Franco Colapinto looks back at his favourite drivers past and present as he attempts to build the ultimate racer.
The Argentine racer gives his take on the ultimate driver, discussing who he admires for their intelligence, qualifying ability, and bravery, including a couple of surprise picks.
“Tom Kristensen, he’s an iconic driver with a history in endurance racing. Intelligence is really important in endurance racing. The races are long and there are so many different factors to think about: weather, track position, strategy, and so much more.
“Tom Kristensen is the driver that I watched most last year. He has won so many times at Le Mans, and he is so intelligent. He was not the quickest, but he was the smartest one on track. He can deal with problems and stay calm.”
DRIVING IN THE WET
“Max Verstappen at the moment. Not only in the wet, but in finding the lines to use and the places to go where the track condition is optimal. He’s good at that - feeling the car and feeling where he can find more potential in those tricky conditions.
“In the last few years, Max has shown some great racing and great stuff in the wet. Most recently, Brazil was impressive, but on many other occasions too.”
“Lewis Hamilton is one of the best qualifying drivers I’ve seen so far. For intelligence, I was stuck between Kristensen and Hamilton. Last year, he showed everyone how smart he is.
“It was a difficult year for him and Max, they were fighting a lot. You could see how mature Hamilton was thanks to all of his experience.
“In qualifying, he was outstanding all season. He was qualifying on pole on weekends where it looked like he couldn’t. Hamilton was always extracting the most out of his car. So yeah, Hamilton has been, in these last few years, one of the best drivers in qualifying.”
“For cornering, I wouldn’t say an F1 driver. I would go for a rally car driver. Rally is really impressive, and I quite like to watch it. The onboards are crazy. How many risks the drivers take and how brave they are at corners, without even knowing the track or what’s going to happen next.
“These drivers are on the limit in every corner. Honestly, I’m really impressed every time I watch. They’re really brave, people like Sebastien Ogier, Loeb, these people who have been racing for many years and won so much... To me, it’s quite impressive and I would say when it comes to cornering skills, they are really good.”
“Drivers from the past, like Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna, were extremely brave at what they were doing. The number of risks they were taking while driving those cars… they were physically so tough.
“When I watch recent onboards compared to back then, the risks they were taking when trying to overtake were so, so, so impressive. Those cars were really, really tough to drive, physically, and also mentally.
“These drivers were jumping in the car not knowing if they were going to jump out of it. It was dangerous in those years, and they were still going, fighting to win races and world championships. I enjoy watching documentaries and movies about those years.”
“Nowadays, I’m pretty sure it’s Checo Perez. He has had some amazing races in the past few years, getting good results due to his tyre management skills. He’s been able to overcut and undercut rivals because he’s able to make his tyres last longer.
“It’s a really important skill to have, and I think he’s one of the best at it. For the engineers and teams, it’s much easier to set your strategy when you know that your driver can manage his tyres so well. I would say Checo is one of the best at that, at the moment.”