The 2013 season in stats: Comparing the cars

2013 F1 season review

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2013Red Bull have usually been the team to beat since the last major change in the regulations at the beginning of 2009.

However they have not enjoyed uninterrupted supremacy: Brawn (now Mercedes), Ferrari and McLaren were able to disrupt Red Bull’s supremacy, if only temporarily. And the reliability of Adrian Newey’s car’s has only ever been sufficient at best.

On top of that at various points in 2013 Red Bull’s performance was further constrained by the fragility of the latest generation of F1 tyres produced by Pirelli.

Even after a mid-season change which moved the tyres closer to those used in 2012 there were still occasions where Red Bull’s drivers were having to operate well within what the car was capable of.

Behind them there were several major changes in the competitive order this year. But the overall picture altered little during the course of the season, which was most likely due to teams being more concerned with turning their attentions to 2014 than trying to make the best of a bad job this year.

Car performance

This graph shows how far each car’s best lap time was away from the quickest lap of the weekend, as a percentage.

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2013teamcolours.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain Spain Monaco Canada Britain Germany Hungary Belgium Italy Singapore Korea Japan India Abu Dhabi United States Brazil
Red Bull 0 0.25 0.91 0.28 0.42 0.14 0.53 0.67 0.12 0.05 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ferrari 0.98 0.49 0.32 0.36 0.62 1.28 0 1.53 0.48 0.51 1.38 0.45 1.02 0.8 0.51 0.91 1.03 1.07 0.08
McLaren 2.78 0.66 1.38 1.49 1.33 1.71 0.81 2.28 0.97 1.46 1.44 0.89 1.4 1.19 1 1.48 0.86 1.16 1.07
Lotus 0.53 0.39 0.29 0.88 0.57 1.28 0.35 1.5 0.51 0.26 1.11 1.02 0.21 0.34 0.49 1.27 0.59 0.85 2.4
Mercedes 0.48 0 0 0 0 0 0.02 0 0 0 0.97 0.52 0.09 0.22 0.37 0.89 0.46 0.75 1.33
Sauber 2.65 1.55 1.88 1.72 2.07 2.77 2.21 2.86 0.93 1.5 2.45 0.37 1.37 0.73 0.8 1.44 0.62 0.97 1.45
Force India 1.78 0.41 1.91 0.98 1.61 2.04 0.77 1.26 1.45 1.49 1.68 1.41 2.28 1.26 1.18 1.89 1.18 1.46 0.81
Williams 3.43 1.22 2.81 1.92 3.15 2.69 2.01 3.07 2.57 1.8 3.06 1.37 2.48 2.05 1.21 2.4 1.41 1.14 1.86
Toro Rosso 2.26 1.59 1.6 1.78 1.75 2.47 1 1.28 0.92 1.43 2.07 0.54 1.52 1.25 1.73 1.66 0.9 1.84 1.79
Caterham 4.96 2.92 4.59 3.2 4.88 5.45 3.23 4.75 3.96 4.56 4.97 3.17 5.12 3.77 4 3.55 3.3 3.36 2.86
Marussia 4.41 2.33 4.25 4.17 4.95 5.44 3.01 5.02 4.1 5.54 5.15 3.98 5.82 4.08 3.75 3.39 3.44 4.35 2.45

McLaren had the fastest car over a single lap on average last year but conspicuously failed to reach anywhere near that level of performance this season. Relative to the opposite they were over 1% slower, the biggest loss of any team bar Williams.

Mercedes had the quickest car over a single lap in the first half of the season. After the Hungarian Grand Prix, the first race run on the revised tyre compounds, they had set the quickest lap of the weekend in eight of the ten races.

From then on, however, Red Bull led the way. They turned up with the quickest car over a single lap at every race and Sebastian Vettel wielded it to devastating effect, winning all nine of the remaining rounds.

Another defining feature of the 2013 season was that the cars were not as evenly matched. Last year less than 1% of lap time covered the top eight teams on average. Half as many teams were separated by the same amount this year.

And with a major change in the rules coming for 2014 it would not be a surprise to see this trend continue.

Average % deficit to
fastest car (2013)
Average % deficit to
fastest car (2012)
Change
Red Bull 0.18 0.38 -0.2
Ferrari 0.73 0.75 -0.02
McLaren 1.33 0.18 1.15
Lotus 0.78 0.68 0.1
Mercedes 0.32 0.87 -0.55
Sauber 1.6 1.15 0.45
Force India 1.41 1.16 0.25
Williams 2.19 0.96 1.23
Toro Rosso 1.55 1.82 -0.27
Caterham 4.03 3.49 0.54
Marussia 4.19 4.83 -0.64

Tyre use

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Nurburgring, 2013This year more than ever, having a car which was quick over a single lap mattered little if it destroyed its tyres. Some teams made a virtue of being able to finish races using one fewer pit stop than their rivals, particularly in the first half of the season when the rubber was especially delicate.

