Vettel’s 14 points behind but should be leading the title race by 59

2010 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel should be going into this weekend’s Korean Grand Prix on the verge of clinching the world championship.

Instead a combination of unreliability and a few disastrous mistakes at the wheel mean he’s trailing championship leader Mark Webber with three races to go.

And with this year’s championship so finely poised any further mistakes by driver or team in the final race could carry a high price.

The ‘what if’ world championship

The points table below was created using race finishing orders that were altered to remove drivers’ mistakes or car failures.

For each race a new finishing order was created based on the original results but with drivers being credited for places or finishes lost due to mistakes or car failures.

For example, the finishing order for Bahrain became Vettel-Alonso-Massa-Hamilton, ‘editing out’ the exhaust failure that dropped Vettel from first to fourth in the real race.

Think of it like one of those science fiction programmes where the characters visit a parallel dimension. In this case one where racing drivers don’t crash and their cars don’t break down. Here’s how the championship might look:

Position Driver Hypothetical points Actual position and points
1 Sebastian Vettel 297 2nd, 206 points
2 Lewis Hamilton 238 4th, 192 points
3 Mark Webber 231 1st, 220 points
4 Fernando Alonso 227 2nd, 206 points
5 Jenson Button 175 5th, 189 points

In some instances it’s difficult to predict a likely scenario for what might have happened. For example, Alonso’s failure to participate in qualifying in Monaco after his crash in final practice.

In those instances I’ve erred on the conservative side. See this Excel file for a complete list of the results used.

Where they lost their points

Using the same data as above we can work out how many points each driver lost – and how.

Car failure Driver error Other
Mark Webber 2 16 14
Sebastian Vettel 48 43 9
Fernando Alonso 4 34 21
Lewis Hamilton 35 12 17
Jenson Button 4 0 12

Vettel has had the worst of both worlds. Car failures in the first two races alone cost him 35 points and two wins.

But he has made some high-profile mistakes as well: the crash with Webber in Istanbul, for example (but remember that just 24 hours earlier anti-roll bar failure in qualifying saw him start third instead of a likely first). Another tangle with Jenson Button at Spa cost him a podium finish.

The other driver who has been hit hard by unreliability is Lewis Hamilton: most recently with his gearbox problem in Suzuka, but also with no-scores in Spain and Hungary.

Alonso is in fine form at the moment, but mistakes earlier in the season at Shanghai, Monaco, Silverstone and Spa have taken a toll.

Webber and Button may not always have got the maximum performance from their cars but they are dependable points-scorers who have generally enjoyed much better reliability than their team mates have.

Racing incidents and plain bad luck are accounted for under the ‘Other’ column: whether it’s getting stuck behind the safety car (Alonso, Valencia) or coming off worse while racing a rival (Button, Spa).

Classifying one collision as ‘driver error’ and another as a ‘racing incident’ is obviously highly subjective.

Again, I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible and erred on the conservative side – for example giving Alonso and Hamilton the benefit of the doubt over their collisions at Melbourne and Singapore respectively. You can examine the raw data here and if you disagree with any of the classifications please explain why in the comments.

The final races

Heading into the final three races of the year any further problems for the championship front runners are likely to be seen as ‘the moment the title was lost’.

The more mundane truth is that championships are won or lost over a whole season’s racing. Retiring from the lead of a race is no less costly in April than it is in October.

Vettel may have lost points through misfortune and mistakes but he’s taken 14 points off Webber in the last three races. If he does the same over the final three we could have a very interesting championship table at the end of the year.

Work out the championship standings over the remaining races using the F1 Fanatic championship calculator

177 comments on “Vettel’s 14 points behind but should be leading the title race by 59”

  1. Raymond Umbara
    19th October 2010, 9:20

    Can’t seem to download your Excel file Keith. Is there a technical issue or is it just me?

    1. Just checked it and it downloads fine for me.

      1. It does work for me, i just downloaded them.

  2. Leave technical failure asides, I don’t think Vettel is mature enough to win the title. He’s quick and only quick when leading from the front. I can’t recall any brilliant overtaking manoeuvres by him really. Webber is showing much more to be a champion. He looks a bit more like a champion now. He needs to do what Alonso does. Give people impression that he’s the number one driver.

    1. Leaving all personal feeling about Vettel aside, if his car had been as reliable as Webbers, the Championship would be so much different.. 255 for Vettel if my Maths is right.
      And i completely agree with you about Webber. Its about time his luck turned around and coupled with a fast car he is truly showing his potential as a driver. Pity it couldn’t happen earlier in his career though.

      1. But they’re getting the same car (Silverstone aside) so why would Vettel have more failures than Webber.
        The sample size really isn’t large enough to draw any major conclusions, but the major variable is the driver – so one could say that Vettel is harder on the car than Webber.
        Looking at the way he bounces the RB6 over the kerbs I don’t think that it’s stretching too much to make the assumption that the driver at least played a part…

      2. ah, but sometimes it’s the time spent in low places that sharpens a person. The maturity gained by having to really struggle might be playing a big part in what he’s reached now.

        1. Could definately go someway to explain Webber’s dogfighting skills over Vettels

  3. Eh, 297 – 238 = 59, not 61.

    1. Fixed, thanks!

  4. Fascinating data but you don’t mention the 10 points Webber lost at Turkey.

    1. Sorry that was omitted from the second table, added it in now.

    2. DeadManWoking
      19th October 2010, 9:29

      He only lost 3, he would have been 2nd instead of 3rd if he and Vettel had not crashed.

      1. But Webber was the man in front before the accident. Getting your nose slightly ahead, then sideswiping the other driver doesn’t constitute an overtake in my book. Webber 1st, Vettel 2nd.

        1. Without the sudden right turn of Vettel (who was over half a car length ahead, not a nose) he would have overtaken Webber.

    3. Yes, I can’t open the Excel file, but it seems to me he was leading in Turkey when Vettel ran into him. So that goes in the ‘other’ column. He eventually finished 3rd, which is worth 15 points, when he should have had 25 based on your rationale. So KateDerby is correct, he needs another 10, and presumably some correction to the others in Turkey too.

      1. DeadManWoking
        19th October 2010, 9:36

        Vettel was 3/4 past and would have taken the lead if they had not crashed.

      2. For the purposes of the analysis above I assumed Vettel didn’t have his car failure during qualifying and took pole position.

        But even with the failure he should have finished second at minimum.

        Therefore I’ve deducted seven points for the mechanical failure and 18 for the driving error.

        1. Wasn’t Vettel on for 2nd in Spain until his brakes failed?

          1. No he’d already fallen behind Hamilton at the first round of pit stops.

            His brake problem dropped him behind Alonso, then he moved back up to third when Hamilton retired.

            Spanish Grand Prix analysis

          2. Oh, I see what you mean now – yes, you’re right. Have added it to the list.

  5. well i didn’t bother go through the details, but out of the 5, Jenson looks to be the most consistent and makes the least mistakes, and vettel seems to be the most inconsistent and the one that makes all the mistakes he can… but it’s hypothetical and to be honest, i’m even more confused now… i keep thinking what if in terms of what till happen in the coming races, now you got me thinking what would have happened int he other… too confusing…

  6. I came up with one that went like this:

    Vettel 290
    Hamilton 228
    Webber 222
    Alonso 192
    Button 185

    I don’t have Excel so I can’t see where we differed, but I never counted Monaco (Alonso’s crash), Silverstone (Vettel’s puncture) or Valencia (Alonso caught behind the SC) because I deemed them too complicated to accurately work out the “true” result. Vettel might have come 3rd in Silverstone, or he might have won; I don’t know (though I guess I should at least give him 3rd). Also, I gave Hamilton 3rd in Singapore but not in Monza, although he could very well have got a podium there too. There’s a lot of room for interpretation (though you’ve probably made a better educated guess than I).

