F1 drivers need to get out of the simulators and back onto the track


Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Tourdog

Disclaimer: TheJudge13 provides a platform for Formula 1 fans to publish their voice on matters relating to Formula 1. The views expressed in Voice of #F1 Fans are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.

There was a time, when the average F1 driver could drive any car you could squeeze him into. A time when you might see the same driver drive 2 or three different cars, in different classes, on the same weekend.

Those days are now gone.

Nearly every driver in F1 is prevented from driving anything but a street car, on anything but a public road, both during the seasons and in between.

The argument for these restrictions is simple and straightforward. There is too much at stake in F1, to risk losing a driver because of an injury from another race.

This may appear logical enough if you are an insurance adjuster, but to a racing driver, this has to be madness.

The only way to improve as a driver is to DRIVE. Simulators can only take one so far. Yes, they are great for learning a track, but no simulator can reproduce the actual forces involved in a real car, and there is not enough computing power to calculate every feasible possibility of tire, asphalt, and obstruction that a driver will deal with at even a single race.

Yet, the powers that be in F1, have been cutting testing time every year for what seems like a decade. The drivers get less and less time in their car. Then factor in that most of the middle and lower level teams are forced to sell seat time in FP1 and testing to make ends meat, and the average driver is down to less than 1 hour of actual seat time per weekend, before they have to start qualifying. In some cases it is much less than that.

Defying the modern day norm, this year we have one glaring exception to the rule – Nico Hulkenberg.

The Hulk raced, and won the 24 hours of LeMans and spent a significant amount of time before the race testing the car.

That single win way have done more for him, Force India, Formula 1, and racing in general, that any other victory this year. It brought Nico Hulkenberg into the forefront of every racing report for over a week, across the entire globe. It raised Force India’s profile, it raised Formula 1’s profile. Dare I say, it made Nico a racing “hero” if even only for a moment in time.

“Formula One needs to be about the drivers being the heroes…”, says Christian Horner.

This line has now been repeated ad nauseum for over a year, and most likely has lead to the new interpretation of the rules regarding “driver aids” that will go into effect at Spa. But is this really the solution?

Is giving the driver less information really going to improve his driving skills? Does the average fan ever really listen to, or care about what is said between the driver and his pit?

If a driver is told that his opponent is braking deeper into turn two, and exitting with more speed than him, does that make him less of a driver, or help him to refine his own technique, and further test the limits of his own skills and car?

Of course, implementing these changes will have the same effect as every other mid-season “reinterpretation” of the rules. The teams will find a way around it. More accurately, one could argue, that the only reason the teams agreed to this change, is that they already have a plan – and will simply display more information for the driver on the steering wheel.

The immediate effect of this will be that the drivers will end up spending more time looking at their steering wheel, and less time looking at the road.

But the long term effect may well be less overtaking, more drivers missing apexes, more offs, and more accidents.

One only needs to look at rallying to understand this. To drive at the absolute limit, the drivers attention is focused completely in front of them. They never take their eyes off the road, and have a second person in the car, just to call out turns, and watch all of the mechanical systems.

Granted, an F1 circuit is no rally course, and there is no need to call out turns, but the pit in F1 is essentially doing the same thing. They are keeping on eye on all of the important systems, monitoring tyre and brake temperature, boost, engine temp, etc. etc., so that the driver can keep his attention focused on pushing the car to its limits.

So apparently, the solution to F1’s problems is to give the driver less information, less time in the car, and no opportunity to drive anything except a simulator when they are not racing for Bernie.

“From a pure business aspect – sorry Nico if I have to say this – you are not so good for my business,” said Bernie Ecclestone.

In this now famous quote, Bernie was basically saying that Nico Rosberg does not do enough free promotion for his sport. He then used Lewis as an example of someone that does, mainly through his “red carpet” appearances, and other extracurricular activities.

Isn’t this simply a case of a corporate boss demanding fee promotion from people who are employed to drive a handful of hours every second or third weekend? Does Bernie really have the right to dictate what F1 drivers do in their “off time”, after all they’re not being paid for it.

Anyone that has worked in the corporate world has experienced this “logic”. Somehow if you are not an exec, and not working within the confines of their cubicle, you don’t deserved to be paid for your time. Well FOM is the promoter, and if they want to promote their sport, then maybe they should pay for the drivers to do this.

Of course the purse strings at FOM are pulled tighter than Flavio’s girdle, so we all know that will never happen.

