Four races in: Season So Far

Hello everyone! How’s it going? Four grands prix into the season, and it looks like Adrian Newey is dominating again. Throughout recent F1 history, his uncompromising standards have built championship-winning cars time after time, and the 2011 Red Bull is already far in advance of the others. So long as he gets a good start, Vettel looks like he will win every race. Of course, no race yet has been affected by rain or a serious crash or a safety car. The cars this year in most teams seem incredibly reliable on race day even if they suffer in practice, with only two DNFs and one DNS in the last two races. It is looking more and more likely that we will see a car finish more than 18 races this year, and overtake Heidfeld, Massa and Tiago Monteiro’s record.

Meanwhile, at Toro Rosso it’s beginning to look like Jaime Alguersuari’s surge at the end of 2010 was a fluke, as he has not impressed so far this season. Yes, he qualified ahead of Sebastien Buemi in China, and it wasn’t his fault that he had to retire, but only Buemi has scored points for the team so far – four in Melbourne (he finished 10th then got a boost from the Saubers’ DSQ) and two in Istanbul. In Malaysia he also finished ahead of Alguersuari. After a struggle in Shanghai and finishing five positions back from where he started, he gained seven in Istanbul. Only Kobayashi managed a better improvement.

Speaking of Kobayashi, he really has done very well this year. From a dismal start for Sauber thanks to their DSQ, he’s gained them points in every race since and pushed them back up to 6th place. His skill at overtaking shows in that he’s gained at least one place on his start in every race: just one in Melbourne, though qualifying ninth meant his Sauber had to compete with really good cars; three each in Sepang and Shanghai; and of course the magnificent charge from 24th to 10th in Istanbul. That’s only one less place than Webber gained in Shanghai. Today’s birthday boy Nick Heidfeld is also proving good at overtaking, with an average of just under four places gained per race.

Only seven drivers have qualified in the top 10 for every race: Alonso (5th every time), Button (4th, 4th, 2nd, 6th), Hamilton (2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 4th), Massa (8th, 7th, 6th, 10th), Petrov (6th, 8th, 10th, 7th), Rosberg (7th, 9th, 4th, 3rd) and Vettel (1st every time). However, only five drivers have finished in the points in every race: Alonso (4th, 6th, 7th, 3rd), Button (6th, 2nd, 4th, 6th), Hamilton (2nd, 8th, 1st, 4th), Vettel (1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st) and Webber (5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd). If Kobayashi had not had the DSQ, it would have been six.
The seven drivers who have completed every single lap of every race are: Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Massa and Kobayashi. Heidfeld has completed one less, Buemi two less, Sutil three less, Petrov four less.

Finally, there’s been a lot of joking about the ‘Lotus position’ (somewhere between the backmarkers and the midfield). Taking a look at the numbers, it does seem that cars do fall into one of five positions on the track:

  1. The front – Sebastian Vettel, out on his own ahead of the rest (P1)
  2. Almost the front – McLarens, Ferraris, Renaults, Webber, Rosberg and Kobayashi (P2-P10 typically)
  3. The middle – Force Indias, Toro Rossos, Perez, Barrichello, Schumacher (P11-P17)
  4. The ‘Lotus position’ – Lotus and Maldonado (P18-P20)
  5. The back – Virgin and Hispania (P21-P24)

Agree, disagree? Please comment!

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