    Is the SC “luck” anyway, or a part of racing – in which case, aren’t retirements and incidents also? Why is it okay to have the best car to give you wins, but not okay if that car can’t last the distance? This is no stab at your choice of title Keith, I just don’t really deal in “should” when it comes to F1. I preferred it when you said “what if” to describe the situation.

    By the way, shouldn’t it be (297-238=)59 points ahead?

    1. Whoops, it’s already fixed.

      What might be interesting is to have a corresponding table showing how many points drivers have gained through their rivals’ misfortunes. I suspect Webber and Hamilton would be the biggest beneficiaries.

      1. What did you do for Hamiltons Australia result? I feel he was on for at least third, or a possible second.

        1. Fifth. I haven’t assumed a driver would have overtaken a rival in any of these situations.

          1. To be Honest it looks like Hamilton is gonna be the only driver to actually try to overtake a rival. Button just refuses to have a go while Alonso, Vettel & Webber qualify so well they more often than not don’t to try.

          2. Webber has made a heap of overtakes this year. Vettel has tried a couple that didn’t come off.

          3. Most of Webber’s overtakes are required due to falling behind slower cars with his trademark abysmal starts.

        2. I think I gave him 4th. Without Webber hitting him, Hamilton would have been odds-on to pass Alonso.

  7. Interesting thought exercise, these what-if scenarios. Thumbs up! This one shows that Vettel and Hamilton suffered way more from unreliability than others.

    It would be interesting, too, if not more plausible, to just look at mechanical failures for an alternate WDC, leaving driver errors as they are.

    There is a thin line, of course, because some mechanical failures could be down to a hard/harsh driving style.

  8. Great article. And thats why i like Vettel. He does human errors but the greatest winners always drive in the limit.
    Even he has done mistakes if his car was reliable he would still be leading with margin.

    1. Maybe so, but hes a driver that can only win when he’s in the best car. Look at Alonso or Hamilton, they’ve been known to win in cars that weren’t necessarily the best due to their skills at fighting it out

      1. No. Vettel ended 2nd in the WDC last year and beat Rubens in what was clearly the best car the first half of the season. You just haven’t seen him fight realistically for the WDC in a car that is not the best or too far behind to win. Last year their car became fast enough but the unreliable Renualt engine ruined their chances of winning and this year the car is the best but he has been unlucky and stupid. Give him some time. This is his first season in real contention for the title. And so is it Webbers, but Alonso and Hamilton have had several.

        1. I dunno. I’d say that the red bull was quicker than the brawn for more than half the year last year, though admittedly reliability problems did let them down (though I don’t think that was down to the engine – renault themselves had far fewer problems).

          What I really meant was that Vettel’s ridiculously quick when he’s by himself, but he’s not very good at attacking or defending other people. On top of that he tends to let his frustrations get the better of him when he can’t get by. So in reality he has to be out there by himself to win, which means he needs to qualify at the front, which means he (usually) needs the best car (or something to happen in quali).

  9. This calculations just shows who has ball = prone to mistakes and those who don’t have = Smooth driving uninteresting and snoozing.

    1. Except that that doesn’t work out. Being aggressive doesn’t equal being prone to making mistakes and being conservative doesn’t make you immune from them. Hamilton has the second lowest points lost through error, but I would argue that he’s the most aggressive driver on the grid (maybe barring Alonso). Conversely, I wouldn’t describe Vettel as aggressive, yet he’s made the most mistakes, by far.

  10. Very Interesting. Obviously Vettel has the highest ground this year due to his talent and the fastest car, but also he couldn’t manage points well. even if you took poll as many as possible, you’re not elegible to be called champion if you couldn’t finish well.

    I think reliability issue is disappearing at the final stage of the season(though Hamilton suffered from gearbox at Suzuka) but there’s still room for mistake or crash. Vettel and Alonso have reduced their mistake recently but who knows? It’s so tight and except 2 Red bulls no one has reasonable advantage on the championship. even Red bulls have to fight each other for the title. May be we could see another Turkish cannibalism soon!

    They should be very aggressive or depensive(when he is P1), and it means there would be many crash and mistake or penalty too. So you must be aggressive but not much as got penalty or crash. It’s very complicated situation. I think Vettel and Hamilton and Alonso would be very aggressive and Button too even though it’s not his style but he has nothing to lose. choice of Webber should be very interesting.

    and definitely Alonso is unluckiest guy on the ground! may be Webber take his luck lol

  11. Fascinating that Jenson actually comes out worse in this hypothetical scenario (OK he’s still 5th, but very distantly and with fewer points).

    All we need is for JB to get pole and take the win in Korea with Webber having a car failure, and Button could win the title thanks to others’ misfortune :D

    1. I found it pretty hilarious that Jenson actually has lesser hypothetical than actual points. It just goes to show that despite putting in 110%, and having a lot of good fortune, Jenson is at best #5 in the championship. Kind of feel sorry for him, as I cannot see him performing any better in the future. There is no way he is gonna win another WDC, I could bet everything I own on it.

      1. Indeed, leaving Mercedes was a mistake after all, there he’d have a car designed for him and the chance to really make a crack at it. Here? Not so much.

        1. I really do not think that the Mclaren is designed completely around Lewis’ driving style. Over the season we have seen that it can play to the strengths of both the drivers.
          Even if Jenson stayed at Mercedes and got a little more personal attention to designing a car around him, he wouldn’t be able to match Rosberg. I feel it boils down to raw talent at the end of the day, and Jenson just doesn’t have the skill that the top 3-4 drivers on the grid do.

          1. Rubbish,Jensen is certainly as talented as Mark Webber and he would be a match for Rosberg any day of the week.

          2. Trash, its completely wrong! Webber is great driver. You forgot Monaco?

  12. I usually don’t like the ‘what if’ game. After 2008 I decided to leave that thinking behind because it just drove me crazy! :P However, this is fascinating.

    If Webber seems to be cashing in what luck owes him this year then Lewis is being visited by the debt collector. I don’t think it was until A. Dhabi last year that he had a retirement with his Mclaren due to a car issue so it’s about time he got some failures as harsh as that is. He has had some good luck (been in the right place when things have gone wrong really as I don’t like luck much) such as Bahrain and Turkey.

    Vettel does have these reliability gremlins a lot but I think there’s a whole lot less sympathy for him because of things that have happened on track and this image of Horner always cuddling him. It’s not really fair as if it wasn’t for his failures it’s clear he’d be giving Mark a headache but it’s really damaged his image.

    Fernando seems fairly lucky too. He had Bahrain, that race in Germany and Spain all came together for him but he’s chucked away many a point too. Although he hasn’t actually had as many failures so is still getting the points he does still have a reliability headache. While people have a DNF and then move on he’s constantly managing his engines and had that scare at Singapore. It all just shows how bonkers this year is.

    Button has to have had the most daft DNF this year though at Monaco. I really feel for the guy who left that blanket it. I wonder if he’s still alive…

    1. I noticed something after reading your comment, Steph. I said Alonso is the unluckiest guy but after reconsidering your opinion he has had fair luck too. He has been pretty bad luck sometimes but also fairly lucky other times.

