What separates the excellent from the elite?

What separates the excellent from the elite?

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Discussion

StevieBee

Original Poster:

10,378 posts

227 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
There are and have been many truly excellent drivers in F1.

Then there are the elite drivers - those that exist (or existed) on a separate level of excellence of which there are far fewer. We all know the names; Senna, Hamilton, Fangio, Clark, etc...

We can go round the houses arguing who is worthy of elite status but what I think may be more interesting is what it is that makes these drivers different to the rest. What are they doing - or not doing - compared to others? What is within them that makes them faster, for longer?


hot metal

1,589 posts

165 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
Delete Senna, bully boys tactics make him unworthy.

HustleRussell

20,525 posts

132 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
Alonso said something which I found very interesting last year. He said that he reckoned he is ‘nine out of ten’ in every aspect of his ‘job’ as a professional racing driver. I really think that’s the best summary I’ve heard of an ‘elite’ racing driver- and pleasingly it is a very rational and realistic answer in what is a very scientific and data driven sport. None of this ‘hundred and ten percent’ nonsense.

Bo_apex

1,531 posts

190 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
hot metal said:
Delete Senna, bully boys tactics make him unworthy.
Unworthy according to who ?


Bo_apex

1,531 posts

190 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
HustleRussell said:
Alonso said something which I found very interesting last year. He said that he reckoned he is ‘nine out of ten’ in every aspect of his ‘job’ as a professional racing driver. I really think that’s the best summary I’ve heard of an ‘elite’ racing driver- and pleasingly it is a very rational and realistic answer in what is a very scientific and data driven sport. None of this ‘hundred and ten percent’ nonsense.
Can't argue with that. Nobody is at 100% at 100% of the time.

The 110% thing is funny


Dynion Araf Uchaf

2,947 posts

195 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
It is down to how they handle pressure at the highest level, and an ability to manage the politics.

In terms of driving it’s down to how much practise and experience they have had and to an extent from what age.

hot metal

1,589 posts

165 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
Bo_apex said:
Unworthy according to who ?
Me, and plenty of others, he would not have got far in the days of Fangio or Clark, or today it would seem.

LukeBrown66

1,473 posts

18 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
The elite manage to make what they do seem effortless and achieve it with little controversy.;

In my mind, Fangio, Ascari, Clark, Stewart, Prost, Lewis make winning easy.

Others get there through circumstance and raw talent like, vettel, Alonso, Rosberg, Piquet, Lauda, Emmo as their careers pitch a little up and down.

Finally there are the bullies like Hunt, Senna, Schumacher, maybe black Jack who through sheer will achieve their goals in whatever way they can.

I admire them all but the first group are the elite in my mind.

hot metal

1,589 posts

165 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
LukeBrown66 said:
The elite manage to make what they do seem effortless and achieve it with little controversy.;

In my mind, Fangio, Ascari, Clark, Stewart, Prost, Lewis make winning easy.

Others get there through circumstance and raw talent like, vettel, Alonso, Rosberg, Piquet, Lauda, Emmo as their careers pitch a little up and down.

Finally there are the bullies like Hunt, Senna, Schumacher, maybe black Jack who through sheer will achieve their goals in whatever way they can.

I admire them all but the first group are the elite in my mind.
Agreed, well said.
Even temperment & phenomenal control always win, small degrees but that has to be it.
As a side issue, Fangio & Senna both though Clark was the greatest ever, hard to argue with those two,

Blue62

6,435 posts

124 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
hot metal said:
Me, and plenty of others, he would not have got far in the days of Fangio or Clark, or today it would seem.
I disagree, Senna took things to another level when he was cooking, Hamilton the same and a few others as mentioned. No doubt he was flawed, but don’t deny his genius. I think it was Watson who followed Senna and described it as like watching rain dance.

For me the separation is simple, they raise their performance level under pressure at the point when most start to fail, owing to an innate level of ability allied to a complete sense of self belief.

paulw123

1,998 posts

162 months

Monday 22nd November
quotequote all
Genius - Hamilton, Fangio, Clark etc

Flawed genius - Senna & Schumacher

hot metal

1,589 posts

165 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
Prost was mentioned above, really great driver but he was also very political within the team, engineering team bias towards himself, & he was crap in the wet. Not the kind to go for a gap like Verstappen but happy to bank points, so not always that thrilling to watch.

