Vettel’s best qualifying lap for the Belgian Grand Prix was 1:07.108. His theoretical best lap time was almost a full tenth faster at 1:07.013.
Wait what? His theoretical best time?
A driver’s theoretical best time takes his best time from each of the three sectors throughout the qualifying session, no matter what lap or round they came in, and adds them together. This new theoretical best (from now on referred to as TB) is the best time the driver could have hoped to achieve if he ran all of his best sector times on the same lap.
Now, this isn’t a perfect indication of what could be done by the driver. For example, perhaps the reason one driver has such a low sector one time (helping his TB) is because he braked for the corner that began sector two way too late and ran off the track. That sector one time he posted will still be included in his TB, but it’s important to note that he could never complete a full lap while posting such a fast sector one time. So his TB time will be slightly above what you could actually expect from him if he were to qualify again at the track.
The Top Ten at Spa
Here’s a look at the data in full from Belgium for the top ten drivers who qualified. The light blue column shows where the driver would have started if the grid was set using TB lap times. I’ve also included a driver “TheoBest” in red whose time is the best sector times of the session not necessarily from the same driver. For this race TheoBest is made up of Rosberg for sectors one and three and Verstappen for sector two.
If a driver’s difference between actual qualifying time and ultimate (TB) qualifying time is zero, that means he ran all three of his best sector times on the same lap.
|Click to enlarge|
Some Quick Takes on the Results
- Raikkonen had the most to gain from stringing together his three best sectors on the same lap. He would have shaved two tenths off of his time and jumped from the second row to first on the grid.
- Massa had the greatest difference between his actual and TB times with a 0.823 second difference. Even with such a large difference though, he would have only gained two spots and move into eighth place on the grid.
- Rosberg was 0.264 seconds off of our made up driver, “TheoBest.” The only sector he lost time on “TheoBest” was sector two.
Sergio Perez said on Saturday that he would be open to leaving Force India for another opportunity if his current team can’t find a way to move up the grid and compete for wins and championships. “That would be fantastic to move up the grid [together]” Perez said, “but if another opportunity comes in the future, it wouldn’t be that bad as well.” If a spot opened up at Mercedes or Ferrari, I think most people would agree that Perez should take it — both are competitive teams with a good history of success and have the money. But the odds of that happening appear to be pretty slim right now. Even so, Perez isn’t in a bad position by any means.
Force India does appear to be climbing as of late, as does Perez himself. Since 2008, Force India has improved on or equaled their prior year’s position in the constructor’s championship all but once. Their first season in Formula One yielded a tenth place finish, and last year they came away with fifth, 51 points shy of Red Bull — the same Red Bull that won the constructor’s championship four years in a row starting in 2010. The team also has the luxury of running Mercedes engines, which powered the dominant performance of Mercedes AMG Petronas the last two seasons. The team had a combined 21 top-ten finishes in 2015 between Nico Hulkenberg and Perez, and finished third in Russia thanks to the latter.
All of the success last season also came after a troubled start, with Force India’s B-Spec car not making its debut until Silverstone. Money problems plagued the team before the season and prevented them from even testing their car in the first two off-season tests. Otmar Szafnauer of Force India commented on the team’s late start to last season, saying “had we been able to [develop the car] at the beginning of the year, who knows where we could have finished?” The team will have a much cleaner start to 2016 and field a car they’re proud of when the green flag waves in Australia. Coupled with momentum from a strong finish to 2015, Force India looks to be in a great position to excel next season.
Sergio Perez’s stock as a driver has also risen the past couple of seasons, with 2015 ending in a ninth place finish in the championship — ahead of his teammate, Hulkenberg. Perez has shown significant improvement since he found his first Formula One ride at Sauber in 2011. Perez cracked the top ten for the first time in average finish (9.2) and was just outside in average start (10.3) last season. He also scored more points than in any prior season (78) and finished all but one race — a break failure in Hungary took him out on lap 53. There’s no denying Perez’s uptick in performance, especially since he joined Force India in 2014.
Perez will be joined by Hulkenberg once again at Force India in 2016. Both drivers will have multiple years driving for the team under their belt, and besides the rumors of a re-branding to Aston Martin, things appear cool, calm, and collected at Force India from the outside. Next season will be a great test for Perez and his team to keep their momentum going and challenge for the next notch up on both the constructor and driver’s championship ladders.
To do the latter, Perez will have to score an estimated 100.4 points, the average number of points eighth place in the championship scored over the last five seasons. That comes out to 4.8 points per race for a 21 race season like we will see next year. A seventh place finish in every race would easily put Perez over that number — but to do that, he would need to improve his average finish by 1.2 places next year, which doesn’t seem likely without major help from the car. A few good race results like his podium in Russia would bring his necessary average finish down considerably though. How the development of next year’s car goes will play a big role in Perez’s quest to climb up another spot in the championship.
Perez may be looking around for a better offer in the future, but things aren’t so bad right now. Himself and his team are both on an upward path heading into the new year.
Lewis Hamilton won the United States Grand Prix, and in doing so clinched the 2015 Driver’s Championship. It wasn’t an easy race by any means, though. Nico Rosberg started on pole but was quickly moved aside (literally) in turn one. Then the battle commenced with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat — Sebastien Vettel even joined in on the party to make it a five way battle for the lead.
|Upper right hand corner, Hamilton and Rosberg rub in the first turn.|
|Rosberg had the lead behind the final safety car.|
Qualifying for the United States Grand Prix was pushed back to Sunday morning because of rain and standing water on the track. Q3 was cancelled Sunday, leaving Nico Rosberg with yet another pole position start. Lewis Hamilton took second place followed by both the Red Bulls and Force Indias.
The last time a qualifying session was postponed to the following day was at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. Sebastien Vettel started on pole but Kimi Raikkonen took home the race win starting in seventh. Lewis Hamilton ended up in fifth place while his teammate Nico Rosberg was forced out of the race due to an electrical failure.
If that were to happen today, Lewis Hamilton would clinch the 2015 Driver’s World Championship with a ninth place or worse result from Sebastien Vettel.
More information on the 2013 race can be found here.
by: Drew B., Founder