Driver Consistencies – Great Britain

So it’s time to find out who was the most consistent in Great Britain and if anyone would have finished higher if they weren’t compromised by strategy or pit errors.  This has been calculated in the same way as previously done for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Firstly, let’s look at the mean and Standard Deviation for all drivers for all laps completed.

Great Britain Average Lap Times, All Laps:


Most of the drivers are ranked similarly to their respective race classifications with a few swapovers.  Massa, Button, Barrichello and Rosberg are all within four hundredths of a second of each other, so the reason for the mix-up may be a few hot laps here or there.  It is certainly unusual to see all the drivers with such close averages and standard deviations!  Fisichella was seventh, which was a good showing for him and the Force India team.  Had Fisichella not been hampered by the red flag and they got out of Q1 they could have been on for points in this race.

Not surprisingly, the two retirees (Kovalainen and Bourdais) had much slower laptimes and larger standard deviations.  Sorry Amy!

However, if we look at this again, taking out the laps where pit stops were made, we get an average of all the racing laps for each driver.  By the way, I removed the pitstop/outlaps with the help of Ollie’s excellent post on BlogF1.  Cheers Ollie!

Great Britain Average Lap Times, Racing Laps:


Now we see the drivers ranked closer to their race rankings.  Barrichello jumps ahead of Massa, indicating his pitstop/outlaps were worse than him.  Alonso jumps ahead of Piquet on laptimes, indicating that as Piquet lapped around the same pace, he got the better of the strategy calls as he was on a one-stopper and Alonso was on two stops.

There are a lot of ‘clusters’ in the times, indicating that the drivers were lapping at the same pace for quite a while.  One reason for this could be that the drivers were complaining that it was too difficult to overtake and therefore, cars were stuck behind others forcing all the drivers in the train to lap at the same pace…

Kovalainen and Bourdais managed times that weren’t much better than where they retired (sorry Amy), and Hamilton had another miserable day, being 2.5 seconds slower than Button.  An ironic reversal of fortunes from last year and a real indicator that with such bad pace in that McLaren on an aero circuit with high-speed corners that the car needs a lot of wind tunnel time.

Finally, the gap between the front and the back of the field is just over 2.6 seconds, which means that at Silverstone there was approximately a 3.2% performance differential across the whole field.  The higher differential here over Turkey (2.5%) indicates that there is a higher dependence on a good aero package for this circuit.

Who Was Best at Turning Round Turn 8 at Turkey?

Apologies for posting out of order again … but I have been unable until now to find out the data required for this post – I searched the FIA stats, news sites and blogs but nobody had the information!  Finally, my friend Brian Lawrence from the F1NGers Newsgroup managed to find it by watching the race and taking a screen cap of the information.  So Big Thanks to you Brian, the effort was very much appreciated :-D

So what I wanted to do was analyse the speeds logged in the mighty Turn 8 of the Istanbul Circuit and see how they corresponded to a driver’s laptime.  Here is a map of the Istanbul Circuit and also a zoomed-in shot of Turn 8, courtesy of the FIA Media Centre:



Turn 8 is a mighty corner with 4 apexes and a load of up to 4.5G on the driver – It has to be taken almost flat out and defines a good lap time.  But don’t take my word for it, let Fernando Alonso tell you about it:

“Turn 8 is one of the quickest and longest left hand corners of the year. It’s really a series of corners with four apexes, although we treat it as one apex and try to be as smooth as possible with the steering inputs. We don’t touch the brake at any stage through the corner, and simply lift the throttle slightly to keep the car online. In the middle of the corner we’re doing about 260kmh and you can really feel the G-forces on your body. It’s easy to understeer wide in this corner, which will cost you a lot of time, but there’s plenty of run-off to save you.”

(Credit: ING Renault F1 Team via F1 Minute)

So who was the fastest through Turn 8?  Sadly the only information I have available are the top 8 speeds on lap 28, which were:


Naturlly, Button should be fastest as he was dominant all weekend.  Vettel was close behind, partly because the circuit suited the Red Bull cars (which seem to like circuits with fast, sweeping corners).  Vettel is probably much faster than Webber as his car would have been significantly lighter – Vettel was on a three-stop strategy while Webber was on a two-stopper.  Surprisingly the two Ferraris are next considering their fastest laps and driver consistency scores.  Barrichello also is in the top 8 fastest drivers – showing that he could have had a good race had he not lost his head and driven such an erratic race.  The Top 8 consists of both Brawns, both Red Bulls, both Ferraris, a Williams and a Toyota.

