Are Formula One Drivers Only As Good As Their Cars?




Formula 1

Formula 1

Watching Formula One over the years, I have noticed that the drivers who end up winning the Championships usually have the faster cars. It is a very obvious point and you may think I am making no sense, but if you think of that sentence as vice versa then you will be forced to think. It raises a serious question in my mind, “Are Formula One drivers only as good as their cars?

Take the example of a legend, Micheal Shumacher, who after joining Ferrari in 1996 won five consecutive World Driver Championship titles (2000-2004). Ferrari had the fastest and the most reliable car on track during that period. Micheal did not have a very hard time establishing his dominance on the track with such a car. He took retirement while on a career high and has returned with a three year contract with Mercedes GP since 2010. With Mercedes GP in his second stint he Micheal has not looked anything but ordinary. It’s only his prior success that precedes him. The current Formula One season is also not worth a mention where he has been battling with the tail enders and on a few occasions has been overtaken by rookie drivers.

Another Example is of Jenson Button, who came to Formula One in 2000 with Williams. After driving for over 100 races, he won his first race and in 2009 earned his first World Championship title in a Brawn GP car. In the Brawn GP he looked the most dominating on the grid that year. Out of the 17 races the car ended up the podium on 15 occasions with 8 wins. This shows how much the career of a driver is dependent on the performance of a car.

Let me remind you I am not taking away any credit from the drivers who have to actually drive these cars to finish. But my point is that if any respectable drive is given a good reliable car then he seems more dominant over the others in the season. The driver contracts and preference of the team of select driver, is what keeps the drivers away from getting the best performing car on the grid.

The main question is thus “Are Formula One drivers only as good as their cars?

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Anjan K Merkap

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