#F1 Forensics: Hamilton vs Rosberg. Is Lewis really faster or is it all about track position?

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Lewis is obviously winning on points.

At the end of the race, he has consistently finished ahead of Rosberg, but that isn’t the whole story.

When we look at their pace, we can see a few things of note.


In the first four races, Lewis was mopping the floor with Nico on the soft tire. With the exception of a single hot lap in Bahrain’s FP2 session, Lewis was faster than Nico in every single stint.

In Monaco, during the race, Lewis was again about 2 tenths a lap faster than Nico on the soft. Though that comparison is skewed because Lewis only covered 24 laps on the softs before his infamous final pit stop, and Nico ended up covering 33 laps in that same stint. (as usual the safety car laps at the end of that race are filtered out of time calculations).

By Canada they are dead even on the soft tire:

Lewis averaged 1:08.199 over 40 laps on his last stint

Nico Averaged  1:08.195 over 39 laps on his last stint.


Lewis 1:12.067 over 35 laps on his last stint

Nico 1:12.047 over 37 laps on his last stint.

It doesn’t get much closer than that.

In Hungary the only real comparison we have is their first race stint.

Lewis averaged 1:30.157 over the first 18 laps

Nico Averaged 1:29.043 over the first 19 laps.

Nico routes Lewis by over a second a lap, (though there may have been an external factor I am not remembering).

Belgium might be the best comparison we have on the Soft. Both cars were running out front in clean air. Both cars used the soft tire for their first and last stint, covering nearly the same number of laps in each. This gives us a fair comparison of the two drivers, on the same tire, with both a heavy and and light fuel load.

In the first stint:

Lewis 1:56.371 (12 laps)

Nico 1:56.970 (11 laps)

Lewis is 6 tenths a lap faster with a heavy fuel load.

Third stint:

Lewis 1:53.793 (12 laps)

Nico 1:53.453 (11 laps)

Nico is 3 tenths a lap faster with a light fuel load.



When we move on to the hard tire, we really only have 2 races for comparison.

In Malaysia, both drivers ran the Hard tire on their second stint. (the first stint was only 3 laps long).

Lewis wins the battle here by 3 tenths.

Lewis:  1:46.921  over 17 laps

Nico:  147.290 over 19 laps

In Spain Lewis and Nico ran different strategies, which doesn’t give us a fair comparison.

In England however, both drivers used the Hard for Stint 2, and they both covered 19 laps.

Lewis: 1:39.533 average

Nico 1:39.757 average

Lewis wins again, by 2 tenths a lap.



They have run three races on the SS tyre as well. It gives us a good opportunity to to compare them, as they both ran the SS in their first stint of all three races, and did a comparable number of laps. Their fuel loads should have been very close too.

Lewis was 2 tenths a lap faster in Monaco (Lewis covered 37 and Nico covered 36 laps).

Lewis was 1 tenth a lap faster in Canada (lewis 28 laps, Nico 29)

Nico turned the tables in Austria, but was only just able to eek out a better average, of .066 seconds over the long run, even though Nico covered 2 fewer laps, (26 to Hamiltons 28).



On the medium tyre they are pretty evenly matched, trading best average on a regular basis.  There is a lot of laps run on the medium, so I encourage you to look for yourselves, but a couple interesting things to note:

In Bahrain Nico was faster than Lewis on the Medium tyre in every session and every stint, but Lewis was faster than Nico on the soft every stint but one.

By Belgium, Lewis was faster on the medium in race pace, but Nico was faster on the soft.

So to sum up, Lewis Had the advantage on the soft in the beginning of the season, but Nico has been able to improve and pretty well match Lewis.

On the Super Soft, Again, Lewis started out with a 2 tenths advantage, but by the 3rd race on that tire, Nico had caught him.

The Hard Tyre goes to Lewis, with a minimum of 2 tenths a lap advantage over Nico.

The Medium Tyre is a draw.

