Marbles ~ Laura Marieee: Wins vs. Consistency

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After six races, I thought it was about time to open up the wins vs. consistency debate… Mark Webber and Jenson Button have both won two races, but surprisingly enough, neither is running away with the championship. With 25 points up for grabs for a win, you would have thought they would both be leaving the others behind, but Sebastian Vettel, who has won just one race and failed to finish in another, is level on points with Webber, the two Red Bull drivers leading the championship on 78 points. So what is the winning ingredient in the fight for the title so far, consistency, or wins? Let’s take a look…

After six races, Webber and Vettel sit together on the top of the leader board, with 78 points apiece. If the championship ended now, Webber would be crowned champion for his two wins to Vettel’s one. Webber’s two wins have handed the Australian 50 of his 78 points, while Vettel has scored one win, and taken 53 points on high points finishes. Just behind the two Red Bulls is Fernando Alonso with 75 points, 50 of which have been scored through consistent finishes, while Button is fourth in the standings having taken 50 points through two wins, his other 20 through less significant finishes.

It would seem, despite being lucky and winning twice, both Webber and Button have been less consistent in the other four races; Button failed to finish in Monaco, and finished down in seventh and eighth in two races, and finished fifth in the other, while Webber, although finishing second in Malaysia, has finished in eighth twice, in Bahrain and China, and ninth in Australia. Vettel on the other hand has collected more points on average, despite failing to finish in Australia. He has stood on each step of the podium once, claimed fourth in Bahrain, and sixth in China.

Alonso has also had a retirement, in Malaysia, but added a second place, two fourth place finishes and a sixth place finish to his one win. Further down the standings, Felipe Massa’s 61 points, and Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton’s 59 points have come from a mixture of finishes. Kubica and Hamilton have finished ‘consistently highest’ out of the three, but a retirement knocks Hamilton back, while a non-points finish in Bahrain dents Kubica’s clean record. Massa, having finished in all six races has had a mixture of results, finishing second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth, but with no win, loses out by relying on consistency, leaving him 17 points short of Webber and Vettel.

So it would seem winning as many races as possible will be the key ingredient in 2010. Not quite: Vettel and Alonso are proof of that, with just one win each. For Massa, Kubica or Hamilton to be in with a chance of winning the championship this season, they need a win under their belts, as like Vettel has shown, it has kept Webber honest. But on the other hand, consistency would have been a clear winner, had Hamilton finished second in Spain, as he was on course to do before his penultimate-lap puncture: that finish would see him behind the Red Bull pair on 77 points heading into Turkey, if it had stuck.

Of the top eight drivers, from Webber down to Nico Rosberg on 56 points, four have retired from a race, and one of those retirees is leading the championship, so perhaps a win mixed with a few high-points finishes is the key ingredient after all. So while Hamilton was very nearly proof of consistency before his puncture, Vettel is proof of an even balance between winning and being consistent. On the other hand, at the same time as Massa, Kubica or Hamilton need to come out of Turkey with a win for a chance to lead the championship, Webber, Vettel, Alonso and even Button, need to be less consistent.

While Massa, Kubica and Hamilton have been fairly consistent, and Vettel has added a win to his consistency, Webber and Button have taken the wins when it mattered. But when they’re not winning, they seem to lose their spark. So at the moment, anything could happen.

While the more wins a driver claims is ultimately the vital ingredient to taking the championship, (there are seven points between first and second), if different drivers keep winning different races, it may be a while yet before we have a clear leader.

It’s too early to say whether this year’s champion will be a consistent high-points finisher, or a straight-forward winner, but as it stands Vettel’s balance could currently hold the key for the races to come. For now, we shall see what happens, and in another half a dozen races, I’ll report back with more…


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