Korea Pretent Points

October 23, 2010

If the Korea race-result was to be exactly the same as qualification order, this is how the points would pan out.

Webber    238
Vettel    231
Alonso    221
Hamilton    204
Button    195

Japan Snippets

October 12, 2010

In Japan, Vettel garnered his eighth win and 13th pole. He has taken six wins from pole-positions, his other two wins being from second and third on the grid. Six of his seven failures to win from pole happened this year. It was the thirteenth win for Red Bull from 104 races, but bearing in mind the team only won their first race in China last year, it is their 13th win in the last 31 races. It was the 128th win for a Renault-engined car. These are the top-five win-totals for engines.

1    Ferrari    215
2    Ford Cosworth    176
3    Renault    128
4    Mercedes    82
5    Honda    72

(See gpguide.com for full list)

There was a fair bit of action in Sunday’s race, and whilst I enjoyed watching the event, I am somehow surprised I did not enjoy it more. One suggestion I read was that it was marred by poor TV coverage, and although the live-editing was erratic at times, I do not think that was it. It certainly led to more screen-time for home-driver, Kobayashi, but his series of overtaking moves coincided to justify that, and provided much of the best of the afternoon; it is widely known that overtaking is just too difficult in Formula One, but it seems Kamui did not get that memo. The five ‘Championship contenders finished in the order they qualified in, with Button’s alternate tyre-strategy having no impact. We were denied Kubica’s part in the race action after his early retirement, or the opportunity to see Hamilton mix it with the Red Bulls and Alonso’s Ferrari by his gearbox-change grid-penalty, followed by his transmission issue in the race. With Massa out early and Rosberg’s retirement, the best-of-the-rest battle some way back from the big boys was not that inspiring. The points-gaps between the top-three were closed up by the result, but with one less race left on the season, so not a huge change in status quo; the McLaren pair were pushed further back in the points but it had already looked pessimistic for their chances before Suzuka. It was all a bit anti-climatic.

There are those who argue Nick Heidfeld has had his chance and is not especially deserving of a place in F1 but I disagree. As was once the case with Webber (who was dropped by Williams for not being good enough, although Patrick Head now concedes it might have been the car that was the problem), Heidi has never been in the right team at the right time, except once in Canada 2008, when team-ordered to let Kubica past to steal the win. This is a comparison of Nick’s performance against his F1 team-mates, with the year(s) and team, then his points on the left, the team-mate’s on the right.

2000   Prost   0 : 0   Alesi
2001   Sauber   12 : 9   Räikkönen
2002   Sauber   7 : 4   Massa
2002-3   Sauber   6 : 13   Frentzen
2004   Jordan   2 : 0   Pantano
2004   Jordan   1 : 2   Glock
2005   Williams   28 : 24   Webber
2006   BMW   13 : 7   Villeneuve
2006-9   BMW   150 : 137   Kubica
2007   BMW   0 : 1   Vettel
2010   Sauber   4 : 6   Kobayashi

It is fair to ignore Heidfeld being out-scored by Glock, Vettel, and Kobayashi as he has had them as team-mates for only one to three races. He was trounced by Frentzen in 2001, but has out-performed everyone else including Räikkönen, Villeneuve, Massa, Webber, and Kubica, who, with better opportunities, have collectively won two World Championships and forty-seven Grands Prix. He is also a driver that in the 2008 season overtook two drivers simultaneously not once but three times. Thus it was unfortunate news, issued even before quick Nick had had time to settle in with the team, that Sauber will be replacing him for 2011 with Mexican pay-driver, Mexican Sergio Perez. The reasons for the Swiss outfit recruiting Heidfeld were de la Rosa being disappointing and wanting a known-quantity driver to work out where the car is. With the scintillating but inconsistent Kobayashi partnered with an unproven rookie next season, heaven knows how they plan on evaluating the development programme if Pedro’s experience was unhelpful. For Nick, however well he does in the remaining races, it is difficult to see any opportunity for him unless Schumacher quits, Renault chose talent over money for the second seat, or he is willing to go to Force India, all of which look unlikely.

I looked at the circuit map for Korea with horror. Tilke has packed eighteen corners into the 3·5 mile (5·6 km) design. As you can see, fourteen of the turns are barely interrupted by any straights to speak of. With the bareness of the landscape, reconising one part of the track from another on TV will make the turns at Valencia look as individual as fingerprints; it might even be quite hard for drivers to remember where they are on the circuit. This sequence will of course spread out any cars that were close going into it. By the end of the start-finish, any minor ground that has been made up on a car in front will soon be lost in turns one and two, so it is very unlikely the longest straight that follows will be enough to slipstream to catch up by turn three, which anyway, by the look of the on-board footage from Chandhok’s run, is surprisingly narrow for a modern circuit, so will be easy to defend at. There only appears to be the one grandstand, on the start/finish, and we will find out if they can fill that. The grandiose plans include building a city around the circuit, so at least their optimism can not be faulted. There may be a good chance of a very lively weekend as with the tarmac so recently laid, as explained by Radio Five Live’s Anthony Davidson, the surface may still be emitting oils that will make the track very slippery indeed. Even in the sunshine, it could be a weekend for drivers that are good in the wet; if not careful, they may Korea off the track.

