2008 Chinese Grand Prix analysis

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber\'s charge through the field was spoiled
Mark Webber's charge through the field was spoiled

How did Ferrari manage the position switch between Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa? Why did Mark Webber’s charge to the front go wrong?

A look at the lap times from the Chinese Grand Prix explains how it all unfolded.

Chinese Grand Prix race history chart

Chinese Grand Prix race history chart - click to enlarge
Chinese Grand Prix race history chart - click to enlarge

The Red Bull pair – David Coulthard and Mark Webber – make an interesting case as they started side-by-side on different fuel strategies. Coulthard pitted once, Webber twice, as he made it into Q3 but knew he would take a ten-place drop on the grid for changing his engine.

Webber used his light ful load to excellent effect in the early stages, picking off several rivals to run ninth while Coulthard was back in 14th. But when Webber came out of the pits he emerbed behind Kazuki Nakajima and was stuck behind the Williams driver. Worse, Nakajima made his sole pit stop on the same lap Webber came in from his second, leaving the Red Bull driver stuck. Coulthard, meanwhile, re-passed his team mate via the pit stops.

Ahead of Coulthard was Rubens Barrichello who finished an excellent 11th.

Chinese Grand Prix race history chart – leaders

Chinese Grand Prix race history chart - leaders
Chinese Grand Prix race history chart - leaders

The same chart, zoomed in to show just the cars within 30 seconds of the race leader.

The first thing that strikes you about this chart is how the gap between Raikkonen and Hamilton ballooned in the second half of the race when he switched to being a dutiful team mate.

But what I hadn’t realised was how quickly Fernando Alonso was catching the pair of them – clearly he was very happy with his final set of tyres.

The graph below shows the Ferrari drivers lap times in more detail. The spike in Raikkonen’s second stint was the time lost lapping Giancarlo Fisichella. Then in the third sector his times went haywire.

Chinese Grand Prix  - Raikkonen vs Massa - click to enlarge
Chinese Grand Prix - Raikkonen vs Massa - click to enlarge

Chinese Grand Prix race history chart – average time

Chinese Grand Prix race history chart (average times) - click to enlarge
Chinese Grand Prix race history chart (average times) - click to enlarge

By special request of Andrew last week, this graph shows each driver’s race position relative to the winner’s average lap time, which smooths out the peaks and troughs caused by the leader pitting.

Chinese Grand Prix lap chart

Chinese Grand Prix lap chart - click to enlarge
Chinese Grand Prix lap chart - click to enlarge

Each driver’s position on each lap. The lack of overtaking moves outside of pit stops speaks for how processional the race was.