Driver Consistency – Japan

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.

Driver Consistency

Here is a graph showing the average lap times and standard deviation for the Japanese Grand Prix:

jpn09_race_laps_av

(Note: The laps where race was run under the Safety Car have been excluded as these are not considered ‘Racing Laps’) Continue reading

Fantasy Racers – Japan

So the Japanese Grand Prix is over, Button isn’t champion, Barrichello nibbles a little out of his lead and Vettel scored a dominant win from flag to flag.

Sadly, there was little action on track other than the pit stops – A couple of good overtaking moves but the racing was largely processional.  However, there was some controversy at the end of the race.  Alguersuari had a bad accident at the 130R (but is OK) which brought out the safety car.  Rosberg used this opportunity to make his planned pit stop and jump ahead of both the Brawns and Heidfeld.

However, after the race, Button suggested that Rosberg drove too fast before the safety car and gained an unfair advantage.  At the time of writing, Brawn have complained to the stewards as Williams have had to explain themselves.

Now, I only have the lap times and gap times from the FIA Media Centre – and I can tell you that on the lap where the safety car came out, these were the following lap times:

  • Rosberg: 1:39.697
  • Button: 1:45.382
  • Barrichello: 1:45.686

Rosberg’s lead was 24.559 seconds and his pit stop took 24.888 seconds – so he would not have made the positions up on the track without the safety car.  Rosberg is adamant that he kept the correct pace on the way to the pit lane, however the gaps suggest to me that he did gain an advantage and so I would not be surprised to see him penalised.  So that’s the second race in a row where he makes a fundamental and costly pit lane error.

Driver Scores

But how does that translate into the Fantasy Racers scores?  Let’s have a look at the driver scores from the Grand Prix today. By the way, for more information on my calculation methods, please visit my page on Fantasy Racers Explained

Jpn09_FR_race_points

(Note:  Once Danny has set the scores, they will not be changed if penalties are applied afterwards, in accordance with the Fantasy Racers rules…) Continue reading

Japan Qualifying – We are Confused!

Time for Qualifying Analysis for the Japanese Grand Prix.  What a qualifying session today!  Cars going off left, right and centre, three red flags, penalties all around and poor Glock getting injured!

To be honest, there’s way too much info to summarise but I will give it a go anyway.  Webber could not qualify as he damaged the car in the morning practice session, Alguersuari went off at Degner in Q2, causing the first red flag.  When Q2 was restarted, Glock went off at the last corner after the Casio chicane before anyone could set a time.  He sustained a wound on his left leg and was airlifted to hospital.  The car was wrecked and he may not be able to race tomorrow, but at least he is OK.

This meant that there was a mad rush to set a time in Q2, with most drivers leaving it late with only one run.  This plan fell apart because Buemi hit the wall coming out of the Spoon Curve and caused a yellow flag.  Button, Barrichello, Alonso and Sutil did not lift off through the yellow flag in order to set a time and have all been given 5-place grid penalties as a result.  As Buemi drove his damaged car back to the pits and impeded other drivers, he was also penalised 5 places.  However, this was after qualifying and Button, Barrichello, Buemi and Sutil all progressed into Q3.

Q3 was also manic – Kovalainen, who is under pressure to deliver this weekend in order to secure a drive in F1 in 2010 had a scrappy qualifying session, barely making it out of Q1 after spinning at the Degner curve.  This curve proved to be his undoing in Q3, as he spun again and hit the wall, causing the final red flag of the day.

So only eight drivers set times in Q3, and this is what they looked like:

Jap09_q3times

(Note:  I have decided to run my analysis before the penalties were issued – it is too confusing otherwise.  The final grid will be addressed at the end of the post) Continue reading

Japan Preview

So here we are, finally back at the proper home at the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time since 2006.  After two years at the unloved Fuji Circuit, F1 returns to a driver and a fan favourite.  The drivers love the technical challenge of a mix of long straights and fast sweeping turns.  It is the only figure of eight in F1 and it is also owned by Honda.

