Summer Break…

Now the F1 circus is on it’s annual four week Summer Break, I just thought I’d make a quick blog post letting you guys know what my plans are for the blog.

As I have no posts I want to look at right now, I plan to do a little housekeeping for the blog so that things might work better round here ;) Continue reading

Hungary Driver Consistency – Insert Bad Hungary Pun Here!

Time to break out the Goulash and Palinka and see who was the most worthy of a bad pun involving the word “Hungary”.  Yes, it’s Driver Consistency time!

If you want more info on how I make these calculations, please refer to my post for the Spanish Grand Prix.  I promise to write a proper post in the break about my calculation methods, by the way!

Anyway, here are the average lap times for all drivers during the Hungarian GP:

Hun_09_race_laps_av

Note: As Massa did not start the race he is not included.  Similarly for Sutil as he only managed one lap…

There are not too many changes in this graph to the actual finishing order, except to say that Trulli and Nakajima drop below Barrichello and Heidfeld.  Alonso’s three-wheeler lap really increases his average by a significant amount.

Now we take out the lap times where pit stops were made.  Note that I have removed Alonso’s laps after the pitstop and Vettel’s laps where the car started to break as these are not indicators of true performance.  However, I have left Buemi’s slow laps in as he was stuck in traffic and then damaged his front wing, but did not make a pitstop to try and rectify the problem.

As always, I found out which laps the drivers pitted on with the help of the BlogF1 post on Pit stops and Tyre Strategies.  Here is the graph with only racing laps considered:

Hun_09_race_laps_av_nopit

What is interesting here is Alonso’s average speed being seventh fastest.  Although he was on a lighter fuel load than the other cars around him, this means he could have been on for a points finish had he not had a problem in his first pitstop which caused his wheel to fall off.  Vettel’s pace is way down in fifteenth which is very low for him – possibly due to problems he had in the first corner.  The new Toro Rosso driver is half a second quicker than Buemi, which must worry him, traffic problems or not!  Finally, Nakajima ends up thirteenth fastest which implies he must have had some good pitstops to stay ahead of the train and end up in ninth!

There we go then.  An interesting and eventful weekend – I am pleased to say that at the time of writing, I am very pleased to tell you that Felipe Massa’s condition is improving very well.  That was an horrific accident and hopefully one which will not be seen again for a while.  It’s amazing how well the helmets protect the drivers these days.  Also, Renault have been banned for the next race for what happened to Alonso.  For me this is totally a knee-jerk reaction and an overly harsh penalty set without precedent.  Word is that Renault could race in Valencia under appeal, but if they lose, the penalty could end up being harsher.  I personally wonder if all this could be a way to get Alonso into Massa’s Ferrari seat…

So what did you guys think of the Hungarian Grand Prix?  Do you think Massa will return to F1?  Was the penalty given to Renault a fair one?  Will Alonso move teams?  Will anyone actually turn up to see the Valencia GP, given that the local contingent only care about Alonso?  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts… ;)

Fantasy Racers – Hungary

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

Firstly, the Race scores:

hun09_FR_race_points

Lewis Hamilton ran a great race today – he used the full power of his KERS to make a great start and after some shoddy pit work from both Renault and Red Bull, maximised the pace of his car to his advantage and never looked back.  Good scores for Raikkonen, Webber, Rosberg and Kovalainen, but a very poor day for Alonso, Vettel and Sutil (who retired).  Sadly, if you still had Massa or Bourdais in your team you git zero.  Interestingly enough, the new guy for Toro Rosso outscored his team mate (Buemi) but did not do much better than Bourdais had in previous races.

Let’s take a look at the championship:

hun09_FR_champ_points

Not too many changes from last time, except Hamilton vaults from 9th 6th, showing that things are tight after the first couple of drivers and one good or bad result can change things dramatically.  Felipe Massa only falls one place even though he did not race today.

What about the average points per race?

hun09_FR_av_points

No change in the top four, but Button loses a little of his lead and Webber opens a little gap.  Hamilton gains two places, Kovalainen finally leaps from the bottom of the table into 17th and Sutil is still worse than a driver who has been dropped by his team (hint, hint!)

