Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Lost Points

While we're approaching the half-point of the season, there's been a lot of talk of missed opportunities from several teams. Red Bull have had a big speed advantage, especially at qualifying, but they haven't always managed to convert pole positions into wins. They have had their fair share of problems and controversies but sometimes they just didn't have the race pace to win.

Although I thought James Allen was exaggerating a bit when he estimated that Red Bull had dropped 120 points so far this season, it got me thinking what the leader tables would look like if the top teams hadn't suffered any mechanical problems. Unlike James Allen, I am not taking crashes and racing incidents into account- it would make things too complicated and I don't think it's relevant.

In Bahrain, Vettel's spark plug issue dropped him to 4th and in Australia he retired from the lead when a wheel nut problem forced him onto the gravel.

In Malaysia, it was Ferrari's turn to hit trouble with Alonso's engine blowing up at the last lap and forcing him to retire from 9th.  In Spain, a brake failure dropped Vettel from 3rd to 4th, behind Alonso and at the penultimate lap Hamilton suffered a puncture and retired from 2nd.

In Monaco, Button retired with an overheating engine after a mechanic left a cooling cover on one of the sidepods. Although it's hard to tell how he would have done if it wasn't for that mistake, it makes sense to assume he could have finished at least 8th, just behind Nico Rosberg.

Turkey featured a controversial crash between teammates and, although it did gift McLaren a 1-2, it was a racing incident and not an unlucky mechanical failure - i.e. I'm not it counting here. In Canada, Vettel suffered some gearbox trouble which forced him to nurse his car to the end, but didn't lose any positions.

The Lost Points Championship

Driver    New Points    Difference
Vettel           128               -38
Hamilton      122               -13
Webber        102               +1
Button          101               +5
Alonso          81                +13
Rosberg        72                +2
Kubica          68                +5
Massa           59                 +8
Schumacher  31                +3

Clearly, the biggest loser in this is Vettel, who lost a massive 38 points from mechanical problems and, without them, he would be leading the championship now. Perhaps surprisingly, Alonso is the biggest winner, mainly because of the win he inherited from Vettel at the season opener in Bahrain.

In total, Red Bull have lost 37 points so far while McLaren just 8, with Hamilton being the overall loser at -13 and Button averaging at +5 despite his retirement at Monaco. Ferrari have gained 21 points from other people's problems, but they have had their fair share of accidents and mistakes, like Alonso's crash at Monaco or the bad qualifying choices in Malaysia- these are not taken into account here.

Mistakes, accidents and failures are all part of the racing though, and building a good car also means building a reliable one. At the end of the year, no one will care about missed points and opportunities; Vettel's two lost wins might cost him, but the points he managed to salvage in Bahrain and Spain could prove extremely valuable.


debs. said...

Even though I am a Button fan, that leaderboard makes more sense! But F1 is a team sport and drivers need to drive hard AND drive smart. Lewis and Seb drive fearlessly, Jenson and Mark use their heads a little more. Mix them all together and you would have the ultimate driver.

Ino said...

You're right, and everyone's got a bad day every now and then. It can be reliability or a bad decision, they've all had a few of each!

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