F1 Forensics: Jenson claims he would have led in Sepang ~ True or False?

I’m really excited to announce a TJ13 partnership with someone who has a brain the size of the planet and is a real life rocket scientist. Dr. James Beck will be collaborating with TJ13 to provide you with a technical analysis that I don’t believe can be found anywhere else. He has a model that takes raw data of lap times and makes projections based upon certain algorithmic calculations and for sure I expect my GP Predictor scores to rise because of his insight.

James has a website called IntelligentF1 and we encourage you to go check it out. Here’s James’ rationale for the analysis he provides.

“Formula One is a data driven sport. It is not always clear, even after a race when all the data is available, quite how the cars ended up finishing in the order they did, and it is not always easy to tell how much was gained or lost through strategy or mistakes.

IntelligentF1 has at its heart insight into the F1 world through clear analysis and explanation of the performance of each car and driver through the race weekend. This way, real trends of speed in both absolute terms, and in terms of getting to the finish line first can be found.

It then becomes clear why cars eliminated in Q1 have so often scored points in 2011, and whether the trend is that the chasers are catching or falling further away from Red Bull. Far deeper assessment is possible that is generally performed, and meaningful comment can be made. IntelligentF1 handles the massive amount of generated data, and makes sense of it”.

So here is an example of how James’ model can unravel some of the claims and mysteries of F1. Jenson Button claimed in the media this week that, “I think if we didn’t have our wheel issue in the pitstop, we would’ve been leading the race with about 10 laps to go,” Jenson Button stated after his analysis of the laptimes in the Malaysian Grand Prix. With all the cars ahead of him stopping a fourth time, this was a possibility, but is it true?

In partnership with the intelligentF1 blog, we can match his pace on his final set of tyres to the position in the race where he would have been. And the answer is that he would have been ahead of the Mercedes, but behind the Red Bulls. And the gaps are such that we can be pretty confident about this.

We can put together a history chart of the final third of the race based on the laps that Jenson would have done by matching the underlying pace of the laps he actually did. And what we get is the picture below, where each line represents a car and the lines above are ahead. Button’s fictional trace is clearly between the Red Bulls and the Mercedes after their final stops.


But then he also said, “I don’t know where we would’ve finished, at worst fifth, at best probably third,” and “We could’ve really mixed it up and changed the team orders.” He may not have affected the Red Bull race, but he certainly would have mixed up the Mercedes team orders.

At the pace Hamilton ran to the end, which was nearly a second down on his real pace, Lewis would not have beaten the McLaren. If Mercedes were to beat Jenson, they would have had to do it with Rosberg. Nico had the pace, but did he have the fuel? And what about the team orders then? He might be overstating his case, but Jenson would have mixed things up in the final laps in Sepang. And he probably would have been better than fifth…

If nothing else, Mr. Hamilton owes his first Mercedes podium to his old employer.

James will be providing us with some analysis of the underlying pace he can extract from FP1 and FP2 later today.

2 responses to “F1 Forensics: Jenson claims he would have led in Sepang ~ True or False?

  1. Hm – interesting, but not sure I can follow the reckoning that historical analysis of practice performance is going to help with Castrol Edge predicions, especially as we are not allowed to alter race predictions after qualifying! Similar analysis is presumably what is being used by the teams to monitor and alter strategy and tactics in real time during a race, so we might have hit on the ultimate cost saving ruse for M Todt to consider: forget about building tracks and hauling teams around the world and employing hundreds of people to put on the show and just run simulations on our TV screens interspered with ads from sponsors who don’t really care about motor racing, just column inches and ad responses!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.