Monday, 21 July 2014

Hungary 2014 (Round 11) - F1 Prediction League



Note: Hamilton and Rosberg are banned as picks from all categories (except random where stipulated). I've created a poll in the right-hand corner of the site - vote whether you're are in favour of the ban. If not (and a majority post no), it won't go ahead. See the post further down for an explanation.

Welcome to the Lewisring! Or if you want the more formal and technical name – the Hungaroring, located in Mogyoród, Hungary. This has been the happy hunting ground for Lewis Hamilton in years gone by, winner in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Interestingly Kimi Räikkönen finished second in every single race where Hamilton won. I think if Hamilton is reliant on Kimi finishing second to win, he has little chance.

This race track is one which some of the best drivers love and have excelled at including Schumacher, Senna, Mansell and Alonso. The race has seen a lot of F1 history down the years including Hill’s crazy almost race winning effort in the…Arrows!? It has also seen the maiden wins of Button and Alonso in recent years.

There are a number of interesting questions this weekend. Can Williams hang on to the title of the second best car with its traction and recent success? Can Hamilton and Räikkönen repeat earlier successes? Can another German finally win here after the previous dominance of Schumacher – Vettel would break his Hungary duct and Rosberg would strengthen his position in the championship.

Without further ado let’s introduce the championship standings:





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Random


Thanks to everyone who has helped so far on random this year - please feel free to post suggestions here for other races.

Random will be split into two categories - most team improvement and random questions.

Who is catching the Kraken?



Which team has made the most qualifying progress since Catalunya, Spain? 

This is an ideal track to choose as Hungary is (one of) the closest comparisons on the F1 circuit to Catalunya so progress can be fairly accurately measured.

The fastest time from the Spanish GP qualifying 2014 has been taken for each constructor. This time has been represented as a % of the Mercedes car (see below).

Mercedes 100%
Red Bull 101.23%
Williams 101.64%
Lotus 102.03% 
Ferrari 102.20%
McLaren 102.47%
Force India 102.88%
Toro Rosso 103.29%
Sauber 103.58%
Marussia 105.11%
Caterham 105.96% 

Choose the TWO teams you feel have made the most progress since Round 5 – Spain. And the team who has made the LEAST progress.

Mechanics 

The best time from Hungary 2014 qualifying for each constructor will be divided by the % to give a new ordering.

For example, using last year’s times from Hungary the following would happen:

Mercedes 79.388/1 = 79.388
Red Bull 79.426/1.0123 = 78.461
Ferrari 1.19.791/1.0220 = 78.073
Williams 1.21.133/1.0164 = 79.824
Order: Ferrari (78.073), Red Bull (78.461), Mercedes (79.388), Williams (79.824).

Scoring
As there are eleven teams there is an opportunity to score 21 points – 11 points for the best choice and 10 points for the second best choice, 9 for third etc. An additional two bonus points will be scored for correctly guessing the team which has declined the most since Spain 2014. 

Who’s the most hungry?


Q1: Massa will finish in the top five in the race? (Yes/No)
Q2: Kobayashi will beat Chilton in the race? (Yes/No)
Q3: Rosberg will beat Hamilton in the race? (Yes/No)
Q4: Hulkenberg will reach Q3? (Yes/No)
Q5: A Lotus car will finish in the points? (Yes/No)
Q6: Mercedes will finish one-two in every session which includes P1, P2, P3, Qualifying and Race? (Yes/No)
Q7: Both Ferraris will score points? (Yes/No)

Two points will be scored for each correct answer answered above.

Tie-break 

What is the time difference in qualifying between Sergio Perez (car no.11) and Pastor Maldonado (car no.13)? (best times in whole session).

A random generator listed numbers between 1 and 99.  I took the driver numbers; It took a while to find the two drivers but we got there in the end.

