Who had the fastest car? Performance data analysed

2012 F1 season review

McLaren overtook Red Bull as the quickest team on the track in 2012. Ferrari were quicker than in 2011 – but Lotus were ahead of them. Here’s all the data.

Teams performance throughout 2012

This table compares the fastest lap time set by each team at each race weekend in 2012 (in any session) and shows how far each team was off the quickest last time as a percent.

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2012teamcolours.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary Belgium Italy Singapore Japan Korea India Abu Dhabi United States Brazil
Red Bull 0.858434798992008 0.251509577110554 0.608698394676253 0 1.44051305273723 0.107670152487856 0 0 0.274501719704446 0.924788289538014 0.560819240794032 0.761343459790083 0.80585644566122 0.403339538557006 0 0 0 0.345821325648416 0 0.169753512379572
McLaren 0 0 0.530902744924887 0.106035359546425 0 0.379537287519668 0.410658137265528 0.33032237016495 0.166003016263943 0.525808198908777 0 0 0 0 0.496482788229713 0.233438226280839 0.215752260122159 0 0.113948796219844 0
Ferrari 1.85111043074822 1.20558309689356 0.905162897782816 1.06143558892906 0.728211781120351 0.820984912719894 0.497397809823269 0.633117876149484 0 0.424081487059567 0.717700394055811 0.687904957563674 0.196405189858353 0.802918335495747 1.09424366186326 0.300281771251122 0.5745576492384 0.878465666302304 0.93249840576226 0.730078114217861
Mercedes 0.487506182143619 0.178758872987686 0 0.426305425115231 1.43806528204439 0 0.849777729589078 0.426156638052305 1.40505820955438 0.389732207733886 1.16363816041407 1.40183875135953 0.60111891441494 1.37361087606477 1.7943834696551 1.15073733571913 0.812588675351478 0.966908476597411 1.18862184680681 1.42289326230367
Lotus 0.447469442547273 0.251509577110554 0.817905614953588 0.634048170349047 0.877525793383668 0.454906394261172 1.14252412447145 0.410863935729864 0.207232523571349 0 0.510172569268576 0.587508017811132 0.871324842280671 1.09719636712357 1.08653772058256 0.39386273420952 0.959159504238798 0.626055848156597 0.972223674169186 1.15929227966545
Force India 1.63915122112056 1.72315239193924 1.25734590679241 1.17720888965832 1.73546942122465 1.50334450411165 1.15878781307599 0.44144934037476 1.06654225482006 0.763610901932822 0.86469926994674 1.07461909586976 0.349958338293035 0.826422970609826 1.57751626504033 1.0530429238395 1.12331883259262 1.38030408426913 1.47297113645632 1.03232217284494
Sauber 1.48371446739361 1.30743408266561 0.697006970069708 1.05169764774622 1.01092929614354 1.62447342566048 1.22519787487802 0.629039822196816 0.838694977595011 0.04359716222109 1.16363816041407 0.277021185613464 0.80109510772526 2.0148173219759 0.947830777529475 1.25254519652005 0.92984533846132 1.44489714796781 1.83781636471979 2.39035027188162
Toro Rosso 1.64503897694355 1.72938816657833 1.90494212634435 0.530176797732153 1.90681336972354 2.12244788091679 1.75376775452673 1.87386579124443 1.63399047381382 1.0872868032711 1.76275122602003 1.65561990462288 1.54981549815498 2.26772719580302 2.32829511553409 1.54460006992862 1.75181454686162 2.12163370764185 2.32288280000419 2.92031245687157
Williams 1.16106544829373 1.28456957565555 1.22160195960934 1.72577957629136 0.487106367875455 0.975760756921147 1.31600346958689 0.396590746895555 0.493669100654245 0.644709550420799 0.680641853915233 0.297472414081597 0.964170932031891 0.415561948816318 1.84171996609383 1.52506118755274 0.820796641769135 0.592268707144996 1.40502001944449 0.988158657429096
Caterham 4.02604743176092 3.20830605181929 3.5134197495821 2.62924411936554 4.36927068672206 3.01072663894159 3.35980700422856 2.04004648981504 2.31210737031692 2.54581004848534 3.24015169295764 3.87271899082479 2.82347339602427 4.21579135405501 4.20304054425962 3.04909401287512 4.07232390980616 4.29891682400874 5.32736757372696 3.72767672306715
HRT 9.64649914038766 6.49040210353465 5.48984977029259 5.83194477505356 7.15728150586854 5.10760285864255 5.02547977881385 4.16471259914766 5.535603849534 5.39680023251819 6.13071782392251 5.07283426138527 4.08403761456968 5.65051428141629 5.00445843745527 5.76191357643819 6.22515624450357 5.10384577163869 6.64248303835579 5.16161086422477
Marussia 6.83686206165659 4.86806140159428 4.37442835966822 4.50650278072322 5.96644106380116 4.90706719963391 5.57980049875313 4.42264951165303 4.8151724586891 4.65961185314363 5.27590083134659 4.42769096334578 3.60552315200573 4.70844850604539 4.81511245170023 4.19057608852145 5.07721351265783 4.43108416973071 4.59872251900021 4.56126307654088

Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2012One point leaps out immediately when comparing this graph with the same data for last year: Red Bull got slower.

It was said from the beginning of the season that the restrictions on exhaust-blowing would hit Adrian Newey’s cars hardest, and here is the proof. Last year they were the quickest team at 18 out of 19 race weekends (94.7%), this year that fell to 7 out of 20 (35%).

