Valencia: team mate versus team mate

Kubica\'s second stint was especially impressive and helped him beat Kovalainen

Kubica's second stint was especially impressive and helped him beat Kovalainen

Lap times don’t lie – so what can they tell us about the performances of the top three teams’ drivers in the European Grand Prix?

Here’s a comparison of their lap times at Valencia – Kimi Raikkonen vs Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton vs Heikki Kovalainen and Nick Heidfeld vs Robert Kubica.

NB. All drivers ran three stints using the soft tyres for the first two and the super softs for the final stint. The lap times graphs start on lap two.

Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen vs Felipe Massa

Kimi Raikkonen vs Felipe Massa, 2008 European Grand Prix (click to enlarge)

Kimi Raikkonen vs Felipe Massa, 2008 European Grand Prix (click to enlarge)

Kimi Raikkonen stint durations (laps): 18, 25, 11 (retired)
Felipe Massa stint durations: 15, 22, 20

Ferrari, like McLaren, ran one of their cars with three laps more fuel than the other during qualifying. After the Hungarian race I wondered why, with Raikkonen clearly not able to match Massa’s pace in qualifying, they kept giving him the heavier fuel load. They must have some reason for it but it’s not clear what.

Raikkonen trailed Heikki Kovalainen to begin with but wasn’t really being held up by him until both were delayed by Robert Kubica’s problem on lap eight (see below).

Ferrari gave Raikkonen a long, 25-lap middle stint in an effort to leapfrog Kovalainen. It probably would have worked but for his problem in the pits which cost him more time, after which his engine failed and he retired.

Massa was consistently fast but his last two laps are interesting. Clearly Ferrari weren’t the least bit worried the FIA might give them a time penalty following his pit stop problem as he backed right off.

McLaren – Lewis Hamilton vs Heikki Kovalainen

Lewis Hamilton vs Heikki Kovalainen, 2008 European Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton vs Heikki Kovalainen, 2008 European Grand Prix (click to enlarge)

Lewis Hamilton stint durations: 17, 22, 18
Heikki Kovalainen stint durations: 20, 23, 14

It’s very hard to judge from the outside but Hamilton, like Massa, seems to have done a very good job of lapping at the extent of his car’s abilities. Both drivers’ times in the first stint show consistent improvement with their times only significantly peaking once each – Hamilton on lap five and Massa on lap 12.

Both drivers had 22-lap long second stints on the harder compound tyres but Hamilton lost time to Massa in the first half of the stint and that was where Massa really won the race (see Hamilton and Massa’s laps side by side).

Hamilton and Kovalainen had second stints of similar durations, but Hamilton was comfortably quicker than his team mate despite both generally being in clear air at this time.

BMW – Nick Heidfeld vs Robert Kubica

Nick Heidfeld vs Robert Kubica, 2008 European Grand Prix (click to enlarge)

Nick Heidfeld vs Robert Kubica - 2008 European Grand Prix (click to enlarge)

Nick Heidfeld stint durations: 22, 19, 16
Robert Kubica stint durations: 18, 22, 17

Robert Kubica’s second stint was also similar in length to Kovalainen’s, but he was around half a second per lap quicker. You can see very clearly how his slow lap eight delayed Kovalainen and Raikkonen.

Oddly, Kubica had a very slow time on the eighth lap of each of his first two stints.

Among the three pairs of drivers here, Heidfeld was the one who got closest to his team mate’s race pace, although his starting position of eighth meant he spent the early part of the race in traffic.

In the final stint on super soft tyres Heidfeld was often quicker than Kubica although it seemed the Polish driver had backed off a bit. Look how consistent Kubica’s six laps before the final tour were:

1’39.795
1’39.760
1’39.678
1’39.667
1’39.726
1’39.753

Share your thoughts on the drivers’ lap times below. If there are any other teams’ stats you would like to see in this form, let me know in the comments.

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18 comments on Valencia: team mate versus team mate

  1. WOW, Great article, Keith!!!!!!!!

    I love these technical stuffs.

    Slightly off topic: The guys from TOP GEAR has made an interesting insight inside the matter between Kimi and Felipe and why the race engineers has an important role on why each of them are the quickest one:

    How Felipe is so quick:

    http://www.topgear.com/content/features/stories/2007/06/stories/14/1.html

    How Kimi is so slow:

    http://www.topgear.com/content/features/stories/2007/06/stories/15/1.html

  2. Becken, that article is from last year.

    still relevant though, Smedley taking away the psychological stuff away from Massa.

  3. Polak said on 26th August 2008, 19:19

    Thanks Keith. I really like how you did these graphs and how much information can be read from them. Its interesting when you can look at a section of constant lap times and notice that during that moment the driver was steadily bringing the car home or that one driver’s problems can bee seen on the graph of others.

    Good stuff.

  4. Arake said on 26th August 2008, 21:09

    Cool Keith!!! Very interesting. These graphs show us how Massa is consistently during the race.

  5. Ohh :o… you´re right Sush.. :) The thing is so relevant at this moment, as you have said, that I didn´t notice that were wrote a year ago. Thanks!!

  6. hwillem said on 26th August 2008, 22:57

    Suggestion for the next post
    Valencia: Lewis Hamilton vs Felipe Massa Chart

  7. teamorders said on 26th August 2008, 23:23

    Great article Keith.

    Just wondered where do you get the under lying lap time data from?

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th August 2008, 23:23

    Er Hwilem, it’s already in there, under the McLaren section.

  9. Jean said on 27th August 2008, 7:46

    The reason they fuelled Kimi heavier is because they already suspected possible engine failure before the race (same problem Felipe’ had in Hungary) , and Kimi has not been on Felipe’s pace recently , as we know. They also could not take a 10 grid penalty because of the nature of the circuit , that would have ensured he would be out of the points , so had to run the risk. And if a safety car , which was a string possibility , had happened , Kimi may have had a chance.

  10. Looks like kimi dont want to drive f1 anymore .

  11. Skova said on 27th August 2008, 9:53

    Massa is killing Kimi this year! Maybe Kimi should change the votka he drinks

  12. Oliver said on 27th August 2008, 10:05

    I think Kimi was fueled slightly heavier because he is unable to extract the maximum from a lightly fueled car and the weight of the extra laps of fuel not sufficient to seriously compromise his lap time. Ferrari intends he run slightly longer so he can make up lost ground and have time to improve on his pace.
    If Kimi had same fuel load as Massa, he may still have qualified in 3rd position, compromising his race even more still.

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th August 2008, 11:56

    Something else that occurs which I didn’t write in the article was that Hamilton and Kubica seemed to get more out of the prime (soft) tyres than their teams mates, compared to their stints on the option (super soft) tyres.

  14. monaco73 said on 27th August 2008, 12:45

    Great Keith thanks.

    One has to suspect that the reason for consistently making Kimi heavier than Felipe is so he can get better results from the tyres. Kimi can be devastatingly quick in the race when he has to make up time to do some leapfrogging at the pit stops.

    Oh, and I thought the blown engine was due to a con-rod, not cosmetic damage by the fuel rig??

    I also wonder if Kimi can’t get the hammer down soon, Massa will be a #1 pick for the WDC. BUT will Kimi play wingman?? The thing here is that Kimi cannot get the balance and setup of the chassis and tyres just right to his liking, for quali and the race. I don’t think he’s demotivated at all. Just not able to work the tyres as well as needed. Which frankly is disappointing. I hope Kimi stuffs the lot of them at Spa! ;)

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th August 2008, 12:47

    Monaco73 – yep it was I’ll fix that.

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