It’s Driver Consistency time for the Japanese Grand Prix – who was hot like Wasabi and who was soft like Tofu? Let’s have a look at the lap times to find out! 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 Japanese Grand Prix:
(Note: The laps where race was run under the Safety Car have been excluded as these are not considered ‘Racing Laps’)
I guess what is worth noting here is the strange wave effect of the standard deviations – these must have been caused by drivers being stuck behind each other?
Also, note that Rosberg’s pace is quicker than Raikkonen, probably because he went too fast when the safety car came out and the drivers were told to slow down. He claimed this was because the low fuel indicator blocked the pace indicator on his dashboard, and was excused of any penalty. However, he used the opportunity to jump two places up the field. Hardly fair and a gross violation of safety – in most other industries this would be severely punished, but we all know how inconsistent the stewards have been this year. Also, they probably did not want to give the penalty knowing that it would have given Brawn the constructor’s championship – after all the off track controversy this year, F1 hardly needs any more! :( Who knows…
Another point worth noting is that Alguersuari had the pace to finish ninth today – but as we know, he was the guy who crashed out and brought out the safety car after going off at the 130R. Thankfully he’s OK though :)
Finally, Webber’s laps seem so erratic because he made about four pit stops – because he damaged his car in FP3 on Saturday morning, causing a complete car rebuild and the result of that meant that he started from the pit lane. The first two stops were made very early on in the race due to problems with the car, and then the rest of the race was run as a test session – oddly enough he set the fastest lap at the end of the race!
How does the race look like if we only consider the ‘Racing Laps’ – that is, all the timed laps except for pit stops and those run under the Safety Car?
Here we can see something very interesting. Note how Rosberg now drops to sixth after we take the pit stop laps out? So Rosberg must have made the jump in positions because of his pit stops – implying he did gain an advantage under the run to the pits under the safety car!
Alonso drops back because he was only on a one-stop strategy – but strangely, Webber only moves up one place, because the team apparently used the opportunity to try some things for upcoming races…
Finally Button drops behind Barrichello, also implying that he made up some time over Barrichello in the pit stops.
Great things were expected from this race, yet unfortunately it failed to deliver. In 20 years of watching F1 I am struggling to think of a bad Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka – in fact, even the last two at Fuji were much more entertaining than this!
It is a very clear failure of the Overtaking Working Group if we only get 3 overtaking moves in the whole race because the cars cannot follow each other or overtake in the dirty air. Also, KERS has proved to be a big flop this year – most teams did not bother developing it and for those who do have it, they use it as a defensive tool rather than a ‘push to pass’ button.
Also, the way the penalties were handed out after qualifying, with four drivers receiving 5 place grid penalties and yet none of them actually being demoted 5 places because of the way they were applied looked really suspicious. I mean, with Vettel on pole and Button penalised more than Barrichello, it appears that the stewards have become involved in another controversial decision that looks as though they are trying to keep the championship alive until the last race – because nobody has managed to explain the logic behind how the penalties were handed out, not least of all the FIA :(
Today’s race was spectacularly dull. It really wasn’t worth getting up early for and sadly a common complaint this season. It’s a shame really, as it’s taking the gloss on what could be an interesting end to the championship.
I will deal with the championship points in a separate post, but needless to say, with Vettel’s win today and the average race from the Brawns, the championship is wide open with only two races to go – in fact, Vettel is the same distance away in points as Raikkonen was to Hamilton in 2007 with two races to go.
And we all remember what happened that year :P
Do you think we are in for a close finish to the championship? Who do you think will win? Did you actually understand the grid penalties given out in qualifying? If so, please leave me a comment because I’m stumped on that one! :D