(If you have not already viewed it, have a look at the pictures from Korea in this post by Joe Saward.)

What’s The Points – Japan Update

October 10, 2010

Previous entries:

    What’s The Points
    What’s The Points – China Update
    What’s The Points – Spain Update
    What’s The Points – Monaco Update
    What’s The Points – Turkey Update
    What’s The Points – Canada Update
    What’s The Points – Valencia Update
    What’s The Points – Great Britain Update
    What’s The Points – Germany Update
    What’s The Points – Hungary Update
    What’s The Points – Belgium Update
    What’s The Points – Italy Update
    What’s The Points – Singapore Update

Below is a comparison of the World Championship positions for this year’s points (left), last year’s points-system (middle) and the older 10-6-4-3-2-1 approach (right). Ties are decided by countback.

1   Webber   220   Webber   88   Webber   70
2   Alonso   206   Vettel   84   Alonso   67
3   Vettel   206   Alonso   83   Vettel   64
4      Hamilton   192      Hamilton   79      Hamilton   61
5   Button   189   Button   77   Button   55
6   Massa   128   Massa   51   Massa   30
7   Rosberg   122   Rosberg   47   Rosberg   24
8   Kubica   114   Kubica   44   Kubica   22
9   Schumacher   54   Schumacher   18   Schumacher   8
10   Sutil   47   Sutil   15   Barrichello   6

The top-five in the ‘Championship standings all finished top-five in the race. Webber increases his lead, but sees his team-mate make up ground to join Alonso on 206 points. Hamilton falls behind Vettel, and to more than a win from the front. Button is creeping up on his team-mate, but both McLaren drivers needed a better weekend. Massa, Rosberg, and Kubica failed to score points in Japan, with before these retirements Massa looking fragile against the other two.

Vettel in real points is only behind Alonso on count-back, this only being the German’s third win to Alonso’s four this season. Sebastian has a slim advantage over Fernando under last year’s points, but, with more emphasis on outright results, the Spaniard has the edge under 10-6-4-3-2-1. Webber’s lead is about 60% of a win under this and last year’s points, but things are closer under 10-6-4-3-2-1, with Mark only leading by 30% of a win (both he and Alonso on four wins), and the top-four all covered by less than the ten points for a win. Under 10-6-4-3-2-1, the Australian’s two eighth-places and a ninth early in the season give his total no help, with the five real points they provide perhaps will prove to be critical at the end of the season. When this new scoring system was devised, the plan was to help smaller teams get the chance to score, but probably not that such minor positions decide who wins the title.

Nick Heidfeld’s eighth-place at Suzuka increased to nineteen those that have scored points this season (only excluding the new-team drivers), and made up to eighteen those that would have scored under last year’s points (Alguersuari is yet to finish top-eight). Fourteen drivers have finished top-six, not including the STR drivers, de la Rosa, quick Nick, or Liuzzi.

This is the order purely on count-back.

    Wins Seconds Thirds Podiums
1   Webber   4 3 2 9
2   Alonso   4 2 2 8
3   Hamilton   3 3 1 7
4   Vettel   3 2 3 8
5   Button   2 3 1 6
6   Massa   2 2 4
7   Kubica   1 2 3
8   Rosberg   3 3

Pure count-back promotes Hamilton over Vettel, and Kubica over Rosberg to seventh. This is the table in the order of the real points-standings.

    Wins Seconds Thirds Podiums
1   Webber   4 2 2 8
2   Alonso   4 2 1 7
3   Vettel   2 2 3 7
4   Hamilton   3 3 1 7
5   Button   2 3 1 6
6   Massa   2 2 4
7   Rosberg   3 3
8   Kubica   1 2 3

As after the last race, and suggested by Alonso as the likeliest Championship decider, the number of podiums seems to have the greatest influence. Webber’s points race-average is 13·75, behind 15 points for third-place, ahead of 12 for fourth.

The next table shows the points scored by the World Championship contenders over the last five events.

   Driver Score    Average
1   Webber    84      16·8   
2   Alonso   83   16·6   
3   Vettel   70   14·4   
4   Button   46   9·2   
5   Hamilton   35   7·4   

If these mean averages of recent performances are multiplied by the three remaining races, added to the points the drivers currently have, and rounded to the nearest point, it gives this projection of the final tally.

1   Webber   270
2   Alonso   256
3   Vettel   248
4   Button   217
5   Hamilton   213

McLaren had both drivers score points for the first time in five races, but with only three rounds left, both of their drivers’ title-chances look very tentative. Mark Webber looks strong as long as he does not drop the ball. The Red Bulls have a reputation for being fragile, but Mark has had 100% race-reliability, scoring in every GP except for his crash at Valencia, and Vettel has had very good reliability this season, except for three separate issues early in the season, all of which were those sort of strange one-offs, such as a spark-plug or brake-disk failing, that a driver usually expects one or less of a season. Post-race in Suzuka, Webber said he needed to win again to win the title. I question if that is true. If Mark gets a second and two thirds in the last three races, that would put him on 268 points. Vettel or Alonso, on 206 currently, would need 62 to match that. Two wins and a third would give 65, but that is something neither Alonso or Vettel have achieved in any three consecutive races this season. Obviously, if Mark has a bad race, he might need a win, but conversely if a McLaren wins in Korea, it will make life much harder for Mark’s title rivals. (I have this sneaking feeling that the title might just be decided by Brazil, denying us a last-round decider.)

