2008 Brazilian Grand Prix analysis

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Hamilton vs Vettel vs Glock. I admit it looks less exciting in graph form
Hamilton vs Vettel vs Glock. I admit it looks less exciting in graph form

Here’s the Brazilian Grand Prix race data that shows how those extraordinary change of position between Lewis Hamilton and Timo Glock in the final laps came about.

Plus, why did Ferrari not use Kimi Raikkonen to slow Hamilton?

Brazilian Grand Prix race progress chart

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix progress chart (click to enlarge)
2008 Brazilian Grand Prix progress chart (click to enlarge)
2008 Brazilian Grand Prix progress chart (leaders) - click to enlarge
2008 Brazilian Grand Prix progress chart (leaders) - click to enlarge

This shows the time difference between each driver and the leader. The second graph shows the same data, but just drivers within 50 seconds of the leader.

The first chart shows Kazuki Nakajima, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil’s early gamble to switch to wet tyres at the end of the race didn’t pay off – they lost more time to the cars in front of them.

The second shows two things. First, from laps 18 to 40, Ferrari had a clear chance to use Kimi Raikkonen to slow down Lewis Hamilton. Why didn’t they do this? Were they concerned it would be too blatant a use of team orders and would lead to them being punished?

We can also see more clearly the crucial moment at the end of the race when Timo Glock’s lap time plunged, allowing Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to pass him. This graph shows what happened to his lap times:

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, Jarno Trulli vs Timo Glock

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, Jarno Trulli vs Timo Glock (click to enlarge)
2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, Jarno Trulli vs Timo Glock (click to enlarge)

This graph shows the lap times for the Toyota duo of Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli, the only two drivers in the field to stay on dry weather tyres at the end of the race.

As the track began to dampen from laps 65-69 Glock’s lap times jumped into the high 1’18s while Trulli lapped in the 1’20s. Clearly Glock was able to cope with the wet conditions better at first (although, as he was further ahead of Trulli, his laps would have been set on a slightly drier track).

The penultimate lap, number 70, appears to be the point at which the combination of an increasingly wet surface and decreasingly warm tyres tipped the Toyotas into trouble. Glock’s lap time rocketed to 1’28 and Trulli was five seconds slower.

With dry weather tyres that were now not only very low on temperature but also heavily worn, the pair tiptoed around the final lap in 1’44. The fact that this produced a thrilling run to the chequered flag for the title contenders was, in a sense, a side-show for Glock. For him, the gamble of staying out on dry tyres paid off:

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix lap chart

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)
2008 Brazilian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

Glock was running seventh on lap 65, but he ended the race sixth having passed Kovalainen.

Trulli did not gain an extra place through the gamble, however, as Kovalainen passed him on the final lap.

This link posted by Qazuhb shows a neat animation of how the final laps unfolded.

Brazilian Grand Prix race progress versus average lap time chart

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix race progress versus average lap time (click to enlarge)
2008 Brazilian Grand Prix race progress versus average lap time (click to enlarge)

This final chart shows each driver’s position relative to the leader’s average lap time, which can make the data easier to follow.

Data source: 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix – all laps (PDF)