Sunday, 12 May 2013

Spain: post-race analysis

That was a frustrating race. As a spectator, the first half was pretty good but the latter half less so as substantial gaps opened up at the sharp end (although there was still some action further down the field). As a gambler, I’m also frustrated. Raikkonen had a slightly bad start and that may’ve compromised his victory hopes, but even if he’d started better and still finished second I think he would’ve gotten much closer and the hedge may’ve been matched. On race pace the Ferrari and Lotus were fairly closely matched. Hard to be certain if it was just bad luck or also a misjudgement.

Another red weekend, I’m afraid. Although things appear less topsy-turvy than last year I’ve not been doing all that well. Still, at least I got one qualifying bet right (hedged, anyway) and the result was nice for my title bets (more on that near the end).

The start was almost as bad as it could’ve been for me. Both Vettel and Alonso passed Hamilton, who had an unusually poor start, whereas Raikkonen dropped a place and got trapped behind the slower car for some time. Rosberg, at least, held up Vettel and Alonso initially before beginning an inexorable march backwards.

Button had a bad start, going backwards, and so did Webber (unsurprisingly). Perez leapt forward a few places but it may be Massa who had the best of starts. From 9th (demoted there due to impeding someone in qualifying) he leapt up to about sixth which he briefly duelled over with Perez before securing.

The Mercedes is a strange beast. Untouchable in qualifying, it was appalling in the race. Hamilton despondently muttering on the radio “Now I’ve been passed by a Williams” rather summed it up.

The Ferrari, by contrast, looked extremely nice. Both Alonso and Massa started well and then capitalised upon that, aided by a very fast, reliable car. Lotus is slightly harder to assess because Raikkonen was held up by Hamilton somewhat early on and he ran a different strategy (3 stops rather than 4) compared to the prancing horse. Grosjean’s suspension failed, forcing him to retire and meaning we can’t look at his pace/position for comparison.

The Red Bull was clearly the third best car today. On the same strategy as Raikkonen and with an early advantage due to a better start Vettel ended up some way down the road in 4th.

Mercedes needs to sort their car out. Three poles in a row, the best car in qualifying and just the one podium, with zero wins. It’s not good enough. Rosberg slid from pole to 6th and Hamilton went all the way from 2nd to 12th. Even allowing for a dodgy start that’s atrocious.

Force India had an ok day, with Di Resta finishing 7th, although Sutil was only 13th. McLaren should be fairly happy with 8th and 9th and no on-track fireworks between their drivers and Ricciardo did well to nab the final point.

I feel a bit sorry for Gutierrez, who qualified about 16th and then got a 3 place grid penalty and just missed out on the points in 11th. However, that will encourage him and it’s good to see him showing some pace.

Raikkonen was 9.3s off Alonso at the end. I do feel that he could’ve contested the win but for the poor start, but that sort of thing happens and it’s all part of the game, so there’s no point complaining.

On the plus side, I think it’s bloody mental that he’s still 7.2 for the title. The title now appears to be a 3 horse race. Vettel and Alonso are 2.5 (ish) each. Although already green on Raikkonen I’m going to put a few more quid on him because those odds are stupid. He’s had a win and something like four podiums. Here are the driver standings:
Vettel 89
Raikkonen 85
Alonso 72

Red Bull 131
Ferrari 117
Lotus 111

I’ve also (previously) backed Ferrari at about 3.9 for the Constructors’. If the price drops a little I’ll see about hedging that.

It’s slightly ironic that the bet I almost didn’t make was the only one that remotely paid off. Right now hedging is still green but (overall) a bet-and-forget approach would put you into the red. Not too pleased with how things are going, but hopefully Monaco can be a little better.

Apparently the third sector of Spain is a great guide for Monaco pace, so that may be useful for qualifying betting. The next race is in a fortnight.

Morris Dancer


David Cotton said...

There is something seriously up with the Mercedes. Is any other team - even the back-runners - seeing such a drop-off between qualifying and race pace?

It might be interesting to get everyone's qualifying fastest lap time, and fastest race time, and compare them.

It's just I don't know where to find the fastest race lap for each driver...

Nigel said...

The 'something seriously wrong' is the tyres.

When they get out of the temperature range in which they are designed to operate, the drop off in performance is dramatic.
How Mercedes solve this, I don't know (& it appears neither do they, for now).

Red Bull have a similar but rather lesser problem.

Morris Dancer said...

Mr. Nigel, I think you might be right.

Can't blame Pirelli though. They've been given a brief to create races with 2-3 stops usually, and they've done just that.

David Cotton said...

Yep, it'll be the tyres.

I found the relevant data on the F1 website, and just crunched some numbers for the Bahrain GP. These should be taken with a slight pinch of salt as it was a rush job, and there are other factors in play such as Jean-Eric Vergne's early retirement, and the fact lower-end drivers only get one chance to set a qualifying time.

I got the fastest lap of each driver, and took from it their fastest qualifying time.

Taking both drivers gaps and dividing by two, gives an average for the team.

The most consistent is Marussia at 2.69 seconds; i.e. their fastest race lap was only on average 2.69 seconds slower than the qualifying lap. Biggest is STR, at 7.21 seconds (skewed by Vergne's early retirement in the race)

Gap in seconds:
Marussia: 2.69
Caterham: 3.64
McLaren 4.02
Sauber: 4.13
Williams: 4.31
Force India: 4.46
Red Bull: 4.55
Lotus: 4.57
Ferrari: 5.08
Mercedes: 5.35
STR: 7.21

Make of this what you will. Marussia are the most consistent team between qualifying and race, albeit slow. Mercedes is second-least consistent.

That points to significant problems in the race, which we all knew... :-)

Morris Dancer said...

Mr. Cotton, cheers for putting together that table. Obviously it can only be used as a rough guide but there are some notable patterns.

Leaving aside Toro Rosso (skewed, as you say) the slowest teams are least divergent (followed by McLaren). Interesting that after tyre-shredding Mercedes comes Ferrari, arguably the best team this year.

Tyre management has become too large a factor in races, I feel, but the problem is that changing it now would shift the balance of power. I think the compounds should be maintained this season, but hardened somewhat for next season.

David Cotton said...

I think there are many extensions that could be done to this data; for instance a driver might be able to do a fast lap for one or two laps on new tyres before the performance drops off. There're all sorts of interesting things that could be done if we had access to the data.

The problem is the dataset is very small per race.

I was surprised that Hamilton set his fastest lap on lap 48 in Bahrain, after having changed on lap 38. That's obviously the point where wearing rubber and lowering fuel hit the sweet spot (either that or he pulled his finger out, or he had been trapped behind traffic before that).

Rosberg's was also lap 48, but he changed to new rubber on 44.

Alonso's was on lap 41, after having pitted on lap 39; much more what I would expect.

Vettel's was on lap 55, after having pitted on lap 42

All for the Bahrain GP. Tyre compounds may have affected that as well.

I'll stop before I bore anyone with my ruminations...

Morris Dancer said...

Incidentally, sounds like we could see harder tyres in time for Silverstone:

Could be worth waiting until just before the tyres change and perhaps then backing Red Bull.

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Peter said...

After earning a solitary point by finishing 10th in Spain, I was pleasantly surprised to see Sporting Index hike Daniel Ricciardo's spread for his season's points to 32-35,providing me with an opportunity to exit with a profit of £66 which I gleefully accepted, having bought him at an average price of 21 points.

Maybe I've closed a little early but his mid-spread price of 33.5 points requires him to earn an average 2 points from the remaining Grand Prix, i.e. by finishing 9th. I see little prospect of him exceeding this target to any extent and with spread-betting there is such a thing as being too greedy as I discovered only too well last season when my albeit healthy profit on selling Button's season's points was trimmed by approx £300 as a result of his improved form in the last few GPs.

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Nigel said...

Those are interesting figures, Mr Cotton.

Do you know what the comparable figures were for last year's race ?

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David Cotton said...

Mr Nigel:

It would be hard to do it for Bahrain 2012 as there were three retirements, including both Williams.

It's a small enough dataset as it is.

I might gibe it a go for the other races that have happened this year, to see if the conclusions change.

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