Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Raikkonen heads the big movers in F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Sep 2012   |  12:06 am GMT  |  13 comments

The euphoria of Sauber and Williams in qualifying second, third and fourth at Spa quickly evaporated in the early laps of the race and none of them scored any points.

It highlighted that the name of the game in Formula 1 has always been making sure to deliver the goods on a Sunday and there are quite a few examples of teams not making the most of the car they have, particularly Williams and Sauber.

Clearly the exceptions are Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, whose run of 23 consecutive points finishes came to an abrupt end at Spa. Both have been masters of maximising race day results from some middling qualifying results so far this season.

Supporting his repeated assertions that the Ferrari isn’t the fastest outright car, Alonso only has the joint third qualifying average (6.25) but has picked up nearly 14 points per race on average since the start of the season – the equivalent of between third and fourth place every time. Massa in the same car is averaging P11 on the grid and averaging 3 points per race, which is between 8th and 9th places.

That’s not to say that securing pole position, or a place on the front row, is not as important as it ever has been – 10 of this year’s 12 races have been won from the front row of the grid after all – but the advent of Pirelli tyres and DRS last year has opened things out and meant that a disappointing qualifying session, or less competitive single-lap package, can now often be overcome in race conditions, which wasn’t possible in the Bridgestone era.

So which driver has been producing the biggest step-change in the race from their qualifying result on average so far this season?

Well, of the title-contending drivers, Kimi Raikkonen leads the way here with the Lotus driver qualifying eighth on average but ending Sundays with an average of 11 points at the end of each race – the equivalent of at least a fifth-placed finish, therefore giving him an average three-place race improvement. It’s that stealthy approach which, despite still waiting for a return to the winners’ circle, means the Finn sits just 33 points adrift of Alonso in the battle for the championship.

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Jenson Button are all also picking up at least one position from their grid position in race conditions by the chequered flag on average, whereas Lewis Hamilton has an equal qualifying and race average of fifth place.

In the midfield, Sauber’s Sergio Perez qualifies only 13th on average but his tally of 47 points equates to an average race finish of eighth place, although Williams’ Bruno Senna posts the biggest Saturday to Sunday turnaround of all with an average improvement of six places up the order on race day to two points and ninth. But it could be argued that with the superb car Sauber has this year, both drivers should have qualified and raced higher up the order.

It’s also interesting to compare the average points scores of the leading drivers from last year to this to show how the field has become more competitive as a whole in 2012.

While 2011’s runaway title winner Vettel scored an average of just under 21 points per race – the equivalent of more than a second-place finish – Button, Webber and Alonso still all claimed nearly the points equivalent of a third place finish at every event.

With Vettel’s average ‘take home’ dropping by nine points this time round, the only title contender to maintain the same ratio from last season is points leader Alonso himself, the Spaniard’s exact average per race score climbing marginally from 13.53 to 13.67.

Indeed, underlining the sense that the top three squads have fallen back towards the pack, in addition to obvious big improvements at Lotus, both Sauber drivers are also scoring more than double the amount of points accrued over the course of last year at every event, with Sergio Perez’s tally rising from less than a point to four and Kamui Kobayashi’s from one and a half to three. Even Force India’s Paul di Resta, whose team are enjoying a less successful season in constructors’ championship terms compared to 2011, is scoring one more point at every grand prix on average this time round.

We’ve taken a look at the average qualifying results and points takehomes per race  – and the nearest finishing positions they equate to – for the field and here are the results:

Red Bull
Vettel: Average qualifying – 5th; Average race result – 12 points / 4th place
Webber: Average qualifying – 6th; Average race result – 11 points / 5th to 4th place

Button: Average qualifying – 7th; Average race result – 8 points / 6th place
Hamilton: Average qualifying – 5th; Average race result – 10 points / 5th place

Raikkonen: Average qualifying – 8th; Average race result – 11 points / 5th to 4th place
Grosjean: Average qualifying – 7th; Average race result – 6 points / 7th place

Alonso: Average qualifying – 6th; Average race result – 14 points / 4th to 3rd place
Massa: Average qualifying – 11th; Average race result – 3 points / 9th to 8th place

Schumacher: Average qualifying – 8th; Average race result – 3 points / 9th to 8th place
Rosberg: Average qualifying – 9th; Average race result– 6 points / 7th place

Kobayashi: Average qualifying – 11th; Average race result – 3 points / 9th to 8th place
Perez: Average qualifying – 13th; Average race result – 4 points / 8th place