Reasons for banning Hamilton and Rosberg


I think there are a few reasons for this. Anyone who has any issues with this please vote no in the poll (top-right corner of the site). My reasonings are as follows:

  • Rosberg and Hamilton are both 70 points + ahead of the nearest competitors in the Drivers Championship
  • The majority of picks have been Rosberg and Hamilton this year with very few exceptions so banning them should increase the diversity of picks made. There are several options open with Bottas, Ricciardo, Vettel, Alonso, Massa etc. Even the McLarens, Kimi, the Lotus' and Force India may be viable picks given a bit of development and unique circumstances.
  • Three of the last four races have been decided by mechanical issues which I find dissatisfying regardless of the outcome (Canada - Hamilton retires, Britain - Rosberg retires and Germany - Hamilton has a huge brake failure which ruled out any Q points and made the race a foregone conclusion). It's true that the same problem can occur if you choose other drivers but increasingly with the hot summer the Mercs will continue to run into problems
  • The Merc trend will continue throughout the whole year as their car is significantly better than the others making other drivers implausible choices

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Please pick with and without Hamilton and Rosberg in case the ban doesn't go ahead.

Feel free to post picks in the following format:

Qualifying: 
Race: 
Constructors: [Not Mercedes as they are banned]
Random:

Teams with most improvement: X, Y
Team with least improvement: X
Q1: Yes/No
Q2: Yes/No
Q3: Yes/No
Q4: Yes/No
Q5: Yes/No
Q6: Yes/No
Q7: Yes/No

Tie-break
Time difference in qualifying between Maldonado and Perez:

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I'm looking forward to this weekend. As always picks are due before Free Practice 1. Will Hamilton become a five-time winner?

Germany 2014 Results and Championship Standings (10/19)

This will be a fairly brief review as I'm keen to get the picking thread out to give people enough time to think about their picks before Hungary.

It was another reasonably entertaining race in my opinion. It wasn't spectacular but it had a lot of overtakes and some good wheel-to-wheel to racing, particularly Alonso and the other Red Bull this time! I thought Ricciardo, Bottas and Alonso were all excellent. Hamilton charged through the field well although he was lucky to escape a few bits of contact with little more than minor damage.

Also Massa just can't seem to learn. Unfortuanately he's been involved in four accidents this year - three of them weren't his fault - but this one was clear to most and was reminiscent of incidents in the past where Massa refused to accept any blame. It's a trait also very prevalent in Perez, Maldonado and Sutil. Poor Kevin, fingers crossed he continues his good run in Hungary.



First off on a prediction league note, unlucky Kiszol who got the Williams pick right but once again was hit due to Massa's first lap incident. Red Bull ended up pipping Williams by two points.

More positively, congratulations to the Williams drivers (Ediglo and Juan Medina) who scored a 1-2! Also the Mercedes drivers of Metalgatherer and Aled Lewis finished 3rd and 4th. It seems all of you have had some motivation from recent performances by those two teams in Austria and Silverstone! 

Again there wasn't too much change at the top of the leaderboard although Metalgatherer gained significant ground on many of his title contenders plus Dragan rose from fifth to third, well done.




Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday Analysis: Who’s turning up the heat in Hockenheim?


Wait, what's this?
 
Welcome to our first (and hopefully not last) Friday analysis. There are a few reasons behind us two F1 nuts trying this out; 

1) A lack of decent analysis out there for interested F1 folk like ourselves 
2) The better stuff is subscriber only (like Gary Anderson’s Autosport analysis, which itself still has a few errors)
3) We figured it would be fun. 

Although we could hardly call ourselves Formula One experts (though we will allow others to do so), we’re both long-standing fans of the sport, and we’ve been analysing Friday practice all year – not least because we’re both betting men...

We’ve focused largely on Free Practice 2, as this is where all teams do both a qualifying simulation and a race simulation. Free Practice 1 is harder to draw conclusions from, as the programmes and fuel loads the teams run are more inconsistent. As well as looking at pure lap times, we’ve taken into consideration issues like traffic, tyre degradation, media snippets from the drivers, and also the patterns we tend to see from Friday across to the rest of the weekend in previous races. So that’s the context, now let’s get stuck in!


