2010 in stats part three: car performance

2010 F1 season review

Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Montreal, 2010

Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Montreal, 2010

There’s no question which team had the fastest car of 2010. With 15 pole positions in 19 races Red Bull were clearly the team to beat.

But which was the second-fastest car of 2010? McLaren recently argued it was their MP4-25 but a look at the data suggests a Ferrari F10 was the thing to have if you couldn’t get your hands on an RB6.

Car performance

Here’s how McLaren made the case in a blog post two weeks ago that the MP4-25 was the second-fastest car of 2010:

Over the course of the 2010 season, said Tim [Goss, chief engineer of the MP4-25], our qualifying pace was just 0.001s per lap slower than third-placed Ferrari ?ǣ negligible. On race pace alone, he asserted, the MP4-25 was actually 0.136s per lap quicker than the Ferrari.

Overall, then, this means our car was 0.074s per lap faster than the Ferrari.

McLaren haven’t shown how they worked this out so pulling their numbers apart is a little tricky.

To get a clear picture of the relative differences between all the cars, the chart below compares the fastest lap time of every car at every race weekend – including practice, qualifying and the Grand Prix.

That is converted into a percentage to give a simple and reasonable accurate view of who had the quickest car at each stage of the season:


Bahrain Australia Malaysia China Spain Monaco Turkey Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary Belgium Italy Singapore Japan Korea Brazil Abu Dhabi
McLaren 0.79 0.9 0.02 0.45 1.08 0.82 0.16 0 0.39 1.05 0.86 2.19 0.08 0.15 0.17 0.42 0.5 0.96 0.03
Mercedes 0.24 1.15 0.48 0.39 0.99 0.97 0.65 1.29 1.07 1.13 1.67 2.93 1.81 1.2 1 0.78 0.99 1.9 1.13
Red Bull 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.36 0 0 0 0 0 0.57 0.06 0 0 0 0
Ferrari 0 0.23 0.22 0.38 1.07 0.62 0.91 0.44 0.5 0.9 0 1.54 0.51 0 0 0.62 0.19 0.5 0.4
Williams 1.08 1.55 1.07 1.26 2.71 1.46 2.43 1.77 0.86 1.74 1.79 3.25 0.78 1.31 0.8 0.83 1.48 2.16 0.81
Renault 1.08 1.73 1.08 0.85 1.55 0.4 0.86 0.81 0.56 1.59 1.75 2.91 0.3 1.31 1.14 0.49 1.3 1.27 1.39
Force India 1.17 1.91 1.16 1.49 1.94 1.82 1.43 0.72 0.94 1.99 2.27 3.48 0.83 1.51 3.33 2.06 2.3 2.46 1.53
Toro Rosso 1.9 2.05 1.21 1.57 2.77 2.15 2.29 2.43 1.02 2.67 2.44 3.97 2.01 2.09 2.16 2.52 2.37 3.25 2.36
Lotus 4.99 5.81 4.09 5.12 5.31 4.43 4.57 4.17 3.15 5.27 5.14 6.79 4.56 4.37 5.24 5.02 5.16 4.19 4.15
HRT 8.01 7.87 6.76 6.09 7.51 6.34 5.76 5.83 5.14 7.44 6.51 9.67 5.06 5.96 7.17 7.14 7.18 5.7 5.73
Sauber 1.72 2.18 2.07 1.97 2.13 2.53 1.84 3.03 1.72 1.85 1.75 3.35 1.44 2.07 2.37 1.54 2.15 1.74 1.4
Virgin 4.45 6.76 4.02 4.99 6.38 4.81 5.16 5.11 4.48 5.76 5.99 6.7 5.43 4.85 5.06 6.04 5.4 4.81 4.73

Some trends are easy to spot (use the select none/all and teams buttons to compare different lines). For example, Force India and Toro Rosso gradually lost ground to the leaders whereas Williams generally reduced their deficit.

As for Ferrari and McLaren, the pendulum swung back and forth between the two all year. But, more often than not, it was Ferrari who were ahead.

This simple graph shows the difference in the best lap times set by the two cars at each race weekend:

Gap between Ferrari and McLaren's fastest laps in 2010

Gap between Ferrari and McLaren's fastest laps in 2010

To illustrate how dominant Red Bull were, here’s how many laps each team led in 2010:

Laps led by team, 2010

Laps led by team, 2010

Car reliability

A car’s performance is only one part of the story. And when it comes to reliability, Ferrari were the best of all the teams.

Had it not been for Fernando Alonso’s crash at Spa and Massa’s at Suzuka, Ferrari would have had both cars classified in every race this year.

