We’re just over halfway into the 2012 season, and while there has been plenty of thrills and spills throughout, it’s hard to gain consistent information of just who’s quickest – despite what the points standings say.

Armed with a pencil, a calculator and the results for the season so far – up to and including Round 11, Hungary – we’ve been able to work out the average starting and finishing spot for each driver. Our middle school Maths teacher would be so proud.

A few notes;

  • We’ve based the average finishing result based on where a driver has been classified. For example, Lewis Hamilton’s retirement in Europe placed him 19th, and this was taken into account when calculating an average.
  • DNFs do not count towards a driver’s average, so again, for example, Michael Schumacher’s average is based on 6 finishes in 11 races.
  • Timo Glock did not compete the European Grand Prix due to food poisoning, so his grid slot is based on an average of 10 races.
  • As both HRTs failed to qualify in Australia, so their qualification results are an average of 10 races instead of 11.
  • Drivers are ranked in qualification order, as if they were starting a race.

 

Sebastian Vettel

Average Grid Spot – 4.6 (1st)

Average Finishing Position – 4.5 (2nd)

The champ’s still got it when it comes to qualifying, with three poles and only out of the top 10 once. Strange to celebrate that, but the Pirellis have made a mockery of other drivers in that respect. In races though, he’s been solid, but Alonso blows him out the water by 0.8.

Lewis Hamilton

Average Grid Spot – 4.8 (2nd)

Average Finishing Position – 5.5 (=4th)

The man known for his raw pace is still displaying it – in fact, if it wasn’t for McLaren not putting enough fuel in his car in Spain, his average would come out at a 2.9, beating Vettel by 1.9, so nearly two whole grid slots ahead of the German! It’s a different story in the races though, with the team’s pitstop problems and failure to get with grips with the tyres undoing all of his hard work.

Fernando Alonso

Average Grid Spot – 6.2 (3rd)

Average Finishing Position – 3.7 (1st)

And here’s the man of the moment. The championship leader has worked miracles in a car that wasn’t the fastest from the off, and probably isn’t the fastest now. His determination and cunning gets him further up the grid at most races – indeed, bar Canada and Britain has he dropped back – which puts him first in terms of finishing 0.8 ahead of his nearest rival. Awesome.

Mark Webber

Average Grid Spot – 6.8 (=4th)

Average Finishing Position – 5.1 (3rd)

The Australian seems to be getting the measure of both the Pirellis and Vettel in 2012, as the inter Red Bull battle is 6-5 in qualifying AND races to the German, which is a lot closer than 2011. Mark’s problem is disappearing in some races, like Spain and Germany, where he finished 11th and 8th respectively. In a tight championship, you have to score each and every round, so that could cost him dearly.

 

Romain Grosjean

Average Grid Spot – 6.8 (=4th)

Average Finishing Position – 6 (5th)

The surprise of 2012 so far? The ever-smiling Frenchman has proved quite the driver in a Lotus that seems to be the dark horse each and every weekend. There are some kinks to work out, especially when trying to negotiate the first lap and maybe improving his qualifying slightly, but you’d be hard pressed not to put money on Romain taking a win for the team further down the line. We bet no-one said that in 2009.

Jenson Button

Average Grid Spot – 7.3 (5th)

Average Finishing Position – 8.4 (9th)

A lot has been said about Jenson’s fall down the grid since Australia, but for the first four races he wasn’t THAT bad. Malaysia and Bahrain would have been points-scoring finishes bar some issues, but a return to the podium in Germany shows that the driver hasn’t faultered. But, if the title is still on his mind, it will take a mighty effort. 

Nico Rosberg

Average Grid Spot – 7.7 (6th)

Average Finishing Position 8.1 (7th)

Despite shedding the albatross from his neck that was the maiden win, it’s not been a fantastic season so far for Keke’s boy. For every China and Monaco, where he finished 1st and 2nd, there’s Australia and Britain, where he was 12th and 15th. Balanced out, he’s roughly 7th on the grid each race and brings the car home at the tail end of the points. For the arguably the 4th fastest team, that’s the bare, bare minimum.

Michael Schumacher

Average Grid Spot – 7.8 (7th)

Average Finishing Position – 7.4 (6th)

The third season in the legend’s comeback has been his most competitive so far – when Mercedes deliver a car that makes it to the end. Both his averages would be better, as he would have been in the hunt for a podium in China, and had to drop back down the grid after securing pole in Monaco. For all the bad times, he’s still closer to Rosberg than before, and has that first podium since his comeback in the bag.

Kimi Raikkonen

Average Grid Spot – 8.1 (8th)

Average Finishing Position – 5.5 (=4th)

The Iceman is back, and for all the lack of bravado and enthusiasm off the track, when Kimi is on it in a race he is a sight to see. In fact, bar the risky strategy in China that saw him drop from 2nd to 14th in two laps, he’s finished in the points in 10 out of 11 races and has taken 5 podiums. Experience is key to keep Lotus in the fight, and Raikkonen has it by the bucket load.

Pastor Maldonado

Average Grid Spot – 10.8 (9th)

Average Finishing Position – 12.2 (15th)

Contentious to a point, there’s no doubting that Pastor has raw speed over the course of a single lap. His moments of madness are costing him dearly when it comes to harnessing that pace though. Spain should have been the start of something special, but now it’s seen as the exception to the rule. Big points were lost in Europe because of immaturity, but thankfully that can be taught. Driving fast can’t.

