John Love, Lotus 49, Kyalami,91968

What was the most glorious period of F1 history?

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Dan wrote in with a straightforward question and a fun one to get my teeth into: “What do you consider the most glorious period in Formula 1 history?”

Over the years Formula 1 has enjoyed many wonderful eras, and since the sixties I’ve been fortunate to have experienced seven distinctly different periods, both as fan and journalist. Broadly speaking these periods might be defined as: the 1.5-litre formula (1961-65), the 3.0-litre ‘return to power’ (1966-79), ground effects years (1977-85), turbo age (1979-88), V10 era (1989-2005), V8 period (2006-2013), and the current hybrid formula.

You’ll note that some periods overlap as ground effects cars were powered by both naturally aspirated and turbo engines – both engine formulae ran in parallel at various times – while the exact cross-over of driver periods can be somewhat hazy. However, that is how I recall the different periods.

Expressed differently, we had the Jim Clark era (1961-67), followed by the Jackie Stewart years (1968-73), which preceded the Niki Lauda period (1974-79), in turn followed by the Alain Prost/Aytron Senna wars (1985-1994). A gap followed Michael Schumacher’s hegemony (1992-2004) until Sebastian Vettel ruled for four years (2010-13), before Lewis Hamilton stamped his authority in the sport from 2014 onwards.

Singling out a particular era is an almost impossible task as they all delivered scores of memorable races staged on some of the sport’s most challenging circuits. In the process, F1 feted great champions driving some incredible cars designed by supremely gifted engineers and build by dedicated technicians.

Can the Clark era, epitomised by lightweight 1500cc cars best driven with deft touches, realistically be compared with the sideways brutality of the turbo years, or the death-a-month 3.0 litres formula? Or the hybrid era with the Vettel’s V8 reign?

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Naturally, choosing ‘the most glorious period in F1 history’ boils down to subjectivity in selecting the period that seems rosiest when viewed through retro spectacles. The 3.0-litre formula keeps recurring in my mind – not only because the path my personal and professional lives took were ultimately dictated by that era: I vowed that by hook, crook or fluke I would be a part of this wonderful circus, no matter how tiny the part.

Emerson Fitipaldi, Lotus, Monza, 1972
Fittipaldi on his way to his first title in 1972
Looking back I continue to marvel at not only a generation of drivers who regularly stared death straight in the face simply to experience the unbridled thrill of racing in daftly dangerous times – for an impressionable teenager that was glory personified – but at the sheer creativity of a school of engineers who applied seat-of the-pants engineering to deliver arguably the most disparate grids in the history of the sport.

Consider: that era saw H16s take on V12, flat-12 and V8s – all won on occasion – while wings went crazy, eventually reaching biplane proportions. Aluminium gave way to composites, carbon brakes replaced iron rotors; tyres grew ever wider and slicker. The whines of jet engines mingled with the howl of V12s, yet humble V8s – based on two Ford inline-4s mated at 90-degrees – took the flag (a real one, back then) most often.

The sheer variety of technologies was simply staggering: tea-tray front wings, wedges, bulbous flanks, kettle -like intake scoops, low skirts, 4WD, six wheels – four upfront or rear. Drivers trusted whatever they were given, then strapped themselves in without whimpers. Sometimes it went wrong – too often tragically so – but they accepted the risks and went from race to funeral(s) of fallen comrade(s) and back to race.

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James Hunt, Hesketh, 1974
Hesketh have no equal on today’s grid
Who can forget Stewart’s mane, James Hunt’s antics, Keke Rosberg’s swashbuckling bravery, Lauda’s scars or Jochen Rindt’s courage; or ignore circuits such as the ‘green hell’ Nürburgring Nordschleife and eight-mile Spa? Check out the sheer drops bordering Clermont Ferrand – by comparison Suzuka seems surgical-sterile. Teeming rain? Bring it on – and they raced for a comparative pittance in exchange for the sheer thrill of doing so.

