Is there such a thing as a "Perfect Lap"?

Can a driver achieve a perfect lap?

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There is an interesting article on the concept of perfection, at least as it is applied to the pace of an individual lap.

So here is a poll to assess what CTA members think.

Personally I don't think 'perfect' in the theoretical sense is possible. But if we define perfect as the top percentile (or even smaller) of a cars potential performance, then perhaps that is practically perfect?

How we measure a driver's performance relative to a theoretical (and in some sense unknown) maximum is the reason why this is such a grey area for me.

Perhaps Red Bull can team up with Google and construct an AI driver that they interface with their car, to test what the upper limit of performance really is given perfect response to input variables? Quite a complicated task, but you'd think the brainpower and tech exists to measure this.
A perfect lap is impossible because there is always room to improvement somewhere.

Its possible to have a perfect series of laps, for example Senna @ Donington Park or Fangio @ Nurburgring.
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If you took the length of a given circuit and laid it out in a straight line then took the maximum top speed for that circuit with which you could calculate the minimum amount of time to cover that distance that would give you your theoretical best lap time for that circuit or at least a base line from which to start from which you calculate the perfect lap deducting time lost in braking zones and corner speeds and acceleration times....
There's definitely a theoretical best possible time and like Mephistopheles said there's things you could do to estimate what that is. In reality it would be extremely complicated to accurately calculate the perfect lap time exactly, there's just so many factors at play. A ball park estimate would definitely be possible though.

I suspect the question you're really asking is whether it's possible for a human to set a set a perfect lap time. If you're being strict the answer is no, factors such as reaction times and just plain and simple human error mean that in reality it's impossible for a human to set a lap time that would match the (impossible to calculate) theoretical best lap time.

The best you can do is a lap that's closer to perfect than anyone else has done before, and surely that should be enough?
I suppose there is perfect lap for different tyres and cars for instance the perfect lap for a Marussia is going to be slower than the perfect lap for a RedBull which is why I nominated Juan Alesis qualifying lap for Monaco in 1990..
Whilst in his prime Michael Schumacher put in a very fast qualifying lap at one race, but I can't remember which. Anyway, he drove back round to the pits, parked the car and went out to sit on the pit wall and watch everyone else. When questioned in the news conference as to why he did this he said that he knew that he could not drive a lap any faster than the one he had just done. So he certainly believed that he had done the perfect lap for himself and the car.
James Allen states "F1 is all about the quest for perfection." If that is so then it's a wasted effort since, as has been noted by others above, perfection is in the purview of deities, if there are such things. Drivers often refer to the so called perfect lap. That is usually when they have put their car on pole knowing that every sector time was "purple" and that the car and they themselves had nothing left in the can. Sometimes, though, a driver may regard the perfect lap as the one that secured pole even though he/she was not the fastest through every sector. Whichever is the case at the time that is as close to a perfect lap as they will get.

In motor sport the term is relative and temporary. Those who use the term know well enough that the perfect lap is only relevant to the brief moment in time that it was set. On another day, in another car and in different conditions, that perfect lap will eventually be superceded and not necessarily by another perfect lap. So the perfect lap is not necessarily even the fastest lap.

With regard to perfect laps in the simulators I am inclined to agree with those who suggest that there is some distance between simulation and reality. Simulators are subject to imperfection since it is human input of data, setting parameters, etc that tells the simulator what it has to work with. There will be variables that humans don't fully understand or cannot necessarily translate accurately into a computer program. There will be things that drivers do that give them an edge in real life which also cannot necessarily be modelled accurately. On this one I would really like to know if any drivers have achieved better lap times than predicted by the simulator and how often - I'm fairly sure it happens even if only occasionally.

Anyway, back to the fundamental question. Is there a real perfect lap? I doubt it, simply because it is beyond our capacity to define it. The goal posts move with every new technical development in the fastest of cars and with every new tweak that the best and most creative of drivers bring to the track. Oh, and we should not forget the impact of changes in regulations and modifications to the circuit (for safety or otherwise) since those can make a benchmark arrived at in the simulator redundant overnight.

Fenderman's note: The ideal lap time may be comprised of sector times that are slower than that which can be achieved. This is because getting through a particular sector may mean that entry to the next is compromised, usually because entry to the next turn is too fast and/or the car is off of the ideal line. A common example of how that happens is when a competitor sets a fastest lap and then runs off at turn one because they are going into it too hot (most often seen in motorcycle racing).
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Tyre models in simulators are pretty useless... no that is wrong... they are absolutely, totally, utterly useless. I race sims a lot, a lot of sims a lot, and tyre modelling is in its infancy, in fact it is stuck in the birth canal.

The replay of Sebastian Vettel's pole lap in India looks just like a simulation, I can see someone doing that lap in an F1 simulator. I can not imagine how it is possible to drive like that in real life. As far as I can tell that was not a perfect lap, it appeared a lot better than that, it looked unbelievable. :o
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For some in the current season, the 'perfect lap' is getting round the circuit unscathed, at least, and faster than normal (for them), at best.

Of course, all is possible, but would question what 'perfect' means!
No such thing as perfect - poor, not bad, good, great, faaaantastic, incredible, superb .... but never perfect.

Agree with this
perfection is a concept, not a reality

The claim of a 'perfect 10' is like the ridiculous 'he gives 110% every time' statement.
'Perfect' is almost as overused these days as 'awesome' is in certain parts of the world.
I've never seen footage (if it even exists), but I would suspect Rosberg's lap at Silverstone 85 was near perfection. With only 8 corners, this makes theoretical perfection easier I suppose. Keke bested his teammate Mansell by over a second, and the powerful BMW powered Piquet car by .658. Oh yeah, he averaged over 160 MPH too, no big deal....
Well KekeTheKing I was there that day at the old Woodcote chicane as he flew past to finish the lap*.

I still don't actually believe that it is theoretically possible for him to have been going as fast as he was. There was something magic about that lap.

* I might have mentioned it before :D, it made a massive impression and it is why I have this avatar!

I have always liked this one ... that car is squirming the entire lap ... it never looks planted ...

Senna 1'19.843
Mansell 1'20.537 +0.694
Keke 1'21.887 +2.044
Prost 1'21.889 +2.046
Alboreto 1'22.337 +2.494
Surer 1'22.561 +2.718
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