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Ferrari bulletproof, Red Bull more reliable than McLaren
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Ferrari bulletproof, Red Bull more reliable than McLaren
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Aug 2010   |  8:49 am GMT  |  79 comments

The German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, an opinion leader in F1 circles, has published a table reviewing the finishing record of the Formula 1 teams in the season to date.

Reliability has been very mixed among teams (Darren Heath)

Ferrari comes out well on top with an astonishing 1471 racing laps covered, out of a maximum of 1474! Fernando Alonso’s engine failure in the closing stages of the Malaysian Grand Prix is the only blot on its copybook. Felipe Massa has a flawless finishing record.

And interestingly Red Bull has come out second, with 1,373 laps covered. This is despite a reputation for shaky reliability early in the season. Vettel had a retirement in Australia due to a wheel failure, but otherwise, there were occasions when things broke on the car and slowed it down, robbing it of a win, but didn’t actually force it to retire, such as the ignition issue with Vettel in Bahrain. He also had a raft of problems in Spain which consigned him to a 3rd place finish.

Beyond that he had niggly issues, such as the suspension problem in qualifying in Turkey which cost him the pole. They don’t really show on the records because he qualified, raced and finished, but they all add up in terms of points dropped.

There were of course the notorious accidents; Vettel and Webber’s collision in Turkey, which eliminated the German and Webber’s somersault in Valencia.

Mercedes are just behind Red Bull, with three retirements this season and one lap dropped when Michael Schumacher was lapped in Hungary!

Despite operating smoothly in general this season on all levels, McLaren has been more unreliable than its two key rivals. Lewis Hamilton lost a certain 18 points for 2nd place in Spain with a wheel failure, then in Hungary he had a driveshaft failure early on in the race. Even earlier in the Monaco Grand Prix was Jenson Button’s retirement with a cooked engine due to a bung left in the engine by a forgetful mechanic.

Not much to smile about for Sauber (Darren Heath)

At the other end of the scale Sauber’s appalling early season reliability puts them at the bottom of the pile with only 854 laps covered, just over 50%. Kobayashi didn’t see the chequered flag until the fifth round of the championship, while De la Rosa has missed it on seven of the 12 races so far. Since the arrival of James Key as technical director, however, the relaibility and the performance have improved and Kobayashi has been in the points in three of the last four races.

Of the new teams Lotus has covered 1049 laps, six more than Hispania, which is a 71% record. Kovalainen has had six non finishes, of which one was when he was hit by Webber in Valencia, while Trulli has five.

As with the points scoring teams at the front, reliability is critically important at the back of the field. On days when cars in front don’t finish, the new teams can potentially score a result which could transform their championship finishing position and their prize money for the season. At the moment Lotus are ahead thanks to a single 13th place for Kovalainen.

So a 12th place for Virgin or Hispania, which would need quite a few retirements in the midfield, would change the game completely.
Virgin’s car wasn’t able to see the chequered flag in the early races as the fuel tank wasn’t big enough and since the larger car was introduced, Di Grassi and Glock have each had six finishes.


1. Ferrari 99.8%
2. Red Bull 93.1%
3. Mercedes 92.7%
4. McLaren 91.4%
5. Renault 86.4%
6 Williams 86.1%
7. Force India 85.5%
8. Toro Rosso 80%
9. Lotus 71.1%
10. Hispania 70.7%
11. Virgin 65.2%
12 Sauber 57.9%

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Interesting analysis, although "laps completed" is a relatively blunt instrument. You can, after all, have a 100% reliability record but still not score a single point all season if your car is just slow. Similarly, I would suggest the nature of the retirements is more informative. McLaren lost a lot of laps with Button's cooked engine through carelessness, not unreliability and Red Bull have lost laps through driver entanglements. What it does tell us is that Ferrari not only have a very reliable car but two very capable drivers who know how to keep it on the road and out of trouble.


