Belgium – Driver Consistency

Let’s now take a look at how consistent the drivers were in the Belgian Grand Prix.  From looking at the drivers’ races through their average lap times and spread, we can see who punched above their weight and who was lucky to finish in the points…

Driver Consistency

By the way, if you need more info on my calculation methods then please refer to my post on Driver Consistency Explained.  Here is a graph showing the average lap times and standard deviation for the Belgian Grand Prix:

bel_09_race_laps_av

Note:  The safety car laps were removed as no actual racing was done on these laps and therefore no competitive lap times were set.

Vettel was actually faster on average than Raikkonen and Fisichella.  He did get the fastest lap of the race too, so we will take a closer look at the top 3 drivers later.  But first, here are the average lap times with pit stops and retirement laps removed:

bel_09_race_laps_av_nopit

Vettel is still a tiny bit faster than the two cars in front of him.  With Webber’s penalty laps taken away, he was sixth fastest so he could have also scores points today.   Kovalainen and Sutil (the one-stoppers) fall down the field as fat heavy cars don’t go too fast, either ;)

One final point – Badoer was not the slowest!  OK, so the guy behind him retired with fuel problems early in the race and two of the rookies retired on the first lap, but hey, it’s an improvement on last time ;)  If he gets another chance (which seems unlikely with all the reports of Fisi getting the drive) then he will have to get a lot closer to the pace of the other drivers…

The Battle at the Front

As mentioned earlier, I think the abnormality of having Vettel finishing in third place but being faster than the two drivers in front of him needs a closer look.  Let’s have a look at a graph of all three drivers’ lap times:

bel09_RAI-FIS-VET_LapTimes

…Here’s the same graph, but zoomed in on the racing laps (as it’s hard to distinguish the data sets as they were all so close!):

bel09_RAI-FIS-VET_LapTimes_Zoomed

The first observation is that Fisichella and Raikkonen were neck and neck the whole race – indeed, some people (myself included) believed that Fisichella’s car was faster than Raikkonen, but the advantage of KERS meant that Fisichella could not get anywhere near Raikkonen from the run from La Source hairpin to the long straight after Eau Rouge (the best passing place on the track).

Therefore, with Fisichella following in the dirty air, all he could do was hold back and save his tyres.  i believe this is why these two drivers are so close.

Mind the Gap

Vettel’s lap times are more interesting.  He loses out in his first stint, then is consistently faster for his next two stints.  If we look at the gap to the leaders we can see this clearer:

bel09_RAI-FIS-VET_GapToLeader

So Vettel loses six seconds to the leaders in his first stint, gains four back in his second, gains another four with a quicker pit stop and gains three more seconds on the lead pair before the end of the race.  Also, note how once Raikkonen took the lead he never lost it on the track, and that Fisichella was more than capable of keeping up with him.  Great stuff from both drivers – Kimi seems to be quite consistent these days and it’s great to see a ‘small team’ like Force India do well – and Fisi too! :D

Getting into Position

So where did Vettel lose all that time?  Let us now take a look at a chart showing the driver positions over the course of the race:

bel09_RAI-FIS-VET_Positions

Vettel started out in ninth place and if you go back to the qualifying analysis I did before the race, you can see that not only did Vettel start with a heavy fuel load, he would have been second on the fuel corrected grid.  So he was disadvantaged twice by a bad strategy call.  He worked his way up to seventh and only got into the lead after the other two pitted.

After his pit stop (which was longer than the other two) he dropped a position to eighth, but then he started to gain time on the leaders and managed to work his way up to third after those in front pitted.  A short pit stop cemented his third position which he defended by gaining on the leading pair right until the end of the race.

Final Thoughts

So Vettel was faster than Raikkonen and Fisichella because the car suited the track quite well and he had lots of clear air running while trying to catch the leaders.  Had he qualified better he may have been in a position to win the race…

Do you think Fisichella or Vettel could have won it?  Was KERS the only difference today?  And did Raikkonen gain an unfair advantage after running wide at the first corner?  I’d love to hear what you think about it…

Fantasy Racers Scores – Belgian GP

So, after a crazy race at Spa it’s time to look at the Fantasy Racers scores from the Belgian Grand Prix.  A great result for Fisi – even though he didn’t win it’s still a great result for the team and a fantastic achievement considering they have developed the car so much in so little time with a small budget.