      I thought the idea based on the table of the article, but it doesn’t contain getting points due to luck but losing points due to luck. I think that is why.

      1. Yeah, Alonso’s actually been very lucky at times this year. Safety cars in Melbourne, Shanghai and Monaco gave him a get out of jail free card, and then he benefited from others’ attrition in Bahrain and Spain.

        1. Remember when Alonso said he could still win the championship after his lacklustre weekend at Silverstone, anyone? I do – and I also remember how mad a lot of people (including myself) thought he was to have such an optimistic outlook, especially considering the incredible pace Red Bull was dominating with.

          So with a bit of luck, Steph, and a huge amount of consistency, (barring Belgium)he has quietly fought his way back in to this and now I think a lot of people are considering him the favourite.

          The Ferrari is so unpredictable as to where it performs and where it doesn’t, so with 3 races to go, all of which don’t seem to suit the Red Bulls more so than they do for the Ferraris, I think he who bets on the outcome is a very brave man. Who knows, there could be more unreliability awaiting certain drivers.

          I am not sure about everyone else, but I will be fingernail-less come season’s end if the championship continues as it is! :P

  13. what’s up with alonso’s summer?
    in montreal, he lost 2 positons when he was lapping the backmakers. (unlucky)
    in valencia, he got cheated, i don’t have any other word for it. he had a solid position, didn’t make ANY mistake, and still he lost a lot of position, hamilton got a penalty, he didn’t lose ANY points
    2 weeks alter in silverstone, alonso got a penalty, he lost like 10+ positions for the same penalty. and he made a questionable overtake, which didn’t hurt anybody, cos kubica retired, and when a few laps later he wanted to give the position back, kubica wasn’t around to collect. Q fail in melbourne, malaysia engine, he would have muck more points if he’s clutch would have worked, he didn’t los eonly 2 points. monaco who know what would have been. if he had rain in spa (again, just luck), he would have had a podium for sure, maybe even better. chine mistake (jump start)
    and there is maybe even more. and i’m sure others have a lot more like this.

    reliability is just another important factor of a car. Like downforce or engine power. so what if the RB would have been more reliable, and than have less downforce, i know the two things doesn’t have anything to do with each other, but if you talking what ifs..
    it’s pointless, what if red bull woudn’t have te half a sec advantage for some reason in Q3…
    whatever, i’m still hoping for alonso 3rd WDC

  14. This interesting championship is another ‘what if’. This is ‘what if they finished where they started’ championship.

    Vettel – 319
    Webber – 281
    Alonso – 195
    Hamilton – 180
    Button – 130

    It shows a few things. Most noticeably.

    1. Vettel’s not capitalised on his starting positions.
    2. Red Bull should be absolutely miles ahead in the WCC.
    3. Qualifying really doesn’t decide the race as much as most people seem to think.

    1. Qualifying really doesn’t decide the race as much as most people seem to think.

      Really gives the lie to the “we should have reversed grids” nonsense, doesn’t it?

    2. Apart from Webber and Vettel the others are in the same order, that suggests to me that qualifying does make a significant difference.

      1. Except that they are far closer than they would be if they finished where they started. The gap is 31 points, not 189.

  15. This article should ratle the cage of Webber’s fans. I am curious to read their reaction because it kind of shows who is the better driver when it comes to pace alone. True, Vettle is more prone to errors and is strangely emotional when you consider that he is German, but these are fixable things: Being blindly fast, on the other hand, is not something you can really learn – it comes with the genes I guess. It reminds my of Prost and Senna, and it is telling that among all the current F1 drivers, only Webber thinks Prost was the best of that duo. History tends to give a very black and white perspective on things: Of that old Mclaren pair, one is remembered by many as the best driver ever to grace F1 while the other one is all but forgotten (which is unjust, given the excellent driver he was). I wonder how people will remember Webber 10 years from now.

    1. trulli dead09
      19th October 2010, 11:31

      But remember something Alonso said in 2005 after Raikkonen’s hydraulics failure at Hockenheim: “To win, you must first finish.” So as much skill as Vettel has, if he is making mistakes every grand prix and crashing then he’s not really making the most of the great oppurtunity he has. Mark, on the other hand, is experienced enough to know when to settle for a finish, and as a consequence is leading the championship. :D

      1. It’s not just driver error though, is it? Vettel’s lost 40-odd more points to car failures than Webber has.

        1. trulli dead09
          19th October 2010, 11:38

          Yea but still, think of all the bad luck that Mark has had to him over the years: Retiring from his home GP in the lead, retiring from Monaco in a top 3 position, and….being run off the road during a safety car period in 2nd place by none other than Mr Sebastian Vettel.

          1. Retiring from his home GP in the lead

            Was it because he was on the verge of a win? Or was it clearly because the cars in front of him pitted?

        2. True, but you can flip that around and say even with the car failures he should be leading. It depends how a person wants to look at that, and that is probably going to be influenced by their feelings towards the driver in question.

          To be honest, my view has always been “There is no What IF world championship”. Speculation is interesting, but at the end of the day the points table is what it is.

    2. I think you just severley underrated Prost in the most ridiculous fashion.

      In 1988, Senna won due to the 11 best finishes rule, in 89 Prost beat him on reliability. They where intensley well matched. Senna was sensational but Prost could match him most days.

      1. I agree with Scribe. Those two were so close but just had two very different approaches. Plus Karun (although not technically on the grid anymore) also worships Prost I believe.

        If Webber wins the title he’ll be remembered for the rest of F1’s history.

      2. Didn’t I say that I find it unjust? But the fact is: Prost is almost forgotten while Senna always come up on top when a “who-is-the-best-driver-ever” polll comes up. And the funny thing is: You know that too, because in my original message I did not name who I was describing…

        1. Because people knew which one you were talking about as “best-driver-ever” means the other driver is all but forgotten? How does that make any sense?

          1. Yeah, but did I say that Senna was the best-ever and Prost was the forgotten one in the original post? No I didn’t. People could have understood it the other way around: but nobody did – that already says something.

    3. Prost is all but forgotten? Hardly.

      The only thing that table says to me is that outright speed isn’t everything.

      1. Indeed… look very very hard at my avatar!

    4. Oh, is Prost forgotten? Sorry, I forgot to forget him.

      1. If Senna was alive he’d be saying the same as Prost about MSC.

        Sorry, but only a (explicative deleted) would forget Prost or even Webber in F1 history. By the way, Senna had not scored a single point in the Williams prior to his death. MSC and Benneton were eating his lunch.

        http://www.f1reports.com/f1/article/7996/

        1. That is unfair, I watched those 3 races and I remember Senna and MSC were very evenly matched.

          Senna did not expect anyone to be so fast and lost his composture a bit. He would have regained it in a few races and we would have seen a different season. Unfortunately we were denied a great contest between MSC and Senna.

          You have to realize also that Senna was inherently driving a fast but unstable car.

          1. Didn’t Schumacher even say that he only won that title because of Senna’s Death?

          2. “Didn’t Schumacher even say that he only won that title because of Senna’s Death?”

            Never heard that before. And I very much doubt that MSC would ever say that. Unless I’m proved wrong, of course.

