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2012's summer break season statistic summary // Are we halfway through a vintage F1 season?

Published by KerbRider

After round 4 I posted a small article on the state of the 2012 championship. This came about from Mr C making a comment about 2012 potentially being a "vintage" season. I promised at the time to write a follow up post for the summer break (a bitterly cold winter for me). So as promised here follows the 2012 F1 championship in (what I find) interesting statistics.

Qualifying times are used as before. Except for wet qualifying sessions, I have used only Q1 times for consistency reasons.

F1 rookie Jean-Éric Vergne
Credit: Vladimir Rys

Magnificent seven

Starting from the top. As we all know, seven winners in seven races was unprecedented. Since then there have been no "new" winners. What is interesting that up to round seven we not only had seven different winners, but also seven different second place "getters", and also six different drivers claiming fastest laps. So clearly we can gauge from this that the season was/is shaping up to be what we Aussies call "a pearla."

Since round seven though, it seems the old adage is true: the cream does always rise to the top. Just as it looked as though Sebby V would be our first double winner, Alonso stole his thunder after a rare mechanical failure on the Renault side of the equation. After round four, and Ferrari's hideous start to the year not many would have been brave enough to put real cash on Fernando being the first driver to rack up a second win in 2012.

So after round 11 we have Alonso nearly 2 wins in clear on points, from a consistent Webber, an unfortunate Vettel, and up and down Hamilton, and an impressive race paced Räikkönen.

Sing when you're winning

Red Bull
Mark Webber124
Sebastian Vettel122

Red Bull leads the constructors and has done most of the year. It’s not as convincing as it was in 2011, or 2010, but it looks as though they should win the WC again in 2012. Performances in Germany and Hungary though will put a small scare through the squad, as it seems every innovation is scrutinised to the nth degree, and the recent engine mapping "scandal" did seem to affect qualifying performance in Hungary, a circuit where they have been quick the last 2 years albeit without the win in 2011.

Red Bull has the second fastest average qualifying time, and 19 points finishes, the highest of any team. The drivers have racked up three wins, and only two other podium finishes, but eight 4th places. An astonishing result considering they are probably still the fastest car out there. This stat alone is a true testament as to how close the competition is in 2012.

As for the drivers, Mark has ten points finishes to Seb's nine, and has taken two wins in two jewel in the crown events. Sebastian has only the one win, three poles, and three fastest laps. There is no doubting he's quick, but things are not working out for one reason or another. Mark leads the qualifying battle 6-5 although Seb has an average lead of 0.195 seconds. This stat is tainted by the British GP, as they will be for most of the teams.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton117
Jenson Button76

McLaren popped back into second place in the Constructer's championship after Hungary: one whole point in front of Lotus and four ahead of Ferrari. It really is that close. McLaren have had a strange year. They were clearly the fastest team in the first three rounds, and actually scored five out of a possible six podiums.

From round four onward though they have only finished on the podium three times out of a possible 16 and two of those have been in the last two races. Only one podium out of 12 chances from rounds four to nine is a massive failure from a team like McLaren. It is good to see them get back into the swing after upgrades in Silverstone bedded in for Germany and Hungary.

McLaren have 16 points finishes, with three wins and five other podiums. They have the fastest average qualifying time, less than a tenth in front of Red Bull. Hamilton is a comfortable leader over Button with an average 0.412 tenths in front. Button has only qualified faster on one occasion in 2012 - a very telling stat on the type of year Jenson is having.

Jenson has had one win and two second places, from seven points finishes. Outside of the podium, Button has not finished higher than 6th. Lewis has two wins and three thirds from his nine points finishes. This includes three 8th places.

Lotus
Kimi Räikkönen116
Romain Grosjean76

Lotus will easily take the title for most improved team in 2012, despite Sauber's often impressive show of speed. They currently sit third in the constructor's chase. Not many would have predicted that after two previous years of showing promise, only to fall from grace from lack of development. The Lotus (née Renault) turnaround may be caused from driver quality in terms of speed, experience and feedback delivery to the engineers.

Lotus lost some key personnel over the last twelve months, so kudos must be given to the incumbent. Bob Bell left to go to Mercedes, so maybe old Bobby isn't as great as his reputation is. Team boss Eric Boulier reminds me of a leader in the Christian Horner mould. He seems friendly, relaxed and open. A real leader and motivator of people. It’s a new wave of F1 management and when you add Martin Whitmarsh to this list, it appears a revolution has been in progress for a few years now, and the dividends are starting to come to light.