Here are the corresponding lap times for those drivers, set on the same lap as when the apex speeds were recorded (lap 28):


The curious outliers here are the two Ferraris – curious because neither InfoRace nor BlogF1 make a note of any mistake or problem for them on this lap.  Indeed, all the drivers posted a time close to that of their average laptimes.  Therefore the only explanation has to be that the car was set up better to take this corner and had a deficiency somewhere else in the lap that slowed them down.  The opposite could be said for Rosberg and Trulli – perhaps they ran lower downforce setups to gain more top speed on the straights?

Here are the speeds and laptimes plotted on the same graph, fastest to slowest speed:


In general, the faster cars recorded a quicker laptime – thus highlighting the importance of getting this corner right to get a good laptime. Also, there seems to be quite a big difference between the teammates here.  Brawn can be explained by Barrichello having a bad race, Red Bull because of the different strategies, but there is no discernible reason why there should be a difference between the Ferrari drivers.  Having said that, the difference between the Ferrari team mates is the smallest of the three teams.

Here is the same graph, sorted by quickest to slowest laptime:


Here the order changes round, with the Ferraris and Barrichello dropping back.  This is more reminiscent of the eventual finishing order of the race, with the outliers as pointed out above.

Unfortunately due to the lack of available data on Turn 8 speeds, more detailed analysis was not possible.  So it’s not concrete whether it is true that a higher apex speed in Turn 8 helps you get a faster lap time, but it does seem like that a driver/car combination that can get a good top speed in Turkey’s awesome Turn 8 will end up being fast over a whole lap.

Fantasy Racers – Britain

Here are the scores from the Fantasy Racers Game for the British GP.  For some background info, please refer to my post after the Turkish GP.

Driver Scores for the British GP:


Sebastian Vettel romped away with the Race today – and it shows in his scores.  he won the race, got pole and fastest lap and so scored 90 points more than his team mate in second place.  Unlucky for your team if you picked Bourdais or Kovalainen (sorry Amy ;) ) as these were the only retirees today (indeed, it was because of a collision between them!)

2009 Fantasy Racers Driver’s Championship:


Button still holds onto his lead here with Barrichello in second place – with Vettel fast catching up.  Funny how it imitates the real championship – art imitating life here?

Average Points Per Race:


Similar comment to the championship here – and not much change from the previous race, except Vettel gets ahead of Webber and Rosberg ahead of Glock.  Kubica is still near the back and Kovalainen is in last place (sorry Amy!)

Points Per Million:


(Note: Driver values are constantly changing due to previous success and amount of team picks – but the values for each driver are ‘set’ at the Friday deadline for driver changes to a team. Therefore the average of these values were taken in this calculation.)

Suddenly Rosberg has leapfrogged into second place with his strong finish in the GP and Rubens has dropped to fourth.  Vettel is also now a lot better value for money but other than that, the order has not changed much.  Rather than tell you who is last , I should just apologise to Amy again…

My Team:

I have moved to 48th in the Sidepodcast League and 3rd in the Pitlane Fanatic League – a change of +2 and 0 places respectively.  My team lies 281st overall.  Here’s how my drivers did…

Adrian Sutil
Force India F1 Team
4.40m – 63 points

Jenson Button
Brawn GP
13.60m – 120 points

Robert Kubica
BMW Sauber F1 Team
5.00m – 67 points

Rubens Barrichello
Brawn GP
11.20m – 150 points

Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull Racing
13.00m – 250 points

Timo Glock
Panasonic Toyota Racing
7.00m – 90 points

I think it’s time to say goodbye to Sutil and Kubica… but who shall I replace them with?

It appears that they scored no worse than one driver of the equivalent value of them both.  I shall have to think about that one and get back to you…

Is That Fuel Weight in Pounds or Kilos?

Another dramatic Qualifying session for the British Grand Prix.  It seems these days that the qualifying ends up being better than the race.