While Red Bull felt the effect of the changes most strongly, it had consequences for every team in the pit lane. The field closed up dramatically. Throughout the season there were often six teams covered by 1% on lap time – last year there was usually only three.

The cars at the tail of the field were generally closer to the pace this year. Eight races in it looked as though Caterham were finally going to catch the midfield. Instead they fell back into the clutches of Marussia, who they were involved in a fight for tenth in the championship with until the final race.

Change in performance since last year

Team Average %
deficit to
fastest car
(2012)
Average %
deficit to
fastest car
(2011)
Change
McLaren 0.18 0.5 -0.32
Red Bull 0.38 0.01 +0.37
Lotus* 0.68 2.2 -1.52
Ferrari 0.75 0.83 -0.08
Mercedes 0.87 1.5 -0.63
Williams 0.96 2.76 -1.8
Sauber 1.15 2.75 -1.6
Force India 1.16 2.51 -1.35
Toro Rosso 1.82 3.06 -1.24
Caterham** 3.49 5.18 -1.69
Marussia*** 4.83 6.85 -2.02
HRT 5.73 7.86 -2.13

*Renault in 2011
**Lotus in 2011
***Virgin in 2011

If we average out the teams’ performance across the entire season McLaren emerge as the quickest team ahead of Red Bull (see table).

The pole positions statistics back this up as the two teams took eight each, though McLaren lost one due to a penalty in Spain and Red Bull picked one up for the same reason in Monaco.

Red Bull exhibited crushing pace in the European Grand Prix which prompted speculation they were about to return to their dominance of 2011. However they were later required to make a change to their engine maps which appeared to set them back again. In the latter part of the season they hit the front once more, but McLaren beat them in the final two rounds.

Ferrari’s performance in 2012 was closely scrutinised and the data tells an interesting story.

Having struggled in the first four races, the upgrades introduced in Spain after the Mugello test allowed them to slash their deficit by more than half – progress they built on in the remainder of the year. Over the first four races where they were a dismal 1.26% off, but from Spain the figure was half that: 0.63%.

It might come as a surprise to learn Ferrari were closer to the pace on average in 2012 compared to 2011. They were 0.75% off the ultimate pace throughout 2012 and 0.57% off the quickest car (McLaren) – the corresponding figures for 2011 are 0.83% and 0.78%.

Even so, Lotus were closer to the pace than Ferrari on average, yet scored only one win to the Scuderia’s three. This serves as a reminder that this data reflects single-lap qualifying pace better than race pace.

Reliability

Performance is meaningless if a car doesn’t get to the end of the race, of course. Ferrari did very well in this respect, with neither car breaking down in a race all year long – in Fernando Alonso’s case, for the second year in a row.

McLaren did conspicuously worse with four non-classifications due to technical problems. Lewis Hamilton broke down while leading in Singapore and Abu Dhabi and Jenson Button did likewise while holding second in Italy.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2012Those lost points would certainly have been enough to beat Ferrari to second in the constructors’ championship and perhaps overhaul Red Bull too. The adage “to finish first, first you must finish” remains true as ever.

Red Bull also suffered with unreliability, clocking up three race-ending failures. Mercedes had five – all for Michael Schumacher.

As well as exhibiting similar performance to Ferrari, Lotus had similarly good reliability too. Their only race-ending technical failure was suffered by Romain Grosjean while he was running second in Valencia.

Over to you

Which team do you think had the best blend of performance and reliability in their car in 2012? And who under-performed and over-performed with the machinery they built?

Have your say in the comments.

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139 comments on Who had the fastest car? Performance data analysed

1 2 3
  1. Sankalp Sharma said on 3rd December 2012, 15:20

    So on the balance, Alonso and Massa were driving the fourth fastest car.

    Yes, I do have a “whole new level of respect” for Alonso.

    • geekracer2000 (@geekracer2000) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:33

      Good for you :-)
      But read the whole article
      I quote “This serves as a reminder that this data reflects single-lap qualifying pace better than race pace.”

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:37

      4th fastest, but on balance of reliability – probably somewhere near 2nd or 3rd best.

    • necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:39

      The fourth fastest in qualifying. Not to mention that a significant amount of that deficit comes from the beginning of the season, where the Ferrari indeed wasn’t anywhere near the top, but where Alonso gained a lot of his advantage because his competitors dropped the ball on several occasions.

      I’m not saying that Alonso didn’t drive fantastically this season, but there are sidenotes.

    • GideanYates said on 3rd December 2012, 17:08

      As Keith indicated the analysis speaks to single lap speed. The Ferrari was the 3rd fastest car overall but one aspect that is so often overlooked is while Alonso typically put it on the 3rd row the Ferrari launch system is by far the best when compared to the top end teams. Massa and Alonso typically gained at least one row after the start. Which put him right behind the leaders after lap one. Nonetheless, he drove sublimely this season. I could live without his constant self promotion at the expense of his team and Vettel. Furthermore, if McLaren didn’t continually shoot itslef in the foot Alonso would likely have finished 3rd overall and Vettel 2nd overall.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th December 2012, 10:31

      They were fourth fastest, but did have an car advantage in that it was better at reaching the finish without technical defects.

      I would say that did prove a critical advantage in this highly unpredictable year Sankalp

    • Ace of base said on 4th December 2012, 14:53

      Alonso did well due to car relaibility, atart launch pad, good car race pace and Massa’s help (subodination + gearbox tampering etc). If you put all these factors together, no other drivers came close. If Mclaren showed better relaibilty and not giving away points to Alonso then it would have been a straight fight between Hamilton and Vettel.
      Alonso should consider himself a lucky boy to have been in the hunt for WDC

  2. javlinsharp (@javlinsharp) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:23

    Keith, an excellent analysis as always. Data wins arguments, and I am glad this site continues to present this data, adding value to the F1 viewing community head and shoulders above any other F1 outlet I have ever found.