Romain Grosjean in the garage
Credit: LAT Photographic

The Lotus season so far features eight podiums, no wins and 16 points finishes. 10 for Kimi with three seconds and two thirds plus two fastest laps. Romain has one second, two thirds and one fastest lap. A very solid first half of 2012 for Enstone and you get the feeling that a win cannot be far away. I was sure Hungary would be it, and if Kimi could have qualified better I'm sure he would have had a decent crack at Lewis at some point. If Lotus can keep development pace, and Kimi begins to qualify better, there is no reason he can't have a real fight for the title come November. Hungary showed the true pace of the Ferrari, and Alonso's luck has to end at some point. If Spa is hot, then look at Kimi, a proven Spa specialist, to win.

Saturday is the key, though, and Grosjean leads the qualifying battle with an average gap of 0.170 in front in Kimi. He leads 8-3. As a team Lotus lie 4th in average qualifying lap time.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso164
Felipe Massa25

Looking at that table makes me think "WOW!" for two reasons. Firstly, Alonso has a lot of points and secondly, Massa has so few. Pre-season testing showed that Ferrari had blown it, again! But as soon as Alonso crossed the line in Malaysia, I thought to myself quite literally "look out! Alonso is gonna make this interesting." Because if he could win in that car at that track, a speed and balance track if ever there was one, then he was going to be dangerous in 2012.

It is not Alonso's wins that have impressed me about him in 2012 though. Look at them in the open. As good as the wins were they were in mixed condition weekends. The Ferrari is clearly good in tricky/slippery conditions. Malaysia was wet to drying. In Valencia, he got lucky from a Safety Car and two dodgy alternators. In Germany, he drove as he always does, with enormous skill and bravery in qualifying, which led to him being able to control the race from the front. Even his second in Britain was due to that slippery qualifying. For me, he really is the class of the field. Sure Vettel is quick, but he is nowhere near as complete as Alonso, or even Hamilton.

To see how good he is look at how he consolidates and picks up solid points when the chips are down. A solid fifth in Australia when he was driving what was basically a bus. Seventh in Bahrain in heat that suited Red Bull, Lotus and at least one quick Force India. For me I hope he wins the World Championship this year. He deserves it more than anyone out there, and this is coming from a hardened Webber fan, who I think was robbed by his own team in 2010.

Massa, although having shown some recent speed at times, is clearly not what he ever was. He is destined to be replaced. Recent rumours about Kimi going to Ferrari are unlikely. Looking up and down the grid, I believe the perfect pick for Ferrari to replace Massa would be Kovalainen. He is experienced, shows great speed and resolve, and has a level head. He would be a great number two for Fernando.

Ferrari has 16 points finishes, of which Alonso has 11 and all of the six podiums recorded thus far. In qualifying Ferrari are fifth on average and Fernando's average gap is 0.395 tenths over Massa.

Middle of the road

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg77
Michael Schumacher29

If any team can be accused of under delivery this year, Mercedes win hands down. At a time when lesser teams are showing vast improvement (Sauber, Williams) with fewer resources, Mercedes should be hanging their heads in shame. Norbert will have a lot to answer for with the board come December despite Rosberg's victory in China. There has been little progress in their development. They have actually gone backwards. Even Force India have improved their baseline speed more than Mercedes.

We all expected more with the new leadership and engineering nous. Maybe next year will be their defining moment. For the sake of F1 I hope so.

Rosberg has been disappointing since his second in Monaco, and for me, Michael has been outpacing him since then - certainly in qualifying anyway. Rosberg does have the margin slightly by only 0.049 as the average qualifying margin. It is the second closest intra-team battle of the year with Nico up 6-5.

The team have three podiums with a win to Nico, and of course Michaels third in Valencia. Both drivers have scored a fastest lap each. They are the third fastest qualifiers on average.

Sauber
Sergio Pérez47
Kamui Kobayashi33

Although Sauber have shown great potential this year from both drivers, you can’t help but feel it could have been so much more. A car that is easy on the tyres, two very quick drivers, and a solid (but ugly) design from the departed James Key whom Toro Rosso will welcome with glee.

Pérez is impressive. He has that x-factor that will surely see him as a future star. He is one of only three new(ish) drivers I’m truly excited to see develop in future. For the record the others are Hülkenberg and Ricciardo. Kobayashi is an enigma, a bit like Fisichella. He can be superb on the right day, but a complete dullard on others. A true champion will be superb every time they buckle up. For the rest of this year, if things go right, they could overtake Mercedes for fifth in the championship. They are only 26 points adrift.

