Archive for the ‘Statistics’ Category

Hello again and welcome to Part B of our analysis which, in my view, is the most interesting one, because we will be looking into the performances of the drivers.

Drivers Performance

Sebastian Vettel’s dominance does not need to be put into numbers, but just for the sake of it, let us see the following statistics:

He won 11 races, started from pole 15 times, scored an average 20.6 points per race (out of a maximum possible of 25, i.e. 82.5% of the available points) and led 760 laps (i.e. 67.08% of the total laps of the season). His average starting position was 1.3 and his average finish position was 1.6. His score in the races he was classified was 21.8 points per race, which is mind blowing, to say the least.

In terms of raw speed he had the comfortable edge over Webber, being an average of 4 tenths faster than him throughout the year. This number comes from comparing all of their quali laps, in all sessions of all races, so it’s a very accurate indicator of the extra speed that Vettel could get from the car. Now, let’s take a look at this very interesting table below (please click on it to get a better view):

Drivers Comparison

An interesting, initial conclusion that can be drawn is that Vettel was able to dig very deep in the latest stages of qualifying, which gave him the edge over his rivals and the incredible 15 pole positions. As you can see, his average improvement from Q1 to Q2 was 1.319 seconds, higher than any other driver on the field. It’s the same story in Q3 – even though the top teams tended to run the softest tyre option in both Q2 and Q3, Vettel was able to find an extra 0.751 seconds from Q2 to Q3, and usually in his last run.

By comparison, from Q2 to Q3 Webber improved (on average) by 0.660 seconds, Hamilton by 0.533 seconds, Alonso by 0.460 seconds, Button by 0.428 seconds and Massa by only 0.382 seconds. The above figures account for what we actually saw during the qualifying sessions, i.e. McLaren often finishing first in Q2 and then missing out on pole, by small margins (especially after the mid point of the season). Webber’s improvement is less spectacular than it appears, because his Q2 laps were, on average, slower than Vettel’s. Even so, it shows a tendency that Red Bull could, in general, get more speed out of the car in Q3 mode than their rivals, which could be an indication of slight sand-bagging in the previous sessions (2-3 extra kgs of fuel?).

Going further down the list, always on the subject of improvements from Q1 to Q2 to Q3, it’s interesting to note both Mercedes’ drivers inability to improve at all (on average) from Q2 to Q3, and that’s probably because they were using everything they had to get through to the last stage of qualifying. Schumacher was often there or thereabouts Rosberg’s pace in Q1, but he fell behind invariably in Q2 (often failing to make the cut). His average improvement from Q1 to Q2 was 8 tenths, whereas Rosberg could find 1.1 seconds on average. In terms, therefore, of raw pace Schumacher was 5 tenths off Rosberg throughout the season, which is a very big gap, whichever way you want to look at it. Moreover, as you can see in the figure below, it wasn’t a case of Michael starting slow and gradually closing the gap (one would hope that Michael would gradually find his speed as the season progresses), but he only closed the gap for the short European leg (Barcelona, Monaco, Canada and Valencia) and then fell behind again – he only really matched Rosberg’s pace in Singapore for the remainder of the season. In fact, towards the end, Rosberg extended the gap and delivered some crushing blows in India (gap 0.886 seconds), Abu Dhabi (1.134 seconds) and Brasil (1.002 seconds in such a short lap) to indicate that 2012 looks to be another cringeworthy season for Michael, at least in qualifying.

All the above reflected on the grid, where Michael’s average starting position was 10.3 (i.e. on average, he was outside the top 10) and Nico’s was 7.5, more accurately reflecting the potential of the car. We won’t find such big gaps in starting positions elsewhere on the grid, with the exception of Red Bull (Vettel 1.3 – Webber 3.8). After the half point of the season, Michael started qualifying more regularly in the top 10, but that was only due to Renault’s demise and the distance that was created between Mercedes and the midfield.

Continuing on the subject of qualifying, we saw that Vettel had 4 tenths on Webber and Rosberg half a second on Schumacher. In Ferrari, Alonso had 3 tenths on Massa and was generally faster than Felipe, but towards the end of the season Massa got a few blows to register in Suzuka and South Korea; it will be interesting to see if Massa can keep this upward trend in 2012. Hamilton was faster (on average) by a mere 0.150 seconds than Jenson, which shows that either Button has improved his quali significantly or Lewis wasn’t always on it; I tend to go for the latter option. In my opinion, during the 2nd half of the season McLaren would have been a Red Bull beater in the hands of Alonso.

Further down the order, Senna acquitted himself very well in qualifying, being on average 0.118 seconds faster than Petrov. That is impressive considering his very limited running and the fact that Petrov was on average 0.449 seconds than Heidfeld in the first part of the season. True, some of Bruno’s performances in the races left a lot to be desired, but there is no doubt that the talent is there and it simply needs nourishing and race mileage. Williams, if you read this (fat chance!), please give this kid a chance.

