Six races into 2010 we’ve got a reasonably clear picture of which drivers are doing the best job of the all-important qualifying sessions.
So far two drivers in particular stand out for bring significantly faster than their team mates over a single lap: Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil.
Team mates in qualifying
Thanks to the refuelling ban and the dropping of ‘race fuel’ qualifying, for the first time since 2002 we can see how team mates compare against each other on Saturdays without resorting to speculative ‘fuel-corrected’ calculations.
The graph below shows the average gap between each driver and his team mate in dry qualifying sessions this year*:
Robert Kubica clearly has a significant advantage over rookie team mate Vitaly Petrov – almost one second per lap faster than the Russian on average in qualifying. That’s almost twice the advantage of any other driver.
While the gaps between some of the new teams’ drivers can partly be explained by variations in the quality of machinery on offer to their drivers, the gulf between the Force India drivers is striking.
Adrian Sutil’s advantage of almost half a second over Vitantonio Liuzzi is the largest gap between two non-rookie team mates. Liuzzi has only out-qualified once, and that was partly thanks to Petrov’s crash in Q2 in Monaco.
Of the new-for-2010 drivers, Nico H?â??lkenberg has been closest to his team mate’s pace in qualifying so far (ignoring HRT’s all-rookie line-up).
But don’t overlook Kamui Kobayashi, who’s only made two more starts than H?â??lkenberg, and has been slightly quicker than Pedro de la Rosa on average so far.
The McLaren and Lotus drivers are very closely matched. Not only is the average gap between their two drivers less than a tenth of a second, but each has out-qualified the other the same number of times:
|Pos||Driver||Times out-qualified team mate|
|9||Pedro de la Rosa||3|
|23||Lucas di Grassi||0|
Average starting grid
If you take an average of all the drivers’ grid positions so far, Red Bull unsurprisingly fill the top two positions.
Nico Rosberg and Kubica in third and fourth places are somewhat more of a surprise. Yes, it’s partly thanks to them not getting caught out in Malaysia, but it also reflect consistently strong performances by both of them so far this year.
Although Vettel has the best average qualifying position so far this year, Webber has beaten him to pole position in the last two races. Although Vettel has an average advantage of 0.2 seconds per lap, much of that can be explained by a single, costly mistake of Webber’s in qualifying at Bahrain.
|Pos||Driver||Average starting position|
|16||Pedro de la Rosa||14.0|
|22||Lucas di Grassi||22.3|
Who’s impressed you most in qualifying this year? Have your say in the comments.
*For each qualifying session the drivers’ lap times were compared in the final phase of qualifying where both cars competed. For example to compare the times for the McLaren drivers at Australia the Q2 times are used, as Lewis Hamilton did not reach Q3. In circumstances where a driver did not set a time, no comparison has been made.
Image (C) Force India F1 Team