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 ;)

Summer Break…

Now the F1 circus is on it’s annual four week Summer Break, I just thought I’d make a quick blog post letting you guys know what my plans are for the blog.

As I have no posts I want to look at right now, I plan to do a little housekeeping for the blog so that things might work better round here ;) Continue reading

Driver Consistencies – Germany

So who was a model of Germany efficiency and who will be the target of schadenfreude?  Jawohl, it is time to look at the Driver consistency ratings for the German GP.  If you want more info on how I make these calculations, please refer to my post for the Spanish Grand Prix.

As always, let’s start by looking at the mean and Standard Deviation for all drivers for all laps completed…

Germany Average Lap Times, All Laps:

ger_09_race_laps_av

Unusually for this first graph, there are a few changes in the driver order when average lap times are calculated.  Alonso moves to fifth owing to a late burst of speed and setting the fastest lap, Nakajima eighth (who finished lower due to a collision with Trulli on the first lap) and Kovalainen drops down to twelfth (Sorry Amy).  Raikkonen did not have a very good race before he retired and Bourdais was almost five seconds slower on average with a massive standard deviation, as he was having mechanical problems throughout the race before being forced to retire.

Now we take out the lap times where pit stops were made.  Note that I have left Mark Webber’s lap where he took a drive through penalty as it formed part of his race.  As always, I found out which laps the drivers pitted on with the help of the BlogF1 post on Pit stops and Tyre Strategies.

Germany Average Lap Times, Racing Laps:

ger_09_race_laps_av_nopit

Now this is where things get interesting.  The first surprise is the man who is now in second place – Barrichello.  What does this mean?  That Brawn were completely wrong to put him on a three stop strategy and that he actually drove a better race than Button.  No wonder that he was annoyed with the team after the race then!

Vettel and Massa drops down to fourth and fifth respectively… as these drivers complained about being slowed down by being trapped behind Kovalainen near the end of the race (sorry Amy).  Rosberg must also have been affected by Kovalainen as he drops down the order too.

Sutil is also in a good position here – after running quite strongly early in the race, he had a collision with Raikkonen which damaged his car, sent him back to the pits and ruined his race.  The Force India team should lament that incident as he clearly had the pace to score some points today.  A real shame, because the team has worked really hard with few resources and has made huge gains this season.  They deserved to score points today but for a bit of bad luck in a racing incident.  Still, they can feel very proud knowing that their car had the pace today to finish seventh or eighth.

Nakajima and Trulli would also have had better races if not for the first lap collision that they had with each other.  Hamilton was still way off the pace even after his accident, which perhaps was his own making after repeatedly complaining to the team on the radio that the car was handling badly.

Finally, it is clear that whatever problems Bourdais was having with the car were occurring throughout the race – a sad way for him to end his F1 career but typical of his time in F1 that his race was spoiled by technical problems.

So there you have it – sorry about the delay posting this analysis, but I have had limited access to the internet this week.  Having said that, I hope this analysis is still useful to you!

Red Bulls on Parade

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…

VETvWEB_gap_to_pole

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?

VETvWEB_points_per_race

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?

VETvWEB_finishing_pos

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:

VETvWEB_avg_points VETvWEB_avg_pos

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…

VETvWEB_champ

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…

Conclusion:

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! :D

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! ;)

Who Was Best at Turning Round Turn 8 at Turkey?

Apologies for posting out of order again … but I have been unable until now to find out the data required for this post – I searched the FIA stats, news sites and blogs but nobody had the information!  Finally, my friend Brian Lawrence from the F1NGers Newsgroup managed to find it by watching the race and taking a screen cap of the information.  So Big Thanks to you Brian, the effort was very much appreciated :-D

So what I wanted to do was analyse the speeds logged in the mighty Turn 8 of the Istanbul Circuit and see how they corresponded to a driver’s laptime.  Here is a map of the Istanbul Circuit and also a zoomed-in shot of Turn 8, courtesy of the FIA Media Centre:

Tur09_CircuitMap

Tur09_Turn8

Turn 8 is a mighty corner with 4 apexes and a load of up to 4.5G on the driver – It has to be taken almost flat out and defines a good lap time.  But don’t take my word for it, let Fernando Alonso tell you about it:

“Turn 8 is one of the quickest and longest left hand corners of the year. It’s really a series of corners with four apexes, although we treat it as one apex and try to be as smooth as possible with the steering inputs. We don’t touch the brake at any stage through the corner, and simply lift the throttle slightly to keep the car online. In the middle of the corner we’re doing about 260kmh and you can really feel the G-forces on your body. It’s easy to understeer wide in this corner, which will cost you a lot of time, but there’s plenty of run-off to save you.”

(Credit: ING Renault F1 Team via F1 Minute)

So who was the fastest through Turn 8?  Sadly the only information I have available are the top 8 speeds on lap 28, which were:

Tur09_Turn8_speeds

Naturlly, Button should be fastest as he was dominant all weekend.  Vettel was close behind, partly because the circuit suited the Red Bull cars (which seem to like circuits with fast, sweeping corners).  Vettel is probably much faster than Webber as his car would have been significantly lighter – Vettel was on a three-stop strategy while Webber was on a two-stopper.  Surprisingly the two Ferraris are next considering their fastest laps and driver consistency scores.  Barrichello also is in the top 8 fastest drivers – showing that he could have had a good race had he not lost his head and driven such an erratic race.  The Top 8 consists of both Brawns, both Red Bulls, both Ferraris, a Williams and a Toyota.

Here are the corresponding lap times for those drivers, set on the same lap as when the apex speeds were recorded (lap 28):

Tur09_Turn8_laps

The curious outliers here are the two Ferraris – curious because neither InfoRace nor BlogF1 make a note of any mistake or problem for them on this lap.  Indeed, all the drivers posted a time close to that of their average laptimes.  Therefore the only explanation has to be that the car was set up better to take this corner and had a deficiency somewhere else in the lap that slowed them down.  The opposite could be said for Rosberg and Trulli – perhaps they ran lower downforce setups to gain more top speed on the straights?

Here are the speeds and laptimes plotted on the same graph, fastest to slowest speed:

Tur09_Turn8_spdVSlaps_speeds

In general, the faster cars recorded a quicker laptime – thus highlighting the importance of getting this corner right to get a good laptime. Also, there seems to be quite a big difference between the teammates here.  Brawn can be explained by Barrichello having a bad race, Red Bull because of the different strategies, but there is no discernible reason why there should be a difference between the Ferrari drivers.  Having said that, the difference between the Ferrari team mates is the smallest of the three teams.

Here is the same graph, sorted by quickest to slowest laptime:

Tur09_Turn8_spdVSlaps_laptimes

Here the order changes round, with the Ferraris and Barrichello dropping back.  This is more reminiscent of the eventual finishing order of the race, with the outliers as pointed out above.

Unfortunately due to the lack of available data on Turn 8 speeds, more detailed analysis was not possible.  So it’s not concrete whether it is true that a higher apex speed in Turn 8 helps you get a faster lap time, but it does seem like that a driver/car combination that can get a good top speed in Turkey’s awesome Turn 8 will end up being fast over a whole lap.