Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Monza, 2005

Raikkonen not convinced F1 cars have become easier to drive

2019 F1 season

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Formula 1’s most experienced active competitor isn’t convinced by Lewis Hamilton’s claim the current generation of cars has become too easy to drive.

Hamilton has described the current generation of cars as being “not hard enough to drive” and said he “could probably do two or three races in a row”. However Kimi Raikkonen, who made his F1 debut six years before Hamilton and started his 300th race in Austria last week, isn’t convinced the first F1 cars he drove were significantly more demanding.

“When you start thinking 10 years back the memory plays games,” he said. “Maybe it’s not the same: If you asked me 10 years ago I’d say ‘no, it’s OK’ because it’s all about [getting] used to it.

“When you come [back] after the winter and you drive you see it’s hard because your neck is basically done after 20 laps and it feels awful. But then at the second test, alright [there’s] a little bit of pain here and there and you get used to it. It’s like any sport you do, you get used to what you do and it doesn’t feel hard.

“I don’t think it felt any different than earlier days. Some races are harder than others and it’s just what you get used to.”

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Raikkonen pointed out that he was able to test more regularly when he made his F1 debut. “In those days we did a lot of testing and then you just get used to more [driving].

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Monaco, 2019
Modern cars are “not an awful lot different”, says Raikkonen
“Sometimes you have pain, sometimes not. If you’re driving it’s always going to be hard to go fast and be on a limit.

“Some races for sure feel more easy. I remember some times when we had a very good car, everything is absolutely perfec,t it feels like nothing you just drive easily and lap time is great, everything is great. It feels a bit too easy. Other times it’s a painful experience to fight. It’s not an awful lot different that’s for sure.”

Hamilton has suggested the 2021 F1 cars should do away with power steering, something which Raikkonen said would make driving more difficult.

“If you go then way back I think without any power steering, any other stuff, it’s different,” he said.

“The first Sauber I drove in testing in Mugello I had absolutely zero power steering. In 2001 we got it in Monza so we did half a year without power steering.”

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32 comments on “Raikkonen not convinced F1 cars have become easier to drive”

  1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    9th July 2019, 7:55

    Suggest Hamilton to drive a full season in a Sauber or Williams and then ask him if driving cars has become more easy.

    1. I wanna see what Hamilton can do in a Sauber or Williams.

      1. @jureo, @jelle-van-der-meer The sauber, yes, but not sure Williams would show us anything but that the Williams is seconds behind.

      2. He probably defeats his teammate if its not Russell.

    2. @jelle-van-der-meer are you acting purposefully uneducated?

      He’s talking about the physicality of the driving with the various driver aids (which are the same throughout the entire field) not the ease of scoring P1.

      You’re so far off the point it’s comical.

      1. You obviously missed the point Kimi made.

  2. I suggest Hamilton could do what most of the top drivers (Max, Vettel, Alonso, etc) could in a Sauber or Williams. Find the limits of the car within a very short space of time. Far harder to find the limits of a top car; that’s why the top teams employ the best drivers.

    1. @riptide, isn’t this kind of missing the point when considering what Raikkonen was talking about, which was the fact that, over time, people tend to develop false memories of what a car was like 10, 15 or 20 years ago (Kimi’s first test in an F1 car was almost 20 years ago now)?

      Getting back to the points that Kimi raised in his comments, I think that he is quite accurate when he notes that people tend to misremember what things were like that far back – and not just the drivers either. There are more than a few fans on this site who were grumbling about what the races were like then who now present that era in a much more favourable light than they did at the time, having forgotten about the bits they did not like at the time.

      1. That was in response to the first post; but didn’t link it very well. lol

  3. I like Max’s answer on this topic:

    “When you only have to drive at 90% because your car is so good, of course it’s easy”

    1. I don’t see Max breaking sweat much when he gets out the car; so it must be pretty easy for him as well.

      Of course the context of the Hamilton argument is that by making it harder for the drivers, no power steering, stick shift, dials and switches located other than on the wheel, etc., the more chance of driver mistakes through the extra effort, the more driver skill comes into play.

