Formula 1 has long been considered the pinnacle of automotive and motorsport technology. Many advancements on road cars, including paddle shifters, traction control and improved tire technology, have come out of the development of these engineering marvels.
Sir Stirling Moss, who drove in 66 Grand Prix races between 1955 and 1961, was an honorary judge at this year's Concours d'Elegance at Pebble Beach. While he was carefully studying the lines and mechanics of this year's competitors, we had a chance to ask Moss, now 77, a few questions about his role in racing and how today's cars have changed.
For one, the sheer number of races in a season was far greater when Sir Moss was racing. In the 1955 season, there were 7 races that counted toward the world championship title, and 16 non-championship races. In Moss' final year, there were 8 championship and 36 non-championship races. Today, F1 drivers only have to compete in 17 races per season.
"Back then we had many more races a year," Moss said. "And we still had time to chase pretty girls."
Current Formula 1 cars are some of the fastest in the world. The 2.4 liter, naturally-aspirated V8 engines are mandated to rev at 19,000 rpm (although they're capable of more) and can reach speeds of nearly 220 miles per hour. But being on the forefront of technology doesn't come cheap. Today's teams spend between $57 million and nearly $420 million on the sport annually.
So what does Moss think of these contemporary carbon-fiber speed demons?
"I think they're just staggering," Sir Moss said. "In the old days, you'd just buckle yourself in. It's quite different now."