Raikkonen also drove a great race today and deserved his win – although in his post race interviews he annoyed me with how bored and unexcited he looked.  I mean, there’s all these rumours going around about his future, he wins at the best track on the calendar (and a real driver’s circuit) and it’s his third podium in three races, yet he could barely even smile? Geez, I wonder if there is anything that will wake him up? :D

Also, a good week/bad week for Button – he was punted off on the first lap by the Swiss Banker (which sounds like the rumour about why Honda left the sport ;) ), yet none of his rivals seem to be able to mount a strong and consistent charge against him, so he only lost a couple of points out of his lead today.  So he has another chance to get his season on track, which I hope he does, because he may not get another chance like 2009 again…

Driver Scores

Right then, time to look at the driver scores for the Grand Prix.  For more information on my calculation methods, please visit my page on Fantasy Racers Explained

bel09_FR_race_points

The average is quite low because of the number of retirements for this race – especially as four of those were on lap 1!  For some reason, Luca Badoer is listed as having zero points but he finished the race, so there must be a mistake somewhere.  If I see this get updated I will also update this post…

Championship Scores

bel09_FR_champ_points

Button suffers because he scored zero points today – but he has a massive lead anyway so it’s not too bad.  Massa has now dropped out of the top eight as well…

Average Points Per Race

bel09_FR_av_points

Everybody at the front seems to have suffered a drop, but Kovalainen and Fisichella have managed to overtake the sacked drivers and the rookies.  It’s only a matter of time before Felipe Massa drops below them, too.

Points Per Million

bel09_FR_PPM

Rosberg still leads but look who is in second place – Fisichella!  The second place finish he scored today means that his value for money has jumped considerably.  Most of the other drivers stay in the same place but the obligatory ‘Sorry Amy’ applies here – for some reason (probably to do with his price) he cannot move further up the order.

Last 3 Grands Prix

bel09_FR_race_points_Last3

Raikkonen has had his third podium finish in a row, so has the best average score from these races.  Hamilton stays in second even though he retired, because Belgium is a shorter race and so the penalty for not completing all the laps is less.  Barrichello, Kovalainen and Webber have all had good runs, while Button and Vettel have been struggling…

My Team

I have climbed eight places to 68th in the Sidepodcast League and stayed in 4th in the Pitlane Fanatic League.  My team lies 342rd overall which means I have climbed another 41 places.  Not a bad week then ;)

Here’s how my drivers did…


Adrian Sutil
Force India F1 Team
5.10m – 54 points


Jenson Button
Brawn GP
11.20m – 4 points


Robert Kubica
BMW Sauber F1 Team
5.40m – 124 points


Rubens Barrichello
Brawn GP
9.70m – 94 points


Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull Racing
12.90m – 154 points


Timo Glock
Panasonic Toyota Racing
7.30m – 64 points

So that’s it for this race then.  I hope you enjoyed the race – I thought it wasn’t too bad but it would have been nice to see Fisichella win I guess…  Still, he has to be happy with that result and he must surely get that Ferrari drive and a seat in another F1 team next year now :D

How did your team do?  Will you be picking Force India after today?  Will you be dropping Button or someone else?  Who is your pick for a good score in Monza?  As always, please give me your thoughts in the comments…

Qualifying Analysis – Belgium

Time for Qualifying Analysis of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.  What a great and topsy-turvy session – Fisichella scored a magnificent first pole for Force India and Button not making it into Q3 for the first time this season.  But was Fisichella’s pace genuine?  Who set an honest pace and who was light or heavy?  We will find out shortly, but first let us look at the Q3 times:

bel09_q3times

The times set are all very close, except for Rosberg, who must be running heavy.  Let’s look at the fuel loads:

bel09_fuelweights

As predicted, Rosberg is running quite heavily, and most of the others are running about the same fuel load.  Fisichella is running a little bit light, but he has a comparable fuel load and also had a fast pace in the other qualifying sessions, which were set on low fuel.  So he has a good chance of being in the mix tomorrow!

Putting it all together:

bel09_q3times_fuelweights corrected

…And the fuel corrected times overlaid with the Q3 times:

bel09_q3times corrected

Race Prediction

Can Fisi do it?  Well, he has won races before, but the team will be excited and under pressure.  I would love him to do it, but with such quality opposition around him, it will be tough.  The same goes for Trulli.  To be honest, this was supposed to be Red Bull’s race but it seems so random that I have no idea what will happen (do you?).

