STATS WEEK: Analysis of soft/hard qualifying

Speedcafe.com

Friday 12th August, 2011 - 12:48am

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The V8 Supercars field in Abu Dhabi

The V8 Supercars field in Abu Dhabi

With the 2011 V8 Supercars Championship currently at its halfway mark, Speedcafe.com puts the first 15 races under the microscope in a five-part STATS WEEK analysis.

In the final instalment of Speedcafe.com’s mid-season STATS WEEK, we provide an insight into the qualifying performances of each driver competing in the 2011 V8 Supercars Championship, with particular reference to Dunlop’s soft and hard tyre compounds.

Grid positions for the first 15 races have been decided seven times during sessions run on the hard tyre and eight times by sessions run on the soft tyre.

While we must keep in mind that there are many variables other than tyres at play on each occasion, the spread of sessions run on each tyre gives enough data to note trends that appear.

Our first table ranks the drivers in order of average qualifying performance, while also displaying their average qualifying positions on the soft and the hard tyres.

The Delta value gives the difference between average qualifying position on the hard tyre and average qualifying position on the soft. A positive value indicates that, on average, a driver qualifies better on the hard tyre.

Topping both the soft and hard compound averages means Jamie Whincup’s overall average of 2.2 leads the field by some margin, with team-mate Craig Lowndes edging out Mark Winterbottom for second.

We can see from the Delta value that Kelly Racing drivers Rick Kelly and David Reynolds have proven the most negatively affected by having to qualify on the soft tyre, with soft tyre averages 8.0 and 5.8 places lower than their hard tyre averages respectively.

When soft tyres are used in qualifying, Will Davison, Greg Murphy, Russell Ingall and Shane van Gisbergen also lose, on average, four or more places compared to their respective hard tyre qualifying performances.

Interestingly, van Gisbergen’s Stone Brothers Racing team-mate Alex Davison gains, on average, a whopping 10.9 grid positions when qualifying on the soft compared to the hard.

Jason Bright, Fabian Coulthard, Steve Johnson and Michael Caruso join the IRWIN Racing driver in qualifying significantly better on the soft tyre than the hard.

It should be noted that we could also use the Delta to say, for example, that Rick Kelly is the most positively affected by having to qualify on the hard tyre, gaining on average 8.0 grid positions compared to his average on the soft tyre. Hence the Delta’s sole purpose is to give a relative indicator of performance from one tyre to the other.

Also note that the season’s two weather-affected qualifying sessions, for Races 5 and 6 in Hamilton (both run on the soft tyre), have been omitted from this analysis, and that Steve Owen’s failure to compete in Race 4 qualifying and Greg Murphy’s exclusion from Race 11 qualifying have both been treated as if the driver qualified in 28th position.

Overall Rank Driver Overall Soft Hard Delta
1 Jamie Whincup 2.2 1.7 2.7 1.0
2 Craig Lowndes 4.2 2.7 5.4 2.8
3 Mark Winterbottom 4.6 5.8 3.6 -2.3
4 Lee Holdsworth 7.2 8.7 5.9 -2.8
5 Steven Johnson 7.3 4.8 9.4 4.6
6 Will Davison 8.8 11.8 6.3 -5.5
7 Jason Bright 10.0 6.7 12.9 6.2
8 Garth Tander 10.2 8.7 11.4 2.8
9 Rick Kelly 12.4 16.7 8.7 -8.0
10 James Courtney 12.4 13.0 11.9 -1.1
11 Tim Slade 13.6 13.2 14.0 0.8
12 Paul Dumbrell 13.8 13.0 14.6 1.6
13 Alex Davison 13.8 8.0 18.9 10.9
14 David Reynolds 14.5 17.7 11.9 -5.8
15 Shane van Gisbergen 15.2 17.3 13.3 -4.0
16 Michael Caruso 16.2 13.8 18.1 4.3
17 Fabian Coulthard 16.6 13.8 19.0 5.2
18 Jonathon Webb 16.8 18.3 15.6 -2.8
19 Jason Bargwanna 18.0 18.2 17.9 -0.3
20 Tony D’Alberto 18.4 17.5 19.1 1.6
21 Russell Ingall 18.7 21.0 16.7 -4.3
22 Steve Owen 18.9 20.5 17.6 -2.9
23 Greg Murphy 19.1 21.7 16.9 -4.8
24 James Moffat 19.5 20.2 18.9 -1.3
25 Todd Kelly 20.5 19.3 21.6 2.2
26 Karl Reindler 21.8 20.7 22.7 2.0
27 Dean Fiore 24.8 24.5 25.0 0.5
28 Warren Luff 26.5 26.8 26.3 -0.5

For ease of viewing, our second table again ranks the drivers in order of average qualifying performance, but this time with the soft and hard tyre averages replaced by ordered rankings constructed from the averages. This is essentially another way to display the same data.

The Delta value however has changed and now represents the difference between the championship position and the average qualifying rank.

Here, a positive value indicates that the driver has a worse championship position than their raw speed indicates they should. Again, the Delta is a relative value only.

Those with championship positions well below their average qualifying rank include David Reynolds, James Courtney and Lee Holdsworth, who are 10, nine and seven positions respectively lower in the championship than their average qualifying performance indicates they should.

Conversely, van Gisbergen third place in the championship is 12 positions ahead of his average qualifying rank.

Others to perform, on average, relatively stronger in the races than in qualifying include Rick Kelly, Fabian Coulthard, Steve Owen and Greg Murphy, who are all five places higher in the championship than in the average qualifying rankings.

Overall Rank Driver Soft Hard Champ Pos Delta
1 Jamie Whincup 1 1 1 0
2 Craig Lowndes 2 3 2 0
3 Mark Winterbottom 4 2 5 2
4 Lee Holdsworth 7 4 11 7
5 Steven Johnson 3 7 8 3
6 Will Davison 9 5 6 0
7 Jason Bright 5 11 10 3
8 Garth Tander 8 8 7 -1
9 Rick Kelly 15 6 4 -5
10 James Courtney 10 9 19 9
11 Tim Slade 12 13 13 2
12 Paul Dumbrell 11 14 16 4
13 Alex Davison 6 21 9 -4
14 David Reynolds 18 10 24 10
15 Shane van Gisbergen 16 12 3 -12
16 Michael Caruso 13 20 14 -2
17 Fabian Coulthard 14 23 12 -5
18 Jonathon Webb 20 15 22 4
19 Jason Bargwanna 19 19 15 -4
20 Tony D’Alberto 17 24 25 5
21 Russell Ingall 25 16 20 -1
22 Steve Owen 23 18 17 -5
23 Greg Murphy 26 17 18 -5
24 James Moffat 22 22 21 -3
25 Todd Kelly 21 25 23 -2
26 Karl Reindler 24 26 27 1
27 Dean Fiore 27 27 26 -1
28 Warren Luff 28 28 28 0

This concludes Speedcafe.com’s mid-season STATS WEEK for 2011.

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