“I’ve met drivers who can be blindingly fast but who can’t describe what a car is doing, yes - but it tends to be a pretty short-term situation.” So says Nick Chester, the Renault Sport F1 team’s chassis technical director.
F1 drivers can be fast without having any technical skills...
... however, Renault's chassis boss reckons the very best can always describe what a car is doing
Renault Sport F1’s Nick Chester says that new F1 drivers face a steep learning curve to understand the importance of detailed feedback
However, Chester also adds that the engineers primarily need to know what the car is doing - not how to solve any issues
That's because the engineering team can usually apply changes to improve a car, so long as they have consistent feedback on what the problems are
Drivers learn about what a car is doing from experience, as well as telemetry systems and video analysis
The ideal situation for a team is when both drivers are giving consistent feedback, says Chester
Renault team-mates Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz tend to seek out the same set-up
Part of Chester's job is to ensure that the individual drivers and their engineering teams don't compete to the detriment of the team
At Silverstone Renault's drivers enjoyed markedly different fortunes: Hulkenberg scored points, while Sainz crashed out
Drivers who are consistently fast tend to have great technical skills, as it helps them avoid developing the car in wrong directions
Different driving styles require different set-ups. How much kerb a driver uses will affect the car's ride height, for instance
Drivers are typically asked to describe a car's behaviour at different points of a corner. Crudely, this is typically on turn in, mid-corner and on the corner exit
The unusually hot weather at Silverstone added some complexities to car set-up
Car set-up is also chosen as a compromise to optimise the very best performance throughout a race stint, taking into account fuel loads and tyre durability