DOF_power, on 31 January 2010 - 02:16 PM, said:
I agree and disagree.
The drivers are so close because:
a] they are better prepared then ever; as J. Villeneve said, the lack of fitness of 20 years ago was a (big) reason for the mistakes/overtaking
b] there is a better/tougher ladder (of) series witch no longer fields 3/4 of the grid with pay drivers (even the top guys like Fangio, Senna and Schumacher were pay drivers)
c] the thing about the though cars is relative, mostly it's a myth.
The Indycars and Can-Am cars had over 1000 hp in the early 70s, the 1930s GP silver arrows had 500-646 hp (even 730 hp) on skinny tires and drum brakes. The Group B rally cars of the mid 80s were a lot more raw and dangerous according to Senna and Mansell then the F1 racecars.
After the end of the supercharged era (post 51, think the silver arrows of the 30s, the Alfa 159, BRM V16) Grand Prix racecars where usually (the successful ones at least) nice handling cars, nowhere near the most raw of monsters as some would want to believe.
And I agree and disagree with you
One thing I think we are all making clear is that we want to feel
the excitement of days past. That does not mean we want the exact same kind of races
there used to be.
My guess is that if we could simulate on a computer a race at, let's say, Monza, or Monaco in the 80s and the same race as it happened in any of this decade's seasons, we would notice a few things:
1) Overtaking was indeed easier in the past. That did not improve per se the show.
2) I bet we would see many more mistakes both from top and bottom of the field drivers. Drivers crashing against another car was a common sight in the 80s. Not to mention reliability issues, driver's mistakes, switching teams mid season, etc.
3) It would be very interesting if you could fin some more statistics, besides overtaking. For example, a quick search on the internet shows that from 1980 to 1984 no WDC had less than 3 retirements in that season. Just imagine the uproar nowadays if a driver won a championship like that (makes me feel silly for criticizing Button over his pale second half of the season). In fact, in 1984, Nikki Lauda had 6 DNFs, yet he became WDC that year.
4) In short, I don't think we would be much happier we some overtaking, if we get to see a Lewis, Nando or Schumi breaking their engines or being crashed by some mid field driver every 3 races.
5) Nowadays drivers are indeed less prone to errors. Cars are also unbreakable by the 80s standards and tracks are mathematically designed to be perfect for the cars. A bumpy track-induced accident today is almost impossible (Glock's accident was the last one, I think)
6) When refering to "wild broncos" I didn't mean the cars were actually like that, but more to the relative differential netween how much can a driver give and how much the car can give. Today there is almost no way a driver can bring 6/10s to a car (sorry Alonso!), drivers/teams can find better setups, yes, and they can sometimes gamble on strategies (not so much anymore, which impoverishes F1 ultimately) but they cannot assert enough difference to overtake another car cleanly. And with current micromanagement from marshalls, taking risks on corners can easily turn a boldly move into a huge penalty. Result? The more conservative, the better. And let's not even get started with the engine/gearbox limitation rules...