When was Formula 1 at its most competitive? It's a simple enough question, but one that does not lend itself to easy answers.
There are many ways to approach answering this, but the most logical method to use is qualifying. Not only does qualifying reflect the raw performance of a grand prix car, but it is also less prone (although not free of) the myriad factors that distort the data produced by looking only at race results.
Excluding the anomalous Indianapolis 500s of 1950-60, a total of 877 world championship races have been held. When referring to 'F1' in the following analysis, that can be taken to mean all of those points-paying races, including those held in 1952-53, when the world championship was run to Formula 2 regulations.
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Edd Straw is Editor-in-Chief of Autosport, overseeing both print and digital versions of the brand. Edd has worked for Autosport since joining as a junior reporter in 2002. He became Editor in November 2014, having previously worked as National Editor, News Editor and Grand Prix Editor.
Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, he joined Autosport shortly after graduating from university. He went on to cover a wide range of categories from club motorsport to the World Touring Car Championship and Le Mans to Formula 3 before switching to F1 full-time at the 2008 French Grand Prix. He continues to cover a range of international events in his position as Editor-in-Chief.
In his spare time, he was formerly a club racer whose abilities did not match his enthusiasm in a variety of categories.