Yup I agree, working out reliability through 'points lost' is a better measure, but also a little dodge at times. McLaren have had very consistent high points scoring for the most part, which tells you a lot about their drivers and the cars.


Agreed. It is an uninformative metric.


@ Ben...

"uninformative metric" seems a bit harsh, certainly it speaks, at least, to an overall "functionality" of the entire team effort?

At least it provokes the surrounding discussion.


Fair points, but I think it would be very difficult to score 100% in this table with zero points - for this, both cars would need to complete every race, not get lapped and not score a point.

Though I do accept you said "100% reliability"


Out of Trouble? So you are discounting the mistakes Alonso has made through out the season that have cost him places (or dropped him way down the grid from his start forcing him to fight to make up ground lost rather than attacking to gain podiums/wins), points and earned him penalties that he could have avoided?


If we discuss just the point of "reliability", it is clear that Alonso has finished all eleven races but the three last laps in Malaysia, hasn't he?

I agree that the metric doesn't give us much info about performance in terms of wins or podiums (WDC and WCC standigs give us that), but I find it at least surprising. I would have bet that the McLarens were more reliable that the Red Bulls...


Alonso is a great racer but he seems to me to be very fragile in this respect, it seems to me that he can often loose his cool and behave irrationally and to the detriment of his obvious talent.


Ops... I mean TWELVE races so far!


By "out of trouble" I meant was that it tells us that Massa & Alonso are good at not crashing. Sounds silly but I think it is something that gets overlooked - and something certain drivers out there should think about.

I'd also like to point out that I'm a Williams fan of nearly 30 years standing so any praise for the red cars or their drivers is respect rather than fanboyism. So there 🙂


Well apart from Alonso's spin in Oz I have to agree with you, both drivers are very good at avoiding crashes as are both McLaren drivers. However when it comes to Red Bull both drivers have issues, Mark can occasionally loose his head and get to aggressive when recovering from mistakes he has made and as for Seb....

Sorry but I am starting to seriously doubt Seb's capabilities as a 'racer' he is very fast with a clear track in front of him and the field behind him but put him behind faster cars and he seems happy to sit there behind them (reminds me very much of Ralf Schumacher in this respect) and before anyone points out Silverstone(?) let me just point out his performance before the safety car closed up the pack for him. He just seems to lack the ability to apply pressure to a fast car and to make/ utilise overtaking opportunities to make places safely and reliably.


Good article as usual James.Reading The Brawn Story by Christopher Hilton at the moment.


One of the worst books I've ever read..


Very interesting James! Do you have any plans to write an article updating us on the engine useage situation so far. It doesn't seem to be a talking point at all this season. Last season everyone was going on about the power lost when using an older engine.


There isn't much power lost these days, the engines are very efficient


vivaf1 is great and I must admit I hadn't visited this site when I posted this post. However I would like to hear James' take and thoughts on this info... Stats are great but without context.... for example -

Ferrari have the most reliable car according to these stats yet they have the most unreliable engine by a good margin when you consider how 'blown' engines they have had nearly twice as many in number as any other engine manufacturer despite have the fewest cars using their engines.

Eamonn Mc Cauley

The context is F1.


THere are some good things about the site, but context is vital as you said


I would still love to see an article on who has used how many engines (and how many races each has done, how many are dead and how many each manufacturer expects their engines to be able to do).

Whilst I am thinking of articles I would like to read can I ask for a round on which teams have Fducts and blown diffusers and how far along the teams are along the road of developing them.

Stephen Williams

All the information you could want is maintained on the Viva F1 site (http://www.vivaf1.com/engine.php), just look at the 'Engine cycle' tab.

There's also information on gearbox cycles which shows that Lewis was on his fourth race with the gearbox that failed in Hungary, so he won't suffer a grid place penalty for Spa.

Eamonn Mc Cauley

I have had a look and can't find who used what anywhere. You think it would be on the f1 site. The world is dumbing down but it won't go.


