Lewis Hamilton, Nigel Mansell, Suzuka, 2014

‘I’d match Hamilton’s lap times pretty quickly’ – Mansell

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In the round-up: 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell, who retired from grand prix racing two decades ago, says he could still match reigning champion Lewis Hamilton’s lap times in an F1 car.

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Keith Collantine
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  • 69 comments on “‘I’d match Hamilton’s lap times pretty quickly’ – Mansell”

    1. Thanks for the nomination Keith! Keep up the good work!

    2. Old Nigel first has to fit in the car… F1 cars are much slimmer than those McLaren Mp4/10’s…

      I don’t think what he says is that nuts, tho. I was watching Massa’s onboard lap yesterday, that cockpit view Williams released a couple of days ago, and he looked effortless behind the wheel. Back in the day, onboard shots were full of heavy steerings, moved by the bumps and kerbs while trying to keep the car in the direction the driver wanted from his inputs. Nowadays, they steer and the car goes, and there’s virtually no movement translated from the road on the steering wheel.

      Not sure about matching Lewis’ speed, but he’d not be minutes behind him…

      1. Yeah but as they travel much faster niw there are other physical elements to account for with increase g forces on acceleration, braking and cornering plus increased brake pedal effort. Modern drivers are also far fitted so if had to race in 80’s cars they may not even brake a sweat. Modern F1 drivers are do fit with 6 or 7 percent body fat plus latest nutrition info…the drivers now are physically far more advanced than back in Mansell’s day, they would easily cope in my opinion and they do not have much else to think about as back in the day they had accelerator, brake, clutch and gear stick now they have ten times as much to do with numerous settings and buttons to adjust all whilst travelling 8 or so seconds a lap faster.

        1. @markp
          There’s no argument over fitness, the current generation are far more fit than most of the guys driving in the 80’s. Same goes for G Force and the effects of higher cornering speeds.
          I’m not so sure about the old cars being easier to drive though, they may not have had a steering wheel covered in displays and switches, but they also didn’t have rev limiters, semi-auto gear boxes, power steering, adjustable engine mapping, or any of the many other technologies current cars have.
          I think the cars from each era are, in their own way, a very difficult mental challange at racing speeds.

          1. @beneboy, I would like to query a few of the points in your post. Rev limiters were in place long before the 1980’s – Lucas introduced a rev limiter on the Cosworth DFV back in 1967 – and you could argue that the engines did have adjustable engine maps given that they could adjust the boost pressure from the cockpit.

            With regards to the difficulty, there was a recent article in the Top Gear magazine where one of the writers was allowed to drive Prost’s 1983 Renault RE40. He’d expected a brutal beast of a car, but commented that, in fact, the car was surprisingly easy to drive – in fact, he was almost a little disappointed that the car was so easy to drive.

            1. … which just proves that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

              The person to talk to would be Brundle. I think he’s driven more varieties of F1 cars than anyone else. He said the 2014 Force India wasn’t difficult from a handling perspective, but that keeping up with the engine maps and recovery modes was incredibly complex.

              The thing about Hamilton is he can keep up with the steering wheel, and still drive ridiculously fast.

              I would also point out that Mansell was 1.7 seconds slower than Hamilton in the Suzuki Liana around the Top Gear track… so I’m not quite sure I believe Nige.

            2. @grat, to be honest, the cars weren’t all that powerful in 1983 – the RE40 had a claimed power output of 650bhp in race trim at full boost, although power outputs from that era are sometimes prone to being on the slightly optimistic side.

              All in all, the author of the piece noted that the power deliver of the engine was quite smooth and fairly progressive – Renault’s sequential turbocharging system meant that they’d significantly reduced lag since their first car in 1977 – and that, even though the steering was unassisted, the steering was relatively light and did not require as much physical effort as you might expect. The only awkward thing was the gearbox, which was located in an awkward position and had a very short throw – asides from that, he didn’t find it especially challenging compared to some of the other cars he had driven.