These are the points if given to engines:

   Engine Score    Average
per Team
1   Mercedes    617      205·6   
2   Renault   559   279·5   
3   Ferrari   382   127·3   
4   Cosworth   58   14·5   

With first and second, Renault led the scoring with 43, but might have done even greater damage to Mercedes’s lead had Kubica not had his calamity. Mercedes had Button, Hamilton, and Schumacher behind the Red Bulls and Alonso for 30. Ferrari received contributions from Alonso, Kobayashi, Heidfeld, and Buemi, for 26. Barrichello’s Williams gave Cosworth two points.

The scores by nationality of drivers are:

   Nation Points   Scoring
Drivers
1   Germany   450     6
2   Britain   381     2
3   Australia   220     1
4   Spain   215     3
5   Brazil   169     2
6   Poland   114     1
7   Japan   27     1
8   Russia   19     1
9   Italy   13     1
10   Switzerland   8     1

Cripes, yet another German driver adds to the pot with Nick Heidfeld scoring four points, with Vettel’s win plus Schumacher’s sixth making 37. Lewis and Jenson added 22 for Britain. Webber took 18 for Australia, Alonso 15 for Spain, Kobayashi 6 for Japan, Barrichello 2 for Brazil, and Buemi 1 for Switzerland. No changes in position with the top-five gaps all widening.

This is the Nations’ Cup only counting the score of the highest driver in a race for each country. I have also decided to use 10-6-4-3-2-1, partly because I think it a better scoring regime, partly because it meant less work. Thus, for example, the McLaren 1-2 in China would give Britain 10 points for the win, nothing for second, and Rosberg’s third place would give Germany 4 points, with nothing for Vettel’s sixth place.

   Nation Points  
1   Britain   88    
2   Germany   77    
3   Australia   70    
4   Spain   67    
5   Brazil   38    
6   Poland   22    
7   Russia   2    
8   Japan   1    

Germany gain on Britain, but no changes in position. Only the top-four nations in the table scored.

This next table shows the standings based on qualification using current points.

1   Vettel   316
2   Webber   293
3   Alonso   192
4   Hamilton   180
5   Button   128
6   Massa   124
7   Kubica   112
8   Rosberg   109
9   Schumacher   46
10   Barrichello   43
11   Hülkenberg   24
12   Sutil   21
13   Liuzzi   10
14   Petrov   9
15   Kobayashi   5
16   de la Rosa   4

Massa fails to make Q3 for the second consecutive race, and the third time this season, losing a place to Button. Kubica, qualifying third after Hamilton’s penalty, moves up one place over Rosberg. The Red Bull drivers remain the only two to qualify top-ten (indeed top-six) every race. Despite optimism for Suzuka, neither STR driver has yet to score in this category, with the new-team drivers and Heidi also pointless.

These are the fastest-lap points with the number of outright fastest laps in brackets.

1   Webber   247   (3)
2   Alonso   199   (4)
3   Vettel   198   (3)
4   Hamilton   166   (3)
5   Button   124   (1)
6   Kubica   122   (1)
7   Massa   110  
8   Rosberg   95  
9   Schumacher   68  
10   Petrov   59   (1)
11   Barrichello   46  
12   Sutil   44  
13   Buemi   42  
14   Alguersuari   37  
15   Kobayashi   19  
16   Liuzzi   16  
17   Hülkenberg   14  
18   de la Rosa   9  
19   Heidfeld   1  

Many will be aware that on the very last lap, Webber pipped team-mate Vettel for the fastest-lap, denying Sebastian the win-pole-FL triple. On the last lap, Button also beat Vettel’s best lap-time, enabling Jenson to move up two places at the expense of retirees, Kubica and Massa. Kobayashi managed the sixth-best lap-time, moving up two places to fifteenth.

Click here to see my Google documents laps-and-distance-completed spreadsheet. Before the Japanese GP, Massa had only failed to complete one race-distance, finishing one lap down in Canada, but his early bath at Suzuka drops him several places for laps completed.

See also RG’s Japan update for his championship for new teams.

Japan Qualification Pretend Points

October 10, 2010

If the Japan race-result was to be exactly the same as qualification order (allowing for Hamilton’s five-place drop), this is how the points would pan out.

Webber    220
Vettel    206
Alonso    203
Button    187
Hamilton    186

Will Vettel help Webber? Probably not. Both Button and Hamilton should make up places, but look in danger of badly falling away from the title-battle. Alonso needs to hope Red Bull are not as fast in race-trim, or return to finding some way to mess up the races. Mark could do with making a good start for once.

Singapore Unfair Result

October 2, 2010

In Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, Sutil and Hülkenberg initially finished eighth and ninth, but after each receiving 20-second penalties (both of which were for cutting corners), were demoted to ninth and tenth behind Massa, putting the pair as the last two to complete the race-distance. What struck me was this gave them time-differences to the winner that had become much more than a lap’s-worth, with a number of drivers not that much over a lap-down behind them in the results.

