Could Sebastien Bourdais have beaten Sebastian Vettel in the Italian GP?

Was Sebastien Bourdais quicker than team mate Sebastian Vettel at Monza?

Was Sebastien Bourdais quicker than team mate Sebastian Vettel at Monza?

A tale of two Toro Rossos: Sebastiaan Vettel started from pole position, led 49 of 53 laps, and won the race. Sebastien Bourdais started fourth on the grid, but his car stalled leaving him a lap behind, which ruined his race.

I read on another site that, ignoring his first lap problem, Bourdais’ race time was four seconds faster than Vettel’s. That got me wondering whether Bourdais might actually have been able to beat his team mate had it not been for his engine cutting out at the start.

But I’ve had a look at the data myself it seems that wasn’t actually the case. Here’s what I found.

Sebastian Vettel vs Sebastien Bourdais’ lap times

Here’s a graph showing Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais’ lap times from laps 2-53:

Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel lap times (click to enlarge)

Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel lap times (click to enlarge)

It’s not obvious from looking at this graph exactly how well each either did but there’s a clear impression that Vettel was usually quicker, except at the end, when he had presumably backed off a bit.

Gap between Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel time difference (click to enlarge)

Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel time difference (click to enlarge)

This graph shows the difference in seconds between the two drivers at the end of each lap. It’s created by adding together their lap times and calculating the difference between their cumulative time on each lap.

This gives us a much clearer impression of how the gap fluctuated – and where the mystery four seconds came from.

After his car was re-started Bourdais set off in pursuit of the pack. The misconception that he gained four seconds arose because he was able to lap quickly while the rest of the field was behind the safety car. Bourdais’ disadvantage at the start of the race was 117 seconds, not 164.

And from then on Bourdais generally lost time to Vettel, with a few exceptions. By the end of the race, he was almost as far behind as he had been before gaining all that time back thanks to the safety car.

Yes, he would have been delayed further as a result of his predicament in having to let other drivers lap him. But it seems Bourdais just couldn’t match Vettel’s pace. It’s not the kind of data he’d want to see when his race seat for 2009 is on the line.

This comparison was suggested by Kris on the Live Blog during the Italian Grand Prix. If you want to see any similar data comparisons, leave a suggestion in the Skribit box on the upper right of the page.

Advert | Go Ad-free

18 comments on Could Sebastien Bourdais have beaten Sebastian Vettel in the Italian GP?

  1. I was so disappointed to see Seb stall on the start line. I think he would have definitely had a top four race. As for the new chassis I can tell you from my very close grape vine that the STR03 chassis was designed pretty much for Vettel or at least his style of driving, unfortunatley Seb B likes exactly the opposite type of handling. He is having a real hard time adapting to this new chassis (even tho it is obviously a fast one). I also know that he will definitely be driving either F1 or Indy next year. Which? I guess up to the boys in F1.

  2. bourdais was constantly overtaking people, in contrast, vettel always had a clean view and no one to overtake. that should be taken into account.

  3. Bahjat Tabbara said on 16th October 2008, 17:26

    Being at the back of the pack after the car stalled is enough to kill off morale, & Bourdais no doubt may not have wholly recovered but the 2nd fastest lap is something to show. Had he started at the front the patterns would have differed & he would most probably have been a top-eight finisher, perhaps even top-5 or podium, but when one’s at the back having qualified fourth it’s not a good way to begin. Curiously Webber who qualified third was no where near the points, where Kovy finished where he started.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.