Is F1 still the pinnacle of motorsport?

tooncheese

Hans Heyer
Contributor
Ok then this will probably seem very shouty at times, but bear with me. Next year we will have KERS and this rear wing stalling thing that essentially are like the car having a boost button like in video games. This is clearly a desperate attempt to get more overtaking and excitment, and therefore viewers and money. Its a sad fact thta F1 became a buisness a long time ago, but if trying to defend against another driver is useless, and the car manipulated to the point of being almost identical, how can we know who/what the best drivers and constructers are? So with Indycar being so commercial it is hard to comprehend for a non-american, is the le mans endurance series were the best driver lie? Whislt the cars are slower and the tv rights cheaper, at least there are less rules and it is more challenging. However there is also the issue that in F1 a good driver is praised, and in endurance racing they are much less well known.

Anyway, my mixed opinion over, what do you think, are the fastest drivers and cars in F1, or elsewhere.
 

Enja

isn't dead.
Valued Member
I've thought for a while that the "pinnacle" of motorsport is something intangible rather than something that can be easily categorised or displayed. It's about more than the class or series of competition and certainly more about the drivers competing in it. F1 may claim to have the "24 best drivers in the world" but in truth, they are probably not. Well, we know several that are definitely not!

I don't really believe there is a pinnacle of motorsport in the sense of a category, car or driving competition. F1 may be the biggest, certainly the most heavily promoted, some may argue the best, but I don't think that entitles it to a name of "pinnacle". Some sports that I follow have a "pinnacle", and I guess because of the ladder-structure of motorsport people are enticed to have a bottom, a middle and most importantly, a top. Pinnacles in a sporting sense are to me more about achievement than residual existence. If F1 ceased to exist something would take the public's perceptions elsewhere, perhaps to WRC, or Indy Car, or whatever it would be that got it's foot in the door. So for me, the personal and team achievements themselves become the pinnacle(s) of any sport.

I would say Ayrton Senna's pole lap at Monaco in '90 was the pinnacle of motorsport at that given time.

Schumacher's streak of WDCs was the pinnacle of motorsport.

Now, I would argue that Sebastien Loeb's dominance of WRC is the pinnacle of motorsport.

In other sports, New Orleans' Super Bowl win last year was the NFL equivalent of a pinnacle. Whoever wins the Ryder Cup this week will achieve the pinnacle of golf.

I'm not entirely sure where I'm going but what I'm ultimately trying to say is this : Although the precedent of F1 being "the pinnacle" is still around, you have to understand the subtleties and differences of all different motorsports and appreciate them for what they are. As such I don't think any true "pinnacle" of motorsport can be achieved through the way in which we are quick to diagnose them.

Now, if Mr. Raikkonen goes on to win a WRC title and the 24h of Le Mans, he himself would become the pinnacle of motorsport.. long shot right now, I know. ;)
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
I don't believe that any one particular form of auto racing has ever truly been able to lay claim to being "the pinnacle". In terms of driving ability, I think that WRC drivers would rate as being the best because they have to cope with relatively unfamiliar courses which offer far more hazards than any form of circuit racing and which can change dramatically with the passage of vehicles or the onset of inclement weather.

Technologically, sports cars have been, historically, far more innovative than open-wheel cars, including formula 1.

Although frequently derided by the uninformed, oval racing calls for precision of driving at least the equal of formula 1, and there are no runoff areas big enough to land an A380 on, like there are in F1. And the consequnces of hitting a wall at 200+ miles per hour can be quite dire.

MotoGP presents huge risks to the riders, because they are essentially unprotected, while racing at truly breakneck speed. This form of racing, together with WRC, are the two types of racing that most require the participants to have more balls than a Christmas tree.

