#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 11th June 2015

DNandC

On This Day in #F1: The Deadliest Crash – Le Mans 1955

Kimi kept on his toes

Kaltenborn to crack the whip

Kimi kept on his toes

The Canadian GP presented a great opportunity for the 2007 World Champion to wrestle back some of the momentum in the teammate battle at Ferrari. Everything looked set to be going for plan until the Finn spun, apparently caused by a glitch with the technology on the car.

Sometimes it would seem that the writing is on the wall in life and this is one such occasion for the Ferrari driver. As was the case before for Felipe Massa, we saw the dreaded vote of confidence in public, then a slightly improved result which the press would jump on to say this will be the springboard required, then once more a slump in form.

Maurizio Arrivabene has again backed Kimi of sorts, insisting that if the results are forthcoming so will a new contract. The fact this is needed to be done publicly speaks volumes for the credibility that there are other drivers the team is considering.

In an interview with Formula1.com Arrivabene stated, “As I said: that’s dependent on the results. If he is achieving the objective that I gave to him – why not?

The cunning silver fox did well to reverse the question and speak in negatives, but for all intents and purposes the writing is on the wall, or so it seems. The desired objectives were exactly what one would expect to add towards the team.

The Italian continued, “I am working for a team with a strong tradition and Enzo Ferrari dictated this tradition. For Enzo Ferrari the Constructors’ Championship was always of greater value than the drivers’ title. So for us the Constructors’ Championship is very important. To win this title you need both drivers delivering. I talked with Kimi straightforwardly, and he knows very well: the more points he can deliver, the better his chances to stay!

Ultimately, had Fernando had a stronger partner over the years, he may have won the 2010 and/or 2012 title(s) as a rear gunner would have taken away points from Sebastian Vettel that year. Had Massa performed better in 2013 then Ferrari would have secured 2nd place in the WCC, rather than the 3rd place as they lost out to Mercedes at Interlagos when Felipe Massa crossed the pit lane entry and earned himself a drive through penalty.

Arrivabene finished by saying, “I am concentrating on our two guys right now and I know very well that if needed you can have a driver that is ready to jump in a Ferrari any minute. That is not a problem. The problem is to work with the driver that we have and make sure that he is giving us the best performance.

Had Jules Bianchi not been involved in the horror crash back in Suzuka then rumours would sure have been circulating about his impending promotion. The message is clear to Kimi, improve or lose. A European season of paramount importance then for the Finn.

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Kaltenborn to crack the whip

After a poor showing in the Canadian GP at a circuit that should have favoured the Swiss outfit’s car Monisha Kaltenborn is demanding an improvement in results in Austria.

Of course this is the kind of public bravado one would expect from a team boss as the team looks to capitalise on good straight line speed and high power delivery from the Ferrari powerunit.

Speaking to Chris Medland of F1i.com, Kaltenborn was direct in her statement, “We definitely have to learn and understand why that race pace was missing because Austria is a similar track.  We went to Canada and we still believe that kind of track should be suiting our car more than other tracks like Barcelona, so we have to exactly understand what happened.

The lack of money available for developments becomes more apparent with every passing race, as updates to the C34 are planned for after the Austria race at the test session.  Given the mess that the team found itself in last year and at the start of this season with a whole host of pay drivers demanding answers, to still be competing is in many ways a success.

We will be trying things there. We have a plan to bring a bigger update out in the second half of the season, but we have to see what we can bring forward and does it make sense looking at what happens at the test.

So that’s Manor, Williams, Force India, Lotus and now Sauber who are all in line to bring “big” updates to the car in the coming races.

Perhaps the reason for perceived failure has nothing to do with Sauber’s performance at all though.  The front of the field saw limited overtaking in Montreal, so once more the limiting regulations are prohibiting exciting on track action.  Only in Austria will we know just what the Swiss team could and rightfully should be achieving, but it would not surprise this writer if an improved performance is hard to come by.

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66 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 11th June 2015

  1. I’m not so sure this man is a fan of Kimi at all. Before the race, both he and Marchionne was at the back of the grid with Seb. When asked by Brundle why he was there, he stated Kimi is fine, Seb is more important (something along those lines). Then after the race, they both threw Kimi under the bus without first knowing what caused the spin…

    “I expected him not only to hold his position on the podium but also to move forward. This is not good. There are no excuses; a podium has been thrown away,” said the former marketing man, turned team boss.
    “It wasn’t Kimi’s best day,” was the comment of Marchionne to the Italian media as he left the circuit. “Sebastian was exceptional and the car has shown reasonable progress.”