Today was no different.  Although the story of the season is about BrawnGP and in particular Jenson Button, the fairytale magic didn’t happen today, with Jenson Button only managing sixth place and possible frustrations within the team.  Barrichello qualified third and must fancy his chances tomorrow.  I guess every fairytale has a bit in the middle where the hero seems to have no chance of winning – but it doesn’t feel right to me personally that Jenson should dominate the season and not fare too well at his home GP.

We shall see, but it will take some mighty driving from Button and a master stroke from Brawn to get him to the front tomorrow I reckon.  The Red Bulls looked mighty today at a circuit with lots of fast sweeping corners – the type of circuit they should be strong at.  Vettel took pole with Webber third – who claims he was blocked by Raikkonen on a slow down lap.

Let us have a look at the top 10 guys from Q3 and their times:


Vettel by far was the master class today with a lap time almost half a second quicker than Barrichello and his team mate Webber.  Button was nearly half a second slower than Barrichello and almost a whole second slower than pole position – the first time this season he has qualified outside of the top 5, in fact.  Further back, the field is quite evenly spread, but we find Raikkonen and Alonso over a second slower than the pole sitter’s lap time and a quarter of a second slower than their nearest rival (Glock).

Now let’s look at the fuel weights.  According to figures from the F1 Yearbook (kindly supplied by Alianora ;) ), a lap of Silverstone costs around 2.47 kilograms or 0.035 seconds per lap.  Taking this into account, we can now analyse the fuel weights of the cars to see how long the drivers plan to run before making a pit stop and how much the fuel impacted their lap time.

Firstly, the fuel weights:


As we can see here, almost every position is out of order now. The most surprising thing is that Button was fuelled exactly the same as Barrichello and that he was so much off the pace – but then he was having serious issues with the car all weekend.  Raikkonen and Alonso are also in trouble as they didn’t put good times in and they were fuelled light.  Indeed, there are some interesting strategies at play here which may be gambling on rain or a safety car.  It’s also a shame that Nakajima’s performance is undermined by his light fuel load too.

It should be noted that tomorrow’s GP will be 60 laps and therefore we can assume that on the strength of these fuel loads, the top 4 will be two stopping, the next three could either run a two or three stop strategy and the last three will be three stopping.

Taking the fuel effect into account, here are the corrected lap times:


Vettel is still miles ahead of the opposition and almost three quarters of a second ahead of his team mate, who slightly pips Barrichello into second place.  Rosberg and Nakajima swap back to their normal order within the team, with Raikkonen and Alonso sadly miles off the pace :(

But the biggest surprise has to be Button – with him being almost half a second slower than Barrichello he is having major problems with his car… I think all you Button fans need to have all of your fingers crossed that tomorrow brings better conditions so that he can get more heat into his tyres (as Ross Brawn alluded to after qualifying).  If Jenson does somehow win it, it will surely be the best win of his career.

My thoughts for the race are that I think if it stays dry, Vettel will win it, but if it rains then Button will have a very good chance.  Either way, we may actually be in for a proper race tomorrow, something we have been yearning for a while this season!

EDIT:  Kind thanks to Brian Lawrence who pointed out that I had made an error with Barrichello’s fuel load – turns out I had copied the number wrong from the FIA PDF file (GRRR to them for making me type out all the weights by hand – the document would not let me copy them)!  I have made corrections to the fuel weights and fuel corrected times graphs and small corrections to the text as a result.  Sorry guys, I’ll try harder not to let that happen again!

Brian also pointed out that the Fuel Usages in kilos per lap, taken from the F1 Yearbook may be incorrect as they are based on 2008 figures when the engines were allowed to rev to higher limits.  In fact, the actual fuel usage for the first stint were closer to 2.6 or 2.7 kilos.  I’m going to look into this – there may be a blog post worth writing about on the subject!

Driver Consistencies – Turkey

So it’s time to find out who was the most consistent in Turkey and if anyone would have finished higher if they weren’t compromised by strategy or pit errors.  This has been calculated in the same way as previously done for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Firstly, let’s look at the mean and Standard Deviation for all drivers (except Fisichella, who retired on lap 4), over the whole race distance.

