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Will there be a historic changing of the guard in Formula 1?

It is the law of life. No matter how genius and dominant he is in his category, any pilot will have to face that aspirant who equals hi

Will there be a historic changing of the guard in Formula 1?


It is the law of life. No matter how genius and dominant he is in his category, any pilot will have to face that aspirant who equals him in talent and surpasses him in youth or other qualities unknown until then. It will depend on the time that elapses until the applicant sharpens those new weapons or acquires enough experience so that the veteran no longer makes a difference.

It is a story seen over and over again, legendary duels that elevate their protagonists to the Olympus of Formula 1. This is how it was since Juan Manuel Fangio gave the witness to Stirling Moss, Niki Lauda to Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna to Prost himself or Michael Schumacher to Fernando Alonso. With the tremendous equality of cars between Red bull and Mercedes this year, At stake is more than a simple world title: the crown that can mark that generational changing of the guard and the triumph of one of those mythical battles that mark the history of the specialty with gold letters.

Many describe Tazio Nuvolari as the best in history and he did not even race in Formula 1. Different eras are incomparable

There is no best driver

Lewis hamilton It has dominated these last few years like no one ever did before. Although his numbers dwarf any driver who has ever competed in Formula 1, it is absurd to compare whether he is better than Max verstappen or any other pilot in history. Comparing different times is comparing pears with apples. Today, almost three times as many races are run in a year than in the 1950s. Nowadays, sports careers are also much longer lived because, fortunately, accidents rarely have fatal consequences.

Perhaps the appropriate thing would be to name which pilot is the best of his time. But who is the greatest of his time is a subjective exercise, because we must not forget that greatness is always measured by the power of the rival. It is the duels between colossi that give true greatness, and more if the clash occurs between two out of series in its fullness, it also marks a paradigm shift or generational change. The history of tennis would not be understood without those duels between Borg and McEnroe, golf between Nicklaus and Ballesteros, the motorcycles between Agostini and Roberts, cycling between Delgado and Indurain

Often the changing of the guard is not a simple matter of age, but of paradigm shifts in technique, in the use of materials, physical and mental preparation, etc. Although Lewis hamilton have 12 years older than Max verstappen, the possible changing of the guard would not occur due to a decline in the British pilot’s faculties, but perhaps this time it could be, for example, through mental toughness. At just 25 years old, Verstappen only thinks about driving, unlike his rival who has more and more non-sporting issues in mind. But let’s go through some history to find similar situations in the past.

The ‘Chueco’ knew later after his best career, that he would never take the same risks again and gave the baton to the new generation. (maserati photo)

Legendary duels

After his mythical victory in the 1957 German GP, Juan Manuel Fangio assumed that he would never again take the almost reckless risks of that race, and after winning five world titles he decided cede the witness to the Stirling Moss, Wolfgang von Trips or Peter Collins, etc. An illustrious list of pilots who later suffered serious accidents that took them off the tracks or directly cost them their lives. Compelling reasons for the Argentine star to give up the witness at the time.

Niki Lauda It marked his time because, in addition to being devilishly fast, he was very meticulous in the set-up and race planning. However, all his magic ended when he found himself in the same team with the last of his shoe, with the ‘professor’ Alain Prost, which in addition to having its qualities, brought to Formula 1 the physical training as a key differentiator in a driver’s performance.

The Frenchman seemed like the pluperfect pilot until he appeared Ayrton senna, that thanks to his ftraining in karting and Formula Ford in England he piloted in another dimension under water and on circuits where millimeter precision was needed in the lines. The Brazilian also contributed a combativity in the melee unusual at the time. His instinct to be a ‘killer’ on the court began to permanently distance him from the rest, until another last of his shoe appeared both in his talent and in limitless ambition: Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher, another level

Schumacher rode with a toughness that baffled even the toughest of the time, such as Ayrton. The advances in security measures, redoubled after the death of the Brazilian myth, sharpened that style bordering on the unsportsmanlike nature of the German pilot. But it would be unfair to simplify with Schumacher. Aside from raising fitness levels even higher, he was the first to create the concept of the total team revolving around his figure.

With ‘Schumi’, for the first time the tires, the power delivery of the engine, the characteristics of the chassis, etc. everything was specifically built to fit a pilot. He caused no one to overshadow him for a long time until back in 2005 an Asturian boy appeared, named Fernando Alonso , that at the Suzuka circuit he showed that he was willing to risk his life on the fearsome Turn 130R.

Ayrton Senna, overshadowed the most perfect driver in history up to that point: Alain Prost.

The simulator generation

Alonso not only had the qualities of Schumacher, the plus of assimilating more risks. The Spanish pilot also contributed his paradigm shift by being the first champion who already trained and obsessively planned races with the use of the simulator. When Schumacher returned to competition, he maintained his talent and fitness, but his shortcomings compared to the generation that started using simulators were exposed.

Lewis hamilton and Max verstappen they are a compendium of the virtues of all the motorsport myths that have preceded them. We have two races left to discover if we are facing a simple change of the generational guard or Verstappen will contribute some new paradigm that at this point in his career is already unattainable for Hamilton. In any case, It is clear is that this wonderful 2021 season will undoubtedly elevate both as ‘the best of their time’.