This was an age when smoking was glamorous, and F1 cars seemed all the more glamorous by association. It was the age of space exploration, and we measured the antics of our heroes against the feats of such as Neil Armstrong. Sure, he’d been to the moon and back, but the odds were he’d be slow in an F1 car…

Over the years I’ve been honoured to meet many drivers spanning all eras, yet when I’ve stood before those who lived through that glorious 3.0 litre era I’ve done so with a little more respect, felt just that bit more reverential. Simply glorious.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 57 comments on “What was the most glorious period of F1 history?”

    1. Turbo era (84-88), which hence nicknamed golden age.

    2. In my opinions the best times where h the e ones from 1983-1990. Even when you have domination from a team you hd fight between them, and the races had things happening: cars failing, drivers changing pace for the best and worse during the race, passings for the win, etc

      For most of the people, I can almost bet that the “golden era” will be around their 8-15 years old.

      1. Jccjcc, what both most fan surveys and even most professional commentator surveys have both consistently shown over the years is that the period often most commonly hailed as “the best ever” is the period about 20-30 years prior to when the question was asked.

        Given the general age profile of the F1 fan base – with the average fan being a man in his late 30s – it does indeed follow that what most fans call the “golden era” does usually coincide with when they first started watching, which is usually in the sort of age range that you describe.

        It’s certainly very evident amongst a lot of the people posting here, most of whom show a similar pattern. Quite a lot of the fans here describe themselves as having begun watching in the late 1980s to mid 1990s, and indeed in recent years there has been a perceptible shift towards those describing the 1990s as being the “golden era” of F1, whereas a few years ago that bias was more towards the mid to late 1980s – mirroring the way that the age distribution of the fan base has shifted in recent years.

        It’s very similar to the trends you see in the question “who was the best driver of all time” – you go back to surveys from the 1990s with that question, and the surveys then were dominated by drivers from the 1960s and 1970s – now, those surveys are heavily dominated by drivers from the 1980s and 1990s instead.

    3. This was an age when smoking was glamorous, and F1 cars seemed all the more glamorous by association.

      Put another way… Back then the drivers smoked and the cars made a racket.

      1. @phylyp: Good one!

        As they say… in the 70s, sex was safe and racing dangerous.

    4. So the 3.0 litres formula that is described is effectively the 70s? Beause around 2000 we also had a flourishing 3.0 litres era but that’s not the era the writer is referring to.

    5. I have witnessed the majority of V10 era (regrettably the first race I truly remember is Imola 1994…), whole V8, and the current hybrid formula.

      It is not even a question what era I consider the best – current hybrid formula (though I fondly remember many other races from previous years).

    6. I’ve witnessed the hybrid era throughout, of course, but also the V8-era in its entirety, and a bit of the V10-era (2004-05), and my favorite one is without a doubt the hybrid era and more precisely from 2017 onwards with the faster-ever F1-cars. The late-V10 seasons weren’t bad car and lap time-wise either, and out of the V8-era, 2010 and ’11.

    7. Jonathan Parkin
      5th November 2019, 10:36

      Suzuki isn’t as surgical sterile as modern day Paul Ricard. You can still have a large smash at Suzuka if you go off track something Danii Kyvat would know

    8. Vert well written Mr Dieter, and I fully agree with you. Unfortunately I never had the chance to see a race from this era (although at least I’m lucky to have started watching F1 on 1985!), but my Dad was lucky to work as a Marshall in the old Interlagos circuit back in 74 and he told he could see that some drivers were chatting on the inside of turns 1 and 2, and as they looked other cars go by, they would bet between themselves who would be the first to do these corners without lifting. After some laughs and bets, Ronnie Peterson said: “I’ll do it!” and my Dad could see him running back to the pits like an excited child to try this out, which he did some minutes later in the glorious Lotus 72. I think in that era we had these drivers risking their lives doing something they loved so much, And also, having fun together and sharing their passion driving these raw and legendary cars. I wish I had the chance to had seen only 1 race of this era.

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        5th November 2019, 11:26

        Great story, thank you for that.
        Here’s a short clip of Peterson cornering in Brazil 1974 (a different corner I think, but it is Brazil and it is the same year):
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXcYtCdkJco&feature=youtu.be&t=1m13s

        1. That’s Curva Laranjinha where Peterson is sliding into view. That long version of Interlagos was so much better that today’s version.