One thing is for sure, it’s going to be an exciting race! :D

Driver Consistency and Badoer – Europe

This will be a short post as I covered a lot of the race in detail in my special post on whether Barrichello was Fast or Fortunate.  If you haven’t read it yet, you really should because I think it is a good summary of the race action.

Anyway, let’s get right to it then.  As usual, here is a graph of the average lap times and standard deviation spread for the European GP:

eur_09_race_laps_av

(By the way, if you need more info on my calculation methods then please refer to my post on Driver Consistency Explained)

What does this graph tell us?  As usual, the average lap time increases the further we move down the order.  Also, if you have a mechanical problem, your slowing down laps leading to your retirement really increase your average!  Finally, while not last, Badoer’s average lap time is three seconds a lap slower than Barrichello (The race winner), almost two seconds a lap slower than his team mate Raikkonen and almost a second or two seconds slower than Alguersuari and Grosjean.

A fairer way of measuring Driver Consistency is to remove the laps where pit stops were made, any laps containing mechanical problems and also any safety car/penalty laps (I’m looking at you, Badoer!).  So here is the graph:

eur_09_race_laps_av_nopit

Now things are a little bit more interesting.  As mentioned in my previous post, Hamilton has a slightly faster average lap time but this may be because Barrichello decided not to push the car once he knew he had won the race.  Rosberg just pips Kovalainen, Glock moves up the order as he set some fast times near the end, Vettel and Grosjean improve by a couple of places (while Nakajima and Buemi, the other retirees do not) and Fisichella moves down the grid as he was running a one-stop pit strategy.

But the main focus for me must be how poor Badoer is.  Again, he is over three seconds slower on average than Barrichello and two seconds slower than Raikkonen.

In fact, the gap between himself and Raikkonen is greater than that of the race winner (Barrichello) to 19th (Buemi).  Now, I know he wasn’t allowed to test the car beforehand and he has had no race experience for something like ten years, but it was a very poor performance and I don’t think Ferrari should have put him in a situation like this where he was seemingly doomed to fail…

If we study Badoer’s individual lap times compared to the other drivers, it becomes even more revealing how badly he did:

BAD-RAI-GRO-ALG-BAR Laps Zoom (1)

Here is the same graph again, zoomed in on the racing laps:

BAD-RAI-GRO-ALG-BAR Laps Zoom

It’s a bit messy, but we can see that Badoer is consistently slower than all the other drivers except for Alguersuari, who had probably never driven the circuit before.  Grosjean (the other rookie) does significantly better than both of them after he pits to replace a damaged wing around lap 9.

But in F1, they say that the first person you have to beat is your team mate, so here are the same two graphs again, but with just Badoer and Raikkonen:

BAD-RAI Laps

…And zoomed in:

BAD-RAI Laps Zoom

What is shocking here is that Badoer seems to completely lose it after his first pit stop, where he gave way to Grosjean behind him and crossed the white line, incurring a drive through penalty.  But if you look at his second stint, his lap times vary by up to Four Seconds Per Lap! Now, I know he would have been lapped a few times during the race, but there’s no way you would have to yield that much to let a car past?  For example, Grosjean gets lapped on Lap 12 but only loses a second of time on that lap.

Clearly Badoer was having major issues with the car and did spin off a few times during this stint.  By contrast, Raikkonen’s race is very different.  He drives super consistently over the whole race, almost as consistent as Barrichello, which is very impressive!

One final point, I have noticed a few comments on the web defending Badoer which I would like to address:

“Well, Badoer improved by three seconds a lap over the course of the race so he can’t be that bad…”

Look closely at the graph with all the drivers and you will see that they all improved by the same amount.  In fact, when you look at the final graph, Badoer is 1.5 seconds slower than Raikkonen at the beginning and the end of the race.  The only time he gets closer is after Raikkonen pits and has a heavier car.

“Badoer’s best lap was 103% of the winner’s best lap – far below the old 107% cut off that they used to enforce for qualifying…”

This got me thinking … what has been the gap across the field for each race this season?  Here’s what it looks like, with an added data set of the gap between the two Ferraris and the Ferrari Gap to pole:

Gap to pole 2009 ( Fer Gap BAD analysis all)

Gap to pole 2009 ( Fer Gap pole)

Gap to pole 2009 ( Fer diff)

Note: where the Ferraris did not both qualify in Q3 I have taken the best times from the last session where both Ferraris participated.