    I personally think Kimi’s days are numbered.

    • Agree, I think they’ve been numbered for much of this season. He doesn’t endear himself to management in the way Seb has.

      • I just don’t trust that man, he has come across ‘too perfect’ for me…

        • Seb? He’s definitely not perfect, although I have to say he’s endeared himself to me more this season, come across as more human.

    • Very simply, Kimi should have never gone back to Ferrari, but back then I thought, that’s OK, he’s just going to get another fat pay cheque and then retire, which is fine.

      When I said that Kimi is well past it, certain people (cough…hi…cough…ppo) said I was already looking for excuses in case Seb wipes the floor with him. Maybe so, but still the fact remains. Kimi’s well past it since last year.

    • “I’m not so sure this man is a fan of Kimi at all.”

      We may be misreading Arrivabene’s post-Canada comments. From the beginning of the season, Maurizio has made it a priority to get their car to suit Kimi better, (successfully).

      In the first races, Kimi had better race pace than Seb. He successfully used that pace to overcome his poor qualifying. From the team point of view, if Kimi qualified better, his race pace could have enabled the strategists to cause more havoc for the Mercedes team and grab a spot or two from them.

      So in Canada, Marchionne is there, Arrivabene has been public that Kimi needs to help the team by improving his qualifying performance. He qualifies 3rd, so Arrivabene is correct to be less concerned about Kimi, as his race pace should enable Ferrari to tickle the tails of the Mercedes during the race.

      Instead, Kimi doesn’t have the race pace. And he never threatened the Mercedes. And the team lost 3rd position to the medium budget Williams team.

      For Kimi not to have the race pace that Seb exhibited in latter part of the race was painful to the team, and painful for Arrivabene to experience in front of his boss.

      There may be technical reasons for Kimi’s lack of race pace. We can note that the team opted to put Seb on the SuperSofts in his 3rd stint, while putting Kimi on the Softs. I’ve been away for a week, so I don’t know yet, but my initial impression is that Kimi’s pace on the Softs in his last stint was slow in comparison to what his team-mate did when running that same compound.

      Point being that it’s one race, and Ferrari is correct to be disappointed. Looking at the interview itself, Arrivabene makes clear they remain focused on maximizing Kimi’s performance and don’t plan on dumping mid-season.

  2. Do we know what Manor are bringing – will it be anywhere enough for them to trouble the McLarens and Force Indias of the grid?

    • I highly doubt it. In truth, their only objective is to stay within 107% this year and to survive the long winter without prize money payments.

      • Not only will Manor get the prize money for finishing 10th,
        $14M, but it will be 2 out of 3 years they’ve finished in top 10, making them a column 1 team which will bring them an additional $35M. Of course they don’t start getting that money till next season, but hey, better late than never.

    • From what i understand Sauber are pretty much running last years car, just with this years Ferrari Engine, so I would expect Manor to make similar jump forward in terms of pace, assuimg there is little change on the chassis side.

      The interesting one is force India who are running last years car, but keep troubling the the top 10, so i’ll be interested to see what happens when they finally release thier car.

  3. I hope they decide to bring hulk in that 2nd ferrari. That will be one of the strongest pairing since a very long time.

    • @bruznic
      I too look forward to Hulkenberg finally getting his chance. The poor lad can get no break hopping between to hopeless options: Force India and Sauber.

      But truth is he may once again fail to hitch that scarlet ride, since there still are some curious question marks on his performance:

      The F1Metrics model ranks Nico Hulkenberg a miserly 74th, inside the ballpark of David Coulthard (ranked 66th) and Pastor Maldonado (ranked 81st). Their 2014 rankings say this:

      “10. Nico Hulkenberg, 6.23 ppr
      Hulkenberg remains a difficult driver to assess. His junior results were sublime […]

      Given this pedigree, Hulkenberg’s first year performance alongside Barrichello at Williams was somewhat underwhelming. […]

      On his return in 2012, Hulkenberg was beaten by di Resta 6-1 in the first 7 races before he began to turn his season around, dominating di Resta in the later stages. […]

      Hulkenberg jumped ship to Sauber for 2013, where he thrashed Gutierrez 18-1 in qualifying, 13-2 in races, and 51-6 in points. The comparison to Gutierrez was largely unhelpful in terms of assessing Hulkenberg, given Gutierrez was a rookie with a fairly unimpressive junior record. However, Hulkenberg also showcased his excellent racecraft in 2013 with several jaw-dropping defensive drives.

