Is the second year after a major rule shake up better than the first?

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    Lately I’ve been thinking about some of the similarities we have seen over the years during which comprehensive new rules have been implemented. For instance, one team tends to dominate (Brawn in 2009, Mercedes in 2014), while others (Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull in 2014) struggle to come to grips with the new rules.

    Overall, 2009 wasn’t the most spectacular of seasons. 2010 however, provided many thrills, with Red Bull, McLaren and Alonso dishing it out for the title. There are similar scenarios where a year after rule changes (1999 as opposed to 1998, 2007 as opposed to 2006) tend to provide more drama and action than the initial year. This could very well be due to the non-dominant teams catching up or simply the dominant team(s) losing their edge due to a lack in their rate of development.

    Am I talking gibberish (as per usual), or could we potentially have a more exciting season just ahead of us?


    Don’t forget that 1999 was quite a bit more entertaining and competitive than 1998.

    This phenomenon does seem to occur.

    Iestyn Davies

    I agree.. I came to the rough conclusion that Mercedes were gaining 0.75 on Ferrari and 1 second per lap on Renault in outright pace at Austria. Look how this would tighten up the grid:

    Ferrari -0.75, Renault -1 second
    Pos.	No.	Driver			Constructor		Fastest Lap     Car deficit
    1	44	Lewis Hamilton		Mercedes		1.08.442	*Lost pole time*
    5	3	Daniel Ricciardo	Red Bull-Renault	1:08.466	+0.02
    7	26	Daniil Kvyat		Toro Rosso-Renault	1:08.490	+0.05
    4	14	Fernando Alonso		Ferrari			1:08.535	+0.10
    2	6	Nico Rosberg		Mercedes		1:08.644
    1	19	Felipe Massa		Williams-Mercedes	1:08.759	+0.30
    13	1	Sebastian Vettel	Red Bull-Renault	1:08.801
    2	77	Valtteri Bottas		Williams-Mercedes	1:08.846
    8	7	Kimi Räikkönen		Ferrari			1:08.907
    14	13	Pastor Maldonado	Lotus-Renault		1:08.939	+0.50
    15	25	Jean-Éric Vergne	Toro Rosso-Renault	1:09.073
    16	8	Romain Grosjean		Lotus-Renault		1:09.461
    6	20	Kevin Magnussen		McLaren-Mercedes	1:09.473	+1.00
    10	27	Nico Hülkenberg		Force India-Mercedes	1:09.624	+1.20 (one stopping)
    11	11	Sergio Pérez		Force India-Mercedes	1:09.754
    12	22	Jenson Button		McLaren-Mercedes	1:09.780
    17	99	Adrian Sutil		Sauber-Ferrari		1:10.024	+1.60
    18	21	Esteban Gutiérrez	Sauber-Ferrari		1:10.599
    19	17	Jules Bianchi		Marussia-Ferrari	1:10.662	+2.22
    20	10	Kamui Kobayashi		Caterham-Renault	1:10.673	+2.23
    21	4	Max Chilton		Marussia-Ferrari	1:11.025
    22	9	Marcus Ericsson		Caterham-Renault	1:11.560

    Noticeable here are the Williams being the ‘preferred Mercedes customer engine’ as is reported, getting upgrades first, and Toro Rosso’s car not being that much worse than the Red Bull’s.. some could say almost identical in pace…. while Button really looked off the pace, even more so than the car, and there is strong evidence for Gutierrez, Chilton and Ericsson to be replaced.

    In any case, it’s likely we’ll see Red Bull close up on Mercedes next year, while Ferrari and McLaren should be moving on up ahead of the Mercedes customers. Lotus will have an intriguing battle with Williams and Force India for 5th place, while Toro Rosso will probably stay ahead of Sauber and the two small teams from the big push Red Bull is giving it (probably because they can’t spend any more money on the works team), possibly closing on Force India or Lotus, if their development cash is lacking.


    sorry Iestyn, can you explain that table for us? i dont get what it’s trying to show.

    Iestyn Davies

    I forgot to include an explanation.. It’s the Austria 2014 qualifying times, but I tried to ‘equalise’ for engines, without seeing the exact telemetry. It shows how close it’ll be, once the engines are more developed in 2015, when the others are likely to close in on Mercedes’ current advantage, along with current 2014 chassis strength.

    For Mercedes, I used their best sector times, after Q3 was a snafu. McLaren will be looking to jump up by 0.5 or 0.75 to be a top team again with Honda, same for Lotus with Mercedes. Red Bull is the odd one here, as it looks like Kvyat got the ‘lead car’ instead of Vettel. Maybe a ‘test run’ for 2016..

    The 3 drivers I outlined for replacement, were all way off the pace of their team-mate, despite there only being 9 corners. Grosjean mucked up Q2, while Vergne lost his mojo, after injuring his hand before Q, else Vettel may have been the worst RB driver overall. Chilton was only a third of a second off, but I imagine Palmer might be able to do a better job now, while Button improved in time for Silverstone.

    Iestyn Davies

    I’ve made another ‘corrected grid’ for Germany.. and realised I need to include a handicap for Force India and McLaren as well:

    Force India, McLaren -0.25, Ferrari -0.75, Renault -0.90
    Pos	Driver			Car		
    5	Daniel Ricciardo	Red Bull	1’16.373	
    16	Lewis Hamilton		Mercedes	1’16.433 (-2.25 sec) +0.060 (or -0.040?)
    1	Nico Rosberg		Mercedes	1’16.540
    6	Sebastian Vettel	Red Bull	1’16.677
    2	Valtteri Bottas		Williams	1’16.759  +0.386
    7	Fernando Alonso		Ferrari		1’16.899  +0.516
    4	Kevin Magnussen		McLaren		1’16.964  +0.581
    8	Daniil Kvyat		Toro Rosso	1’17.065  +0.692
    3	Felipe Massa		Williams	1’17.078	
    13	Jean-Eric Vergne	Toro Rosso	1’17.385	
    12	Kimi Raikkonen		Ferrari		1’17.523
    9	Nico Hulkenberg		Force India	1’17.764  +1.391
    10	Sergio Perez		Force India	1’17.785
    11	Jenson Button		McLaren		1’17.943	
    14	Esteban Gutierrez	Sauber		1’17.989  +1.616
    15	Romain Grosjean		Lotus		1’17.994  +1.621		
    17	Adrian Sutil		Sauber		1’18.392		
    18	Jules Bianchi		Marussia	1’18.926  +2.553		
    19	Pastor Maldonado	Lotus		1’19.295		
    20	Kamui Kobayashi		Caterham	1’19.508  +3.135		
    21	Max Chilton		Marussia	1’19.739		
    22	Marcus Ericsson		Caterham	

    Renault engines may fit better with the extra tenth taken back off.. track improvement looks like 0.4 per session here, against 0.25 for Austria. Losing FRIC has pushed Lotus back by about half a second per lap, while McLaren have finally moved forwards to be competitive again. So.. taking engine and tyres out of the equation, we are left with car and driver…

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