Saturday, 15 November 2014

Abu Dhabi 2014 (Final Round) - F1 Prediction League

Welcome to the Abu Dhabi GP prediction league thread! 

A fantastic weekend is in store with the title hanging in the balance. There are many defining battles throughout the field past the battle for the title, including the battle for fourth in the championship between Vettel, Alonso and Bottas. There are other questions surrounding the weekend, will this be Button's last F1 race!? Hopefully not as he still has tons of talent. Will Alonso be confirmed at McLaren? And will Vettel see out the end of his Red Bull career in style? 

Given the positions in the championship, Sangan is in the nice place of only having to score 12 points or so to win the league (out of a possible 25). It's all dependent on season and midseason too as 9 points is enough if they stay static. Don't forget the Constructors championship is still up for grabs too, Sangan and Dragan sit pretty in those standings too but Marussia could still turn this around.

Happy to accept new entrants (the rules/FAQ thread may be of help) and hoping to see all of our established players back for the final race. Please just make a comment at the end of my post using the template later in this thread. There's one final opportunity to win a race this season - who will take this golden opportunity!?
For new players, please stipulate whether you want to join Toro Rosso, Force India or Caterham. Team places will be given on a first come, first served basis.

Read on for the random questions, championship standings and a template to post picks.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Entering the Lair of the Honey Badger: How Will Kvyat Stack Up Against Ricciardo in 2015?

In amongst the understandable excitement that surrounded two of F1’s biggest name drivers playing musical seats, the story of the dominant team of recent years signing a relatively unproven rookie was rather neglected. 

Red Bull’s rather bizarre urgency to confirm that Daniil Kvyat (pictured on the right) would be replacing the departing Sebastian Vettel made one wonder if there was a risk that if the seat was left open for more than 24 hours that Pastor Maldonado would jump in it. 

Kvyat’s promotion to the senior team is in line with Red Bull’s policy of selecting drivers only from their Young Drivers Programme, which they have invested heavily in and which has borne some impressive results in the form of Vettel, Ricciardo and rising stars Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Kvyat’s promotion did little to improve the mood of Jean-Eric Vergne, who looked understandably p*ssed off ever since he was told ‘merci for the memories Jean-Eric’ by Toro Rosso (although there's a chance he may retain his seat). 

So were Red Bull right to promote Kvyat? And how will he get on against the all-conquering Daniel Ricciardo?

To find some answers, we’re going to use JEV as a benchmark, and compare him against both Ricciardo and Kvyat to gauge the young Russian’s abilities. We’ll look at qualifying, race performance and key moments from the Russian’s fledgling F1 career. A couple of caveats we’ve kept in mind are:

a) Kvyat is up against a more experienced and, it’s safe to assume we feel, improved JEV compared to the driver that Ricciardo faced.
b) Unlike Kvyat, Ricciardo was not a complete rookie when he joined Toro Rosso, having enjoyed half a season in the mighty HRT.

Both of the above obviously advantage Ricciardo. Another point is that Ricciardo and Vergne competed under a previous set of regulations, and we don’t know how well each has adapted to the 2014 regs relative to each other, so that puts a question mark over the comparisons. 

Qualifying

 


* average time difference only applies to dry sessions, and their last comparable time. If one driver exits in Q1 track evolution may give a misleading comparison.

In their two years together, Ricciardo amassed a staggering 27-4 dry qualifying head to head record against Vergne (4-4 in wet qualifying). In their first season together Dan was, on average, 0.314 seconds per lap quicker in dry qualifying across the year, which improved to 0.428 seconds in 2013. 


In comparison, Kvyat this year (as of the Russian GP) leads Vergne 9-4 in dry qualifying (Vergne is ahead 3-2 in the wet). On average, he is 0.156 seconds per lap quicker than Vergne in the dry this season.

A couple of conclusions jump out here, one of which is that Ricciardo is an exceptionally strong qualifier, as has become increasingly evident this season as he has outqualified Vettel 10-7 (8-4 in the dry). On raw data alone, it appears that over one lap Ricciardo has a fairly significant advantage - 2-3 tenths on average over Kvyat. However, accounting for our two important caveats above we can see a much closer picture. We feel that the JEV of 2014 is likely to be slightly quicker per lap than in 2012, and when this is taken into account there’s not much between Ricciardo and Kvyat in qualifying pace based on their rookie Toro Rosso year. It should be noted that overall Ricciardo does seem quicker especially off the back of the 2013 year. 

Interestingly Kvyat seems to be getting on top of his battle with Vergne towards the end of 2014 with three significant performances in Russia, United States and Brazil (see below).



