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Old 05-01-2012, 10:44 AM
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Random Racing Thoughts on the Anniversary of Senna's Death

Senna died eighteen years ago today at Imola. I saw this elsewhere today and I also saw that Sebastien Loeb had just won his 70th Rally in Argentine. Both of these things got me thinking about racing, which I guess I don't do as much as I used to.
So, to get the juices flowing again, I though I'd make a thread for racing similar to the "State of the Car" thread I made about the automotive industry a while back.

Back to Loeb: Are we in the midst of, or just emerging from, an era of "super-champions" in racing?
Admittedly, Schumacher is on a downward swing and Rossi seems caught in a rut as well, but two of the winningest drivers in their respective arenas currently race (I think Agostini pips Rossi on the bike front, but not by much).
So here's my question: What circumstances have caused/allowed this to happen, and are we still on the leading edge of this, with future drivers to rack up even more improbable career statistics, or the trailing edge with the brightness of stars like Schumacher and Rossi beginning to diminish (though Loeb shows no sign of stopping...)?
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:28 AM
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I think it's clear we are entering the post-super-champs era. Schumacher is very, very old, and Vale has three things going against him: age, a Ducati with a numb front end with an engine with questionable V angle, two bright stars; one who was massively underrated when riding which is looking like a dog of a bike (Stoner), and limited future options. Vale was beat by Jorge on equal machinery 2 years ago (albeit after returning from injury), and since then, it's all been downhill.

Sebastien is getting up there in age now but still winning, so he could still bow out on the top of his game before he falls off.

Back to Schumi, I was recently reading about him, and though it was truly astonishing what he could get out of his machinery, it must be kept in mind that Ferrari developed the car around his every need, and got Bridgestone to maximize performance for said car (so it's a bit funny to hear him whining about tires now). Conspiracy theorists and certain former Benetton team mate of Mikey will say that his car had some special and illegal elements to it, and Bernie pressured the FIA to let it slide so there would be a German WC. I don't know, but in the F1 circus, we must now acknowledge anything is possible after Piquet/Renault's silliness.

In F1, there is huge competition at the sharp end. 6 WCs in the field right now. In 2007, I woulda said Lewis coulda won many titles. In 2011; Vettel. They still might, but the fact is with so many good racers out there and young guns coming up like Di Resta, I am no longer so sure. Maybe increase of money fluxing into the sport has enabled more young drivers to become very talented and thus competitive? Probably not.

As this forum is wont to do, NASCAR is left behind. I am far from a regular viewer of NASCAR, but I think that European slanted car forums tend to overlook what is going on there. Jimmie Johnson's 5 title win streak was just broken last year by Tony Stewart on a "satellite" Hendrick team. What impresses me about Jimmie's titles is that he is able to win so often (especially in the Chase), in a sport where there can be many winners each year, and due to NASCAR throwing so many levels, wins can seemingly sometimes be determined by dice roll. Yes, he is on the best team, with a car made by the best manufacturer, but his achievements are none the less amazing (like Schumacher's).

Why did we have an era of 4 superchamps at nearly the exact same time? I do not know for sure. Why are we leaving it? Rust never sleeps...
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Old 05-01-2012, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitdy View Post
I think it's clear we are entering the post-super-champs era. Schumacher is very, very old... Sebastien is getting up there in age now but still winning, so he could still bow out on the top of his game before he falls off....
Whaaaa? Vettel is just 24! Schumacher "very, very old"? At 43 he still has the skill required, if not the supreme and perfected equipment Ferrari built around him. Note: Fangio was 40 when he won the first of his five world championships and retired at age 47.

Regarding Ayrton Senna da Silva (age 34): Let's not forget that Roland Ratzenberger (age 33) was killed the day before... RIP to them both.
Those two tragedies brought even more neccessary safety considerations to both cars and tracks; there has not been an F1 fatality since.

The constant that will decide the future of racing regardless of type is MONEY. So long as a public wishes to pay for the spectacle there will be those willing to risk capital and lives for the sake of competition and fortune. Will we see dynasties the likes of Schumi - Johnson - Stewart - Vale - Force in the future? Probably. Dominant drivers and teams stay dominant as long as they can.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:54 PM
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Whaaaa? Vettel is just 24! Schumacher "very, very old"? At 43 he still has the skill required, if not the supreme and perfected equipment Ferrari built around him. Note: Fangio was 40 when he won the first of his five world championships and retired at age 47.
The Sebastien I was referring to in that instance was Loeb. It's Sebastian Vettel.

csl, you know that was a different era. The physical strain, reflexes, and mental sharpness required to drive these cars is much greater than that needed to drive and win in Fangio's day, and that is partly why I think young guns are becoming more and more common. Of course, I am sure custom had some tole in explaining why drivers were traditionally older back then. Those things and ever more advanced preparation due to huge cash available to be spent developing talent.

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The constant that will decide the future of racing regardless of type is MONEY. So long as a public wishes to pay for the spectacle there will be those willing to risk capital and lives for the sake of competition and fortune. Will we see dynasties the likes of Schumi - Johnson - Stewart - Vale - Force in the future? Probably. Dominant drivers and teams stay dominant as long as they can.
Absolutely. But right after these four leave? Likely not. If not by probability alone.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:33 AM
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Ah, missed that spelling... to be fair though, Loeb is still tough to beat and I'd argue that WRC is in some ways more difficult than F1. Yes, Fangio raced cars with a fraction of the limits of modern F1, but on skinny tires and crude tracks. Drivers weren't traditionally older... most were in their 20s and Fangio was an exception. It took as much skill (perhaps more) and the consequences of getting it wrong were too often fatal which is why there weren't that many older racers. That's something today's drivers don't concern themselves with. Safety improvements in fact have encouraged aggressive driving. Young guns becoming more common relates as much to the finances as the skill required, evident by the number that fail to successfully move up through F3, F2 and GP2. There really aren't that many; it's a pretty select group that makes it to F1.

EDIT: In the case of WRC and Sebastian Loeb's record it may never be beaten. He's the best there's been under current rules and with $$$ diminishment in WRC as a major motorsport the likelyhood of a young driver being so dominant would seem impossible. Without the fortune Citroen poured in, would Loeb have surpassed Tommi Mäkinen? What if McRae or Burns had such opportunities?
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Last edited by csl177; 05-02-2012 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:33 AM
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Senna's impact on F1 is unquestionable, so much so that every Williams car constructed following his death bears his personal insignia on some portion of the car as a subtle reminder.
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