How have the drivers changed in terms of value for money?

hun09_FR_PPM

(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.)

Because of the Brawn’s performances slipping in the last three races, Button falls to second place behind Rosberg, because he is scoring more points for his worth than Button.  Glock overtakes Barrichello, Heidfeld leaps up a few places after a strong but silent race (along with Hamilton).  Kovalainen and the new Toro Rosso driver are still worse than Bourdais, which does not look good at all.

My Team:

I am dropping like a stone now.  I have dropped to 77th in the Sidepodcast League but stayed in 4th in the Pitlane Fanatic League – a change of -11 and 0 places respectively.  My team lies 404th overall.

Here’s how my drivers did…


Adrian Sutil
Force India F1 Team
4.60m – 3 points


Jenson Button
Brawn GP
12.80m – 120 points


Robert Kubica
BMW Sauber F1 Team
4.30m – 78 points


Rubens Barrichello
Brawn GP
9.80m – 90 points


Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull Racing
13.40m – 33 points


Timo Glock
Panasonic Toyota Racing
7.00m – 130 points

So a bad day for RubberGoat Racing with Sutil not scoring anything, none of it’s drivers on the podium and everybody finishing lower than expected.  The team principal will be inspecting all the performance clauses in the contracts to see if the drivers have been living up to expectations… or there could be trouble!

So how did your teams do?  Who are you considering adding/dropping from your lineup?  I’d love to hear what you think so please leave me a comment!

Hungary For Success

So the circus moves to Hungary and yet another action filled qualifying session.  We saw a Brawn fail to get to Q3 for the first time and some exciting last minute runs for pole … including a timing system failure that meant that nobody knew for about half an hour what the official times were!  It was funny to watch the drivers ask each other what their times were to find out where they finished – F1 could do with more of this! :D

Unfortunately Felipe Massa had a horrific crash after being hit just above the eye by a piece of debris.  At the time of writing, he has had a successful operation to help repair damage to a skull fracture and is stable but in a coma under observation.  As someone who has become a bit of a Felipe fan, I have been made quite upset by this and I dearly hope he makes a full recovery.  Our thoughts are certainly with his family who are flying over from Brazil to be with him, and the team who somehow have to continue tomorrow.

Please note: As Massa will be unable to race tomorrow, I saw no need in displaying his qualifying stats.

Anyway, here are the eventual and official times for Q3 from earlier:

hun09_q3times

Alonso pips Vettel for pole, and the top 5 are very close.  Kovalainen seems to be a bit off the pace (sorry Amy ;) ) along with Raikkonen, Button and Nakajima.  Wait… Button in 8th and Barrichello in 13th?  What a topsy-turvy day!

Here are the fuel weights and stint lengths taken after Q3:

hun09_fuelweights

Button surprisingly is the heaviest here – normally he would be mid-table where Vettel is.  Most of the drivers are on about the same fuel load, which over the course of a 70-lap race appears to be a short first stint into a two-stop strategy.

Note that Alonso is a heck of a lot lighter than the others – on an aero dependent circuit (where he admitted this week that was the area the Renault was weakest in) he had to run very light to get pole.  In contrast, Hamilton’s fuel load appears ‘honest’, so maybe McLaren have found some pace in the car (at last!)

So, let us now take a look at the fuel corrected times:

hun09_q3times_fuelcorrected

Not surprisingly, Vettel and Webber come out fastest, proving the Red Bulls have caught up to the Brawns.  Rosberg is now third, Hamilton stays fourth but Kovalainen closes the gap on him.  Alonso falls to eighth, so the Renault must have been a right handful around here.  As for Raikkonen and Nakajima … Raikkonen has had problems all weekend and ninth is normal for Nakajima, it seems.

Here is something new for you.  After talking to Pat from Too Much Racing I have tried to put all the information above into one graph.  Let’s take a look:

hun09_q3times_fuelweights corrected

So now we can see that the bigger the gap between the dots, the more fuel being carried on board.  Also, you can now handily cross-reference the grid position with the stint length.  The question is, do you guys find this graph more useful than the separate ones? I’d love some feedback on the best way to display what is a complicated set of data.