              As for Mansell’s performance on Top Gear against Hamilton, to be honest I would not place very much faith in those times.

              Asides from the question of how consistently the car itself will perform (for example, how regularly the car is maintained and used by the Top Gear production team), it is also questionable how hard the drivers were actually trying.
              In the case of Mansell, his appearance was a fairly light hearted affair that was more of a celebration of his past F1 career, so he wasn’t, if I recall correctly, pushing especially hard during his lap. By the time that Hamilton came onto the show, the F1 drivers lap times had gone from being a tongue in cheek joke to something that was a bit more of a competitive affair, so later drivers like Hamilton probably were pushing a bit harder.

              It also has to be said that there is some question about the integrity of the times anyway – with the whole show being extremely heavily scripted, there is a suggestion that some of the F1 driver lap times have been “adjusted”.

          2. Mansell’s championship winning FW14 had active suspension, traction control, and a semi-auto gearbox.

      2. The tash is worth two 10ths alone

        1. David (@mansellsmoustache)
          5th October 2015, 2:48

          Thank you

      3. @fer-no65 An important point missing from the discussion is how electronic has been developped in current cars. You don’t just need to be a good driver (by this I mean turning the driving Wheel, finding the best trajectories and feeling the cars’ limits) but also be good at video game and having the ability to push dozen of butons while driving. I do thing that would limit Mansell to reach Lewis time.

        In the other hand, he could probably quickly get within 2 sec of Lewis time. We can see from the field that you can’t have a massive effect of the driver on current car.

      4. LOL!

        Nige is too heavy to be competitive in current cars, plus the time to learn how to work with a dozen of buttons on the steering wheel would make “quickly” technically impossible :)

        BTW, Nige is my first fave F1 driver.

        1. Nigel was always great in the car, but kind of embarrassing once he stepped out of one. I can’t say that he has lost any of his confidence though!

          1. not sure that I agree with you on “out of the car”. For the most part he was a star driver, I saw him in Detroit during hist Cart days, he was wearing a scarf, had polished eye brows, and there was a line to get his autograph. It looked just like something out of 1950’s Hollywood, which was almost as important then as driving.

            1. He was fine out of the car until he opened his mouth.

      5. I reckon the best comparison we have here is probably the Star in the Reasonably priced car segment on Top Gear. Same car, same track etc. Nige was 1.7 seconds off Lewis Hamilton’s time, which really isn’t bad at all.
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1ndQ2GZv5DQdcybCXgdBb4G/f1-driver-laps

        Obviously an F1 car is a different beast, but I reckon he could probably come close, if only for a lap or two.

        1. and Lewis was only 0.7 seconds behind Dan Ricciardo’s time. Not bad.

    3. I thought Mansell’s comment would be the other way round, when you get older you still have the consistency but you lose a few tenths on ultimate pace so are consistently a few tenths off the best lap after lap….but he knows better than most.

      1. I agree about “other way around” but I think the test would be “could Hamilton match Mansell’s time in Nige’s old car. Arguably they needed more “driver” than the current cars.

        I doubt any ex driver from that era would have a hope of challenging today’s drivers in today’s machines – different skill set completely, but today’s drivers all learned their trades in lesser formula with more “traditional” race cars so should be able to adjust to the older F1 car.

        1. It’d take him more than 4 laps to get up to speed, I know that much coz I did a driving experience at Silverstone a few years ago, just before my experience I went on the “simulator” (model f1 car hooked up to computer game) and I beat Mansell’s time on my third lap, and he was about 4.5 seconds behind The Stig and 6 seconds behind a couple of formula Renault & formula 2 drivers

    4. He can hardly type a tweet without.pytting.speeling.mistakes and full stops and Random capital letters all over the place, doubt he’d be able to push various buttons on the wheel however many times during a lap and still be quick, the young guys have grown up with it so can handle it.

