spanish grand prix f1

KartCMP1: Spanish Grand Prix Data Crunch

spanish grand prix

The Spanish Grand Prix featured the first truly dominant performance of any team as Mercedes convincingly showed the way in Barcelona.

Let’s crunch the numbers and see what really went on.

Easily the most difficult assessment to make in Formula 1 is the illusive oddity otherwise known as ‘race pace’. Over time I’ve come to believe that if you extract each drivers fastest lap every five laps, you’ll have a data set that best represents the true performance of each car. I call it “Best Case Race Pace”.

Below I have assembled “Best Case Race Pace” for the Spanish Grand Prix. I have extracted the best lap of each driver for laps between 6-10, 11-15…….61-66 and then averaged the time into one single time. While the one single time really has no meaning, it’s the delta between the drivers best represents each driver’s race pace lap time relationship.

Race - Graphic - BCRP Spanish Grand Prix

Mercedes were back to their dominant form as Max Verstappen driving at his absolute best was not enough to handle the overwhelming pace from the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was the quickest car on the circuit 40% of the race vs Verstappen at 34% with an average lap time advantage of 0.268 seconds per lap.

Verstappen would stop first on lap 24 and Hamilton on lap 28. Examining each drivers first 10 laps after their pit stops, Hamilton was faster on average by 0.553 seconds per lap. This lap delta is not representative as Hamilton would have likely been pushing knowingly on a two stop strategy while Verstappen held back and conserved his tyres to some degree on a one stop strategy during this phase of the race. Therefore the 0.268 seconds per lap delta is a reasonably accurate representation.

While Verstappen reduced the severity of the delta by jumping Hamilton into Turn 1 at the start of the race, Hamilton was never out-matched by the Red Bull challenger at any phase of the Grand Prix putting in the greatest race pace performance delta between Red Bull and Mercedes so far this year.

The end result is the effect of the cumulative perceived errors of Red Bull pale in comparison to the advantage Mercedes had in Spain. Red Bull could have done better, and the same could be said of Mercedes as well. Verstappen and Hamilton were equal in delivery, 10 out of 10 for both drivers as once again not a single other driver was in their league. But for the first time this year Hamilton won a Grand Prix due to a significant car advantage.

If there is one single area Red Bull needs significant improvement on, it is confidence in themselves as leaders. Red Bull’s approach this year has been predominantly reactionary to that of Mercedes as opposed to forging their own path.

Both Hamilton and Verstappen dominated their respective teammates with Hamilton faster than Bottas 40 occurrences of the available 54 comparable laps. Verstappen once again significantly outpaced his Mexican teammate as Sergio Perez was only faster than Verstappen seven laps of the 54 comparable, the least in any direct teammate comparison and enough for Christian Horner to sound the alarm bells.

Charles Leclerc was easily the driver of the day, finishing well ahead of his main rivals at McLaren. More notably he ruined Bottas’ race significantly holding him up, a feat extremely difficult with the advent of DRS. Leclerc would also go on to finish ahead of Perez as well.

The news was good for Ferrari clawing back the Portimao point losses to McLaren while showing third best pace. They are still significantly deficient of 2019 race pace but the steps forward are clear with Leclerc and Sainz showing fifth and sixth best race pace.

Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri showed decent pace splitting the McLarens at eighth best and finishing 10th putting into perspective the magnitude of his starting position error.

Aston Martin missed out as a result of a car seriously lacking race pace despite new updates. Racing point first fourth and fifth in the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix by comparison.

1Schumacher DEF. Mazein-0.700
2Verstappen DEF. Perez-0.625
3Ricciardo DEF. Norris-0.390
4Leclerc DEF. Sainz-0.306
5Raikkonen DEF. Giovinazzi-0.256
6Hamilton DEF. Bottas-0.213
7Latifi DEF. Russell-0.158
8Ocon DEF. Alonso-0.056
9Vettel DEF. Stroll-0.047
2Red Bull Honda+0.268
4McLaren Mercedes+1.447
5AlphaTauri Honda+1.566
6Aston Martin Mercedes+2.093
7Alfa Romeo Ferrari+2.337
9Williams Mercedes+2.612
10Haas Ferrari+2.656

Spanish Grand Prix Race - Graphic - Score Card

Spanish Grand Prix Race - Graphic - Teammate Battle 1

Spanish Grand Prix Race - Graphic - Teammate Battle 2