Historic F1 timing

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flattyre
flattyre
2
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:16 am

Historic F1 timing

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I've been trying to gain an understanding of just how timing was carried out in the old F1 races, in times when it was all measured by hand. But, it's very difficult to find anything of value, so hopefully some of you here will know a bit more about it!

It seems relatively common knowledge that the wives of the drivers used to fill out lap charts by hand, armed only with a stopwatch, pen and paper. Apparently, the teams used to rely on this information to know what was happening in the race, and sometimes even the official timekeepers would be rescued by the wives' lap charts, as the official timekeepers would often lose track of things themselves.

But, I've been wondering to myself - just HOW did they do this? I did a bit of digging around, but there are still some questions left unanswered.

This is the most useful article I have found. https://joesaward.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/lap-charts/ Joe Saward still writes traditional lap charts. It ends up that he simply jots down the car number as they drive past his position, and scribbles a few notes if anything happens in front of him.
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But, I'd imagine that's a messy version of what the official lap charts would've been. I'm trying to find a picture of one of these official lap charts, but this is the only one I can find - and most of it is not decipherable.
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On a side note - According to Peter Windsor, this is one of the stopwatches that Jim Clark's girlfriend, Sally Stokes, used on the Lotus pitwall in 1964 and 1965 to take lap times. Intererstingly, it is only accurate to 1/5th of a second. http://peterwindsor.com/2013/10/05/our-lifeblood/
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So, the questions I have are:
1) Does anyone know, or know of an article that describes, how lap charts used to be compiled officially?
2) Is there a high resolution image that clearly shows the lap chart, with the writing clear enough to read?
3) What are the three extra clock faces used for, on the top of the lap chart in the second picture?
4) Jim Clark's stopwatch above is only accurate to 0.2s. Lap times were accurate to 0.1s. Does this mean that official timekeepers used different stopwatches? Perhaps, when they were forced to refer to the girlfriends' lap times, it was done begrudgingly as they were sometimes less accurate?
5) Just how did they measure every single lap time, given that most of the time they only appeared to have one stopwatch? With a mechanical stopwatch, it would be impossible to measure individual lap times one after another, without having to resort to using mathematics, which I imagine would be very difficult to do at the same time as keeping note of the running order.

Cheers for any help! :D

Tommy Cookers
Tommy Cookers
594
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: Historic F1 timing

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and ......
in the pre-Jim Clark era there was 1 championship point for fastest lap

iirc Mike Hawthorn edged into winning the 1958 championship by fastest laps (helped by good Ferrari slipstreaming teamwork)
also helped by his No.1 rival Moss producing a legal argument that prevented MH's disqualification for driving in the wrong direction