    5. I can’t for the life of me understand why Renault persist with a combined turbine-compressor-MGUH when MB very clearly showed the way. Frankly I’m surprised they can make the MGUH work at all in that environment and said as much here several years before 2014, and I have no engineering training at all, at the time I said the MGUH would need to be separated from the turbo by a shaft but failed to make the obvious leap of also separating the compressor, surely the engineers at Renault must have a reason (other than Gallic pride) for persisting with the combined unit but I certainly can’t see it.

      1. @hohum – the combined turbine is simpler and should therefore be more reliable (oops – that worked well then). The split system has a long shaft joining the two halves together adding weight and a very highly stressed member with a big temperature differential across its length (horrible to get right, unreliable… oh, I seem to be wrong again). Seriously though, I don’t think the split system is quite so obviously the way to go, although 20:20 hindsight may see it that way.

      2. If I have understood the various explanations provided by various technical commentators (Craig Scarborough, Gary Anderson etc) over the last season and a half, while the split turbo is a good solution, it is by no means a “silver bullet” which will magically increase the performance of this generation of power unit. I think that Ferrari run a similar turbo to Renault and they aren’t far off Mercedes in ultimate BHP terms by all accounts, while Honda run a split turbo. It seems like it is just one of the many, many things Mercedes have done right with the W05 and W06.

    6. I smell a TV special between old Nige and Lewis coming up. It’d be really interesting to get a few generations of older cars and a bunch of past generation drivers vs a current generation driver and see how they compare to each other across the different eras of cars.

      1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
        5th October 2015, 8:27

        Yeah let him put his money where his mouth (the thing below his tash) is! @philipgb

      2. Uhhh that would be awesome! It had to be in machinery they are allowed to push to the limit.
        I guess it would be too expensive even for BBC or SKY, but we can dream on, and cross our fingers :)

    7. I hope that was Mansell fishing for Sky F1/Mercedes or someone to arrange that very experiment and stick it on TV. And I hope they actually do it.

      1. @neilosjames It’s sort of been done already, on Top Gear (albeit on different days). In dry conditions Mansell was around 2 seconds (almost 2%) slower than Lewis. Lewis also got within one tenth of Mansell’s dry lap time on a wet track.

        Put them both in a modern F1 car and undoubtedly the gap would be much wider for a whole number of reasons. I’d be very surprised in Mansell could get within a second of Rosberg in the Merc even if the car’s weight was adjusted for his extra weight penalty.

        I’d love Sky to arrange it too, but I doubt Mansell would go for it as he doesn’t like to be beaten and he knows he would be (plus it would eat into Mercedes’ testing allocation for the year which means it could never be done in current machinery unless it was a secret test).

    8. knoxploration
      5th October 2015, 1:37

      He couldn’t even fit in the car last time he tried, and I doubt he’s gotten any slimmer over the years.

    9. I’d like to see that.

      In modern machinery o’l Nige would be lucky to be on the same lap (at the end of the “Race”)

      Why don’t these Ex Drivers accept their time is over and button it

      1. @manatcna

        In modern machinery o’l Nige would be lucky to be on the same lap (at the end of the “Race”

        That’ not exactly against his point though.

    10. Would probably be quicker than Rosberg、take the hint Mercedes!

      1. @maza
        Well, he was slower than his dad when they were teammates in 1985, so I don’t think much has changed 30 years later. ;)

        1. Keke to replace Nico next year! @kingshark

    11. The Sochi article is rather hilarious to read.

      1. I love the first comment with that article @kaiie.

        1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
          5th October 2015, 8:46

          probably small typo, should be “many people were bored away”! @basbc

          But insightful article; I now know that Sochi has ‘Olympic Pedigree’, and that a ‘victory is never assured’.

          1. We also now know that Sochi is a better track than every other Tilke track (ie. Circuit of the Amerikas).

            1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
              5th October 2015, 14:39

              Actually I think COTA is one of his best – together with A1 and Turkey!

