Japanese Grand Prix progress chart

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BMW's strategy was beaten by Renault's, and Kubica lost the lead to Alonso

Here’s the Japanese Grand Prix progress chart showing how far apart each of the drivers were on each lap.

It shows how Renault strategically out-manoeuvred BMW to get Fernando Alonso ahead of Robert Kubica, and how Kubica fought a rearguard action to keep Raikkonen behind.

Japanese Grand Prix progress chart

2008 Japanese Grand Prix race progress chart (click to enlarge)

One of the quotes that caught my eye after yesterday’s Grand Prix came from Ron Dennis, who clearly couldn’t resist taking a pop at Felipe Massa:

How long did it take Felipe to get past the Honda? Five laps? Six laps? And Lewis just blasted past him.

You can see that phase of the race quite clearly from laps 24-29 (Massa behind Jenson Button) and lap 33 (Lewis Hamilton passing Button).

Button was really only ever racing his team mate Rubens Barrichello – a battle he lost. Button was generally slower than Barrichello in their first stint, but was quicker in the second (they both used one-stop strategies).

Japanese Grand Prix progress chart – the leaders

2008 Japanese Grand Prix race progress chart - leaders (click to enlarge)

This chart shows the same data – but restricted to just drivers within 30s of the leader, which allows us to see the detail more clearly.

Fernando Alonso only stayed out one lap longer than Robert Kubica – but Renault fuelled him shorter, so that he made his second stop three laps before the BMW did. Alonso built a gap of over 12 seconds during the middle stint, which put the race beyond Kubica’s grasp.

At any rate, the BMW driver had to devote his energies to keeping Raikkonen behind in the final stint. This he did admirably well given how poorly the BMW was doing in the hands of Nick Heidfeld.

During the race Kubica registered the second slowest maximum speed of any driver at the start/finish line: 304.6kph. That was 2kph slower than Heidfeld, 7kph slower than Massa (who blasted past Heidfeld with cruel ease on the main straight) and 8kph slower than Raikkonen. Translation: Kubica did a stunning job to keep Raikkonen at bay.

Nelson Piquet Jnr was also on Raikkonen’s tail in the later stages of the race – until he spun on lap 60. From one second behind Raikkonen he ended the race 14 seconds adrift. After the race Flavio Briatore denied that Piquet finishing second would guarantee him a seat in the team for 2009. These graph show why, although they hardly flatter the two championship leaders either…

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “Japanese Grand Prix progress chart”

  1. Cheers for these Keith, I always like to see more of the stats and timings.

    How long did it take Felipe to get past the Honda? Five laps? Six laps? And Lewis just blasted past him.

    I think one of the F2008 fundamental flaws is that it struggles in dirty air, much more than it’s close competitors. I’ve noticed this a few times this season, the Ferrari’s can quickly close on an opponent, but then struggles when it’s within a couple of seconds.

    I know all the modern F1 cars struggle in the dirty air, it just seems that the Ferrari’s have a more difficult job in coping with it.

  2. The only thing that Ron Dennis and you did not say, when they passed Button, was that Massa had just pit at lap 20 and was full of gas, and when I say full of gas I mean enough fuel for more than 32 laps, and Hamilton was seven laps away.

  3. There is something to be said about Kubica, and that is that he is a really, really good driver and a really, really good race manager. The car was obviously lacking any sort of appreciable performance in Fuji, as it has in all slow tracks, as manifested by his and Nick’s practice and Q times. Yet there he was 2nd on the podium, at the end. I think this speaks volumes about his ability.

  4. Antonio – true enough, that probably had a lot to do with it.

    F1Fan – Agreed. Kubica impressed me enormously yesterday, and the figures back it up.

  5. Sounds about right for Hamilton. He’s getting how he was last year. The boy needs to grow up before I’ll ever think he is a worthy champion.

    To be honest though, the only deserving champion this year would be Kubica.

  6. Much as I love these graphs, I find the method used by Forix much clearer. They use the winner’s average laptime as the baseline, which means that there aren’t the discontinuities in all the drivers’ graphs whenever the leader pits, spins or changes. Any chance of using this method for China?

  7. Andrew – I’ll see what I can do…

  8. How long did it take Felipe to get past the Honda? Five laps? Six laps? And Lewis just blasted past him.

    I wonder if Ron Dennis asked Hamilton why he went off the track a second time in lap one(turn 3)? The more Mclaren defend Lewis no matter what, the more reckless he becomes.

  9. Lets be fair:

    How long did it take Hamilton to get around Barrichello?

    How many times did Hamilton reset fast lap?

    After pit stops and penalties, Massa and Hamilton were running fairly close in 13th and 14th I think it was.
    Massa was able to finish 8th even after a spin. Hamilton, 12th.

    Massa had an amazing race and the way he was setting fastest lap after fastest lap was incredible. He probably went into Bourdais because of tunnel vision from concentrating so much. lol.

  10. @Jonatas,

    It took hamilton one lap to pass Barrichello?

    Hamilton’s car was damaged after he was rammed by Massa. Because of that he was setting similar (and slower) lap times as Massa was doing with more fuel on board.

    Nonetheless he got past Button and Barichello with little effort.

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