Conclusions:

Alonso tried the glory pole tactic in China and failed because a safety car had to be deployed.  On a circuit where passing is difficult, this is a risky move as everyone will be desperate to make up ground on the first lap so an accident can happen.  Whilst Button is placed well strategy-wise, I think he is too far back to aim for a win.  The best he can hope for is a podium and I think the Red Bulls will prove too strong for the others and dominate again.  Here’s hoping Webber wins and Hamilton scores some points!

What do you guys think of how your favourite driver qualified?  Who do you think will win and how do you think the race will pan out?  As always, leave us a comment because hearing from you guys is one of my favourite things about writing on this blog! :)

Driver Consistencies – Germany

So who was a model of Germany efficiency and who will be the target of schadenfreude?  Jawohl, it is time to look at the Driver consistency ratings for the German GP.  If you want more info on how I make these calculations, please refer to my post for the Spanish Grand Prix.

As always, let’s start by looking at the mean and Standard Deviation for all drivers for all laps completed…

Germany Average Lap Times, All Laps:

ger_09_race_laps_av

Unusually for this first graph, there are a few changes in the driver order when average lap times are calculated.  Alonso moves to fifth owing to a late burst of speed and setting the fastest lap, Nakajima eighth (who finished lower due to a collision with Trulli on the first lap) and Kovalainen drops down to twelfth (Sorry Amy).  Raikkonen did not have a very good race before he retired and Bourdais was almost five seconds slower on average with a massive standard deviation, as he was having mechanical problems throughout the race before being forced to retire.

Now we take out the lap times where pit stops were made.  Note that I have left Mark Webber’s lap where he took a drive through penalty as it formed part of his race.  As always, I found out which laps the drivers pitted on with the help of the BlogF1 post on Pit stops and Tyre Strategies.

Germany Average Lap Times, Racing Laps:

ger_09_race_laps_av_nopit

Now this is where things get interesting.  The first surprise is the man who is now in second place – Barrichello.  What does this mean?  That Brawn were completely wrong to put him on a three stop strategy and that he actually drove a better race than Button.  No wonder that he was annoyed with the team after the race then!

Vettel and Massa drops down to fourth and fifth respectively… as these drivers complained about being slowed down by being trapped behind Kovalainen near the end of the race (sorry Amy).  Rosberg must also have been affected by Kovalainen as he drops down the order too.

Sutil is also in a good position here – after running quite strongly early in the race, he had a collision with Raikkonen which damaged his car, sent him back to the pits and ruined his race.  The Force India team should lament that incident as he clearly had the pace to score some points today.  A real shame, because the team has worked really hard with few resources and has made huge gains this season.  They deserved to score points today but for a bit of bad luck in a racing incident.  Still, they can feel very proud knowing that their car had the pace today to finish seventh or eighth.

Nakajima and Trulli would also have had better races if not for the first lap collision that they had with each other.  Hamilton was still way off the pace even after his accident, which perhaps was his own making after repeatedly complaining to the team on the radio that the car was handling badly.

Finally, it is clear that whatever problems Bourdais was having with the car were occurring throughout the race – a sad way for him to end his F1 career but typical of his time in F1 that his race was spoiled by technical problems.

So there you have it – sorry about the delay posting this analysis, but I have had limited access to the internet this week.  Having said that, I hope this analysis is still useful to you!

Hypermiling at 200mph…

Firstly an apology.  This post contains some mathematics so it if it is too dry or heavy for you the I apologise.  However, I felt that it was necessary to include some formulas to show how I achieved my calculations…

Some of the more interesting posts I have to write for the blog are the ones relating to fuel weights and the consequences on the race strategy.

For those who are not aware, in Q3 all cars have to run the amount of fuel that they intend to race with when qualifying.  After qualifying has been completed, all cars are weighed and the weights of the cars are published.

