Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Austria 2015 Grand Prix Review

Once again, a weekend away meant I missed the race  - and still haven't had a chance to watch it. So for the second race in a row, here is my otherwise blind reading of the charts.

First up, qualifying. The session utilisation chart shows two outings in each part of qualifying, with neither ROS nor HAM improving in their second runs in Q3. MAS looked to have reasonable pace in both Q1 and Q2, setting purple times in the second runs, with SAI looking like he pulled a blinder in his second Q1 run, taking purples then finishing with time that looks like it just missing out on the best time of the session? VET appears to have played it cool in Q2, sitting out the initial run period and then completing just a single stint in the back half of the session. ROS seems to have disappointed, not improving on his Q2 time, and HAM only seems to have improved his Q2 time on a first run in Q3 pole setting lap. In Q3, GRO only seemed to manage a spotter lap, and VES appears to have gone out just at the end of the session.

 Let's see how the classifications played out:
SAI was up there in Q1, wasn't he! Though by the looks of it, HAM at least only did what he had to. The Q1 cut-off time was just a tenth away from a passage into Q2, with RAI missing out by another tenth! What is going on at Ferrari?! Going from Q2 to Q3, if NAS has repeated his Q2 time he'd have made another place on the grid. MAS improved over five tenths going Q2 to Q3 compared to less than a three tenths improvement by teammate BOT who with a similar improvement would have made the second row of the grid.

There also seems to be a glaring error with the chart - RIC is there in Q2  but seems to fail to make the cut-off in Q1? The data is scraped from the FIA website, so is my scraper wrong?

Ah - seems the FIA are up to their old trick again, posting the wrong time (though at least they have the order right this time, which they haven't in other results; in this case it should have been a 1:11.973...). I wonder if they do this deliberately, to contaminate the data for anyone scraping the results (and presumably not caring about the two fingers they stick up to anyone actually consulting results on the FIA site because they think that site offers some sort of website of record. For all the money in F1, they really do take the p**s some times.

Looking at quali progression in terms of closeness of times - though who can believe them? I'll try to find a better source than the FIA website for future runs of these reports - we see how close things were around the Q1 cut-off time and the Q2 midfield. The Q3 times separate into three groupings, with close clusters at the back of grid and in the middle positions, and clearer separation between the top 3 places. The chart is pretty cluttered for reading the names - I think this chart really needs to be side by side with the rank based one (and plotted using the correct data...)
In terms of how the sessions progressed, we see  more accurately what went on, basing the chart explicitly on official laptimes rather than the error-prone numbers on the FIA website. Along the bottom is elapsed time into each part of qualifying; on the y-axis, the laptime. Here we see how PER did indeed miss the cut, being pipped by ALO as they crossed line close to each other, but perhaps remaining hopeful of getting through until KVY, NAS, MAL and VES improved their times and brought the cut-off time down. (I'm thinking now that the Q1 part of the session utilisation chart might be handy to have plotted in alignment with this chat?) SAI's progress is also evident, his best time at the very end demonstrating an impressive run, the first flying lap of which would also have made the cutoff time easily.

Moving on to Q2, we see the majority of drivers who made it into Q3 setting their best times on their second run, the only exception being KVY who (just) failed to beat his first run time. ROS seems to have taken dominated this part of qualifying with ERI, SAI and RIC all seem pretty matched, if just pipped by MAL, though they all missed the cutoff, and ALO trailing them all.
In Q3, ROS and HAM both set their best times in Q3 and then  - form the lack of competitive times in their second run, presumably both messed up in those second runs? If that as the case, with a bit more of a push, VET could perhaps have split the Mercedes and made the front row of the grid?
Moving on to the race, and a chart that plots track position in each leadlap (leadlap counts up on the y-axis, the x-axis is the on-track gap in seconds between each car and the lap leader), the failure to make much progress in the first five laps, followed by a close bunching on lap 6 and then a gap opening up between the leading cars on lap 7 suggests a safety came out following a first lap incident? The breaks in the chart suggest a one stop strategy predominated with the majority of stops around laps 35-38 (I really need to identify stopping laps somehow, and perhaps purple and green laps too?)
Quite a few battles are evident in the first stint, and after the pit stops the race came to a head in the closing laps between third and fourth, seventh and eighth, and perhaps even ninth and tenth? ROS seems to have lead pretty much from the start - so presumably took HAM either at the start or had a great getaway from the safety car (the chart cuts off the lap leader in those early laps - I need to add the race leader name label to the left hand side of the chart too, I think, perhaps with the leader's lap time?).