Ignoring the fact that being three seconds a lap on average slower than Barrichello (which implies his average speed was just over 103% of Barrichello), the fact that Badoer’s time was a whole percentage point than the second to last guy (Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso) is very telling.  Although he did not have the worst percentage difference over the whole season, it is his gap to 19th (Alguersuari) which is bad – a whole percentage point, or 1.5 Seconds!

It is worth noting that the honour of worst performance in qualifying this year goes to Fisichella in a Force India… but this was in Spain, with a massively underdeveloped car.  The Ferrari in Valencia has been proven to be competitive – in fact, Raikkonen finished in third place.

If you look at the gap between the Ferrari’s it is often very small – the largest was 1% in Spain – yet Badoer is 2.5% slower than Raikkonen (about 2.5 Seconds).  If Badoer had equalled Massa’s worst qualifying performance relative to Raikkonen (Spain), then allowing for fuel corrected times he could have set a fuel-corrected qualifying lap of 1:39.831 which could have put him in the top 10 or just outside of it.

What this means is that the idea that Badoer’s time falls within a long-outdated method of measuring if a driver was worthy of starting a race may not justify his performance, because he was clearly a lot slower than expected of a Ferrari driver.  What amazes me most is that Ferrari must have tons more data than I have to analyse Badoer’s woeful performance – yet they insist on giving him a seat for Belgium!

I reckon Ferrari should have never hired him in the first place – he was never going to be ready and I think they should save face and get another driver for the rest of the season.  Do you agree?  Who would you pick?  Or have I been too harsh on the poor guy?

European GP: Was Barrichello Fast or Fortunate?

The European Grand Prix was certainly not a classic this year – the venue is unloved, unsupported and does not produce good racing.  Therefore getting the strategy right was of utmost importance today and it decided the outcome of the race.

European Grand Prix Recap

Hamilton and Kovalainen flew off the start line with the assistance of KERS and streaked off into the lead.  But Barrichello kept up with the pair of McLarens and managed to get past Kovalainen after the first round of pit stops.  Hamilton managed to build up a slight lead, but after a few laps the tyres started graining and all he could do was to try and hold off Barrichello who was running four laps more fuel.  So Hamilton made his way into the pits for his scheduled stop – but the team thought he could run an extra lap on his tank of fuel and tried to cancel it.

Hamilton was already committed to bringing the car into the pits and so he had to make his stop.  Unfortunately in all the confusion the team did not have all the tyres ready and so Hamilton was delayed in the pits by around six seconds (according to David Croft of Radio 5 Live).  This meant that Barrichello was almost certain to overtake Hamilton after his pit stop, and he did after setting some very quick lap times.  Barrichello stopped early because Nakajima suffered a puncture and the team feared that a safety car would come out and spoil the strategy.  However, this did not happen and from then on, Rubens controlled the final part of the race for a commanding and well-deserved victory.

But then questions started being asked.  Did McLaren throw away the race by making an error in the pits or did Barrichello make his strategy work for him and overtake him anyway?  Was Martin Whitmarsh right in saying they did not have the pace to keep up with Barrichello or did he get a lucky break for a change?  And how close would Hamilton have been to Barrichello had his team not made an error in the pit stop?

This seemed like the perfect chance for me to analyse the data and see if any of these questions could be answered.  Whilst I am a big fan of both drivers, I have been critical of Barrichello in the past, especially when he has not been able to make his strategy work for him like in my analysis of the Turkish Grand Prix…  So special attention was paid to this fact to see if Rubens had finally driven the race he should have and if it helped him win today.

Driver Consistency

Let us first look at the Driver Consistency for Barrichello and Hamilton.  For reference I have also included their team mates (Button and Kovalainen) for reference.  First, let us look at the average lap times for the whole race:

HAMvsBAR_av

Not surprisingly, Barrichello is slightly faster and more consistent than Hamilton.  It is very normal to see the average lap times increase in the same order as the drivers finished the race.

So it is also useful to take a look at the racing laps only.  Here is a graph of the average lap times without pit stops:

HAMvsBAR_av_nopit

Now things get interesting.  Hamilton is slightly faster on average when you remove his pit stops – including the one where all the time was lost!  However, this does not mean we can conclude that Hamilton would have beaten Barrichello, especially because we know that in the final part of the race Barrichello was not pushing 100% as he had a commanding lead of the race.