Carlososos

537 posts

68 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
Watching max, Hamilton, Norris, Marquez, Sutton (btcc) they all have the ability to push beyond what the vehicle can do but instead of spinning they hold it at that limit and just play the balancing act. Most others can’t hold that balance and just spin or plain can’t get there.

For me Sutton is the most easy to spot at this. Watch one of his races and you can see the car on the tightrope quite often.

sparta6

2,926 posts

72 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
Blue62 said:
I disagree, Senna took things to another level when he was cooking, Hamilton the same and a few others as mentioned. No doubt he was flawed, but don’t deny his genius. I think it was Watson who followed Senna and described it as like watching rain dance.

For me the separation is simple, they raise their performance level under pressure at the point when most start to fail, owing to an innate level of ability allied to a complete sense of self belief.
I would agree with this and Senna was extra remarkable given how raw and dangerous the cars were back in the 80's.


eps

5,672 posts

241 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
What? hmmm....

I think it's that ability to make things happen. We can all drive a car, some can race, but to have that ability and feeling. Being in control of the race even when you haven't necessarily got the quickest car or being able to out-think or rather out-feel your opponents. Being able unlock that level of performance where you aren't actually thinking about it, it's just a natural feeling or instinct. That is what separates the excellent from the elite for me.

oyster

10,759 posts

220 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
There'll be no consensus at it's completely subjective.
And let's also be clear that we're talking elite at F1 level - by most accounts, all 20 F1 drivers are elite racing drivers (even Mazepin).

In any sport, there's a level that some operate at that others can only match on an occasional basis. And my opinion is that it's this operating at a high level repeatedly that marks out the absolute elite at any sport - and F1 too.

For example, year in year out Hamilton is top notch and for virtually all races. He is a points machine. Makes little mistakes and manages to turn potential wins into actual wins. Turns potential p3/4 into 2nd places and so on. Verstappen is showing all the hallmarks of someone like this - he's won a race every year since 2016 and this year shows that same ability to get high into the points consistently. But he needs to show this level of performance for a couple more years to get crowned as 'elite' IMO.

In history then, elite level - Fangio, Clark, Schumacher, Senna, Moss, Stewart, Prost - they operated at that high level for years on end. Look where they finished in the championships when they didn't win? When they didn't have the best cars they were still winning races and finishing 2nd/3rd/4th in the title race.
The 2nd level, just below, are those who had the brilliance but just couldn't repeat it time and again, and they had occasional off years. Here's Ascari, Vettel, Lauda, Fittipaldi, Brabham, G Hill, Alonso, Hakkinen, Piquet
Level 3 - Exceptional drivers but managed to only hit the pinnacle once or twice. This is where most of the single world champions end up.
I think there's a level 4 too - drivers who are very good but the stars aligned for them to win a world title and were almost journeymen for the other years of their career. Thinking the likes of Villeneuve, Button, Rosberg snr.

Edited by oyster on Tuesday 23 November 12:04

Steamer

12,804 posts

185 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
the 100% Backing of every aspect and every resource of the team is usually a good starting point...

..plus all the data from your team mate being made available.

LukeBrown66

1,473 posts

18 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
Interesting stuff about Prost being political, can someone please explain to me what is wrong with that?


hot metal

1,589 posts

165 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
LukeBrown66 said:
Interesting stuff about Prost being political, can someone please explain to me what is wrong with that?
Well, you win any way you can within the rules, but he would often make sure ,or try to, he was in a position of strength within the team, not sure how that worked with Senna, well we saw how that worked with Senna but doing your talking on the track is more sporting. I suppose this goes on a lot more than is obvious.

Muzzer79

5,663 posts

159 months

Tuesday 23rd November
quotequote all
Let's not make this a thread about who should be included and who shouldn't. It's about what the criteria is.

That criteria is, in my mind, consistency. Consistently operating at a very high level, no matter the pressure or environment.

Golf is a good example of this - a lot of golfers can play an excellent round. Very few can play at that level for three or four days on the bounce, then weeks on the bounce.

A lot of drivers can drive one lap quickly. Doing that for every lap, every race, in every condition is what makes the elite.