Champions, But Not Greats

Just on Prost, he deliberately drove at the slowest speed needed to win after witnessing the crashes which cost Gilles Villeneuve his life and Didier Pironi his career. Any driver who drove faster than they need to just to prove a point, especially in that era, usually ended up crippled or dead.
I've certainly read it in a couple of different books. I'll try and find a reference.
FB - I've certainly read that about in wet conditions - early in his career, Prost would be as fast as anyone (if not faster) in the wet; however, following Pironi's horrific crash in 1982, he was much more circumspect in wet conditions...
I'm not so sure about that actually because it wasn't really perceptible in the way he conducted his races until much later. I'm thinking of the 1985 Portuguese GP for example, a race best remembered for being the stage is Senna's first win in the Lotus in apalling weather conditions.

On this occasion far from being too conservative Prost was actually criticized (by James Hunt among others) for taking too many risks in his battle with Elio de Angelis for second. For whatever reason straightline speed was McLaren's achille's heel that year, and it was instantly clear from the word go that the Tag/Porsche had been left behind in terms of top-end power.

Prost at that race was getting increasingly frustrated at being stuck behind Elio while Senna was romping away with it. Many times he got alongside on the start/finish line but by the time they approached the end of the straight the Lotus would gain several car's lengths on him. You could see that this was going to end in tears...

Drivers don't normally get critised for going off aqua-planning (not a lot the driver can do about it) but in this case Prost did because the argument was that he was following him so close and relentlessy behind that ("how can he see anything?"... - James Hunt) he' d stand no chance of spotting any potential rivers forming across the track until he actually drove over it. Which is exactly what happened.

So I think whatever changes took place in his driving approach took place at the tail-end of 1985, and the influence of Niki Lauda was a more inluential turning point for him, especially after his immense disappointment of the previous year and being beaten by him by half a point despite almost always being in front of him during races.
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Lauda certainly used his craft to beat Prost in 1984 despite always being 1.5 seconds a lap slower which might have altered his approach even more
Dartman I wonder how well JYS would have fared in today's F1 climate battling against Bernie and the authorities. He did seem to be a leading figure head then for the drivers (and himself) some of that was down to that drivers were risking their lives and getting not paid enough... it was 60% you could be killed at a racing weekend whilst risky passing moves... I don't remember when catch fencing was introduced but he did pioneer for it to reduce big crashes
I actually have doubts he would be better than mid field, his insistence on Armco indirectly caused the death of Cevert as the Armco joint wasn't strong enough, in the money stakes I suspect he would be in the Alonso/Hamilton area but may not achieve due to lack of results. Really depends on his early days of todays FI, if like Alonso he managed a reputation to gender the cash and kept it up with self publicity then like Aloso paid much dollar to struggle in mid field with a crap car and a CEO who's lost the plot:o
All the drivers with more than 5 races wins are the greats. Here's my list of all time F1 greats:
The interesting point about that list is that Jim Clark is the only one in the top 10 that didn't drive a car with wings and at a time when F1 season was about 10 races or less and only in Europe, if you counted the Tasman series which didn't count towards the WDC he moves up higher
And Fangio was number 11 with the same disadvantages. He suffered with 50% of breakdowns in non-US races in 1950 to be beaten by Dr Giuseppe Farina beating him by winning the other 50% plus a fourth in the Belgian GP.

I wonder what people would think of it today if we had the same level of mechanical failures.
I wonder what people would think of it today if we had the same level of mechanical failures.

Talking as someone who started watching F1 when turbos regularly detonated in every race. I would think:

"How exciting, he's in the lead but will his car make it to.......ah, nope. But wow, that's moved the Manor up to third* place"

* that would happen in the good old days. See Onyx Grand Prix - Wikipedia
1989. When qualifying actually meant you had to qualify for the race, with 30 cars fighting for 26 places on the grid. And there even was prequalifying where cars where fighting for the right to qualify.

More teams got points that year, than there are now on the grid.
"How exciting, he's in the lead but will his car make it to.......ah, nope. But wow, that's moved the Manor up to third* place"


Good old days indeed. Also, a driver had a lot more influence on reliabilty back then. You could actually over-rev engines back then, you could miss a gear change and you didn't have a plethora of electronic sensors that could warn the team of incoming gizmos before the driver is aware of them. It was down to the driver to manage any problems through the way they drove.
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