So let's see if we can now try to piece together elements of the race from a variety of battle charts, which show lap number along the x-axis, time to car ahead on positive y, and time to car behind on negative y (red labels are lapped cars). To begin with, looking at HAM's chart, we see how he lost the lead to ROS from the off (presuming he started from pole and his time based preliminary qualifying position wasn't changed), kept tabs with him during the first stint whilst pulling away from VET in third, lost out a little in the pit stop (ROS pitting first) and then failed to make much progress until the very end, when it looks as if backmarkers may have impeded ROS' progress?
Looking to VET's race, we see how VET lost ground to HAM in the first stint whilst drawing away from MAS in third. Something presumably went badly wrong in the pits with VET dropping back to fourth behind MAS. The second stint saw VET doggedly trying to rein MAS back, though he ran out of race distance before he could make the pass back in in to a podium finishing position. In fifth place behind, BOT could only go backwards.
So how did BOT see the race? The first half of his race was characterised by a battle ahead with VES, whom he passed about lap 14(?) and then HUL. BOT clearly had the pace on RIC, and also managed to draw away from HUL having passed him around about lap 38, but it seems there was never any hope of catching VET who steam rollered ahead..

From VES' point of view, the early part of the race saw DRS range fighting ahead with HUL and behind with BOT, before BOT made the pass. After BOT took RIC, VES charged him down and passed him at a steady rate of knots, but could make no progress on HUL ahead. Behind, it seems RIC eventually lost out to MAL, who then set his sights on VES and gave him a hard time on the DRS line from about lap 59 until he sneaked past in the closing couple of laps of the race.
Looking from MAL's perspective, the race seems quite a lively one. Taking PER shortly after the safety car, and then battling to get past first GRO and then PER, MAL entered clean air around about lap 40 and started to take chunks of time out of RIC, who seems to have been easily passed, and then VES, who seems to have put up much more of a fight, once caught, though he succumbed right at the end of the race.
As we have seen, RIC appeared in many stories, though from his own perspective it seems to gave been one of cars zooming at first ahead on track, MAL drawing away in the first quarter of the race, BOT in the second, VES in the third, and then a switch in fortune to watch cars looming ahead and zooming away behind - first NAS ahead and KVY behind, then PER ahead and NAS behind.
Looking elsewhere around the track, we see a couple of tracking races in the early part of the race, before drivers presumably dropped out. Firstly, GRO, who spent the first twenty laps caught between PER and MAL before making progress against KVY and then presumably dropping out of the race around about lap 35...?
...which also seems to be the time called on SAI, whose first 25 laps were spent sandwiched between NAS and PER, before NAS bolted off ahead and SAI presumably called it a day.

So, there we have it, my reading of the race from the data, and a realisation that some of the data I have (the data scraped from the FIA website) is error prone, though whether deliberately or through error, I don't know. (What I do know, though, is that I have succumbed to at least one other error when trying to use FIA official classification website data earlier this year...)


  1. I really like the style of the second qualifying chart.

    You've correctly identified that something happened in Hamilton and Rosberg's final Q3 laps and the time of the safety car. To leave some mystery, I shall only say that one of your two suggestions for how Rosberg got past Hamilton is correct.

    The answer to all the Ferrari questions is ravening incompetence. Mr. Arrivabene is going to have to have another one of his pit-stop inquests.

    And you're right about Grosjean and Sainz. The last gasp Maldonado overtake and the whole Vestappen vs Maldonado bit involved a lot of deep breaths and hope neither of them have a lunatic moment.

  2. I need to take some time out to refine these charts a bit more, particularly in respect of identifying things like pitstops, and perhaps placing multiple charts in alignment with each other so things can be easily cross-referenced. It'd be useful if the charts we interactive too, so eg I could put crosshairs on the qualifying session charts or more easily (interactively) track drivers on the track position chart.


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