Time difference in qualifying between JEV and Ricciardo/Kvyat in dry qualifying sessions. Ricciardo denoted by the blue diamond (2012) and the red square (2013). Kvyat is the green triangle (2014). Any shapes above the middle line indicate that JEV outqualified Ricciardo/Kvyat, shapes below are the opposite. This is a useful comparison which helps to compare abilities on different tracks.


Race



* results have been counted at the point where either driver retired, unless the leading driver caused their own retirement through collision damage. This is counted as a loss. Where there is significant doubt about the result or one driver is handicapped from the 1st lap results are not counted.

For race performance analysis we’re more interested in head to head record than points tally. Points rarely paint the whole picture (and sometimes present completely the wrong one), especially in a smaller team where one strong finish could skew the results. A good example is Vergne’s 6that this season’s Singapore GP. Whilst an impressive drive, Vergne benefitted from a number of quicker drivers running into issues (Button, Rosberg, Bottas, Raikkonen) and also a safety car that played into his hands.

Unsurprisingly, Ricciardo’s qualifying dominance gave him an edge on race day, and in 2 car finishes he led Vergne 8-7 in head to head in 2012, which improved to 6-3 in 2013. Although Dan’s superior head to head record translated into a 20-13 points advantage in 2013, Vergne actually outscored Dan 16-10 in 2012 due to his quintet of 8th placed finishes, whilst Dan was busy racking up 9ths and 10ths. What is quite impressive though is that Vergne’s 31-8 qualifying head to head deficit (including wet and dry) was reduced to just a 14-10 race head to head deficit in 2 car finishes. It indicates that JEV is much stronger in the race than in qualifying.

Although Vergne has scored nearly three times the points of Kvyat this year (22-8), many of his points came from that one 6th placed finish in Singapore. In 2 car finishes the picture is closer, with Vergne leading the head to head 7-5. Again Vergne has fought back in the race.

Kvyat’s race head to head stacks up reasonably against what Dan was able to do competing with Vergne in his first year at Toro Rosso. Kvyat is currently 7-5 down, Dan finished 8-7 up. Given the caveats about Dan’s extra experience at HRT and Vergne’s improvement since 2012 this reflects pretty well on Kvyat, especially if he can build on lessons learnt this year.


Key moments



A Formula One Driver is also defined by their outstanding drives and the devastating mistakes that they make, so we’re going to explore some of the most significant moments of this year for Kvyat. Kvyat crushed Vergne in both Spa (quicker all weekend) and Monza (started from the back, brakes failed at the end and still beat him). It’s notable though that these races followed the announcement that Toro Rosso were letting the Frenchman go at the end of this year, and Vergne cut a pretty dejected figure during this point of the season.

On the other hand Kvyat was completely beaten for pace in Hungary, lost out in Japan despite Vergne starting from the back, and then had a shocker in Singapore (hindered though by an issue with his drinks bottle during the race). The recent weekend in Russia was a tough one for the young Russian, as a stunning 5th place in qualifying was followed by a nightmare race as he fluffed the start and then ruined his tyres unsuccessfully battling with other cars later in the race, eventually finishing around 15 seconds behind his teammate. It doesn’t look good that at his home race of the season and first full race weekend after being promoted he chucked in one of his worst races of the year.


Conclusions..



So just how good is Russia’s finest (F1 driver)? Pretty good, we think. He compares well with Dan in his first year as a Toro Rosso driver – not as quick over one lap or in the race but close. A lot though will depend on how Kvyat develops over the next couple of years. Dan made a big step forward from 2012 to 2013 when compared to Vergne, and is now a very strong driver. It’s impossible for us to judge whether Kvyat will make similarly impressive strides. We wouldn’t be surprised if the more experienced Australian beats him heavily next year, especially in qualifying, but we should see glimpses of just how good Kvyat can be.

The bad news for Kvyat (if being given the chance to drive a Red Bull can ever be bad news) is that he will need to get up to speed quite quickly. If the hype is to be believed about young Max Verstappen, then the flying Dutchman could be breathing down his neck for a Red Bull seat in 2017 or even 2016 if his rookie year is Hamilton-esque. If Kvyat doesn’t match up well to Dan within a couple of years he may find himself on the F1 sidelines, along with a number of other former Red Bull protégés.

And a quick word for poor old JEV. His very respectable record against Dan, and Dan’s consequent thumping of Vettel this year show him to be at the very least deserving of a seat in F1, certainly over drivers like Sutil, Gutierrez and Ericsson. Hopefully a team snaps him up next year. Red Bull concluded that JEV doesn’t have the potential to reach the level that Ricciardo is operating at now (and based on the stats we’d agree – Ricciardo made a bigger step forward than JEV in 2013 and seems to have leapt forward again this year), but he’s still a good driver.

