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F1 Analytics (Part 2) - Teammate comparisons - The real way to tell a good driver is to compare him to his teammate

Published by Christine

The second in our series of 2008 season statistics takes a closer look at how the inter-team battles played out. The raw data can be over-simplified, who outperformed the other in qualifying compared to the race doesn't always show the truth about what happens each weekend. However, conclusions can be drawn and that's what we're about to do.


Massa12 - 67%12 - 67%
Räikkönen6 - 33%6 - 33%

This seems to imply two things. Wherever the Ferrari qualifies, it generally tends to finish in that position. We know Massa likes to lead from the front, and we know the F2008 isn’t a fan of dirty air, and this adds up.

Räikkönen suffered with performance issues in qualifying throughout the season, and it’s fair to say he has been half as good as his teammate. Although not every finish will have been the same, the numbers indicate that some work needs to be done on that Ferrari’s ability to overtake.


Hamilton14 - 78%11 - 61%
Kovalainen4 - 22%7 - 39%

It’s no surprise to see Hamilton outperform Kovalainen, as we’ve been saying that all season long. I’m actually surprised to see Heikki even manage 4 out-qualifies, but it’s been a long year, and he must have been good at some point.

He does manage to claw some dignity back in the races, and has actually managed to out-perform Räikkönen, relatively speaking. It looks like Kovi needs to work a little more on getting to grips with a short burst of qualifying, whilst Hamilton just needs to keep doing what he does.


Heidfeld5 - 28%7 - 39%
Kubica13 - 72%11 - 61%

Heidfeld had major issues with qualifying performance, something he and the team readily acknowledged. The German was given the hurry up at one point, so I’m sure he’s fully aware of how these numbers stack up.

Like Kovalainen, he manages to improve during race conditions, but I’m sure even he would have liked to see more compared to Kubica. For his part, no matter his frustrations, Kubica should take solace in the fact he has absolutely trounced Heidfeld for the entire year.


Alonso18 - 100%15 - 83%
Piquet0 - 0%3 - 17%

That is an incredible statistic. Piquet hasn’t managed to get a single mark against Alonso in qualifying for the whole of 2008. Even when Fernando was having a bad day, Nelson couldn’t get it together to pull it off.

Granted, Piquet is a rookie and he’s had the onerous task of learning the track every single race weekend, but it’s not like he capitalises once he’s got the layout sorted in his mind. Just 3 finishes above Alonso in 18 races is not going to impress Flavio.


Rosberg14 - 78%11 - 61%
Nakajima4 - 22%7 - 39%

Once again we have a rookie but this time up against a not-so-new rookie. Rosberg is still relatively new to the sport but has sealed his position as head of the Williams roster of drivers.

Nakajima doesn’t fare quite so badly as Piquet does, and with the FW.08 performing quite so badly, it would have been impressive to see him make any headway on Rosberg.

Red Bull

Coulthard3 - 17%5 - 28%
Webber15 - 83%13 - 72%

Coulthard has never got on with this kind of qualifying, even though he was one of the loudest voices in favour of ditching the single lap stuff. He would tell you that qualifying so far down means he is always in line for an accident, and his race comparison to Webber would agree with that.

It’s not an ideal way to go out on your last year, but maybe an indicator of why he’s decided to call it day.


Trulli13 - 72%9 - 50%
Glock5 - 28%9 - 50%

Trulli is one of those drivers who gets labelled as a qualifying specialist, and compared to Glock, he would appear to be. However, the German pulls it back in the race statistics, and I’ve never seen a set of numbers so accurately indicate what happens out on track.

Trulli has the experience, but also has the Trulli train mentality surrounding him, whilst Glock can sometimes be all out fast, but has to deal with being in a Toyota. These balance out to make them perfectly even on race day.

Toro Rosso

Bourdais5 - 28%5 - 28%
Vettel13 - 72%13 - 72%

I think this sums up the Toro Rosso drivers perfectly, they’re both pretty consistent but in very different leagues. Whilst Vettel is still new to F1, he’s some kind of super-rookie, that has wowed everyone in sight.

Bourdais has struggled, and complained, a lot, but sometimes manages to get it together and make the car work. This is true throughout a race weekend, meaning both their qualifying and race statistics are exactly the same.


Button8 - 44%11 - 61%
Barrichello10 - 56%7 - 39%

One thing I have noticed is that the teams at the bottom of the table seems to have the most evenly matched drivers. Barrichello picked up his game towards the end of the season but has only managed to out-qualify Button twice, whilst the Brit has just got the edge on a Sunday.

Whether this lack of a prominent and strong first driver has actually harmed their competitive challenge has yet to be seen. It’s got to be that, or it could be the car.

Force India

Sutil8 - 44%7 - 39%
Fisichella10 - 56%11 - 61%

The second team with evenly matched drivers is Force India, although I am surprised that Fisichella has beaten Sutil on both sides of the coin. I guess we knew there was a reason that Vijay hired the veteran, and this is probably it.

Sutil looked super strong against his previous teammates, but now appears to have met his match. This can only be good news for Fisichella, who wants to prolong his career, and bad news for Sutil, who needs to be shining enough to be plucked from the back of the grid.