2011 Reliability – part 1/2

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.

Young drivers’ test day one

The first day of the F1 young drivers’ test is over. Of the 23 taking part in the three-day test, fourteen were driving today. So far as I’m aware, nothing significant happened and the young drivers generally did well.
In the morning, Jean-Eric Vergne topped the times for Red Bull with Jules Bianchi about two seconds behind in the Ferrari. McLaren ran Oliver Turvey, who was 0.9s behind the French driver. Finn Valtteri Bottas was getting the most out of the Williams and set the fourth-fastest time.
In the afternoon, Charles Pic took over from Adrian Quaife-Hobbs in the Virgin, while Gary Paffett took over in the McLaren. The British team have been using the time to work on 2012 modifications, since Paffett has no race experience despite testing for a long time with them. Vergne was again fastest, with Bianchi around 0.9s slower in the Ferrari. Robert Wickens in the Renault set the third-fastest time. Williams had a few gearbox troubles, but Bottas still managed some good running.

Full times: TSL Timing

Summer day 1 – Karun Chandhok

It’s the first day of the summer. There are 27 days of summer before the next race (although technically the last few days are on an F1 weekend) and handily there are 27 drivers who have participated in F1 races this season. Each day I’m going to sum up their season so far. I will also be summarising GP2, GP3 and F2 drivers, since the F2 season restarts on the same weekend as F1 (bad timing there from the FIA).

Karun Chandhok – 27
The Indian driver replaced Jarno Trulli at the German Grand Prix for Team Lotus, and it was a tough outing. He had never driven the T128 under race conditions before, and spun several times. However, he completed the race and managed his fastest lap on his final lap. He also qualified within a second of Heikki Kovalainen. The popular driver has also done several straight line tests and Friday practice sessions for the team, though they have not always gone to plan. In Australia he didn’t complete the first lap; in Turkey it rained; in Valencia his car had gearbox trouble. However, at Silverstone he managed a good session and completed over 100km. Finally, Karun and fellow Team Lotus test driver Luiz Razia took last year’s T127 around the streets of Moscow between the British and German Grands Prix.

Qualified: 20
Finished: 20
Difference: 0
Laps completed: 56/60 (93%)
Average race position: 21.65

Penalties in 2011 season

Lewis Hamilton really does see the stewards more than any other driver. This website gives details of every penalty given in each race weekend. And the results are:

  • Drive-through penalties: 17 handed out plus two stop-and-go in Silverstone and a stop-and-go to Sebastian Buemi in Malaysia for speeding in the pitlane (20 in total).
  • Speeding fines: 4 – two to Adrian Sutil in the same race weekend!
  • Other fines: Sauber for an unsafe release (Kobayashi); Toro Rosso for Alguersuari’s wheel.
  • Grid penalties: Buemi and D’Ambrosio each have had 5-place grid penalties. Buemi has been excluded from qualifying, and Hamilton had his best Q3 time removed in Monaco.
  • Reprimands and warnings: After qualifying in Australia, Schumacher, Hamilton and Rosberg were warned for impeding drivers. After a penalty-free Spanish Grand Prix, the stewards reprimanded Hamilton, Button, Webber and Alguersuari for possibly speeding under yellows.
  • DSQ and DNQ: Sauber DSQ in Australia. HRT DNQ in Australia.

So which driver comes out worse? Well it’s no “frickin'” joke that it’s Lewis Hamilton. Four drive-through penalties: once in Malaysia (too many moves to defend a position against Alonso – 20s added time), twice in Monaco (once after the Massa collision, once after the Maldonado collision which resulted in 20s added time), and once in Hungary for his spin causing di Resta to take evasive action.
Lewis has also received a pit lane speeding fine during Friday practice in Germany, his qualifying time was removed in Monaco after he cut a chicane, and he has also received a warning and a reprimand. That is in total 8 penalties, or seven if you discount the warning.
Considering the previous-best record for penalties in a season was 6, set by Lewis in 2008, this is perhaps a sign that the British driver needs to be careful.

There are some drivers who haven’t received a single penalty yet: Kovalainen, Massa, Petrov, Trulli, Glock and Vettel. Lotus are the only penalty-free team so far. McLaren have 12: Jenson also has four penalties, and no driver except the two McLaren boys have more than three. Is there an anti-McLaren bias? I think most of the penalties have been justified. Please comment on what you think.