Turkey Average Lap Times, All Laps:


There are not too many surprises here – most drivers are in the same position as they finished, or were very close to the guy that pipped them to their position.  Nakajima has a very large spread in his standard deviation – as he had a problem during his final pit stop (the bin lid on the front left wheel would not attach itself properly) and he lost about half a minute.  Barrichello had a very erratic race, as he fell backwards early on, over drove the car to try and make up ground (resulting in a spin) and developing problems with his gearbox, leaving him without seventh gear and eventually leading to his retirement on lap 47 of the race.

However, if we look at this again, taking out the laps where pit stops were made, we get an average of all the racing laps for each driver.

Turkey Average Lap Times, Racing Laps:


Now we can see that Vettel was clearly the fastest driver on the day, due to the lighter fuel load in his car as he was on a three-stop strategy (most of the others, including Brawn, were on a two-stopper).  Nakajima was the eighth fastest driver on average, so he probably would have done enough to score a point had the bin lid attached itself properly (as this happened during a pit stop, this time has been removed from this graph).  Piquet also appears three places higher – this is also due to a slow final pit stop although nothing is mentioned in the ING Renault F1 press release about this.

Had Barrichello not retired and continued at his average pace, he would have finished just in front of ‘Eeyore’ Hamilton, who had another rotten weekend in his Mercedes Van.  Finally, Bourdais is so far off the pace that he must have been at the circuit until nightfall trying to reach the end of the race ;)

The gap between the front and the back of the field is about 2.3 seconds, or just under two seconds if we discount Bourdais.  This means that at Turkey there was approximately a 2.5% performance differential across the whole field.

The Ace in the Hole

First of all, apologies for posting out of order, but these stats were quite tricky and took some time to collate – and I wanted to get my Fantasy Racers stats finished quickly for you guys ;)

As the Monaco Grand Prix circuit is almost impossible to overtake other cars on, utmost importance is placed on the drivers putting in the best qualifying laps possible.  Therefore I shall analyse how well the drivers did in the ultimate pace required for Q1 and Q2, then look at how well the drivers performed in Q3 with the usual stint and fuel corrected times.  Finally I shall analyse the ‘hitrate’ of each driver to see who was the most consistent as well as fastest.

To figure out how well each driver did in Q1 and Q2, I shall count all lap times quicker than 107% of the session’s fastest time, because 107% of the pole time used to be the minimum benchmark time required to qualify for the race (this was introduced in the early 90’s when grids started to be smaller than 26 cars).  As the pole lap was around 1:15.000, the 107% benchmark is a lap time of roughly 1 minute 21 seconds.  This benchmark should easily cover all the ‘quick’ laps the drivers did as in general, the field was spread by about two seconds – this equates to about a 2.5% spread.

Any laps slower than this benchmark are considered either in-laps, out-laps, installation laps or other tomfoolery and weird tricks the teams play to ensure:

  1. the car is properly warmed up for that hotlap; and
  2. the driver has enough ‘clear air’ and so doesn’t get blocked or slowed down.

So, with that in mind, we can calculate a median value and then add the standard error to it to find out how consistent a driver was during that session.  Bear in mind that we are not too bothered about the median lap times themselves, more the size of the vertical error bars – the smaller the bars, the more consistent the driver.

Firstly, let us look at the median lap times for Q1:


It is no surprise that the first two drivers are the Brawns – the cars were quick all weekend and we know that both drivers can put in some very consistent performances.  The next driver is a surprise though – Sebastian Buemi.  In his first Monaco Grand Prix in an F1 car, he was on average very quick and very consistent in a car that has not performed too well this year.

Other drivers of note are that Nakajima was a little slower on average but more consistent than Rosberg, Alonso completely outclasses Piquet in consistency and Hamilton’s data should probably be ignored – as he only completed two laps at the start of the session when the track was at it’s slowest and crashed out before completing the session. Therefore, his times are not directly comparable to the others.

What about Q2?


Vettel really turned it on in this session – being the most consistent of the front runners.  Buemi, Nakajima and Sutil were incredibly consistent, alas only Nakajima was the only driver of the three fast enough to make it into Q3…  Alonso lives up to his reputation as ‘the metronome’ as well with a decent performance here, while Kovalainen and Rosberg had erratic runs through the session, probably requiring a Banzai lap to get into Q3.  On average, the track got quicker by about a second during this session.

