The ability to drive


Here be dragons.
I'm reaching back in time here and not too sure that my memory is correct, but believe that at some point in F1's history a driver could commandeer the car of his team-mate.

I'm not too sure when this practice stopped but it does beg the questions:

Were both cars exactly the same?

If not, why not?

And why, in such circumstances, could some drivers manage to drive anything?

Assuming that in modern F1, the cars are basically the same, why do some drivers struggle to compete against their own team-mate?

I realise that it is all a bit more 'technical' now and down to personal set up, but surely any driver worth his salt should be able to get the best from any car he is driving!
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That reminds me of the days there used to be a spare car, they'd swap the seat and pedals and driver B would be in driver A's car and sometimes go faster.
I'd completely forgotten about the 'third' option/spare car.

Which of the current drivers would be able to master all three?
That's a given really.

But there are some on the grid now that can't even drive their own car, let alone that of their team-mate's.

Is this 'caused' by modern innovation or driver inability?
It’s down to a combination of factors and you only have to look at Maldonado to see the fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous. Rubens lost a lot of time to Schumi because he was braking and accelerating with one foot until he adapted to left foot braking. I find it easier to manage an oversteering roadcar than the opposite.
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In respect to modern innovation I think if anyone off the street with a driving license jumped into Senna's MP4/6 they could probably drive it, clutch pedal, gear lever etc.

In the the MP4-29 I wouldn't even be able to find the cigarette lighter.
Surely cars are set up around the driver who is driving that car. Which means the distance between seat and pedals will be tailored to suit that driver, as will everything else. Right handed /left handed. And his feedback will play an enormous part in the engine set up, for him. So it will feel like an alien machine to another driver.
The third car used to be set up for the number one driver, so if the second guy had to take it, he had to cope with that set up, or not race.
I beg ro differ Speshal . I suspect the overwhelming majority of people with a driving licence would if anything be even less capable of driving Senna's McLaren than today's cars. These cars didn't have anti-stall for a start, just getting it move forward and catch the revs would already be beyond them, let alone maintaining correct temperature ranges on brakes or tyres and so on. Plus they could actually over-rev their engines, which is impossible today.
All the steering wheel controls are there to help the drivers, not hamper them. They just have to learn them.

Back in the day it was left to the driver's feel alone to judge things like appropriate brake bias, correct gearing etc.

Drivers also had a much more crucial role in their car's reliability than they do today, since pretty much everything is governed by hydraulics and electronics.

From that point of view drivers' workload besides actual driving during races was far bigger than today, precisely because they had far fewer controls they could adjust, nor did their cars carry a multitude of electronic sensors relaying data to their pit-crew who can then radio them what is over-heating or what needs to be adjusted and so on. They were left to rely n their own feel of the car to know how to run their race.
I think in the olden days there was much more variation in manufacturing quality so there might be one chassis that was just better built than another. These days with computers controlling everything some of those random factors are no longer there.

On drivers and their ability to drive around problems, you can see on the grid today some of them are unbeatable with the right machine but average when it is not to their liking. Meanwhile other drivers appear to be able to consistently deliver no matter what the team gives them.
In the the MP4-29 I wouldn't even be able to find the cigarette lighter.


The McLaren-Mercedes Racing Concern would like to intimate that inflammatory devices optimised for the igniting of tobacco products have not been installed on a McLaren Racing Car since the termination of its contractual obligations to tobaccanists Imperial utilising their Teutonic Western nomenclature. Equally, we have eliminated the use of satellite navigation since the departure of Kimi Raikkonen, liposuction devices since the expulsion of Mansell and tertiary pedal systems since the governing organisation discovered it.
Well, a long shot, but for the last race in 2008 JB was given a cigarette lighter by Andy Shovlin, just in case the car stopped on track at any point.

Maybe Dave Robson will look to do something similar with this years, erm, abomination....

There you go Speshal if you are looking for the fag lighter, look in JB's overalls!!
Instead of double points in the last race or three, they could have a designated number of rounds where the drivers have to swap cars, similar to some show jumping competitions where each rider has to jump a round or rounds on the horse of one or more (not at the same time!) of the other contestants. That would sort the men out from the boys.
Massa would never reach Hulkenberg's pedals.

Put Jen in the McLaren, it would cut down her ciggie consumption and do her a world of good.
Lighters, great; plus at least two large wine bottle holders even better. With these I would have been in a position to entertain my two favourite drivers - James Hunt and Graham Hill ;)
I remember an Autosport article back in 82 or 83 when the journo got to drive Watsons McLaren Ford at Silverstone... He binned it in his first or second corner... After struggling to keep the car running... I remember it needed 8000 or 9000 revs or it would stall... And he struggled with that counter intuitive concept...
Yes, and I also remember a few years ago buying a collection of old motorsport mags from the seventies. In one of was an article by a journalist who was a competitor at Le Mans and was invited to test the 1979 Ligier and Renault at the Paul-Ricard.
Twice in a row he stalled the Ligier while he was exiting the Bretelle in third gear. He stalled it in third gear! And he'd been a professional racing driver... can't remember who it was now but that gives you an idea of the very narrow usability range of F1 engines, both then and now.
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