Ironically, this weekend could see Button become the World Champion Continue reading

Fantasy Racers – Singapore

Not the best of races as described in my Driver Consistency Post, but a good win for Hamilton and the Brawns managed to make the most of a bad weekend, while the Red Bulls didn’t!

Driver Scores

But how does that translate into the Fantasy Racers scores?  Let’s have a look at the driver scores from the Grand Prix today. By the way, for more information on my calculation methods, please visit my page on Fantasy Racers Explained

Sin09_FR_race_points

This pretty much mirrors the race order, except Alonso who got the fastest lap and so ends up in second instead of Glock (sorry RG!).  A bad day for you if you had ALG, BUE, WEB, SUT or GRO in your team (I have Sutil :( )…

Championship scores

How is the championship going?  Let’s have a look at the scores:

Sin09_FR_champ_points

Button has a big lead and it’s unlikely he’ll be caught now, but it is still possible… (Art imitating life or what ;) ).  Not much change from the last race, the same drivers are in the top 10 but some of the drivers swapped places.  Hamilton gained two places and the most points, Glock and Alonso gained the most ground, while Heidfeld and Webber were the biggest losers…

Average Points Per Race

Sin09_FR_av_points

Top two are the same as the last race, except Vettel is now third after Webber retired.  Rosberg drops a few places after his ‘silly mistake’ today, and Hamilton gains a few places after winning today.  Grosjean has had a rotten time of late – and so far is still 8 points behind Piquet on average.

Points Per Million

Sin09_FR_PPM

Fisichella-Rosberg-Barrichello are still your best value for money – with the three guys starting mid-season being the least value.  Alonso and Glock would have been good picks too!

Last 3 Grands Prix

Sin09_FR_race_points_Last3

Raikkonen is in first place again – but is level with Barrichello, Vettel jumps up to third and Kovalainen drops to fourth.  Hamilton and Button are seventh and eighth due to inconsistent results, while Webber drops right down the order after two retirements on the bounce.  No wonder his championship chances are over :(

My Team

Well, I have climbed another eight places to 46th in the Sidepodcast League and stayed in 4th in the Pitlane Fanatic League. My team lies 260th overall which means I have climbed another 21 places. Not a bad week then, but how did my drivers do?


Adrian Sutil
Force India F1 Team
5.80m – 26 points


Jenson Button
Brawn GP
11.50m – 131 points


Robert Kubica
BMW Sauber F1 Team
5.40m – 101 points


Rubens Barrichello
Brawn GP
10.50m – 121 points


Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull Racing
11.70m – 141 points


Timo Glock
Panasonic Toyota Racing
6.40m – 161 points

So basically instead of some drivers doing well and others doing badly, I have all my drivers except for ‘Silly Sutil’ doing all right for once.  To be honest, Sutil’s mistake was so bone-headed I’m surprised Danny from Fantasy Racers didn’t just take all of his points away.

Well that’s your lot for this race then.  Button is looking good for the championship, but it’s far from over yet as I seem to remember Hamilton losing under similar circumstances in 2007 :(  As mentioned in my Driver Consistency Post, all he has to do is score 5 more points than Barrichello to be champion – although I don’t think it will happen in Suzuka.

One thing is for sure – I will be glad to return to a proper racetrack like Suzuka after all these silly Mickey Mouse tracks we have now – honestly, Singapore was such a bore!  After the first lap there was hardly any passing and in my opinion, it’s just a prettier version of Valencia.  Next week in Japan, the men should be sorted from the boys!!! :D

How did you find the race?  What do you think of the circuit?  How did your driver do today?  Do you think Button will win the championship in Suzuka or will it go down to the wire?  Your comments are much appreciated :)

Driver Consistency – Singapore

Time to see who was a Singapore Flyer and who had too many Singapore Slings – yes, it’s Driver Consistency time!!!  If you need more info on my calculation methods then please refer to my post on Driver Consistency Explained.

