few seasons (I loved 03 though)...then it got pretty good again in 07. I do look back at the 06-13 period with particular fondness.



#13 PlatenGlass

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:30

I think F1 was super competitive when both turbo and non-turbo cars were capable of winning so 1979 to 1983. But I think you can also extend that out since the Prost/Senna/Mansell/Piquet era was just round the corner and bring it to about 1987. I know it's not a listed era for the poll but I think that was a solid period of 9 years. I mean, you could just say the turbo era.



#14 PayasYouRace

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:39

Personally I think the late 1990s were not only a golden era of F1 but of motor racing all round. F1, WRC, BTCC, CART, Le Mans, even junior championships like British F3. But then, that was the era where I really got into it so I am biased.

 

Yes, and I think 1997, on average, is the overall peak of everything.



#15 Collombin

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:42

I suspect it was actually around 1970, and without having to apply the qualifier that it was during the period I started watching.

#16 Topsu

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:47

golden era = when I was a kid



#17 Cliff

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:56

Golden era just started.

#18 Zoe

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 18:58

Simply going for the optics, I'd say the 60ies and your period 1983-1993.

 

If anyone complains about the Schumacher Ferrari years being dull, they should have stopped watching at around 2014 :)



#19 Risil

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:02

1951-58 for me. Not close to being in my lifetime but golden eras exist in the imagination.

Shame the poll doesn't include 1906-1914, 1919-1927, 1931-1939.

But really it's a sign of Formula One's strength that it's evolved and reinvented itself so many times.

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#20 LolaB0860

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:03

If anyone complains about the Schumacher Ferrari years being dull, they should have stopped watching at around 2014 :)

 

Or 2011... 2013...



#21 Bob Riebe

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:05

1966-1970



#22 Risil

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:11

1966-1970


No arguments from me but when I looked back at the race results I was a little shocked at how small some of the grids were for Grands Prix in this era. Like low teens, early 90s 500cc small.

#23 Risil

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:13

Personally I think the late 1990s were not only a golden era of F1 but of motor racing all round. F1, WRC, BTCC, CART, Le Mans, even junior championships like British F3. But then, that was the era where I really got into it so I am biased.


Don't forget World Superbike. Nothing was better than that.

#24 pRy

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:13

In my life time, the Mika vs Michael era is where it was golden. A great rivalry with maximum respect, great sounding engines, great looking cars and close racing. It had everything for me.

#25 Collombin

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:14

No arguments from me but when I looked back at the race results I was a little shocked at how small some of the grids were for Grands Prix in this era. Like low teens, early 90s 500cc small.


Yeah but look at the Indy fields (and variety of events in the champcar calendar), the greatest sportscar era by far, Can-Am, the driving talent and quality of the tracks in F1, the awesome F2 races augmented by top F1 talent, the Tasman series etc etc. Rallying is the only main segment that may not have been at a peak around then.

#26 noikeee

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:27

Simply going for the optics, I'd say the 60ies and your period 1983-1993.

If anyone complains about the Schumacher Ferrari years being dull, they should have stopped watching at around 2014 :)


2014 onwards was a lot better than the Schumacher years. Worst case scenario at least we had the Nico v Lewis rivalry, which was a bit **** tbh but at least there was a vague battle there.

Years like 2002 and 2004 by comparison were like watching paint dry. Rubens wasn't allowed to fight and Michael was too good anyway. It was awful.

#27 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 19:47

I started 98, but 80s is an easy pick for me.

 

I started 70ies and 80ies easy pick for me as well.



#28 PlatenGlass

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 20:09

Yes, and I think 1997, on average, is the overall peak of everything.

I'm not an expert on all those series but I might choose 1995 for some of those series over 1997. BTCC I felt was a better year in between manufacturer dominated championships (Schnitzer BMW, Alfa, Audi, Williams Renault). WRC was the McRae year rather than one of the endless sequence of Makinen wins (though that's a bit simplistic). And Indy was pre-split and won by Villeneuve who also went on to become F1 champion, unlike Zanardi (arguably giving the series more credibility).

#29 pup

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 20:13

I prefer the early 2000’s - everything of that period was all out and over the top. No tire saving, no fuel saving, no taking it easy on the engines, no parc ferme, no slow laps to charge your batteries. Every lap was driven hard and the paddock atmosphere was so competitive that the Horner/Wolff battle is an afternoon croquet match by comparison.

There were T cars, qualifying engines, and trucks full of spares. Constant testing, constant vehicle updates. Tire competition, fuel competition. Ever increasing team and support personnel. Backup drivers who actually drove on occasion. Crazy car reveals that we’re like Vegas shows. The team budgets were unfathomable at the time.

And the V10’s with no rev limits sounded like nothing from this planet.

Refueling gets a bad rap imo. It was blamed for the lack of passing but
in the end, that didn’t improve until DRS.

#30 ray b

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 20:50

later 30's real roads insane cars nazi's et all

 

not safe

 

very real



#31 shure

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 00:01

Most people are likely going to pick the era they started following the sport

yeah, I fell in love with F1 in the early 80s and that's still the overwhelmingly favorite era for me.  I'd like to think it's not purely nostalgia but I'm sure it plays a large part



#32 RPM40

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 00:04

I don't think the generations are quite properly split, but my favourite years were 2006 through to 2010.

 

The lead cars constantly changed in those years and the title battles were fierce. There was no dominance at all during that period and the sport felt fresh and real.



#33 chrcol

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 00:07

Most people are likely going to pick the era they started following the sport

You got it right for me ;)

 

I guess in my case I have felt the sport has progressively regressed with the regulations.