I would like to see such an article as well.

I remember that at Bahrain both Ferraris had to change the engine after Q3 (just the very same Sunday morning)for a problem of "reliability". I read some articles on Spanish press about a plan on how the engines were to be used through the season, and that it had to be changed because of this initial problems.

I think it could be an interesting point to know how many engines has used each driver, how many times and in what conditions (FP, Qualifying, Races...) - maybe a table with the data could be enough to get an idea.

Eamonn Mc Cauley

Yes please. Before the start up of the last part of the season.


Surprised that Hispania's finishing record is so high, especially since they are by far the slowest of the new boys. Sauber have proved however that it's not how you finish, but what you do with it that counts 🙂


The new teams are turning into quite a story, I guess there has to be a story about the lack of a Wind Tunnel for Virgin and if you really can produce a competitive car without one.

For me they do seem to be making a point, although my gut feel is that to be really up with the big boys every tool to hand can count for a 1/10th or a 1/1000 which can be the difference between a win or a loss.


There's a very nice break down of the new team's failings on this blog: http://www.vivaf1.com/blog/?p=4300

Hydraulics! Hydraulics! Hydraulics!


Interesting that according to that website the Willaims car has had no failures, is that really the case?


i think Barrichello had a steering wheel failure at Monaco, it ended up under another car...


I don't think a per lap reliability scale can be that accurate as it gives unneccesary weight to breakdowns that occur later in the race. After all, a breakdown is a breakdown no matter when it happens, and if it does happen in the last 2 laps there's a chance the car can be classified in a okay position.


Certainly makes interesting reading. especially if your a bit of a nerd like me 🙂

I think you could be forgiven if like my staunch Ferrari fan, Anj for thinking Ferrari had considerably more reliability problems now that as she says "the Italians are back in charge". I think it nicely shows that Ferrari are still very much at the top end of the grid and have weathered the departure of Brawn, Byrne and Toddt very well. Afterall they won in 2007, came a very close second in 2008 and had the same fate as McLaren in 2009 and have bounced back very strong this season.

I think it interesting too that Red Bull have been stronger in the reliability stakes than you might otherwise think. Perhaps Newey is an even greater automotive design genius than we give credit for or maybe this is a legacy left by Geoff Willis?


There's a handy site that keeps track of these numbers all year: http://www.vivaf1.com/reliability.php?featuretabs=0


Cheers for that, been bookmarked 🙂


Interesting stats there - especially how the Ferrari engine is the least reliable, but apparently only for the customers, not the works team.


Would be great if Hispania grab a freak result and get that 10th place.


I would love virgin to do that...they really have been unreliable, especially at the beginning. Which is a shame because their pace is now improving quite well...


If it'll happen anywhere, I reckon it'll happen in Spa under wet conditions. It would be such a story if they do get that point, and the team which needs the money the most.


It wouldn't really be fair though, would it? Lotus have been, by just about any measure, the best of the new teams. HRT have been surprisingly reliable, but that's about it.

I've been thinking about the relative performance of the new teams quite a lot, and if it's not too shameless a plug...



Interesting read mate, and a nice way to qualify the new teams 🙂


I think it would be great if all 3 of the new teams could squeak a point or 2 by the end of the season, all these boys and girls have worked extremely hard and it would be great to see them rewarded.


Definatley - Would need a wet race, but I could see Senna pulling it off.


Yeah right James considering how tight the top 8 are and the 4-6 right behind them means the only new team with a shot at that is Lotus. HRT are good at being dead last and invisible though


This info blurs the reality a bit for me as it doesn't account for the details of retirements and the reliability over the weekend as a whole.

I would actually call it a useless piece of information when you consider all the variables!


Are you 100% certain Hamilton's wheel failure in Spain wasn't a result of Hamilton overworking the tyre? I mean it was the tyre that bears the most load on a high degradation track...


It was a wheel rim failure. His tyres were fine.


