Analysis: The numbers behind 2011-spec F1

Michael Schumacher, Canadian GP 2011

Michael Schumacher, Canadian GP 2011 

 © The Cahier Archive

Although there was scepticism from the purists about the DRS (Drag Reduction System) rear wing and Pirelli tyres designed 'not to last,' the evidence from the first half of the season suggests that F1's fans like what they are seeing.

In a story in the UK Daily Express about the continued involvement of the BBC in F1, Bernie Ecclestone points out that it may be difficult for the corporation to leave, even if some factions within it wish to terminate the contract (scheduled to run to the end of 2013) early. He points out that 8m people watched the Canadian GP (shown at peak evening time in the UK) and 6m watched the British GP. These are highly impressive numbers.

Mercedes, meanwhile, has been doing its own research into the effect of the new regulations. It makes interesting reading:

How many overtaking manoeuvres have been made in the first nine races?

The raw total of overtaking manoeuvres during the first nine races is 623, including moves between team-mates, and passes by faster cars on the bottom three teams. This doesn't include overtakes on the first lap or passes made because of damage.

What is the breakdown of overtaking manoeuvres?

Of the 623 passes, 175 were by faster cars on the bottom three teams and 43 were between team-mates. There have been 180 DRS-assisted passing moves, and 225 'normal' (i.e. non-DRS) passes.

Which races have seen the most passing?

The top three races, using raw totals, were Montreal (136 passes), Istanbul (123 passes) and Shanghai (97 passes). The fewest were Monaco (22 passes), Silverstone (29 passes) and Melbourne (30 passes). Interestingly, the race in Valencia featured 44 passes - twice as many as in Monaco. Of these, 16 occurred in the first DRS zone and six in the second.

What has been the influence of DRS on overtaking?

DRS has accounted for 29% of passing manoeuvres in 2011. DRS passes have outnumbered normal passes at four races: Shanghai (33% of total), Istanbul (41% of total), Barcelona (35%) and Valencia (50%). The highest number of DRS passes was at Istanbul (50), followed by Shanghai (31) and Barcelona (29). The fewest were in Monaco (2), Melbourne (5) and Silverstone (6).

What has been the balance between DRS passes and normal passes?

The race in which DRS passes outweighed normal passes to the greatest extent was Valencia: 50% of passes were DRS-enabled, compared to 11% of normal moves. The race at which normal passes outweighed DRS moves to the greatest extent was Monaco, with 64% of normal moves compared to 9% of DRS moves. The next most extreme was Silverstone, with 55% of normal moves compared to 21% of DRS-assisted passes.

How much passing has been done on the first lap?

Although it could be argued that the new rules have diminished the importance of track position in the early stages of the race, a good first lap remains an important asset. Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher have only lost position on the first lap on three occasions between them this season (excluding the damage Michael sustained on lap one in Melbourne). Michael has made up three or more places on the first lap on four occasions; the best was a gain of five places on lap one in Shanghai.

How have the tyres affected the racing?

From all of the normal passes, just over 55% occurred when the difference in tyre age between the two cars was less than five laps, and 45% when it was more than five laps. Of the 180 DRS moves, 52% had tyre age difference of less than five laps, and 48% when it was more than five laps. The race where the difference in tyre age had the biggest impact was Barcelona, where 'old' tyres accounted for 69% of passes. The least influential races were the wet events in Montreal and Silverstone.

How many pit-stops have there been in 2011?

In nine races, there have been a total of 560 pit stops (this raw total includes penalties). Of these, 11 have been drive-through penalties and four have been ten-second stop-go penalties. The race with the highest number of stops was Istanbul (82 stops), followed by Barcelona (77 stops) and Montreal (76 stops). The fewest number of stops were in Monaco (43), Melbourne (46) and Silverstone (54). Two races have seen no penalties served - Barcelona and Valencia. The highest number of penalties was in Montreal, with four drive-through penalties.

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