Monday, 20 April 2009

F1 2009 Super Season Grid - post China

It's time for my second Super Season Grid and with Sebastien Vettel and Red Bull taking their first victory together, with teammate Mark Webber completing a great day for the Milton Keynes team, it's the chance to see whether the festivities has shaken up the order of the field a bit. The wet weather on the Sunday meant lap times on race day were some 20 seconds slower than those in the sunny qualifying, but nevertheless it was Barrichello who went away the fastest man of the weekend overall with an average lap of 1'39.637. So let's take a look at how the Super Season Grid lines up as we go into Bahrain:
  1. Jenson Button - 1'34.068 - +0.000 Non-mover
  2. Nico Rosberg - 1'34.099 - +0.031 +5 places
  3. Rubens Barrichello - 1'34.187 - +0.119 -1 place
  4. Mark Webber - 1'34.371 - +0.303 +1 place
  5. Timo Glock - 1'34.670 - +0.602 +1 place
  6. Heikki Kovalainen - 1'34.678 - +0.610 +7 places
  7. Sebastien Vettel - 1'34.729 - +0.661 -3 places
  8. Kimi Raikkonen - 1'34.754 - +0.686 +1 place
  9. Jarno Trulli - 1'34.795 -+0.727 -6 places
  10. Kazuki Nakajima - 1'34.802 - +0.734 +2 places
  11. Robert Kubica - 1'34.824 - +0.756 -3 places
  12. Felipe Massa - 1'34.858 - +0.790 +2 places
  13. Lewis Hamilton - 1'34.931 - +0.863 +2 places
  14. Nick Heidfeld - 1'35.005 - +0.937 -4 places
  15. Fernando Alonso - 1'35.053 - +0.985 -4 places
  16. Sebastien Buemi - 1'35.269 - +1.201 +3 places
  17. Adrian Sutil - 1'35.304 - +1.236 +3 places
  18. Sebastien Bourdais - 1'35.364 - +1.296 -1 place
  19. Nelson Piquet - 1'35.516 - +1.448 -3 places
  20. Giancarlo Fisichella - 1'35.605 - +1.538 -2 places
What a shake up! I was expecting a few position changes, but not as many as that! Anyway, let's look at the facts. Button is still the fastest man in the field bar his 3rd place yesterday and 5th place grid slot in qualifying. It seems his performances in practice were enough to help him stay at the head of this grid. Behind, it really is all change. No-one other than Jenson is in the same place they were after Sepang. It's Rosberg who is now just behind Button by about 3 hundreths ahead of Barrichello. Nico becomes the meat in a Brawn sandwich here. Mind you, he has jumped an impressive 5 places, but not nearly as impressive as Kovalainen. After actually managing to complete a racing lap on Sunday, his weekend's running has seen him shoot a whopping 7 places up to 6th. Brawn, Williams, Red Bull and Toyota are the only teams with both cars in the top 10, while Kovi and fellow Finn Raikkonen make up the numbers.

Biggest fallers outside of the 10 are Heidfeld and Alonso respectively. Even Fernando's super-light special in qualifying to get him on the front row doesn't save him from sliding to 15th, while Nick was quite simply nowhere the whole time. The driver who dropped the most was Trulli who, despite staying in the top 10, goes from 3rd to 9th. Other notable climbers are Sutil, who hauled himself off the bottom to 17th as teammate Fisichella takes up that uncreditable honour, and both Massa and Hamilton who moved up 2 slots each.

OK, so there's the grid - but we're not stopping there. I've also compiled a field spread for the teams as well. By taking the fastest time set by each car, regardless of driver, I can look at which team is on paper the fastest and who's lounging around at the back making up the numbers. I did this last year for the 2008 season and it proved that the Ferrari was overall fastest over the entire season, but only just with McLaren just a fraction behind. So, after 3 rounds, how does it look now? Well I have some average lap times for every team so let's take a look, shall we?:
  1. Brawn GP - 1'31.357 +0.000
  2. Red Bull Racing - 1'31.491 +0.134
  3. Toyota - 1'31.633 +0.277
  4. Williams - 1'31.826 +0.470
  5. Ferrari - 1'31.877 +0.520
  6. BMW - 1'31.896 +0.540
  7. Renault - 1'32.038 +0.681
  8. McLaren - 1'32.124 +0.767
  9. Toro Rosso - 1'32.633 +1.276
  10. Force India - 1'33.138 +1.781
Obvious who the fastest team on average is, isn't it? But with that great performance all-round, it's Red Bull who are now their main threat. The RB5 is an extremely capable chassis, designed by the great Adrian Newey, and with the man himself electing to say in England to work on a new double diffuser for the car, one has to suspect Brawn are going to be looking at them a lot more closely from now on. They know they're a threat, but if RBR manage to really start putting the pressure on in the next couple of races, especially when the circus begins its European season in Barcelona in less than 3 weeks time, it's going to be a battle royale. Right now, it's these 2 teams that look to be heading for the championship, with Toyota trundling along in the background in 3rd.

Behind, Williams is heading the midfield of sorts, but what really surprises me is behind BMW in 5th is Ferrari. Ferrari? FERRARI?! Yes, believe it or not, the F60 has been, on average so far, faster than Renault and McLaren. Yet, no points and 3 DNFs between Kimi and Felipe. I'm shocked at that for one. As for Macca, the "lie-gate" scandal's taking it's toll, and despite a double diffuser and new front wing, it hasn't help that much according to the averages. But then again, the dismal start they had in Australia and Malaysia is the cause of that. As ever, behind them are Toro Rosso and Force India staking claim as backmarkers already. I personally hope Mallya's team does make some progress up the pack. As I've said a few times already, it's the race where it's stronger and more consistent. Sutil has proven that in all 3 races, but I am still feeling sad for him after a cruel twist of fate sent him aquaplaining into the tyres and retirement just 6 laps from his and FI's first points finish. It was Monaco '08 all over again - except, without a Ferrari losing it and thumping him in the rear.

Well I'll wrap it up now. It seems these first 3 flyaways have really been shaking the order up, and if the rest of the season is anything to go by, then it's going to be a real barnstormer. So, goodbye for now, thanks for reading and look out for another Super Season Grid after the Bahrain GP coming up this weekend.


RubberGoat said...


Great Analysis of the data here. Perhaps a link to a post on calculation methods would help as a reminder to those who may have forgotten how you got your numbers - this may be useful in future posts.

I'll have a look at making some graphs for you as I think it would really complement your analysis if you had a visual way of tracking your data.