AUTOSPORT printed extracts of interviews with Jim Clark and Graham Hill that they carried out in 1962 just before the deciding race in South Africa.  They also asked Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton the same questions.  It is interesting to see the differences between the different eras.  The full interviews with Clark and Hill are available on-line behind the AUTOSPORT Paywall, and it is worth reading if you have access to the site.

One set of questions from these interviews I find particularly interesting, and that is about the ability of the drivers to concentrate 100%.

AS: Do you feel you concentrate 100 per cent?

JC: No. I don’t think anyone can concentrate 100 per cent for two hours; in fact statistics say that very few people can concentrate for more than two minutes without letting their minds wander.

AS: Do you feel that you can concentrate 100 per cent, throughout a race?

GH: No. I would like to be able to, but I don’t think I can.

AS: You give the impression that you are. Your face never appears to move throughout a race.

GH: No, it doesn’t. I try to concentrate because I think this is part of the key to success.

Now we all know that Jamie Alguersuari was able to push 100% from the very beginning of each race.  But it seems that he is not alone in this opinion, both Button and Hamilton feel they can concentrate 100% through the entire race:

JB: Yes.  That’s my job.

LH: Yes.  I never feel like I have a lapse or anything like that.  You need to have it [that mental preparation] now.

So are today’s drivers better prepared than those of 50 years ago, or were Clark and Hill just more honest with their analysis of their own abilities.  Both were double World Champions (although at the time of the interview neither had won) and certainly Clark appears in most observers lists of the top five greatest ever grand prix drivers.

So either the level of competition has massively improved over the years forcing the top drivers to raise their game, or drivers today are less willing to discuss any possible weakness with the press for fear that it may be used against them.

Hill had this to say about perfection:

Every time you go round a corner you’re trying to do it better than the last time. I’m sure that nobody has ever done a perfect lap anywhere, and if I get one corner off perfectly once in a race, that is an achievement. It depends what sort of standards you set yourself, but I think that anybody who can do two consecutive corners perfectly has really achieved something.

So maybe his standards were just higher than the drivers of today?  After all, how many times does the pole sitter claim that he had a perfect lap.  Let me know what you think, is it really possible to compare drivers from such different times in the sports history (cars and tracks are much safer now, so errors by the driver do not have the same penalty as they did 50 years ago).  If you have read the article, what was the stand out difference for you?

8
Leave a Reply

avatar
 
Photo and Image Files
 
 
 
Audio and Video Files
 
 
 
Other File Types
 
 
 
5 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
ByronAntioBobMIEtom firthjonnowoody Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

Is 100% concentration possible? If your brain was firing at its best (and that’s nigh-impossible sometimes), then it’s possible. An even bigger question would be “Is 100% concentration enough?” With everything that goes on around you, I still think it’s possible to miss something.

MIE
Editor
MIE

If 100% concentration is concentrating all of the time, how can you do more?

Sportsmen (or reality TV contestants) who say they can give greater than 100% just show a fundamental misunderstanding of maths.

jonnowoody
Guest
jonnowoody

So Jenson must be able to give a full description of Cheko’s gearbox.

tom firth
Guest
tom firth

But Dave, Modern racing drivers drive at 110% to win ;) I don’t think you can really compare era’s but the comments are certainly interesting, I wonder if 100% concentration of the era of Clark and Hill is different to how 100% is defined today ? Considering all that goes on inside the cars today. Maybe maintaining 100% concentration for the current drivers includes concentrating on the million and one steering wheel adjustments, radio’s and all the other potential distractions whilst driving a contemporary F1 car whilst also maintaining concentration on actually racing the car compared to Clark and Hill’s… Read more »

MIE
Editor
MIE

Look at the difference in lap time between Q2 and Q3 at Silverstone. In Q2 the top ten were separated by six tenths, in Q3 Hamilton was over four tenths clear of second place, every driver improved time from Q2 to Q3.

Was some of the improvement down to concentrating harder (as Clark and Hill would have said), the cars are in Parc Ferme conditions so they didn’t change. While some times in Q2 weren’t set on fresh tyres, why would the other drivers not try as hard in Q2 when the times were so close?

tom firth
Guest
tom firth

Q3 has less traffic, Session time is restricted further and laps are more critical to secure pole position. Additionally for some of the top runners Q2 is effectively banker laps to secure them into Q3. You need to push in Q2 to get into Q3 logically and by been closer to rivals ensures smaller gaps so you don’t get pushed out by the end of the session.

The answer to your question is yes concentration will be higher in Q3 because the pressure is higher.

AntioBob
Guest
AntioBob

For once there is a post for which my comment won’t involve talking out of my back side. I’m a psychologist and know a bit about concentration and attention processes. The question is actually not answerable. The idea of 100% concentration is a theoretical idea only. This is primarily because our attention is “intentional”, meaning that we choose what to focus on and in doing so become blind to other data. The human perceptual system is limited in what we can take in at any given point. What highly skilled individuals do in certain areas (race drivers, surgeons, air traffic… Read more »

Byron
Guest
Byron

The Zen masters are all about concentration. I would posit sport is a means for Westerners to experience moments of “enlightenment”.