If we take the top 15 drivers and add the hot laps from Q1 and Q2 we get this:

mon09_q1 q2_av

So over the proper part of qualifying, where raw pace and a mighty lap is required on fumes and not half a tank, Alonso, Nakajima and Buemi were the most consistent and Rosberg, Kovalainen and Webber were very erratic.  If we compare Webber and Rosberg to their teammates we see that they were a lot slower and more erratic on average and therefore must have put in a really quick lap at the end of the session to get ahead of their respective team mates.

So what does this all mean?  Remember, we are focusing on how consistent these guys are – so we can see who is the best at dialling in and getting used to their car and who requires a ‘Banzai lap’ at the end of the session in order to progress.

It appears as though Buemi and Nakajima can only drive at a certain speed as they are very consistent – but as these guys don’t normally qualify well we can assume they lack that special skill where they can wring the most out of the car to try and push themselves through.  On the contrary, we know that the top teams often save their very best for the last seconds of the session and we can see that here with Massa, Barrichello, Raikkonen and Rosberg.  Alonso and Button do not have as much variance in their times, but this is because they are known to be consistently fast and therefore their lap times will display a standard error that is lower than their team mates.

It may also be the case that those drivers with a larger standard error than their team mates cannot adjust to their cars as well and may have problems setting up the car or making it work for them.  A good example would be Buemi and Bourdais (Toro Rosso) or Alonso and Piquet (Renault).  Raikkonen, who had so  many problems with the handling of his Ferrari and was well off the pace of Massa, seems to be enjoying this’ year’s Ferrari a lot better as both his average time and standard error are similar to that of Massa.

I have also graphed as a percentage the amount of laps each driver logged that were under the 107% threshold.

Driver Hitrates (Q1+Q2):

Mon09_q1 q2_hitrate

It is interesting here that the hierarchy of who recorded the highest percentage of hot laps has nothing to do with the actual finishing order.  However, Piquet seems to have been quite consistent (which is surprising considering how poor his race performance is) and Bourdais really had trouble getting the car to work for him.

Unfortunately neither of the Toyotas, BMW’s or Hamilton feature here because it would be unfair to compare those who were knocked out in Q1 and therefore recorded fewer laps.

Now onto Q3 and the lovely fuel corrected stuff!

Q3 Final Lap times:


The final race for pole was very tight – Button nicked it from Raikkonen at the very end with a lap that was just under 3 hundredths of a second faster! Barrichello was only a tenth behind and the others are relatively close, save for Alonso and Nakajima who are a second and almost two and a half seconds off the pace respectively.

Now for the fuel corrected times.  A lap of Monaco costs about 1.65kg and results in a penalty of about 0.025 seconds per kilo per lap.  Taking into account that the minimum possible fuel load at the end of Q3 could have been three laps (to allow for an installation lap, a formation lap and then a race lap into the pits to fuel up again, this means that the minimum practical weight of the car is about 610kg.

Therefore taking into account the published weights of the cars, the projected fuel loads would have been as follows:


We all know that Vettel was light but it is surprising how much lighter he was than the Brawns – the car was a bit off the pace in Q3 if he had to be light to get 4th and Webber 8th ‘normally fuelled’.  By the looks of things, Nakajima was given almost enough fuel to get to Turkey!

Q3 Fuel Corrected Times:


Raikkonen managed to keep a good pace with the Brawns which will be encouraging to Ferrari – however Massa being half a second slower will not!  Kovalainen set a reasonably fast time, which brings up the big ‘what if’ Lewis didn’t crash in Q1?  I think he missed out on a decent points score here today…

The big loser here is Vettel who set an almost identical time to Webber.  Although I like Vettel, personally I think it’s great to see Webber doing well this year and that he is a good match for his team mate :)

In the race, the Brawns made a fantastic start using the Super soft ‘Prime’ tyres to their advantage – Vettel tried to keep up but his Primes went off and he crashed early in the race.  Once the Brawns got ahead, nobody could keep up with them and the result was another 1-2 for Brawn (with Button winning) and Raikkonen coming home third.

Fantasy Racers – Turkey

So some of you may have heard of a little browser-based game called “Fantasy Racers” – but for those of you who haven’t, it’s a cool game where you start with a budget of $40 million and have to “buy” drivers who score points for your team.