      Perez served as a much better reference point for measuring Hulkenberg’s capabilities: here is a driver who had a slight edge on Kobayashi across 2011-2012 and who got outclassed by Button in 2013. Overall, Hulkenberg beat Perez 12-7 in qualifying, 9-7 in races, and 96-59 in points. Next year will provide additional data on this match-up. The data so far suggest a slight advantage to Hulkenberg, which would perhaps place Hulkenberg just slightly below the level of Button.

      With the constant influx of junior talents, Hulkenberg’s chances of getting to a top team are seemingly diminishing. Much like Nick Heidfeld before him, Hulkenberg has proven he is very good, but his case has never been quite compelling enough to select him ahead of proven champions or team-affiliated junior drivers. The next thing Hulkenberg needs to demonstrate is that he can not only perform consistently, but also occasionally achieve something spectacular. After 76 starts, it is surprising that he is yet to achieve a podium. Currently, the model consider him one of the two best drivers in history to never score a podium. The other is Jean-Eric Vergne.”

      According to the model, Hulkenberg did worse in 2014 than Grosjean, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Button and JEV, and only by a thread he did better than Vettel. Make of this what you will…

      Come to think of it, JEV may actually be in with a shot at the drive. Since he’s now affiliated with Maranello, I could even see Marlboro Man ditch Kimi mid-season and put JEV in the 2nd car to see what he’s good for, and consider for a full drive next year…

      • While I consider jev a good driver, his main problem is that he isn’t consistent enough. And that is something that hulk is, for sure. And i believe that hulk gets more out of the car in most occasions than the car actually is capable of. Not finishing on a podium is clearly down to the fact that he never had a car good enough to finish on the podium… but I agree with your point that it may be to late for him. I hope he does a very strong 24 hours race this weekend. He can only benefit from that.

        • @bruznic

          Yeah, I still think about the jaw-dropping pole he did for Williams in Brazil 2010 right before Sir Wanker dropped him, or the jaw-dropping pace he showed against the McLaren boys (Lewis and Jense) in the Force India in Brazil 2012. Both in changing conditions. He didn’t get a podium out of those occasions, but for me they were remarkably impressive…

          • Frank Williams once said about drivers “you should measure them by their peaks, you can work on the rest” Or something to that effect. I think Hulkenberg may well work wonders with a top team to guide him. He’s had a quite few performances where you think how’d he get there?

            I suspect Perez learnt a lot in that respect driving for McLaren.

          • but I’ve been screaming that ferrari should get the hulk for a couple of years now, but they don’t listen 😂 I rate him higher than bottas. Certainly in the ferrari profile. They need one to always bring the points home no matter what. And bottas can be quick, but it seems to me only if it all comes togheter. If I had to compare them to drivers I’d say bottas is like Kimi. Fast and good, but not one of the greatest. And the hulk is like Alonso. Minus the stupid political games.

          • I would also put Ricciardo as a Hamilton with their overtaking and dry pace, Vergne as Button with their wet pace and smoothness, sadly Bianchi will now be a Kubica, struck down just as they were looking like a top driver. If they can’t have Bianchi, then Hulkenberg is their best bet. Ricciardo would follow their policy of Italian diaspora drivers!

            SFW is right there.. and I believe dropping Hulk was for Maldonado, money and reviving the team? They also picked up Bottas as test driver at that time ;).

          • @Iestyn Davies

            Agree with Ricciardo as a Hamilton, but I wouldn’t call JEV smooth. He was good in the wet, but his driving style was completely opposite to Button: he would throw a car into the corner, and then figure out how to stabilize it and what to do next. Button on the other hand is silky smooth…

            As for Hulkenberg… If he once more fails on a Ferrari contract, he shall forever be consigned to be the new Heidfeld.

          • I always thought Vergne had the same trouble as Button – not aggressive enough to get tyre temps for qualifying and dry running. But given degrading tyres or mainly wet conditions then they come into their own. Maybe he throws it too smoothly, like Perez?