At the end of the race, there was very little in it between 8th and 14th. The last-gasp battle with Alonso fending off Vettel for the win by 0·293 seconds saw the two leaders lap the 12th and 11th placed cars on the last lap, with Sutil, Hülkenberg, and Massa starting the last lap only just soon enough to avoid being lapped by the leaders, the three finishing the full-distance covered by less than a second.

The only way I can think of to judge this is to calculate the time-differences between the relevent cars at the last lap they all completed, that is the sixtieth, second-last lap. I have the .pdf file from FIA that gives me the lap-times for the cars that completed the last lap, and the post-penalties result page from gpguide.com (not only does it contain more useful information about the finishing times of the lapped cars but the race-result on f1.com has added ten seconds too many to Hülkenberg’s time). I have used the time at which Alonso finished the race as the zero-point, so this table shows how many seconds earlier or later the cars in question completed the 60th lap.

8th   Sutil   + 2·067
9th   Hülkenberg   + 1·643
10th   Massa   + 0·903
11th   Petrov   - 4·040
12th   Alguersuari   - 6·167
13th   Schumacher   - 12·934
14th   Buemi   - 17·450

The next car behind was another lap behind so can be ignored. The time-difference between Sutil and Buemi with a lap to go was 19.517 seconds, so surely it would be just to have relegated the two penalised drivers to 13th and 14th, with Petrov and Alguersuari gaining the points for 9th and 10th. Otherwise a driver that is last to finish on the lead-lap could be given a penalty of a million seconds with no effect on his race-position whatsoever.

It could be argued that had all the drivers had the opportunity to complete the full distance, even if lapped, then with the tendency of cars further up in the race to be faster, the gaps would have increased, so another way to do it would be to work out the average speeds of the penalised cars based on their race-time including the time penalty, and use that for comparison. That data is available in the gpguide.com results, and would have resulted in Adrian and Nico being only put down to 12th and 13th, in front of Buemi.

(Incidentally, five-times Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro, will be the driver-steward at the last round, and thus was present at Monza to observe the process. He was not at all happy about, as he saw it, Hülkenberg being allowed to get away with cutting the chicane so many times to defend his position against Webber. The drivers at Abu Dhabi would be wise to bear this in mind, although it is possible not all of them read this blog.)

Singapore Snippets

September 29, 2010

Victory in Singapore gave Fernando Alonso his twenty-fifth F1 win (17 with Renault, four for both McLaren and Ferrari). This moves Alonso up to joint-sixth (with Jim Clark and Nicki Lauda) in the all-time winners list. It was also his twentieth pole-position, and his sixtieth podium. Additionally, although Alonso has four times before combined the win, pole, and fastest-lap, this was the first GP he did that triple plus leading every lap of the race, known unofficially as a grand slam. For Ferrari, it was the 214th win, 205th pole, 85th triple, and 40th grand slam.

(Top-five all-time winners:

1    Michael Schumacher    91
2    Alain Prost    51
3    Ayrton Senna    41
4    Nigel Mansell    31
5    Jackie Stewart    27

That is very depressing for me as the two drivers I have hated most in the thirty years since I started following Formula One are Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost.)

It was also Rubens Barrichello’s 300th Grand Prix. Congratulations, sir. Personally, I count the 1998 Belgium GP, when a massive pile-up caused the first start to be expunged, and Rubens did not make the second start, but not the two races in 2002 when his Ferrari broke down on the warm-up laps.

I have made it clear before that I do not count the Lotus Racing squad to be the same team statistically as the old Team Lotus, as the new team’s connection has been with Group Lotus. Team Lotus (the previous F1 team) and Group Lotus (car-maker, engineering, et cetera) were separate companies, albeit with many connections in Colin Chapman’s time, but went their separate ways after his death. Group Lotus is now owned (mostly) by Proton. Team Lotus went bust at the end of 1994, and was bought out of administration by David Hunt (younger brother of James Hunt), who spent years ineffectually trying to resurrect the team, renaming the company Team Lotus Ventures Ltd. As we all know, Proton/Group Lotus and Lotus Racing have fallen out. The Malaysia government own 42% of Proton, and I get the impression Proton had their arm twisted to licence the Lotus name grudgingly to Tony Fernandes’s F1 project, which arrangement Proton are cancelling for 2011. Lotus Racing have countered by buying (according to Autosport) Team Lotus Ventures Limited, effectively the remnants of the old team, and are planning to race as Team Lotus next season with the lineage to back that. Therefore I think I will give in and just lump the two Lotus teams together statistically, so belated congratulations on their 500th Formula One World Championship Grand Prix earlier this season at the European Grand Prix.