            2. @coldfly, why do people persist with this myth that Tilke designed the track at COTA, Tilke may have designed everything else (eg. carparks, toilets) at COTA but the track layout was already designed and promoted before Tilke became involved.

            3. My bad if Tilke wasn’t involved with the COTA layout, but I was just having a laugh.

            4. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
              6th October 2015, 9:39

              @hohum
              I always thought it was Tilke, and when reading it up it still seems that Tilke (GmbH) was part of the team (with Hellmund and Schwantz) that designed the track.
              Whoever the designer(s) is/are I still think it is one of the better new tracks, and when I’ll go their I’ll certainly try out the Tilke-loos ;-)

            5. @coldfly, Tavo Hellmund, laid out the track and was planning on doing the whole development if he could get finance, when it all came together he got rolled by the money men, thats when Tilke came in, the track (the part the cars actually race on) remained as Tavo had designed it. It’s all here, somewhere in the F1f archives.

    12. Never say never indeed, but I hardly believe that, Mansell! He’s 63 too! Plus, we’ve seen how MSchumacher, at 41, performed against NRosberg… not to mention that we see NOW how NRosberg performs against LHamilton. Maybe Mercedes will let him drive LH’s car at the end of the season to prove us wrong…

      1. I actually think Schumacher’s come back supports Mansell’s point. His pole lap round Monaco was something to behold, but he couldn’t sustain that sort of performance over a race with his weakest performances coming in Singapore, which is supposed to be the most physically demanding track these days.

        1. Starting from P11 and having Grosjean crashing into him didn’t help either

    13. Sure, and Franz Beckenbauer should still be on the German national squad, he’d show those kids how to kick the round thing into the net!

      I think that Mansell’s claim should simply not be taken seriously. He would be several seconds off the pace. In fact, he was already six seconds off the pace when he tested an FR3.5 car in 2009.

      We all remember how Schumacher struggled at Mercedes (especially in qualifying where Rosberg beat him 41:17) and he was 41-43, not 62. If retired 60-year old drivers were really that good, they would still be victorius in other series, sUch as WEC or WTCC, but they are not.

      I believe that you can see a couple of drivers over 60 at Le Mans but they are nowhere. When Rinaldo Capello, 48, retired from endurance racing, he admitted that “sometimes age is age – you cannot change it”. Gabriele Tarquini, 53, is still quite successful at the WTCC but this is a series where Ma Qinghua wins races. And drivers like Tarquini have never stopped racing.

      F1 probably needs to become a bit more challenging but it is still a very very tough sport that requires extremely high levels of mental and physical fitness. I believe that the current F1 drivers are simply laughing at Mansell’s suggestion.

    14. Hahan, Mansell you say so.

    15. Lol, Mansell is such a jealous guy. It was already hilarious when he tried to dismiss Prost’s WDC with Williams as “easy” because that car was so good a monkey could win with it. When of course Mansell himself only had his WDC to thank to the car with the biggest dominance ever. Now he’s trying to belittle Hamilton.

      Besides, Hamilton already slapped Mansell down at the Top Gear track test. Hamilton set about the same time in the wet as Mansell did in the dry and then later Hamilton went almost 2 seconds faster when the track was dry.

    16. Quicker. Lol. Still as embarrassing as when he was 30 :)

    17. Fair play to Mansell, he’s still got that inner confidence, the drive, the arrogance needed to be a champion. It tells us more about his state of mind than about reality of course, but great to hear that his aggressive, bullish style is still alive and kicking.

      1. Plus he’s got a new book out and it’s just too easy to get publicity by saying something eye-catchingly outrageous.

    18. If, by Brazil or Abu Dhabi, Hamilton is champion, then I propose a campaign called ‘Money where your mouth is Mansell’.
      One of the Merc drivers steps aside for a race, Nige starts training now, and we see if he gets a podium. Plus the novelty of having the youngest ever driver and (I think) the oldest ever on the same piece of track.