Lap Times

Therefore, we need to delve deeper into the race statistics to see where the race was won and lost.  A good place to start would be a chart containing all the lap times, so we can directly compare which driver was faster, and when.

The first graph plots all the laps in comparison and the second removes the pit stops so we can look closer at the differences:

HAMvsBAR_Lap_Times

HAMvsBAR_Lap_Times_Zoom

First Stint

We can see here that for the first stint Hamilton was faster, partly because he ran four laps shorter than Barrichello (he pits on lap 16).  As Barrichello pitted slightly later (lap 20), he managed to spend about a second less in the pits which is why he was able to move ahead of Kovalainen into second place.

Second Stint

Hamilton is unable to keep the same pace as the track is getting warmer and the rubber being laid down increases the grip level of the track, causing his tyres to overheat and start to grain.  The team advise him to conserve his tyres and you can see his lap times start to level off – however they are still very consistent.

Barrichello on the other hand has a great second stint, always matching or beating Hamilton and ultimately lapping nearly a second faster in the last four laps than his first stint and Hamilton’s race pace so far…

One final comment is that in the Turkish Grand Prix, this was the point where Barrichello slowed down and started driving inconsistently.  However, you can clearly see this is not the case today!

Final Pit stop and run to the Chequered Flag

It is plain to see on the first graph that Hamilton’s delayed stop (on lap 37) was a disastrous six seconds longer than Barrichello (who pitted on lap 40)!  After both drivers have finished their pit stops, Barrichello easily beats Hamilton’s lap times until both realise nothing can be done unless one of the drivers makes a mistake,  so they bring the cars home.

Pit Stop Times

We need to know how long each driver spent in the pits, so here are the pit stop times for each driver.  The times are from pit entry to pit exit:

HAMvsBAR_pitstop_times

We can see here that the Brawn team were clearly better at the pit stops than McLaren today – not only did McLaren make a mistake costing Hamilton 6.5 seconds but they also beat McLaren in the first stop by just over 1 second.

This is very important when also taken into consideration with the lap times around the pit stops.  You may recall from earlier that just before the first stop, Barrichello matched Hamilton’s times and easily beat them by half a second for three to four laps before the second pit stops…

Gap Between Drivers

So now we are starting to get an idea of what happened during the race, but it is still inconclusive whether Barrichello did enough to win the race on his own pace or whether McLaren’s pit lane mistake cost them the race.  However, I have one more set of graphs which I think will provide this proof – the gap in seconds between each driver.

Here are two graphs from each driver’s perspective – they are identical but I decided to post them both in the interest of fairness:

HAMvsBAR_BAR_gap_to_HAM

HAMvsBAR_HAM_gap_to_BAR

What they show is that Hamilton made full advantage of his lighter fuel load in his first stint, making a lead of around nine seconds.  As Barrichello ran a few laps longer before his first pit stop, he manages to take four seconds out of Hamilton’s lead, plus an extra second from the better pit stop, bringing the gap down to four seconds behind Hamilton.

In the second stint, Hamilton starts to have his tyre problems and Barrichello really gets into the groove – the gap starts to plateau off and it stays at around four seconds.  Now, we know that Hamilton’s second pit stop on lap 37took just over 25 seconds and Barrichello’s took 19 seconds – so this means that if Hamilton had a four second lead then all things being equal, he would have ended up about two seconds behind Barrichello.

However, if we look at the gap after Barrichello’s final stop on lap 40, it is actually six seconds! So how can we explain the unaccounted time?  In fact, we have already seen the answer – after Hamilton made his second stop, Barrichello ran a further four laps at a pace which was nearly a second a lap faster than him, further eroding Hamilton’s lead.

Conclusion

When taking all of the above into consideration, it is clear to see that after the first round of pit stops, Barrichello had the edge and the faster car, being able to easily match or beat Hamilton’s times.  Even if McLaren had not made an error and Hamilton had made a pit stop of equal length to Barrichello, I believe that Barrichello would have done just enough to get ahead of Hamilton and would have been able to keep him behind in the ‘dirty air’.

