In An F1 Race, Is The Car Or The Driver Important For Winning The Race?

by Rae Castillon

Formula 1 is one of the most famous sports in the world. The races take place across the globe in a year, and Formula One teams end up traveling to several countries for testing, races, and media commitments. The drivers in F1 are often regarded as celebrities in the world of Formula 1 betting, and especially among car enthusiasts. They have to go through some extraordinary difficulties to arrive at the end of a race in one piece. Formula 1 remained one of the dangerous sports, with drivers being killed regularly for a long time.

Even though this statistic has changed drastically with the introduction of many new safety norms, there is no doubt that drivers are taking a considerable risk during every race. Hence, it is somewhat unsurprising that they get most of the plaudits when a team becomes successful in a race.

A Team Sport – Formula 1

In a team sport, it is always difficult to gauge one entity’s precise contribution towards success. The inability to identify the real reason for success in Formula One is very difficult, as a range of parameters come into play. Apart from all the numbers that are crunched before the race, there is also the surprise element of weather, which can also decide the race outcome.

Driver’s Contribution In Formula One

The process of determining the contribution from a driver is largely done based on one variable – race result. However, it has the potential to be incredibly wrong with its representation, as the best driver on the grid does not always end up on the podium – let alone win the race. This is not a simple process of being the best driver on the grid, as some of the variables that might impact the race would be safety cars, pitstops, small accidents, team orders, and more. All these factors will distort the outcome of the race and impact assessment of one’s performance.

One also must remember that the race result is not determined only on the drive on a Sunday when the F1 races typically happen. Instead, the qualifying and practice sessions will also have a significant impact. Drivers use the practice session to set up cars for the specific track. This will be done to their liking to get the optimum performance. If a driver cannot communicate well with the team and achieve the right set up, it would be challenging to expect success over the qualifying and race day.

Car Contribution In Formula One

Nico Rosberg, a Formula One world champion, claims that the result in Formula 1 is largely based on the 80/20 rule. According to the German, the car will contribute to 80% of the success, whereas the driver’s skill will only contribute to 20%. This is a remarkable statement from one of the successful drivers in the sport. This consensus would have been mostly possible because of the car’s influence on the best Formula One driver.

Even drivers who have picked up multiple world championship titles have struggled with a new team. A great example would be Michael Schumacher, who has picked seven world championship titles. Most of these titles came with Ferrari, but Schumacher could never replicate a similar form upon moving to Mercedes in his career’s second spell.

Of course, the Formula One driver will contribute towards the development of the car with a lot of effort during the practice and testing seasons. The input provided by the driver goes a long way to determining many aspects like downforce levels. However, some of the car’s key elements cannot be changed even with a great professional at the wheel. The inputs from the driver can only act as a recommendation. Whether the guidance becomes successful or not is an entirely different aspect. Furthermore, other teams might have made more improvements during the same period, and this would mean a lack of Formula One career success, even with much effort from the driver.

One of the greatest drivers of all time happens to be Juan Manuel Fangio. The Argentine won almost 50% of his races, while he also featured on the podium in nearly 70% of the races. However, he has been unable to win the same number of Formula One world championship titles as Michael Schumacher or Lewis Hamilton. Brazilian Ayrton Senna might be regarded as one of the top F1 drivers of all time, but he does not have the impressive statistics enjoyed by Fangio.


Formula One is one of the richest sports globally, with several million dollars being pumped into each team every season. The driver is undoubtedly one of the crucial cogs in the system. Unsurprisingly, they are paid the big bucks to deliver the results on every race day. However, it is the Formula One car that decides the race outcome. Even a driver who is not renowned for his technical abilities might squeeze out wins, but many gifted drivers have failed to win races due to being let down by the cars. Formula One’s success is ultimately decided by the vehicle, with the driver being the “cherry on the top.”

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