Rather than look for the form of racing that can most rightly be called the "pinnacle", the best thing to do is enjoy each for what it offers, and recognize and admire the skill and courage that every form of motorsport requires.
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
Well said.My thoughts exactly.Although I would stress that WRC drivers are probably the better drivers.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Is there any circuit where F1, LMES and Moto GP all run? It would be interesting to make a comparison as, for example, at Spa in 2009 Fisichella's pole time was 1m 46.308 (Fastest Q2 time with low fuel was Trulli 1m 44.503). The Pole time for a the Peugoet 908 at the Spa 1000km in 2009 was 2m 01.056. Can't find any lap times for bikes at Spa...

Purely in terms of speed I think F1 is the fastest track series, it's a shame there aren't any circuits where we can compare F1 cars to some of the American open wheel racing cars.

In trems of driver ability I would go with Sportsman on rally drivers. There used to be a season ending series (The Race of Champions?) which took 4 or 5 F1 drivers and pitted them against 4 or 5 rally drivers over a special stage and in an open wheel car on a circuit. Every year, I think with the exception of Keke Rosberg, the rally drivers took the F1 boys to the cleaners both on and off road.
 

Enja

isn't dead.
Valued Member
The problem that arguing that rally drivers are "better" is the same problem that you encounter by arguing that any single form of motorsport is better than another.

Rally drivers are exceptionally skillful, but then so are F1 drivers, but the cars are radically different. Stick a rally driver in an F1 car and they'd take time to adapt. They'd have to learn, or relearn how to drive in close combat with others, they'd have to be thinking more about tyre conservation and such. I know they deal with a lot concerning the type of surface and the preservation of tyres but they don't, it seems to me, have quite the same level of tactical demands that F1 places on you.

Likewise, stick an F1 driver in a WRC car and they'd struggle for a while.

Fundamentally I think there is little to choose over what type of driver is best, because I think they are so closely talented at the "top". They all share the same value of driving flat out, but beyond that, there's not always a whole lot to relate.

So I would disagree that rally drivers are the most "skillful", because it takes individual types of skill in different motorsports.

FB said:
In trems of driver ability I would go with Sportsman on rally drivers. There used to be a season ending series (The Race of Champions?) which took 4 or 5 F1 drivers and pitted them against 4 or 5 rally drivers over a special stage and in an open wheel car on a circuit. Every year, I think with the exception of Keke Rosberg, the rally drivers took the F1 boys to the cleaners both on and off road.

The RoC still happens every year mate...

Vettel and Schumacher won the Nations Cup while Mattias Ekstrom won the individual cup, beating Schumacher in the final.

Not that it indicates anything of course, as you should well know, drivers are some of the most adaptable people around.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Enja said:

The RoC still happens every year mate...

Vettel and Schumacher won the Nations Cup while Mattias Ekstrom won the individual cup, beating Schumacher in the final.

Yea, I know about the mickey mouse event they run at Wembley, the one I had in mind was in the early 80's and was full rally cars on a special stage and then open wheel cars on a track. I'll try and find some info, sure there's something in some old GPI magazines.
 

ATL11

Podium Finisher
Pinnacle, Mmmmm interesting question?

pin·na·cle (pn-kl)
n.
1. Architecture A small turret or spire on a roof or buttress.
2. A tall pointed formation, such as a mountain peak.
3. The highest point; the culmination. See Synonyms at summit.

We are obviously taking the later of the definitions, the problem with the word is it has Culmination in it, as if once achieved others can then go on & achieve the same target.

In F1 the Pinnacle, has to be the Drivers Championship for the Driver (of course) & the Constructors Title for the Team, but then the next season it's reset and we start again. You could have the 'Greatest Pinnacle' of all Time, but I think that is becoming foolish, and then you'd be back to definitions....

So back to Motor Sport, here overall there is no Pinnacle, you could break them down to Open Wheel, SportsCars, Tin Tops & Bikes; each has it's own characteristics:

Open Wheel: F1, Indy Cars,
SportsCars: Le Mans, GT, ALMS,
Tin Tops: WRC, Touring Cars, NASCAR, V8's, Dakar,
Bikes - Moto GP, TT, SideCar, Moto X
(shoot me down if I've missed any key things out?)