Felipe Massa

Average Grid Spot – 11 (10th)

Average Finishing Position – 11.4 (13th)

The under-fire Massa has had it tough this season, getting into Q3 only 5 times this year. The only positive is that 75% of those starting spots have resulted in points finishes. Silverstone was a high point, netting 4th, but it’s a “must try harder – still” from us as Alonso is wiping the floor with him each and every race. Chin up Felipe.

Nico Hulkenberg

Average Grid Spot – 11.5 (11th)

Average Finishing Position – 10.3 (12th)

Nico comes out on top in the Force India team battle, but only in terms of consistency. He’s got the team’s highest grid slot (Germany – 4th) and has had the better luck in qualifying. He also makes places up on a regular basis – but Di Resta finishes higher when it counts, meaning the Scot has more points. An interesting battle to watch as the season continues.

Kamui Kobayashi

Average Grid Spot – 11.6 (12th)

Average Finishing Position – 9.5 (10th)

Despite having a team-mate that has had the better results – and two podiums – KK’s aggressive nature has netted him a higher average starting place. He’s also had more points scoring finishes across the season than Perez. If it was still 2010 and the tyres were more durable, Kamui would be one to watch every weekend, but as it is, he’s a lagging a bit in terms of conservative driving skills. But that’s why we love him, right?

Paul Di Resta

Average Grid Spot – 11.7 (13th)

Average Finishing Position – 10 (11th)

Paul’s difficult second season doesn’t look too bad so far. He’s got the upper hand in points compared to Hulkenberg, and has produced some stirring drives Bahrain, Monaco and Europe to score decent points. Although he’s slower over one lap compared to Hulk, he finished 1.7 places higher that where he starts, compared to the German’s 1.2. They’re separated by a cigarette paper, so should be interesting come the end of the season.

Sergio Perez

Average Grid Spot – 13.3 (14th)

Average Finishing Position – 8.3 (8th)

Is it a sign of how well Sergio is driving that his average starting and finishing positions are so far apart? Alonso’s is impressive at 2.5, but Perez’s (when he does finish, mind) is 5 – that’s five whole places on average, per finish. The combination of the Mexican’s driving style and the Sauber’s use of it’s tyres has propelled him up the order, so a little more pace in qualifying from him and the team, and he’d might be a real, real contender.

Daniel Ricciardo

Average Grid Spot – 13.6 (15th)

Average Finishing Position – 13.2 (=16th)

The young Aussie hasn’t had the best of times in the Toro Rosso, but is higher up the grid on average compared to his team-mate thanks to that stunning lap in Bahrain that netted him 6th place. But, it was the fall down to 15th in that race that drags his finishing down. Out of both young drivers in the Italian team, he’s making the best of it, but only on qualifying pace alone. Both him and Vergne are completely level in finishing in 16th place.

Bruno Senna

Average Grid Spot – 13.8 (16th)

Average Finishing Position – 12.1 (14th)

The media savvy Brazilian has kept his head down and plugged away this year, and while the other South American at Williams has been making the majority of the headlines (be them good and bad), Senna has had more points scoring finishes (6 to 2), and a higher average finish (12.1 to 12.2). With Valtteri Bottas waiting in the wings, it was Bruno who had the axe hanging over him. With more drives like Hungary, it could shift towards Pastor instead.

Jean-Eric Vergne

Average Grid Spot – 17 (17th)

Average Finishing Position – 13.2 (=16th)

The Frenchman makes hard work of Saturdays, and is the driver closest to the “new” teams on average. Only real good drive was negotiating a sodden track on inters in Malaysia, that netted him 8th, but was also on for a point in Monaco before bolting on wets on a bone dry track. While Ricciardo is quicker in quali, Vergne makes up the most places during races, at nearly 4 on average. Both still need to prove themselves. 

Heikki Kovalainen

Average Grid Spot – 17.8 (18th)

Average Finishing Position – 17.3 (18th)

Although Caterham have improved, it’s not where Heikki and the team thought they’d be after gaining Red Bull parts and KERS for 2012. At least the Finn is ahead of his new team-mate Petrov, but when you’re stuck in a part of the field all to yourself, you’d expect him to.

Vitaly Petrov

Average Grid Spot – 19.1 (19th)

Average Finishing Position – 17 (17th)

Carried the pay driver moniker into his Caterham spell, but has shown signs of pace and has kept a driver like Kovalainen honest throughout the season. Was on for a point in Valencia until losing his front wing, as he would have ended up close to 10th after some late retirements. 

Timo Glock

Average Grid Spot – 21.1 (20th)

Average Finishing Position – 18 (20th)

Timo must have been hoping for a lot more when he signed a contract extension last year. The car is still off the pace in general, and is even further behind Caterham. Whether he grinds it out with the team or moves on is anyone’s guess.

Charles Pic

Average Grid Spot – 21.7 (21st)

Average Finishing Position – 18.6 (20th)

Has had the measure of Glock at certain tracks, and has been closer than many expected – indeed only 0.6 places behind the German. One to keep an eye on, but it’s all relative when you’re this far down the grid. 

Pedro De La Rosa

Average Grid Spot – 21.8 (22nd)

Average Finishing Position – 20.1 (22nd)

Has produced some absolute heroics at times, like lining up 20th in Canada, ahead of both Marussias. His experience is key to what HRT need to progress. Smiles more than we expect.

Narain Karthikeyan

Average Grid Spot – 23.3 (23rd)

Average Finishing Position – 20 (21st)

The slowest man, in the slowest car. What more is there to say?

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