What normally happens is that once the fuel weights are published I make a calculation based on the fuel use figures from the F1 Yearbook to calculate how much fuel is in the car and how it affects the performance of the car on the Q3 lap time.  This calculation is as follows:

F=W-(605+3L)

Where:

F= Fuel weight

W= Weight of car after scrutineering

L= amount of fuel (in KG) required to do a lap of the circuit (from the F1 Yearbook).

From this if I divide the fuel weight by the amount of fuel required for one lap, I can predict how many laps there will be until the driver has to make a pit stop.  This method appears to be common practice as a few people (including the BBC) have ended up with similar numbers to mine.

The reason why three laps are subtracted is because the minimum fuel required to start the race would be just enough for a car to do an out lap, a parade lap and then an in lap for more fuel.  Finally please note that 605 is the minimum weight of an F1 cars as required in the 2009 regulations.

However, when we align the predicted stints with the actual ones from the races, there seems to be a difference, as shown by the graphs below:

Predicted vs. Actual Fuel Use, Selected Races, 2009:

Fuel_use_full

Predicted vs. Actual Fuel Use, Selected Races, 2009 (Enlarged):

fuel_use_zoom

As you can see here, the predicted figures often fall short of the actual ones – in some cases the difference is a stint with as much as a lap less than predicted.  The only races where the consumption figures get close are Turkey and Monaco.

Considerations had to be made for bad data – for example races such as China and Spain were excluded because they had a safety car period during the first stint, thus invalidating the data as fuel consumption lowers during this period.  Also, drivers who retired or clearly pitted a lot earlier than their predicted stint were also excluded.

So according to the figures, the F1 Yearbook figures are overestimating the stint lengths by one lap on average.  Why is this the case?  Well, we have very different technical regulations for the 2008/2009 cars and it seems that even though the engines have been de-tuned by 1,000 RPM, the new aero regulations and slick tyres seem to have actually increased the fuel consumption!

At the end of the season I’ll re-visit this post to see if the trend continues – but for the rest of the year I’ll continue to use the F1 Yearbook fuel figures to make sure my predictions are aligned with everyone else’s ;)

Red Bulls on Parade

Alex from SofaF1 was wondering which of the Red Bull drivers was the better one so far this season – and I was keen to find out for him!

There’s an old saying in F1 – “The first person you have to beat is your team mate”.  There is another saying that I like too – “You are only ever as good as your last race”.

Never has this been more true than in modern F1, where drivers are harshly judged and failure is not easily tolerated.  Over at Red Bull they have quite an interesting battle going on between the two team mates – Wise and Cocky (but unlucky) Mark Webber Vs. Young, Chirpy and quick Sebastian Vettel.  Before the start of the season, many predicted that Vettel would blow away Webber this year, especially after Webber had a horrific accident breaking his leg after being hit by a car whilst competing in his own Mountain Bike race.

However, Webber made it to the first race and the two have been having a very entertaining battle all season long now.  Just when it seemed like Vettel was getting the upper hand, Webber started having a strong run which culminated in a well-deserved victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

I have created a series of graphs from various data collected for the 2009 season.  For each graph, Vettel is Blue and Webber is Red.  I thought it would be a good idea to look at each graph and then discuss what we can see.

Firstly, let’s look at how they qualified…

VETvWEB_gap_to_pole

Note: for all the races except Bahrain, I used the fuel-corrected times. As for Bahrain, I used the Q1 times as this was the only session where both drivers set times in the same session after Webber was blocked by Sutil and subsequently forced out of Q2…

For more information on how fuel-corrected Q3 times are calculated, please read my page on Qualifying Analysis explained which will help you understand how much the fuel weight affects the lap time recorded.

From the graph, Vettel has out qualified Webber in every race except for Germany – in fact he has been 0.2 seconds faster on average over the season so far.

What about points scored?

VETvWEB_points_per_race

Webber has scored in all but two races, Vettel has not scored in three races.  However, Vettel edges this battle because of his two wins Vs. Webber’s single win.  However, wins aside, Webber has scored points more consistently and in more races than Vettel has so far this year.

