Reading The Tea Leaves

Every once in awhile it occurs to me that a steady diet of my biased, silly, sometimes cruel, every once in a while self-deprecating F1 rants might get tiresome so instead I like to bring the attention of my readers, all 20 of you, to some real blogging.

I go to the BBC website’s F1 section at a minimum of once per day. I’ve recently been obsessing on an article by Gary Anderson titled Number Crunching Gives Early F1 Form, in which he predicts the true potential of each team by starting with their posted test times and then accounting for the vast amount of variables that, purposefully or not, obscures a team’s true performance.

I’m pretty sure I have now gone through this article at least ten times reading every little bit of information and looking for the smallest clues as to who has the advantage either in outright pace or who is the most consistent over a certain number of laps, or which chassis is the kindest on its tires.

Now I know what you must be thinking, the season has yet to start, a normal person before surrendering almost every other Sunday from March to November to a bunch of over-priced cars, driven by some over-paid drivers (well at least some of them ha-ha), managed by over-paid teams, (even in this new era of restraint and cost controls), would be, should be, finishing those last couple of chores around the house that his wife has been asking for going on three months now, or catch up on some much needed reading from the stack of baby books (our twins are 7 months now), or finish the kitchen remodel that I started back in the summer of 2012, and of course you would be right. But am I? Sadly, not. I am so starved for F1 that I am reduced down to scouring any and all things that I can read, look at, or listen to. My wife has one word for this: “Tragic.” I would have to agree. But back to the point.

Mr. Anderson is no joke – he has been technical director for three F1 teams (Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar) not to mention whatever he did to get to F1 in the first place. But it is still quite impressive how he was able to determine where each team stood starting with the times they were putting on the board in Jerez, Spain during the first test of 2013, and calculating for all the variables that exist.

In a nutshell here it is: taking into account the amount of laps the driver completed on a specific run, that being 3-4 laps for a light fuel run, compared to 10-15 laps on a heavier tank, he used the known information of how much fuel an F1 car gobbles up per lap, how much degradation the tires would suffer, and factored in the difference for the harder tire (slower) and the softer tire (faster). He then determined what the best possible time each car/driver combination was capable of; can you say “nutty professor”? As if that was not hard enough, don’t forget that the big teams, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, are usually sandbagging a little bit. We saw Red Bull do this constantly last year in Friday practice and then during Saturday qualifying they would throw down the gauntlet. (Bitches.) So he also accounted for teams that are trying to conceal their true race pace vs. teams that are not. Now of course this is somewhat speculative, but for as long as I have been following F1 these early speculations by the technical pundits like Gary Anderson always seem to bear out pretty closely to the real thing, come race time.

The good news for me and Fernando Alonso fans or Ferrari fans, and yes, Felipe Massa fans as well, is that the F138 doesn’t appear to be the slow undriveable piece of crap that Ferrari brought to the party last year. (Of course you recall that despite this fact, in the hands of Fernando Alonso it almost won the Driver’s Championship, that is just how good he is). Instead, according to our BBC Pundit, the Ferrari looks pretty good, in fact really good. In a week’s time we have the second test and Fernando takes over the testing duties from Massa. So fingers crossed that this trend continues. For sure the Ferrari won’t be the fastest at the first race in Melbourne, but if Fernando can qualify in the top 5 (instead of 12th like last year) and within say .03 seconds of the pole sitter (instead of almost 2 seconds), then in race trim he should have a chance at starting the 2013 campaign considerably better than last year. We shall see. 30 days and counting. -jp the not so real, but extremely devoted, pundit-

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