Reliability and F1. Good or Bad ?

Was the racing and championship better when the cars were less reliable ?

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Bill Boddy

Professional layabout
Whether a retirement is a good or a bad thing basically depends on which team/driver you support.

Looking at it from the point of view of an uncommitted observer it would probably be better to have some unreliability. It can even make a race more interesting when a driver is going round with a gearbox with a mind of it's own, yet still hanging on.

As has been pointed out the cars are running under-stressed but also computers have played their part in removing the unexpected.


Podium Finisher
Nowadays importance of even one mechanical retirement is bigger than it was due to general reliability being so much better. I had a look on five different years - separated by 7 years. Here's how top three teams of WCC that year suffered mechanical retirements
Ferrari 2 (Villeneuve 1, Pironi 1) 10 no-starts
McLaren 8 (Lauda 4, Watson 4) 3 no-starts
Renault 10 (Prost 6, Arnoux 4)
McLaren 5 (Senna 4, Prost 1)
Williams 10 (Patrese 5, Boutsen 5)
Ferrari 14 (Berger 8, Mansell 6) 2 no-starts
Williams 4 (Villeneuve 2, Hill 2)
Ferrari 13 (Irvine 7, Schumacher 6)
Benetton 8 (Berger 6, Alesi 2)
Ferrari 2 (Barrichello 2)
Williams 2 (Montoya 2)
McLaren 5 (Coulthard 4, Räikkönen 1)
Red Bull 2 (Vettel 2)
McLaren 3 (Hamilton 2, Button 1)
Ferrari 1 (Alonso 1)

Of course it's a bit debatable which are reliability issues and which not. Well, I don't remember hearing that Williams in 1996 was deemed unreliable car by any means - their mechanical retirement tally was bigger than any of top teams in 2010 - but still a lot less than other two teams that year.

2010 had 19 races, other four seasons had 16. Ferrari lost lots of races in 1982 due to running one car after accidents of Villeneuve and Pironi. McLaren boycotted Imola and Lauda had one other DNS. In 1989 both Ferraris lost one race - Berger was injured in Imola and missed Monaco, while Mansell was suspended for Spanish Grand Prix.
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