#34 William Hunt

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 00:09

'74-'82 for sure although wish it was safer back then. I would actually say 1970-1987


Edited by William Hunt, 02 July 2022 - 00:09.


#35 Atreiu

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 00:49

In my life time, the Mika vs Michael era is where it was golden. A great rivalry with maximum respect, great sounding engines, great looking cars and close racing. It had everything for me.


Well said.

#36 ClubmanGT

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 01:18

In my life time, the Mika vs Michael era is where it was golden. A great rivalry with maximum respect, great sounding engines, great looking cars and close racing. It had everything for me.

 

The Illmor Merc that sounded like a box of hand grenades fighting a hive of bees vs. the wailing Ferrari engine - I used to get so pissed because the Merc on some days sounded better than the Ferrari did.

 

Two beautiful and distinct engine noises. Just added to the tribal nature I guess. 



#37 Catalina Park

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 06:16

1950 to 1952. The only years of true Formula 1.



#38 RedRabbit

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 07:35

The Illmor Merc that sounded like a box of hand grenades fighting a hive of bees vs. the wailing Ferrari engine - I used to get so pissed because the Merc on some days sounded better than the Ferrari did.

Two beautiful and distinct engine noises. Just added to the tribal nature I guess.


And downshifts that sounded like Thor hammering the tarmac into every turn - glorious stuff!!

#39 RedRabbit

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 07:37

I prefer the early 2000’s - everything of that period was all out and over the top. No tire saving, no fuel saving, no taking it easy on the engines, no parc ferme, no slow laps to charge your batteries. Every lap was driven hard and the paddock atmosphere was so competitive that the Horner/Wolff battle is an afternoon croquet match by comparison.

There were T cars, qualifying engines, and trucks full of spares. Constant testing, constant vehicle updates. Tire competition, fuel competition. Ever increasing team and support personnel. Backup drivers who actually drove on occasion. Crazy car reveals that we’re like Vegas shows. The team budgets were unfathomable at the time.

And the V10’s with no rev limits sounded like nothing from this planet.

Refueling gets a bad rap imo. It was blamed for the lack of passing but
in the end, that didn’t improve until DRS.


I actually can agree with this, when you put it that way - F1 had become hugely over the top, and it was amazing.

Especially comparing car launches to the utterly dull reveals now of an online rendering.

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#40 DeKnyff

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 08:02

Late sixties to mid seventies, IMO. But, of course, it was the era I started following the sport.



#41 William Hunt

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 08:11

F1 early 2000s was the worst era probably together with the Mercedes dominance era: Ferrari won virtually every race the first 5 years of the decade.



#42 SenorSjon

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 08:15

F1 early 2000s was the worst era probably together with the Mercedes dominance era: Ferrari won virtually every race the first 5 years of the decade.


And how was 2014-2016 with an utter dominant Mercedes thanks to the token rules? After a minor blip from Ferrari, 2019 and 2020 were dominant again. Calling those 02 and 04 seasons as era is a bit rich. At least in the early zero's you were allowed to beat the lead team with everything you got. AND, with less races, the dominance didn't last that long.

#43 1player

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 10:01

It's really fun reading people's opinions and checking what's their birthday listed in their profile. :rotfl: 



#44 Nemo1965

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 10:03

83-93, IMO

Exceptional performance, competitive seasons, good blend between technology and outright racing, iconic title deciders and contenders, beautiful cars, turbos, V8s, V10s, V12s...

 

And not so many deaths. Without the mortality, I would have chosen 1961-1973 without a doubt. 



#45 Collombin

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 10:11

It's really fun reading people's opinions and checking what's their birthday listed in their profile. :rotfl:


The OP should probably have asked people to refrain from voting for the era in which they discovered the sport, otherwise it almost just becomes a "when were you born?" poll.

#46 Brian60

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 10:20

I went for the 60's up to 73. I believe this was a time when small companies could be involved and field cars and drivers, a greater abundance of diverity in design if you will. Towards the end of the 60's and into the 70's big money started to appear and like everything it was a race to the top for those who get their hands on it - at the expense of teams who were there because they had a belief in something.



#47 PayasYouRace

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 10:22

The OP should probably have asked people to refrain from voting for the era in which they discovered the sport, otherwise it almost just becomes a "when were you born?" poll.

But then you’re asking people for a false answer instead of what they really think.



#48 Ali_G

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 10:26

The OP should probably have asked people to refrain from voting for the era in which they discovered the sport, otherwise it almost just becomes a "when were you born?" poll.

IMO, most people adore the period just before they really got into the sport, of which they may only have hazy memories.

That for me is the turbo era which was completely curtailed by pressure limits by the time I started watching.

Edited by Ali_G, 02 July 2022 - 10:27.


#49 Collombin

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 10:40

But then you’re asking people for a false answer instead of what they really think.


I suppose it would be asking a lot for people to adjust for the natural bias of preferring the era in which they got into the sport, but I am genuinely surprised that anybody could truly consider the late 1990s to be a golden era. I don't think many who witnessed earlier eras would have voted for that option. And there's the kind of problem I was trying to highlight.

Edited by Collombin, 02 July 2022 - 10:41.


#50 Henri Greuter

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Posted 02 July 2022 - 13:43

F1 early 2000s was the worst era probably together with the Mercedes dominance era: Ferrari won virtually every race the first 5 years of the decade.

 To put this into perspective:

 

In 2000-2004 Ferrari won 57 of the 85 races = 67.1% thus 2 out of every 3 races.

This primarily due to two years: 2002 and 2004 when they won 30 of the 35 races.

 

In comparison:

 

In 2014-2018 Mercedes won 74 of 100 races thus roughly 3 out of every 4 races.

This primarily due to the first 3 years in which they won 51 of 59 races.