    We knew RBR had slowed since last year, and it was clear to see a reduction in their dominance, but I didnt suspect the reduction was so extreme. For me, this further proves SV as having “the right stuff” He is able to win with superior car, and one that is less than perfect. He has (IMHO) good racecraft, and all the other pieces required to be one of the greats when his career ends years from now.

    Further, this data also supports the idea that FA was able to extract much more performance from his livery than it seemed capable of. Many in this forum will scream “LUCK”. I would like to remind them that SV and FA had exactly the name number of DNFs (3) this year, that SV won by 3 points, but the RBR chassis was 37% faster based on the data above. Mclaren should be ashamed, as should Lotus, but perhaps a bit less so…

    All in all, I feel this was a fantastic season. We saw many great moves, much overcoming of odds, and truly great drivers performing super-human feats of skill and bravery. Thank you F1, Thank you SV and FA, and finally, Thank You Keith for presenting the most cogent and informative F1 content in the world, and bringing it to we mear mortals.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:38

      @javlinsharp Thanks very much. I’d like to expand on this and go into the differences between qualifying and race pace in more detail but that will have to wait for a later article.

      Above all I think it shows that what really helped make this season great was that the field was so close.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:50

        @keithcollantine Yes – massively interesting that everyone gained, but Red Bull lost. Very interesting indeed.

      • OldIron said on 3rd December 2012, 17:26

        The chart here is primarily about qualifying pace, so to a fairly large extent, we’re comparing the results of qualifying to the race (which makes the results understandable, as RB & Ferrari commonly had a good race car – while even discounting the endless mistakes, McL were notorious for heading backwards during the early races).

        I’d welcome a more structured analysis of pace – early on especially, managing tyres made a huge difference. Race and Qualifying were very different beasts.

        It might also be interesting to try and filter out the effects of errors / misfortunes too, and see if we can get an impression of what the results would have looked like. The idea is to come up with the best guess for a race outcome without crashes, pit errors or breakdowns. Without trying to apportion blame it would hopefully not be overly controversial, but would remain an exercise in guesswork: its just to give an impression of how things might have panned out if there were no incidents to shuffle things up.

      • I think people put too much into the race pace versus qualifying pace issue. It seems to met that the engineers and designers build the fastest possible car in raw speed, and then figure out how to help it manage the tires. Now, with standard weight distribution, I think it is mostly a matter of set-up anyway—camber, dif, anti-roll. It would be very odd to give up anything in raw pace by design, given that a few tenths can be the difference between pole and starting 3-5 rows deep and having almost no chance to win the race. In any case, we will see the data, but I don’t recall there being much difference between who had the strong heavy fuel long run pace in P2 and who was up front on Satruday.

    • Olivier42 (@olivier42) said on 3rd December 2012, 20:13

      Just a small correction Red Bull was 0.37% faster than Ferrari – not 37%

      • Actually, neither. Its. .37 points. Speaking of percentages of percentages masks differences underlying rates. Looking at the numbers, relative to the fastest car, Ferrari was three times slower than RBR. 20 points versus almost 60 points off. There was a huge gap between RBR and McLaren up front versus between Lotus and Ferrari trailing. Looking at these data, it is aboslutely shocking that McLaren finished 4th and 5th, including behind a Lotus and a Ferrari, in the WDC and 3rd in the WCC. I don’t care much about the debate on whether Alonso is a Genius driving an oxcart to the WDC runner up, but it is clear that McLaren was raining free points down on Ferrari and Lotus.

        • Ace of base said on 4th December 2012, 20:17

          +1

        • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 14th December 2012, 17:26

          Yes, there are for me two main points to be seen from this data: the rule change did what was intended: close up the field and reign in Red Bull a bit; And McLaren really need to fix their reliability and track operations, even more so than last year already seemed clear.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 14th December 2012, 17:32

            Oh, forgot another point: Williams definitely underperformed. At least they know where their lack of points for the pace is, and it did get them a win, so they’ll not be too unhappy with this.

  3. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:37

    So presumably now all those people who said in 2011 that they’d only consider Vettel a worthy champion once he wins a championship in an inferior car, can finally rest sound in the knowledge that this year he did just that. I assume this means we won’t see anyone else moaning that Vettel only wins because he has the fastest car, and that he can’t overtake, since both of those statements have been comprehensively disproven this year.

    • I think that’s just about as likely as all those people who were saying Vettel cheated by overtaking under yellow flag conditions admitting they were mistaken now that the FIA has clarified the situation and Ferrari has declared the matter closed. In other words, not remotely likely. ;-)

    • Enigma (@enigma) said on 3rd December 2012, 16:34

      @mazdachris When people were doubting Vettel in 2009 or 2010, I understood them (and slightly doubted him myself). But he’s done so much since and he’s been fantastic in the last two seasons, it’s just no longer justified. I think everyone looking at things objectively can say that Vettel is one of the very best drivers on the grid and a worthy multiple world champion.

    • @mazdachris – if only! People will always come up with new arguments, as last year have been disproven this year as you said, but sadly I find it unlikely that we will ever see Vettel gaining the respect of everyone. That’s just how the world works though…

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th December 2012, 2:52

        Well…not so fast (pardon the pun)…

        Don’t get me wrong. I fully agree that SV is one of the very best drivers on the grid and a worthy multiple WDC. Of that there is no question. Can’t say I’m a fan. I’m indifferent. He earned the WDC. I thought FA winning would have been the better story, but I’m also not a fan of the one rooster rule. So I would have been fine with either one this year.