Maldonado had a very good rookie year in qualifying, being on average 2 tenths faster than his much more experienced team mate. His race perfomances ranged from indifferent to WTF (a highlight being his attempt to ram Hamilton off the road), but it seems that the baseline speed is there. Will he be able to hone his race craft in 2012 to justify his position on the grid without the help of his sponsors? If he doesn’t do it in 2012, he will never do it (because he won’t get another decent chance).

Adrian Sutil had pretty much comfortably the edge on Di Resta after he solved his initial problems of understanding the new tyre characteristics and ended up 2.5 tenths faster than the Scot on average, throughout the season. Di Resta’s performances were not bad at all – in fact, he displayed a safe pair of hands, having run the longest distance of all (5358.17 kms). It is unfortunate that Sutil will not be part of the Force India roster in 2012, if only because we will not be able to accurately gauge Di Resta’s improvement from this year. The Hulkenberg – Di Resta pairing is, however, an exciting one and I am looking forward to who comes out on top. Given that both are regarded in the F1 circle as potential future stars, whoever comes out on top will, sooner rather than later, get his chance with a big team.

Further down, Perez was able to match Kobayashi’s performance in qualifying – and he showed some very mature and consistant performances in the races before his unfortunate accident in Monaco. He’s definitely one to watch in 2012. Buemi had 2.5 tenths on Alguersuari throughout the season, and it’s hard to argue (after 2 full seasons) that Jaime has shown the kind of raw speed necessary to take it to the next level. I believe that Toro Rosso were right (if a little harsh) to show them both the exit door. If they are in the business of preparing future world champions for the Red Bull team, then neither Jaime nor Sebastian seemed to fit the bill.

Further down, Heikki dominated Trulli (an average half a second faster through the year) – Jarno, isn’t it time to go growing vines with Fisico and let a younger kid get a break? Heikki needs Caterham to get to the midfield soon, or his promising career will stagnate. Perhaps his McLaren chance came far too early, and he was too starry-eyed to grab the chance; the fact that after 2 seasons of demolishing his team-mate his name isn’t being mentioned in relation to any of the bigger teams seats is, arguably, a testament that your chance in F1 only comes once.

At the very bottom, Ricciardo took some time to get acclimatised and was 0.150 seconds slower than Liuzzi on average, but it was a decent showing from the young rookie. He has stated that he needs to be more aggressive in 2012, and I couldn’t agree more with that. Finally, Glock thrashed D’ Ambrosio comfortably. He enjoyed the biggest margin in terms of raw pace (an average of 6 tenths) and it was only towards the end of the season when, arguably, Timo got a bit demotivated, that D’ Ambrosio came closer to him. Let’s see if Charles Pic can justify the hype. 2012 will be a difficult season for Marussia since they will fall further back in relation to Caterham and the other midfield runners.

In the diagram that follows we compare the raw speed of the drivers of the 4 big teams throughout the season.

Drivers Raw Speed Comparison

As you can see, the most comprehensive thrashing was delivered by Vettel and Rosberg to their respective team-mates, whereas Alonso was also consistantly faster than Massa. Things in McLaren look more or less evenly matched.

Now that we have the question of raw pace answered, let’s look at what happened during the races, starting off with Mercedes:

Although in the final table Rosberg got more points than Schumacher, Michael actually outscored Nico, since in the races that he was classified he scored an average of 5.4 points. Rosberg, in contrast, scored 5.2 points in the races he was classified. The reason why Michael finished behind in the points table was his 5 retirements (as opposed to Nico’s 2). It’s true that Michael tended to qualify much lower than he should be and had a lot of scope for improvement during the races, but this doesn’t take anything out from the fact that he raced very well throughout the season. I wouldn’t go as far as claiming that the old magic was there (the old magic of Michael was a sight to behold and will never return), but he definitely justified his seat. If, however, he doesn’t improve his qualifying performances 2012 will be an extremely tough season for him. And it’s hard to see him improving (at the age of 44) unless something dramatic happens.

Other than that, not many conclusions can be drawn from our statistical analysis. Some interesting facts are that Heidfeld recorded the biggest average improvement in position (finishing position in comparison to starting grid), at +4.9. With the exception of the back markers, other noticable drivers who improved a lot during the races were Schumacher (+2.0), Sutil (+1.7), Kobayashi (+3.3), Perez (+2.3), Buemi (+3.4) and Alguersuari (+2.8). At the front Massa was disappointing in the races (-0.6) as opposed to Alonso who started from higher up and further improved (+1.1) and the same goes for Hamilton (-0.2) Vs Button (+1.4).

