Teams comparison 2010 vs 2009

The emergence of a new “top team” this season with the transformation of Rapax into a consistent winner made me think how teams are faring so far this season when compared to 2009.  Below are two charts, from which we can draw interesting conclusions:

No surprise to see Rapax at +69 points when compared to 2009, when they were languishing with Roldán Rodríguez and Alberto Valerio, pushed only by his strong win at Silverstone.  Not surprising either is DPR, with the explosion of its whole team structure and the better results from both Ricci and Herck in 2010.   iSport is also doing better this season, as the Valsecchi-Tuvey combo is working better than the van der Garde-Nunes team, which took a bit of time to get rolling last season.

What is surprising is to find ART as the worst team in comparison at this point in the season.  Hulkenberg’s strong season last year, even when pulling Maldonado’s weight most of the season, is 43 points better than the current results from Bianchi and Bird.  Even though they are both racing well, the results are significantly below what ART must have expected, especially when compared to 2009.  Also at the bottom are Super Nova, team we have already written about which is undergoing its worst season ever in GP2, and DAMS, whose high-flying Renault Junior Team status has failed to materialize in results from either D’Ambrosio or Tung.  We will write an opinion piece on DAMS and Gravity in the coming days leading up to Spa…

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Pastor… not a Sunday driver

Pastor Maldonado is finally living up to the years of expectation from all the racing fans, teams and sponsors.  After failing to put together a strong and consistent season in recent years, though never without significant flashes of brilliance, 2010 is proving to be his moment.

Only a premature move to F1 seemed to be in his way to the GP2 title this year, and this possibility now seems unlikely, so Pastor should motor on towards the crown and a 2011 F1 seat.  Bear in mind, he cannot return to GP2 after winning the championship, though I believe he will race in F1 due to his own merit, and not due to the money from Venezuelan oil monopoly PDVSA.

Yet despite all this brilliance, Pastor is evidently struggling with his Sunday race form, where his results have been less than optimal.  As you can see in the chart, of the 77 points obtained so far 65 of them (84%) have been on Saturday.  He has 5 wins on Saturdays and 1 second place, with only 1 podium to his name on Sunday after the Barcelona race.

What can explain this abysmal difference in performance?

Pastor is a fast driver, a qualifier, the kind that needs open and wide spaces to shine.  He works hard to be up front and does his job during Friday qualifying sessions.  On Saturday, he capitalizes on this effort, fighting for the lead and winning the past 5 races.

Yet on Sundays, where he lately starts 7th or 8th and has to work his way up front, he has trouble pushing his way through.  Maybe it’s due to the  many aggressive drivers  pushing to get the few points available that day, or the fact  that those around him are driving around like mad for the quick dash to the finish – while Pastor is looking to score points and increase his tally.  Sometimes he catches a break, but lately he seems to be getting in trouble, finishing down the order or out of the race altogether.

I won’t be the one to cast a shadow on such a strong season or a talented driver, but if I was an F1 Team Principal, I would need to see some more of Pastor in traffic, in battle and driving through the field to be certain that he is the real deal, the full package.  His imminent arrival in F1 needs to have all the boxes ticked, and since it’s highly unlikely he will land at McLaren or Ferrari just yet, he will need to drive through traffic, past slower cars, fight tough battles between equals and come out on top.

Just for once in the GP2 Series, a Sunday race may be more relevant that the Saturday race.. at least, it could be the case for Pastor.

The evolution of GP2 teams – Average position

GP2 teams have enjoyed very diverse fortunes since the category was launched in 2005.  So, which are the “best” teams?   To avoid subjective discussions, and base the answer on hard data, here is the average position in the team championship since 2005, as well as their “label” according to the 3 groups we created in an earlier post (stars, survivors or backmarkers):

team-standings-chart1

The chart shows what we expected at the top and at the bottom, with some surprises – such as Arden and Piquet, which are higher that expected.  Both still live off their best seasons when Kovalainen (Arden) and Nelsinho (Piquet) were fighting for the GP2 title.In terms of economics, the chart helps illustrate one of our basic points about GP2 success:  if you are consistently successful on track, you will be financially viable.  Today, as illustrated in previous posts, all the teams in red are GP2 backmarkers and facing serious financial troubles.  As simple as this chart and its interpretation may seem, how come some teams are at the top and some at the bottom when they all started out on equal ground in 2005?

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