Force India
Di Resta: Average qualifying – 12th; Average race result – 2 points / 9th place
Hulkenberg: Average qualifying – 11th; Average race result – 3 points / 9th to 8th place

Maldonado: Average qualifying – 9th; Average race result – 2 points / 9th place
Senna: Average qualifying – 15th; Average race result – 2 points / 9th place

Toro Rosso
Ricciardo: Average qualifying – 14th; Average race finish – 13th place
Vergne: Average qualifying – 17th; Average race finish – 13th place

Kovalainen: Average qualifying– 18th; Average race finish – 17th
Petrov: Average qualifying – 20th; Average race finish – 16th

Glock: Average qualifying – 21st; Average race finish – 18th
Pic: Average qualifying – 22nd; Average race finish – 18th

De la Rosa: Average qualifying – 22nd; Average race finish – 20th
Karthikeyan: Average qualifying – 24th; Average race finish – 20th

*Note: All results listed have been rounded to the nearest whole number while the average finishing position for the drivers who have scored less than a point per race so far (Toro Rosso downwards) have their average race finishes listed as the comparison.

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Kimi’s poor qualifying was highlighted at Monza, the Renault engine is just not up to it, its a slug! Spa and now Monza exemplified the problem, forget the double DRS and find some HP!, can’t see Red Bull tolerating this severe lack of Horsepower.

French Horsepower= Ponies with short legs.


Great article!!!!


Whilst qualifying doesn’t score you any points, Kimi is currently losing this championship on single lap pace, and if he doesn’t sort it out, he’ll stand no chance of taking the title – he often has the pace to win on Sunday, but is shooting himself in the foot by qualifying among slower cars thus wasting that pace battling through the field come race day. Grosjean has qualified as high up as the front row so the car clearly has (or at least has had) the pace to do a good lap, but Raikkonen has failed to deliver on these occasions. In the race though, he’s sublime, so it’s very frustrating, as a die hard Raikkonen fan, to see him not making the most of the occasions the car is good on a Saturday – there are a number of times that elusive win could have come if he’d got the job done in qualifying.


This is a great article james, probably lost in the talk about hamilton a bit. It would be interesting to hear how the team bosses and engineers evaluate drivers from other teams?


If FIA bans DRS n’ KERS Kimi, Hamilton, Shumacher, Kobayashi and Webber are the only driver who will still be doing the overtaking.

These are the Elite and All-Terrain Superstars of the Sport.


Excellent use of numbers to tell a nice, analytical story. Keep ’em coming James!


Yes, Kimi currently in fourth place only one point behind Webber and nine points behind Vettel.

That is the big story after the last race, as far as driver points are concerned…everybody else is pretty spread out, point-wise.

Let’s see what happens this weekend.


well, he could be faster with a more sensitive steering system……..


James what’s even more impressive is that Kimis done this after such an extended absence from the sport. I don’t think you would find many/ if any drivers with that speed and consistency 2 years out. Just shows what a natural talent he is.

His starts have been phenomenal also. Quite often he makes two- three places but as soon as a less talented driver locks up or moves over on him his evasive skills have been impeccable or he pulls out, takes the loss of grid position and fights his way back. I’m sure experience is part of it. But aside of Fernando no other experienced guys have this ability. The replays of the starts are sensational to watch.

I’m not saying that Lotus is a bad car either but given that Eric Boullier is only recently saying that they might have to reevaluate their expectations tells you something, whereas like all great drivers he is still determined to win or push the team higher up. Same really for Fermando / Ferrari only difference is Ferrari have made better strategy calls/ pits when it counted ! I just fear that Lotus left their run with the new devise too late- but I still think Kimi can be 3/4come Dec. I think Seb and Lewis are the ones to watch now.


Kimi has been the Star of the year… Every overtaking move of his in every race was spine-chilling 🙂


Why the discouraging conclusion Elie?

Jens is not going to let Lewis have an easy time of it and the same will happen with Webber and Seb…they will keep taking points off each other. It’s a Kimi v Fernan titanic battle at the end. So I’m hoping at any rate, wouldn’t it be great?


The E20 can’t match the Mclaren for pace. I think also the Red bill is quicker and Seb is ahead . Still possible for Kimi to get up but unlikely.


Excellent piece James. Seeing av. grid v av. finish/points certainly highlights those who we know are maximising their Sundays, against those squandering good machinery and points. The comparison of a few guys from last year is interesting too and I think I’ll have a go generating a full 2011 list at home!

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