Love your blog Allen.

But just a little correction. It was Webber who finished the race in Turkey, not Vettel.


#6 I think F1 attracts the nerd in us....

I can't help thinking that if RBR don't win both titles it will be one of the biggest cock ups in the history of sport.

They had the best car last year over the course of the season and have the best car this year by some distance. Yes they are now leading both championships but may lose out due to how evenly matched their drivers are.

I expect that soon Jenson will be playing back up to Lewis and we already know the position at Ferrari.

Can't wait for Spa but I'm afraid I am at a Wedding on the Sunday in a venue with no TV!!!!!!!



Of course this doesn't take into account the overall weekend reliability. Red Bull and Ferrari have had problems earlier in the weekend that has also cost them points.


Reliability does not equal laps completed.

Reliability surely should be measured by incidents of mechanical failure, which, as you point out, does not necessarily mean a non-finish but a reduction in power, speed, or loss of positions.

I'm surprised AMuS posted such an article without really thinking about it.


James, could you multiply these finishing records by average points per race and predict this seasons winner(s) please.



I know that it's not the right place but please, please wish Hans-Joachim Stuck all the very best and I hope his recovery is swift and full from his recent blood clot on the brain.

The Regenmeister is a true genius and I can feel the adrenalin in my veins now, reliving sitting on the edge of my seat with awe, as he drove circles round competitors in appalling conditions. ( Oh, he was pretty good in dry as well !! )

Get Well soon Stuckie

Kindest Regards



What a great link - thanks tiageo 😉

You can really see that, despite the Auto Motor und Sport article showing McLaren's lost laps, that their engine and gearbox usage fits in perfectly with what they clearly planned to do through the first half of the season... Same goes for Mercedes, and to a lesser degree Ferrari.

You can also see how the Red Bull team have had to manage the issues they've had as James discusses above.

Isn't F1 so much more intersting with stuff like this available!!? Love it - keep it up all 🙂


Agreed. There's never been a better time to get closer to what's really going on and the racing is good too!


I really don't think laps completed I'd a sign of reliability. You may have one failure at gheseart of a race affecting your result massively or several last lap failures only having a minor impact. Statistics can say what ever you want them too. It's my job to know that!


I thought that Alonso should have cooled it at Sepang,was surprised those points mattered so much he threw caution to the wind...and got zero points.

I thought at the time he could end up longing for those points at the end of the season,which is still possible.


I thought, that Renault will be higher.


Id love to see the great name of Lotus getting some points this season. The car looks really well, lets hope they can improve its speed soon.


I'm not sure that this is really relevant at all. Afterall a retirement is a retirement regardless of whether it is lap 1 or 50, either way no points are scored so what's the relevancy?

Also how can you say that a driver error such as the red bulls slamming into one another is due to unreliability - the drivers maybe but not the car!

Pointless stats or am i missing something?


Just a quick thing which this doesn't account for, what of Alonso's engine troubles early in the season, they were changed before the race so not affecting the stats above however ... Still proves they have a reliability issue somewhere

an old teaching from my maths teacher springs to mind "any statistic can be presented in such a way that it reaches your desired outcome, simply by taking certain results out" I wonder what they would be like if they count engine changes, gear box issues, hydraulic issues which present themselves in free practice/qualifying


I think i,m missing something here,my logic suggests this reliability analysis is showing overall "team" performance in race trim,..............?


MY TAKE is that formula one is about winning and finishing within good points so that either you enable a given driver to get closer to world drivers championship win or a given car team to win the manufactures trophy...SO these statistics are meaningless..

ie FELIPE "BABY" has one hundred percent driver finish but is not even a champion ship contender

ferari with their 99.8 record are not leading the manufacturers points...so i think reliability here in this way is a misleading term.

BUT more sense can be made when looked at globally at the end of the season in total ..when we see how many engines,how many tyres, how many gearboxes EACH TEAM HAS USED UP?