Alonso’s engine failure in Sepang was the only instance of a Ferrari breaking down during a Grand Prix, but he was still a classified finisher.

Here are all the teams’ non-classifications, broken down into mechanical failures and other problems:

Reliability: race finishes by team, 2010

Reliability: race finishes by team, 2010

This data can’t tell us about occasions where drivers nursed a car problem to the end of a race. This happened to Red Bull on several occasions – Sebastian Vettel was hampered by such problems at Bahrain, Spain and Canada to name a few.

Sauber struggled with reliability the most and completed the fewest racing laps of any team:

Laps completed by team, 2010

Laps completed by team, 2010

Got any observations on the performance of the different cars in 2010? Any other data you’d like to see? Have your say in the comments.

2010 F1 season review

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62 comments on 2010 in stats part three: car performance

  1. Chris P said on 13th December 2010, 13:34

    “including practice, qualifying and the Grand Prix” – You cannot include practice in this comparison. Fuel loads, different practice programs, tyre comparisons, lost time though reliability etc. Too many variables.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 13th December 2010, 13:38

      Actually you can compare times through FP sessions. At any given point throughout these sessions we have the RBs, Mclarens and Ferraris having low fuel runs on hard and soft compound tyres. At the end of FP3 all the teams have gone through a similar combination of variables. And 9 out of 10 times FP3 gives an accurate reflection of the car’s quali pace.

      • Really? I’ve always thought FP3 was the least reliable of the practice sessions as an indicator. You usually get some random non-Big 3 team topping the times.

        The best indicator for me (especially in the 2nd half of the season) has been, surprisingly, FP1. The raw pace is most apparent there. The pace ebbs and flows as they adjust setup, but by the time we reach quali, they’ve usually answered the main issues, so we’re back where we started pace-wise.

        • Todfod (@todfod) said on 13th December 2010, 13:49

          I always saw that a lot of teams either sandbag or have very different programs for FP1. But by the end of FP2 we have an accurate reflection of the car’s race pace. Usually FP3 did give a solid indication of quali potential.. but I agree that we do some surprises from time to time.

          But my point was that if you combine and analyse the data of all the 3 sessions, you do get a pretty accurate picture of the true pecking order.. 9 out of 10 times at least.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2010, 13:42

      You cannot include practice in this comparison. Fuel loads, different practice programs, tyre comparisons, lost time though reliability etc. Too many variables.

      All those apply to qualifying and the races too. The benefit of using practice data as well is you get a larger pool of data to start with, which is especially useful when qualifying was wet.

  2. Casanova said on 13th December 2010, 13:42

    Great summary, but I would change one thing – the colours used for the laps led pie chart. McLaren are depicted in traditional Ferrari red, and Ferrari in traditional McLaren orange!

  3. Manuel said on 13th December 2010, 13:43

    Mclaren loves to talk lot of nonsense. I remember they even said ( Hungary if i’m not mistaken) They were the fastest car without flexi-wings.

  4. great summary! shows how redbull dom’d but had the reliability issues..
    also good to see tororosso get a mention on the pie chart!

  5. Paper Tiger said on 13th December 2010, 13:50

    So if Button had given his place to Hamilton in China, Hamilton would have finished only five points short of Alonso in a team that was slower than Ferrari and, unlike Ferrari, didn’t overtly favour one driver. I think that Hamilton can be justly pleased with his performance this year. I’m not denigrating Alonso, who I think had a fine second half of the season, but we mustn’t forget that Hamilton was leading for a long time in a car that was comparatively poor.

    • We all tend to favour our fav driver and always try to push circumstances in his favour. If Button had given his china win to Ham,he would be only 5 points behind Alonso. Another argument from u ll be, had Sutil given his place to Ham in Malaysia, he wud be 1-2-3 (dont know how many)points ahead/behind Alonso.
      This is a worthless point u r making just to assure urself that Ham drove well ( He did indeed) . We ll know Ham drove well but ur argumntis wrthless.

      • brum55 said on 13th December 2010, 14:21

        Also had Button let Hamilton through then you could not argue that “unlike Ferrari, didn’t overtly favour one driver”.

        I don’t think Ferrari was faster in the 1st half of the season. McL were mostly conserving fuel, tyres, engines etc and Alonso was making fastest laps in anger when the tracks were at their most “rubbered in” such as Britain, Valencia and China where he was nowhere in the race.