Anyway, for more info please visit the website here.

As part of my participation in the Sidepodcast and Pitlane Fanatic Leagues I have decided to make a spreadsheet using all the driver values such as points scored, driver values and driver selections to see how well each driver is doing and who is worth picking or dropping…

Various people use various systems to pick their teams: some pick with their heart, some pick theirs based on Friday Practice, some pick on race results and some pick theirs using top secret super-complicated systems. Me? I picked 6 decent drivers at the start of the year and I always seem to get three who do well and three who do poorly – so my system is purely based on mediocrity!

Anyway, I did promise to include Fantasy Racers Stats on this blog and I will collate data on the following:

  • Points scored in the race
  • Championship points so far
  • Average points per race
  • Points per million

Where points per million is calculated as “Number of Points Scored” divided by “Average Cost over the course of the Season”.

Driver Scores for the Turkish GP:


As we can see here, Jenson Button had a good points haul here – 150 Points for the win, 58 points for completing all the laps and 20 points for the fastest lap. Sebastian Vettel pips Mark Webber by virtue of getting 20 points for pole position. Everybody down to 13th place completed the race unlapped and therefore scored a maximum 58 points as well as points for their respective positions. Only Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella retired, so they were the only big losers in the points here (and guess who has Barrichello in his team ;) )

2009 Fantasy Racers Driver’s Championship:


Hardly surprising that Button is running away with the Fantasy Racers championship as he is doing so in real life too – the two Brawns are leading the two Red Bulls. Timo Glock and Lewis Hamilton are also decent additions to any team and it’s pretty close going from third place down. I plan to display the top eight drivers in the championship after every race – let’s see if we have the same eight drivers in the list at the end of the season!

Average Points Per Race:

tur09_FR_av_points The most consistent performers so far this season have been the Brawns, followed by the Red Bulls. Robert Kubica is well down the order – which is understandable considering how bad the BMW has performed this year, yet his team mate Nick Heidfeld is mid-table. For those like me who picked Kubica (probably on the strength of last year’s performances), this really hurts!

Finally note that Hamilton is much higher than Kovalainen due to the fact that his ‘podium’ in Australia was allowed to stand in terms of FR points – otherwise he would also be down at the back of the field too!

Points Per Million:


Now this is the big one: how much is a driver worth in terms of how many points he scored versus how much he cost? In other words, which drivers are the best value for money?

(Note: Driver values are constantly changing due to previous success and amount of team picks – but the values for each driver are ‘set’ at the Friday deadline for driver changes to a team. Therefore the average of these values were taken in this calculation.)

Unsurprisingly, the Brawn Drivers have been excellent value for money due to their low value prior to Australia and subsequent success in all the races this season. Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg also feature highly due to their consistent scores. Fisichella and Sutil also are good value for money because the drivers have been low cost all season and they have had quite a few finishes too.

Similarly, the Ferrari, McLaren and BMW drivers have been poor value due to the fact the teams have all done unexpectedly badly in the races and were valued highly during the season. It is worth noting that Heidfeld was the exception to this statement and that Kubica’s value slid down to the level of Adrian Sutil, thus reflecting his poor performances this season.

So what does this all mean? Well, if you picked the Brawns and the Red Bulls at the start of the season you’re probably doing quite well in your league by now – conversely if you relied on McLaren, Ferrari or BMW you are probably not! I would say that if you are after a driver and you don’t have much cash to spare, try buying Sutil or Kubica as both are cheap and the BMW looks to be improving. Similarly, Kovalainen and Raikkonen are overpriced so ditch them for a Toyota or a Red Bull driver if you can, or Rosberg if you need a solid finisher. If you pinned your hopes on Toro Rosso being a bargain, forget it, they’re not going to score you many points.

I will let you know how my team goes and what changes I make but as it stands my team lies 269th overall, 50th in the Sidepodcast League and 3rd in the Pitlane Fanatic League. My team?

Adrian Sutil
Force India F1 Team
4.30m – 383pts

Jenson Button
Brawn GP
13.80m – 1514pts

Robert Kubica
BMW Sauber F1 Team
5.10m – 402pts

Rubens Barrichello
Brawn GP
11.10m – 955pts

Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull Racing
12.30m – 814pts

Timo Glock
Panasonic Toyota Racing
7.10m – 752pts

Above all, remember to have fun and let me know if these stats helped you or worse, if they made your team slide down the order!

