Daily Archives: April 24, 2010

How is F1 2010 comparing to F1 2009 so far?

So, 4 races into the F1 2010 season, and we have had 3 different winners with no sure idea of who is the favourite for the title. The technical rule changes this year were deisgned to “improve the show”, so let’s see how they’ve done so far.

Driver’s Championship – 2009 vs 2010

2009 Driver Points
1 Jenson Button 31
2 Rubens Barrichello 19
3 Sebastian Vettel 18
4 Jarno Trulli 14.5
5 Timo Glock 12
2010 Driver Points
1 Jenson Button 60
2 Nico Rosberg 50
3 Fernando Alonso 49
4 Lewis Hamilton 49
5 Sebastian Vettel 45

The one thing that amazes me is that, despite the huge increase in the number of points given out, the gap between the top 5 is actually smaller this year than it was last year. This can largely be accredited to the fact that drivers have not been consistent with their finishing positions this year.

By looking at the chart alone, you would be forgiven for thinking that Jenson Button is dominating the first 4 races of both years. However, this year, that is certainly not the case. While he has won twice in 4 races, his rivals have kept up with him well, meaning the top 7 this year are separated by only 20 points.

No real assumptions can be made about the championship so far, but I would think that there are 8 drivers in contention for the title this year, compared to about 3 or 4 last year. This is a very good thing to say, as more competition means a better and more entertaining fight for the title.

Constructors’ Championship – 2009 vs 2010

2009 Team Points
1 Brawn-Mercedes 50
2 Red Bull-Renault 27.5
3 Toyota 26.5
4 McLaren-Mercedes 13
5 Renault 5
2010 Team Points
1 McLaren-Mercedes 109
2 Ferrari 90
3 Red Bull-Renault 73
4 Mercedes GP 60
5 Renault 46

Again, from directly looking at the 2010 standings, you may think that the 2010 constructors’ championship is the usual battle between McLaren and Ferrari. This is completely wrong, as Red Bull, Mercedes and Renault are all in the hunt still. Red Bull should have been in the lead, but for unfortunate mechanical problems for Sebastian Vettel in the first 2 races, resulting in a loss of 38 points, which would have put them in the lead by 2 points.

While Mercedes and Renault probably won’t be battling for the title, not this year at least, there is still a very interesting battle going on between them. Mercedes have had a head start with Nico Rosberg doing brilliantly to get 2 podiums so far, but Michael Schumacher was been surprisingly poor. Meanwhile, Renault had to wait for a few races for Vitaly Petrov to get up to speed in F1, and he has just rewarded them with his first ever points. With the extremely talented Robert Kubica, Renault may well overtake Mercedes in the standings soon.

At the bottom of the standings, we have the fight between the 3 new teams, something which we certainly did not have last year. Of course, none of these teams have got points yet, but we didn’t expect them to. So far, Lotus are the fastest of the new teams, followed by HRT and then Virgin. Branson’s squad’s dire reliability have ensured that they lie bottom of the standings, behind a team that didn’t even turn a wheel before Bahrain Friday Practice.

Overtakes per race

2009 Race # of Overtakes
1 Australia 25
2 Malaysia 28
3 China 60
4 Bahrain 15
2010 Race # of Overtakes
1 Bahrain 21
2 Australia 41
3 Malaysia 24
4 China 81
2009 vs 2010 - Overtakes in first 4 races compared

2009 vs 2010 - Overtakes in first 4 races compared

These 2 charts tell a lot. Put simply, in 3 of the 4 races this year, there have been more overtakes in 2010 than in 2009.

Admittedly, the rain has played a part in 3 of these races, but the racing was still great in situations where the rain did not apply. For example, in Malaysia, where the Ferraris and McLarens were charging through the field, the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were doing a great job getting past fellow drivers in superior machinery.

It’s not surprising to see Bahrain bottom of the chart in both years, but there’s a simple solution to increase average overtaking across the year: Get rid of Bahrain. And throw in Valencia, Turkey, Hungary and Barcelona while you’re at it, Bernie.