Jubilant Germany welcomes the return of Formula One

An eventful Friday at the Hockenheimring saw Formula one return to Germany; a country still wrapped in the throes of celebration, having recently proved themselves to be more capable at kicking an inflatable ball around than any other nation on the planet. This may explain the rare sight in 2014 of Sebastian Vettel in a cheery mood, although as we’ll see below, his less experienced teammate is giving him more headaches in front of his home fans.

Today yielded some particularly interesting questions, such as how the banning of FRIC (front and rear interconnected systems suspension) would affect the pecking order, whether Susie Wolff could show that female drivers have the pace to succeed in F1, and which of the two big Championship rivals has the edge in what could be a decisive weekend.  So let’s take a look at what the FRIC (sorry, but we couldn’t miss out on the pun bandwagon) the story from Friday at Hockenheim looks like.

Analysis: Who looks good?

The first thing to say is that it was a challenging day to analyse, due to a combination of traffic and the F1 timing app once again failing to tell us who was on what tyre at what time in the session – come on Bernie! We had to rely on what we saw on the TV screen, and this meant that we didn’t see much of the smaller teams. Nonetheless, there are some clear patterns emerging.

One lap pace

The headline lap times (Figure 1) appear to show a familiar story, with Mercedes 1-2 out in front. However, a confident Ricciardo was nipping (wolfishly?) at their heels, suggesting qualifying could see a repeat of Austria with the Mercs being pushed very hard – although this time by Red Bull rather than Williams. McLaren continue to look pretty handy over one lap, and Ferrari also look decent – Alonso made an error in sector three and will surely find more pace compared to Raikkonen. Williams appear to be struggling, although we would guard against reading too much in to that, as they tend to hide their true pace on a Friday more than most teams. Ferrari on the other hand tend to flatter on a Friday, so don’t be surprised if they find themselves fourth best come qualifying. Behind them Sutil was a surprise in 11th, and the Force Indias continue to struggle to show their full pace in qualifying trim. Lotus continue to flounder.

In terms of teammate battles, it was mega tight between the two Mercedes boys. Neither nailed their lap with Hamilton getting traffic in Sector 3, and Rosberg making an error on his first flying lap, meaning his tyres were past their best when he did set his lap time. Ricciardo once again appears to have the edge on Vettel.


Figure 1: Fastest theoretical lap times, consisting of the driver’s best sectors. Thanks to the McLaren fan site for this!


Race pace

We’ve looked separately at runs on the soft and the supersoft tyre, as each had a different story to tell.


Figure 2: Long run lap times on supersoft tyre – we’ve taken the drivers with the most representative stints for each team, and both of the Mercedes drivers

The Mercedes again look to have the edge here by at least a couple of tenths, with Rosberg looking particularly strong, although Hamilton became stronger throughout his stint. Ricciardo stands out as best of the rest with a very positive Sergio Perez next. Williams were struggling, but again they tend to gain with respect to other teams after a Friday. McLaren were unable to match their qualifying pace with long run pace, which has been the case a few times this year. Jenson Button was quick to point out the cars difficulty with the supersoft tyre after the practice session.

What also stands out here is the severe tyre degredation on the supersoft, with times dropping off dramatically after as little as six laps. Ricciardo and the Mercedes managed them better, with Ricciardo making them last for around twenty laps (across several stints). Vettel had good pace compared to Ricciardo, but saw a more severe drop off. Expect to see the top teams pitting early in the race and having to make their way past cars running longer on the prime tyre. 



Figure 3: Long run lap times on the soft tyre

Again there are three drivers here who stand out for both pace and consistency – Rosberg, Hamilton and Ricciardo. Vettel started quickly, but again seemed to be hurting his tyres – after his first six laps or so he was around a second a lap slower than Ricciardo. Alonso doesn’t look to have the pace to keep up with the Red Bulls and the Mercedes, especially given the tendency of the Ferrari to overperform on a Friday.

As we said, we have stayed away from the smaller teams due to the difficulty in determining tyres, but it was pretty clear that the Caterham still has its canine properties, and the only way that car could look more freakish is if it turned up to the circuit dressed in a lederhosen.