Proton have some ambitious plans to turn the Lotus car-maker into the ‘British’ Ferrari, pushing the brand heavily towards much more expensive models, which is worrying as Lotus’s heritage is affordable sports-cars (maybe not to you and me, but perhaps for 40-something businessmen to whom a Ferrari is out of reach), and whenever the company has forgotten that in the past, it has not gone well. So they seem determined to forge their own motor-sport stature, not only with their latest announcement of an LMP2 Le Mans car, but a link-up with ART Grand Prix in both GP2 and GP3. ART was one of the teams bidding to join as F1’s thirteenth team for next season, but withdrew before the selection process took place. Theoretically, if they make a successful bid in future, we could have two Lotus teams in Formula One, or indeed, Tony Fernandes could rebrand his AirAsia GP2 team, to be launched for 2011, resulting in two Lotus GP2 teams!

The first safety-car period early in the race after Liuzzi’s misfortune was a stupid decision. He parked his car in a place after the funny chicane that was both off the racing line and inside of any area that would be involved in any high-speed accident. It was just about feasible that a car spinning out of the chicane might just have gone that direction, perhaps after bouncing off the outside wall, but very unlikely, and hitting the stricken Force India instead of the wall would not have been much difference; in fact it might have provided better retardation. I suppose we should be grateful Race Control did not put out the safety-car right at the end for Kovalainen’s Lotus parked on the start-finish.

I saw Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente Scherzinger interviewed on Martin Brundle’s grid-walk. I think she is a very fine-looking woman that personally, as long as it does not interrupt the action too much, I enjoy watching jumping up-and-down during races, but when she talks she sounds like Micky Mouse.

I thought Singapore was a cracking race (apart from the result). Webber’s early stop, muscling his way past Glock, Kobayashi, and Schumacher, provided super passing-for-position action, with more excitement when he almost hit the wall trying to hustle Barrichello. The strategy looked unlikely to succeed with the Australian on prime-tyres the track was not yet rubbered in enough to suit and looked to be bottlenecked behind Barrichello’s pace, the McLarens on their option-tyres increasing their gaps to the Australian towards a pit-stop’s advantage, but if a safety-car came out soon enough, the front-runners would stop and Webber would jump one or two Woking cars, and if not probably still finish fourth with nothing lost. However, the pendulum swung and the British drivers were losing lap-time as their tyres went off. I do not understand why McLaren left them out so long to lose more and more time to end up falling behind traffic behind Mark, but the SC caused by the Kobayashi-Schumacher clash cleared out the later-stoppers. The situation between Alonso and Vettel was also tense, with Fernando pushing very hard, Sebastian seeming able to keep up and conserve his car, but towards stop-time started to fall back a bit. It was a shame that situation fizzled out with both stopping on the same lap. The advantage of the new prime-tyres over old options went to whichever stopped first, but neither team wanted their man in to get stuck behind the slowing McLarens, although I do not see what Vettel had to lose. After the second safety-car, we had the thrilling battle for position between Hamilton and Webber, with a ‘Championship-acute very dramatic outcome. Things did quieten after that, until Kubica pitted and pushed his way past a few cars providing yet more overtaking excitement between those hard walls. Then at the end we had a spectacular fire, and Vettel on Alonso’s tail for a suspenseful finish.

I spent most the two hours riveted by the action, paying a lot of attention much of the time to the timing-screen, so what gets me is that after the race, reactions varied from those that agreed it was a very good race through to those that considered it OK to dull. I was stunned by one comment the gist of which was that at least it was better than Bahrain! I do wonder what people want. If some people were not mostly enthralled, it is not my place to tell them they do not have a right to decide how un-entertaining they found it, just as no one has the right to suggest I am misguided for how much I have enjoyed this season. The one thing I do question, politely if I can, is does the penchant for live-commenting or Tweeting during a race cause people to get less from the race than they otherwise might? Someone once said about watching boxing, “The harder I concentrate, the more I enjoy it.” Even during the more uneventful periods of the qualification and the race, I enjoyed watching closely the lines drivers were taking, looking out for those telltale twitches or hesitations out of a corner that showed how hard or not a driver was pushing (which Singapore with the walls close but not too close is especially suited for observing). I left the Sidepodcast comments open, but rarely looked at them and have commented about twice in the course of a race this season. I think the F1 community on the ‘net is brilliant, but I just can not help thinking that if people stopped social-networking and actually watched the races, that they might take more from them than reading, reacting and adding to the online-chat, with surely only part-attention at best on the sport itself. I know some or many will think these views are didactic rubbish, but if so please use the comments to argue why.

At Monza, I thought Hamilton’s race-ending incident to be down to him being just a bit too hot-headed after his anger at making the wrong F-duct decision for qualification, and questioned his stated intent to try even harder the rest of the season as trying too hard caused the accident. His move on Webber in Singapore was fantastic – almost. It seems fair to describe the outcome as a racing incident. Webber was in Hamilton’s blind spot when Lewis turned across the front of the Red Bull. Hamilton was risking 12 points against Webber and Alonso to gain six against the former and three against the latter, when maybe his best title-hope was to score wellish to well in the last five races and hope his rivals did not match that consistency. However, racing drivers can not be blamed for racing, and with Alonso looking so strong, perhaps only three races to follow, and with points to make up on Webber, the risk might have been justified. There is argument Mark should have been more reticent, as Lewis was a deal ahead at the corner, and the Australian could more afford to lose effectively six points to the Brit than risk losing all fifteen to Alonso, but he had already committed to braking when he did. Those two drivers do not back down for anyone in a fifty-fifty situation, so somewhat a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. Mark’s luck recently, pulling off several risky overtaking manoeuvres in Italy and Singapore without any mishap, and surviving in third to the finish with the tyre Hamilton hit on the edge of failing, has been blessed. It is almost as if all those years of so much bad karma were saving the good fortune for when he really needs it.

