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Old 3 Jul 2003, 16:24 (Ref:651048)   #1
zetta
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Racing, 50 years ago

In Pitpass I found a great article by Bob Campbell about the French Grand Prix, 50 years ago. Tha author describes some pretty amazing wheel to wheel action, the like of which is totally absent from Formula 1 today. What really caught my attention was the photograph. The driver in the photograph (don't know who he is) is wearing a light helmet, a T-Shirt (!!!) and no seat belt.

This makes me wonder, which of today's drivers you think would be able to compete in this kind of situation? For instance, I think TGF, Montoya, Jacques, Kimi and Alonso would readily adapt. But what about the others?
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Old 3 Jul 2003, 18:23 (Ref:651158)   #2
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None of them. Mickey has already said he felt scared driving the 83 Ferrari Turbo.

And to paraphrase somebody else "these guys had balls the size of grain silos".

The point is that in 1953 nobody thought much about safety. It wasn't a macho thing it was a way of life (or sadly more often death).

Now we've been educated and we also have the technology so the dangers of those days are unnecessary to the whole point of the exercise which is driving fast.

Go to the Snell foundation and see what they say about sfaety helmets. There's a link on my web site on the page about safety.

Sorry if my position disappoints but we can't compare today with yesterday. Attitudes, technology and dare I say it political correctness were either non existent or different.

Now who could be your inspiration here? Anybody up for Froilan Gonzales in a Ferrari?
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Old 3 Jul 2003, 18:25 (Ref:651161)   #3
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Oh, perhaps I should mention that its good to see we can still be inspired by history.
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Old 3 Jul 2003, 19:50 (Ref:651256)   #4
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Re: Racing, 50 years ago

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Originally posted by zetta
This makes me wonder, which of today's drivers you think would be able to compete in this kind of situation? For instance, I think TGF, Montoya, Jacques, Kimi and Alonso would readily adapt. But what about the others?
Montoya, Jacques, Kimi and Alonso definitely would, without a shadow of a doubt. Their attitude and driving style confirm they would. But Peter is right concerning TGF - at least if we are to judge by TGF's own words. But if safety wasn't an issue, he would excel in any era. I don't know about any of the other current F1 drivers. Those four are the ones who stand out in this respect.
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Old 3 Jul 2003, 20:10 (Ref:651272)   #5
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Uhn... I won't put my hand in the fire for any of those guys... All they were born and grew in a safe world.
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Old 3 Jul 2003, 20:25 (Ref:651279)   #6
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I give you Kimi at Spa, Fernando in Brazil, Jacques at Spa, and Montoya at Michigan. All signs that these four drivers have that attitude. And no matter how you put it, neither of those situations were "safe". The sport is definitely safer now than it used to be, but it isn't 100% safe. I don't think that can ever be achieved.

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Old 3 Jul 2003, 23:47 (Ref:651483)   #7
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1953 French GP. Reims? The one where Hawthorn battled with Fangio for umpteen laps and just pipped him at the final corner? If so, was described at the time as 'The Race of the Century' and I reckon that was about right.
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Old 3 Jul 2003, 23:52 (Ref:651489)   #8
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I really think Jacques would be the only one in today's F1 that would be crazy enough to race as like in the old days. It's in his blood from Gilles to be like that. Perhaps JPM would as well but that's it.
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Doesn't it seem sad that drivers like Fisichella, Coultard, Barrichello, and Ralf all have secure seats in F1, despite having had race winning cars for many more seasons than Jacques, yet failing to chalk up as many wins as he (let alone a WDC) that it is Jacques who doesn't have a drive in F1??? Sad indeed.
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Old 4 Jul 2003, 06:07 (Ref:651669)   #9
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I think any of the drivers from the 70's would have been reasonably comfortable. In particular Gilles and Ronnie come to mind. Mario perhaps but he'd got used to more advanced safety in the US.

Come the 80's and with all due respect to Nige, Keke, Ayrton, Nelson et al I don't believe they would have. Things had got too professional for the kind of mindset that they needed for pure "unsafe" racing.

However, and this is the point, in their eras they pushed their cars beyond the safe limits.

Today's drivers thankfully have great trouble finding the safe limit because technology has made the cars so safe. Hence greater speed and less risk.

So I wouldn't take anything away from them but I would put Froilan, Mike H, Peter C, Moss, Juan Manuel and any of the other top drivers of the fifties way above our current heros in the "bravery" stakes. But it was a totally different era.
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Old 4 Jul 2003, 06:45 (Ref:651691)   #10
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You can really only be as "brave" as the contemporary machinery allows you to be...if MS had raced in that era his whole attitude to life and everything would've been different. A good driver is a good driver in any era
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Old 4 Jul 2003, 07:30 (Ref:651729)   #11
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Agreed. I think that's what I took loads of words to try and say.
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Old 4 Jul 2003, 09:33 (Ref:651805)   #12
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You can really only be as "brave" as the contemporary machinery allows you to be...if MS had raced in that era his whole attitude to life and everything would've been different. A good driver is a good driver in any era
Yes, spot on. I think a great in any era would probably be a great in any other - though I think it's more difficult to demonstrate greatness now because the cars are the most important part of the package. In the '50s and '60s, a great driver, such as Moss, could win in a relatively uncompetitive car, but that's virtually impossible now. The driver contributes a smaller percentage. That's another reason why I want to see Traction control banned and aerodynamics reduced. That's another argument though....

As for the 1953 French GP, it certainly seems to have been one of the great races. Ironic really, as it followed a period of complete Ferrari/Ascari domination the like of which we probably hadn't seen again until Michael's '01-02 efforts.
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Old 6 Jul 2003, 07:07 (Ref:653741)   #13
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Whilst not contemporary, Damon Hill was a GP driver of the modern era. His drive in Nick Mason's 1962 250GTO at Goodwood in 1999 was pretty aggressive; certainly more so than any of his Jordan drives that year! Yes I know the GTO isn't an open wheeler but it wasn't exactly loaded with modern safety features either and came from an era where death in motor racing was still relatively commonplace!!
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