Start, Hockenheimring, 2014

“Very easy” F1 suitable for younger drivers

2014 F1 seasonPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Start, Hockenheimring, 2014Formula One is a realistic option for younger drivers like Max Verstappen because the cars have become much easier to drive, according to current racers.

F1 cars are around five seconds per lap slower than they were ten years ago for various reasons including smaller engine capacities, less grippy tyres and tighter restrictions on aerodynamics, which has made them easier to drive.

Asked if he was ready to race in Formula One at the age of 17, which is how old Verstappen will be when he makes his debut next year, Nico Rosberg said: “I tested a Formula One car at 17 and driving-wise I would have been ready, I feel, but the limitation at the time was physically.”

“That was a big limitation because at the time it was still V10 [engines], big downforce – I’m not sure if more downforce than now but the tyre grip was higher, things like that. That was the big limitation for me at the time as a 17-year-old.

“But nowadays it is a little bit easier, physically, definitely, so that will help.”

Felipe Massa, who began his F1 career during the V10 era, agreed: “In Formula One I started, I was 20, I think it was a little bit to early for me.”

“And I really agree with what Nico said, physically at that time it was a lot more difficult than now. Now I would say the race is very easy on the physical point of view, which is easier for a young driver to learn and to understand.

“But at that time it was a lot more difficult on the physical point of view.”

In-race refuelling, which was banned at the end of 2009, also made for more tiring races, Massa added: “The physical, to be harder or easier, is related first of all to the refuelling. This is the first point. And then on that time we had a lot more grip on the tyres as well.”

“So I think that’s the two things that makes more difficult for us to drive the car, to have more grip. When we had the refuelling we were maximum 60 kilos in the car, 55 kilos all the time, so it was a lot quicker most of the laps. So that’s why it was a lot more difficult on the physical point of view.”

However Rosberg said the priority for F1 now should be to create exciting races rather than increase the physical demand on the drivers.

“In the first instance we’re here for the fans, we need to do great racing,” he said. “And at the moment we’re seeing great racing so that’s a big positive. That’s the first and most important thing.”

“And then we need to work on things like the sound, which seems to be quite important to the fans, which I can understand. So those are the sort of things that are important.

“Then, from a drivers’ point of view, yes, in and ideal world… I mean, it’s great as it is. That’s a fact. But maybe it would be a little bit better if I could do [qualifying] laps every lap with the tyres lasting forever, just proper qualifying every single lap in the race and harder physically, all that would make it slightly better, yes.

“But I don’t really think about that because it is the way it is and it’s great the way it is now.”

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20 comments on ““Very easy” F1 suitable for younger drivers”

  1. Perhaps not entirely on-topic, but this is a stand out quote for me.

    I’m not sure if more downforce than now but the tyre grip was higher, things like that.

    Is Rosberg saying that the 2003 grooved tyres (which were mandated to produce less grip than slicks, mind you) were not only longer-lasting, but even had better grip? As far as I know, the grooved tyres were meant to slow down the cars, the current Pirelli tyres are meant to wear, but not much has been said about the grip levels they should produce.

    Interesting how the FIA managed to slow down the cars through the tyres by not explicitly trying to do so. Guess that’s what the FIA is all about these days.

    1. But the grooved tyres were much wider, if we discount the grooved parts, we would get around the same contact patch as we have now.
      10 years ago we also had a tyre war, so the grip was a very high priority on the manufacturers list, and not planing a 2 to 3 pitstop at every race, be it monaco or spa.

      but yeah, one would think that the softer tyres would give more grip. one out of place comment shouldn’t be taken for a fact.
      the laptimes doesn’t really show they had improved grip. look at the cornering speeds with those massive wings, and almost 1000hp, still only a few sec.
      on the one hand, it would be cool, if the laptimes were to get better over every single year, without FIA intervention, but it would lead to increased risks. would you trade senna’s death for a 5 second slower car? I know its a MUCH more complex issue, but laptime and safety has a lot to do with each other.

    2. 2003 still had two tyre-manufacturers, who were trying to beat each other. Providing as much grip as possible was there first priority.
      Today the priorities are entertainment (managing durability to a spectrum for one to three stops), marketability (trying to avoid tyre-failures), cost-effectiveness (trying to achieve the aforementioned two goals with as little inverstment as possible). There is nothing in it for Pirelli to make them look for grip.

    3. @lsl1337 I’m not sure where I read it, but I think the ‘interruptions’ the grooved tyres made in the contact area meant they delivered less grip than a ‘continuous’ contact area. The FIA was actively trying to reduce grip back then too, as opposed to now. Of course, there is not doubt in my mind Bridgestone and Michelin are more capable racing tyre manufacturers than Pirelli as well, but Pirelli should be able to at least offer comparable grip levels on some tyres.

      F1 is a game of tenths, though, so a few seconds count for a lot in reducing the grip by the FIA. However, the 2004 cars were much faster than the 1994 cars and much safer, so laptime and safety aren’t necessarily correlated either. Look at the amount of crashes there are in a Formula Ford race, and they’re much slower than F1 cars.

      @crammond Bridgestone and Michelin were spending an awful lot of money, but were heavily regulated by the FIA. Pirelli seems to be facing a lot less restrictions, apart from vague instructions. Looking for grip could get the drivers off their back, and maybe reduce the amount of damage their brand got in 2012 and Silverstone 2013..

  2. F1 has been getting ‘easier’ to drive for decades now.

    The cars of 10 years ago were much easier to drive (With many driver aids) than the cars from 10 years prior (No driver aids, Less downforce etc…) & the cars in 1994 were easier to drive than the cars from 1984 (Less downforce again, Harder less grippy tyres, Turbos, Manual gearboxes) & so on.

