Fisichella no faster in 2006

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, Suzuka, 2006With Fernando Alonso off to McLaren, it falls upon Giancarlo Fisichella to lead the Renault team in 2007.

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.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Alan Permane, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2006Now 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.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Fernando Alonso, Shanghai, Renault, 2006On top of that, Alonso’s margin of superiority increased. Fisichella averaged 0.366s slower on his fastest lap in 2005 across the 12 races. In 2006 that grew to 0.539s.

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’.

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3 comments on Fisichella no faster in 2006

  1. My wife has a HUGE crush on Fisichella… Great recap

  2. Great article, very interesting to notice. The Renault engineers hearts must sink knowing that they’ll have to build a car .5 of a sec faster than McLaren just to keep Fisi equal with Alonso. Add Kimi to the mix and the Renault board could really rue not firming up their commitments to F1 and Alonso earlier.

  3. But even given that they had lost Alonso, they still chose to keep Fisichella for 2007. They must have enormous faith in Kovalainen…

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