Belgian GP: team mate performances

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Robert Kubica was quicker than team mate Heidfeld on the damp track at the start
Robert Kubica was quicker than team mate Heidfeld on the damp track at the start

After the European Grand Prix I created a series of charts to see how the race lap times by the drivers in each of the top three teams compared.

This time I’ve repeated the exercise for all 20 drivers in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Which drivers coped best with the wet weather? Which team mates were the most closely matched – and who dominated the guy in the other car? Have a look at the charts , read my interpretations and share your conclusions below.

Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa

Belgian Grand Prix: Kimi Raikkonen vs Felipe Massa (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Kimi Raikkonen vs Felipe Massa (click to enlarge)

Kimi Raikkonen qualified with slightly less fuel than Felipe Massa and after passing him on lap one quickly pulled away on the damp track.

Massa pegged him in the second stint and when they switched to the harder tyres in the third stint Massa was occasionally quicker. But when the rain returned (around lap 38) Raikkonen’s laps were faster than Massas – until he crashed.

McLaren: Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen

Belgian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton vs Heikki Kovalainen (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton vs Heikki Kovalainen (click to enlarge)

Heikki Kovalainen’s race was spoiled by his penalty but once he cleared traffic he was on course for points before he stopped on the final lap. It looks as though McLaren gave him a longer middle stint to help him gain positions later in the race – his lighter fuel load in stint three meant he was lapping very quckly.

Comparing the beginning of Lewis Hamilton’s third stint with Raikkonen’s we can see how the McLaren driver found pace on the harder tyres more quickly than the Ferrari did. Because the data only begins with lap two we can’t see Hamilton’s very quick first lap – but his lap two spin is plain to see.

BMW: Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica

Belgian Grand Prix: Nick Heidfeld vs Robert Kubica (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Nick Heidfeld vs Robert Kubica (click to enlarge)

The BMW pair were very closely matched in their second and third stints, but Kubica was quicker in the early laps when the track was still damp

Renault: Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jnr

Belgian Grand Prix: Fernando Alonso vs Nelson Piquet Jnr (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Fernando Alonso vs Nelson Piquet Jnr (click to enlarge)

Not much to say here: Alonso was very consistent as usual, and Piquet is a poor basis for a comparison.

Williams: Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima

Belgian Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg vs Kazuki Nakajima (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg vs Kazuki Nakajima (click to enlarge)

Both ran long one-stop strategies and although Nakajima pitted two laps later than Rosberg he was often losing over half a second per lap to his team mate. Williams were the only team to put both their drivers on wet tyres at the end of the race.

Red Bull: David Coulthard vs Mark Webber

Belgian Grand Prix: David Coulthard vs Mark Webber (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: David Coulthard vs Mark Webber (click to enlarge)

Poor Webber. He was having an excellent run until his collision with Kovalainen (the big spike on lap ten). In terms of time he ‘only’ lost eight seconds, but losing his track position advantage over the BMW drivers and Sebastian Vettel probably hurt his performance more.

Coulthard was on a planned one-stop strategy but the team gambled on wet tyres for him on lap 42.

Toyota: Jarno Trulli vs Timo Glock

Belgian Grand Prix: Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock (click to enlarge)

After his spin in the first lap Jarno Trulli had to move up through the field which is why his lap times suddenly deteriorated in the middle of his first stint. On the occasions when Trulli wasn’t in traffic his and Glock’s lap times were very close.

Toro Rosso: Sebastien Bourdais vs Sebastian Vettel

Belgian Grand Prix: Sebastien Bourdais vs Sebastian Vettel (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Sebastien Bourdais vs Sebastian Vettel (click to enlarge)

Sebastien Bourdais’ lap times in his first stint dropped off the pace around lap ten. His second stint was quicker and comparable to team mate Vettel’s – except that Vettel would have had a couple of laps’ more fuel on board.

Honda: Jenson Button vs Rubens Barrichello

Belgian Grand Prix: Jenson Button vs Rubens Barrichello (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Jenson Button vs Rubens Barrichello (click to enlarge)

Compare this chart with those above and it’s easy to see how much slower Honda are than their rivals. The closeness of Button and Barrichello’s times suggest their getting as much time out of a poor package as they can.

Force India: Giancarlo Fisichella vs Adrian Sutil

Belgian Grand Prix: Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil (click to enlarge)
Belgian Grand Prix: Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil (click to enlarge)

Giancarlo Fisichella lost a lot of time pitting for a new front wing on the first lap so as the rain began to fall later in the race Force India pitted him for wet tyres on lap 40 – two laps before anyone else. Sutil’s consistent and quick pace and sure-footedness in the tricky conditions at the end were rewarded with a late gain of two positions to put him 13th.

Share your interpretation of the team mates’ lap times below.

2008 Belgian Grand Prix race lap times -all drivers (PDF)