Yet in reality, what better promotion is there for F1 amongst other motorsports – than to allow the drivers to compete in other championships?

Let them drive.

F1 drivers should in fact be positively ENCOURAGED to drive in any FIA sanctioned event that does not conflict with the F1 season; even including rallying.

Of course the argument is that that rallying, beyond all the other racing types, is too dangerous and risky for an F1 driver. Maybe the real reasoning is that rallying is just too dangerous per se, and the safety regulations should be reconsidered.

The president of the FIA, Jean Todt  has been most vocal about his intentions and legacy, which is safety, cost control and promoting global motorsport.

But by getting the top drivers to race in some of the ower classes of FIA events, this will not only draw more spectators, but give them an opportunity to experience the amazing talent on display in F1.

Which could possibly – raise the profile of the sport.

Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel driving a couple of DTM races a year would do more to gain them the support of the German people than 1000 beer commercials – and maybe up the gate at the German GP by a few 10’s of thousands.

Sergio Perez in a Daytona Prototype would not only draw more fans from Mexico into the American racing series, but expose the American audience to a taste of F1 drivers who are off their radar.

What if Kimi and Veltteri were allowed to drive as teammates for a Finnish rally team?

How much cross promotion could FOM accomplish it they actually thought about what they were doing and were willing to spend even a pittance?

If we truly want the drivers to be viewed as “hero’s” we need to give them the opportunity to show it in multiple venues, and a twitter pic of a half naked Rihanna grinding on Lewis’s junk does not make him a hero.

This does:


fernando kids

32 responses to “F1 drivers need to get out of the simulators and back onto the track

  1. I’m sorry, but this just seems all over the place…

    It’s not the FIA, FOM or Bernie that’s stopping drivers from participating in other FIA sanctioned events, it’s the team who pay these drivers their hefty salaries. The teams has more to lose than anyone else.

    The only reason Nico drive at Le Mans was because VJM approved of it and maybe he also got a few extra bucks from Porsche to help with the teams financial troubles.

    “From a pure business aspect – sorry Nico if I have to say this – you are not so good for my business,” said Bernie Ecclestone…..

    “Bernie is upset because Nico is promoting another sport and so he then exalts Lewis Hamilton as the parodigm of a odern F1 driver.”

    I’m also sure that quote was in reference to Rosberg and not Hulkenberg.

    • Correct, the quote is taken from an interview with Bernie and Rosberg. Bernie was comparing Rosberg’s lower profile lifestyle to Hamilton’s more outgoing, blinged up, fame-seeking lifestyle, and how one is better than the other for F1 as a business and the promotion of it. Nico Hulkenberg had nothing to do with it, and I find it hard to imagine how one would provide an exact quote while unintentionally getting the context so completely wrong.

      • Hey Yak.
        I just reread the article..
        The context was changed in an edit after my original draft, and you are are right, it now appears to confuse Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg’s bernie discussion.
        I am going to fix it. It was not intentional, nor due to a lack of info.

    • @fortis96 – Mr Little 😉

      Agreed. The headline and associated is also wrong, from a technical point of view. The simulators use very sophisticated theoretical and empirical data modelling of both tyre and chassis. Previous years data gathering from the track is included, and hopefully the track has not been resurfaced. Included in the sim loop is the complete PU system. With all this, the team can create a baseline set up before reaching the track, and save time and equipment wear. During a season, there will hopefully be some car development, and the effect can be replicated to give the driver some idea of what to expect from the changes. Setting up the engine maps for each circuit is also really important for fuel saving, ERS strategy, and power delivery. Each driver has a different style of driving, so the simulator allows their engineer to come up with usable compromises to the baseline setup. All this and much more, says – keep the sim work, and more in-season testing.

  2. Tourdog if drivers were to do what you’re advocating, then they’d be spending every weekend racing.

    The only place were I see that happening, is i NASCAR. Some drivers also compete in the truck series and the Nationwide series.

    • Hey Fortis.

      I know this will sound sarcastic, but I truly don’t mean it that way…

      How is an F1 driver, driving nearly every weekend, a bad thing?

      If your favorite F1 driver was driving off weekends, even in something as ridiculous as the nascar truck series, would you not watch?

      Don’t you think that it might draw some of those viewers to F1?

      Do I actually believe it will happen? well no, I am a realist, but that doesn’t mean I can’t advocate for it.

      And FOM, as the commercial rights holder and writer of all contacts F1, is in the position to put pressure on the teams to allow their drivers to drive other series.

