by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 24
>>F1 INSIGHT Youthfull Acceleration: The human brain is at its most elastic and fertile in its youth. The early race experience of the latest crop of F1 superstars, like Lewis Hamilton, has helped them to take the sport to the next level. and never get there, so clearly anyone who has got to Formula 1 is an exceptional individual.” Dr Spackman points to a phenomenon often heard in racing circles – that of “getting in the zone.” When a racing driver is truly in his zone, he will talk of time almost seeming to slow down, as if his brain is able to function better, process images quicker and react far faster than usual. Spackman points back to the unconscious elements of a driver’s brain to explain this phenomenon. “These guys have over the years, partly because of genetics and partly because of training, built up circuits to detect what you or I can’t. When they’re in the zone what’s happening is these circuits are working on an unconscious level, and so their mind isn’t fragmented by what’s going on around them. It’s all taken care of by the unconscious. “When you’re in the zone, most of the technical parts of the skill are being operated by the massive computer of parallel wires in a driver’s brain. He has dedicated circuits to do everything unconsciously and when they’re in the zone all these circuits are punching perfectly in parallel, and that all happens so much more quickly than when it’s being done consciously. So everything slows down because instead of having one CPU like you or I, he has 50 CPUs all humming along taking care of each independent thing and his conscious doesn’t have to think about it.” So if the greats are created from a combination of a genetic disposal to the creation of these extra circuits in the brain, and the added library of experience creating a reference section for the unconscious part of the brain to use, how does he explain the current trend towards the promotion of youth? From Kimi Raikkonen through to Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel, Formula 1 these days is all about getting a young driver in the car as soon as possible. Spackman reasons that, so long as the experience these young drivers have been subjected to is the right experience, their capacity for greatness far outweighs their elders. “The brain is very plastic when you’re young. It’s most able to learn these new circuits, particularly with motion and control, at the age of 7 or 8, where it has the capability for huge amounts of learning. If the brain is challenged when it is young, these new circuits grow more quickly and more ably. You take someone like Maria Sharapova who has been playing tennis since she was six years old, and you look at the experience of someone like Vettel or Hamilton, 25