Raikkonen and Fisichella are F1’s best starters (Belgian Grand Prix analysis)

Timo Glock would have scored points but for his fuel rig failure

Timo Glock would have scored points but for his fuel rig failure

The Belgian Grand Prix was fought out between the two drivers who’ve made the best starts in F1 this year: Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Plus, where would Timo Glock have finished without his fuel rig problem? And just how bad was it for Luca Badoer? Read on to find out.

Lap 1

Belgian Grand Prix - lap one (click to enlarge)

Belgian Grand Prix - lap one

Kimi Raikkonen got off to his usual KERS-assisted flier. He picked up four places on the opening lap, and has gained a total of 23 places on the first lap of races this year – more than any driver bar Giancarlo Fisichella, who has also gained 23.

Further back the destruction at Les Combes cut a swathe through the field and helped several other drivers make big improvements. Rubens Barrichello, however, had his worst start of the season, losing ten places. He also gave away nine at Istanbul and five at Melbourne, and is statistically the worst driver at getting away from the start line this year.

Raikkonen vs Fisichella

Kimi Raikkonen vs Giancarlo Fisichella (click to enlarge)

Kimi Raikkonen vs Giancarlo Fisichella (click to enlarge)

The fight for the lead was close but you couldn’t really call it a battle. With KERS at his fingertips, Raikkonen was easily able to keep Fisichella at bay.

Still Fisichella kept up the pressure in the hope of a mistake from Ferrari or Raikkonen.

P14 BAD

Kimi Raikkonen and Luca Badoer (click to enlarge)

Kimi Raikkonen and Luca Badoer (click to enlarge)

Duncan Stephen asks on his blog whether Luca Badoer achieved a record by being the first driver to finish last yet still be on the lead lap. At Singapore last year Fisichella matched his feat of finishing 14th and last of the runners while still being on the lead lap. However Raikkonen was officially classified 15th in that race after crashing out four laps from the end. Has any other driver finished last, lower in the standings, while also being on the lead lap?

What impresses me is that, putting Badoer’s lamentable performance to one side, the rest of the classified runners finished within 55 seconds of each other. Unfortunately Badoer was almost as far behind 13th-placed Kazuki Nakajima as the Williams driver was behind Raikkonen. The yawning gaps between Raikkonen and Badoer’s lap times above tell the story.

Race charts

Belgian Grand Prix race chart (click to enlarge)

Belgian Grand Prix race chart (click to enlarge)

It’s worth looking up Timo Glock on the race chart above and noting that, if he hadn’t lost five seconds with a refuelling rig problem at his first pit stop, he would have been in the points. Certainly he would not have ended up behind Nico Rosberg. At the end of the race he would have been somewhere near the front of the Heikki Kovalainen, Rubens Barrichello, Rosberg and Mark Webber battle.

Belgian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

Belgian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

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36 comments on Raikkonen and Fisichella are F1’s best starters (Belgian Grand Prix analysis)

  1. Wesley said on 31st August 2009, 16:12

    Whoa!Badoer isn’t even close to the pace,is he?What…1m40secs from the front runner?That is dreadfully bad.The two rookies make him look like he has never driven an F1 car,when actually it is the other way around.

    Snazzy charts Keith….you work too hard.Thanks.

    • f1 is so boring that while watching it i subconsciosly started cut my own arm of to distract myself from the pain of watching it. i am seriously worried about the future of the human race if this is what people enjoy to watch, it seems that we have actually stepped back in evolution. you people with your fancy websites are clogging up the internet and leaving no room for important things like dwarf tossing and chess. i am fed up with the lot of you.

  2. SonyJunkie said on 31st August 2009, 16:14

    Great analysis as usual Keith. Do you think Badoer’s age and lack of race fitness is the cause of the huge gap at the end of the race?

    p.s. I think you forgot tho close the H2 tag!! ;)

  3. Ruudje said on 31st August 2009, 17:05

    nice stats, offcourse it is easier overtaking at the start when you start in the back. By comparing gained positions the polesitter is unable to make a good start.

    I also would like to see a laptime analysis as I suspect kimi drove a fantastic race in the 3rd? fastest car.

    • MacademiaNut said on 31st August 2009, 17:14

      Unless you are Kimi – then you can take really wide turns off the track to gain KERS advantage. :)

  4. I’m pretty sure Webber gained 4 positions on the 1st lap, not 3 – as in the graph.

    He went from 9th to 5th.

  5. I don’ know how you find the time to do all this excellent stuff. Well done.
    Looking at Rubens problems, does anyone know how the autostart works? Do drivers have any control over clutch take-up or is it all in the software?

    • Nitpicker said on 1st September 2009, 14:09

      Richard Hammond didn’t think much of it either.

      I read somewhere that it is Barri’s start technique which can tempt the anti-stall to kick in. This makes sense when Button doesn’t have problems with the same car. You’d think Barri would have solved this niggle by now, maybe the situation is more complicated.