      • Paper Tiger said on 13th December 2010, 14:36

        Sorry, but it’s a little arrogant to suggest that my argument is worthless. I don’t need to convince myself that Hamilton drove well. I know this already, but it’s extremely frustrating when Ferrari fanboys jump on this site to rip into Hamilton or, with no noticeable trace of irony, tear into Keith for being biased.

        • troutcor said on 14th December 2010, 12:03

          This Ferrari fanboy likes to rip into Button, not Hamilton! :)
          Alonso and Hamilton are the only two drivers currently active who are of Hall-of-Fame caliber. Michael has lost a step; Vettel hasn’t shown what he can do when he doesn’t have superior equipment and the rest are also has-beens, never-will-bes or aren’t-quite-there-yets.
          Hamilton is a boring PR wind-up doll outside the car, but I for one will never accuse him of shortcomings once he gets in it.

  6. brum55 said on 13th December 2010, 13:59

    You have picked the fastest laps but not the average fastest lap of the two drivers. This was what the McLaren’s used to come to their conclusion. They also used quali laps and practise times.

    It may not have been as reliable as Ferrari so you can conclude that Ferrari was a better car not necessarily faster.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2010, 14:52

      I would argue that by picking the best of the two drivers you’re going to get closer to the true ultimate performance of the car. By taking the average of the two you increase the likelihood that the data will be affects by one of the two drivers suffering some sort of problem.

      • sumedh said on 13th December 2010, 16:01

        No drivers can have problems ALL weekend.

        Felipe Massa, in spite of all his niggles all season, is going to put atleast one quick lap over the 3 day race weekend.

        Plus, you are taking just one lap per team which is obviously giving us skewed results. I mean, China, Spain, Silverstone – Ferrari faster? Korea – Mclaren faster?

        In China & Korea, the race was entirely wet, so all practice and qualifying data can be shift-deleted. Spain – Lewis was ahead of Fernando and Jenson was ahead of Felipe. To many, that means Mclaren faster than Ferrari. Silverstone – Fernando set a brilliant lap on fresh set of soft tyres after his late puncture on a fully rubbered-in track.

        But again, I understand the tediousness it would be for you to go through all laps of all drivers of all sessions to answer this question.
        But Mclaren do have the time and resources to engage in that sort of analysis, so when they say that they were 0.136s / lap faster than Ferrari, I tend to believe them.

      • brum55 said on 13th December 2010, 19:21

        Hmm not sure. If we are talking about driver+car combinations maybe.

        There isn’t much to chose between the two teams. It was basically a fight for 3rd place mostly. Therefore for Alonso to finish between the two Red-Bulls in the WDC is impressive and at the same time underlines how poor Massa has been.

  7. newdecade said on 13th December 2010, 13:59

    You have to laugh at Force India’s “other retirements”.

    • I think the most shocking stats are Saubers – equal number of mechanicals as HRT, and more ‘other failures’ (read driver errors) in a car that was in theory far, far more drivable that that HRT!

  8. Johnny86 said on 13th December 2010, 14:27

    My assumptions on mclaren vs ferrari for every race-
    Bahrain-ferrari easily. Was almost a match for rbr.
    Aus-i think ferrari was a bit better but safety car and rain hid the true pace
    mal-mclaren. Because massa who didnt have relaibility problems couldnt match lewis.
    Barcelona-again mclaren.
    China-again mclaren because in the rain they mostly were quicker.
    Monaca-i thought ferrari was almost as quick as rbr. It was more due to the circuit suited to them.
    Turkey-mclaren by a long way
    canada-again mclaren by a small margin. Look at the lap times of lewis towards the end
    valencia-ferrari by a small margin.
    Silverstone-mclaren. Jenson was bad bcoz he couldnt adjust to the new upgrades
    monza-mclaren…looking at practice sessions i think so..lewis could’ve been quicker had he the right set up
    suzuka-mclaren but unreliable.
    abu dhabi-mclaren.

    Its 10-9 for mclaren but when u consider reliability i guess ferrari is a slight better option…and its just my opinion..

  9. dyslexicbunny said on 13th December 2010, 15:01

    Imagine if only Sauber had completed a couple hundred more laps. They might easily have finished sixth instead of eighth. I’m pretty excited for them next season.

  10. This is really great work.

    These tables, specifically, the first one, provide definitive proof that McLaren butchered the car with the Silverstone floor modifications. Aside from the rain race in Belgium, they just faded away. Even when showing a burst of speed in Japan, they were critically hampered by a car that had become incredibly hard to drive and set up. Button and Hamilton struggled to keep it on the road on Fridays and test the myriad parts and flow-vis art the team were forced to try on. The Singapore data point flatters terribly, because in the race, after a few laps, they were losing big scoops of time time to RBR and Ferrari. You can say the same about Korea, where Hamilton struggled terribly in the race relative to Alonso and Button put in an infamous stinker.

