Forum Replies Created
7th October 2015, 12:30 at 12:30 pm #306634
I think it’s very hard, especially as non-racing drivers, to really understand the challenges of driving pre-WW2 (and even pre WW1) racing cars. It seems to make sense that these would be very physical machines to drive, though of course there won’t be any real G-forces to speak of. I imagine the mental stress of concentration combined with the threat of death at almost any moment would have given those drivers challenges which are completely alien to those driving today. I mean, the physical challenge of walking a tightrope is the same whether it’s 1 foot in the air, or 500 feet in the air, but the mental challenge is clearly worlds apart.
So I suppose it really depends on what you mean by ‘hardness’ when you’re looking at racing. I’d say that you could break it down into a number of different categories:
For the driver:
- Athletic challenge (heartrate, muscle fatigue, G-force, etc)
- Mental challenge (complexities of driving the car, technical challenge of the track, level of danger)
- Endurance challenge (length of the race)
- Skill challenge (how hard the car is to drive, how complex the track)
For the car:
- Reliability challenge (amount of physical punishment the car takes, how robust the car is relative to the challenge)
- Performance level
But none of these elements exist in isolation, for instance the athletic challenge for the driver may be higher or lower depending on the performance level of the car and the skill challenge. An unreliable car would be driven at a lower performance level than a reliable one. Modern racers have high levels of performance, and they have high levels of reliability, but the level of skill required to drive them is arguably lower than older cars, as is the physical challenge of driving them. But the mental challenge is much high as they are very complex machines. By contrast, older racing cars were far slower and far less reliable, so they couldn’t be driven flat out, and they weren’t mentally challenging to drive. But there was a significant physical challenge. There has also been a general trend towards shorter races, so the endurance levels these days are far lower on the whole than they used to be.
If you assigned a numeric value to each of these factors and rated races both contemporary and historic, you’d probably find a similar total score for each, but the actual challenges themselves would be very different. Depending on your perspective, you might want to weight certain factors higher than others, and I think generally people would feel that endurance, reliability, and physical challenge are more significant factors. So the tendency is to view racing as becoming less tough over time. But even by that standard, there’s probably a Goldilocks era, where the physical demands, the endurance levels, and so on, were all simultaneously at a high point. I’d say this time is probably around the 60s and 70s. But that’s personal opinion.6th October 2015, 13:36 at 1:36 pm #306609
I’d say that in general motorsport has become less demanding of the drivers, and the cars they drive are far more durable than they used to be. I’m old enough to remember the days of unlimited engines in F1, and how they used to blow up as oft as not. Then when they started to introduce restrictions on usage, restrictions which would seem hilariously lax by today’s standards, teams and engine manufacturers were almost unanimous in saying that one engine would never last a whole GP weekend (!!). But standards of engineering, material sciences, they’ve all gotten to such an advanced level that across pretty much all forms of motor racing, engines can last many many times longer than even a decade ago.
As a result, cars can now be pushed harder and harder, for longer and longer durations. Events like the LM24 are no longer tests of endurance as such – it’s generally expected that most of the cars which start will finish the race unless they’re involved in incidents, even when the cars are pushed flat out for hour after hour. Even the tyres they use are now able to offer up phenominal levels of consistent grip for three, four, or even five stints before going in the bin.
Advancements in understanding driver dynamics have also led to far less physical demands on drivers. Just about every high performance motorsport has power steering and brakes which no longer require legs like tree trunks to operate. While it would be a bit of a stretch to say that an F1 or LMP car is now as easy and comfortable to drive as a family hatchback, it does seem that the only physically demanding elements of driving a top performing racing car are the heat and the g-force. With a lower work rate behind the wheel, the heat is less of an issue than it used to be in the days when driving a racing car was like wrestling a bear.
So what I’m getting at is that the toughest races in the world right now are less tough than they used to be. Cars are stronger, and driving them is easier. The mental demands are much higher however.5th October 2015, 14:36 at 2:36 pm #306559
I feel that in Endurance racing, the 12 hours of Sebring is a more demanding race than the 24 hours of Le Mans. Sebring is far more punishing on the cars, and the flow of the track allows for very little room for mistakes.12th August 2015, 18:17 at 6:17 pm #303153
Apologies, must learn to read things properly!12th August 2015, 12:48 at 12:48 pm #303139
Surprised nobody has mentioned Robert Kubica’s massive crash in Canada 2007. Though obviously his rally crash that nearly took his arm off is worse in terms of consequence.25th June 2015, 15:54 at 3:54 pm #300814
I think he rightfully deserves a seat in a top team. I thought that before he ever squeezed himself into a Le Mans prototype. There’s a curious thing within F1 where, even though everyone in F1 knows and understands that success is absolutely dependent on the car, a driver who has not won races through several years in F1 is soon considered to be yesterday’s man. Even when he’s never been in a car capable of getting at the sharp end.