But within these groups there are multiple pinnacles e.g. Their respective Championship, so they can't be benchmarked to confirm if that Motor Sport is the pinnacle:

Open Wheel - F1 - Perfect weekend @ Monaco, win, pole, fastest lap? Better than the Constructors?
Open Wheel - Indy Car - Indy 500 Win (is it greater than the Championship?)
SportsCars - 24hr Le Mans win vs Championship, etc
NASCAR - Daytona Win
WRC - Rally of Monte Carlo even GB win
ALMS - Sebring win
V8's - Bathhurst win
Moto GP - World Title vs a win @ Assen?
Overall - You could say speed could be a pinnacle, but SportCars are faster in a straight line than F1, NASCAR can do fastest laps without Restrictor plates and an F1 car with no rules could probably get to the moon....

I could go on, but what I'm getting at is to be a Motor Sport pinnacle it would need to be further defined, a driver to reach the pinnacle of Motor Sport would probably need to win a Championship in all 4 categories. A Motor Sport, is too convoluted, wins, speed, danger, technology, again you could go on (& I have)
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
Thats a bloody good post ATL.And it really hits the nail on the head.The definition of pinnacle is no single issue in itself in this context, as you so elequently point out.
You missed the FIM Sidecar WCC. A minority sport I know, but an F1 sidecar outfit is very technically advanced and will outperfom many other car series.
OK I know I am biased but having raced one of theseI can and hitting top speeds in excess of 165mph I can assure you that they are fantastic machines.
 

ATL11

Podium Finisher
sportsman said:
Thats a bloody good post ATL.And it really hits the nail on the head.The definition of pinnacle is no single issue in itself in this context, as you so elequently point out.
You missed the FIM Sidecar WCC. A minority sport I know, but an F1 sidecar outfit is very technically advanced and will outperfom many other car series.
OK I know I am biased but having raced one of theseI can and hitting top speeds in excess of 165mph I can assure you that they are fantastic machines.

Have added a few for the bikes, Side Car, thanks for the plug, and Moto X, which is always on when I turn over to Motors TV.

Must admit that picture shows some top piece of kit, I'm assuming the front duct is for brake cooling? I've always respected Sidecar riders (& apologies for missing), the buzz from doing over 150mph whilst millimetres from the ground & in the open must be Awesome.
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
True.Thats an LCR powered by a Suzuki K5 1000cc engine.They don't get much better than that.The duct is for brake cooling.The radiator is mounted in the nose of the chair.
The long exhaust pipes coming forward is the improve the exhaust gas flow and get better resonance.
The real buzz comes from a 140mph full bloodied drift in a left hander when you are right on the ragged edge.

Incidently Nomad used to be a passenger on an outfit (he is insane like all chair passengers)
 
N

Nomad

Guest
Yes but I primarily raced motocross on an outfit with the occasional roadracing appearance. Great fun!!!

I've been following and participating in motorsports for about 60 years and I'll be damned if I know which one is the pinnacle. I really don't think that there is one pinnacle in the sport, it all depends on the current focus and the perceptions of the observer.

But then, one of my favorite drivers was Peter Ustinov. Yes Sportsman, I believe that I still have my recording of the Gran Prix du Rock. (The kids will have hell figuring out what I am talking about.)
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
Hmmmm

Both siffert and ATL got there before me (damn you!) LOL

If you consider the pinnacle as man+machine vs course then I have to err on the side of the 2 wheelers and of those I have to err on the side of the lunatics that do this (run off area....what's that?)

 
N

Nomad

Guest
sportsman said:
FB said:
These guys aren't brave, they simply have a screw loose. :D

Not "a screw" all screws are loose :D

Yes, but that just keeps us loose and comfortable.
You've never had an adrenalin rush until you have banged handlebars with someone at 100+. Ever wonder why the bike racers have all the good drugs in their toolboxes?
 
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