    In terms of this year I don’t get the comments regarding the V10s making things harder as the V10’s had a lot less torque than the current V6 Turbos & from 2001 they also had Traction control which woudl have made them easier to manage than what we have now.
    Also the V10s were certainly less technical for the drivers as there wasn’t a million engine settings & other stuff for them to constantly play with during a race.

    And finally, I remember back to 2010 when refueling was 1st banned many drivers said it made the cars harder to drive & harder to manage because of the increased weight of full tanks in the early phase of the race.

    1. Rosberg’s point is that pushing to the max like it’s quali for 60 laps is more physically demanding than driving at 80-50% of what they can because of having to manage tyres and the car being less ‘snappy’ if you get my drift because they are loaded with fuel (have to roll the car more and wait for it to hit the gaspedeal) also, not going into breaking zones and corners must have lowered the overall taxation on the body in terms of forces throwing your guts around.

      Seems a plausible story to me at least from Nico

    2. Between 1984 and 1994 though there was the age of active suspension+TC+computers………

      1. It was only really 2 seasons (1992/1993) where Active suspension & some of the other driver aids were used & it was only 1993 that a dozen teams had those electronic aids.

        Through 1992 it was only Williams/McLaren which had fully active cars, Ferrari had a Semi-active car & Lotus used it occasionally since there system was unreliable.
        In 1992 Renault & Honda had fully working Traction Control while the rest were in the process of developing it & most never ran it until 1993.

        It was the same with other things like the paddle shift gearbox, Williams, McLaren (From race 3) & Ferrari had it but everone else had the old H-pattern stick shift.

        1. Going back to the active suspension, Lotus & Williams had experimented with it before 92/93 but couldn’t get the system fully working reliably, It wasn’t until Mid091 or the start of 1992 that Williams had a system good enough to run every weekend.

  3. I kind of understand where Rosberg and Massa are coming from but I thought the cars were supposed to be harder to drive this year? Have the teams recovered the lost downforce already?

    1. I don’t think they mean the cars are technically easier to drive, but less demanding on their bodies. The cars are a fair bit slower than they once were so the drivers don’t have to cope with the same G-forces.

      1. @jackysteeg

        I think they are both technically easier to drive and less demanding on the body. The demanding part is as you mentioned easier because of the lower G-forces and the technical part is easier because of all the software the teams use. If these cars really were such a handful to control like some here like to claim, we would have seen that by now. Only in the beginning of the season, when teams were stilll working out the kinks of their new PU, did we see sliding and erratic driving. Now the teams have managed to iron out the sudden burst of torque and turbo lag and the cars are similar to any other year. Except with more straight line acceleration thanks to the higher torque and the bigger ERS boost.

        1. Lower G-forces? Newey said in 2011 the cars had the most downforce ever, generating 5.5G in Hungary.

        2. If these cars really were such a handful to control like some here like to claim, we would have seen that by now. Only in the beginning of the season, when teams were stilll working out the kinks of their new PU, did we see sliding and erratic driving.

          If you watch the in-car shots, especially during the practice sessions you do still see drivers getting sideways a lot & suffering wheelspin etc…
          Its no better in recent races than it was at the start of the year.

          Its especially noticeable comparing the throttle display on the telemetry graphics & comparing it to past years, there having to be a lot more cautious getting on the gas this year.

    2. C’mon can’t everybody realize the reason for this is because of Pirelli. They can’t push the tyre 100% for more than a handful of laps. That’s why qualifying is usually 1 or 2 flying laps.

      If Pirelli made tyres that can actually take some punishment, then the drivers would at least have to put more physical effort into a race.

  4. If F1 cars are getting easier to drive then this is great news. It gives me more time to raise a few million dollars for a pay drive.

  5. They can give the drivers all the aid they want. As long as it produces sixty qualifying laps during the race then it would be a lot more exciting. I would love to see the standings in an f1 season where the more physically fit drivers dominate instead of it always being the car that helps them. I can’t stand seeing athletes getting easy, they should be pushed to their limits at all times on track. Survival of the fittest.

    1. That’d certainly be a change from the current situation where the ridiculous weight limit makes some drivers look positively anorexic!

      (And great credit to Hulkenberg for still managing to drive fast despite such obvious weight penalty)

  6. Sérgio Galvão
    22nd August 2014, 6:40

    Almost always win the best car in F1, since the beggining i think, no matter the driver. But i think the last year that talent and guts was a bigger deal related to the team was 1988. And great part of F1 danger died in 1994 along with Senna (like it should be in 1982 – before that, almost every year one F1 driver lost his life on track: ).
    But i´m not saying today should be easy for regular drivers at least physically (to have a little glimpse imagine your self for 1 hour and half on the fastest roller coaster in the world )

    I don´t think youngers drivers was mentally prepared to deal with old F1. Today drivers are much more physically prepared than the old ones but they don´t have to deal with the fact that if you are running about 10 years you will see 10 of yours closest “co – workers” dying.

    But agree with Nico: this year is happening a great championship. And i agree with Jack Stweart:
    Is not the simulation softwares rigs that are getting closer to F1. It is that F1 are come closer to simulators with a lot less danger than the beginning and with lower g-forces.
    And on a “simulator” an 17 year old kid could join whithout concerning too much on his life and the others.

  7. With the lower cornering speeds and lower G-forces, more “lift and coast” rather than “qualifying laps” we really have a one in a life time opportunity to get a woman in to F1. Unfortunately there is no female super star to sign up. If ever in F1, this would be the time!

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