        But I think it is splitting hairs to use this fine article and it’s grasciously received data to make it sound like SV had such an inferior car and therefore is capable of doing, for example, what FA did this year. And I think it is a bit of an insult to Adrian Newey as well, given how their season saw them placed in the end.

        SV still had the WCC winning car. It seems it just started off ‘slow’ as indicated in the article stating Red Bull suffered the most from the diffuser restrictions. Then they start adapting and getting stronger but then seem to lose their way again, perhaps when, as prisoner-monkeys bemoans, they tried borderline changes to the car that were allowed/disallowed in the same breath yet didn’t affect their points in terms of any penalties…just, don’t use it in the next race they were told.

        And then, after a more erratic first half of the season, and when it counted the most, Adrian Newey’s car was there in the end…more sorted out with no doubt the most effective form of EBD on the grid, even if still not nearly at the level of last year’s potency for SV.

        And let’s not forget the lottery that was the tires and their effect in affecting the multiple race winners to start off the season. It was a very unique first half of the year, if not full season. Drivers complained of being limited by the tires. Tires had a lot of influence on this year’s results.

        Anyway, all I’m saying is that imho the question of SV’s ability in an inferior car is not something that I think can be answered by looking at his 2012 season, coming off an utterly dominant 2011 with all the momentum that came from that, nor just by the stats provided in this article. I’m not convinced SV has shown his true measure in a truly inferior car with the pressure at it’s greatest. Let’s see how he would do, doing what LH is embarking on. Given the outbursts he has been capable of in the WCC winning car, I wonder how together his mental state would be in a an Adrian-free zone like Mercedes.

        • @robbie – what we are talking of is the arguments against Vettel: people attempting to detriment his driving. Those arguments used to be “he can’t overtake” or “he can’t win without a dominant car”. I think those statements can no longer apply: yes he had a great car but by nowhere near the margin that he had last year.

          I’m referring to the few with that comment just to clarify: I am of a similar stance to you on Alonso: I acknowledge that he is a great driver and I have an immense amount of respect for him – that doesn’t mean I like him though (which is quite natural really, everyone has their favourites)!

          I don’t think Vettel needs Adrian though: sure they have formed a potent alliance which has reaped many rewards and records over the last 4 years but if you gave Vettel a car good enough, be it with RBR or Ferrari or Mercedes etc., then I think he could definetly win the title. He’s the same as Hamilton or Alonso in that respect: if the car’s up there he can win with it.

    • Sadly, some people would still come up with claims such as of how Vettel’s romp of over 4 wins (Singapore-India) meant that the Red Bull was still vastly ‘dominant’ and much more ‘superior’, thus trying to once again give full disregard of Vettel’s championship.

      Or they could try to drag up the yellow flags incident at Brazil, the list could go on and on. These type of one-sided criticism from such shallow fans would be near impossible to satisfy sadly.

      Not until they decide to acknowledge that both Alonso and Vettel are both actually great legends of the era, in their own unique ways. Just like how it has been for Senna and Prost etc.

  4. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:51

    Ohh boy, Williams was faster than force india in 16 races and yet they were 33 points behind in the table, thats massive under performance.

  5. celeste (@celeste) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:52

    Brilliant information… so in conclusion Mclarean lost both titles because of reability and team mistakes… Poor Jenson and Lewis…

    • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd December 2012, 16:00

      Well, the figures above are simply the fastest laps set over the weekend; there were times when the single lap pace of some cars belied a car which was hard on its tyres and failed to translate single lap pace into race pace. It’s possible that the fastest car over a single lap may have set pole position, then extracted the maximum from the car through the race, but still not have won.

      But yes, overall it does seem pretty clear that McLaren had a car which, on pace, should have delivered both championships this year. It’s bittersweet, because on the one hand they did underperform, and they can say they missed an opportunity, but I suspect their primary thought now will be that they are going into 2013 with a car which is capable of winning the championship. That, of course, is their objective. Barring any inexplicable mid-season slump, I would say that Button has to be one of the favourites for next year’s championship.

    • F11111111 said on 4th December 2012, 14:31

      The drivers are to blame also. the teams dnfs just give the drivers fans an easy argument on who is to blame.
      Hamilton was consistently much weaker in race pace then in qualifying pace, usually because of his tyre usage.
      and Jenson was hardly ever up their matching the cars potential in race pace.
      I think Vettel and Alonso would have scored more points in the Mclaren then Button and Hamilton easily. Both are better on race day.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th December 2012, 3:16

        Yeah they may have reason for encouragement for next year, but I think they need to get a handle on tire useage and obviously they need to not sacrifice the pace they have shown, for needed improved reliability next year. ie. They had pace, but they didn’t get away with it. They perhaps needed to beef some things up, which might have cost them some pace but been worth it in the end. Is it safe to say the tires won’t be throwing the teams nearly the curve-balls that they did last year? Do we know that yet? Mac, and others of course, really need to get a handle on that.

  6. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd December 2012, 15:55

    I wonder if – as a statistical exercise – it would be possible to do some correction, based on reliability. By that I mean – for example, Vettel’s car in Valencia and Monza broke down on reliability – as such, any lap done by Car #1 should be eliminated from this analysis, because ultimately, it had no speed, if you get what I’m saying. If Webber’s car did it – fair play, because it lasted, on reliability grounds.