This table reveals which drivers were best able to do that – it shows whether a driver made the same number of pit stops as most other drivers in the race, fewer (a negative number) or more (a positive number), and their total difference across the season.

Vettel, interestingly, made the same number of pit stops as most of his rivals in every race. Lotus and McLaren were often able to extend their stints and reduce their number of pit stops, as did Force India, though Paul di Resta enjoyed better success with that tactic than team mate Adrian Sutil did.

However with moves afoot to impose two mandatory pit stops for competitors in every race next year, this kind of strategic variation could soon be a thing of the past.

Driver Difference AUS MAL CHI BAH SPA MON CAN BRI GER HUN BEL ITA SIN SOU JAP IND ABU UNI BRA
Sebastian Vettel 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Webber 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Fernando Alonso 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Felipe Massa 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
Jenson Button -3 0 -1 -1 1 -1 0 -1 0 -1 -1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0
Sergio Perez -3 0 0 -1 0 0 0 0 0 -1 -1 -1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Kimi Raikkonen -4 -1 -1 0 -1 -1 1 -1 0 0 -1 1 0 0 0 0
Romain Grosjean -2 0 -1 0 0 0 1 0 0 -1 0 0 0 -1 0 0
Nico Rosberg 3 0 1 -1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Lewis Hamilton 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nico Hulkenberg 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 -1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Esteban Gutierrez 4 -1 0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Paul di Resta -3 -1 0 -1 0 0 -1 1 -1 0 0 0 0 -1 1 0
Adrian Sutil 0 -1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 -1 -1 1
Pastor Maldonado 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Valtteri Bottas -2 0 -1 0 0 -1 0 0 0 -1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Jean-Eric Vergne 3 0 -1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1
Daniel Ricciardo -2 -1 0 0 0 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Charles Pic -1 -1 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 -1 1 1 0 0 0 0
Giedo van der Garde 7 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0
Jules Bianchi 2 0 0 0 1 0 -1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
Max Chilton 3 0 0 0 1 -1 1 -1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Heikki Kovalainen 1 1 0

Reliability

Last year’s McLaren’s biggest weaknesses was reliability. They clearly solved that problem this year and became the first team to get both their cars to the finish in every round.

Ferrari also completed the season without any race-ending technical problems. But Jean-Eric Vergne bore the brunt of Toro Rosso’s unreliability, accounting for five of their six failures.

This graph shows hw many ties each teams’ car was not classified in the race and breaks down the causes into technical failures and other problems.

NB. Nico Hulkenberg also failed to start one race for Sauber.

2013 F1 season review


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54 comments on The 2013 season in stats: Comparing the cars

  1. Cornflakes (@cornflakes) said on 5th December 2013, 12:06

    A great what-if of this year is if the tyres had never been changed. Judging from the first graph, I reckon Mercedes would have mounted a great challenge for WCC/WDC

  2. Andrew81 (@andrew81) said on 5th December 2013, 12:26

    With regards to McLaren’s reliability, it’s worth noting that Button and Perez each had one classified retirement (Button at Malaysia and Perez at Monaco). Thus, a pedant might say that they didn’t quite get both cars to the finish every round. Still, it’s an impressive turnaround from last year, that leaves one wondering what might have been if they had had better reliability in 2012.

    • @andrew81

      what might have been if they had had better reliability in 2012.

      Then Hamilton would have been World Champion, no doubt.

      • @gdewilde I’m not too sure, as you’d therefore have to apply the same standards to Vettel.

        • hunocsi (@hunocsi) said on 5th December 2013, 23:33

          I’ve seen that someone, somewhere counted the point differences that the lack of reliability caused for both, and the two would’ve been very close.

        • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 5th December 2013, 23:49

          @vettel1
          http://f1stats.blog.com/2012/12/09/alternative-history-the-2012-championship-without-misfortune/

          Without reliability and misfortunes, the final 2012 season standings would likely have been:

          Lewis Hamilton 342pts
          Sebastian Vettel 318pts
          Fernando Alonso 250pts
          Mark Webber 226pts
          Jenson Button 197pts
          Kimi Räikkönen 150pts

          • @kingshark that’s closer to what I was expecting. Thanks for that.