            Ferrari can also compare him to Gutierrez in house. They should know if Vergne or Hulk are better than Raikkonen, but still might go for Bottas to pinch him off Merc/Williams i.e. direct competition, also compared to Massa who they know so well..

          • @Iestyn Davies

            I agree. JEV has a good chance because they can stack Alonso/Raikkonen/Gutierrez/Vergne all in the sim, like Red Bull does, and see who fare better. If he shows impressively, and given his recent F1 experience and long-term potential, JEV may actually be in for a shot. But Bottas too can be a candidate, given the Massa benchmark… So Hulkenberg will have competition…

            I always thought Vergne had the same trouble as Button

            Actually I remember the Autosport types contrasting Vergne and Ricciardo, while likening Ricciardo to Button’s “perfect, smooth curves” driving… JEV on the other hand was “let’s get inside the corner, and see where we go from there”…

        • Hi Bruznic,

          while I am a big Hulk fan, it can’t help but be noticed that Perez in the same team put the same car on the podium last year. That can’t have helped his cause. And while Hulk should have had a podium in Brazil ’12 through a wonderful performance, he has to take the blame for the crash that denied him it.

          I would agree that Hulk is one of the most consistent drivers, and his rear guard driving against Alonso’s Ferrari every other weekend in the chubby Sauber a few years back were great to watch.

          I think we can only wonder ‘what if’ Ferrari hadn’t decided to tear up his signed 2014 option and hand Kimi a nice pension top up for 2014/2015.

          Hulk has had plenty of nice things to say about the WEC cars power and performance, I fear he will slip quietly away from F1 if he’s overlooked again next year.

          • I see your point, but is bottas really better? Could the hulk not pull of the things he does in a williams? We will never know. As for perez he is surrounded by negative feedback trough out the paddock, which clearly isn’t helping his case… and he isn’t as consistent. But after all who are we? 😂 we’ll just have to wait and see.

        • to be honest I’m with you on the selection bruznic, I’d pick Hulk for Ferrari above all other candidates. I think Bottas is not consistent enough. I just worry that Nico has been around too long without getting the chance, Checo seemed to have the happy knack of maximising his golden opportunities and landing on the podium when possible whereas Hulk seems to have just missed his ones. Checo I believe can be sensational if he gets it all together, but again, inconsistent (plus the question of attitude raised by some former teams).

          I’d take Ricciardo over Bottas to Ferrari if Hulk was not an option.

          But then they’ve never taken my armchair ‘advice’ before 🙂

        • BTW, the infamous model isn’t looking so good now, given the “super” performance of Sauber. Those lousy drivers held them back, if I remember correctly, so the combination of improved engine and proper drivers is the reason for their 2 points in 4 races. Ericsson is quite definitely not an improvement.

  4. Been thinking about this for a while now, but could we see Ricciardo at Ferrari next year? After all, he’s a good driver, who works well with the media and has Italian heritage, so would surely be very popular with the tifosi! Plus he’s currently not happy at Red Bull.

    • I have been pondering on what it might take for Ricciardo to get to Ferrari. Of the many variables involved, one is that Ricciardo’s 2014 team mate – a team mate he beat – is at Ferrari, and is the team leader.

      But I think that is a positive variable in Ricciardo joining Ferrari, not a negative, as despite having been beaten by Ricciardo – assuming I have Vettel’s psychology correct – I think he’d not only welcome him, but might actually suggest and push for Ricciardo if he was told Raikkonen was to be replaced.

      Vettel would understand that given he’s at a top team, the second seat will be filled with a threat in terms of potential performance. Ferrari are not going to deliberately hire a slow No.2. Given that, I feel Vettel would prefer a known quantity in the team from a performance perspective, as well as a personal perspective. He did get along well with the Aussie, which is something I think Vettel values. Also, I feel Vettel would jump at the opportunity to rectify the 2014 beating, and do so on his territory. Vettel would have logically processed the reasons as to why he failed in 2014 and none of those reasons will be down to Ricciardo being faster.