    @keithcollantine Perhaps? Or if not – do you have this data on an Excel sheet I can download somewhere? I’m just curious to see how the Lotus and Ferrari (2 supremely bulletproof cars) would stack up then, after this “reliability correction”

  7. So now we have evidence to dispel the notion that the Ferrari was “a dog of a car”! Of course, these statistics only apply to single-lap qualifying pace, so of course race-pace isn’t factored in – one of the F2012’s strong points.

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 3rd December 2012, 16:08

      @vettel1 or reliability.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 3rd December 2012, 17:01

      Based on the graph above, it appears to be a high midfeild car for much of the season.

      So I’m not sure, when we are talking about contending for a championship against much stronger rivals, that it does dispel it at all.

      • Mads (@mads) said on 3rd December 2012, 17:27

        @mike
        I think what differentiated it from the high midfielders was that it was always there. The midfielders, Merc, Lotus even McLaren and Red Bull shuffled places. Therefore Ferrari would be slower in comparison to different people, which means while Alonso would score points consistently while the people around, and specially behind, would not.
        Compare it to the championship winning car, and it looks somewhat different.

    • Brace (@brace) said on 3rd December 2012, 17:06

      Ferrari isn’t Force India, so having car that is at best 2nd, at worst 5th, and most of the time around 3rd or 4th is “a dog of a car” by the standards that apply to anyone who manages to nearly win a title, even after being knocked out of the race two times.

    • @vettel1 Maybe not over the whole season, but Ferrari did start the season with what was possibly the 7th fastest car in terms of all kinds of pace. They were ahead of Force India, Toro Rosso and the back three.

      • @chicanef1 – I agree but what I am disputing is the season as a whole. Credit to Alonso for great “damage limitation” in the first four races; even managing to get a win by capitalising on the F2012’s tendency to be good in the wet.

        The remainder of the season though the Ferrari was always up there in the top 3/4 best cars, so “dog of a car” no longer applied.

        • infy (@infy) said on 3rd December 2012, 19:11

          @vettel1 By Ferrari’s and F1’s standards, any Ferrari that cant get onto the two front rows during qualifying is a dog of a car.

          Ferrari’s race pace was generally slower than Lewis’s and Vettels. If it were not for the Mclarens and Redbulls having incident (reliability problems, slow starts, kers issues, accidents, etc) packed races, I doubt the Ferrari would have finished on the podium as much as it did.

          @vettel1 you can keep trying to downplay Alonso and Ferrari’s teamwork this season (which you seem to be repeating at every opportunity), but just keep in mind you are fooling no one :P

          • @infy – By Ferrari’s standards? The same team who from 1983 – 1999 didn’t win a championship? I’d hardly call 3rd best “a dog of a car”, which is misleading to the fans and giving false impressions of how Alonso has magically dragged out non-existent pace from the car, which quite simply isn’t possible. You can’t break the laws of physics so the Ferrari’s ultimate pace was comparable to what Alonso was achieving from it.

            I’m not denying that Alonso drove fantasctically well this season, as I’d be a fool to do so, but Alonso’s season I feel has been greatly exaggerated by many.

          • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 3rd December 2012, 21:32

            @vettel1

            The same team who from 1983 – 1999 didn’t win a championship

            Still the greatest F1 & super car maker on the earth

          • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 3rd December 2012, 21:33

            you can keep trying to downplay Alonso and Ferrari’s teamwork this season (which you seem to be repeating at every opportunity), but just keep in mind you are fooling no one :P

            +100

          • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 3rd December 2012, 21:48

            @tifonso1989
            I disagree; Lamborghini are the greatest supercar manufacturer on Earth; the Reventon, Murcielago, Miura, Countach, Diablo, and now Aventador.

          • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 3rd December 2012, 22:03

            @xjr15jaaag
            i respect your opinion but i have also mine
            (Reventon+Murcielago+Miura+Countach+Diablo+Aventador)< Ferrari 250 GTO

          • @tifoso1989

            Still the greatest F1 & super car maker on the earth

            I reckon McLaren could give them a run for their money in both categories now with the P1 and their record of having had the most victories since their inception in 1966.

            @infy

            You keep trying to downplay Alonso and Ferrari’s teamwork

            I have not once downplayed Alonso & Ferrari’s teamwork. I have criticised their team ethics and their insistence on kidding themselves into thinking Alonso worked wonders with a bad car (when realistically he did what the car was capable of – no mean feat but hardly what it is being made out to be).

            You’ve also missed the last part of my comment: “I’m not denying Alonso drove fantastically well this season, as I’d be a fool to do so”. I stand by that; Alonso was undoubtably worthy of his 2nd in the drivers championship (and definitely would’ve been worthy of the crown).

          • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 3rd December 2012, 23:08

            @vettel1

            reckon McLaren could give them a run for their money in both categories now with the P1 and their record of having had the most victories since their inception in 1966.