In the graph below we are showing you, based on the average quali position and average race finish position of each driver, the virtual grid of the 2011 season and the finishing order. We think it’s a good visual indication of the pecking order throughout the year:

Grid and Finishing Order

So, I guess this is the end of our statistical analysis. Thanks for dropping by to have a look – I welcome any comments you have, especially if there is something additional that you feel warrants further analysis.


Hello to every F1 fan out there.

This being my first post, I wanted to make it a bit special, so I pieced together a full statistical analysis of the 2011 F1 season. I was surprised with the number of interesting observations that could be drawn; especially when compared to the various media statements of the team managers and drivers throughout the season. Stick around, and together we will find out if, for example, Ross Brawn’s claim that Mercedes were able to keep up development with the top teams throughout the season is valid, or whether Renault are right in suggesting that their forward facing exhausts gave them an early advantage which they then failed to develop.

If people ask for it, I may be willing to post the full analysis (i.e. the raw statistical data) at a later post. In the meantime, here goes Part A, of our analysis:

The Development Race

It’s difficult to judge the development pace in pure terms throughout the season (i.e. a November F1 car how faster would lap around Australia in comparison to a March F1 car?), but there are plenty of observations we can make about the comparative pace of development amongst the teams.

I have taken all the data from all qualifying sessions (Q1, Q2 and Q3) throughout the season, in order to determine the raw pace of the cars. Taking into consideration the first 5 races of the season, it appears that the pecking order, in terms of raw pace, was as follows:

1. Red Bull , +0.000 sec

2. McLaren Mercedes , +0.625 sec

3. Ferrari , +1.115 sec

4. Mercedes GP , +1.297 sec

5. Lotus Renault GP , +1.430 sec

6. Sauber Ferrari , +2.124 sec

7. Toro Rosso , +2.179 sec

8. Williams , +2.232 sec

9. Force India , +2.508 sec

10. Team Lotus , +4.368 sec

11. Marussia Virgin , +5.850 sec

12. HRT , +7.021 sec

(Note : The times refer the average gap to the absolute fastest time recorded in all qualifying sessions)

At a first glance it becomes apparent that Red Bull enjoyed an ominous advantage over their closest rivals, i.e. a good 6 tenths on McLaren and 1.1 seconds on Ferrari, on average. Although this margin was usually less during the races, it meant Red Bull got to be on pole on almost every single race (18 poles out of a maximum possible of 19) and determine the race pace and strategy.

Lotus Renault was also very close to the front-runners, i.e. 3 tenths off Ferrari’s pace and a mere tenth and a half off Mercedes, which is evidence that their forward facing exhaust system was working well.

Now, let’s look at what the F1 pecking order was at the end of the season, after a full year’s of relentless development, i.e. in the last 5 races of the season:

1. Red Bull , +0.054 sec

2. McLaren Mercedes , +0.134 sec

3. Ferrari , +0.597 sec

4. Mercedes GP , +1.299 sec

5. Force India , +1.894 sec

6. Lotus Renault GP , +1.992 sec

7. Toro Rosso , +2.307 sec

8. Sauber Ferrari , +2.518 sec

9. Williams , +2.710 sec

10. Team Lotus , +4,354 sec

11. Marussia Virgin , +6.023 sec

12. HRT , +6.455 sec

Surprised? Let’s look at it team by team:

Mclaren were tremendously successful in clawing back Red Bull’s advantage in raw pace, by finding 5 tenths of a second more than Red Bull and getting to within a tenth of them. This is why Hamilton was able to record McLaren’s sole pole of the season (Korea). This is not the first time that we have seen the Woking team stage such a comeback, because their in-season development pace is legendary. However, this year they started much further back than they wanted, and paid the price for it. One has to wonder how dominant McLaren can be in a season in case they come up with a pace setter from the word go. Having said that, the recent drain of excellent aerodynamicists to Ferrari following Fry’s move there puts a huge question mark on their 2012 campaign (not as much on the car that will roll out on February, as on whether they can keep up that pace of development throughout the season).

Ferrari’s story is similar, albeit a little bit less successful because they started way back the order. They, however, managed to claw back a good half second compared to Red Bull, even though, as you can see in Figure 1 below, they lost the development plot a bit after Silverstone with a series of upgrades that didn’t really work (no need to go through this, you all know what I am talking about). They ended up 6 tenths behind Red Bull at the end of the season, and although that’s much better than the 1.1 second at the start, it’s still nowhere near enough good for Ferrari’s standards and their fans’ expectations.

Where does that leave Red Bull? In not such a good light, I am afraid. Both McLaren and Ferrari were able to cut huge chunks of lap time from their advantage, and although one may argue that this was down to understanding the exhaust blowing concept better and copying Red Bull’s ideas, it still doesn’t leave us drooling over the Bulls’ development pace. On the contrary, it shows a team that started off with a ridiculously faster machine but failed to keep their distance from their rivals – is it a sign of decline or was it just a case of a team realising their advantage and spending more time in the 2012 concept? Only time will tell – March is fast approaching!