I would say that if Nico had been able to squeeze out 1 or 2 more pole laps, and gotten ahead of Lewis at the start, their points totals would be about even.

It has taken Nico some time to catch him. He may even be able to beat Lewis regularly in the second half of the season. Only time will tell, but the points are close enough that if I were Lewis, I wouldn’t be expanding the trophy case just yet.

I encourage you to further crunch the numbers are prove me wrong…

Click Here to view this table in a new window.

For more interesting numbers visit the CHANCERY’S ARCHIVE

8 responses to “#F1 Forensics: Hamilton vs Rosberg. Is Lewis really faster or is it all about track position?

  1. Whilst I understand your analysis, I think track position has a major part to play and as such the time variance is somewhat misleading.

    If we look at Spa for example, whilst the gap on the first stint is relatively large, we have to factor in that Lewis was out in front in clear air whilst Nico was stuck behind RIC and PER. So that in someways flatters Lewis’s gap.

    Personally I think the races in Australia, Canada, Monaco, Austria and China when they’re out in front offers a much better data set, as there are no mitigating factors like being stuck in traffic.

    But overall good analysis.

  2. Something is wrong with statistics, not your statistics. Statistics tell us something is happening but not why. Statistics more often than not is an incomplete story.
    Why is Nico not leading more laps?
    Okay because he didn’t set pole.
    Why does Kimi have more fastest race laps than Hamilton? Is it because he started racing much earlier?
    Both Mercedes drivers have the capability to obliterate the fastest race lap. But not they rarely do so because they have not the need to.

    Rosberg recently finds himself needing to push harder during the races just to make up on lost ground while Hamilton is saving his tyres.
    And again there are too many variables that influence lap times such as lapped cars, track position etc.

  3. In most cases Hamilton has been ahead and likely to be managing the gap to the car behind, so I doubt that we are seeing his ultimate pace.

  4. Nico Rosberg might be fast, but he’s not a better driver compared to Massa, Webber, Raikkonen, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and so on. Because he doesn’t have the race craft. You’d think that considering his experience at midfield and the car he has, he would have been much better than he is by now. And I am not really sure just how fast he is….

  5. The driver in front only drives to win (in Mercedes case where they benefit from huge pace advantage on every track) and is protected by the many benefits of track position. He does not drive to show the full extent of his speed and maximise possible pace. On the other hand, the driver behind drives to be as close as possible to the leading driver and force errors from which he hopes to benefit. All within the possibilities dictated by grip, tyre wear and turbulence.

    Which renders the analisis entirely moot because they race for the same goal but under entirely different circumstances and possibilities (which any clever minds knows are not directly comparable).

    The only real chance to assess speed is in qualifying, where both are under the smallest ammount of constraints and suffer the least possible interference from other cars and each other. The score between Hamilton and Rosberg is self evident and matches the current factual racing scenario, in which Hamilton is clearly superior and only needs to avoid ridiculous mistakes to maintain the lead and upperhand.

  6. What you’re forgetting with all these is statistics is that when Lewis has track position he can control what pace he has to achieve so that he only has to match what Nico is doing behind which will not therefore over-stretch his tyres. It’s simply about tyre management and controlling the race – why would you risk going faster than you need to and risk a level of ware that might damage your race strategy or maybe even a Vettel style blow out?

    Lewis has in the past caught and passed Nico when he has been behind (look at 2014) where as Nico has never caught and passed Lewis. I think the closest Nico came to passing Lewis was in Bahrain last year and Lewis was still able to hold him off even though he was on the slower tyre and lost the lead he built due to a safety car.

    What I’m getting at is statistic don’t mean everything… they only given an insight at best.

    P.S. Lewis is blatantly holding back his knowledge of racing lines and any tricks to a faster lap time until Q3 to prevent Nico studying the data and copying him – hence all the pole positions.

  7. The drivers are not going all out, they’re pacing themselves and driving to a time, so the comparisons are relatively meaningless.

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