Driver Consistency

So who was the most consistent?  Here is a graph showing the average lap times and standard deviation for the Singapore Grand Prix:

Sin09_race_laps_av

(Note: The laps where race was run under the Safety Car have been excluded as these are not considered ‘Racing Laps’)

The graph is a little more mixed up than last time, due to a lot of drivers retiring which always jumbles up the results.  However, it does match the finishing order for the most part, so there is not much more to be said.  Instead, let us look at the ‘Racing Laps’ – that is, all the timed laps except for pit stops and those run under the Safety Car:

Sin09_race_laps_av_nopit

So Hamilton was still fastest, but Vettel jumps ahead of Glock and Alonso.  Rosberg (without his penalty for crossing the white line) would have been sixth, whereas after qualifying I predicted he would be fourth or fifth – almost RG-esque there ;)  I also managed to pick the correct winner and the Brawns scoring points, although I did get it wrong about Red Bull doing well :(

Button is only seventh quickest because of brake problems near the end of the race, Heidfeld would have been soundly beaten by Kubica anyway and Webber would have not finished in the points, even if he did make it to the end of the race.

Conclusions

Street circuits are often hard to judge because pace can often be determined by who a driver was stuck behind in the race, due to a lack of overtaking.  Today’s race was no different – after a bit of jostling on the first lap, there was not much action during the race.  Sadly, while Singapore may be pretty, it does not offer much more excitement than Valencia.

The race was only interesting to see which Brawn driver would affect the gap between them in the championship.  Rosberg showed again that he still has to prove that he has what it takes to win – in my eyes he is overrated and a better driver in that car would have won by now.

Yet again, he showed pace in a quick car, yet he fell off the pace and made a fundamental mistake leaving the pits (crossing over the white line), resulting in a drive-through penalty.  How many more excuses will people make before they realise that he just is not good enough, I wonder?

In contrast, Glock did brilliantly well to get the Hilux into second place – and had Toyota won, it would have surely have cemented their place in the sport next year…  I will award Mr. Glock my “Prime Number of the Race” award for a brilliant drive “:D

Red Bull all but ruled themselves out of contention for the championship – Webber crashed out after an apparent brake failure and Vettel speeding in the pitlane and then damaging the floor of his car, he did not score many points today, meaning that he only really has a mathematical chance of winning the championship..

The Brawn boys – well, they really made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear today.  Jenson could not get out of Q2, and Rubens had to start tenth after a gearbox penalty, but managed to finish fifth and sixth after good use of strategy and keeping consistent pace during the race.

If Button scores 5 more points than Barrichello next race (I.E. fourth place or above if Barrichello does not score), then he will be champion.  It is worth noting that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Brawns to win now the other teams have caught up, and that Hamilton lost a 17-point lead with two races to go in 2007, to lose to Raikkonen by one point… so either we could have the whole thing sewn up by this time next week or it could be blown right open…

Did you enjoy the race?  Do you like the circuit?  Do you think Rosberg is the next big thing?  Who was your star of the race?  Will Button be champion or will Barrichello catch him up?  As always, I’d love to hear from you so let me know your thoughts in the comments… ;)

More Shaken Up Than A Singapore Sling

Time for Qualifying Analysis for the Singapore Grand Prix.  An interesting session today on a dusty and slippery track under the lights of the Marina Bay circuit.  Button has had car problems all weekend (mainly complaining of understeer) and did not make it into Q3, qualifying 12th.  Fisichella did not even make it into Q2, along with both Force India’s – but then this circuit has very little of the fast sweeping corners, being a street circuit which is very stop-start in nature.

Let’s have a look at the top 10 times in Q3:

Sin09_q3times

Quite a strange linear progression in the times here!

That being said, both Red Bulls qualified well and both BMW’s managed to get into the top 10 for the first time this season.  Hamilton gets pole, Rosberg third and Q3 was stopped 23 seconds before the end because Barrichello hit the wall, denying many with a chance of setting their best lap times.  Speaking of Barrichello, he qualified fifth, although he starts 10th because of a gearbox penalty, due to an overtorque (and possible damage) in the gearbox two races ago at Spa.  A smart decision, as with approximately 40 gear changes per lap, the loads on a gearbox would be quite heavy!

