Submitted by Cold_Chemical5151 t3_ydw7vz in explainlikeimfive

(disclaimer: I barely watch F1 race)

I'm always puzzled when I hear people refer to a racer as very skilled or very talented, what skills could they possibly need? Isn't the aim of the race to reach the finish line first? Shouldn't you just get a really fast car and let it do most of the work, while you try not to crash?



You must log in or register to comment.

RedditModzHateMe t1_itufwkb wrote

The physical aspect alone puts F1 drivers in a category all of their own. F1 racers are at the top of their endurance and physical peak. It’s not easy driving a high powered vehicle of any type for a length of time much less if it’s the highest functioning cars in the world. Extremely fast reflexes are certainly a must. Experience on track and how turns are taken and knowledge of what the car is capable of. It’s a very long list.

There is absolutely no possible chance of some Joe Shmucko hopping in an F1 car and even taking it off the line. It’s the same for many types of racing.

If it was a matter of just getting in and going faster, F1 drivers wouldn’t be some of the highest paid athletes in the world.


dimonium_anonimo t1_itun0b5 wrote

I didn't want to make a top level comment because I wasn't explaining anything, but I just wanted to add that Shaq went around trying a bunch of different sports and you can see his extreme reaction to driving a racecar. I think it was Nascar, not F1, but still...


djmooseknuck t1_itufkw1 wrote

The strength and endurance required is alone incredible. The heat inside those cars reaches miserable heights, and would make many folks pass out because they haven’t trained to function in those conditions. Add in the 200MPH cars and you now need to function with fast reflexes.


manofredgables t1_itwamec wrote

Try to get really good at a competitive racing video game. The competition is brutal, and it's very clear just how inept you are compared to the elite.

Planning a turn, and then executing it according to plan in such a way that it is perfectly matched to your vehicle's dynamics, and also adjusting for things that constantly change such as the condition of the vehicle and tires etc and positions of opponents...

All vehicles are very closely matched, there's practically never a case where anyone's won just because they had the best car. Having the best car provides an edge, but driver skill is 90%.

And, in addition to that, especially in F1, the physical strain is insane. I've heard of people getting a "ride-along" for a couple of laps and being absolutely exhausted and sore all over like they just ran a marathon and weight lifted all day. And they're not even the driver...


Typical_Seesaw8163 t1_itugery wrote

“While you try not to crash” you make it sound like an easy thing to whip a 90 degree corner going 160+mph. Try to swing the wheel that hard, now do it 20 times over. Once you start to drive you’ll learn how physically demanding it is. It’s also a skill to react that quickly and properly, imagine you come across a turn and there is debris on the road, you have to both react in time and make the correct decision to avoid a catastrophe.

Throttle control is, in essence, a skill. Maintaining the highest possible speed for a stretch of road is also a skill.

Any sport can be reduced the way you did. “What skills could a footballer possibly need? Isn’t the whole point just to kick a little ball into a huge net past 1 person someone? That can’t be that hard…”


Loki-L t1_itulfps wrote

There are quite high G-forces acting one the drivers when they accelerate, break or turn corners. You need a certain amount of fitness to be able to deal with those.

You also obviously need good reaction times.

Basically you need to be able to play a video game perfectly while strapped into an extreme roller-coaster.

It might not seem like much, because they all use cars that are similarly good and are all the top drivers that are available.

However if you have ever seen a normal person try to drive anything even close to a racing car around a track you will see that this is not as easy as it might seem.


bulksalty t1_ituppsz wrote

You have to have exceptional reaction times, F1 cars are built to be driven very, very fast. There's a great comparison between GT cars and F1 cars going through the same part of a track in different races. Now consider that the cars on the left are the fastest cars on the street, made into race cars.

The next complication is if you can't drive it fast enough it's almost uncontrollable (the tires need to be warm to have the designed grip and the steering is designed to have enormous downforce applied). There's a great video of one of the Top Gear guys trying to drive an F1 car. He works his way up going through faster and faster racing series cars, and well before F1 speeds he's not able to react fast enough to get through the corners.

By the time he's in the F1 car, he's not able to control it.


RD__III t1_itwclxq wrote

>GT cars and F1 cars

even more so. The first car pass looks like a WEC prototype, which is significantly faster than a GT car.


A_Garbage_Truck t1_itval90 wrote

"Trying to not crash" miht sound simple, before you realize you are doing this on a car that needs to make turns at 160+mph and you are stuck in this very tight and hot vehicle for multiple hours at a time. and dont forget thru the sheer speed along ythey are being subjected to rapid G changes(not as extreme as lets say a fighter Pilot, but still way beyond your run of the mill driver can take.)

you are already talking about very strong reflexes and endurance, an untrained individual would mostl ikely pass out just from the heat of being cooked up inside an F1's car Cabin for that long.

its not a conicidence that F1 Drivers rank among some of the best paid people in the world.


jean-claudo t1_itug6jt wrote

Because of the speed of the cars, you not only need fast reflexes but also a strong body because you can reach multiple Gs. Racing in those conditions is very tiring.

Moreover, you should go look at the wheels for F1 cars. There are way too many buttons to count because nearly nothing is automatic in F1 cars. Pilots have to be able to understand situations and think fast about what they will do. Adding to this is general strategy during the race.


Effective-Midnight75 t1_ituk23p wrote

Other people are touching on the obvious, the endurance and hand eye coordination, etc but not touching on the needed communication skills to work with engineers describing that the car is doing and collaborating with them to ensure the adjustments made improve the handling of the car and the mental capability to make the correct adjustments to the car on a steering wheel layout that is like the dash of a fighter jet all while maintaining car control on the ragged edge.


RandomUsername12123 t1_itufofh wrote

Reaction times and experience on how to act in a race situation like feeling the car, begin able to read every parameter and behave in line with the fact that he is on a bullet next to other bullets.

Anyway, i'm still MEH on calling it a "sport" because is on the same level al esports and Chess for me.


Hamilfton t1_itup9kh wrote

>Anyway, i'm still MEH on calling it a "sport" because is on the same level al esports and Chess for me.

motorsports are extremely physically demanding, way more than some "proper" sports. You should go drive gokarts some time, when you're exhausted and sore after half an hour, try to imagine doing it at 10x higher forces and for four times longer.

Plus some categories still have direct steering, which means just turning the steering wheel is super hard, it's not uncommon for Indy drivers to have blisters on their hands after some races.