until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Gary Anderson: Verstappen Q2 exit made rivals’ gains misleading

by Gary Anderson
2 min read

Things are never really as they look in Formula 1. We are only two races into the season, however there is already a trend being set. It looks like Red Bull is still the team to beat but, on face value, the other teams – or at least some of them – seem to have closed the gap.

But is that really true?

Here, I have compared the fastest lap from each team in Bahrain to that in Saudi Arabia. I have converted that into a percentage of the fastest lap at each circuit – in both cases set by a Red Bull – and then looked at what the improvements (or otherwise) are.

Team Bahrain % Saudi Arabia % Change %
1 Red Bull Datum Datum 0
2 Ferrari 0.326 0.176 -0.15
3 Aston Martin 0.700 0.527 -0.173
4 Mercedes 0.705 0.671 -0.034
5 Haas 1.227 1.344 0.117
6 Alpine 1.334 0.921 -0.423
7 McLaren 1.865 1.108 -0.757
8 AlphaTauri 1.886 1.897 0.011
9 Alfa Romeo 1.934 1.355 -0.579
10 Williams 1.954 1.959 0.005

Now, here they are in the order of improvement in Jeddah relative to Bahrain.

1. McLaren -0.757%
2. Alfa Romeo -0.579%
3. Alpine -0.423%
4. Aston Martin -0.173%
5. Ferrari -0.150%
6. Mercedes -0.034%
7. Red Bull +/- 0%
8. Williams +0.005%
9. AlphaTauri +0.011%
10. Haas +0.117%

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

But all is never as it seems. As we know, we lost Versappen early in Q2 with a driveshaft failure so he wasn’t able to set a representative time in Q2 or Q3.

Up until then he had been the measure for everyone else and it looked like another pole position was a forgone conclusion, but it wasn’t to be. However, if we look at his performance against Perez in the earlier sessions, when they both ran and ended up either first and second or first and third, we get an inkling of what might have been.

FP1 FP2 FP3 Q1 Average
Perez to Verstappen % +0.539 +0.232 +0.693 +0.544 +0.502

There is no reason that I know of to say that Verstappen wouldn’t have pulled that off again in Q2 or Q3. So, if we add what would have been his average of 0.5% to the improvement or otherwise above, we get what I think is a more representative order for the change of play since Bahrain.

1. McLaren -0.257%
2. Alfa Romeo -0.079%
3. Red Bull +/-0%
4. Alpine +0.077%
5. Aston Martin +0.327%
6. Ferrari +0.350%
7. Mercedes +0.466%
8. Williams +0.505%
9. AlphaTauri +0.511%
10. Haas +0.617%

Again, it’s very early in the season but as a team you need to be realistic in how you measure your performance.

With Verstappen unable to show his true performance it would be easy to get excited and say you have closed the gap to Red Bull, but from this order and performance delta I think it shows that Red Bull is not standing still and the others have a lot of midnight oil to burn.

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