Conclusions

It looks like another great battle between the two Mercedes drivers for pole and the win, with Rosberg appearing to have a slight edge at this stage of the weekend. Ricciardo looks comfortably best of the rest, and is hot favourite for the final podium spot. Behind him Vettel looks strong, but then the picture is a bit murkier. Williams will definitely improve, but they were chewing through their tyres faster than a hungry mouse through cheddar, so could have a tough race. Alonso will once again be up there challenging for 5th to 7th, and expect to see Force India coming through strongly later in the race due to their tyre whispering car, whilst McLaren (who also tend to flatter on Fridays) will probably drop backwards.

One of the biggest factors today and potentially for the rest of the weekend is the extreme heat, which made the supersoft tyres fall away like a tasty soft French cheese, particularly for some teams (Williams, Sauber). This could be a challenge in the race, pushing out the tyre strategy to perhaps even three stops for some teams. It may also create reliability issues, and Rosberg’s steaming hot brakes in Practice 2 brought to mind memories of Canada. 

Other potential threats to Merc is the removal of FRIC which caused set-up issues. 

The threat of rain still hangs over the circuit for race day, with rain forecast at 60% likely, and mostly focused around race time. Not since Brazil 2012 have we had a proper wet race, and it would something incredible to watch with the 2014 cars with their high torque and lower downforce. Wet weather would create a big unknown, but based on wet qualifying sessions we would expect the gap between Mercedes and Red Bull to lessen, and those two cars to pull away even further from the rest.

Quick tips

Ricciardo to qualify top 3 @ 2.5 with Bwin
Qualifying winning margin under 0.15 seconds @ 2.25 with Ladbrokes

Spotted: A Wolff in the Formula One pack

It was terrific to see Susie Wolff complete a full Practice session, after the howler that she had in Silverstone with her car grinding to a miserable halt on her second timed lap. She put in some impressive times, consistently staying within half a second of Massa. 

It was clear to us that Susie was enjoying herself, as she was in such a hurry to get back on track that she even set the fastest time through the pitlane speed trap – twice! A $2,000 speeding fine would probably put a spoiler on our day, but we’re sure that the Williams F1 team can afford it. We hope to see Susie back in a Formula One car, not least because of the sheer multitude of pun opportunities that her surname presents. Still, our favourite this year has to be, “Ok Lewis, it’s hammertime.”

And with that we bid you auf wiedersehen. Enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Germany 2014 (Round 10) - F1 Prediction League


We arrive at the German GP - the home race of Rosberg, Vettel, Hulkenberg and Sutil with what promises to be a tense weekend. Rosberg will be keen to repay Hamilton for defeat at the British GP. Also FRIC systems are likely to be banned - how will this shake up the competitive order?

Last time we were at Hockenheim Alonso qualified on pole in the wet and took a lights to flag victory. Vettel originally finished second after an intense battle with Button however he had 20 seconds added to his time due to an illegal overtake on Button by exceeding the track limits (sound familiar?).


 Hockenheim has hosted many memorable other F1 races including one of my favourites in 1997 (see the video below for the first lap). Gerhard Berger went on to win an emotional last race in F1 followed by Schumacher and Hakkinen. Of course that year Schumacher and Villenueve were in a battle for the title and Villeneuve did himself no favours by crashing on lap 33.

 

After Aled Lewis' consecutive wins is he able to triumph an unprecedented three times in a row? Will Michael and Sangan pick differently? There has only been one difference so far (Rosberg vs. Hamilton in Australis where Sangan succeeded, random has generally been a bigger strength for Michael).

Just to confirm Mercedes are still banned as a constructors pick. The theme of this weekend will be focussed on the German drivers.

Here are the current championship standings:






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Random


Thanks to Nat and Michael for their help in creating this random - please feel free to post suggestions here for other races.

Random will be split into two categories - German drivers and risk vs. reward.

German drivers
Q1: Will Rosberg beat his average practice position, where he's set a time, this weekend? (2.5)
Q2: Will Sutil beat his average qualifying position this weekend? (17th)
Q3: Will Hulkenberg beat his average race position this weekend? (7th)
Q4: Will Vettel beat his average fastest lap this weekend? (5th)
Q5: Who will finish in the highest position with the following handicaps? (Sutil, Hulkenberg (+8.5), Vettel (+11), Rosberg (+13.5).)
Q6: Which German will beat his teammate the most sessions across the weekend (Rosberg, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Sutil)? This includes the five sessions plus fastest lap - P1, P2, P3, Q, R, FL. An extra three points for guessing the exact right number of sessions. Two points for one away and one point away for two away. You do not need to guess the correct driver for the extra points.

Three points will be given for each of the above categories answered correctly. 

Risk vs. Rewards

Choose as many statements from the below which you believe will be correct. You will only score points if all the statements are correct:


Both Mercedes cars will finish (1 point)
Mercedes will top every session over the weekend (P1, P2, P3, Q, R)? (2 points)
Hulkenberg will score a quicker fastest lap than Perez (2 points)
Raikkonen will finish in the points (without hitting another driver or a wall) (2 points)
Hamilton will beat Rosberg in Practice 2 (2 points)
There will be a safety car in the race (3 points)
Alonso will finish in the top five (3 points)
There will be three Mercedes engine cars on the podium (4 points) 
Vettel and Alonso will finish three race laps next to each other (4 points)
Daniel Ricciardo will finish on the podium (4 points)
The podium will have two German drivers on (5 points)
Massa will retire (6 points)
A Sauber, Marussia or Caterham will score points (12 points)
Lewis Hamilton will score the Grand Chelem (qualifying, race, fastest lap, led every lap) (15 points)


Tie-break

Which German driver will qualify closest to Felipe Massa? Name the driver and the time difference. The driver will be the first tie-break and the time the ultimate tie-break.

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Feel free to post picks in the following format:

Qualifying: 
Race: 
Constructors: [Not Mercedes as they are banned]
Random:

Q1: Yes/No
Q2: Yes/No
Q3: Yes/No
Q4: Yes/No
Q5: Rosberg +13.5 places/Vettel +11 places/Hulkenberg +8.5 places/Sutil
Q6: Rosberg/Vettel/Hulkenberg/Sutil

Risk vs. Reward Statements (copy + paste below)

Tie-break
Closest German driver to Massa:
Time difference -

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I'm looking forward to this weekend. As always picks are due before Free Practice 1. Will Alonso work another miracle and win here.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Britain 2014 Results and Championship Standings (9/19)

At the start of the season, there were doubts - doubts that this season was going to be entertaining.  I feel these doubts have been answered. This race once again delivered - it had most things! While it didn't reach the heights of Bahrain and Canada, it was still special. A home winner was popular around the circuit, just like a Ferrari winner at Monza, especially as it had significant implications for the championship.

I feel that in terms of reaching classic status it missed a few essential elements - an epic battle for both the lead and for the other podium positions (Bottas and Ricciardo had a fairly easy time in the latter stages of the race). There were some tense battles further down; Alonso and Vettel entertained, their radio messages as funny as the on-track battle. One thing's clear, there's certainly no love lost between the two...

The weekend was a tale of contrasting fortunes - the fact that the podium consisted of drivers starting 6th, 8th and 14th was remarkable. The wet conditions in qualifying hampered six out of eight drivers in the top four teams (Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams) which created a very exciting race. 

Unfortunately for both Raikkonen and Massa their races were very short. Luckily both are mostly okay except for damaged pride and a loss of points respectively.

Congratulations to Aled Lewis again who repeated the feat of Kiszol (twice) by winning two consecutive races. Very impressive. Sangan and Michael are yet again tied close to each other, heading the table (they finished 3rd and 4th respectively). I wonder if there will be any decisive differences soon!? 



