The two halves of the 2013 championship: Teams

2013 F1 season review

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The British Grand Prix was a major turning point in the 2013 championship. A series of dangerous high-speed punctures for four drivers led Pirelli to overhaul their tyres and introduce new limits on how they could be used.

Tyres are such a fundamental part of a car’s performance that this could not help but affect the competitiveness of the teams. But who gained and lost the most?

This table shows how many points each team scored before and after the changes to the tyres, and shows whether their average points haul at each race rose or fell after the British Grand Prix:

TeamRounds 1-8Rounds 9-19Rounds 1-8 avg.Rounds 9-19 avg.DifferenceTotal
Red Bull21937727.3834.27+25.16%596
Force India59187.381.64-77.78%77
Toro Rosso2493.000.82-72.67%33

The first and most obvious question is did the change in tyres alter the destiny of the constructors’ championship? It’s hard to argue that it did: Red Bull were ahead before the tyres were changed and they were ahead afterwards.

That’s not to say it had no effect – far from it. Up to and including the British Grand Prix Red Bull had a slight edge over their rivals but were not yet dominating. After it they had a much more comfortable margin, demonstrated by Sebastian Vettel’s nine consecutive wins at the end of the season.

Given that Red Bull were the most vocal critics of how fragile the tyres were at the beginning of the year, it would be easy to put this all down to the tyres. But bound up in this is the question of how much effort they and their rivals continued to put into their 2013 campaign as the second half of the season wore on and a Red Bull victory looked increasingly inevitable.

Mercedes, for example, went into the summer break saying they’d decide after the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix how much effort they would continue to expend on their 2013 campaign.

Ferrari repeatedly said the change in tyres had disadvantaged them, yet also admitted some of the performance upgrades they brought to the F138 failed to produce the expected improvements.

There’s no mistaking which team gained the most in the second half of the season – Sauber enjoyed a more than sixfold increase in their points-scoring rate after the tyres were altered. They also made progress with their car’s aerodynamic set-up which coincided with the change.

In India Monisha Kaltenborn said the new aerodynamic package “counts for more than 50 per cent of this improvement”. But she added: “I think to be fair about it, the change in the tyres was – unlike last year – not against us this time, but we benefited maybe more than others from it.”

Lotus, who out-scored Mercedes and Ferrari after the tyres were changed, are one of the most interesting examples of how complicated the effects of the tyre change were. Although the switch to more conservative tyres did not suit the E21, it allowed Pirelli to pick more aggressive compounds, which did suit the Lotus.

What’s more their two drivers responded to the new tyres in different ways. Romain Grosjean clicked with them very quickly and his second half of the season was vastly better than the first. Kimi Raikkonen, however, was less happy with the new tyres, especially the post-Silverstone restrictions on set-up.

But again it must be stressed that there was more going on than just a change in tyres. Raikkonen was also less happy with Lotus’s long wheelbase chassis which was introduced in the second half of the season, and asked them to bring the original car to Abu Dhabi. Qualifying indicated he might have cracked the problem – alas his season soon came to a disappointingly early end.

The second part of this article will look at how the drivers were affected.

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Image © Sauber

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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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33 comments on “The two halves of the 2013 championship: Teams”

  1. I really like the Sauber one ‘+518%’.

    1. Try calculating for Williams… ;-)

      1. Can’t divide by zero, can you?

        1. Those of us who went to school for math know you can. But you don’t get a finite number

          1. soundscape (@)
            29th November 2013, 9:11

            Well no, actually, you can’t divide by zero. But you can divide zero itself by other numbers, which gives you an infinite result.

          2. soundscape (@)
            29th November 2013, 9:12

            For layman’s clarification:

  2. It’s so difficult to put it all down into 1 reason. I’m not so sure that the late season charge by Red Bull had everything to do with the tyres. Seb seems unbeatable at Singapore, Suzuka and India. Add Korea to that list and you have 4 of the 9 GPs he won after the summer break. Maybe he’d have won with a not-so-vast margin, but he was going to win anyway…

    1. @fer-no65 For Sauber it’s clear that it was a huge gain, but after even for McLaren (second biggest gain), difficult to tell which part is due do development or tyres … And for the second halve of the championship I just think RedBull had a nice edge over everyone else and everyone turned their main focus to 2014 leaving things mainly unchanged. Only tracks played a role into modifying the gap between them all.
      And surely it had more effect in the midfield as a slight gain or loss could mean a big difference in points.

  3. The tires didn’t have much of AN effect anyway? Red bull went from the same qualifying pace as Mercedes to a second faster than everyone else. But the tires had no effect, please. Not everyone rides the seb is the greatest thing since sliced bread train. Most of us can see the car is a huge advantage and comparing Weber to see is irrelevant because they aren’t even close to the same caliber of talent or ability.

    1. But the tires had no effect, please.

      The article doesn’t say that and none of the comments have said that.

      Red Bull went from the same qualifying pace as Mercedes to a second faster than everyone else.