      Sorry if I didn’t make that connection clear in the article.

      • Sure for us fans it would be fantastic, no doubt and yes I’d watch, but I wouldn’t feel the same level of excitement. But what about the drivers? When do they get a break?

        If that were to happen, half of them would be burnt out before they made it to 25.

        Personally, I think were demanding too much of drivers and it’s time we stop asking for them to be like those in the past.

        • It would be free choice if they drive something else or not. And about the excitement factor, look at the race of champions. They compete in different cars and it generates a lot of people to go see it. And from personal experience, having worked a couple of years for a Fia gt1 team, the times we had an ex f1 driver drive for us the number of visitors in our pitbox multiplied massively. I can only imagine what it would be if that driver is an active f1 driver.

        • When do they get a break? Give me a break. They work 60 days for race weekends and another 6 or so testing days per year. Sure there is travel time, but if that were truly so stressful do you think Hamilton would spend his off time jetting around the world?
          In 2013 Tony Stewart raced 39 NASCAR Cup races, several truck and Xfinity races plus over 30 sprint car (asphalt and dirt) races. My point is if a driver wanted to, he would make time to do other races. They are not so busy.

          • That’s a bit to simplistic. They do more than that. They need to be fit. And they train very hard for that. Maybe there are some youtube videos for an example. I’ve seen some pieces on the telly in the past. I believe on the German RTL, and what they do isn’t easy. It’s not like they are football players who run a bit on a field and do some fitness to gain strength. The williams preparation that I saw back then was a combination of physical activity and brain training. Running on a tredmill and solving math, keeping balance on a plank with a ball underneath meanwhile catching a tennis ball that the coach throws and answering questions that he asks. Stuff like that. As I said yesterday that Lewis goes partying with that hoochie mama that Rihanna is, is his own right and I can only be jealous. But if they would be allowed to drive other stuff believe me they all would.

  3. “There was a time, when the average F1 driver could drive any car you could squeeze him into.”

    In the 50’s and early / mid1960’s when they weren’t paid much – when large sponsors appeared in the late 60’s and they did get paid well they stopped. The last F1 WC to win LeMans was Graham Hill in 1972 when his F1 career was essentially over and he needed the money. Top F1 drivers have nothing to prove racing at LeMans. The last active F1 driver to win Lemans who you would consider a top or upcoming driver was probably Didier Pironi in 1978, and that was largely due to Elf who sponsored him ,Tyrell and the Renault effort at LeMans.

    The Hulkenburg LeMans story is interesting but he’s not WC material and in my opinion over-rated as an F1 driver.

    • I disagree, if they are to be considered the best drivers in the world, then they should step out of their perfectly controlled world and take on a few other challenges, and if they can be successful, then they could be considered the best in the world. Until then, those here on merit, they are the best open wheel drivers.

      • So does that mean Schumacher, Prost, Senna, Lauda etc can’t be considered greats as well?

        • Certainly great, and arguably the best F1 drivers, but not necessarily the best all around.

          • That’s like saying Roger Federer isn’t all that great because he doesn’t play doubles.

            Context, in the real world, is everything. When you compete at the highest level of your sport and show yourself to be among the best, that’s what you are — period.

            Formula One is the highest level of motor racing there is; it’s also the most demanding. As I commented before, NASCAR is t remotely close in difficulty to F1. Nico Hulkenberg, when asked for a comparison between WEC driving and F1 driving said, in the end, that after becoming comfortable with the differences between cars and the nature of the event itself, WEC driving is a much easier prospect than is F1.

            So, for fans of various drivers, sure most of us would like to see them compete in other championships. However, to attempt to belittle their acumen as drivers because they do not is to fail to fully appreciate just how difficult it is to be at the top of the F1 driving world.

      • This reminds me of when Alonso ran from Rossi’s challenge with his tail tucked. Alonso said he could be competitve on Rossi’s bike within a few sessions and Rossi called his bluff. Rossi up’d the challenge to include the aggregate time of a few laps in an F1 car, a few laps on a motogp bike, and a few laps in a rally car (the neutralizer), lowest time wins. Alonso accepted but later backed out due to ‘contract issues’ – of course it had nothing to do with the fact that Alonso learned Rossi would slay him in a rally car. Being that they are both specialist, when you add the neutralizer and Rossi comes out on top, does that make Rossi the better motor sportsman of the two? Possibly :-). He also has like 10 more championships than Alonso as well.