If not for the engine-situation, Alonso would have every reason to be uncharacteristically chipper after the last two races (and indeed has become downright smug). He had to use his engine very hard under the lights, so Korea going missing would help him with his engine allocation issues, but give him one less race to outscore Webber. Mark could probably use some help from his team-mate, but will be unlikely to get it with Vettel less than a win behind, but Suzuka, where Ferrari expect to struggle, should be a good chance to get more points over Alonso. McLaren need to be worried. The pattern this season was McLaren slower than RBR in qualification but more competitive in the race, whereas in Singapore, despite floor-flexibility rule-tightening, the team were out-paced by not just Red Bull but also Ferrari, with both drivers falling back in points badly in recent races. The interesting question is how many drivers might have a shout for the title at the last round?

What’s The Points – Singapore Update

September 26, 2010

Previous entries:

    What’s The Points
    What’s The Points – China Update
    What’s The Points – Spain Update
    What’s The Points – Monaco Update
    What’s The Points – Turkey Update
    What’s The Points – Canada Update
    What’s The Points – Valencia Update
    What’s The Points – Great Britain Update
    What’s The Points – Germany Update
    What’s The Points – Hungary Update
    What’s The Points – Belgium Update
    What’s The Points – Italy Update

Below is a comparison of the World Championship positions for this year’s points (left), last year’s points-system (middle) and the older 10-6-4-3-2-1 approach (right). Ties are decided by countback.

1   Webber   202   Webber   80   Webber   64
2   Alonso   191   Alonso   77   Alonso   63
3   Hamilton   182   Hamilton   75   Hamilton   59
4      Vettel   181      Vettel   74      Vettel   54
5   Button   177   Button   72   Button   52
6   Massa   128   Massa   51   Massa   30
7   Rosberg   122   Rosberg   47   Rosberg   24
8   Kubica   114   Kubica   44   Kubica   22
9   Sutil   47   Schumacher   15   Schumacher   7
10   Schumacher   46   Sutil   15   Barrichello   6

Double-ouch for Lewis Hamilton with now two-races-in-a-row without troubling the scorers. Fernando Alonso, with another win, has taken fifty points in two races over his former British team-mate. Mark Webber just keeps adding to his tally with his sixth straight top-six finish, including four podiums. Massa needs to pick up or fall back into the clutches of Rosberg and Kubica.

The order in the three systems is boringly identical down to eighth-place, which, I supose, especially with such an up-and-down season for all the top drivers, becomes more inevitable as the season progresses. Hamilton loses the lead he held last time under last season’s points, in the other two systems losing second, to drop to third in all three. Vettel jumps Button to fourth in all three.

Uncle Bernie’s medal system involves giving the title to the driver with the most wins, with points settling the title if two or more drivers are tied on wins. Something suggested more than once in the past is a pure count-back system, which would give this order.

    Wins Seconds Thirds Podiums
1   Webber   4 2 2 8
2   Alonso   4 2 1 7
3   Hamilton   3 3 1 7
4   Button   2 3 1 6
5   Vettel   2 2 3 7
6   Massa   2 2 4
7   Kubica   1 2 3
8   Rosberg   3 3

Pure count-back promotes Button to fourth over Vettel, and Kubica past Rosberg to seventh. What is interesting is to look at this table in the order of the real points-standings.

    Wins Seconds Thirds Podiums
1   Webber   4 2 2 8
2   Alonso   4 2 1 7
3   Hamilton   3 3 1 7
4   Vettel   2 2 3 7
5   Button   2 3 1 6
6   Massa   2 2 4
7   Rosberg   3 3
8   Kubica   1 2 3

Webber leads the table with an average of 13·5 (rounded) points per race, with 15 for 3rd and 12 for 4th. The pattern of this ‘Championship seems to be that he who takes the most podiums will win.

The next table shows the points scored by the World Championship contenders over the last five events.

   Driver Score    Average
1   Alonso    93      18·6   
2   Webber   74   14·8   
3   Vettel   60   12·4   
4   Button   44   8·8   
5   Hamilton   37   7·4   

If these mean averages of recent performances are multiplied by the four remaining races, added to the points the drivers currently have, and rounded to the nearest point, it gives this projection of the final tally. Ties take into consideration the unrounded figures. The scores in brackets are on the basis of the Korean GP being cancelled.

1   Alonso   265   (247)
2   Webber   261   (246)
3   Vettel   229   (217)
4   Button   212   (203)
5   Hamilton   212   (204)

I think I can kiss the winnings of my bet on Hamilton to win the title goodbye. Also, I need to eat humble pie about deriding Alonso’s proclamations about still having a good shot at the ‘Championship a few races back. Fernando has won three of the last five races, plus a second and a non-finish. Hamilton has three non-points results in the last five, and McLaren have not had both cars in the points since Germany. I do not think Lewis will do as badly in the last few races as recently, or that Alonso will do as well, with Webber looking tentative favourite in my tarnished opinion.

