2009 In Review – Driver Classification

This post is the second in a series of posts designed to review the 2009 F1 Season by analysing the data from the races.  The first was on Fuel Usage Data for the engines and can be found here.  Originally I had planned to review all the driver data in one post, however I realised quite quickly that if I wanted to include all of the data then the post would be too long!

Therefore I have decided to split the posts into byte sized chunks of analyses for ease of reading – which I hope the lovely and learned readers of this blog agree is the right thing to do ;)

The first category I want to look at is Driver Classification – where the driver finished in a Grand Prix.  Rather than just look at average points scored, I thought it would be better to look at the average finishing position as it shows consistency in a better way.  I will also include average points scored graphs for comparison at the end.

Average Finishing Positions

So let us start by looking at the average finishing positions.  I have split the field into two for ease of viewing.  Here are the graphs:



(Note: Championship Positions are in brackets after the Driver’s Name)

But what do they show?  I guess it is pretty obvious to say that those who did well in the championship also finished better on average, but there are a few exceptions…

For example, Kobayashi made quite an impact in his two races – he is fifth on the list, just ahead of Glock (who he replaced).  But it is a bit unfair to say that because he didn’t really do enough races to make a meaningful average here.  The same goes for Badoer, who finished last in both of his races but ended up 17th and 14th due to retirements.

Back to the front of the field – and the first thing that stands out is that Jenson Button is far ahead of any other driver on average (with a score of 4.41) which is nearly a whole position ahead of Barrichello and over two places ahead of Vettel.  Barrichello and Vettel have swapped places in the rankings due to the fact that Vettel has had more retirements this year – which may have been crucial in his championship challenge.  Webber, the man he was supposed to destroy in 2009, was almost as good at finishing as he was, which shows how good a season Red Bull had.  Could they have won if not for a few retirements?

Glock and Massa also do quite well in this index – even though they did not complete the season.  Glock easily beats his team mate but Massa is edged by Raikkonen, who was the one ending up getting dropped next year.  Did Ferrari do the right thing I wonder?

‘Quick Nick’ was also ‘Consistent Nick’ – beating his supposedly quicker team-mate (Kubica).  Hamilton’s season does not look so good when you consider his average finish was almost tenth, with Kovalainen only 1 position behind!

There are two more points I would like to make – the first is about Giancarlo Fisichella.  If you look at the second I have separated his year into Force India and Ferrari races and the interesting thing is that his Ferrari part of the season is only half a finishing position better on average than his Force India races.  Does this mean that the Ferrari was too difficult to drive, or that it was too difficult to learn the nuances of it without testing?  He was certainly better than either Force India driver, so it is puzzling why he is not closer to his Ferrari team mates.  Perhaps it could have been down to the fact that Ferrari chose to stop developing the car at the time he joined the team?

Which leads me to my final point.  There were many driver changes for various different reasons this year, as well as an in-season testing ban.  What is interesting here is that every single replacement driver except for Kobayashi was worse than the guy who replaced him!  This cannot be a co-incidence and the testing ban must be a major part of this reason, but I might explore this point in more detail later when I come to analyse the 2009 performance per team…

Average Points Scored

I have included graphs of the average points scored for 2009 for reference only.  But to me these graphs only serve to show the championship positions pictorially and are therefore not very interesting to me.  But I think they may serve as a nice footnote to this post, so here they are:



The next posts I will write will be on Qualifying Performance, Fastest Laps and Driver Consistency, finishing off with a weighted scoring for each driver to try and determine who was the best all-round performer.  I hope you enjoyed this post and look out for the next in the series, which will be available soon! :D

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About rubbergoat

Hi there! I’m a mad keen F1 fan who has been addicted to the sport for 20 years. I watch every race and follow the sport in every way I can. I have a keen interest in numbers and I would like to analyse the races from a statistical point of view to see if the data shows something we can't see on TV. As always, I’d love to hear what you think and especially if we can discuss my analyses that would be great – but please no nasty stuff!

11 thoughts on “2009 In Review – Driver Classification

  1. Nice stuff mate.

    I’m wondering, not to sure how you have measured the average points. Is it over a full season? As I’m thinking that might not be fully fair for the drivers replaced as it shows them doing worse than in theory they weren’t?

    • Hi RG,

      Thanks for the comment. To Clarify, I have only measured points scored for races in which a driver participated. So don’t worry, Timo won’t get penalised for not racing in the last 3 races of the season ;)

      • Right. Just wondering. It was with the ‘All Grand Prix’ in the title of the graph which threw me off I think.

  2. Right. Just wondering. It was with the ‘All Grand Prix’ in the title of the graph which threw me off I think.

    Yeah I guess it’s a little ambiguous. Can you think of a better one?

  3. Surely the reason Fisichella did so much better against his Force India team mates than his Ferrari team mate is that his Ferrari team mate is vastly better than his FIF1 team mates.

    • Maybe that is the case. After the Italian Grand Prix, I recall Martin Haven saying something to Jonathan Noble on Twitter to the effect of “Form is temporary, class is permanent”.

      Maybe he just looked good at Force India because his team mates are essentially rookies and not world championship material like at Ferrari? He got blown away by Alonso at Renault too…

  4. Pingback: 2009 in Review – Qualifying Performance « Making Up The Numbers

  5. Hy How are you?
    I`m an Spanish fan of F1.
    I found your blog by chance, looking for informatión about evolutión of single-seaters for 2010 season.
    I found it very interesting, but I did´nt found your opinión or conclusións, just numbers.
    I would be grateful for it.
    Happy new year for every body

  6. Hi Mr Goat.
    Would be interesting to see average points scored for races in which the driver actually scored points.

    this would eliminate mechanical troubles and penalty troubles etc clouding the stats. What i would think it would show is that button would appear lower on a list of this sought, and drivers like webber and hamilton move up the list.

  7. Pingback: 2009 In Review – Driver Consistency « Making Up The Numbers

  8. Pingback: 2009 Driver Rankings Summary « Making Up The Numbers

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