Best Development Driver in F1?

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    As stated in the title, who is the driver whom is best at developing a car over a season or race to race? I have often asked myself this and haven’t come with an answer. Is it Rosberg? Vettel? Button? I’d love to hear your opinions!


    As much as I want to know, can we really know? I could say it is driver A but based on what? His car was good?

    John H

    To be honest its probably someone like De la Rosa in the simulator.


    With virtually no testing mid-season and so many restrictions, it is impossible to answer this question.


    Ok. So experience is a primary factor it seems, something that is picked up over time.


    I remember when Schumi was racing at Ferrari, that Luca Badoer was the test driver of the B test team at Ferrari, and he commented how good Badoer was at development. Experience is a major factor, in fact, speed isn’t necessarily the key, if you are a slow driver, but have gotten through your racing career through good development/setup, then you will of course be somewhat quicker than some other drivers around you, but if you have a Senna as your teammate, then it doesn’t matter how good at setup you are, you would struggle to beat someone of Senna’s talent.

    But as everyone else has stated, its impossible to know now.

    The only thing we could potentially use as a yard stick is to work out which teams are considered epic at car development throughout the year, but this doesn’t take into account budgets, the newey factor, etc…


    Rubens Barrichello – Ruby’s technical understanding is a somewhat unknown quality but in 2000 he employment as a Ferrari #2 because of his ability to find the setup sweet-spot. In 2009 Ross Brawn remarked that Ruben’s efforts especially made the switch to Mercedes power before the season started more manageable. I am quite sure he got test role contracts across his desk after his exit from Williams was confirmed.

    Iestyn Davies

    Eddie Irvine did say that Schumi couldn’t always set the car up, but would just drive around it.. put that comment with the one by Rubens about how he should have won some of MSc’s titles and we can assume that Schumi purely just outdrove him on some of his setups.. but there were periods where Rubens was very competitive/faster even, so maybe that was when he kept the setups to himself! I do seem to remember hearing that Alonso stopped sharing setups with Hamilton in 2007? Probably the same thing was happening there too..

    On development drivers.. I guess it’s worth noting who is employed to do that job, i.e. being paid. De la Rosa racing for transitioning Sauber, Panis, Wurz etc. racing again.. I always had a suspicion that Davidson was also behind some great cars, the 2004 BAR, the Super Aguri that started beating the works Honda, and then of course the 2009 Brawn (but it looks like Ross credits Rubens), which was said to first be the 2009 Super Aguri..

    There are also a few sim drivers such as Rossiter, Yelloly at Force India that you wouldn’t think of at first, so they must have the skills to develop the car/test it on the sim and correlate that with real world data no problem, maybe Wolff as well. Vandoorne is a very good simracer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was doing that for McLaren (although they’ve been nowhere for 3 seasons now, heh). Stanaway won the iRacing Pro Series when recovering from injury, so he could also have done that for Lotus when Gravity had their youngsters as the reserve drivers.


    The thing about Schumacher is that he can perform consistently during a whole testing day, he can put lap after lap after lap with only a 0.1s difference between each. That’s invaluable for a team who wants to evaluate the difference between two setups.

    Here’s an article about it in French : http://fr.motorsport.com/f1/news/michael-schumacher-le-testeur-minutieux-803130/

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