After Walter Röhrl’s “children’s birthday” statement, a debate has been sparked about who can actually do what behind the wheel of a racing car. Marc Surer has now commented on this. And of course he quickly ended up with Michael Schumacher.
Rally or Formula 1 World Championship, what is the real premier class of motorsport on four wheels? A discussion that Walter Röhrl rekindled with his “children’s birthday” statement about Formula 1. But Marc Surer believes that Formula 1 drivers in the World Rally Championship would do better than rally drivers in the Formula 1 World Championship.
Surer, for example, assumes that seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher “probably” would have been an excellent rally driver “because he could simply adapt to the conditions.” And that, according to the expert in an interview on the Formula1.de YouTube channel, is exactly a criterion for surviving in rallying.
Surer knows what he’s talking about. Actually a child of formula racing, he drove Formula 1 for teams such as ATS, Arrows and Brabham between 1979 and 1986. Surer also took part in endurance races and rallies. It was a serious fire accident at the Hesse Rally in 1986 that ended his active career and the life of his co-driver Michel Wyder.
Best German racing driver of all time? Michael Schumacher or Walter Röhrl?
Formula 1 and rallying, Surer says today, “cannot be compared because they are simply two different disciplines.” Accordingly, one cannot answer the question of who was the greatest German racing driver of all time, Michael Schumacher or rather Walter Röhrl.
Röhrl has “proven that he can become world champion with different cars. This is a fine art of driving. Michael Schumacher was simply the specialist who perfected everything. But he was also someone, we saw, who could drive sensationally in the rain, for example,” says Surer.
How good would Verstappen be in the World Rally Championship?
The former Grand Prix driver is convinced that this is a quality that would have made Schumacher one of the top drivers in rallying. And Surer believes that Max Verstappen would cut a passable figure in a rally car – probably better than the reigning WRC champion Kalle Rovanperä in a Formula 1 car.
“Because it is easier to switch from 5g to a car that builds up perhaps two or a maximum of 2.5g of centrifugal force. (…) I do think that Verstappen, who is a very special racing driver, would be good in a rally car. He could adjust more quickly because he would get off the centrifugal force. And he’s not afraid either. He probably wouldn’t care much about the trees.”
Surer: The legend Röhrl can say anything!
Surer doesn’t think Röhrl’s statement that Formula 1 is a “children’s birthday party” compared to rallying is a big deal. Röhrl in particular “is allowed to say something like that. He doesn’t cover his mouth with his hand, but says straight away what he thinks. I like that. And Walter Röhrl also drove long distances with Lancia in my time, and he was faster than Patrese in the rain.”
What Surer wants to say: Röhrl not only knows about rallying, but also about circuit racing. But: “Formula 1 is a different playground. A rally car is relatively easy to drive. A souped-up production car, if you will. They’re easy to handle, you can play with them.”
Surer: What makes Formula 1 so challenging
In Formula 1 “we’re talking about 5g these days. Reacting reflexively correctly in the curve and not just hanging in the seat and leaning your head on something, but also being able to react there is a different dimension. And also the speed when you ride bike to bike at well over 300 km/h.”
Perhaps this is also a reason why there have recently been three Formula 1 drivers, Kimi Räikkönen, Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen, who also performed quite well in rallies. Conversely, there is no rally driver who has ever achieved even remotely comparable successes in formula racing.
However, Surer fully agrees with one point that Röhrl raised: “In a rally car, the conditions change again and again. When I drove in rallies, I always lost time when we had gravel and then asphalt and then gravel again. Because I simply couldn’t make the transition as quickly as the professionals.”
The entire interview with Marc Surer’s reaction to Walter Röhrl’s statements (14 minutes) has been available as a video on the Formula1.de YouTube channel since Thursday. Just like Röhrl’s statements on ServusTV, unabridged and in full length (10 minutes). Subscribe to the channel now for free, activate notifications and never miss a new video!