      2. Ok perhaps I laid it a bit thick on the “all but forgotten” phrase, but you’d maybe agree that he is spoken about much less than Senna is. In fact, drivers like Gilles Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen, Nigel Mansel many others (that, although also very talented accomplished much less than Prost did) get much more coverage. You see, I did not mean to disrespect the guy. I’m just saying that for a man who won 4 WCs and 51 races, he does not appear in the magazines/specials/post etc much. And why is that? In my opnion it is because, although he was very efficient, his approach to racing was absurdly boring – that is all I meant to say, along with the fact that I think Webber is the same kind of driver (minus a whole lot of accomplishment).

        1. I was there in the Suzuka 1990 and I didn’t find Ayrton Senna’s approach entertaining or amusing. We were deprived of a fair fight for the WDC title, and I always thought that he shouldn’t have got away with it. We have seen that -the deliberate ramming of a rival- a few more times since then, but never so deliberately and broadcasted in advance (you could give Michael Schumacher the benefit of the doubt for his move on Damon Hill on 1994).

          Ayrton Senna was no doubt a terrific driver, but he had too much of a reckless streak for his own good, And, arguably, it got him killed.

          1. Perhaps you were there in Suzuka in 1989 too, when Prost deliberatly threw his car on Senna’s to win that Championship? Because 1990 was payback time. And Senna did not need Jean Marie Ballestre to make his move stick as Prost did the year before. 1994 was so blattant that only a blind fan would give MS the benefit of the doubt – and even among those that did, the smart ones got their doubts put to rest after Jerez 1997. About Senna’s accident, you must be kidding when you try to imply that it was down to recklessness – The Tamburelo was done flat out by everybody, every single time. Blaming Senna for that accident is just a sick thing to do.

          2. BeyondThePale
            21st October 2010, 13:40

            Oh well, that again. Maybe the longest discussion in F1 ever.
            I wasn’t in Suzuka in ’89, but I’ve seen it plenty of times. It was nothing quite so deliberate. Ayrton Senna was on his way to overtake Alain Prost on the chicane but AP moved into his way to block. AS refused to yield and they collided. What Ayrton Senna did afterwards was awesome, getting again into the track, changing his nose and overtaking Nannini for the lead. It was totally unfair that he got a DSQ for cutting the chicane after the crash, he should have got a minor penalty at most (and should have won the 89 WDC of course). But all this is no excuse for the ’90 move.

            I agree that MSC looks guilty as hell for the ’94 and ’97 incidents but again we can’t be 100% sure, and anyway it was not premeditated and pre-broadcasted.

            Tamburello is certainly a flat-out turn in usual conditions but all the drivers had cold tyres after a ridiculously slow SC so it was unsafe then. The official veredict was steering column failure but it took 13 years and it was not really convincing.

            Don’t get me wrong. Senna was the best out there and I was awfully sorry that he died. But still I can accept the ’90 thing.

        2. So they were more exciting, that certainly doesn’t make them better! I don’t understand why you seem to think that ability is rated by the number for fans you have!

          1. It must be something in my English…. The gist of my message was: Boring racers, even the exceptionally good ones, are remembered less than lesser drivers with more exciting stiles. That is it – read my post and you’ll see it. If you think about it a bit, it is quite an obvious conclusion: For most people, entertainment and excitement come hand in hand.

  16. This is great stuff! I think it shows the two calm heads, and the three more hot headed drivers. It really shows the differences between the drivers really well.

    Mark Webber and Jenson Button are more reliable, and the other three are more gutsy drivers that take risks that don’t always pay off. I think this is a great balance to have in the 5 championship contenders.

    I think if Button had a stronger car we could see him up there at the top with Webber.

    I’m loving all these statistics and what ifs Keith!

    1. Imagine a grid of Buttons and Webbers… no insomnia in the world no more. I agree with you that, if Mclaren’s car was as good as that of Red Bull, Button would be right up there with Webber. The problem is that in a case like that Lewis would probably be already the champion by now.

      1. Harsh – Button is a proven overtaker – he may manage his machine, but he has nailed the best when needed.

        Mark is fast and smart. Vettel is faster but dumb – this year…

        Salty.

  17. It shows that if you give Vettel the fastest car, a track and no one in his way he can get his way round it the fastest. But put him in a fight he’ll make a fool of himself, and put him under pressure and he won’t look after his car. I can’t imagine all of the RB6’s retirements have been completely out of his hands in this respect.

    1. LOL that is so funny!!

      1. completely agreed, you forgot the part when something goes wrong for alonso, he will never blame himself, but only ever blame other people on track or the FIA

        1. I dunno. Alonso is more of a complete package as opposed to Vettel’s unpredictable performance. As for the blaming the FIA thing you’re right for the most part, but I suppose the guys just competitive and never really ‘surrenders’ in that sense.

  18. funny how button is the only one who has more actual points than hypothetical. benefit from other drivers mistakes much?

    1. Well he certainly wouldn’t have had the Albert Park win in the hypothetical championship.

  19. I think the double-sided season of Fernando (Melbourne-Silverstone, Hockenheim-Now) puts really into perspective his 2 WDCs, and kinkda confirm my thinking about them.
    In the first part of the season, with a car putting him in a weak position pace-wise, he had to take more risk and he and the team made a lot of errors. He really would have ruined his season if the What Ifs about Vettel and Lewis were reality. Now, with Ferrari closing/reducing the gap, it just seems the Old Renault Fernando, a very fast driver who won his 2 WDCs as an accountant. Making the most out of his speed and a very reliable car that got him in front of the standings, but also the catch-up pressure the others couldn’t stand.

  20. 3 Mark Webber 231 1st, 220 points

    The fact that there is only 11 points separating Webber’s hypothetical standings from his actual standings highlights how consistent he has been. The only mistake he really made all year was in Valencia.

    Button has been very consistent too, as he is yet to retire due to driver error this year!

  21. This is an interesting though exercise but it’s all very subjective. For instance, the prediction of where Button would have finished in Monaco. And some of the qualifying performances of individuals have been down to specific mistakes or holdups during flying laps, so it’s hard to work out how much you take into account when you consider removing driver error from the equation. Taking the actual grid positions as a starting point is fine, but those grid positions themselves tell their own story in terms of mistakes and factors often outside of the driver’s control.

    What I think this does show is that the ability to consistently finish races in the points without making major mistakes is at least as important a skill as being able to pull out amazing hotlaps in F1 these days.

  22. All the math aside, the best driver is leading the WC. Webber had his black minutes in the season, but he drove fast, wise and calculated all season long. Vettel and Hamilton didn’t. Only Kubica did a “perfect” mistake-free season and Jenson is very close to do just that. Hope the Aussie will get the title he deserves…more then anyone else.

    1. The reason why Kubica did a new perfect season because of no pressure of being in champioship contention. A driver can drive freely to the limit or sometimes over the limit . I am not saying that he is not driving prefectly, he is driving stupendously but he owes a part of this to not being a title contender. This shows his real natural talent which Lewis showed us in 2007 ( he dint have any pressure).
      We should be able to see a real Kubica once he is in thick of things.

      PS : I like Kubica and not hate him:)

    2. …All the math aside, the best driver is leading the WC..

      corection the best car is leading the WC

  23. While speculation and anticipation are fun and exciting maybe this article should have been titled ‘I don’t think Webber deserves to be WDC”. I love to hear and share opinions, but this is a joke. Mansell/Rosberg, Prost/Senna, Alonso/Hamilton all team mates like Vettel/Webber and of different styles and approaches. I suggest obtaining a copy of Days Of Thunder (Tom Cruise) it shows there’s more to driving a car than just being fast…..