These are the points if given to engines:

   Engine Score    Average
per Team
1   Mercedes    587      195·7   
2   Renault   516   258·5   
3   Ferrari   356   118·7   
4   Cosworth   56   14·8   

Despite the win, Ferrari only got their own cars into the points for 29, whilst Renault, with two podiums plus Kubica in 7th, made 39. Mercedes scored 24 with Button, Rosberg and Sutil contributing. Williams had both cars in the points to give Cosworth nine.

The scores by nationality of drivers are:

   Nation Points   Scoring
Drivers
1   Germany   413     5
2   Britain   359     2
3   Australia   202     1
4   Spain   200     3
5   Brazil   167     2
6   Poland   114     1
7   Japan   21     1
8   Russia   19     1
9   Italy   13     1
10   Switzerland   7     1

For the second race running, only the top-six nations scored points in the race. No changes in position, but Australia looks under pressure from Spain, although Pedro de la Rosa’s exit only leaves Buemi to back Alonso. In the race, Germany lead the scoring with Vettel, Rosberg, Sutil, and Hülkenberg all chipping in. Brazil was the only other nation with two scoring drivers, Barrichello and Massa.

This is the Nations’ Cup only counting the score of the highest driver in a race for each country. I have also decided to use 10-6-4-3-2-1, partly because I think it a better scoring regime, partly because it meant less work. Thus, for example, the McLaren 1-2 in China would give Britain 10 points for the win, nothing for second, and Rosberg’s third place would give Germany 4 points, with nothing for Vettel’s sixth place.

   Nation Points  
1   Britain   85    
2   Germany   67    
3   Australia   64    
4   Spain   63    
5   Brazil   38    
6   Poland   22    
7   Russia   2    
8   Japan   1    

Spain gain on Germany and Australia, but no changes in position. Only the top-five nations in the table scored (as in Italy).

This next table shows the standings based on qualification using current points.

1   Vettel   291
2   Webber   275
3   Alonso   180
4   Hamilton   176
5   Massa   124
6   Button   118
7   Rosberg   101
8   Kubica   97
9   Schumacher   45
10   Barrichello   37
11   Hülkenberg   22
12   Sutil   21
13   Liuzzi   10
14   Petrov   9
15   Kobayashi   5
16   de la Rosa   4

The only notable change is Fernando Alonso’s second pole-position in two races promoting him to third at Hamilton’s expense. Massa held onto fifth despite his Q1 woes. Barrichello marked his 300th GP with his best qualification of the season, starting sixth on the grid. Kobayashi qualified (just) in the top-ten for the fourth time this year, taking fifteenth off ex-F1 driver, de la Rosa.

These are the fastest-lap points with the number of outright fastest laps in brackets.

1   Webber   222   (2)
2   Alonso   187   (4)
3   Vettel   183   (3)
4   Hamilton   164   (3)
5   Kubica   122   (1)
6   Massa   110  
7   Button   106   (1)
8   Rosberg   95  
9   Schumacher   62  
10   Petrov   59   (1)
11   Barrichello   46  
12   Sutil   44  
13   Buemi   38  
14   Alguersuari   27  
15   Liuzzi   16  
16   Hülkenberg   14  
17   Kobayashi   11  
18   de la Rosa   9  

The top-five in this category were Alonso, Vettel, Kubica, Schumacher, Webber. Alonso leaps into second-place, demoting Vettel and Hamilton a place each. Kubica takes fifth from Massa. Schumacher takes a place off Petrov, as Barrichello (9th fastest) does to Sutil.

Click here to see my Google documents laps-and-distance-completed spreadsheet.

See also RG’s Italy update for his championship for new teams.

Singapore Qualification Pretend Points

September 25, 2010

If the Singapore race-result was to be exactly the same as qualification order, this is how the points would pan out.

Webber    197
Hamilton    197
Alonso    191
Vettel    181
Button    175

Italian Snippets (Belated)

September 24, 2010

(Sorry this is so late. Firstly, up until last week I have been much, much busier than I am used to, secondly, this week they keep showing snooker on the TV plus I am still have not fully caught up on the Tour of Britain on ITV-Player, and thirdly, I am lazy.)

The general feedback on the Italian Grand Prix seemed to be that it was a dullish race but I enjoyed it. The battle between Alonso and Button was tense for much of the race, Webber’s recovery past a few cars was exciting, with other things of interest. There was some debate on how McLaren and Jenson might have otherwise approached pit-strategy to avoid losing the win to the Spaniard’s Ferrari, but Fernando was just that bit quicker so was going to get past at the stops whatever McLaren did, with the prime tyres too slow to warm up to give the advantage usually provided on the first lap over used option-tyres.

Fernando Alonso’s win at Monza was his 24th victory, the 213th for Ferrari. Jenson Button’s second-place was his thirtieth podium. It was the sixtieth Formula One WC event at Monza, being host to the Italian GP every year of the World Championship except 1980. Ferrari have won eighteen times at Monza.

