2019 Bahrain GP: Kubica vs Russell

Surely Kubica is one of the most popular drivers on the grid right now. He is back in F1 after his horrible accident and is determined to prove that he belongs in the maximum motorsport category. But how did he fare against his much younger teammate, George Russell, during the last Bahrain Grand Prix? Let’s take a look at the data.

Overall race

Normally I would try to get a linear or polynomial model for this data, however, the Williams are just so slow and inconsistent that this became impossible. I went however with a model which¬† tries to capture the overall trend for both drivers. That is exactly what the solid line with the “shadow” shows. It makes sense right? The cars become faster as the race goes on, and then get slower towards the end due to tire degradation.

The important thing to take from here is the overall trend between both drivers. While Kubica and Russell were both very even during their first stint, with Kubica having a mean lap time of 1:40.474 and Russell of 1:40.559, the gap increased as laps went by. Kubica’s average lap was a whooping 704 milliseconds slower than Russell’s during the second stint, and 868 milliseconds slower during the third stint. On average, Kubica was slower by 620 milliseconds over the entire race.

Delta per lap

The delta graph shows that Robert was faster than George on only 15 laps, with the British man being faster than the Pole on 22 laps. On the 15 laps that Kubica was faster, he accumulated a difference of 9.809 seconds. But what happened when Russell was faster? He then accumulated an incredible delta of 38.957 seconds. In other words, when Kubica was faster, he was slightly faster than his teammate. When Russell was faster, he was much faster than his teammate.

Average pace distribution

The average pace distribution helps us to understand a little bit better what was the main difference between both drivers. Yes, we already know that Russell was faster than Kubica, but why was he so much faster? The difference lies in the distribution.

The graph shows the lap time on the bottom axis, while the curve shows how many laps were done around a particular lap time. The higher the curve, then the more laps were done around that time. The 3 vertical lines show the 25%, 50% and 75% quartiles. For example, in Russell’s data you can see that the first line, the 25% quartile, is at 1:38.608. This means that 25% of his laps were faster than 1:38.608. For Kubica, his 25% quartile is at 1:39.401. This mean that 25% of his laps were faster than 1:39.401

What the quartiles show us is that George in general did most of his laps with a time between 1:38.608 (25% quartile) and 1:40.235 (75% quartile). For Kubica, the numbers are 1:39.401 (25% quartile) and 1:40.525 (75% quartile). By looking at the numbers and the plot, we can deduct that while Russell was not much faster on a one lap pace, he was consistently doing laps than were faster than Kubica’s.¬†

Conclusion

At the end it all came down to the “fast” laps. Kubica’s top 25% fastest laps would have ranked only as top 46% fastest in George’s distribution. Meaning …? In simple words, George just did many more fast laps than Kubica, plain and simple. If we also add that those faster laps done by George were a lot faster, then we understand why Robert was thoroughly beaten by his teammate in Bahrain.

The season is just starting, and Kubica had some bad luck in Australia when he got damage just at the beginning of the race. But in Bahrain? He was just not fast enough. In my mind there is no justification for Kubica to be over half a second slower than his teammate over the length of the race.

People have asked me about the Williams and how blue flags are they affecting the numbers. My answer? It does not really matter. If their drivers are being beaten by one or two laps by the rest of the field, then they are just too slow. This affects both drivers, since even though Russell was comprehensively faster than Kubica at Bahrain, he was still almost a full second slower than Magnussen, the slowest non-Williams driver of the race.

I hope that you enjoyed this analysis. Let me know what do you think in the comments below.

2 Comments

  1. Cezary

    Hi. I appreciate your very good analysis, although your conclusions are not based on reality. Reality is that both drivers said Kubica car is slower. Look at Mark Hughes one of last articles. 0.6 is difference would exclude Kubica from racing. Anyway thanks for the numbers!

    Reply
  2. Lukasz

    Great data but only shows for certain that cars are different

    Reply

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