I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of a “Perfect lap” – the lap in which the driver takes the absolute maximum from the car and leaves no time on the table, not even a hundredth of a second.
F1 is all about the quest for perfection. At the highest level of driving there is a purity to it; the combination of man and machine, looking to achieve the ultimate around a ribbon of tarmac that makes up the circuit.
So is it possible to do a perfect lap? And do the simulation tools, which all teams have these days, help drivers in that quest or do they merely highlight the limitations of the human being behind the wheel?
We’ve asked a few of the top names from F1 and we’d love to hear your views too.
When we asked Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, he was pretty honest about it: “I’ve never done a perfect lap. But Singapore this year was pretty good!” he said. (He qualified second)
“It’s not possible to do a perfect lap. There’s always something where you think you could have done it slightly better and I don’t really believe you can do the perfect lap. You can get very close, and I did in Singapore, but there’s always a couple of hundredths that you leave on the table.
“You don’t do it in the simulator either but that’s more laboratory conditions. You always have a better chance of getting things right than in the real outdoor world. Drivers, of course, also have competition in the simulator but the problem is that it’s always a moving target with different tyre models and so forth. From time to time we do get in one after the other but it’s quite rare.”
“Probably not,” said Mark Webber, when asked if he has ever done a perfect lap. “It’s very difficult to do the absolute perfect, perfect lap. I’ve been close. But if a drivers says he’s done the perfect lap, I’m not it’s possible.
“The simulators give us a perspective on what is possible, but even so, the most important factor is the real driver in the car understanding what the limit actually is. Even when we do downforce wing comparisons in simulation, looking at what happens with different wing levels, there are certain things that the simulator still can’t take into account that the driver actually does in the car. So thankfully that’s why it’s still a bit of a black art for us in the car and we get to do the job we do!”
However Williams driver Valtteri Bottas disagrees and thinks a perfect laps is attainable. He did a stunning lap in qualifying in Canada to put the Williams third on the grid.
“A perfect lap is possible,” he says,”And it’s always what I’m aiming for but sometimes it’s more difficult. When the car is better balanced it’s easier but then it’s our job to get all the data on Friday and work with the car set-up to get it as strong as it can be so that you can drive it on the limit with a good balance. Every car is a bit different though, and maybe with some it’s easier.
“In Canada, where I qualified third, everything came together for us. There was the weather and that track is quite special was good for us: no high-speed corners, big brakes and chicanes and every corner is quite short. And, for us, normally the shorter the corner the better for us. I think the conditions, the track, my lap, everything just came together.
“I think it is probably easier in the simulator because there are less variables. For example wind speed and temperature. In the simulator those things are a bit behind reality and at a real track there are more variables. For example, a single little gust of wind can change things.”
So what do you think? Is a perfect lap possible? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.