Barrichello’s win and Badoer’s struggle examined (European Grand Prix analysis)

Barrichello ran third at the start before moving in on the McLarens

Barrichello ran third at the start before moving in on the McLarens

All the signs before the race were that Rubens Barrichello had the strategy to take on the McLarens.

And so it proved – but would he have won without Hamilton’s problem? Let’s take a look at how the European Grand Prix unfolded.

The start

Lap 1 positions change (click top enlarge)

Lap 1 positions change (click top enlarge)

What was crucial at the start for Rubens Barrichello was not his slim chance of getting past the McLarens off the line – but the bigger concern of Kimi Raikkonen coming past him. Fortunately for the Brawn driver, that didn’t happen.

Timo Glock, and Sebastien Buemi collided, and Romain Grosjean also lost his front wing, which explains why they lost positions. But apart from the crashes and KERS cars, it was a very uniform start.

Barrichello’s fight to the front

Rubens Barrichello vs the McLarens (click to enlarge)

Rubens Barrichello vs the McLarens (click to enlarge)

Hamilton’s slow pit stop plus Barrichello’s performance advantage turned a four second advantage before his final pit stop into a six second deficit.

Had Brawn kept Barrichello out as long as they could, it probably would have been greater – but there was no need to, and with Kazuki Nakajima having shed a tyre bringing Barrichello in was the prudent thing to do.

It seems likely that, even without his pit stop problem, Hamilton wouldn’t have kept the lead of the race. But it would have been close – and that could have been enough to force a mistake out of Brawn.

Brawn haven’t always got Barrichello’s strategy right this year, but his starting fuel weight and long-ish middle stint were exactly the right choices for Valencia. But why did his team mate fare so poorly on a substantially similar strategy?

Luca Badoer

Kimi Raikkonen vs Luca Badoer (click to enlarge)

Kimi Raikkonen vs Luca Badoer (click to enlarge)

OK, his first race back wasn’t good. But just how bad was Luca Badoer’s European Grand Prix?

By the end of lap one the spread of the field meant Badoer was 17.16 seconds behind team mate Kimi Raikkonen. Come the end of the race, he was 167 seconds behind – yes, two minutes and 47 seconds. Although part of that was his drive-through penalty, which likely cost him around 15 seconds.

Looking at his lap times offers little comfort. He set his best lap towards the end of the race, signifying some improvement, but his 1’40.590 was the third-slowest of the race, only beating the Toro Rossos.

With the best will in the world, the scale of improvement needed from Badoer at Spa is massive if he is to keep his place in the car.

Race progress charts

European Grand Prix race chart (click to enlarge)

European Grand Prix race chart (click to enlarge)

The race and lap charts tell the story of a race that largely took place in the pits instead of on the track.

With refuelling being banned for next year we will see a radically different pattern to the races, with drivers adopting differing strategies of tyre use but everyone having to cope with full fuel loads from the start.

Hopefully that will provide more unpredictability and genuine on-track action. For the second year in a row, the European Grand Prix was no advertisement for F1 at its best.

European Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

European Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

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68 comments on Barrichello’s win and Badoer’s struggle examined (European Grand Prix analysis)

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  1. Icarus said on 24th August 2009, 12:16

    Love your analysis, Keith!

  2. I’m surprised just how slow and inconsistent Badoer’s laps were in his second third of the race.

    • symmetry said on 24th August 2009, 13:41

      Bear in mind that he was being lapped during that time.

      I think everyone is being a little harsh on Badoer. His stated intention was to finish the race and he did just that. I’d like to see any of you do the same…

      • TommyB said on 24th August 2009, 14:40

        Finished the race

        4 pitlane speeding penalties.
        Last in qualy by 1.5 seconds to a teenager.
        Spun so many times in the race.
        Got a penalty for going on the white line.
        Crashed in parc ferme.

        Yeah he did awesome.

        • Brakius said on 24th August 2009, 16:44

          Couldn’t agree more TommyB. He’s been driving a F1 car for 16 years, probably done more mileage than anyone on the grid. With modern day simulators, there’s no reason for him not to know the track with the time he had to prepare.

          And one last thing, he is driving a much improved Ferrari, not the Life L190. No excuse whatsoever. Epic fail from Ferrari as well as Badoer.

          • stjoslin said on 24th August 2009, 17:03

            Let’s be fair to Luca, he was not selected by Ferrari on talent – it was on grounds of loyalty. He was never good enough to race in F1 when he was an active driver so why he would have become faster in his 10 years out is beyond me.

            I think this indicates that taking a risk on a younger driver that is more active in his recent racing activities is better than dragging an ex driver out of retirement. (Except if you Michael Schumacher)

            Luca did what he could – Ferrari put him there and it’s them that should be blamed for the situation they find themselves in.