      Vettel would feel he could beat Ricciardo over a season, and if he did, it would then place his annus horribilis back on Red Bull’s shoulders, implying that a blend of issues around the new regs that year, as well as potential, subtle sabotage due to it being clear Vettel was leaving was ultimately the issue in 2014. He could clear the only dark cloud hanging over his career, and I know he puts thought into that, dreaming about how he’d like his career to unfold, how he’s perceived, what his achievements means, their historical context and the value of racing for Ferrari. He will have his end game plotted… And worst case, he’s beaten; well better he be beaten by a driver who’s done so before than by a new driver.

      From Ricciardo’s point of view, assuming he is free, why wouldn’t he sign a Ferrari contract. He has beaten Vettel before, and he will feel he can do it again with assurances of fair play from the team. Arrivebene just stated the constructors is the priority now, which I don’t find coincidental in putting out the “we treat drivers equally” message.

      So I think Ricciardo to Ferrari is possible; however I don’t know the details of Ricciardo’s contract. I don’t think Vettel would be an issue in blocking Ricciardo. Also, I don’t know if Raikkonen’s days are numbered as I can’t yet tell if Arrivebene is just motivating Raikkonen, or preparing him (and the Tsifosi) for being kicked out.

  5. “Kaltenborn to crack the whip”

    It’s going to take days for that image to go away.

  6. “…The F1Metrics model ranks Nico Hulkenberg a miserly 74th, inside the ballpark of David Coulthard (ranked 66th) and Pastor Maldonado (ranked 81st)…”

    I don’t know or really care what ‘algorithm’ that site has used to work out driver rankings, but on seeing DC only 15 places ahead of Pastor the Prat, I know they don’t have a clue.

    • @Gregor

      If you took the trouble to check their methodology, you would notice that they base their assessment on 3-year peaks in performance for the driver, NOT on overall career achievements. Say what you will about Maldonado, but when he doesn’t bin he can be quick. They also look at comparisons to team-mates; Maldonado has mostly matched both Barrichello and Bottas at Williams, which can’t be too bad for his ranking… Lastly, there are merely 162 drivers with a 3-year peak; being ranked 81st isn’t so very impressive…

  7. Thing is about Kimi, he’s on 72 points right now. In Massa’s last 2 seasons for Ferrari, he had around 13 points in 2012 and around 49 points in 2013 at this point in the season. So he may be done, but he’s a point scoring machine relative to Massa and there’s no guarantee someone else would come in and do significantly better.

    That said, it does appear RAI is not endearing himself to management at the moment.

    • But is that comparison not a little misleading Matt given the performance level of the Lotus and McLaren in ’12 & ’13?

      • Lotus not factoring into it at all as at ALO was on 100+ points in 2012 and 96 points in 2013. Very similar to Vettel. And would that be the Lotus driven by RAI in 2012?

    • I think you could use this reasoning to argue that Hulk might be a better match than others too, I think he’d be faster than Kimi now, but still be a consistent points scorer… do they really want another number one, or an optimised number 2?

    • plus the Ferrari of ’12 / ’13 was not the clear no 2 car as it is right now

      • Correct as in 2012 ALO almost won the WDC were it not for the epic strategy fail from pasta country. The point I’m making is RAI is doing a far sight better than Massa at point gathering, which is his #1 job as far as I can tell. MA doesn’t like him, that much is clear but bird in the hand and all that. What fascinates me is how rapidly Ferrari turn on drivers. RAI is doing much better than Massa did and they are still ready to toss him under the bus. Interesting.

        • “What fascinates me is how rapidly Ferrari turn on drivers.” – Matt the Musician of Manhatten.

          Yes, that Ferrari phenomenon fascinates me also. But it doesn’t stop at the drivers, it extends to all team personnel; and this observation covers at least two decades of watching Ferrari operate year-on-year.

          So that tells me that the fact Schumacher and co. survived from 1996 to 2000 in order to actually win that first title is quite amazing. Todt must have really operated in a non-Ferrari way for that period until he left in 2007 or 2008.

          Also, it is quite an achievement then how many years Massa (post accident) could significantly underperform and remain at the Prancing Horse. I wonder what performance metric Ferrari use internally to decide on drivers.

        • “What fascinates me is how rapidly Ferrari turn on drivers. RAI is doing much better than Massa did and they are still ready to toss him under the bus.”

          That is very true. Maybe one factor is the belief that Vettel is supposedly not a political animal, that he gets along with Kimi very well, and with the clear no 2 car in the field the expectation would be a 3-4 at most races.
          While with Alonso, they knew that he was a political animal, that the team had to run around him and his team-mate…to just be there to fill the numbers.