  6. The fight for the lead wasn’t a “battle” because Force India wasn’t fighting. A lap of extra fuel at the first stop would have won the race for them. It defies comprehension how they continued to fuel Fisi when it was clear he would not get out ahead of Raikkonen. Ferrari benefited this time by competing with strategy amateurs—or a team too awestruck by competing with red cars that they couldn’t miss a chance to genuflect as Raikkonen went by on the pit limiter. If you look at how Fisi caught up in the second stint you can see Fisichella would have buried Kimi Raikonnen if he had logic working on his pit wall. Maybe Peter Windsor’s crass meme that Fisichella was letting Raikkonnen win to secure his Monza seat is worth another look.

    • In retrospect, there was a simpler way Force India could have won the race – they could simply have called Giancarlo in at the end of qualifying instead of letting him complete the lap (once it was clear that nobody else was going to beat it). It would have been pretty tight in terms of timing, but had it been done the lap of fuel would have been there waiting without need to lose time putting it in during the race. It was completely understandable that the opportunity was missed in the excitement of seizing pole – but opportunities come but rarely in F1…

  7. sato113 said on 31st August 2009, 18:45

    I think Fisi could have opened up a bigger gap on Kimi before the restart. when they crossed the line to resume racing, kimi was closer than I expected.

  8. Look at how inconsistent Badoer’s lap times are! With Raikkonen, you can see which laps he must have had a mistake. With Badoer he is all over the place.

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 31st August 2009, 19:32

      That’s the first thing I noticed in that graph as well.
      It’s one thing to be that far off the pace, it’s even worse to be so inconsistent.
      How can he say he’s got the hang of the car and is aiming for points at Monza when he can’t even string together any consistent laptimes??

  9. sumedh said on 31st August 2009, 19:03

    Great analysis,

    apart from Timo, I had a close look at Vettel as well. Between lap 4 (restart) and 9, he seems to have lost 12-15 seconds.

    But over the remainder of the race, probably he was the fastest of all. His middle stint is very neat.

    Also, Heikki’s 2nd and last stint is too horrible. If you looks closely, Heikki and Rosberg were closely matched at the start of the race, after the leaders made their 1st pitstops, both BMW dirvers slotted between them, resulting in Rosberg getting delayed a lot.

    Still, Rosberg’s right at Heikki’s tail after their first pit stops. Mclaren have been stressing Heikki over his race pace, and he is clearly not improving.

  10. ……. and Luca Badoer is the greatest driver of all time

  11. Grace Lovvorn said on 1st September 2009, 0:00

    Oh, Badoer. I’m not going to pick on him, but, needless to say, he seemed to be all over the place last weekend. Ah, well. We probably need to say our farewells to him. Bye bye, Bad Badoer. We will miss you so.

  12. Polak said on 1st September 2009, 1:02

    how much longer can Ferrari look like fools. Nothing against Luca but its pathetic for the red cars to finish first and last with no problems. Ferrari should have done something a long time ago.

    Congrats to Force India for taking the win straight up. No safety car teleportations.

  13. Patrickl said on 1st September 2009, 1:07

    Looking at the race history chart, I find it odd that Badoer again gets it all wrong during the last stint.

    Badoer follows Nakajima closely until his pit stop on lap 24. From there on he loses touch and seems completely lost. His lap times are a mess and he loses another 30 seconds on Raikkonen.

    Is it that he is unable to lap properly without an example right in front of him? I have driven on a track and I have to say that indeed it was a lot easier to drive behind the instructor rather than just trying to find your own lines.

    Last race the explanation was “Maybe it’s where he got lapped by a lot of cars”. I doubt that was the case this time (if even in the previous race) since he wasn’t lapped this race.

    BTW Badoer is on a one stop strategy so comparing his lap times with two-stopping Raikkonen is not really fair.

    • If I read that last sentence right you are defending Badoer? I reckon I’d be faster than him.

      Ferrari need someone else in that car, be it Fisi (although as mentioned elsewhere on the site he’d probably be better off in a Force india…), Bourdais, Davidson, even Coulthard or Sato would do a better job. Badoer was and is a hack. Unlike some of the other full time test drivers rarely if ever has he topped a test session over the winter break, so he is just plain slow.

      • patrickl said on 1st September 2009, 10:48

        Well I’m not really defending Badoer, but you have to admit that comparing 1 stop strategy laptimes with 2 stop strategy laptimes is not entirely fair.

        Actually, what I’m basically saying in the first bit is that I feel that Badoer is an amateur who can only drive properly when tagging along behind a more professional driver.

        The second he gets into clean air he breaks down and drives completely erratic. Just like in the previous GP.

        Maybe he’s tired after 24 laps, but I doubt that’s the problem.

  14. Peter said on 1st September 2009, 4:28

    Badoer – first stint heavier fueled than RAI,
    pretty consistently slow lap times.

    Final laps prior to stop, 2s a lap slow than
    RAI’s final laps prior to his stop.

    Conclusion: fuel adjusted BAD is 2s slower than RAI

    Second stint:
    Badoers times all over the place. 1 second
    variability
    3 seconds off RAI in closing laps (being
    charitable)
    He was getting _very_ tired

  15. al_amana said on 1st September 2009, 5:24

    No time for a small tribute to Frank Gardner, Keith?

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