What a great battle we saw between the veteran, Lewis Hamilton, and the youngster, Max Verstappen. How did the race unfold for both of them, you know, from a number’s perspective? The stats will tell us the story. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Note: The solid lines show an average regression based on adjacent lap times. This means that a line that is higher on the chart, means that on average, that driver was slower than his counterpart.
This is one of the most even battles we have seen this season so far. Until lap 25, when Max stopped for new tires, there is pretty much nothing separating both drivers.
We can see how Max took advantage of his first pit stop, racing hard and lapping faster than Lewis, however, the Britishman responded with the same medicine after his pit stop in lap 31.
Even though Lewis caught up to Max, he could not overtake him, and Mercedes rolled the dice. Lewis stopped once again in lap 48, and while the first laps after his stop were not encouraging, Lewis turned up the pace once again. In lap 57, Lewis started to dominate, putting fast lap after fast lap together. In lap 63, it was game over for Max. His tires were shot. His lap times increased by almost a second, and he had no tools to defend against the multiple World Champion.
Delta per lap in common
From the beginning of the race, until lap 25, there is almost no difference in pace between both drivers. Technically, Lewis was potentially faster since he was racing in dirty air, but at the end of the day he could not overtake the young dutchman. During that period, Lewis averaged 1:21.842 seconds per lap, while Max had a pace of 1:21.864 seconds per lap. A mere difference of 22 milliseconds per lap in favour of Hamilton.
After Lewis’ second stop in lap 48 is where the race was decided. From lap 50 until lap 66, Lewis was an average of 1.108 seconds per lap faster than Verstappen. Let’s take a more detailed look at the gap between both drivers in the next chart.
Gap at the end of the race
During the first 3 laps after Lewis came out of the pits, he was 1.07 seconds faster per lap than Max Verstappen. That trend did not continue for long however. The next 4 laps, Lewis managed to outpace Max by only 0.137 seconds per lap. Was Verstappen pushing? As we can see from the first chart, no, Verstappen only maintained his pace, so we can only assume that Lewis was saving the tires for the end of the race.
After lap 56, it was hammer time for Hamilton. He started to cut the gap by an average of 1.27 seconds per lap until lap 62, and after that Verstappen just ran out of rubber. The next 3 laps, Lewis outpaced Verstappen by an average of 2.28 seconds per lap. By then, Mercedes knew that they had the race in their hands.
People have wondered if Max Verstappen is already better than Lewis Hamilton. That is something that I do not know, but what I do know is that yesterday’s battle is one of the many to come between both drivers.
Verstappen did a great race. He drove to the limit of the car, and did not make a mistake during the race. Lewis and Mercedes were just too fast, and they were lucky that they were able to get a free stop in order to challenge for the win. Credit where credit is due though, the strategy paid off, and the Mercedes team should be proud of their performance during the day.
If you enjoyed this analysis, please share it with your friends, and let me know what you think in the comments below.