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 6th December 2013, 11:15

            @vettel1
            It’s worth nothing that without misfortunes in 2012, Hamilton would have had 8 wins compared to only 5 for Vettel. Lewis lost Spain, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Brazil due events out of his control. Vettel lost Valencia because of a misfortune, but gained Singapore. 8 wins versus 5 is relatively hefty difference.

            In Vettel’s defense, the RB8 was slightly slower than the MP4-27 throughout the 2012 season as a whole. McLaren had a faster car than Red Bull in 11 races (Australia, Malaysia, China, Spain, Canada, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Brazil) while Red Bull only had a faster car than McLaren in 7 races (Bahrain, Monaco, Valencia, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, and India). They were too close to call in Germany and USA.

          • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 6th December 2013, 17:46

            Very interesting article, which I unfortunately only read now.

            I generally agree with the conclusions but in the last race, it seems wrong to put Hamilton into P1. Clearly, the safety car badly hurt Button and Hulkenberg, who would have been P1 and P2 otherwise.

            Also, in some other races, Hamilton was given P1 where he clearly would have had to fight for it (e.g. Abu Dhabi, Singapore), and the fights would not have always turned out in his favour.

            So overall, I think it would have been even closer between Hamilton and Vettel.

      • sid90 said on 5th December 2013, 22:01

        +1 I agree with that @gdewilde

      • Juzh (@juzh) said on 2nd January 2014, 14:00

        Vettel won in 2010 despite loosing almost as much points due to mechanical failures than all other top drivers combined. Proper champs don’t need excuses.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 5th December 2013, 14:39

      They actually both retired, but were classified because both retirements were moments before the end of the race (Button due to an apparent exhaust failure (?) and Perez pulled off at Virage due to collision damage).

    • LexBlair (@lexblair) said on 5th December 2013, 15:04

      Actually BUTTON retired in Malaysia because the team FAILED to correctly fit his wheel at his last pit stop. He had to be rolled back into the pits.
      This whole debacle took so much time that he was LAPS behind the LAST car after coming out of the pits… Mind you he pitted FROM THE FRONT….. Therefore he retired on the last lap so the team could change his gearbox for the nest race(s) without a penalty..

      That was McLaren’s best chance for a podium this year and the team fumbled it up…

  3. Carlitox (@carlitox) said on 5th December 2013, 12:57

    It’s truly astonishing to compare the pace of Mercedes and Red Bull, and see how the Brackley guys lost a great deal of edge in just two races! Specifically, the two halves of the season. Meanwhile, RBR slowly improved until they were ultrasonic missiles, heh.
    Furthermore, if you now analyse Ferrari, it’s obvious that this was a really irregular season. Whether that is due to the drivers or the F138, it’s hard to say, since neither of them was as firm a candidate to win as the Mercedes or RBRs.
    But if Mercedes manages to mantain this pace throughout next season, and of course Ferrari builds a quick machine, then we are in for a nice season starting in March.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 5th December 2013, 16:54

      Whether that is due to the drivers or the F138, it’s hard to say, since neither of them was as firm a candidate to win as the Mercedes or RBRs

      It’s very easy to say it was due to the F138, the car has never been quick but it had a great race pace which let Fernando win 2 races but since Silverstone Ferrari themselves admitted that they lost ground to Mercedes/Lotus in the development race which was going in the wrong direction, after the summer break the team corrected what was wrong with the car but it was too late

  4. Interesting to see percentage times as it gives a better indication of trends in overall team performance over the years (assuming qualifying pace is a good gauge). It looks like Marussia took a big step forward this year, although that wasn’t obvious from the races. If they could continue closing at that rate it would take around 4 more years before they’re competing with the mid-field.

    Obviously the regulation changes make this slightly unrepresentative so we will have to wait and see how that affects things. Perhaps worryingly for Caterham they lost pace compared to every team apart from Williams.

    • TMF (@tmf42) said on 5th December 2013, 15:33

      It also shows how close F1 really is – a fraction of a percent decides between winning or losing. And RBR managed to maintain this tiny margin for quite some time – hats off.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 5th December 2013, 22:45

      The clown tyres also affected the cars fastest lap ability, I am fairly sure that Alonso could have set up the car to do better in qualifying but to do so would have decreased the life of his tyres to a tactically unacceptable degree, much like the mercs suffered early on.

