Do Winning Margins Mean Anything Anymore?
30th March 2011, 7:31 at 7:31 am #129149
Lots of talk after the first race about the performance of the Red Bull and McLaren. A lot of commentators and journalists are extrapolating finishing times to current performance and how the season will potentially shape itself.
A lot of the conclusions are that Red Bull is ahead, but not by a lot – since Lewis wasn’t too far behind Vettel at the end and the German didn’t ‘run away with it’. There was a lot of talk about the McLaren miracle of ‘catching’ Red Bull in so little time and after so little testing.
My own opinion is that because of the new engine and gearbox regulations, races will from now only ever be won by 10-15 seconds, and not by the 40sec or 1 lap margins that we would see in the past. Finishing with the car intact and with little wear is as important as the position you finish in.
Is McLaren really that close to a KERS-less Red Bull, or did Vettel coast home in a car that has to still run 19 more times this year.30th March 2011, 9:06 at 9:06 am #165620
Well let’s not forget Hamilton was coasting for the very same reason – to save the car.
But I agree with you, we won’t get to see the kind of crushing wins we used to. I believe the last time we saw that was Hamilton himself at Silverstone in 2008, when the rules weren’t as tight?
The only solution I can see would be to have a budget cap that excluded engines and gearboxes.30th March 2011, 9:54 at 9:54 am #165621
I see your point, but I’m not sure winning margins ever meant anything. I think the only reason they were often so big is because the disparities in car performance were often much bigger than today, and also because the attrition rate was so high30th March 2011, 10:54 at 10:54 am #165622
A few years back you certainly could say, that when someone won by 30 seconds or more he was actually dominating the field. There were races when Michael Schumacher in his first stint was fast enough to still emerge out of the pits after a pit stop.
The problem we have today is, that the engine has to last several races, which means every second you pull over another driver is useless stress on the drivetrain.
Imagine – in theory – Vettel would push so hard that he had 20 seconds over Hamilton. And then the safety car comes out, 6 or 7 laps before you wanted to pit. You just blew a good portion of life out of your engine for nothing.
The strategy today is to have an advantage big enough to react on the driver behind you and to make sure he is a) not anywhere near your slipstream and b) doesn’t block you on the way out of the pits, when both pit on the same lap and team is a tad bit faster.30th March 2011, 10:56 at 10:56 am #165623
Winning margins don’t mean anything. They never did. It doesn’t matter if you win by a minute or a second – you still won.30th March 2011, 11:08 at 11:08 am #165624
It’s interesting you mention this because I was thinking that everyone says Vettel “dominated” the race but realistic he wasn’t THAT far ahead. Dominating the race used to be Schumacher finishing 40+ seconds ahead of the field.30th March 2011, 11:13 at 11:13 am #165625
Just to clarify, I didn’t mean that they ‘dont mean anything’ from that perspective, but more about what a winning margin says about the relative performance between teams. for eg. Vettel winning by ‘only’ 22 seconds can not be used to deduce that McLaren are only 0.3-0.4s slower than Red Bull, which is what a lot of the journalists are saying. I’m saying that if Vettel had no concern for engine or gearbox, he probably would have won by a lap (ok being sarcastic, but you get the point)
So I mean that winning margins no longer mean anything in that you can’t read into performance by analyzing them. Most teams tend to coast home once their position is assured, and do just enough to secure it.
The only time we really see anybody push towards the end of a race is the battle for FLAP’s and if there is a possibility of gaining a place30th March 2011, 11:14 at 11:14 am #165626
Nice job on the (slightly changed) Vin Diesel quote, PM…30th March 2011, 11:15 at 11:15 am #16562730th March 2011, 11:18 at 11:18 am #165628
to add, Schumacher had the luxury of throwing a new engine, drivetrain and gearbox in the car after each race (and even during the race weekend). So he could afford to have some fun and thrash the car each lap all the way towards the finish line – ergo claiming all types of race finish, magin, flap, etc. time. Vettel just paces 10-20s ahead and keeps it there.
if you look at the lap times you can see vettel maintaining that margin. as hamilton pushed forwards a bit, so would vettel. it ends up in a situation where Hamilton doesn’t want to stress the car and would rather secure second, so he cruises home as well. It has the knock-on effect until you reach drivers actually close enough to challenge, and even there they are likely to settle for points in later laps, in most cases
the entire race dynamic has changed in ways I didn’t notice previously because of the engine, tyre and gearbox rules30th March 2011, 12:22 at 12:22 pm #165629
I did see an interesting suggestion, some time ago, that instead of awarding points for race finishes, the championship should be decided by aggregating drivers’ race times over the course of the season. Obviously you’d have to have a clever system to factor in lapped drivers and retirements, but it would certainly make drivers push for bigger winning margins!30th March 2011, 12:54 at 12:54 pm #165630
On paper, the bigger the gap the better it looks. But scrutinising it properly you realise that of course, it just wears parts out. Not only the engine and gear box but of course the tyres. Maybe when the drivers have a bit more confidence we will see the field more stretched out up front or perhaps even tighter?30th March 2011, 14:51 at 2:51 pm #165631
Hamiltons win in 2008 and was more to do with the conditions than him actually running simply running away with it. If Hamiltons clean in front by the end of the first lap he tends to try to open a gap of around 10-15 seconds and then control the race. In 08 the conditions ment the car wasn’t particularly stressed anyway, an his pace ment he’d got simply tons of heat in his tyres while everyone else poodle about on skates.
Alonso’s quite conservative an will attempt to win a race he’s dominaiting with the absolute minimum effort. Sometimes this results in him absolutley shooting off, sometimes, a good example being his masterclass in Singapore last year, this can result in him balancing infront of his nearest competitor, keeping them on the shortest of leashes but always in controll.
Vettle’s performance advantage an traditionally suspect reliability (nt any more) just results in him carting off then turning everything down.
Why stretch an F1 car if you don’t have to?
F1Fanatic Fact: Of the 80,000 components within the average F1 car around 70-100 of them tend to be malfunctioning when the line up on the grid, the number also tends to drift up as the race goes on.
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