      After the tyres were changed Red Bull’s average gap to pole position was 0.298s. They were “a second faster than everyone else” on a total of zero occasions.

      1. After the tyres were changed Red Bull’s average gap to pole position was 0.298s. They were “a second faster than everyone else” on a total of zero occasions.


    2. So we shouldn’t say that Seb is hugely talented based on a comparison with Webber because such comparison is unfair because Seb is much more talented than Webber?

      1. When basing his performance on less talented drivers in the same car or as talented drivers in significantly slower cars it is very easy to overstate how good he is by using statistics to say whatever you want them to. Just as you did with that average gap to pole position stat. Without proper context, statistics only support whatever argument you want to make.

        1. And statistical analysis and personal opinion should be kept completely seperate as you are unable to do for the most part.

          1. Statistically, 90% of the times you can pick up facts and make a statistic that shares your opinions.

          2. @fer-no65 I see what you did there ;)

        2. So you can’t compare Vettel against Webber in the same car, and you can’t compare him against drivers in different cars? To whom can you compare him, then? If it was Alonso, Kimi or Hamilton in the other Red Bull, would you consider it a more fair comparison? How do you know that any of them is better than Webber without looking at statistics? How do you know that the Red Bull is better than the Ferrari without looking at statistics? Statistics are really all we have to objectively compare drivers.

        3. Doublespeak is so 1984.

    3. Point 1: It is spelled “Webber” – Weber are a manufacturer of carburettors. Or barbecues (but that’s a different company)

      Point 2: How can you argue that Webber is much less talented than Vettel? Mark’s driving style is different to Sebastian’s and relies on being able to take high speed corners as quickly as possible, which is unfortunately hampered during races by the nature of the current generation Pirelli tyres.

      Point 3: However you wish to look at it, to have achieved 4 back-to-back Driver’s World Championship victories by the age of 26 is an incredible feat, and respect is due. You can argue it’s the car to make yourself feel better if you want to, but it can also be argued that every WDC had a good car the year they won it, as you have to make the most of your equipment win.

      I personally believe that Vettel is definitely one of the greats, even when he is beating my favourites.

      1. I’m saying Webber isn’t as talented as Seb, and so is pretty much everyone who has eyes.

        1. Which is totally different to saying Seb is more talented than Webber ? Sure, in your mind.

        2. No, you said that

          they aren’t even close to the same caliber of talent or ability.

          , which is rubbish because if that were the case, Red Bull would not have kept extending Webber’s contract. You can’t win a WCC without two drivers bringing home good points. Look at how many RBR 1-2 and 1-3s there have been this season, as well as how many times that they have finished 1 place apart when neither won: 9 times this season that the above has occurred, nearly half the races.

          You just need to accept that while nobody is denying Vettel is better at extracting performance from the car, Webber is no slouch and would give any team mate a run for their money

  4. And when u look at FP times they were clearly .8 to a second faster then everyone else

    1. So you’re saying that Practice laps are more representative than Qualifying laps? Free Practice is just that, Free Practice. In Brazil Vettel never topped the charts in FP, only during Qualifying, when it mattered the most.

      1. Absolutely. free practice they run more than ten fold the amount of laps.

        1. That’s why the races, in turn, are more representative than qualifying as well. And everyone saw how the last 9 races went.

    2. MW recently said that they were putting a lot more fuel in practice at Silverstone and Hungary 2010 because they didn’t want to show how much of an advantage they had.

      it doesn’t prove your point then. FP times are just meaningless.

  5. Interesting how Lotus did a lot better in the second half – the team that were supposedly the best on the first tyre type. Just shows the influence of Grosjean’s rise in form.

    1. Both the fact that it seemed Grosjean had a lot of trouble finding his feet on the earlier 2013 rubber, and understanding what it did with the car enough to enable the team to adjust to it points to how great a job the Enstone team were doing this year.

      That second part IMO shows that all the “lucky with the 2013 tyres” RBR has been claiming is far from accurate, even further than claiming that RBR winning everything after the summer was down to the tyres as such.
      I think a team like FI mentioned that the limits Pirelli put on camber and preassures did them in far more than the tyres. And those limits really were introduced because of Silverstone. On the other hand, RBRs package did work a lot better with the more predictable behavior of the newer spec tyres, but they also improved the car to take full advantage of that once they knew these tyres were coming back, and they developed enough to get a record breaking run of wins – its something that will stand in the books for quite some time, I hope.

  6. In statistics, it is customary to ignore “outlayers”, results that are off the chart, freaks. If we apply this to McLaren and ignore Canada, Britain and Brasil, the averages become:
    GP’s 1-6 (original tires): 6.17
    GP’s 9-18 (new tires): 6.5
    Not much of a difference.
    Statistics is fun :-).

  7. @kiethcollantine: Wouldn’t it make sense to “normalize” these results by comparing them to other seasons? That would remove track-related performance bias. We have seen, for example, that Seb seems to dominate the Asian and/or Tilke tracks in the latter half of the season. I think it would make sense to keep that in mind when we look at the data.

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