Nevertheless, I’m confident that there can be more overtaking in these circuits (except Monaco) this year, and I will talk about this more in the next section.

If you want more stats on overtaking across the years, then have a look at this page by Clip the Apex, which has a section where they analsyse overtaking in Formula 1 extrmely well, you can have a look at it here.

Race-by-race analysis

2009

Let’s have a look at 2009 first. The season opener in Australia was mad, but not exactly pure racing, as most of the action was caused by badly chosen tyre compounds by Bridgestone. The crash between Kubica and Vettel near the end, which ended the battle for the lead, was a perfect example. Having said that, the Brawn 1-2 was a very special moment for many, including me.

Malaysia was again very eventful, but in a completely different way. In the first half of the race, many of the overtakes were caused by the KERS-equipped Fernando Alonso falling down the field. When the rain threatened at the first stops, we were intrigued by Kimi Raikkonen’s choice for extreme wets, even though the track was dry. When the rain did eventually fall, nearly the entire grid leaped for extreme wets, only to be out-smarted by Timo Glock, who chose intermidiates. When everyone realised their mistake, and switched back to inters, the rain fell harder, and the race fell apart. While the last 10 laps were very entertaining, it wasn’t exactly pure racing.

Next up was China, which was completely drenched with rain. This was a very good race, as the conditions stayed terrible throughout, which meant that wet weather tyre strategies didn’t apply. The battle between Mark Webber and Jenson Button, and Lewis Hamilton trying to pull his way up through the field, were my personal favourites.

Finally, Bahrain gave us the surprise of a Toyota 1-2, but only in qualifying. A disastrous decicion to put on the harder tyres for the second stint of a 3-stop strategy threw away their advantage of their front row lockout, and handed the race to Jenson Button on a plate. However, he didn’t get it entirely by Toyota, as a crucial pass on Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the first few laps proved decicive in the race.

2010

Instead of Australia, Bahrain was handed the honour of hosting 2010′s first F1 race. Any boy, did they make a mess of it. To make a long story short, the race was boring and processional, and the new section of the track was awful, leaving many to criticise the new F1 regulations far too quickly.

After the mess of Bahrain, Australia firmly proved F1′s critics wrong. A shower at the start nicely mixed up the grid in the first few laps, with Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher getting caught out. However, as the track dried out, Jenson Button made a crucial dry tyre call, and put himself back into contention for the lead. Meanwhile, Alonso was scything his way through the field, whereas Schumacher was stuck behind the rookie Alguersuari for up to 30 laps. Despite the rain at the start, it was a great race, even when the track dried out.

Malaysia was next, where rain in qualifying turned the grid upside down, as Alonso, Massa, Button and Hamilton were all stuck at the back of the field. In the race, both the Ferraris and McLarens battled between themselves as they tried to climb their way into the points. Many people argue that this wouldn’t have been an exciting race if these top drivers weren’t at the back, but I disagree. Jaime Alguersuari drove a brilliant race through the field to get his first ever Formula 1 points. His overtake around the outside of Nico Hulkenberg (I think!) was stunning for a rookie, and it was the highlight of the race for me.

Finally, China was another race affected by rain, but not in a way that actually brought about much overtaking during the start, which is quite odd. Nevertheless, it was another great race, as Jenson Button yet again proved his masterful tyre managment to give him the win.

In the first 4 races of 2009 and 2010 compared, there is little to separate them, although the 2010 races have been more pure, because of the ban on refuelling meaning more overtaking on track rather than in the pits. However, if you have a look at the 2009 F1 calendar, you will notice that many of the next races weren’t exactly classics, up to Silverstone anyways. So, if F1 2010 is truly better than previous years, which I believe it is, then the next 3 races (Spain, Monaco, Turkey) will have to impress. Then, after this, the F1 paddock will roll into Montreal, and then hopefully it will all become clear.

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