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2012's super season start in statistics - How the beginning of this year stacks up to previous F1 seasons

Published by KerbRider

With 2012 providing a fascinating Formula One season so far, KerbRider makes the most of a three week break before the next race to look at how the stats stack up. From winners to qualifying heroes, there's plenty to read into the numbers behind the race weekends.

Mr C said in the last Aside with Joe that this season is shaping up to be "vintage". I have just been perusing my F1 spreadsheets that date back to 2007 and looking at this recent history, it's hard to argue against that.

Four down, six across

Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain
Vettel, one of four winners in 2012Credit: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

2012 has seen the first four races won by four different drivers from four different teams - Button, Alonso, Rosberg and Vettel for McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull respectively. Whether this has happened before I don’t exactly know, although I know that in 2003 four different drivers from three teams won the first four races.

Also in 2012, there have been four different second places from four different drivers, and four different teams - Vettel, Pérez, Button and Räikkönen for Red Bull, Sauber, McLaren and Lotus. It shows that 2012 is off to an epic start.

First to be first

The smallest average gap sees Nico Hülkenberg leading Paul Di Resta by .008 seconds - showing there is a close battle going on at Force India, even if we don't always get to see it.

There have been a lot of firsts this year also. Ricciardo, Vergne and Grosjean have all picked up their first points finishes in Formula One. Grosjean and Pérez have gone one better and scored their first podiums, and, of course, Rosberg secured twin firsts in China of pole position and the race victory.

Scaling back, I noticed that Alonso has not been out of a points finish since Spa 2010. 29 races straight in the points. What an amazing statistic, particularly given the frustrations Ferrari have aired recently.

So far this year only 3 drivers have been in the points all 4 races which shows the high level of competition. Usually this early in the season the figure is much higher, so well done to Hamilton, Webber and Alonso for their consistent scoring.

Starts on Saturday

A pattern has already emerged in qualifying. I am keeping stats on the times for teammates in the same session. For example, if Schumacher doesn't make it into Q3 but Rosberg does, the fair comparison can only be done in the second session.

Jean-Éric Vergne in Bahrain
Jean-Éric Vergne in BahrainCredit: Peter Fox/Getty Images

With this method, it shows that McLaren and Red Bull are leading the qualifying race. The biggest gap between team mates after four races is the Toro Rosso duo, with Daniel Ricciardo leading Jean-Éric Vergne with an average gap of .641 seconds.

We have seen the closeness of the cars, in Q2 especially. It was just three tenths of a second that saw Vettel out early in qualifying in China. I remember Eddie Irvine in 1999 being over a second slower than Häkkinen at qualifying in Austria, and still being third on the grid. He ended up winning the race.

So we think of teams like Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso being "off the pace", but 10 years ago, they would have been regular podium finishers.

All change

A one or two degree difference in temperature can mean winning a race, or finishing 12th. That also is unheard of in F1 history. All these rule changes and standardisation of car parts etc, have led to immense competition. It is bad for tech development, but certainly very good for viewers.

There's a fear that F1 is losing its essence because of this, but on the other hand, it could just be the beginning of a new era. Vintage indeed Mr C. Good call.

Here's hoping that Kimi can make it five drivers out of five races. He always was great at Barcelona.