        • Rossi the better “motor sportsman?” James Hunt’s allowed and encouraged attitude???

          It’s not called “context” for nothing -except when someone wants to espouse their opinion come hell or high water.

          I believe the discussion is about race car drivers, which does not include motorcycle riders, professional or otherwise.

          As far as James Hunt is concerned, I, too have compared him with Hamilton – in the context of media and fan reaction.

          You’re right if… you believe today an F1 driver can even have what would be termed a career if he quasi-disciplined himself for only one season, had an alcohol problem he never addressed, could, in today’s media, social media and general socio-cultural environment get away with being a philandering cad, a man who would challenge anyone to a fist fight at the drop of a hat even if he caused the accident but was criticized for it, could sustain an F1 seat being a 15-20 kilo overweight driver, and openly cursed on-air despite – today – receiving warnings and most likely escalating punishments including 6-“figga” fines and the threat of starting races from the pit lane.

          Since, in the context of today’s socio/cultural environ, that would be the reality of James The Shunt Hunt (and I didn’t even mention his proclivity to destroy F1 cars at a rate that would make Pastor Maldonado look like an astute, careful F1 competitor), perhaps you want to rethink your glassy-eyed, wistful media-generated “boys will be boys” perception of him… especially knowing how only “certain” boys can be men but be called “boy” without it being perceived as derogatory.

          • Hunt was just Hunt. Kimi is just Kimi. Boys will be boys as you say but these guys dont “try” – that’s what makes them special.

            Lewis doesnt know who he is, but he’s trying so hard, it’s almost enderring from a lost puppy sort of perspective.

            Everything the big boys do Lewis has to do to. Write his own contracts being his latest foray into Planet Manhood. You can tell he’s still a boy though because he needs to endlessly talk about it instead of just doing it. Like I said, Captain Try Hard, aka Nicole, aka Lewis Hamilton.

  4. What seems to be missing from the NASCAR weekend where drivers participate in two separate car series in the span of 24 hours and/or a truck series and F1 is the relative difficulty inherent in driving the cars.

    Sure, NASCAR drivers have become more fit in the last 10-15 years but an emphasis on fitness in F1 predates that by a decade. And still in NASCAR we see drivers in their late-40s participating in the sport!

    Driving a series of left-hand turns for a few hours is vastly easier and simpler than doing a lap in an F1 car. From variable g-forces to the multitude of variables on a steering wheel that can effect in-lap performance and decide in the blink of a choice whether a driver keeps a position or loses it, F1 is FAR more demanding on a human being than is NASCAR.

  5. Back ze oldddddd dayssss, there were fewer F1 races, so they had the time to drive other cars. I’ll bet current contracts do not allow drivers to do other races.

    Where was Hammy in that photo? Rio’s Carnival?

  6. There are a few things I can agree with and a few I don’t. But I will say, as you allow top teir drivers to compete in the lower tier races such as GP2, there is a double edged sword there. The younger drivers get to drive against the best, but they also lose out a seat and are given less opportunity. In NASCAR for instance, many of the lower series races are dominated by the people that are currently in NASCAR. It’s not like they need more money, but they are often preventing the younger drivers from growing in a sense. It is less of a deal due to the longer career timeline for a NASCAR driver due to the style of the sport where experience matters a ton, but in F1, a driver taking the seat in a lower series could end up meaning a younger driver in a top team loses a chance to show his stuff and can no longer be in F1.

  7. “………long term effect may well be less overtaking, more drivers missing apexes, more offs ………”

    If more drivers are missing apexes and having offs there might be more overtaking, not less.

  8. So you’ve based your argument that Alonso is a hero and Lewis is not based on one single event in each of their respective lives? Neither one is a true hero in the classic sense, but they sure are role-models. Yes, its a bit tacky in the eyes of the “upperclass” for Lewis to be partaking in a festival like that but then you can put James Hunt in the same boat with his womanizing and partying.

    And pardon me but since when does a photo op day at an expensive/exclusive driving academy constitute hero status? I can find more examples of Lewis doing charity work than Alonso.

    • Comparing Lewis and hunt huh? Someone’s drinking the Lewis Instagram kool aid. For the record, One of them liked divas and never appeared to try hard, the other is a diva and could be nick named ‘try hard’.

  9. I had no idea what Lewis was up to these days, but I knew TJ13 would help me find out. Thanks.

    Ban simulators, by the way.

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