On a circuit like Valencia where it is almost impossible to overtake, then he would have been able to just pull away a bit while Hamilton would have ruined his tyres trying to keep up (as we all know he is a racer and never gives up).  James Allen agrees with me and thinks Barrichello would have done just enough to get ahead too, but one thing’s for sure – it would have been damn close and it’s a shame that a silly error robbed us all of an exciting finish to the Grand Prix.

What do you think?  Did I get it wrong?  Did I miss something?  Does it matter in the end?  As always, I’d love to hear what you think about it… ;)

Fantasy Racers – Europe

So let’s have a roundup of the Fantasy Racers action from the European Grand Prix.  For more information on my calculation methods, please visit my page on Fantasy Racers Explained

Driver Scores

eur09_FR_race_points

The race result was a bit topsy-turvy, so unless you were a bit of a Nostradamus like RG, then you probably had a bad day.  Unless you’re Kathi, of course ;)

Championship Scores

eur09_FR_champ_points

This graph mirrors the real championship – Button is still in the lead because those behind him can’t make a strong run to catch him up!

Average Points Per Race

eur09_FR_av_points

The Average Score decreased by seven points from the last race – probably because there were fewer laps in this race!  Barrichello has now moved back up to second and Buemi and Sutil are still worse than the two sacked drivers!

Points Per Million

eur09_FR_PPM

Surprisingly, Rosberg is now in the lead, probably because of his consistently high finishing and low-ish price.  Fisichella is right up there and Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen always do poorly here.  Even after a strong finish in the European Grand Prix, Kovalainen is still behind the three ‘inactive’ ones (sorry Amy!)

Last 3 Grands Prix

eur09_FR_race_points_Last3

This one’s a new graph, showing the race form as an average score for each driver for the past three races, as requested by Maverick from the last analysis.  The last three races were Germany, Hungary and Europe.

It shows that Webber has started a run of late which is why he has emerged as the main contender at Red Bull (note that Vettel has dropped right back).  Button has also dropped a few places, showing that he may be struggling as of late.  Surprisingly considering that Barrichello won the last race, he is only in fourth place, probably because of his low score in Hungary.  Finally, the McLaren boys are doing rather well – and we have finally found a graph that can make Amy happy because Kovalainen is doing well ;)

My Team

Pretty static this week.  I have climbed one place to 76th in the Sidepodcast League and stayed in 4th in the Pitlane Fanatic League – a change of +1 and 0 places respectively.  My team lies 383rd overall which means I have climbed 21 places.

Here’s how my drivers did…


Adrian Sutil
Force India F1 Team
4.70m – 77 points


Jenson Button
Brawn GP
12.10m – 107 points


Robert Kubica
BMW Sauber F1 Team
4.50m – 97 points


Rubens Barrichello
Brawn GP
9.30m – 207 points


Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull Racing
13.30m – 24 points


Timo Glock
Panasonic Toyota Racing
7.30m – 84 points

Frankly, I can’t be bothered changing my team because of the fear I will lose points – if only one or two more of my drivers finished well then I would be higher up the order!

So how did you guys get along?  Do you like the new graph and do you have any ideas for more?  Was it a good race or did your team do badly?  Who has a contract for the next race and who needs to perform better in your line-up?  I’d love to hear what you think so please leave me a comment!

Europe – The Final Countdown!

Do-do-doo-doo, doody-do-do-do… Hehehe :D Time for Qualifying Analysis of the European Grand Prix at Valencia.  An exciting qualifying session, with a few nice surprises and the first pole position since China last October for Hamilton.  I thought that Alonso would have gone for a glory pole on fumes, but it wasn’t to be ;)

If you want an explanation of the Calculation Methods used, please click the link above.  So, here are the Q3 times:

eur09_q3times

The top three are separated by less than a tenth of a second, with Vettel and Button half a second off pole position.  From Raikkonen through to Webber, the gap to pole is extended by another four tenths of a second, with Kubica another three tenths back.

It’s good to see BMW back in the top 10 too – especially considering recent events with the team pulling out of F1 at the end of the year.  It was a shame that a small mistake on the penultimate corner cost Kovalainen pole position – he is apparently under pressure from his team to get results and it would have been good for him.

The updates promised to some teams failed to produce expected results, except for the McLaren team.