How Heavy Was Your Turkey?

Another fantastic qualifying session today – it seems as though these are becoming more exciting than some of the races…

With the field so closely matched (again, the spread between first and last place in Q1 was less than a second and a half, which is amazing considering that the regulations are quite new and the cars aren’t fully developed yet), putting in a fast lap was very important to ensure you did not fall into the trap of not going through to the next session.

Sadly today, it seemed that Lewis Hamilton was the man that got caught out, in a car that looked more unbalanced than a Mercedes White Van.  I’m sure Danish Taxi Drivers all looked on in disbelief, thinking they could have hustled their C-Classes around the Istanbul Circuit quicker than he did ;)

On a similar note, well done to Adrian Sutil for getting the FIF1 into Q2 and great work by Kovalainen in beating Hamilton – it made for a refreshing change so let’s hope these guys can do something with it…

For the Beemers, Kubica managed to complain his way into Q3 while Heidfeld was left stroking his whiskers in 11th place.  It’s a shame to see BMW so far down the order considering they were contenders last year.  Alonso managed to use his supreme talents to hustle his Espace into 8th place (good stuff yet again), Rosberg did a “Rosberg” yet again after being fastest in FP1&2 – look for him to fade away in the race as always.  Ferrari were surprisingly slower than expected and Toyota surprisingly quicker, but as it’s Trulli we know he’ll be leading the train tomorrow.

So, onto the top two teams.  We knew that the Brawns would perform well around here but the experts were predicting that with Red Bull finally bolting on their Super-Duper-Double-Decker-Diffuser, they would be strong here as this circuit with loads of high speed corners would suit the car (on a side note, I plan to analyse apex speeds in Turn 8 for tomorrow’s race – does anyone know where I can find that information?).  Red Bull and Brawn were trading blows all the way through qualifying but it came down to the very last lap of the day with Vettel pipping Jenson to pole, followed by Rubens and then Webber.

Below is a graph of the Top 10 times after Q3:


Vettel is almost a tenth faster than Button who is a further two tenths faster than Barrichello and Webber.  It is clear from the times set that Kubica and Rosberg were heavily fuelled for the race.

Below is a graph of the weights of each car that took part in Q3:


Taking into account that a lap of fuel is worth about 2.5kg around the Istanbul Circuit, I have added the number of laps worth of fuel in the tank, minus three laps (as the car will still do an installation lap, a parade lap and an in-lap when coming into the pits for fuel).  From this we can see that Kubica and Rosberg are carrying between two and four laps more fuel than most of the others  – and that Vettel was two laps lighter than the Brawns, with Webber on around the same fuel load.  Button managed to go faster than Barrichello even though he was carrying a lap more fuel, and it seems like Alonso went for a light Banzai lap in the hope of getting his Renault up the grid.  Unfortunately it didn’t seem to work for him and he will have to hope for a timely safety car to get a decent points haul from tomorrow’s race now…

We also know that the cost of every extra kilo of fuel carried is about 0.04 seconds per lap.  Therefore from this information we can estimate a fuel-corrected lap time by calculating how much of a penalty each driver was carrying and subtract this from the lap time.  I have decided to allow for three laps fuel in the tank (about 612kg) and any extra weight is considered a penalty.

Therefore, taking this into account, my fuel adjusted grid for tomorrow’s race is as follows:


From this, we can see that Jenson Button was yet again the class of the field and almost two tenths faster than Vettel.  Vettel narrowly pips his team mate and Barrichello is left way behind – almost three tenths off his team mate!  Rosberg didn’t do much better than his heavy car allowed for and Kubica did not make the best of it, but the big surprise here is Alonso – whose fuel corrected time is nearly a second slower than Button!  Clearly, the Renault is a midfield car not worthy of Alonso’s talents and he is flattering to deceive how bad the car is with his abilities.

