Why being a cyclist is like being an F1 driver
Published 21st August 2012 - Written by Adam Le Feuvre
With our forthcoming epic cycle ride to the Belgian Grand Prix – 400 miles in 4 days for charity – we thought it would be good to investigate how similar cycling and F1 is… it proved rather easier than we first thought – the two have loads in common.
If you would like to know more about the ride to spa and would like to donate, read more here.
It’s all about weight in F1, save some weight and you have more to play with in ballast to make the car handle how you’d like. Great news. In cycling, you would have thought that some bikes are light and some are lighter, but oh no no no, it’s a little more complicated than that. Take the simple bottle cage for example, it’s used for holding your drink and costs around £3. But then you could save 50g of weight and get a nice composite one that self-adjusts to the size of the bottle, for only £9. Not much difference to be fair, but then how about saving another 50g or more and for just shy of £100 you can bag yourself an aero-friendly carbon fibre bike cage. Wow.
Formula 1 development never stands still, in fact from one day to the next the cars are continually changing, whether it be on fancy computer software, in the wind tunnel or trackside, the drive for perfection never lets up. Similarly, in cycling did you know that new bikes come out every year, along with new gear systems, lighter and stronger parts and innovation in every possible area. Electronic semi-automatic gearboxes – not just for F1 my friend, pricey bikes have them too. Madness.
Wearing silly outfits
You may think that F1 drivers look cool, but take a step back from the F1 bubble and let’s face it, no matter if it’s Pedro De La Rosa in his whites or Fernando Alonso in his red overalls, they all look a bit silly standing around in sponsor emblazoned onesies. As for cycling, head to a track or a popular park and you’ll notice loads of ‘pro’ cyclists speeding around in sponsor emblazoned spandex, also pretty silly looking.
There’s advanced technology and then there’s F1… and cycling.
If you’re reading Badger GP, you’re probably more than aware of the levels and extremes that Formula 1 goes to in terms of technology, it really is beyond belief. They say that much of the technology is gradually passed down to road cars – which may be the case with some of the fancy gearboxes, safety measures and braking systems, but what about everything else that’s created and invented by F1? You guessed it, cycling – that’s where it ends up.
You don’t have to look very hard to find carbon fibre parts in cycling, and much of it is aerodynamically designed – from wheels spokes, to front forks, to even brake callipers. Many of the design philosophies and manufacturing techniques developed in F1 are now in use by bike companies too. McLaren even teamed up with Specialized to produce a very expensive bike, as used by Jenson Button. But that’s not our focal point, oh no, because nice as it is, it’s no match for this – the Factor One-77, devloped my Beru F1 Systems (aka BF1) – a company that every team on the grid use for their wiring looms and more.
The clever folk there have produced this masterpiece – the Aston Martin Factor One 77 which is built to order to the tune of £25,000 and then some. Check out the site for more info. Yes it’s mind boggling but more than enough proof for our point that a lot of F1’s fancy tech ends up on two wheels…
Brits are good at it
Moving away from technology and bits and pieces – look to the people in the sports. The brits are all over both of them, as recently as the 2012 Olympics, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton are all household names and superstars in the cycling world partly responsible for assisting in Britain dominating the cycling events. Of course there are loads of successful British F1 drivers, you don’t need us to tell you that, but look to the teams and the British dominate the world of F1 engineering, just as they do in cycling too. Yes there’s some from Italy (Campagnolo is the engineering equivalent to Ferrari), Japan (Shimano), but much of the great cycling achievements and design has come from the UK.
“Grand Prix” is a French word, the governing body of the sport, the FIA is also French (Federation Internationale Automobile) and it’s still a pretty major deal in F1, despite there not actually being a race in France currently. Over to cycling and well there’s the Tour de France for starters and there are loads of French manufacturers too, but did you know that the first ever bike race was way back in 1868, in Paris. To prove the previous point more, this first race was won by a British cyclist.
Formula 1 drivers have to be ridiculously dedicated to their fitness in order to succeed, one momentary lapse of concentration and they could bin their multi-million pound racing machine into a barrier or wall and it’s game over. Of course, cyclists don’t have the luxury of a 800bhp engine, let alone any of the other gizmos – so fitness is pretty important to them too.
This fitness point may seem like a weak entry into this list, but there’s more to it – the best drivers in F1 actually use cycling as a way of keeping their fitness up. Mark Webber famously underwent some pretty heft surgery and rehab after damaging his leg in mountain bike accident, Jenson Button is seemingly obsessed with triathlons and cycling, as is Timo Glock and then there’s the driver who’s referred to as being the ‘most complete’ Mr Alonso who’s spent much of the summer break tweeting about his cycling.
Simple – they say that good F1 drivers starting karting when they very young, when did you get on a bike? There’s another reason why cycling is like F1, you need to start early and learn not to crash.
And there’s more….
Once we started, we were finding it hard to stop, there are so many more reasons and links between cycling and Formula 1, it’s crazy – what else can you think of, let us know in the comments.