That's a misleading statistic. Some given driver, say one with the luck of Raikkonen, could have a mechanical failure on the last lap of every race of the season, yet he'd still figure with over 90% reliability.

In my book, reliability means finishing races, not completing laps.



I have big doubts about the "reliability" conclusions that can be extracted from the data used from two casual observations:

1. The Jenson Button incident was human error on the track rather than anything mechanically unreliable with the car.

2. Why is it that both Alonso and Vettel only have two new engines left for rest of this season? What does this tell us? It is likely that Ferrari obviously felt the need to replace some of their engines because of unreliability concerns!


Those saying this is a flawed survey are missing the point. It's a perfect survey for what it sets out to do. Who's F1 understanding hasn't been enhanced by realising that Ferrari have only failed to complete 3 of the racing laps this season?

As the late, late Murray Walker used to say 'to finish first in Formula One first you've got to finish'. I'm sure we all agree the driver's champion is the best driver in one of the best cars over a measured amount of time. I'm sure we can also agree the drivers contending for the title this season are Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Put those names into that survey and Fernando has the best chance of finishing every race due to superior race craft and a more reliable car. Now sumise that the Red Bull errors come from driver error and the McLaren ones from car fragility what do you get? Well I can see more calamity ahead for the uptight Red Bulls and does Lewis have another car failure in him? Computer says yes.

Fernando WILL finish every race this year but will he be high enough up the points? IF is F1 backwards as dear Murray used to say, wrongly obviously and mixed metaphors if it were true. In other words, if the the ifs were certainties we'd all be watching the Eastenders omnibus on Sundays. IF is what makes sport and Formula One great.

Stats are great and can show what has happened and give a guide as to what might happen. But the fact it's a might, the fact it might be different and the fact something amazing might happen against the fact Mark Webber beat the man expected to dominate in Hungary coupled with the fact Alonso beat the man expected to dominate at that race are why we watch F1.

To those saying 'this isn't a great statistic' I say spend 98% of your time realising that statistics are about the past and you actually like that fact.


Murray's still with us isn't he?!


Hamilton's Mclaren has been on the limit for a higher % of laps than the red bulls. Surely reliability should take into account problems in practice as well, the sample size is already small enough that the article be considered just for fun.

Anyone know the data on number of engines left and miles used on the remaining stock for each driver?


It's good to see lotus the most reliable of the new teams and an established team , keep up the good work


To be fair, Jenson lost 70 odd laps thanks the the monaco mishap. It happened on 2nd lap of a race with the most laps.


Thinking of the Championship James, how much is Alonso & Vettel at a disadvantage with using 6 engines so far this year?


Another good showing that Statistics are good for Nothing.

Ferrari on top of reliability? and they are already using all the engines permited while McLaren has still 4 left.

😉 I love statistics, show so much of nothing.


Mistakes, tempers, reliabilties and wrong strategies make this year's season worth watching.

Keep it that way. Love the human and technical imperfections.

Or else what is there for us to comment and criticize about.

The summer break is taking too long!


Now just with seven races left.. the key to become the world champion is how the drivers key their cool manage those V8 engines and gear boxes...because reliability is going to play a key role in this.

And when it comes to managing tires and keeping themselves cool Fernando Alonso is the best and i have my money on Alonso.

Whats your say on this James...i am eagerly waiting to hear from you...


Agree that he's been there before and knows what it takes to win the title, but he'll need the car to be close to Red Bull on performance to have a chance


Thanks for the Reply James,

But can you tell us what are the updates for each team for Belgium grand prix and significance of those updates if they work as per the team expectations.

Even i would like to hear from you regarding the flexi front wings. Will Ferrari and Red bull need any modifications to their front wing according to you.


I will post on this nearer the time


qualify 10th stat in the pit lne


the drivers are hired by the race team to drive the car,and payed a lot of money,,,best they do as they are told,weather they like it or not

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