Who deserves to be 2010 F1 World Champion?
31 October, 2010
Oct.31 (Daniel Chalmers) The 2010 Formula 1 season has been one of the closest title battles in the sport’s history. However, as in every season, fans are always asking who would be most deserving of the most prestigious prize in motorsport.
In this two part article we ask that question by assessing each title contender’s season in eight different areas which are: Qualifying pace, race pace, race craft, wet weather driving, mistakes, handling pressure, comeback ability and luck.
For qualifying and race pace the contenders will get points out of twenty, and ten for the other six categories. By the end each contender will have a total out of a maximum of 100, and we will see who comes out on top.
Will the result reflect the current order of the championship table? Or will we get a shock result?
We haven’t included Jenson Button in this as he is as good as out of the running.
There is no doubt that Sebastian Vettel has been the star of Saturday afternoons in 2010. He is becoming a one lap specialist always able to find an extra tenth or two from nowhere. He leads the way with nine pole positions with team mate Mark Webber second with five poles. The only times he has been out of the top three were in Belgium and Italy.
Webber has been very consistent qualifying in the top two 13 times this season. Bahrain and Singapore have been his only poor performances.
For Hamilton and Alonso beating Red Bull over a single lap has always been a very tough order. Alonso has done well to beat Red Bull to pole two times this season. His pole lap in Singapore was particularly impressive considering Red Bull were the fastest car there.
Hamilton got pole position in Montreal but this owed more to Red Bull using the hard tyres as opposed to the soft tyres. When you compare Alonso and Hamilton’s qualifying form, Alonso comes out on top beating Hamilton 10-7. Furthermore Alonso has beaten his team mate slightly more convincingly than Hamilton has.
Alonso – 15/20
Webber – 17/20
Hamilton – 12/20
Vettel – 19/20
When Vettel has been leading his race pace has been magical. Unless unreliability has kicked in Vettel has looked unstoppable when he has been leading. He has potentially lost a further three wins due to unreliability. He has also been the quicker Red Bull driver in more races than Webber has. However when he is further back following other cars his pace is still good but not as strong. His inability to win from further back is proving to be a major weakness of his.
Webber’s peaks have been very high at times in races. In Spain and Monaco he made his younger team mate look ordinary, and was in a class of his own at Silverstone. His long stint on the soft tyres in Hungary was impressive and fast enough to leapfrog both Alonso and Vettel. On the other hand he has been slower than his younger team mate in races more often than not. He also has a tendency to have the odd anonymous race e.g. Bahrain and Monza
Hamilton is always quick on race day wherever he qualifies. Spain was his most impressive race where he was able to split the Red Bulls at one of their strongest circuits. Shame a puncture ruined what would have been one of the drives of the season. In Istanbul he was able to keep up with the Red Bulls arguably resulting in their crash. In Montreal and Spa he was the star of the show. When he drops down the field he is very quick to fight back.
Although Alonso was disappointing at times in the first half of the season, his pace in the second half of the season has been incredible. In Singapore he didn’t have the fastest car but was still able to beat Vettel to victory. He pressured Button for the whole of the Italian GP and eventually got past via the pit stops. Korea also showed his ability to outdrive the car when he stayed in touch with Vettel despite not having as good a car in the wet.
Alonso – 15/20
Webber – 15/20
Hamilton – 16/20
Vettel – 16/20
This is a summary of how many overtakes each of the title contenders has made: Alonso 38 overtakes, Hamilton-31, Vettel-26 and Webber- 22
Vettel’s race craft has largely been very poor this season, and definitely the worst of the four title contenders. He caused two high profile accidents when trying to overtake his team mate for the lead in Istanbul. He also completely misjudged his move on Jenson Button for second place in Spa. Vettel always appears to be slightly tentative when following other cars. However he did do well in Silverstone to overtake a number of cars to rescue some points after his first lap puncture.
Whilst Webber has demonstrated better race craft than his team mate his success has been mixed too. Webber did really well to overtake Michael Schumacher and Kamui Kobayashi around Singapore to make his odd strategy work. He also made a number of successful overtakes in Monza. However he did make a very rash move on Hamilton in Melbourne, and went airbourne attempting to overtake Heikki Kovalainen in Valencia. He was also very lucky to escape his collision with Lewis in Singapore.
Hamilton has done some mega overtakes in 2010. One of his best was his brave move around the outside of Rosberg in Melbourne. He has also successfully overtaken rivals for the lead of the race. In Montreal he successfully passed Alonso for first place. In Istanbul he got Button back straight away after he was overtaken by him, again for the lead. Unfortunately Hamilton was too eager to pass Massa in Monza on lap one and retired on the spot. Then in Singapore he didn’t leave Webber enough room and he retired on the spot again, but in fairness it was a 50/50 incident.