What if we take into account where they finished the races?

VETvWEB_finishing_pos

This is where it gets interesting.  Taking into account the finishing positions, Webber actually finishes better in the races so far (as his average finishing position is lower).  Other than his two wins, Vettel only finishes better than Webber one other time (in Bahrain), but that was partly due to Webber starting from the back of the field after being blocked in qualifying by Sutil.

Comparing points and positions side by side:

VETvWEB_avg_points VETvWEB_avg_pos

These graphs (points on the left, positions on the right) are just the averages taken from the earlier graphs.  Vettel’s slight advantage in average points scored per race equates to a 2.72 point lead over Webber.  However, taking points into account does not include all the races because it does not include races where a driver finished lower than 8th.  Once you take this into account, Webber has a better finishing position on average, which means he has been a more consistent driver this season (even though he has won less races than Vettel).

The Race for the Chase for the Cup for the Thing…

VETvWEB_champ

As we can see here, things are also looking a bit of a tight squeeze in the race for the championship.  Both drivers started badly in the first two races and then drew level when Vettel won in China.  Mark Webber had a bad race in Bahrain which meant he was lagging behind Vettel until Monaco, which was after Vettel had two non-scores.

After this, it seems as though both drivers have scored at similar rates, and now they are only 1.5 points apart.  Vettel is in second place in the championship, 21 points behind the leader (Button).  However, it appears as though the Red Bull is the car to have as it has been strong in the last few races.  The team have been fast enough to start to concern Button and the Brawn team, and Red Bull will banking on cooler races for the rest of the season so that they may keep their advantage over the Brawn team.  If this happens, we could well see one of the Red Bull drivers make a decent run for the championship…

Conclusion:

But who will that be?  It’s tough to call, is this one.  My personal feelings are that now Webber has healed his broken leg properly, he has had a good run of form and if he can continue that he will gain the upper hand.  However, Vettel is the quicker in qualifying and both of his wins have come from pole positions – so he also has a very good chance here.

But I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that these guys are so close and complement each other so well that you may as well pick your favourite driver … and for me that has to be Webber.  He’s a great guy and he’s been through the wars – it might also be his only chance to be a champion so I would prefer that he went and won it.  Vettel’s also a great guy, amazingly quick, but because he’s so young he’s bound to get another shot at winning.

Maybe Button should be getting worried with these two chasing him – it’s going to be a fight to the finish and a very interesting second half of the season! :D

I’d love to hear what you guys think about this… Who do you want to win?  Have you got anything to add that I might have missed that could sway the argument one way or the other?  Let me know what you think by adding a comment, because this question is far from settled! ;)

Fantasy Racers – Germany

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

Driver Scores for the German GP:

ger09_FR_race_points

What a fantastic race for Webber!  After a controversial start he managed to take his drive-through penalty at just the right time so that he emerged to a clear track.  Because the Red Bulls had a big advantage over the rest of the field in the cool conditions, Webber managed to claw back most of the time lost. With him being on the the better strategy (the Red Bulls were on two-stops and the Brawns were on three), he managed to pull out a lead, helped by Barrichello having fuel rig problems on one of his pit stops and his closest rival (Vettel) being ‘stuck’ behind Massa and Kovalainen (sorry Amy).

So Vettel scores almost the maximum as Fernando Alonso scored the fastest lap, moving him up the order two places.  Sucks to be you if you had Raikkonen or Bourdais in the team as they were the retirees.

2009 Fantasy Racers Driver’s Championship:

ger09_FR_champ_points

Button is still the big leader but Vettel has sneaked into a joint second place, level with Webber and Barrichello on points.  Note the sharp increase in the points scored in the last few races of the Red Bull drivers, showing in more ways than one that they are fast catching up to the Brawns…

Average Points Per Race:

ger09_FR_av_points

There are some small changes from the last race in the order here – Button is still first of course but Webber has leaped from fourth to second, pushing Barrichello and Vettel to third and fourth respectively.  Alonso’s decent race compared to Hamilton’s poor one has seen Alonso move past him.  Most of the other drivers have stayed in around the same places but those who had a bad race today are lowering their averages – for example Bourdais is scoring less and less after every race (and some have said that this was his last one…).