As I was watching the Qualifying on Sidepodcast, Alex from SofaF1 gave me his fuel prediction for the race before the weights were published.  So I asked some other to give me their predictions and here they are:

  • Pad-Rock: Surely Hamilton doesn’t really need to try for pole, good if he gets it but might as well take more fuel and get on the 2nd row and the KERS should see him 1st by the 1st corner
  • Alex: Gavin – fuel prediction from me…. Lewis will be in the top three heaviest in the session – possibly heaviest.
  • Alex: Totally agree [Red Bull are heavy]. There’s an indication based on how many laps people did. Red Bull did hardly any. McLaren did tons
  • RG: Kubica, on race fuel, was still quicker than Badoer.
  • Alianora La Canta: Ferrari light. McLaren a bit light. Brawn average. Red Bull a bit heavy.
  • Journeyer: Red Bull a bit heavy? Given their pace so far, I think they’re a bit light…
  • Journeyer: I think Button is running heavy.  Maybe the heaviest?
  • Rowley: Rosberg will have the heaviest car in the top 10. My guess.
  • F1 Wolf:  I think Button is running heavy.  Maybe the heaviest? both Brawns kind of gave up at the end, so you may be right
  • Rich: Although they did a lot of laps and will be lighter than Jenson I do not think they will be that light. Red Bull seemed to be struggling somewhat today – especially Mark. I think Macca are now right back in the fight for wins and with the KERS could become unstoppable. This could help Jenson cling to some hope for the championship.
  • Nick: There is no reason for the McLaren to be light. But the Brawns might be heavier than normal as their was no point in them going for pole if they were going to get KERS’d.

So how did our budding Nostradamii do?  Well first, let’s look at the fuel weights:

eur09_fuelweights

What is interesting here is that the whole field is running very similar fuel weights with only a four-lap spread between the field.  If the race runs to the full length of 57 Laps, then we can predict that all the drivers are on a three-stop fuel strategy with the lightest five on a short first stint.

Rosberg and Webber are running very heavily which explains why they are near the back of the Top Ten.  The Brawns are running heavily too, and the McLarens and Vettel are running light – which will make for interesting analysis now that we will look at the fuel corrected times:

eur09_q3times_fuelcorrected

We can see here that Barrichello is a clear pole winner because he was running a heavy fuel load, however the McLarens are still quick when fuel corrected.  Kovalainen beats Hamilton, which is fantastic for him and for Amy ;) .  Vettel is four tenths faster than Webber and Kubica and Alonso are both well off the pace tomorrow – which is not what Bernie needs for a struggling event in a country that only really warms to F1 when it’s hero is winning!

As a final point on the fuel-corrected times, Maverick from Pitlane Fanatic noted that Hamilton set his pole-winning lap three laps earlier than the end of his Q3 session.  Taking this into account, we have the following fuel-corrected grid:

eur09_q3times_fuelcorrected_HAM

This graph makes me happy because it puts Hamilton on pole (Sorry Amy!) by quite a margin, showing how much the McLaren has improved this year – an unprecedented achievement in modern F1!

Here are a couple more graphs which put the whole thing together.  The first combines the fuel-corrected times with the Q3 times…

eur09_q3times corrected

…and the second is the controversial combination of Q3 Times, Fuel Weights, Stints and Fuel Corrected times:

eur09_q3times_fuelweights corrected


Race Predictions:

I think the fans will be disappointed with Alonso tomorrow – he did not qualify well and the car does not seem very quick around here.  The same might be true for Webber as overtaking is very difficult here and he admits that he finds the circuit uninspiring ;)

I would love to see Hamilton win – I know he and Kovalainen will both get a great start thanks to the extra boost from KERS.  James Allen thinks that Kovalainen is in a tough position and that Barrichello is in a good position to win based on Q2 and Q3 performance.

Quite frankly, after last year’s achingly boring race, as long as we get some action on track then I will be happy ;)

So who do you guys think is going to win?  Did today’s action surprise you and did you expect to see your driver run light or heavy?  Either way let me know what you think in the comments!

A Little Chat About Blogging

A couple of weeks ago I did an interview over Skype with Steven Roy for a program as part of the Sidepodradio event on Sidepodcast.  Yesterday, they published the interview as a podcast on the site.  The interview is on the subject of why I write this blog and what this blog is about.  It was a very enjoyable experience with some very good and thought-provoking questions.

Have a listen and see what you think – maybe you will enjoy it as I think it gives a good insight on my motivations for making this blog and why I do it…

As always, I’d love to know what you thought about the interview and if what I talked about made you think of any more questions, then post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them ;)