So what does this mean tomorrow?  Well, historically the guy on pole always seems to get a better start than the guy in second on this track, so if Vettel manages to get into the lead the race could be his.  However, if Brawn can do what they did in Monaco and pull ahead into the first corner, you would have to be a brave man to bet against the ability of Jenson and the clever strategy of Ross Brawn winning the day.  I guess that’s what’s great about F1 – even though we can analyse the performance down to the tiniest detail, we know anything could happen tomorrow and the race will surely be full of surprises!

As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome…

Monaco Sweepstakes

Ahh Monaco.  The Grand Prix of paradoxes.  Glitz and Glamour, those yachts, the beautiful harbour, the Grand Prix which everyone wants to see and be seen at.  Yet the circuit is too tight to overtake, the paddock too small to fit all of the gear in and the run-off’s are non-existent.  Without it’s history and the money behind it, Monaco surely would not be allowed on the calendar if it was proposed as a new Grand Prix… but then, considering some of the rubbish circuits we have these days, maybe that’s not such a bad thing…

Unfortunately, Monaco often needs rain or a safety car to add some excitement to the race and sadly this was lacking this year.  From memory, we only had one attempt at an overtaking manoeuvre by Massa, but he missed the chicane and ended up losing not only the place he had gained illegally but also the one he had originally as Rosberg nipped down the inside as well!

Therefore, with such a processional race, I have decided to analyse what happened in qualifying, as it is so important to the outcome of the race.  I shall analyse who went out on the track at the right time and who made the most of their fuel load during Q3.

Finally, as much was made of the Brawn team’s choice of Super-soft tyres (the “options”) at the start and how they were used with great effect to propel the cars to the front of the field, I shall try to analyse how they did this and who else, if anybody made good use of the option tyre.

Driver Consistency – Spain

I have been requested to analyse how consistent the drivers were over a whole race and compare average lap times, with standard deviations included.  Taking all the laps after the safety car had returned into the pits into account, we can see the following:


The dots represent the mean average lap times and the vertical bars cover one standard deviation from the mean. Laps driven under the safety car were not considered because these were not set competitively.  From the graph, we can see that the average lap times closely match the final result, with a couple of exceptions.

The first is Massa, which is due to the fact that he had to back off after being told he did not have enough fuel to complete the race (although it later transpired that he did in fact and that it was an error in the fuel sensor in the car that told the team that he didn’t).

However, the second and more surprising result here is that Mark Webber was very slightly faster than Barrichello on average, and was more consistent over the whole race than Barrichello was.  This was due to the extra stop Barrichello had to make which added an extra in lap and out lap which increases the average lap time slightly.  Had Webber started a bit higher than fifth place, perhaps he could have passed Barrichello as his pace and strategy were both very close to Button – with Vettel also not far off. 

Although the Brawns may appear to be easily winning, it seems that Red Bull are not that far behind and I would expect to see them challenge the Brawns on an equal footing in the not too distant future…

EDIT: I have been requested by Maverick to look at the lap times without the in-laps and out-laps included… and the results are, well, interesting to say the least:


As we can see here, Barrichello is clearly the fastest driver on the track, but his lack of consistency in his third stint (see earlier post) and the extra pit stop cost him in the end.  Button was very close behind and was more consistent in his pace, which won him the race in the end.

Webber was clearly a quarter of a second off the pace with Vettel not far behind – but the fact that Webber was on a two-stopper with cars in front of him running into trouble meant that he was able to move up two spots to third – a good effort!

One of those cars that ran into problems was Felipe Massa, whose last four laps when he was coasting to save fuel have been excluded here (as they are not a fair reflection of his pace).  Had he not run into trouble he could well have held off Vettel and definitely Alonso with the pace he was running.

Aside from that, no real other surprises – Fisichella is faster than Nakajima and would have finished ahead of him but had to make an extra pit stop because of a faulty fuel rig.  Although Raikkonen’s pace does not look too hot, remember he didn’t get that far into the race before retiring, but was lapping comparatively fast to the others before he hit trouble.

One final remark – you can see why it is so difficult to pass here – the whole field is spread by less than a second and a half.  This is because the drivers and teams know the circuit so well, having tested here so much over the winter.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to use this as a measurement of the average lap time for each driver – we could observe how a driver progresses over a season and how much the field is spread over the course of a race?

Your comments and thoughts are always appreciated on this one.  Credit goes to Maverick for the tip!