At the back of the pack are Piquet and Kovalainen (sorry Amy), who even after a decent race today has showed how bad his season has been.  Nakajima, who is disliked for the way he got into F1 is sixteenth and while that isn’t brilliant, it could be a lot worse for him!

Points Per Million:

ger09_FR_PPM

(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.)

Rosberg is still in second, but the win for Webber has made him a very close rival!  Most positions remain unchanged, but it seems as though most drivers have increased their scores, making them much better value for money…

My Team:

I have dropped to 60th in the Sidepodcast League and 4th in the Pitlane Fanatic League – a change of -10 and -1 places respectively.  My team lies 341st overall.  Here’s how my drivers did…


Adrian Sutil
Force India F1 Team
4.60m


Jenson Button
Brawn GP
13.70m


Robert Kubica
BMW Sauber F1 Team
4.70m


Rubens Barrichello
Brawn GP
10.90m


Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull Racing
13.80m


Timo Glock
Panasonic Toyota Racing
6.90m

I had a hunch late on Friday to drop Sutil, Kubica and Glock to have enough money to buy Webber.  While that may have sounded like a good idea, in reality I have only lost 20 points by not doing this!  So maybe I’ll stay with a diverse bunch and hope for better luck with them … this is the first race of the season where I haven’t had the winner of the race on my roster!

Fuel weights and adjusted lap times – Germany

Another exciting qualifying session today – the best ones are always when there is a threat of rain, because the teams rush to send their drivers out to set a good time and you always get some random driver punching above their weight and getting into Q3.

Today was no exception – Rosberg, Alonso and Trulli fell in Q2, with Piquet and Sutil getting into Q3!  This was helped by the on/off rain showers in Q2, so some drivers got got in while the track was dry and some were unluckily only able to set wet times.  The variance from pole to fifteenth was 8 seconds – from 1:34 to 1:42.

Anyway, after a hectic Q2 we got a relatively normal Q3 but it was still exciting.  And while the top 3 ended up with a Red Bull on pole and two Brawns flanking him, it was a very nice surprise to see Webber finally get his first pole ahead of Barrichello and Button.  Here are the final times set in Q3:

ger09_q3times

As we can see here, there are two clear groups here – the top 5 who set similar times and a rather large gap to the next 5 (approx. 1.25s) who must have a heavier fuel load.  Let’s take a look:

ger09_fuelweights

Not surprisingly, the second group (6th to 10th) are much heavier fuelled – but the surprising fact here is that Sutil is the heaviest – clearly the Force India team are making good progress with developing the car and a great lap from Sutil there.

Also, both Webber and Vettel are much heavier than the Brawn drivers – as we know that in the cooler temperatures the Red Bulls are stronger than the Brawns – especially over Button.  Incidentally, Button is by far the lightest driver which may mean that Brawn are hoping for early rain or plan to run a three-stop strategy.  The race itself is 60 laps so assuming the race is dry then Sutil, Piquet, Raikkonen and Massa look to be one-stopping.  Kovalainen, Webber and Vettel appear to be two-stopping while Hamilton, Barrichello and Button look as though they are three-stopping.  However, none of this applies if it rains tomorrow and we don’t know who, if anyone is planning their strategies based on a rain shower during the race!

When we take the fuel loads into account, here are the corrected lap times:

ger09_q3times_fuelcorrected

Webber is still on pole, but because Barrichello, Hamilton and Button had light fuel loads, Vettel moves to second and Button drops to fifth behind Hamilton and Barrichello.  Kovalainen drops back to seventh towards the heavy cars (Sorry Amy!) who stay in the same order.

So there we are.  Apologies for the lateness of this post, I had no access to the net or a computer all evening so I write this as Martin Brundle does his grid walk.  I really hope Webber can do it today – he’s a great guy and he’s well overdue for a race win!  I also hope that we get some intermittent rain in the mix because it always produces an exciting race!