Are some men more equal than others?

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
Over the course of the last few weeks, I have taken to thinking quite a bit about the concept of equality and parity, and the idea of racing on an equal footing.
Is it really possible to compete with anyone on an equal footing?
Breaking things down for a minute, and starting with the drivers:
Each has their own specific skill sets and level, and they all work hard to make the most of what they have been given. Some are better than others, so that for a start removes the level of the playing field, after all, it is quite easy to accept parity of equipment when you are confident of winning.

There are also the softer skills, those skills which you become good at through practice rather than natural nurtured and honed talent, the skills which may go un-noticed. These manifest in many ways, from those who are understood to be strong in setting up a car (Barichello springs to mind) to those who develop an affinity with the designers, such that the car suits their skills. How would parity be achieved in a situation where a car suits one driver better than another?

Then there is the confidence that a carefully built team, close advisors, friends, confidants. The comfort can help your peace of mind, and allow focus.

Where different drivers have very different requirements, both technical and personal, based on highly diverse skill sets, is it really possible to provide parity? Can the best that can be hoped for that the team provide the same baseline car?

Equal time in the simulator? Equal input with the engineers? If a driver has a strong ability to motivate a team, is that a skill which should be nurtured? Or would that lead to unfairness towards another driver? Technical input the same. Stories are rife in 2010 that the Mercedes car was pretty much developed to Michaels needs, sure, Nico was able to compete still, however, if Michael was closer to start with, it may have been different. So, did Nico have an equal chance to influence the team in the same way? Or is that a skill which Michael possesses and uses to his advantage? And would not allowing him to do so because Nico does not become an example of not applying parity?

There are obvious extremes, where one driver is obviously considered after the other, however, encouraging known skills, whatever they may be could be considered either way, depending on which skill it is.

In most areas of the world, there are many ways to be successful at something, hard work and talent aside, and working out the best way for you is a huge skill in itself, and you do what you can to provide yourself with an advantage. Does that mean that there can be no parity, because parity in itself could be deemed as an advantage?

Sorry if this seems like a bit of a directionless ramble, I think I know what I mean, and hopefully I have got most of it across!
That was a good read . Some thought provoking ideas there. A few things sprung to my mind when I read it. I think there are some different concepts going on there. For me, equality or parity between team mates is when the team provide the Same, conditions, equipment, respect , treatment, opportunities, access to mentors, access to sports psychologists, level of support in all areas, to each of their drivers. So, as you mentioned, equal time in the simulator, same new updates, same amount of time spent with engineers, same caliber of engineers and so on and so on. Then the team is providing parity.
It becomes tricky when you consider how the driver responds to this and what his skill level is. One driver may decide not to go in the sim one day because he's tired, he may not train so hard even though the same trainer is available to both drivers, and his natural talent may not be quite as high. Now, for these sorts of reasons, we have one driver performing at a higher level. You could say the playing field is no longer level, but I'd say the playing field was level but one driver just tripped over his shoe laces. The team have discharged their obligation to provide equal opportunity but one driver has made better use of what is available. A team leader has emerged by outcome not by design.

Just my thoughts, Not sure if I explained it very well.
I don't believe driver skill should be factored in to a discussion about whether a team is providing both drivers with exactly the same opportunity. Taken to its logical conclusion, it's impossible to ever get 100% equal footing as no two drivers are alike.

Skill set is relevant however as the specifics of the car: handling, grip, over/understeer, etc. are attributes which suit drivers differently. In the situation where a team has two drivers with completely different driving styles then they can either design a neutral handling car and attempt to adapt it to each driver via set-up, which isn't ideal as it will only ever be a compromise.
Or, they can design a car which favours one driver more than another, again not ideal as immediately a disparity has been introduced and the non-favoured driver will be at a disadvantage, in most cases.

I do think it is entirely possible for a team to treat two drivers equally, provide them both with the same level of support and opportunity and then it's up to the two drivers to make the most of that. I suspect this is the model most teams follow, as far as practicably possible.

Conversely, as we all know, some teams favour one driver over another; there are several examples of that on the grid currently.

The other side of the coin of course are the drivers; some demand preferential treatment and have it written into their contract, while others want nothing more than to be given an equal chance and have that written in to their contract too.

I know which I would prefer if I was a driver; beating a team mate who has one hand tied behind their back, metaphorically speaking, can't be anywhere near as satisfying (if at all?) as beating one fair and square on merit alone.
"Equality" of treatment is often a used to aver from more tangible factors so as to find parity where there is none.

In a Demomocratic sense and those based on a Bill of Rights "equality" is differentiated between Formal and Substative equality, the former implies equal treatment through out regardless of socio-economic standings and other factors relevent while Substative equality which is justiciably accepted by Judiciaries is a far more broader concept which is accepted on a case by case basis where circumstances differ. What it is premised upon is that Formal equality is not achievable so the fill gap is substative equality which addresses by and large the disparity between socio-economic classes.

That applied to racing and inter-team affairs, while it is not otherwise proven to be the case each driver gets the same level of treatment in the Paddock, Garage or Factory so as for opportunity I sincerly doubt that there is unequal opportunity in that regard. This arguement of equal treatment is as above brought up where disparity between drivers arises, but like in politics two drivers are not the same on a multitude of levels so to imply if x is better than y by a substantial margin that x has favorable position is a gross and naive position. The biggest determining factor is driver racecraft and skill, no two drivers posses the same skillsets so as to raise equality in this regard is to deny the obviousness that it is impossible to bridge this factor no matter how much more simulator or parts testing you give the catch up driver. Skill is something that doesn't subscribe to sentimentality or equality where one is better than the other it is genetic and inherent and no amout of rhetoric will change that.

My opinion on this is skill determines performance and position in a team during a course of a race season is determined on performance, I wish to omit drivers in question but if it comes up I will address it then.
I believe equality is simple in F1:
  • There should be enough parts for both cars if there is an update.
  • You are never asked by the team to sacrifice your position for your team mate even if this is better for a WCC or WDC (you can do this voluntarily)
  • The car is not designed to suit one drivers preference disadvantaging the other (although I think this is a red herring as tyres and set up seem to have a huge impact on performance)
The level of coaching, training and development should always be based on individual needs and as long as there is capacity to fully support the needs of both drivers it doesn't matter if one principal has dinner every wednesday with one driver and never with another.
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