  8. I can’t see Raikkonnen in next year’s Ferrari, especially if they keep improving. Hulk or Bottas seem most likely, and maybe Williams would take Raikkonnen. If Button can still be in F1, so can Kimi so I think he will stay, just not at Ferrari

    • Williams, hmmmm.

      I still think Kimi will stay.

      Or is staying after your peak a privilege only reserved for drivers who got a spring in their head.

  9. Arrivabene, “For Enzo Ferrari the Constructors’ Championship was always of greater value than the drivers’ title.”

    This quote shocked me. We know well from the books that Niki Lauda authored that there was a #1 and a #2 driver, and it was in their contracts when he won for them in the ’70s.

    The only reason, and the main advantage for a designated #1 driver is to win the Drivers Championship.

    When a team’s main goal is the Constructors Championship, the team will explicitly be neutral, equal, and accomodating to both drivers with their various resources, (engineering, set-up directions, testing, etc).

    Ferrari in the Schumacher era were explicit on their #1 driver policy to help them win the Drivers Championship. Didn’t they then cite Enzo’s historical greater desire to win the Drivers Championship because it brought more fame and prestige to the marque?

    • If you want to win the constructors in a dangerous era, with reliabilityproblems because of pushing too hard a real possibility, having a clear order makes sense.

    • I know Carlo tries to tell us the opposite, but I agree when looking back from the Todt era – Imola 82, Monza 79, even in the 60s (Surtees leaving in 1966). Collins in 56? when Musso didn’t want to.. another Moss title that got away.

      In recent times, having two number ones hurt McLaren in 2007 and I think Ferrari saw that in 2008 – Massa became their number one. But Hamilton was ‘even more’ number one at McLaren vs. Kovalainen which allowed him to drop less points to a team-mate. Kovalainen and Piquet Jr are better than most credit them for (hence Heikki’s showings in the Caterham).

      • Piquet Jr will likely win the first Formula E title on the strength of his 2015 outings, and there are good talents there like Vergne, Buemi etc. along with experience in Heidfeld.

        • @Iestyn Davies

          Don’t credit Heidfeld with talent? 🙂

          F1Metrics has him sitting pretty in:
          25. Nick Heidfeld (2005-2007, 7.07 ppr)

          • Yep, I meant in people’s general estimation. Heidfeld will definitely be underrated by many, his best season was 2007, but that year McLaren and Ferrari were light years ahead of BMW (0.5 sec per lap). Heidfeld was faster than Schumi in 2010..

      • @Iestyn Davies
        “Kovalainen and Piquet Jr are better than most credit them for (hence Heikki’s showings in the Caterham).”
        Always wondered about Kovalainen, what he was really worth.

        F1Metrics doesn’t credit him all that much:
        Heikki Kovalainen (ranked 78th)

        Right along Pastor:
        Pastor Maldonado (ranked 81st)

        It always seemed to me that for Kovalainen it was a case of a reliable driver that just can’t go quick… (“Can make a quick driver crash less often, but can’t make a reliable driver drive faster.” Doesn’t seem to apply to Pastor, though.)

        • The more sources the better 🙂 Grand Prix ratings has peaks for Kovalainen as 0.3 off Hamilton in 2008, Piquet Jr and Maldonado 0.5 off Alonso (2008) and probably Vettel (2013). In the 2010 Caterham, only Alonso and Hamilton could have gotten more than 2 tenths extra from it than Heikki.

        • So I guess Kovalainen at McLaren was like Frentzen at Williams. HK was probably better at Renault and Caterham comparatively, but his time in the slower car would hinder him at F1Metrics?

          • @Iestyn Davies

            “HK was probably better at Renault and Caterham comparatively, but his time in the slower car would hinder him at F1Metrics?”

            Actually F1Metrics puts Frentzen at an incredible:
            17. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (1998-2000, 7.39 ppr)

            Even ahead of Senna (19th). They explain it this way:
            “Frentzen’s appearance at 17th is surprising, but arises from the fact that Frentzen was outperformed only once. Unfortunately for Frentzen, this occurred in what should have been his breakthrough year. Failing to capitalize on a dominant car scuppered his chances of racing for a front-running team again, and he subsequently spent his career in midfield.”