          1. Thank you as well, Magnus! It’s always great watching these footage from the 70s! And I have to agree with you Michel , that old layout was incredible!!! I watched several sportscars races on the old layout, it was great, and the races were so good. And due to the nature of the landscape there, you could always see at least 70% of the circuit regardless from where you were!

      2. @mmertens A couple of years ago, the BBC (or was it already Channep 4?) did a wonderful series of documentaries on the history of the sport called Formula 1 Rewind, this is how I became enthralled with the legendary past eras. There is lots of race footage with commentary and amazing stories from Murray Walker.

        1. Thanks for that! I will try to dig this series on YouTube!

    9. For most people, golden era would probably be associated with the time they’ve discovered or fell in love with Formula 1. But the 1970s to mid-1980s must be pretty serious candidate. Engines aside, it was also the time when the cars really looked different and the engineers took many paths to their designs. The Brabham was distinctively different from Lotus from Ferrari from Tyrrell. The preceding cigar shaped cars were all quite similar and the later aero-efficient cars led to today’s near identical bodyshapes.

      1. One interesting thing is how the aerodynamic revolution began in 1970. Britain had their De Havilland Comet which was manufactured up until 1967. By then it had become obvious that the construction with the worlds first pressurized cabin had deadly flaws. The cabin windows were square shaped and began to crack under pressure in the corners. It lead to severe plane crashes and finally the whole project was cancelled (although the Nimrod actually is modified Comets). And that’s why all cabin windows today are having rounded corners. Anyway, many aerodynamics engineers lost their jobs but many of them came over to F1. And that’s how the revolution began. The designer of the March 711 came from the Concorde project, but many from the Comet.

    10. The seasons I look back on most fondly are, unsurprisingly, the ones when I began watching, 1992 & 1993.

      I think the 1991 McLaren epitomises the most familiar F1 car shape, and should be the silhouette icon if F1 ever adopted an americanised NBA style logo.

      But I agree with Dieter. The more I’ve read and learned about the late 60’s & early 70’s the more I am in awe of this era. Truly glorious times that I wish I had the chance to go back and experience.

    11. I like the 1960s Jim Clark era – but only because I like the footage from the time! It gives it another worldly charm. No idea how it actually was. After that, I most like the next era! I’m not nostalgic and prefer looking to the future more. I like the pace and cornering power of the present cars and think the grid is probably as talented than it has ever been – in fact more so. Just give them cars that can chase and overtake without bad aero wash and it should be excellent. My one complaint is the avoidance of bad weather on the calendar and being too cautious when rain happens. Dealing with adverse conditions is a vital part of the sport that seems to be in decline.

    12. I’m going to answer this question purely on emotional level because in the end any opinion about the past in this sport is all about emotion and memories of good and bad. I’m going to go with Ayrton/Prost era of ’85 to ’94. To me there is so much that is right and so much that was spectacular or just memorable even if negative. And also so much that was wrong which for me just elevates this era even higher. The prost/senna fight was pretty legendary, the cars were great and there were tons of innovative cars and mini eras during that time. The cars looked and sounded amazing and were light and difficult to drive. Nobody cared about road relevance. F1 was about being fast and if something did not make the cars faster it did not go into the cars no matter how much manufacturers cried about it. There is also a lot more skill a lot of people realize that simply goes into driviving a late 80s f1 fast with three pedals and stick shift gearbox. Of course by mid 90s f1 had gone to paddle shifting gearbox. Another technical revolution.

      The on track racing itself doesn’t really compare well to the best times but even then the overtakes were real and there is a lot of dirtyness and nuance to dive deeper into with the benefit of it being known history. You had the political machinations, blatant opportunism and favouritism, there was real danger and no matter how much I feel the need to emphasize that every accident is and was too many you can’t imho deny that the death of senna that ended this era also elevates this era to new levels. And something good came out of his and ratzenberger’s death as well in the form of real desire to make the sport safer.