      And yes Kimi is right about the neck; but that’s caused by faster cornering speeds. Now they take 130R and Eau Rouge flat. But when they couldn’t take it flat it needed more skill and we had more mistakes. So harder to drive flat and get an ache in the neck, or harder to take the corner just shy of flat with all the skill and effort that requires?

      1. Well Lewis did never drive a car like you described so why would he refer to that?

        1. drove


        2. Lewis did never drive a car like you described so why would he refer to that?

          Because as far as I remember, he’s said that in the past (stick gear shift, no power steering, no DRS etc.)
          Plus he doesn’t just drive Formula 1 cars, right? It sorts the drivers out. I remain Massa going downhill when traction control was banned. A few more and we’d start seeing real differences among the drivers, only apparent now when there are adverse track conditions.

          1. What Lewis said was that the cars were to easy to drive and that’s why kids could drive them.

            But all these things like power steering, flipper shifting, complicated steering wheels were already in the cars when he started in F1. I just doesn’t make sense for him to say that. You could argue that he had it easier when he started because there was much more testing.

          2. @david-br Last I checked, Massa had his best one-and-a-half seasons in F1 in the very first one-and-a-half season traction control was banned.

          3. @david-br

            I remain Massa going downhill when traction control was banned.

            Massa had his best & most consistent seasons after traction control was banned (2008/2009).

          4. @mashiat @gt-racer But where traction control mattered, wet-weather Spa and Silverstone, he was hopelessly out of contention. The rest of the time it was down to the Ferrari and some help from Raikkonen.

          5. @david-br He didn’t struggle any more in the wet that year than Raikkonen did.

            For example people tend to focus on Massa’s having 4 spins in the wet at Silverstone in 2008 yet ignore that Raikkonen also had 4 spins in that race. It was partly down to the Ferrari that year not been particularly good in the wet which was then made worse by both of them running more of a dry setup as Ferrari expected most of the race to be dry.

            At Spa Kimi lost a ton of time when it started to rain & that is what allowed Hamilton to catch/pass him. Kimi ended up crashing while Massa kept it on the track, Just like he did in the wet at Monaco & Brazil later in the year. And in the wet at Monza Massa both out-qualified Raikkonen & finished ahead of him in the race.

            I think he was ahead of Kimi in the very wet 2009 Chinese Gp before he retired with technical issues as well.

          6. @anunaki

            It just doesn’t make sense for him to say that. You could argue that he had it easier when he started because there was much more testing.

            Hamilton was asking for the cars to be tougher to drive years ago, that’s what I was pointing out. It’s fairly consistent on his part and I can’t see it matters whether he’s comparing with earlier in his F1 career or before he started, his point stands.

            It comes back to the point that the best teams, now huge, highly technical and data-driven, want to neutralize mistakes and leave the winning as far as possible to the car and a driver fast and competent enough to maximize its potential and results by following ideal scenarios plotted by computer. Meanwhile the best drivers want speed and situations where they can exercise their talent, and enjoy themselves while pushing to a limit, which means much more randomness and uncertainty. Fans (mostly) want the latter too. It seems to me that Formula 1 is all about resolving these contradictory tendencies.

          7. @david-br Massa won a race in changable conditions in the very same year, and it wasn’t as if he had turned from a rainmeister to someone who was hopeless, Massa was never particularly quick in the rain, even pre-2008. Think back to Fuji 2007, Hungary 2006, Nurburgring 2007 etc.

    2. Kimi too!

      Some races for sure feel more easy. I remember some times when we had a very good car, everything is absolutely perfec,t it feels like nothing you just drive easily and lap time is great, everything is great. It feels a bit too easy.

  4. Is power steering there for driver comfort? I doubt it. I suspect power steering allows quicker corrections from the driver, no matter how fit they are

    I also doubt you can use steering inputs to alter suspension dynamics without power steering.

    I suspect these cars are harder in different ways. It isn’t as easy to blow up an engine because of electronic shifting and rev limiting. But if you don’t manage the tires and engine right you’ll lose points. They may have water bottles but they are pulling 5 Gs in the turns.

