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Best Car x Best Driver

Photo by Mark Thompson


written by: Sofia Miranda

edited by: Sarah Wingo

In motorsport, there are many speculations and opinions on who is the greatest driver of all time and it's very difficult to say one is right or wrong. How can you judge if a pilot is good or not? Can an F1 driver with the worst car on the grid still win races? Why is it common to see the same drivers constantly on the podiums? In the end, It all comes down to one single question: driver or car, which one is the most important to win the race?

What does it take to win a race?

A diversity of factors affects the outcome of a race for a driver and their team. One of the most critical components is having a strong crew who are always ready for all the adversities that might come throughout the race. With the team, strategies come and sometimes they have to be decided while the race is happening, such as when to call the driver to the box and tire choices. Having a connected team that has good communication with the drivers is essential for a good outcome of a race and a season.

One unchangeable matter is the track condition. One of the things the teams worry about the most when constructing a car is making it ready for any situation it might go through, be it extreme warmness, wind, rain, or others. It is also important that during the off-season and the regular season, the driver is trained to go through these adversities without decreasing their performance, which is extremely difficult. Getting the pilot to achieve familiarity and knowledge of how to work properly with the machine, increase his adaptability, and make quick decisions, and with that, being able to extract its maximum performance, is the "golden formula" to succeed in motorsport.

However, the car's speed, how it was constructed, the design, and the budget that was given towards its making, are something to look out for when talking about how to win a race.

The money situation

There is a limit to the amount of money a team can spend over a year. Consequently, if a team goes over the amount of money previously decided, the situation will be analyzed by the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and will be followed in most cases to receive a penalty. An example of that is Red Bull Racing Team going over the cost cap and receiving not only a $7 million fine but also a ten percent reduction in aero testing for this year.

The cost amount for this year's season is $135 million. The cap includes all parts of the car except the engine, all the elements for the proper work of the car, the equipment used by the team, the life costs of the crew such as transport, and the salary of most of them. One important matter that is not included in the cap, is the salary of the driver.

Photo by Mark Thompson

It's important to state that some teams are considered bigger ones, have a considerably bigger amount of people working for them, and also have more money to expend. Seeing that smaller teams are induced to have a smaller crew and a constant need for investors. This is what sometimes divides the middle/low grid from the high-performance ones. Previous Mclaren principal, Andreas Seidl stated that “The resources of these teams went out of control compared to what we, for example, can do. It’s not possible for us to be competitive and sustainable at the same time. Many believe that the rules should be changed in a way to level more opportunities and create more competitiveness between the championship standings.

The myth

It has been believed by many that in Formula 1, 80% of the outcome of the race is a result of the car, and only 20% of it is caused by the driver. However, a study done by Professor Duane Lockerbie, from the University of Lethbridge has revealed that said statement is a myth. This study shows in its findings that the percentage before is far bigger than it should've been, especially in the matter of the car’s importance.

It is believed with the discovery of said study that the car, instead of 80%, takes over around 20% of the importance to the outcome of the race, far less than what was believed before. Meanwhile, the driver's importance goes down to roughly 15%. The one thing that wasn’t stated in the 80-20 rule was the extreme importance of the connection driver-team and the communication between them.

The factor of the relationship between the crew comes down to 40-30% of the final result. As previously stated, without this communication effectively working and a good environment in this workplace it is very unlikely for a race to have a good outcome.

Drivers who overcame difficulties:

- Valtteri Bottas: going out of Williams and up to Mercedes, Bottas was able to get pretty good seasons with the team and even won a couple of races.

- Sebastian Vettel: in his United States Grand Prix farewell, Vettel was able to stay for a couple of minutes in the first position during a race, meanwhile usually he averaged around the 13th position on the grid (in the 2022 season). Sadly, after

an error in the box of the car, he lost the position Photo by Peter Fox

but ended up finishing 10th.

- Fernando Alonso: after changing from Alpine to Aston Martin. The driver who averaged ninth position is now running for a title competition being in the second position of the world driver championship. Is it finally time for him to be able to get his second championship? Will he defeat the two unbeatable years that Red Bull has had, taking both times the constructors and driver trophies?

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