Some of the most difficult and yet most entertaining sports on the planet require, on some level, a melding of man and machine. Golf requires a precise tool that leverages the strength and skill of the golfer. Baseball could not be played without its bat. The Tour de France, one of the world’s most difficult and intense sporting events, would be nothing without the racing bikes the riders use. No sport, however, fuses the mind and body of the athlete with his machine more so than Formula 1. The cars are quite literally built around their drivers. Everything from their body shapes to driving characteristics are taken into account when the cars are built. This synergy between car and driver makes the difference between champion and loser, life and death.
The modern Formula 1 car is remarkably different than its predecessors, and yet, at the same time remains incredibly similar. A mid-mounted engine drives power through a transmission to the rear wheels of the car. Any number of wings and body flares try their hardest to press the wheels down onto the tarmac with as much down force as possible. A single driver is charged with pushing his machine to, and often past its limits in order to record the fastest time around the track. But just as much has stayed the same, much has changed.
In the early days of the sport, drivers and the engineers had little regard in the way of safety. On track deaths were commonplace and vicious crashes happened nearly every race. Death was simply part of the deal for the drivers. This absolutely ludicrous disregard for their own lives in the name of moving a vehicle faster around a track than the competition was what turned racecar drivers into world-renowned rock stars. The world could not have enough Formula 1.
As the technology around and within the cars increased, the number of dead drivers decreased. The cars became more powerful and lighter at the same time. Transmissions shifted faster and aerodynamics became more efficient. Drivers got smarter and faster. One incredibly important, yet often overlooked, element of the cars led to the largest increase in performance and decrease in death: the tire. You can have the most powerful engine and the lightest car, but if the power cannot be efficiently delivered to the tarmac, your car is going nowhere.
Lining up for the start...
The Formula 1 tire is responsible for not just the deliver of incredible amounts of power and torque from the powertrain to the tarmac, but doing so in a fashion that maximizes the grip and control for the driver. Nothing in the car would be worth much without a high performance tire. Why should you treat your high performance body any differently than an engineers or driver treats his high performance car? Engineers seek only the highest quality rubber for their cars and drivers.
Anything less than the highest quality is simply unacceptable and not conducive to high performance. Dress shoes are no different. Imagine high quality leather supported by low quality rubber. High performance is only brought about through high quality. Both the racecar and dress shoe cannot function without high quality, high performance rubber.