    I like F1 as it is. The drivers are athletic and smart. I wouldn’t take power steering away, or reduce the drivers technological demands. (Except for the silly tires)

    1. @slotopen, in this situation, it was actually stranger that Sauber did not use power steering until 2001 – quite a lot of teams had switched to using power steering in the 1990s (Williams had it as far back as 1994, and even smaller teams such as Arrows had introduced it within a few years), so Sauber was probably the only one not using power steering around that time.

      It’s also worth noting that, in some ways, the power steering systems that are in use now are probably less of a driver aid than they were back in the 1990s. In the 1990s, most teams were using electro-mechanical systems that were tied in to most of the active systems on the cars of the time, allowing them to provide variable levels of assistance and to adjust the way in which the steering would react to the input of a driver at different speeds and steering angles.

      The electronic systems were banned in the early 2000s because of the potential for abusing it as a potential active driver aid, so ever since 2002, the only systems that are allowed on the cars are purely mechanical systems. Indeed, since the introduction of the common ECU, it has been suggested that it would probably be to the benefit of the sport to simply use an electronic system, since it’s actually a lot easier to change the electronic systems compared to the current systems (which requires machining a new set of valves and components to adjust the flow of hydraulic fluid, whereas an electronic system could be much more easily and predictably adjusted in a way that would make it a lot cheaper for people to adjust).

      1. A few of the smaller teams didn’t get power steering until 2001/2002/2003.

        The electronic systems were banned in the early 2000s

        The ‘electronic driver aids’ were banned at the end of 1993 but things like Traction control/launch control & fully automatic gearshift’s were reintroduced at the 2001 Spanish Gp. In 2002 pit to car telemetry was allowed which allowed the engineer’s to make changes to the electronic settings from the pits although this was banned at the end of the year. Automatic gear shifting was banned at the end of 2003 & Traction/Launch control were banned when the standard ECU was introduced for 2008.

  5. there should be less driver aids. thats hamiltons point. also racing around at between 70% and 90% is not what f1 is meant to be. drivers should be flat out throughout the race not conserving this. conserving that. yes its part of racing bt do drivers still lose upto 5kg ( or more) of weight after every race?

    1. also racing around at between 70% and 90% is not what f1 is meant to be.

      That’s what F1 was for most of it’s history.

      And even in the periods where fans believe they were flat out all race every race this wasn’t actually the case which is why the few examples by the few drivers that did feature them on the limit all race stand out above the others from that era. Races like the 1998 Hungarian Gp, 2000 Japanese Gp (Schuamcher/Hakkinen) & 2004 French Gp (Schumacher/Alonso) were the exceptions rather than the norm hence why they are remembered more than others.

  6. I remember when Kimi was complaining about the Renault power steering not being precise enough – making it hard to drive.

  7. Champions like Lewis want the driver to make more of a difference and quicker divers to be rewarded against the average ones. Now the cars are too data-dependent with so much number crunching. It has become >90% car and driver makes less than 10% difference.

    Heavier cars, saving tyres, saving engines all these things have reduced the pace advantage of quick drivers and average drivers.
    He said more than once to make the cars lighter, bring back V12, manual gearboxes..etc to give the driver more opportunities to make a difference. More like Motogp where a rider makes more than 20-30% difference.

  8. Given what Hamilton has said about being able to do 3 races on a Sunday, I wonder why he always acts (I have to assume he’s acting then, even though I doubt he is) like he is about to faint from exhaustion and sweat every time he gets out of the car after the race, and takes deep breaths as if that race had taken everything from him. That does not look like a man who is able to do another 600km in an F1 car.

    1. So the signs of exhaustion and fainting are; striking a pose on top of a car , leaping into the air, running over to the barriers and throwing yourself into a crowd of teammates; followed up by a lucid and rational discussion on live tv about the race?
      All athletes will give their all in competition; its how quickly they recover thats significant. Its why after a big match half the players are on their backs on the pitch recovering; whilst after a big race the podium finishers shoot the breeze as though they just got out a taxi 3 minutes after the lag has fallen.

  9. NeverElectric
    10th July 2019, 1:05

    Shocking – or not – just how bad the quality of comments is on any story involving Hamilton.

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