Formula 1: Against The Odds

Ferrari Fastest Laps

with one comment

Much has been written over the past week about the dominance of the Ferrari drivers at Istanbul since it was added to the Formula 1 race calendar in 2005. It is interesting to look at this success in terms of setting the fastest race laps.

In 2005, Ferrari didn’t actually perform particularly well, but their two current drivers were already getting to grips with the complexities of Hermann Tilke’s latest creation. Kimi Raikkonen – then driving a McLaren – set the second fastest lap of the race, whilst Massa was able to haul his Sauber into the top ten.

2006 saw the start of Ferrari’s dominance. Team-leader Schumacher setting the fastest lap and Massa following him home, placing second in the standings. Kimi – still driving his McLaren – spun off before completing a circuit.

2007 saw Ferrari’s current driver line-up tackle the Istanbul Racing Circuit for the first time as team-mates: Raikkonen set the fastest lap and Massa set the second-fastest.

2008 again saw the Finn top the time sheets, with Felipe just missing out on second behind Lewis Hamilton. Still an impressive effort.

Nobody who has followed the Fastest Lap market over the last few years will be surprised by Raikkonen’s omnipresence. Massa, whilst never actually setting the fastest race lap here, has been consistently quick.

The 2009 season has seen, in the context of recent history, an unprecedented struggle for pace from Ferrari. Monaco is being talked about as a turning point for the team – and perhaps it will be – but this graph tells a slightly different story.

Graphic showing the fastest lap positions of both Ferrari drivers in the first six races of 2009

Above I have plotted both drivers fastest lap position (relative to the other drivers – 1 being the fastest lap and 20 the slowest) for the first six races and performed a simple trend analysis.

Raikkonen’s one lap pace, given his prominence in this area in recent seasons, is distinctly unremarkable and not yet showing much sign of improvement. Massa on the other hand, after starting the season in an acknowledged poor car, has gradually being wringing more and more from his machine. This culminated in him setting the fastest race lap last time out in Monaco.

So how will the drivers fair this weekend?

Ross Brawn, former team principle and now head of this weekend’s chief rivals Brawn GP thinks that the Ferrari is well positioned to challenge:

“They have improved so much and on top of that they have KERS, which on this track is probably worth an advantage of 2 to 3 tenths of a second. It took them a while to get it all together, but now the car is reliable and they are reaping the rewards.”

Source: James Allen on F1 and Gazzetta dello Sport

However neither driver shone in what was an inconclusive couple of practice sessions on Friday. Given that I had a bet in mind, I was watching Massa’s performance closely. Listening to the few onboard radio transmissions to which we were privy, it appears that the root-cause of his issues was graining on his Bridgestone tyres. This gives me heart, as fastest laps are normally set towards the end of fuel stints when the car is at its lightest. Often by this stage the tyres will have passed through the graining stage and the grip will have returned. Kimi put his lack of pace down to more general set-up issues.

The evidence is therefore inconclusive as to whether it is likely that a Ferrari driver will set the fastest lap on Sunday. In their favour is their historical dominance of this market, the improvement shown by Massa in recent races and the expected performance upgrades to their car. Against them is the fact that they didn’t set the world alight in Free Practice 1 or 2 and have yet to prove that they are genuinely as fast as the Brawns or the Red Bulls.

The current best fixed odds prices for setting the fastest lap are:

11/4 Button
5/1 Vettel
5/1 Barrichello
7/1 Massa
7/1 Raikkonen
14/1 Webber
20/1 Trulli
25/1 Hamilton
28/1 Alonso
40/1 Bar

On the balance of the above evidence, I’m going to take a stab at both Ferrari drivers. However given Massa’s performance this season, I am going to weight my stakes in favour of the Brazilian.

Good luck with any bets that you are placing.


Written by f1punter

June 5, 2009 at 10:31 pm

One Response

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  1. Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.


    November 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm

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