      An era of amazing cars, amazing technology, pure visual and auditory bliss. Drivers who had to overcome major challenges on and off the track, an era of heroes and legends. Pure racing with real overtaking but also lots of political backstabbery which adds a huge bonus when you watch some of these historical races with the historical knowledge that was unknown at the time. And some of the stuff that happened on track is just legendary. The era is well covered in books and movies and the documentaries from this era are also amazing to watch. There is so much more than just the racing from this era which for me makes it the most glorious era of f1.

      1. What was the change for you from the earlier years prior to Senna moving to Lotus? Was 1985 when you started watching F1? I know that was the first year they started showing all the races in the US after 10 in 1984 and a handful prior spread over several networks.

        Japan started all the races from 1987 so a lot of Japanese fans ‘golden’ era starts that season with the return of the Japanese GP at Suzuka and coincidentally the start of having a strong long-term Japanese presence both from a driver and team perspective.

        As I mention below for me it is 1978-87.

    13. The p* ss pot crash helmet era. Seeing the expression on Hill’s face driving around Monaco!

    14. I approve of any article with a picture of a Gunston liveried Lotus 49 in it.

    15. F1 was at its peak from 1985-1991.Whether it was the jaw dropping turbo cars or the 3.5L cars- which was when F1 hit the very tip of the peak. Those cars looked great (they haven’t looked better since), sounded great, the racing was great, the technology was interesting and the personalities were compelling. Everything about that era is a yardstick by which F1 should be measured today.

      1. Let’s be more precise. The peak was lap 33 of the 1990 Phoenix GP, between turns one and two.

        1. I would be willing to bet that’s the only part of that era you actually know about.

          1. This would belong in a mail rather than the open board if you had an account I could message to, but: What’ll be the wager, and how do I get my winnings?

            1. Either you’re trolling me or you’re actually serious. First of all, and this may be a bit hard for you to understand, even with all the reference points all over this and any other website that covers F1- Formula One doesn’t just have to be wheel-to-wheel action. It doesn’t have to be just 2 guys banging wheels- racing is a whole lot more than that. If you want to go and see contact and wheel banging, go watch IndyCar or the BTCC. For adrenaline-pumping action, those 2 series will offer you better on-track action than almost any other racing series. But F1 is also about drama, intrigue, the cars themselves, the circuits (which were way better back then), etc. There are many more emotional qualities to F1 because it is the pinnacle of international racing and a pinnacle of automotive technology.

              But I’ll name off all the really good races from those years- you can find them all over the internet. Did you ever see the ’85 Portuguese, San Marino, Monaco, British, Dutch, Belgian, European or South African GPs? How about the ’86 Spanish, Monaco, Canadian, Hungarian, or Australian GPs (the Australian race was one of the best ever)? How about the ’87 San Marino, Detroit, French, British (if you’re a British F1 fan and you don’t know about the ’87 British GP, you’re frankly massively ignorant), German, Austrian, Hungarian, and Mexican GPs? How about the ’88 San Marino, Canadian, Mexican, Italian and Japanese GPs? How about the ’89 Brazilian, San Marino, Monaco, Mexican, German (that race is often overlooked), Hungarian, Portuguese, and Japanese (that was another one of the best and most famous races ever) GP’s? How about the 1990 Brazilian, San Marino, Mexican, French, British, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Australian GP’s? How about the ’91 Brazilian, San Marino, Monaco, Mexican, French, German, Italian, and Spanish GP’s? Should I list off all the races of that time that weren’t that good as races but still had super-dramatic moments? Like that US GP where Senna and Alesi banged wheels (which they also did in Mexico ’91) for 2 laps at Turn 2 in Phoenix, or Mansell losing a wheel nut at Hungary ’87? Or Senna crashing into Prost at Japan ’90? Should I ask the user known as anon to come elaborate further? Should I keep destroying your argument that the only good moment of that era was that one lap of USA ’90? Or better yet, what was your favorite era of F1? All eras of F1 front the front engined cars of the ’50’s to now have their good monents, but from 1967-1997 was when F1 was great (and also a lot more interesting than it is now), and from 1985-1991 was when it was at it’s peak.

    16. I loved the V10 era, late 90s to mid 2000s, simply because this when I started following the sport fanatically. The first race I went to was during this period and I can remember it like it was yesterday. The vibrations generated by those V10s still havent quite dissipated from by bones.

      I guess you’ll always look back fondly on those years of when you first fell in love with this sport.

      There are always negative connotations associated with the early 2000s when Ferrari dominated the sport, however, I thoroughly enjoyed those years, even while not being a Tifoso or Schumacher fan. Perhaps it was the optimism of youth, but I never felt disheartened or bored. The cars were spectacular, no two ways about it, and we had some swashbuckling drivers, like a certain Juan Montoya, who never seemed fazed by anything that came his way. The V8 era wasn’t too far off, 2006 to 2010 were great years.

      Whatever happens, as long as F1 continues as series, I will continue to follow it, I can’t live without it.

      1. I was unable to watch much F1 while in college given my TV access and what channels they were on in the mid 90’s but I arrived in Japan in 1996 and was there till 2003. It was definitely a rebirth of my love of F1 after having not seen many races for the previous 4 seasons from 1992-1995 – notably the ones from after the summer break and the early season ones till Monaco when away at school and not able to see them live. While it occasionally was a bit top heavy there was a definite love of the sport that many Japanese had seeing Hakkinen and Schumacher battle it out with DC, Ralf, Frentzen, JPM and more ready to pounce and the surprises from teams like Jordan, Stewart, and more. I definitely enjoyed it especially when they came out with F1 video games for Playstation in Japan. We had the one with Murray Walker’s commentary where I remember him saying ‘He just hit Verstappen’ so many times. It was over the air on Fuji TV at the time and Schumi, Alesi, Hakkinen, Damon Hill, and others were quite popular over there. They still have a lot of specialist magazines about F1 in the stores on modeling and the best cars of the past. Every time I am back in Japan I check out for some of the best and invariably there will be a story or issue on a great car from the mid-90’s to early 2000’s.

    17. For me personally, I would have to pick 2005-2016 as the best era, with 2010-2012 the best period within that. In this period, you had several teams and drivers capable of winning, and except for Vettel in the first half of 2011, nobody had it easy. But, like many have mentioned, this did coincide with when I seriously got into F1 (2005).

    18. I was young and impressionable when my father took me to see F1 races.

      The BRM v16 has left a lasting impression on me. When it ran on full song [which never seemed to last very long] the air ripping sound of 16 open exhausts at 12,000 rpm; the screaming wail of a two stage supercharger at more than 100,000 rpm;the wheels spinning at 150mph on the straight; the driver struggling to tame the beast, arms flailing; the eye watering exhaust; the stomach trembling vibration as it hurtled past just the other side of a straw bale…heroic British failure at its very best! If only a modern F1 car could make that sound…

    19. There is nothing “glorious” about the seventies and eighties. The cars were indeed diverse, but they look like built for one of those challenges where people jump off a tower into the water with a contraption that should allow them to “fly” as far as possible (not sure if that’s only a Dutch thing “Ter land ter zee en in de lucht”, but otherwise say a soapbox race). Like someone build the car in a shed (and I think that is exactly what happened). Not what I would call “glorious” at all.

      My idea of “glorious” would be when professionalism started to set in. Budgets started to go big and the glamour came to F1. Like the Senna vs Prost days. Or actually probably even more during the hybrid era. Nowadays F1 is more about being “glorious” than it is about racing.

      Or on the other hand. If we are looking at the older years. I love the high res YouTube video of the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCv-dIFGcd0

      Everything is just so gentlemanly. So serene. Glorious one might say …

    20. I don’t imagine I’ll surprise any of you by entirely agreeing with Dieter, and for exactly the same reasons. My 1st. exposure was the 1.5 NA era which was great on it’s own, though real differences were mainly in the engines, the 3L era that followed saw variety in every aspect of the car, much like those eras in evolution when all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures evolved after some cataclysmic event only to fade away or morph into less specialised creatures. The headline photo, to me, represents the beginning of the end as aerodynamics started to supplant pure mechanical engineering.

    21. Big Masterpiece, Sir Rencken !

    22. the sport among drivers was always there and thrilling. the sport among the engineers…should have been culminating somewhen before 2007 when they (funnily) opted for no sports among motors in motorsports (would take me 100 yrs to come up with such an idea). at the same time, we saw the most sophisticated body work in the years after — hard to tell…

    23. …definitely the turbo-era when NA-engines were capable of winning, too — especially in 1982 when we saw 11 different victors ! ! !

      1. A lot of the issues were that teams were developing the cars in the season and the ground effects cars with the shaky turbos were very hard to drive. The driver’s position in the car too the no doubt contributed to the injuries and deaths of many drivers in those days. I really wonder what would have happened had Gilles and Pironi not had their misfortunes for 1982 but still all told even with the tragedies there are so many interesting stories, and fortunately a lot of it is documented on TV to see people react as it happened. As a Piquet fan 1982 was frustrating with the BT50 turbo and sad his one win came on the day of Paletti’s death. I liked Brabham as a whole so I really enjoyed the result of Monaco with Riccardo’s first ever win – one of maybe 3-4 races I saw back then in the US from that season (Long Beach, Detroit, Canada, and maybe one more). Fresh memories of the 1981 triumph and the 1983 title helped greatly in me getting over the tough season. Though at least it was a surprising and entertaining one.

    24. I have to say I have a soft spot for the 60s through to the early 70s as is was in 67 I think at Warwick Farm. It was the first time I seen ‘real’ race cars in real life not just on TV. It was the Australian GP which was part of the Tasman Cup series I think. After 1969 they stopped coming to Aus but I could still watch a bit on the news sometimes like when Jackie Stewart raced the six wheeled Tyrrell or when there was a fatality. But over the yrs there has been some amazing races and brilliant drivers so it’s a sentimental connection more than supposedly better.

        1. @hohum Great little track I was 10 in 67 I was very upset when it closed a few yrs later.

    25. roberto giacometti
      6th November 2019, 5:00

      My F1 epicenter is 1982. Basically Ferrari and Renault with their turbos versus all the other chassis and Cosworth combos. And remember – Kek Rosberg won the tiltle win ONE win and 42 points. !!
      42 points and World Champion !!! Unbelievable by today’s monopolization standards by the one team !!
      That’s how equal Formula 1 USED to be !!

      1. ‘82 was really an extraordinary year for a whole different number of reasons.

        -11 different drivers in 7 different makes of car won the 16 races held that year
        -Of those 16 races, 3 of them were in the US (Long Beach, Detroit, Vegas)
        -The Swiss GP made a comeback that year, even though that race was held at Dijon in eastern France
        -1982 was really the last truly dangerous year of F1 where 1 or 2 drivers were killed every year, from 1983 onwards carbon fiber was much more present in each car’s design, which made them a lot safer, to the point now where over the past 36 years only 3 drivers have been killed in F1 related events, as opposed
        to 50+ between 1950 and 1982

    26. Good question! For me it was 1956 (Harry Schell at Reims) to 1958 covering the rise of Vanwall. To be there when Sir Stirling Moss won the British Grand Prix at Aintree – wonderful stuff!
      Mike A.

      1. You were lucky Mike.
        The first F1 race I attended was The Race of Champions at Brands in 84. Great circuit.
        I love the old circuits, the danger, the simplicity.
        I remember standing basically on the apex of Hawthorn bend in qualifying, I could nearly touch the drivers heads.

    27. The early sixties untill they change to 3.5 liter as it was the era without wings or as my uncle said the flying sigars :)
      It was back then just a driver and his machine (but also the era with lots of deaths) That was my introduction to F1

    28. Easy, the one exactly 30 years before whenever now is

    29. I don’t have a favourite era, so much as a favourite car-style era. Despite reading a lot about it and viewing some footage, the fifties and early sixties are still something a quite a remove from the present day, and I wouldn’t claim enough knowledge to judge the racing – but my love for the look of the cars is current and first-hand.

      Dare I say that things like the Maserati 250 were some of the best looking cars ever, let alone just among F1 cars.