Switching over to Mercedes, the picture is disheartening. They started the season 1.3 seconds off the pace and finished exactly 1.3 seconds off the pace, which means that they were unable to follow either McLaren’s or Ferrari’s pace of development (Ross you can stop bullshi**ing us now). In fact, their average gap to the front throughout the season was just that – 1.3 seconds. It’ s ever more depressing considering that Mercedes were very late to introduce their final aero package (first appeared in Melbourne) and were also quite weak on the blown exhaust front at the start, which means they had a big initial scope of development. We failed to see this materialise during the season, and it was only Lotus Renault’s demise (as we will see later on) that kept them from falling into the clutches of the midfield. BAR aka Honda aka Brawn aka Mercedes GP have a history of over-promising and under-delivering (with the blip of 2009 which was due to a stroke of luck / genius in the shape of the double diffuser). This team has a tendency of viewing things behind rose-tinted spectacles and it’s a bit sad having to watch Ross Brawn follow the footsteps of the great Nick Fry (bleah).

Moving over to the midfield, Lotus Renault clearly didn’t know how to develop their radical exhaust system, and lost 6 tenths in comparison to Red Bull, which actually represents the slowest development pace of any team during the season. Force India on the contrary started 9th in the pecking order and finished 5th (the biggest improvement of any, by far), having found 6 tenths of a second more during the season in comparison to teams such as Red Bull and Mercedes. A truly excellent job and a fairy tale story of in-season development for such a small midfield team – many congratulations! Apart from that, Toro Rosso started 7th and finished 7th (although their raw pace suffered in comparison to their race-day performances) and Williams was a disappointment through and through – we don’t need stats to see that. Team Lotus managed a decent development rate (along the lines of Red Bull), whereas Virgin suffered due to the CFD saga and HRT found 6 tenths as well, mainly because their gap to the front was so huge.

In Figure 1 below, I am showing you how the 4 “big” teams compared throughout the year, on a race by race basis, so you can see for yourselves and draw your own conclusions. You can safely disregard Silverstone as a blip, due to the temporary ban of the blown exhausts (something which can be clearly seen in the graph). Figure 2 is basically the same graph with all the teams included.

Development Race of the 4 big teams

The Development Race

The Development Race - all teams

The Development Race - All Teams

In the above figures, where there are no data points is because no meaningful conclusions / numbers could be drawn from the qualifying sessions of the specific race. Also, please note that the numbers to the left (y-axis) are in % and not in seconds – that’s the % of the lap time. The reason I choose to refer to percentages rather than seconds is because they are more accurate in understanding the relative position, since the actual lap time varies significantly from race to race. An example: Being 1% slower than Red Bull in, say, Monaco, means that you are about 7.5 tenths of their pace. However, being 1% slower than Red Bull in Singapore means that you are about 1 second off their pace. Therefore, the relative pace remains the same, but the gap grows bigger, simply because the lap is longer in Singapore. However, this tends to level out throughout a season, which is why I used seconds in my analysis above, so that it will also be easier understood by all.

Race Statistics

Before we move on to the most interesting part of our analysis (i.e. drivers’ performance assessment), let’s take a look on some interesting race statistics, in the following Figure 3:

Race Statistics

Race Statistics

Yeah, I know the letters are small, just click on the figure!

As you can see Valencia was the race with the less retirements (0) and the more kms completed (98.17% – a total of 7277.717kms), whereas the fastest race was Monza, with an average speed of 227.848kmh. The slowest was Singapore (155.810kmh), since we disregard Canada (4 hours duration due to the rain) and Monaco (red flag). What’s really interesting though is to examine the fuel effect in each race, by comparing the average race lap of the winner to the pole lap recorded on the previous day.

We traditionally “know” (because we have been told so) that Barcelona is a race with one of the highest penalties for carrying fuel. However, as you can see in the table, this is not so. In fact, the tracks where the fuel effect is strongest are the following (in that order):

Fuel Effect - High

Whereas the tracks where the cars suffered the least from each gallon of fuel were the following:

Fuel Effect - Low

On average, we had 4.2 retirements per race (including the DNS of HRT in Melbourne and the DSQ of Sauber in the same race), which is a testament of the reliability that F1 teams enjoy these days.

Coming up in Part B:

Stay tuned for Part B, where we will be looking closely into the performances of each driver. We are going to find out, for example, how well Schumacher really did against Rosberg, and just how good Bruno Senna’s stint with Renault was. We will also be taking a look at the performances of the teams along with a few more interesting bits and pieces.

C u all soon.