    1. maybe this article should have been titled ‘I don’t think Webber deserves to be WDC”

      If I thought that then maybe I would have put that as the headline. But I don’t.

      I suggest obtaining a copy of Days Of Thunder (Tom Cruise) it shows there’s more to driving a car than just being fast.

      I’ve seen it once and once is enough. It’s not as bad as “Talladega Nights” but it’s still woeful. And as you point out as films go it fails the Tom Cruise Test.

      1. It’s not as bad as “Talladega Nights” but it’s still woeful.

        The difference is that Talladega Nights is meant to be a joke. Days Of Thunder just turned out to be a joke.

  24. Bloody ******* brilliant bit of analysis Keith!

    I’m glad you gave up you MI-6 career to write these articles. Brilliant!

  25. Sorry, but what a waste of time this article is. The what if’s, coulda beens and shoulda beens can apply to every year and in fact every race. If you’ve going to look at history in such a way, you should be looking at qualifying in the same way, etc etc.
    Sorry I just don’t see the point.

    1. Sorry I just don’t see the point.

      Championships are won by drivers and teams getting things right as much as they are lost by drivers and teams getting things wrong. This article looks at the latter.

      If you’ve going to look at history in such a way, you should be looking at qualifying in the same way

      I have included qualifying.

    2. OK, it’s absurd and highly subjective, but still it teaches us lots about the weaknesses and strenghts ot the teams and drivers.

      And its good fun!, I bet there’s going to be a good deal of comments and debate. Which is the whole point of it!

    3. I see your point of view. But I am one of those guys who have been thinking if my favorite driver would have been leading if not of unfortunate errors or car failures. And this article is just perfect analysis i was looking for.

      Defenitely for me it was a wonderful article where I did not have to do the hard work of calculation. Thanks Keith!

  26. Keith I was just pointing out the facts, there’s more to driving a car, than just going fast. Vettel could be leading the championship, so could Hamilton, so could Alonso or Button. Webber despite his own mistakes, is leading the title chase due to consistency and using the car to its best ability. Besides you’d get shot down in flames if you ever said that :P

    1. “I was just pointing out the facts, there’s more to driving a car, than just going fast”

      Don’t want to interupt but I think this article shows exactly that. All of these other factors such as crashes, qualifying blunders and car issues are all having an influence on the title.

      1. I’m not disagreeing with you Steph.

        Vettel is untouched in the number of poles won this season. Point is, you are qualifying and you have to go fast… that’s what all drivers try to do to advance on the pole.

        To say that Webber or Alonso could have done better with the same amount of #1 pole positions is plausible because their ratio of poles to wins is better than Vettles.

        However, that is no guarantee of a win is it? The harder you push the car the more chances you take.

        I really don’t want to see F1 become a game of consistency where a constant 2nd or third place winner wins over a driver that has more race wins. Yes Webber has the + in wins… so does Fred, but Vettel took some chances… I like that.

        You reckon that Newey will design the RB 2011 around Vettel or Webber?

        I think he will look at pole and FL times… speed really does mean a lot in F1.

        This I think is Webbers last chance at a WDC and he has a pack hungry wolves breathing down his back. I think he’s up to the pressure, but…

        Nothing would surprise me this season. Not even a Vettel WDC.

        1. **** another typo!

    2. Webber despite his own mistakes, is leading the title chase due to consistency and using the car to its best ability.

      But it’s equally likely that were Webber’s car as unreliable as Vettel’s he wouldn’t be leading the championship.

  27. As the great Murray once (or twice) said: IF is F1 backwards.

    Person with most points gets the bottle of Champers. End of.

    1. No-one’s disputing that.

  28. I don’t agree with this at all. Some drivers drive at 101% of what is a safe speed, and that may increase the probability of car failure. It clearly also increases the potential of an accident. Some drive at 99% of that speed, with a miriad of variations in between.

    What this means in practice is that some car failures are caused by drivers and that many driver errors are also caused by pushing that tiny bit extra. Get the balance right and you win. You have to take risks.

    I don’t think you can really look at results in this way.

    1. I can be convinced by greater techical expertise, but, today, I really don’t think drivers can cause car failures—any more than I can cause my microwave to fail by being too rough with the buttons. This factor is not in play any more, and ended in the 90s, before which time things like shift-linkages and unlimited revs were the norm.

      More to the point, because the drivers are out of the reliability equation, it is imperative that you have a guy who can understand the car completely and then put it permanently on the 101% level, as you say, and once there, know to choose those few moments when only 100% is possible.

      1. Things have changed but surely the drivers can still be to rough on the car, like hitting the curbs too hard (or the guy in front…).

      2. So essentially you are saying that Redbull is trying to slow Mark Webber down by stuffing with his launch control sequence. Becuase IF you are correct and driver input cannot damage/ effect a car then this is the only possibility…

        Funny isn’t it that Vettel and Hamilton suffer greater from car failure than Webber nad Button…
        But using your analysis this can only possibly be due to the two more aggressive, less mechanically sympathetice drivers somehow also getting the less reliable car, quite the coincidence…

  29. Guys, instead of criticizing this article, think consructively.
    Atleast Keith has given us something to ponder in the days when there is no other story about F1. It gives us chance to read each other’s views and enjoy while doing our bit with new INVENTION that is F1 calc.

  30. Jenson Button must look at this table and weep. He is not getting the points the car is capable of, period.

    Serious question. Is he really giving it his all or is he too proud to risk dinging the car? Does he never go off because he is more skilled than Alonso or Hamilton, or are the .3s he gives up to Hamilton cupped preciously in his hands for safe keeping. If I’m Whitmarsh, I want the the speed. It’s easy to find people to make a couple extra wings and tie-rods, but next to impossible to find a guy who can get every tenth out of an F1 car.

  31. My point is that people who get that extra tenth tend to be the ones who slam it in a wall more often than those that don’t. As you state they are also the ones that bust up the wings & tie-rods. Easy to get someone to fix them, but the race is over once they bust. It is an incredibly fine balance.

    I maybe wrong but fast drivers seem to be have more accidents and car failures. Incredible drivers manage to stay just that side of the balancing act and preserve their cars more often whilst still being mighty quick.

    1. Agreed. And even incredible drivers can only stay on the line for so long trying to carry a sub-par car. See Alonso and Hamilton this year.

  32. I dont buy into these “what if” theories. Back in Bahrain I’m sure Alonso was lining up an attack on Vettel towards the end, saving fuel but meanwhile he was edging closer towards the end before Vettel’s failure.

    Several people recently have said “what if” Hamilton didnt pull out the moves which ended his race in Italy and Singapore, cut he’s loses and accepted 4th position. That assumes that he would have stayed in that position. Through driver error he could have spun and dropped back 3 places, for example.

    The true results table we can take is the one which is here and now after all of the race results. We currently have two drivers tied behind Mark Webber.

  33. Although it might look Jensen is worst of the top 5, I think it would have been quite different if McLaren was better.

    I still think Jensen is a very underated driver. I remember before the start of this season that Lewis would blow him away. But guess what Lewis is struggling to just beat him. With a weaker car Lewis is way better than Button, but with a stronger car I think Jensen would have had the better of Lewis. And I am actually a diehard Lewis fan.