    30. This article highlights for me why I struggle to consider a driver such as LH the GOAT. The numbers are there all right, and most I assume are quite confident that he will surpass MS in terms of records and numbers. But for me that does not tell the whole story, just as the sheer points haul of a race or of a season does not explain all that happened.

      I consider this current era F1-lite compared to @dieterrencken ‘s most memorable era. Juxtapose his verbiage with an era of cruising around monitoring tire temps, stuck behind cars that need devices to pass, conserving so much for so much of the time, and it is hard to feel like today’s drivers are performing great feats like they were in the past as described in the above article.

      Sure LH is amongst the Greats, in numbers, that’s undeniable, but the Greatest? Again, he’ll have the greatest numbers in fairly short order I’m sure, but, compared to the feats achieved in the past, the bravery needed etc etc, I think we have already seen the greatest, and he’s from the past.

      That said, one of the reasons I am stoked about the new reg changes is that even though the cars and tracks will never be as dangerous (and I would never suggest they be reverted back) at least we may get back to a more driver vs driver format with closer run Championships and the winner having performed a greater feat by actually having genuine competition from more than just one driver throughout the races and the seasons. And of course ideally without a device to aid passing. Today’s drivers are so coddled compared to the pioneers of the past.

      1. @robbie At least Bottas could beat all of them.

    31. Nice piece & memory. Thanks for sharing!

    32. No votes for the eras of grooved tyres or DRS then? :-D

    33. Hey Dieter- you’ve got some of those “eras” wrong. The ground effects years were from 1977 to 1982- underside wings and skirts were banned and flat bottoms were made mandatory for 1983 onwards after 3 or so years of infighting between FOCA and FISA and a number of hideously violent accidents and 2 driver deaths at Zolder (Villeneuve) and Montreal (Paletti), and at Ricard F1 dodged a bullet by nearly habing its own version of the Le Mans disaster after Jochen Mass and Mauro Baldi’s cars were vaulted over the barriers and into the grandstands at Signes, and miraculously no one was killed- and hundreds of people standing there probably should have been killed. Also 1989-1994 was the 3.5L NA era, where cars had V8’s, V10’s, V12’s- Motori Moderni even tried a flat-12 and slapped a Subaru badge on it, and it was a miserable failure, as was the Life W12. 1998-2005 was the V10 era as every team had V10’s at that point- V12’s were ditched by Ferrari because although powerful they were too thirsty and vice versa for V8’s.

    34. I have no pretenses to say that the era I love the most from F1 was perfect. All the canceled races, absurd penalties, unnecessary deaths/injuries, bad marshaling, and terrible courses attest to that. I would say my favorite period is 1978-1987 it covers most of the career of my favorite drivers in an era of relative unpredictability from season to season and race to race as well as the chance for lots of different surprises up and down the grid. I like the purist aspect of the earlier years a lot too and the years 1966 (Grand Prix), 1973 (Champions Forever) and 1976 (Rush) with their accompanying movies as well as the highlights, photos, stories and more are wonderful. The later cars also look great and there’s a lot more exciting onboard footage from the later years to appreciate. I guess the evolution of the cars and the teams always looking for exciting new ways to move ahead was a part of the lore of the era I grew up with. Sometimes they got it way wrong but then even in a ‘bad’ car there were huge surprises at times.

      In the end of the 80’s as they limited the turbos it started getting too expensive for all but a few top teams and the sport has traditionally been dominated by one or two teams since with longer times of dominance and compilations of season and career records at a dizzying pace began and this has not really ceased. We rarely see a split championship something that happened in 1973, 1976, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1986. We rarely see a change from year to year of the constructors winners. Four drivers have won every title but three since 2000 with 3 having streaks of at least 3 in a row. From 1966-85 there were 14 title winners with no consecutive winners and just 3 with 3 titles. The turnover in the spoils from season to season is greatly reduced, and the gap from midfield to top teams seems worse than ever, and we are left wondering if certain teams have to write off 2-3 seasons to wait for new regulations to be competitive again. Contrast to that 1978-87 period when a bad season was not always a three year death spiral. Rather the teams could give another go and get back into it like a number of teams did in the ground effects and turbo eras.

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