The exacting characteristic is one of the most enjoyable aspects of Formula 1 and other premier forms of motorsport.
The difference between a top three qualifying lap and a mid-pack result is sometimes only tenths of a second. Put a wheel wrong in one corner, or lose traction exiting a hairpin and the time lost cannot be recovered.
For a top finish in motorsport, precision must be a constant because most often there is no opportunity for recovery.
Compare that uncompromising requirement to more traditional forms of sport:
- In golf a double bogey can be entirely offset by an eagle on the next hole.
- Teams regularly overcome double digit deficits in basketball.
- Botch the first down in (American) football, and the team has three more attempts to cover 10 yards. Actually, laying an egg on three consecutive downs is entirely recoverable.
So in an effort to gain fractions of a second wherever possible in their stringent sporting context, Formula 1 drivers especially develop performance advantages that might not immediately come to mind.
In the video below F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg is hooked up to eye-tracking/sensor technology, and evaluated. What they found is that Nico has near-superhuman reaction times, and his ability to perceive and process his surroundings is extraordinary.
Check out how quickly he glances in his rear view and makes a judgment on rejoining the track. What apparently wasn’t analyzed in the exercise was the timing relationship between Nico’s rear mirror glance and subsequent throttle application, but virtually instantaneous is a safe bet. That expedited process might gain up to a full second every time he exits pit lane.
The accelerated perception to action/reaction process is repeated on an almost ongoing basis throughout the course of a Formula 1 lap; dozens, if not hundreds of times. All while adjusting complex settings on the steering wheel and enduring fighter jet g-forces. Amazing stuff…
Enjoy the video.