    19. Mercedes: “Hey Nigel, why don’t you sit in the car and try ?
      Nigel: …
      Mercedes: Oh…. ok sorry. So just sit on the car.”

    20. Manor also have half of the budget of Williams? I can see them doing as well as Toro Rosso to Red Bull when they started to build their own cars again – and in this case Mercedes are the big team, Williams are an intermediary. If they can be less than the gap from Merc to Williams behind Williams then I think they’ll have done a good job, lets see how that puts them compared to Sauber, Haas, resurging Lotus and McLaren etc.

      Force India is actually a better benchmark as they are closer on budget and still buy in parts as described. Being the gap behind Force India that they are to Williams would be a good step forwards.

    21. I’m not sure how 6-7 percent body fat – which by the way 50 percent below the recommended minimum for human health and very close to the death ratio – equates to better F1 performance. I think not one single iota.

      And certainly the cars of the 1950’s through 1990’s required equal if not more physical power and endurance to muscle the (relatively) unassisted mechanicals around the track.

      The simple answer is in lap times and top speeds, which have not dramatically increased for several decades of F1, and certainly not since Mansell’s time. Last year, the teams and drivers all said the new Formula H(ybrid) was a little slow.

      So yeah, I’d say that would be quite the match-up. I think Mansell would turn in quite a performance, because in relatively comparable cars, racing always has been and always will be a question of mental attitude more than anything else.

      1. I’d say that would be quite the match-up

        Even in snooker performance tapers off with age @geeyore. Mansell in any case was never in Hamilton’s class. He was the plucky Brit challenging the talent that was Senna with guts and determination, though mysteriously having something wrong with his car every single race that left him nobly shattered with the heroic effort of wrestling it to victory.

        1. I’d give Mansel a benefit of a doubt. He won everything he raced in. He proved himsel and given sufficiently faster car he would score podiums. Realistically who is gonna get him if his car is 2 seconds faster….

    22. Say what you want about Nigel. You can call him a “charisma vaccum”, or a “fast idiot” (Piquet dixit). Whatever. You all will probably be right. But the guy was a monster, ridiculously fast on the track. One of my all time favourite racers.

    23. the video in the tweet that was mentioned in schuepbach’s tweet, is brilliant. paul stoddart is a legend.

    24. Well its an interesting debate.. what could Mansel do with these cars?

      Seeing how Mercedes has 2 seconds in hand at some circuits… I would bet in say years time he could bag a few podiums despite his age. We saw Schumacher few years ago show how fast “elderly” racers can go. He was what 0.3 seconds or so off Nico Rosberg… Let’s say Mansel does twice as bad.. since there’s twice the age diffrence… Easily podiums.

      Cars are not especially physical to drive and for sure Mansel had a way with rugged cars anyhow. Podium with 1.5 second in hand for sure.

    25. Times change Nigel. Maybe these cars don’t require the physical effort that they did in the 80’s or early 90’s, but they are a million times more mentally challenging. I can scarcely begin to imagine the mental power it must take to drive a modern f1 car flat out while also remembering which knob to turn to manage the various systems when an engineer says through your earpiece “Yellow G5 position 6 and SOC 7”. Just because the challenges of modern F1 are different, doesn’t mean it is any easier. Heck, I find it tricky at times to have fingers dexterous enough to play F1 2015 and that is a million times easier than fiddling with the settings while pulling 5G through a corner with Vettel right behind you!

    26. I believe Nigel.

    27. I doubt if he is serious think he is hinting today’s F1 cars are easier to drive than in his day.
      In his defense, the fact a 17 year old basically jumped from carts straight into F1 and immediately was competitive lends creedence to his statements.

    28. Mansell then believes he will have smoked Shumi as well as Rosberg out qualified Shumi by far and currently Ham is qualifying better than Ros. I think he smoked something before his interview.

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