    • Pandaslap (@pandaslap) said on 6th December 2013, 6:25

      @keithedin I also found the Marussia data interesting. While 2013 (especially the second half) will be remembered for Red Bull’s domination, it was really Marussia’s year. They made the biggest gains of any team and they took 10th place from their rivals – all with the Cosworth engine. Hopefully, their relationship with Ferrari will help them continue to make progress with the new regs next year.

  5. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 5th December 2013, 15:16

    If nothing else this shows how much Pastor Maldonado threw away in 2012.

  6. Brilliant. Nothing to add, but thanks F1Fanatics.

  7. Tango (@tango) said on 5th December 2013, 15:54

    Beautiful stats keith. Though as all stats, they can be skewed if you have your mind into it : I love the fact that from the last entry, a Kovalainen run Lotus is the same pace as a Marussia. Meaning Grosjean and Kimi dragged a Marussia worthy car to a win and many podiums. Big kuddos to them.

    (Before anybody jumps on me, this post contains jokes).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th December 2013, 18:43

      @tango I must admit I was completely thrown when I first saw that in the data, before I remembered all of practice and qualifying in Brazil was wet, so there was only the race data to go off. And with Grosjean retiring early on then, as you say, it doesn’t cast Kovalainen’s efforts in a very positive light.

      • Mr win or lose said on 6th December 2013, 15:42

        It’s always a little tricky to interpret these figures when one has to rely on race data alone, as during the the drivers cannot extract all performance of the car (due to fuel load, tyre wear, or fighting for position). Kovalainen’s pace was not really flattered by his strategy (his last pitstop was even before mid-distance), while Chilton pitted only a few laps before the checkered flag, so he was basically doing some qualifying laps. So the figures tell that the performance difference between Lotus and Marussia was compensated by 30 laps fresher tyres.

  8. The Blade Runner (@thebladerunner) said on 5th December 2013, 16:30

    Absolutely fascinating stats. I’ll take my anorak off now!

  9. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 5th December 2013, 18:01

    What is incredible is that the test-gate coincided with the best moment of Mclaren. i’m not saying that the best was due to the test, but at that time it didn’t help to know they had a test after Barcelona ans then saw them winning Mexico and Silverstone (because if you “ommit” the blowouts problems, it was Hamilton who was leading that day). I was suspicious then, not so much now.

  10. JohnMilk (@johnmilk) said on 5th December 2013, 19:26

    For the first half of the season, Merc had the fastest car, and still Vet was leading the standings, I think that says quite a lot regarding one of the most under-appreciated world champion (4 times now…)

  11. Francorchamps (@francorchamps17) said on 5th December 2013, 22:26

    “The 2013 season in stats: Comparing the cars”

    That’s not what you’re doing here.

    • Eamon (@eamon) said on 5th December 2013, 23:54

      Agree. This concept of declaring a certain car the quickest based on it’s fastest lap of a weekend seems flawed to me.
      Firstly, it necessarily assumes that the driver setting the team’s quickest lap of a weekend extracts the absolute maximum from his car, which is obviously not always, or even often, the case (not to mention anything about set-up and any performance compromises a team may have had to make).
      And secondly, it fails to provide a true representation of absolute performace. Just look at Singapore. Red Bull were miles ahead, but looking at this graph you’d think they barely had their noses in front.

      • Pandaslap (@pandaslap) said on 6th December 2013, 6:29

        @eamon What do you think is more representative of absolute performance?

      • Enigma (@enigma) said on 6th December 2013, 14:34

        @eamon The car’s as quick as the driver drives it – that’s the only data and proof there is. There’s no number on absolute speed of a car.
        And fastest lap of the weekend is the fairest way to look at it, and closest to the truth. Tyres, strategy, traffic and other things make it very hard to compare anything in the race. For example, Vettel was a lot faster than anyone else at some point because Rosberg had front wing damage (or rubber stuck in it) and was holding everybody up.

  12. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 5th December 2013, 23:52

    Interesting how Mercedes had the fastest car over one lap for pretty much every race from Malaysia till Hungary. Not to mention that by mid-season, they were finally coming to grips with the tyres.

    I wonder how different this season would have been if Mercedes did not give up on 2013 so soon and decide to switch focus to 2014 midway the year.

  13. Kiran Sripathy (@kiransripathy) said on 6th December 2013, 2:31

    @keithcollantine Average % deficit with respect to qualifying or race day. If qualifying, can a chart be compiled for race pace.

  14. McLaren wasn’t the quickest car in 2012 regardless of the poles and missed chances, over 1 stint McLaren were not on par with RedBull… It’s the same as saying that Mercedes was quicker than Red Bull.

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