            Where did you learn the count ?? Formula 1 starts from 1950 According to you Juan Manuel Fangio,Phill Hill and John Surtees didn’t won WDC with Ferrari??
            What other category please did you mean Super Car ?????? i didn’t know that your hate to Ferrari would let you forget (selective memory) all the sports car that they made and comparing them with the 2 Mclarens (F1&MP4-12c)
            By the way i thought you’re a fan of Red Bull ???
            Next time tell me your favorite team in advance please I hope that it woudn’t be Williams or Mercedes or Lotus !!!!! LOL

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd December 2012, 23:16

            @tifoso1989

            Next time tell me your favorite team in advance

            You could just look at his profile:

            http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/members/vettel1/profile/

          • @vettel1 I would compare Alonso’s performance this season to Michael Schumacher in 1996. Granted that the Williams then was faster than either McLaren or RBR this year, and the Ferrari this year was more reliable than the one in 1996, but Alonso fought for the championship this year, whereas Schumacher could only be best of the rest, so it pretty much evens out. Also both Vettel(RBR) and Hamilton(McLaren) are certainly far better drivers than Damon Hill or Jacques Villeneuve. The similarity is that in both seasons at some point of time Ferrari had a poor-handling car, but both Schumi then and Alonso now were able to pretty much drive around those problems, certainly as compared to their teammates. That is where true talent comes out. Vettel is a great driver but like we saw in early 2008 and in some races of 2009 as well as the first half of this year, he tends to stuggle with respect to his teammate on certain tracks and when the car is not handling according t his needs. Those have rarely happened to Alonso or Schumi of old. When given a good car that works to his liking though, he can absolutely dominate, again a la Schumi. Unfortunately, Alonso never had the fastest car underneath him so we cannot say how he would perform, whether he would dominate or choke.

          • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 4th December 2012, 7:50

            @tifonso1989
            One car doesn’t make up for such atrocities as the 400 Superamerica, or the Testarossa, or the Mondial

          • @tifoso1989 Notice that I said since McLaren’s inception, which was in 1966 and not 1950. Sure, Ferrari have a greater wealth of history in the road car business but as of late McLaren appear to be mounting a challenge in the supercar business with the MP4-12C (McLaren’s answer to the 458 Italia – which both of by the way I think are great cars) and now the P1. It rather depends on opinion in that respect: I happen to value statistics but some may value the history – either way both could be right.

            @chicanef1 – I agree but Vettel hasn’t really had the chance to prove himself over the course of a season in a less-than-perfect car. Sure, he started out this season fairly well in car that wasn’t brilliant but of course Webber wasn’t miles behind (although crucially he was behind, maybe not in qualifying but on points scored). Schumacher and Alonso are both very good at adjusting to a car that is ill-handling and I’m sure that if Vettel gained experience in that respect then he’d be able to perform about as well.

            Maybe we will get to see this fairly soon though: if we draw the national comparison then Schumacher had his period of championships with Benetton and then was left without a great car for several seasons (until 1999). So perhaps we may see the same happening in 2014 with the rule changes?

          • Also, +1 to Keith!

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 5th December 2012, 4:05

            @chicanef1 Of course in 96 MS et al would have had much much more testing and engines and trannies, more consistant tires etc, and the quali format and points structure was different, than for FA now. Of course it is likely that this ‘one rooster’ still has somewhat of a designer car, and maybe SV does too, but certainly the tires, the lack of testing, DRS, have changed the face of F1, and I think it safe to say FA has done more with less that MS/96. And without the bullying tactics.

            I disagree that SV and LH are better than JV. For the two years JV had a competitive WCC winning car, pretty much always the necessary ingredient of any WDC, he nearly won it in his rookie season, and he won it in his second. He never had a competitive car again. And it took until the last half of 97 before JV was finally to get a say in his own setups, such was the structure at Williams where they had computers and engineers telling the drivers what setup was the fastest. The treatment MS, FA, SV, and LH have enjoyed on their respective teams has been exactly the opposite. Their treatment on their multi-season top level teams has been all about them.

          • SilverArrow said on 5th December 2012, 6:23

            @vettel1 – Nope, sorry mate. Webber wasn’t behind. He was ahead of Vettel going into the summer break!

  8. William Brierty said on 3rd December 2012, 16:05

    I think this article flatters Williams and McLaren because they have qualifying specialists in Maldonado and Hamilton, so if you’re judging a car based on its fastest lap, you’re judging it based on what their drivers can get out of it. This handicaps teams like Force India and Sauber, who don’t really have a “qualifying driver”. And because of Maldonado, Williams appear ahead of Sauber; but if you look at the season as a whole the only conclusion is that Sauber had the 5th fastest car. Somewhat misleading from where I’m sat.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 3rd December 2012, 19:13

      I wonder what the data would look like if instead we take the fastest lap from the slowest driver (that weekend). Williams would be much closer to Toro Rosso, and I think McLaren would no longer be the fastest.

    • mnmracer (@mnmracer) said on 3rd December 2012, 19:18

      Red Bull has two qualifying specialists.

      • William Brierty said on 4th December 2012, 8:48

        I know what you mean about Vettel, even though I don’t think he’s quite as fast as the aforementioned Hamilton and Maldonado, but Webber? He was a qualifying specialist between Spain ’10 and Turkey ’10; but this year he has been a liability in qualifying. Saying that though, Webber’s PB lap in Brazil a few weeks ago was stunning.

    • Jason (@jmwalley) said on 3rd December 2012, 22:23

      Mr. Brierty brings up an interesting point, one I was considering more with Ferrari than the others, but Maldonado and Lewis are also excellent examples.

      I would like to see data of this sort that has been generated by averaging the fastest lap of each driver. To @mnmracer‘s point, if you average the two driver’s fastest laps at each circuit would Red Bull then be fastest as Webber and Vettel are consistently of more similar pace than Button & Hamilton or Alonso & Massa?

      This would perhaps balance for driver performance and more accurately reflect the relative abilities of each chassis.

      • @jmwalley – I think that would be a good way to represent how the team performed as a constructor on average but it may also have the effect of skewing the driver’s performances: as you and others have alluded to, RBR have two qualifying specialists. Although one could also argue that since Hamilton & Maldonado are also qualifying specialists then perhaps they have bolstered their teams results? Either way, there will always be room for interpretation – precisely why it is always difficult to give a 100% accurate representation of who had the fastest car.

    • SimonC said on 17th December 2012, 12:47

      Cool article, Although I agree I would like to see the results if the car performance was based on the average of the best time for both team mates. Individual results may vary based on so-called ‘qualifying specialist’ drivers, or on other factors such as driver preference or aptitude at specific circuits or weather conditions, or even situations of differing part combinations. As such I think averaging the results might give a more accurate idea of the overall general performance of the car, the current analysis may have the data skewed slightly due to so many changing variables and may show the potential of the team rather than the car ( if you split drivers who are great at different types of circuits it might make the team better but not the car if that makes sense? )

  9. Enigma (@enigma) said on 3rd December 2012, 16:41

    Since you didn’t include it in the article and I reckon it’s quite important and interesting – here’s the car performance vs. ranking in the constructors championship.

    1. Red Bull (2nd fastest car)
    2. Ferrari (4th)
    3. McLaren (1st)
    4. Lotus (3rd)
    5. Mercedes (5th)
    6. Sauber (7th)
    7. Force India (8th)
    8. Williams (6th)
    9. Toro Rosso (9th)
    10. Caterham (10th)
    11. Marussia (11th)
    12. HRT (12th)

    So, Red Bull won the constructors’ despite not having the fastest car, and McLaren only finished third despite being the fastest. Ferrari second with only 4th fastest car and Lotus a place down on their speed.

    Mercedes finished where they should have with their car, and Williams clearly didn’t extract the potential from the car. Sauber and Force India are each a place up because of that.

    Toro Rosso duly finished where the car belonged, as did Caterham, Marussia and HRT.

  10. tmax (@tmax) said on 3rd December 2012, 16:53

    So McLaren messed up really bad. They had the fastest car, 2 world champions of which one is the best driver on the grid at his top form and still managed to end up third to Ferrari whose second driver Massa had a very bad year for almost 2/3 of the season. To top it all the Mclaren machinery was very good starting with Winter testing to the first race of the season season which they won to the last race which also was won.

    if someone told one in March after Australian GP that Mclaren will not win the drivers and constructors championship i would have said “Are you Crazy ?”. But now at the end of the season it looks like it took a lot of hard work, dedication, determination and innovative thinking to end up third in constructors championship and then 4th/5th in Drivers championship . unbelievable !!!!

    what is wrong with Mclaren ? They had managed to develop a car that suited both the drivers equally well, no small feat considering their extreme driving characteristics.

    • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd December 2012, 17:10

      I don’t think that’s quite right. Button said in an interview it wasn’t an easy car for him to drive and he was enjoying it the least out of any of the cars which McLaren had given him. He also suffered an unexplained slump in form through the mid season, where it appears he wasn’t able to make the tyres work for him. This harmed McLaren quite badly in the constructors’ as it not only deprived them of points, it allowed their rivals to score better than they did.

      Their biggest problem was unreliability, which put Hamilton out of several races which he looked like winning. It’s hard to say how he would have finished with any certainly had he not suffered those reliability problems, but they did appear to hinder him a lot more than anything which happened in the pitlane. In many respects McLaren’s pit work was some of the best this season, but since they failed to win this year it’s going to be the slow stops which stick in the mind rather than the record breaking ones.

      • @mazdachris Fast pitstops are the order of the day. The advantage gained by making a fast pitstop will probably one position or enough to hold station, but a slow pitstop might cost two or three positions. So, McLaren probably broke both records- fastest pitstop as well as an extraordinary, unenviable, consistent run of consecutive poor pitstops. That is a very poor representation of the sport.

      • Mr draw said on 7th December 2012, 23:45

        McLaren was unbelievable this year: they threw away many points by botching up pitstops. Only when they’d slipped behind Red Bull on pace they decided to improve their pitstops and they succeeded. One can only wonder why they took action when it was already too late.
        Hamilton retired two times when leading the race and the team’s mistake in the qualify of the Spanish GP was unforgivable. So was his idea to share telemetry data with the rest of the world. Button was horrible in many races. Even though the Red Bulls were faster in the race, McLaren should have performed much better than they did. Something’s got to change, or else McLaren will be an acronym for something like Mismanagement causes lazy amateur racing ending nowhere.

    • And the most beautiful car at that!

  11. pantherjag (@pantherjag) said on 3rd December 2012, 17:08

    2012 was one of those years where it was impossible to properly rank the cars, the competitive order seemed to change from session to session never mind from race to race. Iv seen comments refering to the RB8 as being dominant yet in the first half of the season the red of ferrari, white of mclaren and black of lotus had all made more appearences on the podium than the blue of redbull, given that in those 11 races the team had only 1 retirement it bares no hallmarks of a dominant car.

    The same can be said of ferrari, often described as a dog the f2012 has been heavily critisied but again the results say otherwise, yes it was difficult for the first few races and alonso did wonders in australia and maylasia but from spain onwards it was a frontrunning car, a few interesting nuggets that highlight the f2012 competitiveness

    From spain, after the mugello upgrade to brazil ferrari scored 356 points, only 3 less than redbull and nearly 70 more than mclaren.

    after the summer break, belgium to brazil ferrair scored 12 top 4 results from a potential 16, more than either redbull or mclaren managed, of course both mclaren and redbull took 4 wins each whilst ferrari had none during this period but this highlights the consitent and reliably competitiveness of the ferrari compared to the somewhat errartic form the other 2 showed in the second half of the season.

    Lastly and quite interestingly the second half of the 2012 season, hungary to brazil was in terms of points the most productive 10 race run that massa has had since alonso joined the team

  12. Mike (@mike) said on 3rd December 2012, 17:12

    I’m alarmed about the pace of the Mercedes, one lap pace was this cars specialy. And yet this graph makes even that look decidedly middle ground.

  13. Cornflakes (@cornflakes) said on 3rd December 2012, 17:42

    The improvement of the Ferrari between Australia and Britain is phenomenal.

  14. tigen (@tigen) said on 3rd December 2012, 17:59

    Interesting article.

    It would be interesting to look at race pace somehow. Maybe on an absolute level, and an average level per race. One fast lap isn’t going to be very representative. Yet, race pace and tire deg are obviously key performance indicators.

    • Brace (@brace) said on 3rd December 2012, 18:51

      It could be done but it would require a hell of a work. For example to get a car’s average pace between two drivers, but only counting their laps where they were driving in the open air and not making mistakes/being in accidents etc. That would require some epic research. :)

      • tigen (@tigen) said on 4th December 2012, 19:13

        Yeah… is there complete fastest lap data? You could maybe take the top “n” fastest laps from each driver per race… maybe 10-20? Of course a lot of times somebody is just stuck in traffic or just managing their tires. Vettel really uncorked it when he was charging from the back of the field… to me that confirms that most of the time these guys are not really pushing it in the race.

        I still have mixed feelings about that. Tire deg does mix up the races and is strategic, but in a way it is just a crutch to mask the fundamental problem of overtaking.

        Maybe somebody could do a subjective race pace judgement on a race-by-race basis, factoring in whatever information seems relevant to rank each car’s race-day performance (a lot depends on the “tire window”).

  15. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 3rd December 2012, 18:50

    So. The car with the fastest car was beaten by the car with the 4th fastest car in both the drivers and constructors championships.

    • I assume you mean team as appose to the first “car”! It just goes to show how badly botched pit-stops and mechanical failures have hurt McLaren and also how well Ferrari was able to capitalise on it.

      • Brace (@brace) said on 3rd December 2012, 22:57

        Ferrari didn’t capitalize on anything. They were better as a race team operation, they were better in terms of producing reliable car, which is 2 areas where McLaren was worse.

        Only one who capitalize on anything is Vettel who needed Grosjean trimming Alonso’s beard in order to catch him in the championship.

        Vettel was 13 points ahead in the moment when he had the biggest lead in the championship. The points loss in Spa that Alonso suffered towards Vettel was likely in range from 15 (if Vettel finished 2nd and Alonso 3rd) to over 20 (if Alonso finished in front of him, which would have been more likely).

        So only one who capitalized on other’s misery this year is Vettel. As you put it, reliability is part of the package too.
        He needed that bad luck for Alonso because he would have never get a nose ahead if it weren’t for that.

        But that’s also part of the racing. Next year, better luck hopefully. Just don’t tell me it’s Alonso who was lucky, because Vettel was by far the luckiest driver this year.

        He not only never got DNF due to some factor outside of the team control, but actually never even got a DNF from the accidents he caused himself, which ruined others’ race.

        • RamboII said on 3rd December 2012, 23:58

          So they capitalized on the weak points on other teams, just as @vettel1 suggested.

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 4th December 2012, 2:14

            @vettel1

            I assume you mean team as appose to the first “car”! It just goes to show how badly botched pit-stops and mechanical failures have hurt McLaren and also how well Ferrari was able to capitalise on it.

            Yes and yes! Thanks for the correction too.

            I did mean:

            So. The car with the fastest car was beaten by the car with the 4th fastest car in both the drivers and constructors championships.

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 4th December 2012, 2:15

            So. The team with the fastest car was beaten by the car with the 4th fastest car in both the drivers and constructors championships.

            At last I make the correct edit!

        • Ace of base said on 4th December 2012, 15:07

          Ferrari only fielded one defacto driver (Alonso)for the WDC whilst Mclaren and RedBull fielded 2 drivers each all competing for the WDC. Therefore Alonso had an undue advantadge and it was not purely due to him driving the wheels off the car, in the latter part of the season Massa was the faster driver.

        • So @brace by your logic Valencia doesn’t count as “capitalising on others”, or even Monza & Brazil (in which he gained from a faster cars retirement – in the first case none other than Sebastian Vettel). It wasn’t intended as a negative comment, rather a positive in that he was able to capitalise upon others misfortunes – I was praising him.

          • @brace – Personally also I don’t believe in luck: I think you manufacture your own luck. There is a difference between things falling into place well and being “lucky”, as luck implies you had nothing to do in the matter. I think both Alonso and Vettel have been “lucky” this year (by my definition of what “luck” actually is) in that they were both able to get as close to the maximum they could hope for from this season. They both suffered setbacks (Alonso with his first lap collisions, personally one of which I think he was blameless for) and Vettel with his alternator failures/Karthikeyan/qualifying in Abu Dhabi/first lap in Brazil.

            Just to add another perspective in the whole “who was luckiest” situation, had Alonso been a bit higher up on the grid with a faster car, maybe he wouldn’t have been involved in either of those first lap incidents. After all, when Vettel dropped down the pack in Brazil he was on the receiving end of a collision, so it is entirely possible that may be a factor in that Ferrari had a car which wasn’t terribly good in qualifying and was then consequently at a higher risk at the start.

        • Deb Luhi (@debeluhi) said on 6th December 2012, 1:45

          “Ferrari didn’t capitalize on anything. They were better as a race team operation, they were better in terms of producing reliable car, which is 2 areas where McLaren was worse.”
          Can we say now that Alonso blaming the car was wrong thing to do?

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