Why Senna's Driving Style Wouldn't Work Today

čas přidán 14. 01. 2022
When you watch Formula 1 now, if you’re eagle-eyed (or a driving coach) you will notice that all of the drivers use quite a similar driving style. Like, pretty much, EXACTLY the same.

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They are VERY smooth coming off the brakes, then one sweep of the steering wheel into the corner, then out of the corner - and smooth on the throttle again.

That’s it, all of them do it. From Lewis, through to Nikita (mostly).

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Now, I have broken down a lot of different drivers’ driving styles on this channel. The Alonso video kinda kicked things off for Driver61.

He would drive in a deliberately horrible style, inducing massive understeer - heating up the famously hard-wearing Michelins to then give him grip on exit.

Then there’s Schumacher - he drove the car very hard into the corner and rotated it mid-corner. This meant that he was [actually slower] mid-corner - but he more than made up for it on the entry and with a brilliant exit.


But, now if you look at Verstappen vs Hamilton - the way they drive the car is remarkably similar. Honestly, go watch some onboards! [After this obviously - I would LOVE to include them here, but we’re not allowed.]

So what’s up with that? Have they just cracked the secret to driving? Or is it the cars that mean everyone drives so similarly now?


Well, let's look back at Senna. Over his time in Formula 1 - he drove a lot of different cars. All of which needed driving differently, so he always needed to adapt to the car.

And it’s quite a collection of cars.

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  • Nikita style = Senna amiright?

  • Through all his carrer, he adapted to everything. I'm certain he would figure something out.

  • You forgot to mention that in Senna's era, the cars were reasonably well dimensioned. Today's F-1 are

  • The thing that amazes me the most about Senna was his mindset. He was always working very close with the mechanics and engineers, I am pretty sure he would give us a masterclass on f1 driving if was still around.

  • Senna drove on pure instinct. He could have adapted his driving style to any car from any era

  • I started doing the V shape myself in Simracing without even knowing it's a real racing technique. I accidentally discovered it by braking a bit too late and noticed to gain time on faster exit/earlier throttle.

  • Some things to correct and add - Senna changed his driving style significantly for the 93 and 94 season cars. He dropped his throttle pumping technique almost entirely (it was simply not needed) and he was very smooth with the steering wheel. And McLaren had already switched to paddle shifting since 92, so he was used to that. In fact back in those years drivers didn't even have to press paddles or buttons that much to shift gear - they had a system that would automatically go through the gears under deceleration or acceleration after just a single pressing of the appropriate button.

  • If smoothness is the way to drive today's cars, can you imagine how fast the late, great Jim Clark would be? He was Mister Smooth back in the '60s, long before aero was considered fit to eat. Easy on both tyres and brakes, the man used minimal inputs to the steering wheel and pedals - and was the fastest of his era.

  • As an old racer I remember watching and studying Senna at the hairpin corner in Montreal 1989 F1 race. His techniques was like none other. He would dive in and diamond the corner with a quick flick and straight-line the exit with at a faster speed...... Amazing...

  • It would have been interesting to see Senna (If he was still alive) do the demo runs that Brundle occassionaly does for Sky F1. However I have a feeling like what a lot of the comments has already said he would have worked out a way to be rapid in a modern F1 car (Same with Schumacher while in his prime G, Hill Clarke Lauda etc).

  • Senna changed his style depending on what he was driving, he would've adapted to any car just fine

  • He was some driver, I’ll never forget watching him duel it out with a very young M Schumacher from up in the grandstand at Silverstone back in 1993

  • Michael was driving many different cars and adapted the style… Alonso as well, even Le Mans LMP cars and etc. so I reckon that Senna would found himself quite handy in this cars

  • I feel like Senna would probably be able to adapt to the current era if he were still around. Like you mentioned in the video he was good at adapting to cars given enough time. Though he might have an old man moment and say that the spirit of F1 has long moved away from what he once knew.

  • Thanks for making this video! I always wondered how the cars became so much faster but looked so much slower than the F1 cars driven by Senna & Schumacher. I would love to see the aggressive styles back in F1 while prioritising the safety for the drivers.

  • There is great video of Senna doing throttle blips in corners when testing Acura NSX. Camera focused right on his feet. It’s amazing driving.

  • As much as I like watching the differences in style through the years in F1. I agree it's difficult to compare old F1 cars to current. I think that's apparent when current drivers drive the older cars. They don't look like they are on the edge because it's so different from the current car. I still would like to see current grid in street cars like old top gear leader board hot lap times.

  • Great content! Very interesting to see how the driving style has changed.

  • Admit it....we want that crazy driving style back!

  • Max has said that he doesn’t have a driving style, because it’s so dependent on the car, the track and the conditions. And I think that goes for most of the drivers. Todays cars require a smooth style so I’m sure Senna would be smooth.