Time to look at the numbers
Maranello, 23 July –The German Grand Prix has brought half of this year’s championship to an end: ten races are done and dusted, with the same number still to go before 25th November, when the F1 year reaches its climax in Brazil.
And so, this is a good time to draw some conclusions, looking at the numbers thrown up in the first half, to use a footballing phrase. It’s true that there is still next Sunday’s race in Budapest to go before the summer break, but a twenty race calendar makes it easy to divide the season’s statistical analysis into two exact halves.
The most striking data that comes from comparing the results of the Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren drivers over the first ten races of the past three seasons, those with the new points system, but also the ones in which the driver pairings have remained the same, is that the only driver who has consistently improved his performance is Fernando Alonso.
The Spaniard has gone from 92 points in 2010 to 154 today, via 130 last year. All the other drivers in this grouping show a deficit compared to previous seasons, with results that sometimes follow the sort of performance shown by the European stock markets of recent times. Vettel shows a dip (-11) compared to 2010, but a plunge of -106 compared to his triumphant runaway of last year, while his team-mate Mark Webber is 19 points down on 2011 and 11 off the previous year. The McLaren duo show a clear drop year after year: Hamilton has gone from 145 points in 2010, when he headed the classification, to 134 in 2011 and 92 today. The Button figures go 133-109-68.
Unfortunately, Felipe Massa’s account is also a negative one. Fernando’s team-mate remained more or less stable through 2010 and 2011 (67 and 62 points respectively) but he has paid a high price for the difficult start to this season and some unlucky moments after that: the Brazilian has only accumulated 23 points which are not enough to compensate for Fernando’s progress compared to last year, and indeed the Scuderia has 15 points less, even if it is one position higher in the Constructors’ championship (from 192 to 177.) Red Bull’s drop is more startling from 355 to 230, but McLaren’s reversal of fortune is no laughing matter, from 243 to 160. Of course, the number of pretenders for a podium has increased. This year, at least seven teams have managed to get at least one driver on the podium, while last year there were only four. However, still only nine teams have managed to get one driver at least once into the points, but the number of places is much more level: seven have got at least ten top ten finishes.
In 2010, no one managed, as Red Bull did last year, to get a full house, or twenty points finishes in ten races: the Milton Keynes squad remains the one with the most (17) ahead of Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus (14) but there have been some no-scores for the reigning champions. There’s one gloomy statistic that runs through these three seasons: the lack of points for the three teams, who even with some name changes, are the ones that made their debut in 2010. Despite their efforts, neither Caterham, Marussia or HRT have managed to finish in the points.
The man who has put some points in the box for each round of the 2012 championship is Fernando Alonso and that brings us back to the starting point of this analysis. The Spaniard is in amazingly good form right now, which has resulted in him finishing the last 22 Grands Prix in the top ten. From Valencia 2011 to today, Fernando has been on the podium fourteen times (four wins, six seconds and four third places) and has been fourth and fifth three times each, with a seventh and a ninth as his worst results.