Unlike the other three title contenders Alonso hasn’t had a DNF as a result of a wheel to wheel battle. His only errors have been overtaking Robert Kubica by cutting the corner at Silverstone and not giving the position back. Plus he got himself hit at the start in Melbourne. When Alonso has ended up further down the field for whatever reason he has been very strong at carving his way back through the field. Australia, Malaysia, Monaco and China are all examples of that. However he hasn’t overtaken anyone for the lead like Hamilton has, and he needed team intervention to overtake Massa at Hockenheim.
Alonso – 8/10
Hamilton – 8/10
Webber – 6/10
Vettel – 5/10
So far in 2010 four races have been affected by rain: Australia, China, Belgium and Korea. There was also that wet qualifying session in Malaysia, which made a big impact.
If you were to invent a wet weather championship with those five races then here is how it would look:
Hamilton-77 points, Alonso-49, Webber-42 and Vettel-31
Hamilton comes out comfortably on top. Hamilton delivered one of the best drives of the season at Spa in very mixed conditions and judged it perfectly. He was also a very strong second in Korea on intermediates which wore away quickly. In China he followed Button home in second despite making two more stops than him. However in Malaysia he along with Alonso made the mistake of not doing a banker lap and got caught out.
Although Vettel is at the bottom he has suffered bad luck in wet races. In Korea he was leading Alonso when his engine blew up. He was also comfortable leading in Australia when he had a brake problem. On the other hand Spa was a complete disaster with an error strewn race, after that collision with Jenson.
Webber was supreme in Malaysian qualifying when he made the choice to put inters on in Q3 and got pole. In China he jumped into the pits for inters too soon just the same as his three title rivals. Mark did a solid race in Spa in the mixed conditions, but Korea was disastrous where he got caught out and spun into the wall. This is a mistake he could seriously regret in a couple of weeks. He is the only one of the title contenders not to have won on a rain affected race weekend.
Alonso drove a master class in the wet at Korea. However he has made wrong decisions such as not putting in a banker lap in Malaysia. He admitted that decision was all down to him. He went to inters too early in China as well. He made an unnecessary change to inters in Spa and later crashed.
Alonso – 6/10
Webber – 5/10
Hamilton – 8/10
Vettel – 7/10
Alonso has been fault free in the second half of the season (apart from Spa) when it really matters, but he made quite a few errors in the first half of the season. Alonso didn’t give Button enough room at the start in Melbourne and got tagged. In China he was too eager to beat the Red Bulls into turn and did a jump start. In Monaco he hit the wall in practise, and his car was too damaged to take part in qualifying. In the wet in Spa he spun and hit the wall.
Webber’s most high profile mistake of the season was the crash in Korea, which could end up costing him the world title. Apart from that it’s mainly been small mistakes that he has made such as a few botched starts off the grid. Then there was the disastrous move on Kovalainen in Valencia but that could be described as 50/50. Mark was also a bit rash when he hit Lewis in Australia.
Hamilton was a much matured driver for the first two thirds of the season hardly making any mistakes. Unfortunately that all came undone with his collisions with Massa and Webber in Monza and Singapore respectively. Although they are the only two notable errors Lewis has made in 2010 they have both come at a huge cost.
Although Vettel has been dubbed the crash kid and been ripped apart for his errors there hasn’t actually been that many. Sebastian has lost more points due to unreliability as opposed to his impetuous nature. Sebastian’s biggest two errors were the failed overtaking moves on his team mate and the move on Button in Spa. His other main error was leaving too much room between himself and the safety car in Hungary which resulted in a drive-thru penalty.
Alonso – 5/10
Webber – 7/10
Hamilton – 7/10
Vettel – 6/10
Coping with pressure
For Alonso it’s been a season of two halves when it comes to handling pressure. In the first half of the season you could perhaps tell that the added pressures of driving for Ferrari were getting to him, and it was resulting in the errors that he was making. In the business end of the season Fernando seems like the calmest head out there and you can’t see any signs of pressure at all. When he has a good enough car to challenge for victory, and has the team around him he is in his element.
Webber has had a few races this year when he has looked a bit ruffled but overall he has remained very calm under pressure and very resilient even after a disappointing race. He has much less to lose than his rivals. Nobody was expecting him to be in this title race, and it might be that he didn’t expect to be in it himself. Webber has definitely made the most of his experience.
A couple of years ago Hamilton regularly crumbled under pressure. This season he has generally been much better. However in a race he had to win in Monza he went in the wrong direction in terms of setup, and made that misjudged move on Massa. He suddenly ended up back in all or nothing mode again. However he appears to now be back on track after Korea.
Vettel has really felt the pressure at times this year. At Toro Rosso when he was punching above his weight he was the subject of everybody’s praise. If he had a bad race nobody cared, but a great race and he was hailed as the second coming. Now he is a championship contender (with the best car of 2010) he has been expected to perform brilliantly and has been knocked down every time he hasn’t and made a mistake. He has also had to cope with challenge from his own team mate which he perhaps wasn’t anticipating. His recent run of form shows he is starting to get used to this pressure.