            So being in a slower car isn’t (necessarily) going to punish you in their model. What will is if you get drummed by your team-mates, or quickly lose your place on the grid. And I suspect this is what did Heikki in. His 3-year peak will probably be 2007-2009 (Renault & McLaren years), and two of those years were against Hamilton:
            “Fisichella continued to struggle at Renault in 2008, being outscored 30-21 by Heikki Kovalainen (ranked 78th).”

            “Heikki Kovalainen (ranked 78th) joined Hamilton and was beaten 26-9 in qualifying, 18-10 in races, and 147-75 in points”

            If you take 2008, that year Lewis won the WDC while Kovalainen ended a paltry 7th — that gotta hurt. In 2009 Hamilton was 5th (and I think that was the year Hamilton was crashing more often than driving), while Kovalainen 12th.

            I’m wondering how the model would adjust Kovalainen’s ranking if they take into account his 3 full years at Caterham…

            *This will be why Lotus picked him over Valsecchi at COTA 2013.

            …to their heartfelt disgust… 🙂 I recall after the 2nd race, where Heikki went backwards all the time, the Lotus management didn’t even mention his name in the interviews/press-release afterwards. They were gutted… And Kovalainen himself signed his own death-certificate.

          • Nice! That’s what I meant.. like Frentzen, his best years were not in the best car.. if they had matched up, they could have done better. Frentzen challenged for the 99 title in a Jordan, but not 97 in the Williams! At the end of the day, their mentality didn’t gel with the top teams.

            I wonder if fitness did Heikki in in late 2013? He had recent experience of the tyres, knew the team.. but D’Ambrosio also showed how hard it is to step in at the last minute at Lotus for some reason.

          • @Iestyn Davies

            his best years were not in the best car..

            I think this shows how post-testing bans (~2008), it is unwise to strap a rookie (or almost rookie) into a top-flight car. Kovalainen fell prey to that (1 year experience). Perez could be thrown in the same category (2 years). Magnussen looked shaky, clear long-term potential notwithstanding (0 years). Kvyat doesn’t look all that good this year in the RB (1 year). I hope the Red Bull idiots don’t throw Verstappen in the 2nd RB “because he’s faster on the simulator”…

            According to the F1Metrics model, there is a clear dip in rookie performance since the testing restrictions of 2008-2009. Here are the best rookie performances each year going back to 2000, based on the model’s rankings.

            2014: Kvyat (6.18, 11th) [for reference, Magnussen (5.26, 18th)]
            2013: Bottas (6.39, 9th)
            2012: Vergne (7.11, 8th)
            2011: d’Ambrosio (6.37, 9th)
            2010: di Grassi (6.57, 10th)
            2009: Grosjean (4.25, 18th)
            2008: Piquet Jr. (6.33, 11th)
            2007: Hamilton (8.32, 1st)
            2006: Kubica (7.72, 4th)
            2005: Monteiro (4.34, 15th)
            2004: Glock (7.07, 5th)
            2003: da Matta (5.87, 11th)
            2002: Massa (6.64, 8th)
            2001: Alonso (7.77, 3rd) and Raikkonen (7.38, 5th)
            2000: Heidfeld (6.99, 4th)

            I wonder if fitness did Heikki in in late 2013? [..] D’Ambrosio also showed how hard it is to step in at the last minute at Lotus for some reason.

            I think it goes beyond that. At the time Hulkenberg uttered words to the effect of: “You do not appreciate how hard it is to step in a car mid-season”. This is why he declined the Lotus drive, and for good reasons: look what good it did to Heikki.

            My feeling is that drivers learn the nuances of their cars and get used to them (i.e. drive around problems) progressively throughout the season (setup, car faults, etc.). Recall how Hulkenberg needed half a season to get used to the Sauber, before he started scoring consistently. Recall how Badoer was nowhere mid-season in the Ferrari. So for Heikki to hop in a top-flight car at the end of the season, when all his competitors have learnt their respective cars’ caprices, was… well… unwise. And as you say fitness (or rustiness) will play a part, too.

          • Very true. Even big talents like Bottas, Hulk, Ricciardo did time as 3rd drivers to get extra practice in early on. McLaren should take note..