Was promoting Kvyat after just one season the right move for Red Bull? Both Ricciardo and Vettel had two years at Toro Rosso, plus time at other teams before that before being promoting to the big time. It will be tough for Daniil to make the jump after one season, especially with the radio restrictions for 2015. We don’t doubt his potential to be a top driver, but it’s hard not to feel that this is a year too early, which will hurt the team’s hopes of clawing back the Constructors’ Championship from Mercedes in 2015

In the end though they didn’t have many other options. They had already determined that JEV isn’t good enough to drive for the senior team, and it would be against their policy of sticking with their Young Drivers Programme to pick someone else (like the exceptionally capable Alonso). In the end it’s not an ideal option, but it’s the best available given Vettel’s twitchy feet. 

Positively Ricciardo has proven himself capable of leading the team’s charge for the Drivers’ Championship so we can see why it was a straightforward decision for Red Bull.

How Kvyat compares against the stand out driver of 2014 will be one of a number of great storylines to follow next season. We feel that if he can score at least 70% of the points that Dan scores next year then that’s a very impressive result.



Nathaniel Smith and Scott Williams 

Should Mercedes Have Pitted Hamilton on Lap 27? (Brazil 2014)


This is an analysis about whether Lewis Hamilton would have overtaken Nico Rosberg had he pitted on lap 27 (in the second round of pitstops). Hamilton unfortunately spun on lap 28 which jeopardised his race chances. Many sources are suggesting Hamilton had enough time in-hand to jump Rosberg, Mercedes deny this allegation. We jump in to find the truth behind the matter!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Brazil Results and Championship Standings (18/19)

First off, congratulations to Sangan and Dragan who take the lead in both championships! Sangan's lead in the championship is almost unassailable, barring reliability issues, due to a massive 28-point swing this weekend.

While some of their competitors looked to the skies (Red Bull's best chance of victory) and cursing the promise of rain, Massa and Williams strolled to a podium and the best constructor score.

The success of Massa (not without precedent given his victories in 2006 and 2008) resulted in a perfect Lotus 1-2 (scoring 25 and 24 points respectively including a 1-2 in random). This is the fourth time a team has scored a 1-2 this year (2 for Marussia, 1 for Williams and now 1 for Lotus) but none have been this dominant. The nearest competitor finished 11 points behind!

The Constructors Championship is still open but relies on a big point score for the Marussia pair. 

Other notable mentions include Nat breaking the all-time consecutive points record, now with 10 points finishes in a row, and Joe scoring his fifth podium of the season. Ferrari are now improving with Chris and Joe really hitting their stride in recent races. 

It's been a thrilling year so join us in Abu Dhabi to witness the climax to this unpredictable season.

Championship standings

 
 

Podium facts
Sangan's 2nd win of the season (tied 2nd) and 3nd overall (tied 3rd)
Dragan's 4th podium of the season and 10th overall (3rd)

Joe's 5th podium finish of the season (3rd) and 8th overall (tied 5th)
 
Current streaks 

Joe - 2 podium finishes (tied 3rd)
Nat - 10 points finishes (best points streak ever, new record!)
Kiszol - 7 points finishes

Chris Grigson - 6 points finishes
Kim - 4 points finishes
Marussia - 15 points finishes
McLaren - 12 points finishes
Ferrari - 9 points finishes
Red Bull - 7 points finishes

Streaks ended
Scott - 7 points finishes

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Brazil 2014 (Round 18) - F1 Prediction League

Welcome to the Brazilian GP prediction league thread! A fantastic weekend is in store with storms looming, although the thought of rain unfortunately brings back memories of the Japan race.

Perhaps it is only fitting Marussia can wrap up the title here, needing only 18 more points than Lotus and 7 points more than McLaren. It’s difficult but not impossible, both Marussia drivers will undoubtedly be pushing hard to make it a reality!

The driver’s championship will go down to the final race, with Michael tight in the slipstream lining up an overtake and Sangan not far behind. Let’s make this one to remember. 

There’s plenty still to play for in the prediction league regardless of both championships including the glory of an individual race weekend win. There are a number of people throughout the field deserving of a win that haven’t quite had the luck. For example Nat who has so far scored 10 (out of 14) top 5 finishes but no victory...

Perhaps the storms will also provide one last non-Mercedes winner this season although the rain often exaggerates the gap from Mercedes to the rest of the field so I wouldn’t count it.