P.S. thanks to Dragan for pointing out a mistake last time. Juan Medina has been given back the 18 points.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Britain 2014 (Round 9) - F1 Prediction League

We arrive at the British GP, the scene of the Great Pirelli Farce and a Nico Rosberg victory last year. Both Hamilton and Vettel were set to win before issues cruelly denied each. Both have been beset by bad luck and retirements this year - perhaps their luck will turn around here?

Silverstone has so much history with memories from every decade. The first lap pile-up in 1973 started by Scheckter; Mansell's charge and overtake of Piquet in 1987; Schumacher's win while serving a drive through penalty in 1998 and Hamilton's magnificent wet weather win in 2008. The weather forecast is definitely pointing to a wet qualifying session which could create an exciting and mixed up grid!


What has been your favourite British GP of all-time?

Just to confirm Mercedes are still banned as a constructors pick. The theme of this weekend will be focussed on the British drivers (with a similar theme to be explored during the German GP weekend).

Here are the current championship standings:






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Random


Thanks to Nat and Michael for their help in creating this random - please feel free to post suggestions here.

Random will be split into two categories - British drivers and teammate head-to-heads.

British drivers
Q1: Will Hamilton beat his average practice position this weekend? (2nd)
Q2: Will Button beat his average qualifying position this weekend? (10th)
Q3: Will Chilton beat his average race position this weekend? (17th)
Q4: Who will set the fastest qualifying time? (Hamilton, Button with 2.25 seconds deducted or Chilton with 4.75 seconds deducted).
Q5: How many sessions (FP1, FP2, FP3, Q, Race and FL) will Jenson Button beat Kevin Magnussen? (0-2, 3-4, 5-6)
Q6: How close will Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg be in qualifying? (0-0.099s/0.1-0.199s/0.2-0.399s/0.4s+)
Q7: What position will Chilton's fastest lap be? (1-10, 11-14, 15-18, 19-22)

Two points will be given for each of the above categories answered correctly. 

Teammate head-to-heads 

The idea is to pick as many of the race head-to-heads below as you wish (i.e. which drivers will beat their teammate in the race). You will only score points in this round if all of your picks are correct. Driver retirements count so the driver in the team who completes the most laps is the winner.  

A bonus point will be given for every two drivers you pick to incentivise picking more drivers.

Alonso (1 point) v. Raikkonen (3 points)
Hamilton (2 points) v. Rosberg (2 points)
Massa (2 points) v. Bottas (2 points)
Button (1 point) v. Magnussen (3 points)
Hulkenberg (2 points) v. Perez (2 points)
Grosjean (1 point) v. Maldonado (3 points)
Ricciardo (1 point) v. Vettel (3 points)
Vergne (2 points) v. Kvyat (2 points)
Sutil (2 points) v. Gutierrez (2 points)

 For example: 
- Player A picks Raikkonen, Magnussen and Maldonado, they could score 10 points in total for the category (3 + 3 + 3 plus a bonus point)
- Player B picks Alonso, Button, Grosjean and Ricciardo, they could score 6 points in total for the category (1 + 1 + 1 + 1 plus two bonus points for picking four drivers).
- Player C picks Alonso, Hamilton, Bottas, Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Vergne, they could score 13 points in total (1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 2 plus three bonus points for picking six drivers).

As always the player with the highest overall point score will win the random. 

Tie-break

In the event of a tie, the player who predicts the closest teammates during qualifying will be the winner. Ties will be settled by the difference between those two teammates.

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Feel free to post picks in the following format:

Qualifying: 
Race: 
Constructors: [Not Mercedes as they are banned]
Random:

Q1 - Yes/No
Q2 - Yes/No
Q3 - Yes/No
Q4 - Hamilton/Button/Chilton
Q5 - 0-2/3-4/5-6
Q6 - 0-0.099s/0.1-0.199s/0.2-0.399s/0.4s+
Q7 - 1-10/11-14/15-18/19-22

Race teammate accumulator - [list drivers]

Tie-break
Closest teammates in Q -
Time difference -

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I'm looking forward to this weekend. As always picks are due before Free Practice 1. See you soon!