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…
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?
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?
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:
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…
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…
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!
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!