The random this time will be a mixture of driver groupings (think teammate domination style), Felipe Massa questions and tie-breaks.

Read on for the random and other information including team contracts, championship standings and a template to post picks.

Monday, 3 November 2014

United States 2014 Results and Championship Standings (17/19)

The decisive moment
Hamilton does it again! The title is now out of Rosberg's hands but there may still be heartbreak at the last race if Mercedes encounter reliability problems or Hamilton puts in two sub par performances.

Other notable mentions in the race include the excellent Daniel Ricciardo, who once again put his teammate in the shadows, and Pastor Maldonado, who scored his first points of the season.

Ricciardo was particularly impressive as a series of brilliant overtakes and bursts of speed saw the young Aussie jump from 9th/10th on the first lap to the podium. Well done! This has huge implications for the prediction league too.

The crowd goes crazy as MICHAEL WINS THE US GP! 

A lot of silly season nonsense was ended with the following announcements:
Note: none concern Alonso and his involvement in the prediction league.

Ferrari

Ferrari have signed Joe Watson and Chris Grigson to lead their charge next season. In a bold press conference Marco Mattiacci stated both drivers had put the team ahead of their own needs and that he couldn't thank them enough. He also praised their skill in delivering three top four finishes in as many races. Mattiacci promised an improvement on Ferrari's worst year ever, currently in 7th in the constructors championship, building up to an onslaught on the title in 2016. 


Red Bull

Red Bull have signed Ediglo as number two driver to Kiszol, who is currently 5th in the drivers championship. Christian Horner was extremely critical of the Renault engines, stating only one word did justice to the disgrace they were and that word was cucumber! He also said they were considering replacing the engine with a couple of horses. The team expect to be challenging for both titles next year regardless of which animal they employ.

Mercedes

Finally Mercedes have signed Aled Lewis to accompany Metalgatherer into the 2015 season. Toto Wolff claimed Aled Lewis' two wins and a podium were instrumental in the decision but that he, Niki and Paddy wanted more consistency going forward. 

As mentioned before, Ricciardo's excellent race and utter ruthlessness in the face of Williams' inadequate strategy has given Michael a weekend to remember. The gap at the top of the championship is now paper thin and promises an extremely entertaining end to the season, also don't forget Sangan who is within touching distance. Good luck Michael and Sangan! 

Championship standings



Podium facts
Michael's 2nd win of the season and 2nd overall
Joe's 4th podium finish of the season (tied 3rd) and 7th overall (tied 6th)
Paul's 2nd podium finish of the season and 4th overall (tied 10th)

Current streaks
Nat - 9 points finishes (tied 1st, personal best)
Scott - 7 points finishes
Kiszol - 6 points finishes

Marussia - 14 points finishes
McLaren - 11 points finishes
Ferrari - 8 points finishes
Red Bull - 6 points finishes

Streaks ended
Scott - 2 win streak


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

United States GP 2014 - F1 Prediction League


Sorry for the delay (I've been travelling on business), thanks to Nat for his contribution to this thread.

Welcome to the US of A for the 17th Grand Prix of a terrific 2014 season. With the title fight going down to the wire and Nico Rosberg desperately needing a win to grab the momentum back off the hard-charging Lewis Hamilton, this weekend could be huge – like everything else in the USA, particularly their burgers.


Less huge will be the Formula One grid this weekend, with both the financially troubled minnows of the sport, Marussia and Caterham, missing the Grand Prix. The news about Marussia was something of a surprise, although Caterham’s cash problems (and ownership issues) have been well-documented in recent months, including an astonishing story that all kinds of key equipment (simulators, development parts and so forth) was to be auctioned off. It prompted this amusing article on the satirical site Sniff Petrol suggesting that Kamui Kobayashi may be the next to be auctioned off.                                                  


It will be a shame to see just 18 cars on the grid this weekend – the lowest since 2005 – and the latest development in what has been a tough month for the sport with Bianchi’s accident in Japan. Bianchi is now a in stable condition, but there’s still a long way to go – our thoughts and wishes are with him.

On the Prediction League front last weekend proved fairly dramatic, with changes at the top of both the Constructors and main Prediction League following Red Bull’s disastrous performance around the Sochi Autodrom. There’s still plenty to play for with both titles remaining closely fought, as they have done all season, and people fighting to retain their seat – or grab a nice shiny new one. Marussia's plunge into administration has huge implications for the PL but Ross Brawn (Team Principal) has convinced Bernie to support him for three more races, before he goes fishing again. Who will come out on top this weekend?

The current championship standings are: