Problem is, Fisichella was trounced by Alonso in their two years together. Alonso racked up 14 wins and scooped both championships. Fisichella took just a pair of wins – and both came on days when his team mate was compromised.
Fisichella reckons he had a “very strong rate of progress” in 2006. But he seems to be completely wrong if you compare his and Alonso’s lap times over the past two years.
Let’s take a closer look…
Until a few years ago the best way to compare two drivers in the same team was to use their qualifying performances.
But the purity of such comparisons was ruined when the FIA took it upon themselves to start faffing about with the qualifying system and making drivers set their times with race fuel loads on board.
Now the best comparison we have is fastest lap times from the race itself, but in comparing those we have to be careful. We can’t compare times from wet races, and events where either of the drivers retired before the first round of pit stops are obviously useless.
So to get an idea of whether Fisichella got closer to Alonso in 2006 than in 2005 I’ve compared the differences between their fastest lap times at races where the data is meaningful.
From those two years I excluded the races at Spa (no round in ’06), Shanghai and Hungaroring (wet races in ’06), Bahrain and San Marino (Fisichella retirements) and the Hockenheimring (Fisichella was driving a damaged car for most of the race in ’05).
This leaves 12 races from each year.
In 2005, Alonso set a faster fastest lap than Fisichella at all bar two races. In 2006, Alonso was faster at every single race.
This is obviously not a perfect analysis. For example, it tells us nothing about the consistency of lap times each driver is able to produce (although that is an area in which Alonso is a renowned master).
But at its heart it suggests very strongly that Fisichella was so comprehensively beaten by Alonso in 2006 he actually drove worse than he did in 2005.
Flavio Briatore will be hoping that, in Heikki Kovalainen, he truly has found the ‘anti-Alonso’.
- Renault F1 Team: Giancarlo Fisichella – “I stepped up my level in 2006” (external)
- F1 2006 review: Driver end-of-season rankings part one and part two