How do present Formula One greats compare to those of the past?

26 May 2016

Sebastien Vettel in a Red Bull at the 2011 Monaco GP, via Wikimedia Commons

Formula One is all about technology. Engine power, handling, aerodynamics, pit changes, braking and everything in between relies on tech. But there’s more to the sport than that.

Formula One engineers work behind the scenes year-round, undertaking long hours of tangible trial and error, which results in just 21 races a season.

At the very most, the cars are speeding around the track for just 42 hours worth of race days, but it’s more than hammering panels and heating components that support the extravagant sport.

There’s the research put into tyre compositions, for example. Dietary planning, track maintenance and no end of psychological training goes into making the perfect driver, environment and team.

Big data: The Monaco Grand Prix

The way Peter van Manen, former MD of McLaren Electronics, once described it, innovations on some of the world’s premier Grand Prix racing tracks are having ramifications in other sectors, such as medicine, communications and transport.

“Every year, 3,000 to 4,000 new components are made and for every 20 minutes of race time a new part is being designed,” he said, a couple of years back. “The pace of development is the closest thing in mechanical form to software development.”

And then there’s the data analytics: times, splits, consistencies, routes, hot zones, cold zones etc.

Most of this information is not available to us onlookers, we’re left feeding off scraps that appear on screen or, if we look in the right place, online.

We’ve come across this nice little infographic that takes relatively mundane statistical information like wins, pole positions and podiums but matches them up in an interesting way.

With Monaco just around the corner, German greats Michael Schumacher and Seb Vettel are compared, so to are Nico Rosberg and his father Keke, Lewis Hamilton and Niki Lauda.

F1 Match Ups

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic