In general, the 2011 cars in F1 have been more reliable than those in 2010. This year each team could complete up to 2266 laps compared to 2258 last year, and only four teams completed 90% or more – Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren. In 2011, once again only four teams have managed better than 90% reliability, but while McLaren (fourth best in both years) only just managed 90% before, this year they are on 93%. On the other hand, Ferrari were the most reliable in 2010 with 97%, but the best team this year only has 95%. So all of the top four are pretty close.
Today’s post covers the top six teams. Tomorrow will be the bottom six.
1 – Red Bull (2163/2266 laps; 95%) After Vettel’s retirement in Abu Dhabi the team were one lap behind Force India, but gained two laps over the Indian team in Brazil to retake first place in the reliability standings. Neither Vettel nor Webber have ever finished a race outside of the lead lap, but their two retirements – Webber at Monza and Vettel at Yas Marina – were in the opening stages of the races. This brought their total down considerably. Luckily for Red Bull, their mechanical issues have not caused any retirements. They have a better percentage than last year (93%), avoiding crashing into each other and driving much better in the rain.
2 – Force India (2162/2266 laps; 95%) They may have had a few more retirements than Red Bull, but they have all come close to the end of races. Not as fast as the Red Bulls, they lost first place due to finishing on the lead lap fewer times. Both drivers have been on the ball in races, and it’s a shame that Sutil will probably be leaving as he has done a good job. But rookie di Resta hasn’t made many (if any) rookie mistakes. The young team only completed 81% of race laps in 2010, beating the three new teams and Sauber alone. This is a big step up for them, and hopefully 2012 will be even better.
3 – Ferrari (2148/2266 laps; 94%) The Scuderia have had a couple of reliability problems in 2011, but most of their retirements came thanks to smashes with McLaren drivers (Alonso with Button in Canada, and Massa with Hamilton on multiple occasions). Despite this they have been able to keep good pace and usually finish on the lead lap. With just 15 less than Red Bull, if they can find some more pace then they will be a dangerous threat in 2012.
4 – McLaren (2108/2266 laps; 93%) The British team have improved on their reliability since 2010, though they still had a couple of problems. Button had a hydraulics issue in Germany following a pit stop error in Britain that lost him a tyre; Hamilton had gearbox problems in Brazil as well as smashes with Kobayashi and Massa mid-season. But their pace has meant they almost never finished off the lead lap, so they are not too far behind the top teams.
5 – Renault (2025/2266 laps; 89%) The last of five teams to complete more than 2000 laps in 2011, they are a long way behind McLaren. But with Petrov improved over the previous season and Bruno Senna avoiding any retirements (the Brazilian dropped only eight laps in his eight races), they have beaten last season’s reliability score. Renault have not had many early race retirements except for the smash that saw Liuzzi put Petrov out at Monza, though they would have done better had Heidfeld not gone up in smoke at Hungary.
6 – Sauber (1975/2266 laps) In 2010, they were the least reliable car on track and completed only 67% of race laps. Kobayashi retired from six of his first eight races that year. By contrast, he was scoring points all the time at the start of 2011, and Perez had a good turn of pace at times. Due to reliability issues in the middle of the season (a double DNF at Monza, for example) they have lost several laps, and Perez’s accident in qualifying at Monaco also takes off 71 laps from their score.