            There is still a lot of dial-in with F1 cars, driver bests usually occurring many years after debut. Lack of testing inhibits debut seasons, and this is why ‘speed of adaptability’ is a big indicator of WDC potential.

            Now, if you have enough time/backing, you can ‘do a Palmer’ and eventually get yourself to a top level, at which point it’s who can be fastest of all.

          • @Iestyn Davies

            Now, if you have enough time/backing, you can ‘do a Palmer’ and eventually get yourself to a top level, at which point it’s who can be fastest of all.

            Indeed. And this is what I’m afraid could do Verstappen in. It’s all nice and dandy to play Rachmaninov on a word-class level when you’re 6, but by the time you get 20 you may regress to the average non-wunderkind piano player, who may be more prolific than you ever were. His meteoric rise is cool and may signal great things for the lad, but it’s just as possible that once he cuts on his GP2-style banzai moves, that he’ll simply look average compared to experienced top-flight F1 drivers… He’s clearly fast, no doubt about that, but consistency and wheel-to-wheel is a different matter and will come only with experience. Even the great Schumacher had trouble adapting to wheel-to-wheel on his return from retirement, and no one can accuse Schumacher of lack of experience in F1… And at this point it doesn’t seem like Maximilian is outperforming Sainz by all that much.

            Even big talents like Bottas, Hulk, Ricciardo did time as 3rd drivers to get extra practice in early on.

            What I find even more surprising with F1Metrics, though, is Perez and Hulkenberg ranked in 71st and 74th respectively (and di Resta isn’t even mentioned once). People sing odes to Hulkenberg around here. When looking for a replacement for Hamilton, Whitmarsh considered Perez, Hulkenberg and di Resta, in that order. But overall they’re roughly in the same ballpark as Coulthard (66th), Maldonado (81st), Kovalainen (78th)… Well above top 50.

            For instance Hulkenberg is now tied with Perez 12-12 in races while they have been teammates, which if you take a step back isn’t so indicative of great things to come… As F1Metrics says: Hulkeberg is one of the best two drivers ever to have not scored a podium yet, the other being JEV. And if we use Perez as an (admittedly rubber) measuring stick, Hulkenberg would be somewhere below Button’s level…

          • There’s a few ways Max could go.. Button had an ‘off year’ in 2001, and would have started F1 in 2002, if given the choice. Alonso and Vettel just kept improving.

            I can see him being like Hamilton, with similar overtaking. He would have driven in F1 from 2006 or even 2005 if with Marko, 20-21, which matches Vettel and Alonso’s 19.

            It’s true that they all have similar results in the FI. But with tyres looking durable now, this will play to Hulk’s strengths. Grosjean vs. Kimi in 2013 the prime example.

          • Sainz is doing a very good job after getting over his 2013 yips.. another yardstick for Max will be his direct peers getting to F1 – Leclerc, Ocon, Fuoco.. probably some of the few drivers that could match him in the junior ranks.

          • Not that there’s an easy way to resolve this, but part of the issue may be Hulk getting short end of strategy stick, due to other driver’s sponsorship. ie, you gets what you pays for.

            That said, clearly Tandy was mega in LeMans compared to Hulk, but that may have been down to the fact that Porshe was the new Night King, possibly cooler temps allowing them more out of Li- batteries. Hard to say really, but lots of variables to consider, especially in this day and age.

          • @Iestyn Davies

            HK was probably better at Renault and Caterham comparatively, but his time in the slower car would hinder him at F1Metrics?

            Got word back from the F1Metrics types, and it turns out that “2011, 2007, and 2008 are rated Kovalainen’s three best single-year performances. His best three year block is 2010-2012, but his performances from 2007-2012 are all quite stable.”

            So his 3 year peak are his Caterham years, which makes a lot of sense if we think about it…

          • *And Senna only had a few good races as the car tailed off in 2011. That’s what impressed me about Heidfeld that year and 2010 in the Sauber.. really he should have had full years at Sauber, Lotus, or even 2 or 3 at Mercedes instead of Schumacher..

          • @Iestyn Davies

            It’s true that they all have similar results in the FI. But with tyres looking durable now, this will play to Hulk’s strengths.

            I agree. It certainly looks very impressive for Hulk to have rookied into WEC and won Le Mans, as if nothing had happened. This alone raises his profile, and surprised us be not if Marchionne snatches him for the 2nd Ferrari car…

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