Note: At the time of writing, there was no official word on Rubens’ starting position (or whether he had to take a further penalty in order to repair the car)…

Time to look at the Fuel Weights:

Sin09_fuelweights

The weights are quite close here too.  With a race length of 61 laps, pretty much every driver here is on a two-stop strategy.  This should not affect the positions much with the fuel corrected times, but let us have a look at them anyway:

Sin09_q3times_fuelcorrected

With Hamilton’s car being slightly heavier, he has a big lead of six tenths over Vettel (who was one of the lightest).  In fact, Vettel’s car being light means he is just pipped into second by Rosberg.  Otherwise, the positions do not change much except Kubica and Kovalainen who rise to eighth and ninth respectively and Heidfeld dropping to tenth.

Here is the Mega-Graph, which puts it all together:

Sin09_q3times_fuelweights corrected

And here is the graph with fuel corrected versus Q3 Times:

Sin09_q3times corrected

Race Predictions:

I think Hamilton is a great position to win tomorrow – he is quick and has a heavy car with KERS so should be able to leap away at the start and build up a good lead.  Although both Brawns seem to have missed an open goal, I think one will end up scoring a few points and changing the margin of the gap between them a little bit.  I hope that whoever ends up being champion does not ‘limp’ to it – I want to see a strong finish but it looks like that isn’t going to happen.

It looks like Red Bull are strong and will probably get on the podium.  As for Rosberg, well, who knows?  I don’t have a high opinion of him and I don’t think he will win for sure, he will probably finish fourth or fifth.  I hope I am wrong though – as I’m a bit of a Williams fan ;)

One thing though – whoever wins, I hope that this time, at least the result is honest – as we are bound to have some kind of mix-up due to a Safety Car comes out ;)

Let me know what you think and who you think will win tomorrow.  And remember to join me in Live Commenting during the race over at the good guys on Sidepodcast ;)

Don’t forget to vote in the poll below either, it’s just for fun though!

Singapore – The End Begins…

So, we’re finished with Europe and the battle lines have been drawn for the final showdown in a very strange but fantastic season.  Can Button hang on to win the title?

Can Barrichello overpower him and pip him at the post?  Or will Vettel surprise everybody and take the crown?  It will certainly be an exciting finish to the season and I hope you’ll all be watching :D

In preparation for the weekend, why not check out my driver consistency post from the last race, review the Fantasy Racers scores to help make your picks, or check out my special posts on the points situation, or a speculative post on what would have happened had the medals system proposed by Bernie had been used?

Hope you enjoy the race … let’s hope it’s an honest result this time and that the sport does not suffer any more controversy.  What do you think will happen and who do you think will win?  As always, let me know what you think in the comments…

Going For Gold

(NOTE:  This material was already covered in my Driver Consistency post for the Italian Grand Prix, but people have requested that it deserved it’s own post.  Apologies for the repetition, however it does make for better reading…)

Just for fun, let’s have a look at how the championship would look like if Bernie had been successful in implementing his medals system, an idea mooted at the end of 2008/start of 2009 (and quickly dropped).

The idea of the system was to reward race wins by awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, as in the Olympics.  The driver with the most Gold medals at the end of the year would be champion.  If the situation arose that there was more than one driver with the same amount of Gold medals, Silver medals would be used as a tie-breaker.

So how many Gold medals has each driver won?  Let’s take a look, first over the  course of the season:

ITA09_2009YTD_Gold_Medals_cumul

(Apologies if the graph is difficult to see – click on it to open in a new window…)

We can see from this that Button built up an early cushion of six wins and that the others have not been able to catch up, fighting amongst themselves with six winners in the seven races since Turkey (Button’s last win).

The total number of Gold medals for each driver is as follows:

ITA09_2009YTD_Gold_Medals

So with four races to go, Barrichello and Vettel could catch up to Button, forcing a tie-breaker.

So who has the most Silver medals?

ITA09_2009YTD_Silver_Medals

Here is the kicker – if Barrichello won the next four races, Button would have to finish second at least twice to tie with him, and once to tie with Vettel.  Then, if the scores were still tied, we would need to use Bronze medals to break the tie:

ITA09_2009YTD_Bronze_Medals

So now it would come down to who finished third the most times – and as it’s pretty even, it might be best to list the permutations:

Button

  1. Needs to win once to become champion.
  2. However, if Barrichello wins the next four races, needs to finish second in three of the races, or second in two races and third in two races.
  3. If he only manages one third place, then the championship would presumably be decided on points, meaning that Barrichello would win if Button did not score higher than fifth in the other race.