    1. the ” lewis is struggling to just beat jenosn” comment made me laugh!! I think lewis is not even fighting Jenson on his mind. lewis goal is to beat the redbull. Why whould he mind beat Jenson if jenson is mostly behind him?

      1. Yes he is indeed struggling. In the wet or when it is time to manage his tires Lewis is doing not so good compared to Jensen.

        1. what? when was that? Do you mean china where lewis (4pits) finished a sec behind jenson (2 pits)? Or Australia when the team made him change tyres and “ruined” his race? I don’t recall lewis having problem to manage his tires. For me it was more than clear in canada that he can look after his tires but people still love to talk rubbish i guess.

  34. No offense, but that is quite biased and sounds almost vettel fanboy antics-ish.

    Drivers have drive according to the points. Webber didn’t go for as much in order to keep his points due to his elad. Vettel did the same in a singapore.

    And 2ndly, risk VS reward. Hamilton and vettel take massive risks and hence reapt massive rewards but then it can fly in their faces. You’ve just taken away the risks of mucking up or the destruction of their cars due to how hard and how muc kerb they are taking.

    Button is quite a bit further back, because it doesn’t take many physical risks playing the mind game. That doesn’t mean he needs alot of luck to win. Most drivers do, but he creates much of his own luck by note binning the car in free practice or going for the small chance overtake or pushing hard and risking it by chucking a front wheel out near massa. They are big risks, and your giving points to them for that, without remembering that they should also lose points for when it doesn’t go there way.

    Another factor is pit stops. In australia Red bull running 1-2. They pit vettel first and he blows his brakes. Webber pits and ends up in the middle of traffic and loses heaps of points then. Why isn’t that covered? He did that again in germany I think where he lost out to button because of it. THen again, in monaco, vettel was 3rd and if webber had only been 1st by a few seconds then they would have had to pit webber first to keep the lead and give him priority, but they did that for vettel to move him up when he otherwise shouldn’t have been able to. Webber lost time and was nearly caught by vettel due to the later stop. Why aren’t you counting that?

    In short, while it is interesting to see a ‘what if’, you are missing out heaps of info. So much it is probably too hard to compare hence we have a point system for it.

    Only real point is, to say vettel followed by hamilton are leading because they have taken the biggest risks and vettel has made massive mistakes due to those risks, is absurd.

    1. I don’t understand much of what you’ve written but I’ll try to reply as best I can.

      Webber didn’t go for as much in order to keep his points due to his elad. Vettel did the same in a singapore.

      I don’t agree. Webber qualified where he did because he wasn’t quick enough on Saturday, not because he wasn’t bothered about scoring points. His risky strategy on race day and several overtaking moves showed that.

      When you say “why isn’t that covered” regarding pit stops I’m not sure what you mean. Are you saying these are examples of strategy mistakes that should be included as errors?

      to say vettel followed by hamilton are leading because they have taken the biggest risks and vettel has made massive mistakes due to those risks, is absurd.

      I haven’t said that.

      1. At teh start of the article you said that it should be…

        1 Sebastian Vettel 297
        2 Lewis Hamilton 238

        My points are
        1) RISK/REWARD Vettel and hamilton both take big risk and hence are massively fast but due to there driving style the car is put under more pressure AND they are so close to pushing too far that occasionally it doesn’t go there way and sticking a wheel out does get hit (hamiulton at monza), or they leave 1/2 an inch too little space (hamilton at singapore) or they mess up an overtake (vettel vs webber, vettel vs forceinida at moza and silver, vettel vs button at monza).

        Your article is still rewarding them for there risks and not taking away points for when they muck up. So ofcourse they are up front.

        Doesn’t it suprise you that button is so far back in your tally? Maybe its because he doesn’t take massive risks and hence wont get massive rewards, but will guarentee a finish. Wont brake the car, wont hit others, wont ram walls, but wont attack as much as vettel and hamilton.

        AND 2ndly

        Other things have played into different hands. You are trying to see the picture without the mistakes and problems both from drivers and not from drivers, yet you miss out on STRATERGIES that haven’t gone well that have taken many points away.

        Webber being taken from 2nd into middle of a pack in melbourne was bad stratergy for example. If we trying to see the pace without the racing bit, then why aren’t you factoring in the points lost and saved by teams mucking up drivers’ pit stop stratergies.

  35. Hmmmm…perhaps a more instructive title would be “He’s 14 points behind but Vettel could be leading the championship by 59.”

    Mechanical failures, driver errors etc. are all part of the game. The championship is about finding the best driver/car combination over the course of a season. Thought experiments like this are fun but not really informative, though they do lend a kind of false legitimacy to arguments that a losing driver “deserves” the title more than his rival. Such as the argument that Raikkonen “should” have been champion in 2005 because, for some reason, the various mechanical failures he had and mistakes he made shouldn’t have counted against him.

    1. I don’t agree with the ‘false legitimacy’ thing.

      Imagine two drivers in the same team. One has perfect reliability and wins the championship with 300 points, the other scores 299 but his car breaks down three times.

      Surely we can recognise that the second driver did at least as good a job if not better?

      1. At the risk of personalising this too much, don’t you think that the driving styles of Jenson B & Lewis H have had an impact (however small) on their cars reliability? Look at the break dust issues at one of the last races… I really think drivers do effect some aspects of reliability.

      2. Yes, we can recognise that they did a good job, maybe even better than their title-winning teammate. But, there’s a difference between that and implying a sense of entitlement – that they “should” have won the championship. In any close championship situation there is going to be an element of luck involved for whoever comes out on top. As I say, I don’t object in principle to these kinds of analyses but I would always use “could” over “should” when discussing them afterwards!

        (Besides, in your example I would be a little suspicious that Driver #2 has had all the unreliability. Was there anything he did to bring that on himself, e.g. performing too many practice starts at a particular race and breaking his driveshaft? :P)

      3. The problem is we only know what is LIKELY to happen, not what would actually happen in a hypothetical world.

        Imagine if Vettel had another mechanical DNF in Hungary on Lap 8 or so. That would have gone down as a guaranteed win lost. But no win is guaranteed, as witnessed by Vettel throwing the win it in Hungary.

        I think its interesting to speculate but at the end of the day it is just speculation. And I actually agree with Red Andy that “should” is not the right word.

  36. …. and if Ayrton Senna had not died; and Michael Schumacher had not retired; and if; and if; and if; and if ….

    1. Neither of which have anything to do with this.

  37. “Neither of which have anything to do with this.”

    I’m sorry Keith but they do. Once you open the “what if” Pandora’s box almost anything goes. Your “what if” article assumes that had the single event not occurred which put the leader/driver out, then the driver concerned would have won or at least placed highly. Well what that assumption cannot factor in is multiples of similar events which may or may not be caused by reasons, not yet known, or factors contributed to by the particular driver or their driving style. For instances, whose to say that had Vettel not crashed into Webber in Turkey, he would have won. Or had Hamilton continued on in Monza, he would have finished the race. There is a chance that either could have suffered reliability issues, crashed or had other issues further into the race. That’s why an article based on the whole “what if” principle, draws into the equation endless possibilities which cannot be calculated. It’s an argument which has no forensic value apart from a small amusing quality. It fails to recognise that some of the unreliability issues that drivers have could be their own doing, or at least contributed to by their driving style.

    1. This is simply an exercise to show which areas drivers have been deficient in during the season – be it mechanical reliability, avoiding mistakes, or just plain luck.

