‘Unprecedented’ 2012 isn’t as mad as it seems

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Instead of talking tires some more, I’d just say let’s not abandon the current 2012 season as apocalyptically topsy-turvy too soon.

It’s true that five different teams have won the first five races, some of which have been riddled with pit stops, plus there remains a lot of uncertainty over the genuine pecking order and its rationale.

Yet the numbers still tell quite a sensible story on the whole. Here are the current championship standings.

Drivers:
Vettel 61
Alonso 61
Hamilton 53
Raikkonen 49
Webber 48
Button 45
Rosberg 41
Grosjean 35
Maldonado 29
Perez 22
Kobayashi 19
Di Resta 15
Senna 14
Vergne 4
Hülkenberg 3
Ricciardo 2
Massa 2
Schumacher 2
Not-so-new boys 0

Constructors:
Red Bull 109
McLaren 98
Lotus Renault 84
Ferrari 63
Mercedes 43
Williams Renault 43
Sauber 41
Force India 18
Torro Rosso 6
Not-so-new boys 0

Sure, the field is an awful lot closer than many of the most recent years, but the general picture looks ok from here. Folks from almost certainly the best-funded five teams occupy the top eight driver spots, those same teams are leading the constructors’ race.

We know Lotus Renault – a championship team itself not long ago – has built a great car, while Ferrari has some issues. And we know the Brackley-based outift now known as Mercedes has never fully found the magic recipe save for one year. We also know Williams – a team with more constructors’ titles than McLaren (just) – was reliably mid-pack or more for 30 straight years until last time out; while McLaren themselves might easily have had a far larger haul of points this year. And they’re already a clear second with both drivers in the hunt.

Accounting for that, the field looks very competitive, but about right to me. Big dogs at or near top – and when they struggle there’s almost always a reason.

Even in the drivers, I’d say Alonso and Raikkonen are positively surprising (by just how much is debatable), while only Massa and Schumacher draw attention to themselves in the doldrums.

The races help explain it too: Much of the Melbourne weekend was wet/dry; the Malaysia race was wet; Shanghai was dusty, cold and first dry circuit event; Bahrain was doubly dusty after a year’s absence, and Barcelona’s pole-sitter started from the back.

In any case, I’d bet on this unprecedented unpredictability regressing towards the mean in the remainder of the season. Just not necessarily at Monaco, admittedly.

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