          • TommyB said on 24th August 2009, 17:45

            If they choose drivers on loyalty then you should give an F1 drive to anyone who’s bought a Ferrari cap

  3. Patrickl said on 24th August 2009, 12:21

    Nice analysis as usual.

    But why did his team mate fare so poorly on a substantially similar strategy?

    I think most of this was caused by troubles he had just after the start. Button had a good start, but Vettel seemed hell bent on keeping Button behind. Vettel almost rammed him. Button had to brake and from there it went from bad to worse.

    He got overtaken by Alonso who then proceded to also push Button into the wall. Again Button needed to slow down and Webber got close to him. Button failed to slow down for the chicane and then ultimately gave the spot to Webber and then lost out to Alonso (who had also dropped back).

    I don’t share your (repeated) hopes for more action on track due to a ban on refuelling. What I remember of the non-refuelling days was the large rows of cars behind a few heavily fuelled cars engineered/set up for good qualifying pace. I guess it will render more overtaking, but those races were effectively devoid of any real tension.

    • Patrickl said on 24th August 2009, 13:01

      Or as Button says it himself:

      Starting fifth I thought we could have a good race, but Vettel came across at the start and if I had stayed flat I would have ripped my front wing off.

      “The most important thing for Vettel is to beat me, and he came across and I had to lift,” he explained. “It is always a difficult one, because if I didn’t lift then I would have probably broken my front wing and damaged my tyre probably, or his sidepod, but I had to lift.

      “The problem is as soon as you lift there, everyone is just building speed and you are not, and there is a massive difference in speed. That is why I dropped so much ground there.

      “I thought I had picked up a couple of places at Turn 2, but Alonso went wide and came back across on me, and I had to lift.

      Then Webber at Turn 4, I thought it was a bit harsh that I had to let Webber past because I went across the chicane as I couldn’t get around the corner as he went all the way to the edge of the circuit sideways and I could not get around, so I had to go straight.

      Button thinks that race control should have consulted him about the chicane-cutting incident before telling him to relinquish position: “The thing is they didn’t speak to me about it, and that is the thing.

      I agree with Button that it was ridiculous to make him give that position to Webber. Button was in front and got pushed off. According to the rules, webber should have been penalized for pushing Button.

      • Webber didn’t push Button off. Webber was just in front of Button just before the braking zone for corner four, he was also on the inside of the corner. Button trying to not yield a place went into turn four too fast and tried to drive around Webber, and it didn’t stick, and because he came unglued on corner four he ran off the track and consequently cut corner five and regained the place that he had lost to Webber before the braking zone of corner four.

        About the only thing correct is that Webber was sideways out of corner four, but that’s not illegal. Button was already running off the circuit following Alonso before Webber even hit the gas and started to get sideways.

        So it’s a bit rough to try and blame Webber. Button had a terrible start and was trying to stop any further loss of position by braking too late into corner four, and it didn’t work, but yet he benefited, so the penalty seems reasonable to me.

        • Patrickl said on 24th August 2009, 17:34

          Button had a great start. You must have not been looking closely enough or have only read the line about Webber or something.

          He was trying to catch Alonso back when he missed the chicane.

          • I don’t understand your response. PinbalLes is right.

          • Patrickl said on 27th August 2009, 16:57

            Webber was overtaking Button. The car that was in front can cut a chicane and keep position.

            Always been that way.

    • Nitpicker said on 24th August 2009, 13:32

      What I remember of the non-refuelling days was the large rows of cars behind a few heavily fuelled cars engineered/set up for good qualifying pace.

      If all the cars are on the same fuel load throughout the race, surely there isn’t any relatively heavy cars?

      • Patrickl said on 24th August 2009, 13:57

        Ah lol, indeed that fuel reference is silly.

        Still the point is, there were always cars/drivers that were really fast in qualifying and then during the race were dog slow.

        • Zahir said on 25th August 2009, 0:34

          One thing popped into mind there when i read that comment…trulli train for next year! If he is still in f1 that is.

  4. Xanathos said on 24th August 2009, 12:40

    I think badoer’s inconsistent second stint was due to being lapped all the time (Schumacher said that he lost a lot of time because of that).
    But it’s good to see that by the end of the race his lap times were a lot closer to Raikönnen than in the beginning, so he was in fact improving. He just has to become more consistent now. At Spa, he must not be more than one second per lap behind Raikönnen, better would be if he gets it down to half a second. But he should be able to drive in the midfield then.

    (And driving a faster lap than Alguersuari isn’t bad either, considering he was more than a second behind him in Qualifying)

  5. Dougie said on 24th August 2009, 12:48

    Wicked Analysis as always Keith, what is with Badoers jaggy lap times after halfway… is that when he was being lapped??

