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Driving Secrets Exposed

Deciphering the styles of the superstars...

The three best drivers in Formula 1 go about their business in very different ways that, for the untrained viewer, is impossible to spot. MARK HUGHES reveals what his expert eye tells us about them.

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Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton: by general consensus the best three drivers in F1. Yet, fascinatingly, they each have very different ways of doing what they do behind the wheel. There has always been variation in driving styles between even the top guys, but in this control-tyre/tightly regulated age, those differences may be having more impact than ever upon the development direction teams are following with their cars. What the drivers are trying to achieve is the most efficient trade-off of workload between the four contact patches, manipulating the weight between them through the various phases of the corner. The way each driver is hard-wired in terms of how he senses lateral accelerations – and what cues he uses – determine how they do this.

As a generality the differences come mainly in slow-speed turns, when the downforce is not great. Higher-speed bends tend to impose a much more uniform technique, one not open for manipulation or negotiation, with everything subservient to aerodynamic downforce.

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