Alonso – 8/10
Webber – 9/10
Hamilton – 7/10
Vettel – 5/10
Ability to bounce back
The ability to be able to win points from bad situations can make a huge difference between being champion and just losing out.
Despite making quite a few mistakes Alonso has fought back to win points on nearly all of those occasions. After dropping to the back of the field at Melbourne Fernando fought all the way back to finish fourth. In China he also came back to fourth after having to serve a drive through penalty. Remarkably in Monte-Carlo he started last and came home in 6th place, one of the best comeback drives in Monaco GP history. He would have earned points in Malaysia too after his qualifying blunder but engine failure stopped that.
Overall Webber hasn’t really had many comeback drives in 2010, as he has mainly been racing at the front of the pack. He did manage to fight back to eighth in China after being one of the drivers that pitted too early for intermediate tyres. He also fought his way back through the field after a poor start in Monza.
Out of the drivers that didn’t put in a banker lap in Malaysia in Q1 Hamilton did the best job in the race. He drove magnificently from 20th to sixth in the race. He also fared the best out of the drivers who pitted too early for inters in China. He came within touching distance of race leader Button. He qualified poorly in Melbourne and raced his heart out all afternoon but it came to no avail after Webber took him out. After taking a five place grid penalty in Japan Lewis drove solidly from eighth to fifth. Would have been higher had he not had to sit behind Button who was on a different strategy, and the gearbox failure.
Like Webber, Vettel hasn’t had that many opportunities to come back through the field as he has spent most of his time at the front. In Bahrain Vettel suffered a spark plug failure whilst in the lead. To his credit he managed to recover to fourth and still score some points. In Silverstone when h hade a puncture at the start he came back to seventh. In Monza he was struggling and appeared to have a gremlin creeping in but by staying on the same tyres for 52 laps he came fourth. Although in Spa his race never recovered when he took Button out of the race.
Alonso – 9/10
Webber – 6/10
Hamilton – 8/10
Vettel – 6/10
All drivers need a bit of luck to win a championship. Alonso has had a mix of both during his campaign. He has inherited the lead twice from Vettel so far this year after the German was struck by unreliability. In Silverstone Fernando received a drive-through penalty just as the safety car deployed therefore took the penalty just as the field was all bunched up. The safety car didn’t play to his hands in Valencia either and he dropped down to the midfield and was unable to recover.
Webber has been having what’s often known as champion’s luck. He has had far less mechanical problems than team mate Vettel has suffered. He was also extremely lucky that the tyre that was struck by Hamilton in Singapore lasted till the end of the race.
Hamilton was actually quite unlucky that his contact with Massa and Webber in Monza and Singapore respectively ended in DNFs. . On other occasions Lewis may have got away with it or could have carried on after changing his front wing. His puncture in Spain robbed him of 18 points, and he also suffered unreliability in Hungary. In Valencia where he inadvertently overtook the safety car the subsequent drive thru penalty didn’t get handed till later so Lewis had enough time to secure second place.
Vettel has had the worse luck this year out of the title contenders. He could have won the opening two races but didn’t due to unreliability. The same also applied to Korea. You could also say that he was unlucky his car didn’t survive the crash with Webber in Istanbul, and that he suffered a puncture making contact with Hamilton off the start in Silverstone.
Alonso – 6/10
Webber – 8/10
Hamilton – 6/10
Vettel – 4/10
Final results and conclusion
Final scores based on this study:
1. Webber – 73/100
2. Alonso – 72/100
3. Hamilton – 72/100
4. Vettel – 69/100
The first thing to notice is that only one point covers the top three with Vettel just another three further back. This shows that they have all been very closely matched. Throughout the year all four drivers have had moments of pure brilliance, but also a lot of errors have been made between them, which is what has kept the championship so close.
The title race has constantly swung one way or the other. Every driver has had their own part of the year where they were the on-form driver. Webber had a spell in the first half of the season, then another during the second half. Hamilton was the star of the middle part of the season, and Alonso is currently the man in form at the most critical time.
Webber just nicks first place from Alonso and Hamilton, which overall is a fair reflection of how the season has gone. Webber has probably been the best all-round package over the 17 races so far, despite losing his actual championship lead to Alonso in Korea.
Hamilton is probably the big surprise here being joint second with Alonso. Until his season started to go wrong in Monza he had become many pundits’ star of the season, and was joint favourite with Webber for the title at the time. He has had some magical moments in 2010.
Vettel’s fourth place shows that whilst he has been extremely fast in 2010 he isn’t yet the complete package. It should be added that he has also been devoid of luck, which has proved very costly for him.
This study shows that all four drivers would be worthy recipients of the title but that overall Webber just edges it as it stands.
Of course the last two races could yet change all that.