F1 Unreliability 2011: 12-7

We are now half way through the 2011 Formula One season. 10 races have been completed, and there are 9 left to go. Looking at the percentage of laps that each team and driver has completed makes for some interesting reading. The teams who have completed the least laps are either less reliable, or have drivers who get into a lot of accidents. Although from what I’ve seen, the teams with the drivers who seem to get into more accidents (Renault and Force India) actually turn out to be some of the best at finishing the race. Here are the six worst teams:

12 – Hispania (953 laps – 78%) Their low score has mainly been down to failing to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix, which loses them 116 laps. Apart from that they have generally been reliable, only missing out a few laps in each race because of speed. They had reliability problems in Malaysia, Spain and Germany. [2010 overall: 73%]

11 – Lotus (981 laps – 80%) At Silverstone they completed only 12 laps between their drivers, with Kovalainen entering the pits to retire almost immediately. They have been stricken with reliability issues, mainly for Kovalainen – he’s the one with the jinxed car this year. [2010 overall: 77%]

10 – Williams (1011 laps – 83%) Managing just over 1000 laps so far this year of the 1222 possible, Williams had trouble in Australia and Malaysia with two double retirements. In total their cars have failed to finish seven times, though Maldonado’s retirement in Monaco was classified because it came close to the end of the race. Five of the seven retirements have been to do with car failures. [2010 overall: 86%]

9 – Virgin (1058 laps – 87%) Not too many retirements, but they’ve had a few mechanical problems. Their worst race was in Turkey when Glock failed to start the race. D’Ambrosio managed 56 laps. [2010 overall: 70%]

8 – Sauber (1074 laps – 88%) Perez’s accident in Monaco meant only Kobayashi was able to race, though he completed all 78 laps. Perez also had a problem in Malaysia due to something hitting his car. And in Silverstone, Kobayashi had mechanical issues fairly early in the race. [2010 overall: 67%]

7 – Mercedes (1093 laps – 89%) Plagued just as much with problems as Williams in Australia, they came back strongly for the next round in Malaysia. Schumacher also failed to finish in Monaco with reliability problems. German reliability doesn’t seem to be working out so much for them. [2010 overall: 91%]

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!

Season so far stats

So stats and facts time. Some of this information was shamelessly taken from F1 Fanatic.

For the first time ever, 23 drivers finished classified in a Grand Prix. At Brazil last year, 23 people finished but Virgin’s Di Grassi was not classified as he’d gone into the pits for a while and was a long way behind the other drivers.

Williams have had their worst season start ever. Four retirements in the first two races, followed by a 17th and 13th place finish. The only other time they have failed to finish in the points at their first three races was in their first season as a proper constructor – 1979. That year, they only had two retirements in their first three races, as well as two ninth-place and one tenth-place finish.

Red Bull, by contrast, have had their best season start ever. With two wins and no finishes below fifth, they are leading the championship. Webber has also had two of the three fastest laps, thanks to his driving on fresh soft tyres for most of the race. In total Webber has 8 fastest laps in his career – the same as Lewis Hamilton.

Speaking of whom, Lewis Hamilton is the first driver to win the Chinese Grand Prix twice. He is now fifteenth in the all-time list of race winners, and has won in every single season of his career. This also gives McLaren the same number of wins at the track as Ferrari, and their 170th win.

Six drivers have outperformed their teammate in every race of the season: Vettel, Alonso, Rosberg, di Resta (the only rookie to do so), Kovalainen, and Liuzzi. The most consistent qualifiers are Vettel (1st in every race), Alonso (5th), Kovalainen (19th), Trulli (20th), Liuzzi (23rd) and Karthikeyan (24th).

With an average race position of 1.5, Sebastian Vettel is ahead of every other driver. His results are also closer to the average than any other driver except Narain Karthikeyan, who has an average of 22.11 and is behind every other driver. Maldonado is the only driver whose average is behind that of any of the backmarkers at 17.64. Kovalainen’s 16.45 average is better.

Narain Karthikeyan has completed only 68 laps in this year’s F1 season, with Pastor Maldonado just 4 ahead on 72.