    But why did his team mate fare so poorly on a substantially similar strategy?

    For me, going into the first corner Button was looking at definitely a podium, possibly even a win, definitely in contention. However that squeeze from Vettel, which I fear Brundle was right in that Button should have kept his foot in a used the pit exit, causing him to back out of it down to 8th really screwed his race from there on… As always on the first lap Button was agressive and getting in there overtaking, but both he and Webber got out of shape at the chicane, Button having to take the shortcut and ultimately losing the place to Webber… I think all considered Button did well to grab a couple of points.

  6. pSynrg said on 24th August 2009, 13:26

    After reading Jenson’s own (obviously accurate) take on things I think he showed foresight that will probably win him the WDC. If he had lost his front wing to Vettel or possibly worse. Then he would have no points and Webber would probably have scored.
    Playing the points game is never exciting. But winning the WDC is.

    Shame (according to Whitmarsh spin) the MCL error cost us potentially one of the best battles of the season. That was clearly a management fkup not getting the one more lap message thru to Lewis in time…
    However, Barrichello blew me away with his consistent hard charging performance. I honestly did not think he still had it in him. Brilliant and deserved victory.

  7. Nitpicker said on 24th August 2009, 13:40

    I think Jenson’s biggest problems is qualifying in fifth and getting mullered off the start. But pSynrg is right, his sensible backing-off will make winning the title more likely.

    Does anyone else think Badoer has a more fighting chance in Spa? Hopefully he can get on the pace quicker now that he has a recent GP behind him, and he can only be more familiar with Spa than Valencia.

  8. Dougie said on 24th August 2009, 13:47

    I think Badoer will give a more respectable showing in Spa. He has learned a lot from this race, both regarding outright performance as well as race-craft. It is good to see him much closer to Kimis lap times come the end of the race when, by all accounts, Luca should have been feeling the pain of driving the full distance. On top of that he knows Spa as well.

    Whether it will be enough though is another thing. We’ll have to wait and see.

  9. 1994fanatic said on 24th August 2009, 14:26

    I knew it. Put a little faith in my favorite driver and he’ll pull thru for you. I was sounding like a douche on my drive to work today, chanting like a fool. Almost like the ferrari days, but the schumacher let thru on the last turn wasn’t there!

  10. Hakka said on 24th August 2009, 14:40

    Great stuff, I don’t think there’s any other website that even comes close to offering something like this.

    Badoer didn’t have any competitive goals this race, so it’s a little harsh that everyone’s judging him as though he was racing for positions. But that’s the way it goes, and there’s no way to stop that. I just hope he’s at least enjoying himself driving that red car, which was sort of the point of the gesture by Ferrari.

  11. Max should resign now!!! said on 24th August 2009, 15:45

    Hopefully next year we will only talk about heroic on-track overtaking manoeuvres and not about fuel strategy and so on. Anyway, great article Keith!

    • Patrickl said on 24th August 2009, 16:15

      No we will be talking about very different things.

      Like who was held up all race by who.

      Or how driving an F1 car with 10kg of fuel is so completely different to one with 180kg of fuel and how it was impossible to find the right setup for one of those situations.

      There is always some reason to analyse things.

  12. Maksutov said on 24th August 2009, 16:00

    Excellent analysis of the race Keith, wd!

  13. gazzap said on 24th August 2009, 16:17

    I thought Badoer was shocking and quite simply doesn’t deserve to be driving in F1 let alone for Ferrari. there are much better drivers out there. I hear Davidson has volunteered to take over. But only 1 week to Spa so cant see anyone else having time to be drafted in.

    Button did OK but in traffic down in 8th is not a great place to get the most out of your car. The first corner did him (well Vettel did him) at least fate paid vettel back. with other drivers now threatening to win GPs, I think that gives Button a better chance of the title. what he doesn’t need is Red Bull winning every race that he doesn’t. Maclaren’s rise could win the title for Button.

    On the pit stop error, I happen to think Hamilton would have come out behind Barrichello anyway but its a shame we were deprived of those last laps of what would have been really close racing, even if Rubens had ended up winning.

  14. Oliver said on 24th August 2009, 16:57

    Badoer is simply suffering the effects of information overload. The work load of the average driver is pretty high, Badoer who is used to doing development work, where he isn’t often required to beat or maintain a very high pace. When you then add the fact he hasn’t actually driven the car till recently and his lack of active competitiveness, I expected nothing from him last race.

    I think he actually needs about 3 races to brush of the test driver reflex ingrained in his system.

  15. gazzap said on 24th August 2009, 17:05

    I think Badoer was so far off the pace, even if you gave him 15 races, he would still not get close to Raikonnen.

    I think it did prove (again!) just how hard racing in an F1 GP really is.

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