This means that we could have ended up with a scenario like Brazil last year – Ironically not what Bernie wanted as he wanted to see drivers win races to win the championship and not decided by a guy who finishes down the order ;)

Barrichello

Needs to win all four races and hope that Button does not achieve any of the above :D

Vettel

  1. Also needs to win all four races.
  2. As he has one less second place to his name, he has to hope Button does not finish second at least twice; or
  3. Button does not finish second at least once and third at least once as he is further back in the championship, as that alone would be enough for Button to tie on points meaning he would only need one more point from two races to become champion.

Conclusions and Final Thoughts

Bernie Ecclestone had an idea to make a system where a driver who wins races wins the championship, but after listing all the permutations, I think it would have been an awful idea as it is so much more confusing than a good old fashioned points system :P

Besides, the championship decider could have been the race where all Button needs to do is finish in the low points – which is ironically the exact scenario Bernie hoped to avoid with this system!

Who do you think will be champion?  How will they do it?  Do you still like the idea of medals?  Is Kovalainen finished as an F1 driver? Let me know your thoughts as always as I’d love to hear from you ;)

The Home Stretch

(NOTE:  This material was already covered in my Driver Consistency post for the Italian Grand Prix, but people have requested that it deserved it’s own post.  Apologies for the repetition, however it does make for better reading…)

With the end of the European season and with four races to go, the championship battle is looking very tight :)  I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the championship points and see what each of contenders has to do to take the championship.

Let’s start with the Constructors Championship:

ITA09_2009YTD_Const_Points

Red Bull are exactly 40 points behind Brawn with a maximum 72 left to score (4×18).  Ferrari are mathematically still capable of catching, but it is very unlikely to happen.

For Red Bull to win the constructors championship, they must score 10 points more (a whole race win) than Brawn.  While this is possible, it is also unlikely to happen as both Red Bull drivers are having a bad run of form, with bad qualifying pace, mechanical issues, Vettel using up all of his allocated engines (and therefore taking a 10-place grid penalty next time he needs a new engine) and Brawn running quite strongly at the moment.

Add to this that the Red Bull only does better on cold or fast sweeping tracks, and it looks even more difficult – Singapore is a street circuit (where Red Bull have been weak this year), Japan should suit them, Brazil is usually random and Abu Dhabi will be hot, which suits the Brawns.  Also, McLaren and Ferrari have good cars now, so they will be taking even more points away from the two teams trying to win the championship.  I would probably say that Brawn have done enough to be the constructor’s champions for 2009.

But what about the Driver’s Championship?  Let us have a look:

ITA09_2009YTD_Champ_Points

Button has a fourteen-point lead over Barrichello which means that Barrichello needs to score an average of 3.5 points more than Button to be champion.  This is not that much when you consider that Hamilton had a 12 point lead over Alonso and 17 point lead over Raikkonen with two races to go – and he lost the championship to Raikkonen by 1 point.  In 2008 Hamilton had a seven point lead over Massa in the last round and only won by one point, so the championship is far from over.

For example, suppose in the next race Barrichello wins and Button does not score – then the lead is only four points.  So my point is that we are going to have a championship battle that goes right down to the wire :D

But are the Red Bulls still capable of catching Button?  Well, Vettel is 26 points behind which means he needs to outscore Button by 6.5 points per race to catch him.  Considering at some point Vettel will have to change his engine and take a 10-place grid penalty, this is starting to look like a tall order.  So Vettel needs to win a race and hope the Brawns do not score to take a big chunk out of their lead, and it needs to happen in the next two races or he is out.

What about Webber?  28 points behind, which means 7 points per race more than Button to win.  This is basically only a mathematical chance as this requires the Brawns to hardly score any points and Webber has not been having a good run of form and his car will not suit all the circuits, so he is effectively out.