It is obviously not in any way Michael Schumacher’s fault he failed to reach Q3, as he explained that the position he achieved was the maximum possible for the car. It brings Nico Rosberg’s teamsmanship into question that he contradicted this by qualifying five places higher in seventh, also stating it was the maximum achievable.

With the ups and downs of the title-contenders in the last two races, I decided to work out how many points they respectively garnered.

  Driver       Bel   Ita    Total  
  Massa      12   15   27 
  Webber      18   8   26 
  Hamilton      25   0   25 
  Alonso      0   25   25 
  Button      0   18   18 
  Vettel      0   12   12 

Four drivers across both races scored about a win’s-worth of points, with Button and especially Vettel losing valuable ground. Massa has had a very consistent season, but unfortunately, as in Italy (but not Germany), it has been a case of being often just not consistently competitive enough. Mark Webber lost the opportunity to do more damage to his rivals with another difficult start and undistinguished first lap. He showed us a fine recovery drive, but involving risks that might not have paid off, and ideally should have been unnecessary.

It was a terrible weekend for Lewis Hamilton. In the same car as Button, Hamilton tends to be that bit faster, so, had he chosen the F-duct route, could have expected to have been contesting for the win with Alonso for 25 or 18 points. It is reliably reported that LH was furious after qualification, having realised he had made the wrong decision to go low-downforce. It is not a huge leap to conclude he took too much of that frustration into the first lap. The mark of his season up to then had been ultra-consistently getting the results and points that the car and circumstances would give, except for being bested by Button on tyre-calls in a couple of wet-dry races. His F1 record is of overtaking moves that are committed and assertive, not of making half-hearted moves that are asking for trouble. The two Ferrari’s were still scrabbling for position, there was simply not an overtaking move on, so Lewis was right to be disappointed in himself for trying to push alongside Massa at that point. The outcome was harsh, plus it would have been easy for him to call it a racing accident, but after the distress of qualifying, Hamilton undoubtedly should have reset his sights on a good points finish. 12 points for fourth, or 15 if he could mug Massa for third, with Webber pushed down to 6 points for seventh, could have made Lewis’s ‘Championship. He said after that he would try even harder for the rest of the season, but it was trying too hard that blew it for him in Italy, and possibly the title.

(I was prompted to make calculations of what this season is the average result needed to lead the title-chase. Before Italy, Hamilton led with 182 points after 13 races at a mean average of exactly 14 points, and after Monza, Webber leads with 187 from 14 rounds giving an average of 13·4. Under 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scoring, this suggests podiums are good title-results but fourth is not quite good enough.)

During the race, there was speculation that seemed far-fetched that Vettel’s very temporary problem enabling Webber to pass him was heavily disguised team-orders with the question raised of if the team had decided to favour Mark towards the title with his better points-position than Sebastian. I found this very difficult to believe, because past events suggest that perhaps not Horner himself but his bosses only need half-an-excuse to favour Vettel, and Webber would only be grudgingly favoured if Vettel was mathematically out of it. Vettel’s distress over the radio sounded very genuine, but firstly the sticking brake explanation was an exceedingly unusual issue to have, and if genuine would have been unlikely to mysteriously fix itself without any further repercussions, whilst secondly the TV pictures cut to the RBR bods behind the pits, monitoring the flow of telemetry from the cars on computer screens, who looked utterly un-bothered, which surely would not have been the case if one of their drivers was protesting so dramatically about the engine.

I rarely subscribe to conspiracy theories, but this is going to be the exception. Ferrari’s cardinal sin in Germany was not executing team-orders, FIA have always known the ban is unenforceable, the transgression was Ferrari making it undeniably blindingly obvious it was team-orders as to who won. Utterly sick of the then ongoing-for-weeks controversies about RBR favouring Vettel over Webber, and over the tensions with and between the drivers, Christian Horner repeatedly attacked Ferrari on the team-orders issue, and must have been delighted to do what he could to fuel the new focus of the press-pack thus away from his direction. In Italy, Vettel’s unusual strategy of running almost to the end of the race on the option-tyres, enabling him to climb to fourth-place without having to overtake anyone, might, and indeed did, conflict with Webber’s approach to the race. So obviously they had to plan for Vettel letting Webber past, not for the ‘Championship but for the drivers to both achieve their best possible results in the race (with Vettel at the end back ahead of Webber), but in a way they could as convincingly as possible deny any suggestion of team-orders. So the scheme was to make sure Vettel utterly understood that he had to make it sound genuine, and then throw in the sticking brake-issue as an explanation after the race to muddy the waters. Whatever he has said however often, Horner will use team-orders, like any other team in the pitlane, when circumstances demand.

What A Race

September 24, 2010

For UK users only (sorry), the highlights of the 1982 Detroit Grand Prix are currently available to watch on the BBC web-site. This race is perhaps my happiest memory following the sport, and was almost better than I remembered. I wish I could embed it as, rather crazily, it tells you underneath who won the race! Surely viewers would prefer to watch the race before finding that out? Anyway, click here to see it, and perhaps chose full-screen before spotting the spoiler. I am not sure how long this link will remain valid.

Shorter highlights are also available here.


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