    Going back to the article about Vettel’s achievement relative to his precessors, on paper, RBR should have had a year like the 88 McLaren Ferrari 2002. They should have put 13 or 14 wins in the bag, easy. The other two shouldn’t have had a look in. Besides Canada and Monza, the only two tracks McLaren apparently considered with they set out to design their car, McLaren should have been nowhere. So controlling for the car, this year, you have to give Hamilton and Button gold stars for pulling results from that car it had no right to make.

    • judo chop said on 13th December 2010, 18:39

      Agree. McLaren were poor post-Silverstone. Even at Spa and Monza, tracks where they clamed a 1st and a 2nd, they didn’t have the speed they should have given the MP4/25’s characteristics and and the supposed benefits of an EBD. Maybe they shouldn’t have bothered with the EBD and concentrated their efforts elsewhere.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 14th December 2010, 10:20

      Both Jenson and Lewis’ performances were relatively poorer after Silverstone. You cannot blame just the car.. Hamilton had no idea how to set the car up for Monza.. a car that was actually the fastest over the weekend. (Jenson’s only front row grid position is proof enough that the Mclaren was good enough to take pole). In japan the car was actually quicker than the Ferrari, but it was Jenson’s lack of pace, and a little bad luck for Lewis that prevented him from getting that podium. Since Silverstone Mclaren was the quickest car at Spa and Monza, which is one race more than they were prior to Silverstone.

      I really do not think they butchered the development as much as you claim they did. Sure they didn’t get ideal weather to test their parts.. but it was their drivers who weren’t as strong after Silverstone as well.

  11. Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 13th December 2010, 16:03

    Love that interactive graph! F1 Fanatic really is a statto’s paradise!

  12. TassiloStiebe said on 13th December 2010, 16:12

    It would be interesting to watch Team Sauber-Ferraris development throughout the season, because in the first quarter of the season they weren’t even able to score a single point, but later on passed STR-Ferrari in the constructors championship, as Williams did pass Force India (Which is also an interesting ‘battle’ to watch).
    – So do you think that Team Sauber-Ferrari might have been capanle of passing Force India, if they hadn’t suffered from the 2nd most retirements and wouldn’t have driven the lowest amount of rounds? And is the upward trend of Sauber (they scored 38% of their 2010 season in the last 4 races) steady?

    Thanks for reply

    • bosyber said on 13th December 2010, 19:11

      Looking at the performance of Sauber over the year, they seemed to just start of so far down (behind Williams, FI AND Torro Rosso).

      After arriving in europe, Sauper didn’t stagnate like those that started the year ahead.

      Then, with their EBD, Williams pulled away, and Sauber slowly followed, while Torro Rosso was left behind, and FI started falling back.

      Williams seem to have made another jump after the summer break, while Sauber didn’t. Torro Rosso didn’t either, and just fell away towards the end of the season.

      Sauber however did manage to work the car through the fly-away end of the season, regaining some ground on Williams, while FI got lost.

      • bosyber said on 13th December 2010, 19:15

        Didn’t finish to conclusion: I think Sauber started a bit too far back, and progressed too slowly, to really regain the advantage FI claimed before they started falling away. FI were not that far behind at the end, looking at the above graph, and they were really a lot faster earlier in the season, so even without the early Sauber DNFs it seems likely FI would have been ahead in points.

  13. LuvinF1 said on 13th December 2010, 17:20

    Great series of articles and analysis, Keith!

    I know you have been working on the display issues. This time around I had visibility of all graphs except the first one – where I have both the axes and the legend on display but no chart. However, when I put the cursor in the chart area the individual points are highlighted. Very strange.

  14. judo chop said on 13th December 2010, 18:14

    Is there any reasonably objective way for you to factor in driver performance? Did any driver, front-runners and also-rans, really “out-drive” their car?

    • LuvinF1 said on 14th December 2010, 19:30

      Anagh … In one of his previous articles, Keith did reference that Peter Windsor was working with Patrick O’Brien – a colleague of his for 25 years from South Africa – and his system of driver ratings. It is quite complicated, requires a significant data base, and time consuming. As Keith said, if you’re interested check out Peter’s blog.

  15. Sadly Ferrari lost everything in the races between Bahrain and Germany, despite they alreay counted on only Alonso.

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