      You’re treating it as if I’m saying “ignore Webber, Vettel is the real world champion-elect” which I think is taking the whole thing excessively seriously and not how it was intended.

      That was what I tried to point out to you in my reply to your first comment.

    2. It’s just a fun way to compare who lost points where. Perhaps you’re taking it a bit too seriously.

  38. “I don’t agree with the ‘false legitimacy’ thing.
    Imagine two drivers in the same team. One has perfect reliability and wins the championship with 300 points, the other scores 299 but his car breaks down three times.
    Surely we can recognise that the second driver did at least as good a job if not better?”

    No, not so! One wins the Championship. The other doesn’t.
    It might also be that the second’s unreliability is cause by his own recklessness or driving style. However, all things being equal it’s not to say you can’t have sympathy for the second driver. BUT the reality of a competitive championship is that the end of the process there is a winner. That’s how the history books will see it and the “what if’s” will be totally irrelevant.

  39. Good reading Keith Collantine! despite Webber’s fans seems to not like your post lol.

  40. Keith, I don’t see the point of this article. The same thing happened to Kimi at least twice and he ended up losing titles he should have won comfortably. But reliability and accidents are part of F1, so yes, Vettel should be up a ton of points … but he is not. We can theorize all we want, but it doesn’t change reality. I still think it will be Vettel (if not, then Alonso) who wins the title this year, but then again if Webber ends up winning it because of Vettel’s mistakes or reliability issues, it won’t be Webber’s fault (even though he is clearly not as good a driver as Vettel). I don’t subscribe to the logic “he deserved to win it, because … he won it”, but other people’s mistakes are for other people to worry about.

  41. what is the purpose of this article?

    1. To stimulate a discussion on drivers’ and teams’ strengths and weaknesses? Or maybe just to have fun? What’s the purpose of your question, antways?

  42. Every driver has a share of ‘ifs’– If Vettel hadn’t smashed into Button and if the crew hadn’t left the rag in the air intake in Monaco, and if his pitstop was a second faster, Button’s position in the standings might be much stronger. We could go down the list this way, but it’s certain that some drivers cause their own issues.

  43. I don’t get all the Button-hate. He’s the only one who has more points than he “should” have. Sure, he’s not as good as his team-mate, but he’s in arguably the third-best car. If that doesn’t show his approach has merit I don’t know what does. Vettel should be glad he doesn’t have Button for a team-mate.

    1. I think Button would be a great team-mate for Vettel, and could teach him a thing or two.

    2. I agree, don’t get the Button bashing thing. His only real failures this season have been others mistakes, Vettel and engineer forgetting radiator blanking.
      Therefore should really be at least 30 points better off and be right up there at the front.

  44. Apparently a lot of people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the word hypothetical. I think it’s a great article and it’s a shame Keith is taking such criticism for simply trying to figure out where things may have looked in a parallel universe. I’ve often thought about all of this myself, but haven’t taken the time to actually figure out the numbers. Thanks for doing the work for us Keith!

  45. This is so interesting. Numbers, drivers, history… What counts, too, is whether it’s worth it. “Not ridiculous for a number two driver” meaning there are different ways. Ways to gain points, to take them, to earn them, not just to ask for them and accept. Harsh from me? Even ridiculous? I admit.

  46. Great article! Proper f1 fanatic stuff!

    I’ve started work on the “what if Flavio was still around and managing Senna” table. Tricky.

  47. Like Hamilton he’s genuinely fast, and like Hamilton, he lacks some maturity and self-control under pressure. Korea might be quite fun to watch, really.

  48. Don’t forget silverstone keith when hamilton punctured vettel’s tyre on lap 1 that’s another 18 points since i’m sure he would of kept 2nd maybe even got 1st back.

    1. It’s on the list (I’m not blaming anyone for that, though, racing incident).

  49. As much as this is funny to look at, predicting races like that is a litte silly, “If” Vettels engines didnt’ blow up do you think no one would have tried to overtake him? Don’t kid yourself, Vettel still would not be leading the championship.

    1. Realistically, no-one would have gotten close enough to overtake. He’s blistering from pole.

  50. This just in – If your auntie had balls she’d be your uncle, film at 11.

  51. Usually like all of your articles Keith so this is a not an attack but I find this one too subjective and inaccurate. There are too many if’s and buts and omissions to be an accurate portrayal. For example you have said that Vettel would have won Bahrain, Australia and Turkey however Kubica’s wheel falling off in Suzuka has not improved his result? Have you taken into account pit lane errors and pit wall decisions – Webber lost an easy 2nd place (possibly win) in Australia because he was kept out on inters whilst everyone was pitting for slicks (which ultimately ended up in mistakes being made caught in traffic) – this is not taken into account but the mechanics error with Button’s car in Monaco is?; Webber could have been said to have won in Spa if not for the error off the line. There is no score for Alonso at China despite him finishing 4th – and possibly could have been higher if not for driver error off the start line….

    1. however Kubica’s wheel falling off in Suzuka has not improved his result?

      No I haven’t taken into account what happened to other drivers, this is just about the championship contenders. What happened to Kubica isn’t relevant to this.

      Have you taken into account pit lane errors and pit wall decisions – Webber lost an easy 2nd place (possibly win) in Australia because he was kept out on inters whilst everyone was pitting for slicks

      No, precisely because that is incredibly subjective. A driving error – a spin or a crash – is pretty easy to define. But saying a driver should have pitted a lap earlier or later, or used soft tyres instead of hard, is very subjective.

      Also, Webber had to stay out an extra lap in Melbourne because Vettel was pitting on that lap. It wasn’t a strategy decision as such, it was a consequence of him being behind Vettel on the road.

      this is not taken into account but the mechanics error with Button’s car in Monaco is?

      Yes, the assumption being that every driver is given a car capable of finishing the race.

      There is no score for Alonso at China despite him finishing 4th – and possibly could have been higher if not for driver error off the start line….

      His second place was given to Massa in the data by mistake – I’ve fixed that now.

      1. “No I haven’t taken into account what happened to other drivers, this is just about the championship contenders. What happened to Kubica isn’t relevant to this.”

        But it is entirely relevant to this. Kubica’s wheel falling off in Suzuka is just one example where the fate of one driver not in championship contention has a direct effect on those in the championship.

        “No, precisely because that is incredibly subjective.”

        Exactly the whole concept is incredibly subjective and without looking at each race holistically and taking into account each cause and effect then it will always be so.

        1. But it is entirely relevant to this. Kubica’s wheel falling off in Suzuka is just one example where the fate of one driver not in championship contention has a direct effect on those in the championship.

          I still think you’re missing the point. What we’re interested in here is the actions of the championship contenders.

          For example, there is a perception that Vettel has thrown away his chance of winning the world championship because he’s made driving errors. Is that accurate? We’re not going to find out by asking what would have happened if Kubica’s wheel hadn’t fallen off. But looking at what might have happened if Vettel hadn’t crashed into Button at Spa is useful.

          To put it another way, what happened to Kubica is out of the control of the championship contenders and their teams. But driving mistakes and car failures, these are in their control which is why they’re of interest.

          1. I understand the point you are making, attempting to understand whether a driver’s errors or reliability has had a detrimental effect on his championship.

            However my point is that unless you look at each race holistically you cannot draw conclusions as the results are not a true reflection of circumstances. My example with Kubica is relevant because had his wheel not fallen off there is a great chance he would have finished 3rd or 4th. With this in mind it would have affected the results of the 2 or 3 of the championship contenders behind him.

