Tag Archives: 1968

1968 (post_tag auto created by Wordpresser)

Ferrari F1 1968 @Algarve, Portugal : 01:51:9xx

If there is anything good in the current F1 2020 championship, is the new circuits, namely the “Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari” (Italy), the “Autodromo Internacional do Algarve” (Portugal), and the “Intercity Istanbul Park” (Turkey).

Novelty is much needed. F1 has never been so full of young drivers, yet smelling of old déjà vu winners. Or winner, singular, such as been the boring, uncontested for tooooo long, dominance of Lewis Hamilton.

The wonderful Turkish track is a return, but it was missing from the official F1 calendar for so many years, that it feels like a debut. The Ferrari circuit is also no stranger to F1 (red) cars. In a way, the Portuguese track will be the completely new event.

I raced the Ferrari F1 1968 car around the Algarve track, in the RFactor 2 game. With no aids (no traction control, no braking assistance, no stability control), these 1968 cars are nearly impossible to control. They can be “driven” but never pushed to their real top performance levels, unless at least a bit of traction control is set on the game.

The 01:51:9xx lap that I am sharing, contrary to my usual, does use that bit of traction control (the minimum level). I could not approach the A.I. cars without such help. Even with TC on, I was 2 seconds adrift the top computer cars. If I was optimistic, I would say that if I practiced enough, I could null the difference in a few hours, but I value first impressions and my impression was that, with these cars and A.I. at 101%, TC is the only way to make the challenge feasible.

This left me wondering how hard these cars really were. I felt the Ferrari too nervous: not only small throttle inputs are enough to destabilize it out of control, but also small direction corrections can easily overcompensate and make the driver lose the car.

The video I am sharing lasts for more than the time of my recorded full lap (01:51:9xx), because it includes the start of a failed second attempt and a TV perspective of the whole event. I beached the Ferrari very early on the second lap, because of an unexpected car response out of a turn.

F1 1968 @Portland, USA

Modern F1 is probably facing its most serious existential crisis: the sport remains a formidable engineering laboratory, but the racing on track – or the perception of it – leaves much to be desired.

Seasoned viewers should be able to appreciate the underlying technology, and enjoy the constant showoff of amazing numbers, namely 200 kph to 300 kph in ~2 seconds, unbelievable short braking distances, body challenging G forces, and so on. F1, for example, is now the reference in applied IoT (Internet of Things), with hundreds of addressable sensors per car.

Yet, casual viewers, not knowing or not caring about the technology, and with no understanding of the history of the sport, will have no references, and see nothing but a small set of 20 cars going around boring wide tracks, designed for safety, difficult to capture on video, conveying a decent sense of speed.

The fact is that the “relative speed” of F1 is eventually at its lowest ever: cars might be regularly exceeding the once magical 300 kph mark, but 300 kph at an “airfield” is like 12 kph on a treadmill. Moreover, the understanding that the cars are safer to crash than ever, creates the perverse collateral effect of undervaluing the drivers’ effort: in the past, one mistake would literally break or kill you, so overwhelming respect was due to those daring to ride their fallible temperamental machines. After Senna’s death, in 1994, F1 changed enormously in terms of safety. The early 1990s cars were the last
machines to constantly challenge the drivers’ physical integrity, and even then, less than in the 1980s, the 1970s, and certainly the crazy 1960s.

I remember the day Jacques Laffite (JL) broke both his legs in what seemed like a slow accident: his car steered to the right, at the first corner of a chaotic first lap, to avoid other cars in trouble. His Ligier left the asphalt, and then just skidded “slowly” over the zero grip grass, until its “nose” hit the barriers. The absolute speed of the car upon the impact must have been “low” (~50 kph), but the car’s construction offered nearly no protection to the feet and legs. JL’s F1 career ended that afternoon.

Imagine higher speeds and even less modern cars, namely the machines from the 1960s and from the 1970s! Every event was a bit of a “circus”, such were the life threatening risks looming. Yet the “rewards”, for example measured in exhilaration and/or adrenaline, shared by both racers and spectators (which were crazy daring, placing themselves in unacceptable spots), is something unparalleled.

Today, somewhat bored with the F1 2020 cars, I decided to exercise my arms and legs, by virtually racing the “Matra” from the 1968 F1 season. I did some laps around the “new” Portland circuit, USA, a track for rFactor2, released this July. It was formidable! What a challenge! The Matra is a noisy, nervous, powerful car, capable of ~275 kph in such a short circuit! My best lap was a 01:14:8xx, half a second slower than the best adversary.
In real life, with this car, I imagine, if you put a wheel wrong, you will hurt yourself – instantaneously and seriously. The Matra is agile, nervous, very fast, but unstable. It accelerates much better than it can decelerate or turn, so be careful with what you request it to do!
The video that follows has two segments: first it captures my best 01:14:8xx lap, from the in-car camera (footage taken while I was driving the lap), then it features two other laps, from the “TV” camera perspective.

Enjoy and try it yourself. The “Portland” track and the 1968 F1 cars are both free.