I keep hearing TV F1 commentary teams talking about the perfect race in relation to the now four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
As I watched the German driver for Infiniti-Red Bull race team take the chequered flag in India on Sunday, the repeated reference to his perfect race reminded me of another open-wheel racer.
Back in the early 1990s, Vancouver Indy racer Ross Bentley strived for what he called the ‘Perfect Drive’, not on the track but on the roads of B.C.
Ross, now coaching race drivers and street drivers in Washington state, always told me that he found the racetrack a safer place to drive. On the track he pretty much knew what other drivers were going to do, whereas drivers on the street were very unpredictable.
And I was reminded of that the other morning when a young driver whizzed by me in the curb lane, then cut in front and crossed two more lanes to turn left at an intersection just a block ahead. Of course, he didn’t signal when he got there, either!
Ross devised a little game that he played every day while travelling to and from work across town. The Perfect Drive Concept was designed to help drivers concentrate and I can’t help think it would be a great game for us all to play some 20 years on from when he first outlined the idea to me.
“The idea is to drive smoothly at a constant speed with minimal braking,” explains Ross, who tells me he still tries to achieve the Perfect Drive daily.
“To do so, you must anticipate light changes and ease off when you approach a stale green. You have to slow in such a way that if your passengers had their eyes closed they wouldn’t be aware of the exact point you stopped.”
Keeping a healthy distance between your car and the one you are following is key. Others do cut into the space but they disappear as fast as they arrive. And even if you ease off to open up the gap again, Ross figured if even 10 cars did that to you and stayed during the average trip you might lose a minute in travel time.
“The Perfect Drive can be ruined by others so I try to figure out what crazy things they might do and adjust accordingly. If I have to brake jerkily in anticipation of the other driver’s move, I don’t deduct any points!”
However, if you hold up traffic or disrupt the flow then you deduct points. If you can let somebody in smoothly or provide an opportunity for somebody else to turn then you’re assisting the flow so he figured that was worth a few bonus points.”
“The Perfect Drive can be different for everybody and you can work out your own scoring technique. I keep it simple and figure if I drop four points then that was nowhere near the Perfect Drive.
I love his final comment: “Oh, and if you drop a point halfway through, you don’t give up and drive the rest of the way like a jerk.”
Give it a try, it’s fun.