            In answer to your question – yes driver errors and reliability have an effect on championship campaigns but I do not agree that the above is an accurate portrayal of what the points table could read as it does not take into account each and every circumstance.

            However that said – it’s a great site Keith and thanks for the work you do and for the banter – it’s very appreciated!

  52. Terry Fabulous
    20th October 2010, 1:01

    The big problem with playing the what if game is that it presumes that driver errors and car failures are out of the driver’s control.

    Granted if a mechanic puts a wheel on wrong or some other driver smacks into you, that isn’t your fault.

    But if you hammer the car lap after lap and it fails, that is clearly your fault, you are the cause of the car failure. And if you make an inept move to overtake someone and get your nose removed, you are to blame.

    In the many years that I have enjoyed F1, I have seen a raft of drivers flog their cars or show little to no race craft and bemoan their unreliability and bad luck. There is a reason drivers like Prost and Button win world titles, they look after their cars and don’t lose points being silly.

    1. But if you hammer the car lap after lap and it fails, that is clearly your fault, you are the cause of the car failure.

      People keep saying this, but I’m yet to hear of an example of it happening to one of the top five this year.

  53. Vettel bangs the curbs to get his speed. That’s a choice.
    Vettel can’t overtake unless the differential is massive
    Vettel is a whining little pratt – deduct points for that

    Webber’s biggest problem has been his launches and first laps and we don’t have many reports of that being down to driver error even if his weakness has always been at full fuel loads.

    1. I have noticed that in the last few races Webber has been slow off the start. We know he can be quick and I wonder why he’s not that quick now. Pressure? The team? Mechanical issues?

      PS, great article Keith.

  54. Where is FIA Factor?

    Australia: Button Hit Alonso.. and must start race from last ..

    What if.. button don’t hit?

    Malasia: Calification error. What if.. Alonso don’t have cluch failure

    Valencia: What if: race director allow ferrari’s to pass SC as regulations allow him to do.

    Canada : what if: blue flags..

    UK: what if no santion on Alonso, and do with kubica?

    Germany: What if: santion on Vettel (He does the same at start with alonso than Shumi with Barrichello on hungary)

    Belgium: What if: Barrichello hit another.. or no SC on that lap.. and rain last for more time..

    I can do a lot of What if’s..
    And i can found that Alonso, with Massa help ( another what if..) can be the World Champion with Japan results..

    1. Australia, Malaysia, Britain and Belgium are accounted for.

      Vettel did nothing wrong at the start at Germany.

      The backmarker concerned in Canada got a blue flag, Alonso just took too long to clear him. Whether that should be classified as a ‘mistake’ is an interesting question. I’d say not but I’m open to persuasion on that one.

  55. I can see the aim of this but no driver in f1 has had the perfect season, regardless of how competitive the car or driver combo is. If we applied this accross the decade, Lewis would be 2 time champion, Alonso would have lost the title in 06 to schumi, schumi would have lost the title in 94 etc etc.

    All in all Webber deserve to be the leader of the WC because he has preformed the best over the season to date. Vetell Mechancial failures, from my understanding in some cases were self inflicted. He is a car breaker. Bahrain was not his fault, but melbourne, was his, his aggressive kerb usage to get every bit of time caused the failure. I heard the damage was done on his acutal qauli lap on the sat. (brillant lap i might ad).

    Webber for WC

  56. last perfect season: Schumacher in 2004?

  57. It’s so interesting issue.

    For Vettel, he will be encourage by this issue. But he will be in a hurry to try to close 14 point.

    So, they should be in advantageous situation until starting final race. In order to that, bad incident maybe happen Korea or Brazil.

  58. What if…. could be interesting…..

    If the car doesn’t break…. well… it can be added
    If the driver doesn’t make mistakes….. mmmm… this is unfair….. a driver must be consistent… it doesn’t matter if he’s fast but not consistent….. no way to avoid mistakes…. it has no value for me

  59. Sergio de la Torre
    20th October 2010, 8:40

    As the expression said…

    If my grandmother had wheels would be a bicycle

    1. If Sebastian Vettel hadn’t crashed so much, or if his car hadn’t failed so much, he would be leading the world championship. Does that not tell us something worth knowing?

  60. I actually agree with a lot of people on here.
    I dont think we can say that if, if and if, Sebastian Vettel would be on the bring of whatever.
    Every one of the title contenders have made sill catastrophic mistakes (some more than others), they have all had reliability issues at some stage, ect.
    I much prefer to look at the table and say good luck to all of them. Its not the driver that has made the most mistakes or had the most reliability issues up to now, it those that dont have issues or mistake from now on that is the argument.

  61. Nice article Keith!

    Nice to see that Button has zero point+s lost on driver failures, That fact that Vettel got the worst of both worlds scares me a bit though!

  62. I wonder, is Vettel (usually) faster than Webber because he takes so much more risk, or is it because he is genuenly faster? And, is Hamilton faster than Button because of his aggressive approach?

    1. I would say no to both. If anything Webber is more aggressive than Vettel, no? And Hamilton is just simply faster and more aggressive; I don’t think that the characteristics can be separated in his case; he wouldn’t have one without the other, I think.

  63. Fascinating stuff Keith.

    I think if we take everything people say about Jenson Button into account you’ve all got to realise that there’s 3 races left and he’s still in the hunt. He hasn’t just got there for nothing.

  64. Some of you guys are absurdly harsh toward Webber and Prost. If you accept Vettel as extremely quick over a lap which I do then how does Webber stack-up?

    Most people expected him to get blown away by Vettel, when I think it’s only a tenth when they are at their best. On pace alone there’s a hairs breath between them. The fact is Webber’s in F1 on talent alone, he didn’t walk straight into a Mclaren drive – he came up from a Minardi from the bottom car in field. He didn’t get fast tracked across to a top team and I’d argue manufacturers have preferred nations they back drivers from before Australia for a number of reasons, so he drove for a series of middling teams – jaguar, Williams (who in hindsight were clearly at the start of a downward spiral). Often putting them in top ten qualifying positions (i.e. look at Jaguars qualifying 2003) or look at Japan 2004 and only to be dogged by terrible race reliability.

    In fact Webbers an ideal benchmark to rate how quick Vettel actually is.
    Have a look at Webbers Teammates and grid starting positions comparison, from Alex Young starting 2002.
    Justin Wilson
    Pizzaman
    Heidfield
    Pizzaman again
    Rosberg
    Coulthard
    Vettel

    I don’t have time to do a pure back to back of position and the ratio, but how many other drivers on the grid can you get such a good back to back comparison from? To me it reads like Webber ended / put a dent in many of his team-mates careers.

    Furthermore apparently Webber and Vettels styles are said to be quite similar, they go in the same direction for setups ect. Visually you’d say Vettel looks more aggressive, more committed, hard on acceleration out of corners.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents – I always tend to favor the methodical, strategic guys who get by on guts as well as talent over the ones that are just purely gifted – which is probably why Webber rates Prost so highly too and I’d elevate Webber into the top 4 drivers on the grid.

  65. You never know if vettel would have won in Australia either. They called Webber in for an extra pitstop so why not Vettel? Vettel is even harder on his tyres than Webber.

    Or the other way around, if you say vettel would have won that race why not give Alonso at least an estimated P2 in Monaco?

  66. And if my auntie had balls she’d be my uncle.

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