2005: Statistical Review

Statistics are unfairly maligned. Yes, they can be distorted, manipulated and spun – but lay the figures out in full and clearer picture often emerges. We take a look at some of the stories of 2005 with a little help from F1Fanatic’s brand new statistics pages.

Raikkonen vs Alonso

Alonso tallied 135 points to Raikkonen’s 112, taking the championship with two races to go. Had the championship been run to the 1991-2002 points system (10-6-4-3-2-1), Alonso would have won the championship in Suzuka (what a race that would have been!) and won 117-99.

Raikkonen’s car trouble is reflected in his average starting position of 5.68 to Alonso’s 3.95. He had to drop ten grid places on four occasions without which his average would have been 3.57. Alonso was the only driver to start every race without suffering at least one mechanical failure (Ralf Schumacher did not start in Indianapolis).

Montoya vs Fisichella

Montoya and Fisichella were both compromised by their high failure to finish rate. Montoya scored an average of six point (equal to third place) every time he finished – but his poor finishing rate meant he scored an average of 3.53 points per race. This was actually greater than Michael Schumacher, whom he trailed in the championship, but Montoya also missed two race.

Fisichella took only one win to Montoya’s three but finished just four points behind (60 – 56). He started from the top three on six occasions – one more than Montoya, but less than half as many as Alonso (13). What’s more, Fisichella was one of only two drivers to finish in a lower position, on average, than where he started. The other was qualifying specialist Jarno Trulli.

Schuey’s shocking season

Michael Schumacher won only one race – and in that one fourteen drivers failed to take the start. He lost touch with the championship chase at the Italian Grand Prix. He finished third on 62 points, aided by the extra points awarded for the lower placings under the post-2003 points system, without which he would have trailed Montoya 46-40 under 2002 points.

What was most unusual about Schumacher’s season was that he posted six DNFs – two mechanical (Bahrain, Spain) and four through incident.

Who had the upper hand at Toyota?

For the first half of the season it looked as though Jarno Trulli was going to devastate Ralf Schumacher. 26-14 up on points and 3-0 on podiums after five races. But then Trulli’s season flattened while Ralf’s improved. Each scored a ‘fake’ pole position (Indianapolis, Suzuka) but Trulli unsurprisingly scored the best qualifying results: three seconds, three thirds, two fourths and five fifths to Ralf’s 0-0-1-3.

The difference in race results is only partly accounted for by their finishing rate. Each had a single ‘racing incident’ but Trulli was plainly taken out by Sato in Japan and suffered Toyota’s sole car failure. But while Trulli usually slipped back from his average start position of 6.05, Ralf typically gained from his placing of 8.61.

But most interestingly Trulli scored more points per finish than Ralf did, while Ralf scored more points per race. This suggests that the two were in fact incredbly evenly matched, and only Trulli’s inferior finishing rate held him back.

Does Massa have what it takes?

Massa only failed to finish when his car couldn’t get him there – on three occasions (one of which was Indianapolis). His average starting position of 11.89 edges out team-mate Villeneuve on 12.47 – but we must remember that Villeneuve usually ran a far heavier fuel load.

What you can’t dispiute is that Massa usually gained more places – 2.42 to Villeneuve’s 1.16. But here we reach the limitations of any statistical analysis of Formula One – widening a frame of reference beyond two drivers in the same team or in very similar circumstances is exceptionally difficult to quantify.

What we can say with certainty is this: He had four fewer race-ending incidents than Michael Schumacher, and Jacques Villeneuve is the first team mate he’s beaten in three full seasons of F1.

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