I think F1 teams are always looking for the next big thing. Drivers like Verstappen are self-perpetuating hype machines while their careers are on an upward trajectory. Even established winners are vulnerable to getting the boot in favour of a driver who seems destined for success. Not to say of course that Verstappen doesn’t deserve the hype surrounding him at the moment, but drivers whose careers have plateaued shouldn’t be overlooked in this way.
To be honest, if nobody at the front is willing to give Hulkenberg a drive next year, and Porsche come to him offering a full time WEC drive, I think he should grab it with both hands and not look back. It’ll be F1’s loss, but he needs to think about what an opportunity that would be – Porsche have the backing, and the inclination, to be able to win championship after championship. Who knows, perhaps in another ten years’ time we might think of him alongside such legends as Tom Kristensen. That’s the opportunity he’d have, and I don’t see him ever getting anything like that where he is at the moment.17th June 2015, 16:58 at 4:58 pm #300186
I’ve never seen it as busy as it was this year. Not just in terms of peak numbers at the track, but the sheer volume of people that were there constantly. It’s a shame that Friday was a bit of a washout – I went to Saint Saturnin for the car show but it was absolutely rammed and then the skies opened.
We were stuck on the motorway for over two hours on Saturday waiting to get to the circuit – again I’ve never seen it as busy as this.
Anyway, glad you had a good time. I’m already planning next year’s trip!29th May 2015, 12:09 at 12:09 pm #299156
We don’t stay at the track either. Much as I love motorsport, I also love my sleep, and you don’t get a whole lot of that at the circuit. We stay at a beautiful campsite about 10km from the track, and they have lots of entertainment there in the week before the race. Once, the Michellin team were staying there and they put on a load of entertainment with a brass band and a couple of classic omnibusses, it was ace.
You’ll have a brilliant time, and I bet you’ll want to go back for longer next time!26th May 2015, 10:38 at 10:38 am #299097
You’re in for an absolute treat. Loads to do, mostly centered around the main pit/paddock area. Behind the paddock is the le Mans Village area with all sorts of stuff for fans to do. The museum is there too, and is well worth checking out. You can get busses all around the track to the various viewing areas around Arnage, Mulsanne, etc etc. I’m not sure whether you have to pay for them – we’ve always just taken the car. It only takes a short while to get around but it’s a bit of a maze so work out the routes first, or see if an accomodating person can show you. It’s too big to realistically walk, unless you really fancy hiking miles.
There’s loads that’ll be going on all week – how long are you there for? Take some time out on Friday to check out the British Welcome – a car show at Saint Saturnin. This year it’s featuring MG, but there are always loads of supercars on show, from just about every marque you can think of. Apparently there’s also a big of a show/congregation this year on Mulsanne corner on the Friday which is another car show.
If you’re there for the week leading up to it, check out the scrutineering events at the Place De la Republique in Le Mans centre – just a short tram ride away. Le Mans also has a beautiful gothic cathedral which you can visit while you’re there, if that’s your sort of thing.
Are you staying at the track?20th May 2015, 13:25 at 1:25 pm #298611
I’d question how much influence the drivers really have these days anyway. Just about every facet of how a car performs is meticulously captured via data logging, and then fed back to engineers who know far more about the car than any driver could hope to be. I’m not sure how useful the driver feedback is other than as a means of corellating the data that they’re seeing on screen. if you think about how fuzzy the feedback is when we hear it – initial understeer on turn-in, rear end feels loose on the faster corners, etc etc. The drivers themselves are surely not being relied upon for choosing the development path. Perhaps tweaks to suit their own personal style, but generally speaking the car will be designed by the engineers and the drivers just need to get on with it.8th May 2015, 13:08 at 1:08 pm #297898
Easy to forget about Juan-Pablo Montoya.6th May 2015, 13:45 at 1:45 pm #297796
Hey sometimes I forget about racers who haven’t even retired yet, like Felipe Massa!6th May 2015, 12:45 at 12:45 pm #297793
Thing that gets me is how quickly you can forget about really recent drivers. People like Alex Wurz, Robert Kubica, even Nick Heidfeld. I suspect if you asked someone to name F1 drivers from the past ten years, quite a few would miss those guys off.28th April 2015, 12:56 at 12:56 pm #297471
Emmanuele Pirro – 5 Le Mans wins
Lest we forget of course, Allan McNish competed for a season with Toyota9th April 2015, 10:19 at 10:19 am #296176
Sorry didn’t spot that you had replied. The 115% concept is deliberate. You look at sportscar racing and there’s no reason why the faster cars can’t negotiate their way around slower traffic. It would mean more cars on the grid, which inevitably means more action on track.