Formula 1- Chassis: 40%, Engine: 40%…driver? 20%

The FIA gathered in Turin for their 2016 FIA Sport Conference and one of the better videos to emerge from the session was an interview with Ferrari’s James Allison who is a remarkable guy in the world of Formula 1.

We talk a lot about the current format in F1 and the hybrid power units versus the racing and on-track action. James does a fabulous job of explaining why the technology matters and what kind of technology barriers F1 is breaking at the moment as well as what barriers he believes it will break in 2017 with the raft of new regulation changes. James Allen interviews the Ferrari genius in a terrific video.

For me, the technology is important but perhaps James explains what the current issue really is when he says that the current combination of impact with the Chassis at 40%, the engine at 40% and the driver at 20%. As important as tech is, the driver relegated to 20% is an issue. Even in 2017, it doesn’t seem like the driver percentage will gain much ground.

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charlie white

Driver only 20%? Am I the only person bothered by this ratio? Maybe one of the teams should partner with Google’s or Apple’s autonomous automobile projects and completely eliminate the driver. Come 2017, I’m done with this sport.


His assessment of the driver contribution at 20% doesn’t bother me. F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport, as Allison so enthusiastically explains the teams are engineering the best machines they possibly can. With the kind of investment of resources and IP Involved, it makes sense you’d limit the dependence on the most fallible component.


At the Thursday press conference in Baku the six drivers were asked what they thought the lap time difference would be if they were all driving the same car.
Vettel stated he thought they would all be within a second. If true, then the 20% contribution feels about right.


Vettel’s assessment is probably on the high side. We’ve seen how close team mates typically are on time, and then when Van Dorne drove the McLaren, and the switch of Verstappen and Kyvatt, they’re all turning in times within a few tenths of the stable team mate. The other thing that came to mind is that when Ferrari, Red Bull are trying to find that second they are down on Mercedes, we don’t hear them saying that we’re looking for 0.4sec from the engine guys, 0.4 from the chassis boys and Seb and Kimi are on the go kart track… Read more »

Guillermo De Simone

I split the answer in two: regarding performance driver is something near 20, perhaps 15%. The rest is due to chassis and engine in different proportions through the years according to the rules. But in race the driver is about 30 or even 40%. We saw many mistakes even with the best cars costing races and championships.

Paul Riseborough

A few points to consider before everyone starts getting outraged about his driver percentage…
1) This is in the context of one super-license driver vs another and the contribution to performance. Put a weekend club-racer into a F1 car and see how fast/far it will go….
2) The contributions are multiplicative not additive. If the driver crashes the car, the engine delivers 200 less HP or the chassis has no downforce, the result is the same – you finish last


Well put Paul. The ‘equation’ of engine:chassis:driver is way over simplistic, there are lots of other elements that could be considered, or ways of breaking the capability of an F1 car and team down. This model doesn’t consider the race team or aerodynamics for instance.


I found it really exciting to hear Allison talk about the efficiency of these hybrid p.u’s.
No wonder more manufacturers are interested in being involved, they p.u’s and aerodynamics at least are real engineering laboratories, even if many other aspects of F1 are now ‘innovation free zones’