F1: Complete Barcelona Analysis: Lack of Consistency, Except for the Drivers


What Happens When It’s the Drivers Who Are Consistent, Not the Teams

4:30pm EST — This past week’s testing in Barcelona has been one where the teams did not complain about the weather, and F1B actually had someone at the test session.  Even with an eye-witness and access to all the team’s Twitter accounts and some live timing, it is still difficult to pinpoint which team will perform well once the racing gets underway.  As has become usual, I will compare the only way I can, not knowing fuel loads or set-ups or, really, anything about the feel for the car by the team: consistency.  First, the times from each day’s testing.  The link in the day headline will take you to that day’s analysis Formula1Blog by this author:

Barcelona, Thursday:
1. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.487, 109 Laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:22.407, 81 Laps
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:22.514, 107 Laps
4. Pedro de la Rosa, Sauber, 1:23.144, 73 Laps
5. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:23.452, 100 Laps
6. Tonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:24.064, 64 Laps
7. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:24.170, 74 Laps
8. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:24.173, 73 Laps
9. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 1:24.869, 111 Laps
10. Lucas di Grassi, Virgin Racing,  1:27.057, 31 Laps
11. Fairuz Fauzy, LotusF1, 1:28.002, 76 Laps

Barcelona, Friday:
1. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:20.614, 99 Laps
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari. 1:20.637, 134 Laps
3. Pedro de la Rosa, Sauber, 1:20.973, 114 Laps
4. Tonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:21.056, 90 Laps
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:21.258, 125 Laps
6. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 1:21.571, 104 Laps
7. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:21.689, 85 Laps
8. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:22.152, 93 Laps
9. Robert Kubica, Renault, 1:24.912, 53 Laps
10. Jarno Trulli, LotusF1, 1:25.524, 70 Laps
11. Timo Glock, Virgin Racing, 1:25.942, 52 Laps

Barcelona, Saturday:
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:20.686, 128 Laps
2. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:21.413, 106 Laps
3. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:21.450, 105 Laps
4. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:21.975, 101 Laps
5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.344, 115 Laps
6. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:22.523, 68 Laps
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:22.606, 61 Laps
8. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.123, 51 Laps
9. Jarno Trulli, LotusF1, 1:25.059, 102 Laps
10. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:26.216, 105 Laps
11. Timo Glock, Virgin Racing, 1:26.305, 31 Laps

Barcelona, Sunday:
1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:20.472, 134 Laps
2. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:20.496, 59 Laps
3. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.539, 113 Laps
4. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:20.611, 99 Laps
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:20.667, 76 Laps
6. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:20.745, 122 Laps
7. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:20.870, 83 Laps
8. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:20.911, 67 Laps
9. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:22.135, 87 Laps
10. Robert Kubica, Renault, 1:23.175, 106 Laps
11. Heikki Kovalainen, LotusF1, 1:25.251, 65 Laps
12. Lucas di Grassi, Virgin Racing, 1:26.160, 47 Laps

When one charts how each team fared each day, in comparison to the other teams running that day, this test session is very inconclusive.  Usually, a team will be generally consistent, ranking 2-8-1-2 or something of that nature.  As you can see from the chart below, that did not happen this week.

Team Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Total Laps
Ferrari 7 2 5 3 436
Force India 6 4 7 4 314
LotusF1 11 10 9 11 313
McLaren 5 8 3 1 432
Mercedes 3 7 1 6 442
Red Bull 1 5 8 2/5 420
Renault 8 9 6 10 300
Toro Rosso 9 6 2 9 408
Sauber 4 3 10 8 359
Virgin Racing 10 11 11 12 161
Williams 2 1 4 7 364

The only teams that were truly consistent were Virgin Racing and LotusF1, both always in the bottom two or three.  We have to stretch a bit to find front-running consistent teams.  Williams (2-1-4-7), Ferrari (7-2-5-3), Force India (6-4-7-4), Mercedes (3-7-1-6), and McLaren (5-8-3-1) were the closest to consistently faster teams to be found, with Williams and Ferrari appearing to be the most consistently faster than the other teams running.   As for the drivers, it was much easier to spot consistencies, and fast ones at that.

Driver First Day Second Day Total Laps
Jenson Button 5 (1:23.452) 3 (1:21.450) 205
Lewis Hamilton 8 (1:22.152) 1 (1:20.472) 127*
Michael Schumacher 7 (1:21.689) 6 (1:20.745) 207*
Nico Rosberg 3 (1:22.514) 1 (1:20.686) 135
Sebastian Vettel 5 (1:21.258) 8(1:23.123) / 5(1:20.667) 252*
Mark Webber 1 (1:21.487) 2 (1:20.496) 168
Felipe Massa 5 (1:22.344) 3 (1:20.539) 128
Fernando Alonso 7 (1:24.170) 2 (1:20.637) 208*
Rubens Barrichello 4 (1:21.975) 7 (1:20.870) 184*
Nico Hulkenberg 2 (1:22.407) 1 (1:20.614) 180
Robert Kubica 9 (1:24.912) 10 (1:23.175) 159*
Vitaly Petrov 8 (1:24.173) 6 (1:22.523) 141
Adrian Sutil 7 (1:22.606) 4 (1:20.611) 160*
Tonio Liuzzi 6 (1:24.064) 4 (1:21.056) 154
Jarno Trulli 10 (1:25.524) 9 (1:25.059) 172*
Heikki Kovalainen 11 (1:25.251) N/A 65
Fairuz Fauzy 11 (1:28.002) N/A 76
Sebastien Buemi 2 (1:21.413) 9 (1:22.135) 193
Jaime Alguersuari 9 (1:24.869) 6 (1:21.571) 215*
Timo Glock 11 (1:25.942) 11 (1:26.305) 83*
Lucas di Grassi 10 (1:27.057) 11 91:26.160) 78
Pedro de la Rosa 4 (1:23.144) 3 (1:20.973) 187*
Kamui Kobayashi 10 (1:26.216) 8 (1:20.911) 172

As you can see, there were eight truly consistent drivers, but two or three stand out.  Webber (1-2), Hulkenberg (2-1), Rosberg (3-1), de la Rosa (3-4), Button (5-3), Massa (5-3), Liuzzi (6-4), Schumacher (7-6) were all consistent, but Webber, Hulkenberg, and to an extent, Rosberg were the consistently fastest drivers in the test.  True, Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest overall time (1:20.472) on Sunday, but Mark Webber was close behind that day.  Also, setting fastest laps does not make a driver champion at the end of the season.  Consistency is key.

In the end, Barcelona was inconclusive, from this standpoint, for the teams.  Interestingly enough, when one adds Hulkenberg’s consistently fast days to Williams’ other vague consistency, the team appears as though it will do decently well throughout the season.  Still, it is difficult to determine just how the teams are doing from four days of running, with all the variables at play.  Later today, however, I’ll take a look at the consistency of the teams and drivers over the entire four tests this off season.  Soon enough, lap times will take a backseat to champagne-spraying (well, once Bahrain and it’s fizzy rose water is over).  [posted, in part, from the author’s previous work at Formula1Blog]

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