Checo and Kamui only need to qualify better to see some improvement. They have the closest (so far) intra-team qualifying battle. Kobayashi averages a gap of 0.010 to Pérez. Pérez leads 6-4. Monaco did not count as one of them didn’t set a time at all. Sauber have ten points finishes, five each although Pérez has two impressive podiums. Also both drivers have one fastest lap each.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado29
Bruno Senna24

It was superb to see Team Willy back on top in Spain. I was so happy for the team, but not for Maldonado. He has thrown away a lot of points in 2012, and if he didn’t bring the GDP of a small nation, despite the win, he would be dumped at the end of the year. He threw away a podium in Valencia for being impatient, he ran Di Resta off the road in Hungary, and he drove into Pérez in Britain, and that's just the start! It is actually frustrating to me having to write this. It’s a shame as Williams have been superb this year considering where they were last year.

F1 battles the weather in 2012
Credit: LAT Photographic

The second half of 2012 will, I believe, show that Bruno Senna is a rising talent. This is already starting to show. He had a very good drive in Hungary. He has scored on six occasions to Maldonado's two. That says a lot. One good race does not make a superstar. Senna shows patience, and demonstrates he is learning still with this year's car/regulations. For me, he deserves another year with Williams. Maldonado is only demonstrating that he doesn’t learn, or that he doesn’t care. For the record, he has not scored since Barcelona when Senna has scored four times since then. However, he does lead the qualifying battle 9-2 by an average of 0.449.

Force India
Paul di Resta27
Nico Hülkenberg19

Force India are plodding along without making too much fuss. They haven’t finished higher than fifth, but still have ten points finishes with five each for the drivers. I think both of these guys are stars of the future, and I imagine if they bide their time that they will end up in good seats eventually.

Di Resta has had the more impressive drives this year. Bahrain was his standout, but also Monaco was a feather in his tartan cap. I like this guy's attitude. He seems intelligent, and calculating. I can’t wait to find out one day why he and Anthony Hamilton parted ways. The Hulk is typically German - efficient, methodical, and just plain quick. The last four or five races have shown he is improving, as he seems closer overall to Di Resta in performance.

In qualifying, Nico has an average gap of 0.173 over Paul, but the feeling you get is that Paul is quicker despite Nico leading 6-5 in the battle. Hülkenberg has out-qualified Di Resta the last four races though. This shows he is getting on top and this should be a great rivalry to watch for the last nine races.

Back for good

Toro Rosso
Jean-Éric Vergne4
Daniel Ricciardo2

This has been an interesting battle. For me, Ricciardo is easily a leg up on Vergne. He leads the qualifying battle by 0.449 on average and leads the battle 9-2. That in itself is telling. Disco Dan has obviously got raw speed. But at race start, Vergne always seems to end up in front of him, only for Dan to finish in front at race end. Regardless of where Dan starts, he just can’t start. He has horrific first laps, but does seem able to build a solid race from there. He often races quicker than Vergne.

Jean-Éric has qualified woefully on the whole. I hope both drivers get a second year together, and that James Key can build them a car to score regular points. It is a backfield battle, but the future of either of them could be significant. Overall Ricciardo has impressed me the most, but I sense that Vergne will click soon and put up a real fight. The team has scored two times - once for each driver.

Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen0
Vitaly Petrov0

This one is easy. Petrov shows moments of speed the same way a lot of good drivers do. Kovalainen shows speed and intellect all the time, just as great drivers do. Simple as that. The team has clearly improved, and also the recent move to a better factory/workshop shows Tony Fernandes has genuine intent to improve his investment. He clearly has big plans for the Caterham brand. Watch this space.

As mentioned before, look to see Heikki at Ferrari in 2013. That’s my guess. Kovalainen leads qualifying by 0.369 on average with a 9-2 lead in the race.

Marussia
Timo Glock0
Charles Pic0

It’s always hard to judge these battles simply because you never see them. Glock is impressive, and F1 being the way it is, will probably never get the chance he deserves at a better drive. Unless he usurps my Heikki prediction! He would be another good Ferrari candidate.

Pic certainly hasn’t disgraced himself, but like D'Ambrosio and Di Grassi before him, will more than likely lose the seat to someone with more money for 2013. Shame, but it’s a fickle trade trying to make a car a second a lap quicker.

Glock leads the qualifying battler 6-4 by an average of 0.409.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa0
Narain Karthikeyan0

What can I say here? De La Rosa has made Karthikeyan look very ordinary. This shows what money can buy you. Pedro has always impressed me. His time at Sauber was a bit terrible, but I want/need to put that down to a car that didn’t suit his driving style. You have to admit he was a solid fill in for Juan Pablo at McLaren. He scored a podium. What I’m trying to say is that he isn't a total disgrace. His present team mate is.

HRT has a lot of work to do. I struggle to imagine them being anywhere but the back end until they sell out to a manufacturer once the world economy picks up.

De la Rosa leads the qualifying battle 11-0 by an average of 0.797 which makes that the biggest intra-team battle whooping so far this year.