With the Formula 1 season having just started, all eyes were focussed on all the technological changes that have been brought in for the 2017 season. Many were worried in case the changes reduced the quality of the racing or made running a Formula 1 team too expensive.
The other concern people have had is whether driving a Formula 1 car has become too easy; has the technology made it as much of a challenge as it used to be? Some say if a teenager like Max Verstappen can win a Formula 1 race age 18, how hard can it be?
Yes Formula 1 has changed a great deal since I raced in the 80’s and 90’s. But Formula 1 always demands the very best from a driver; you have to find the skill, stamina, concentration and commitment – and realise the best is never enough. It is something technology can never replace.
And the same goes for road cars and the drivers out there each day. We see terrific technological advances designed to help us: parking sensors, reversing cameras, lane avoidance warnings, autonomous emergency breaking, and even more to come in the future.
Some are worried it’s making drivers lazy; that they don’t have to be as skilled as before. I would say that technology can work hand-in-hand with driver skill and dovetail very nicely.
As IAM RoadSmart President for 10 years, I have seen first-hand just how much becoming an advanced driver cannot only just make driving more enjoyable, but could potentially save lives.
Technology will take us part of the way – and improving driving skills will complete the jigsaw.
Why not take advantage of everything technology can offer to assist us? But also realise that the human eye, brain and perception is the best supercomputer money can’t buy! Put the two together, and we have a real force to be reckoned with.
So embrace the change, but realise the man or woman behind the wheel can also become improved for a modern era.
By Nigel Mansell CBE, IAM RoadSmart President and 1992 Formula 1 World Champion