Formula 1 Insight

Nakajima and a Slogan

I really did not want to write about F1 politics today and, instead, decided to use the Turkish lap times to prove that Nakajima is as quick and consistent as his team mate, Rosberg. This turned out to be more complicated than I had thought but I did the work and ended up with the necessary proof. The problem is that things are so dependent on fuel loads on any given lap that one has to compare lap times when we know that their cars were about equal; it works but I doubt that many would be prepared to go through the complex rationale with me.

Kazuki Nakajima
Kazuki Nakajima

So you are just going to have to take my word on that one - Nakajima is as good as Rosberg and only looks slower because Williams insists on putting him on heavier fuel loads. Unfortunately, the abandonment of the Kazuki Project leaves me with little but politics to write about. I really ought to, since the current battle has huge implications for the future of the sport and we could all find ourselves watching show jumping or synchronized swimming next year if things are not sorted out pretty quickly.

But I am too much aware that matters will come to a head on Friday when the FIA publishes its list of teams accepted for the 2010 season. Until then, Mosley's charming letter to FOTA and the organization's response, due out later today, are exercises in brinksmanship while the eventual fate of the sport remains undecided. I suspect that it will depend on Bernie in the end anyway; the threat to FOM's income is just too great for him to allow a mass defection to another series.

My views on the affair are well known and I remain a firm believer in the fact that FOTA must win this one if the sport is to retain any credibility at all. We can argue over the details until we're blue in the face but nothing will change as long as Max remains in power. The ultimate solution is as simple as the catchphrase circulating on Twitter at the moment: Save F1 - Max out!

There really is no need to say any more.


Nakajima may be faster than Rosberg in corrected time (for fuel loads etc.) but speed doesn't make a driver great. Car control and guts are the rest of the equation. Rosberg has shown that he is willing to lay it all out there in order to make a pass stick, and he does so without being impatient or imprudent. His performance in Monaco was incredible. I think Kaz is a good driver, but Nico (or 'Britney' as his mechanics like to call him) deserves the preferred strategy.

Alonso and Hamilton are good examples of drivers who are aggressive and fast; it is very probable that Alonso and/or Hamilton would have put the Williams on the podium several times if they were in Kaz's shoes. Kaz just doesn't have that magic combination of skill, aggression and speed. Although Nico isn't equal to Hamilton or Alonso, he does seem to have a little more of that special combination than Kaz.

However, in all fairness, I must concede that Kaz might do better than Nico if the strategies were reversed.
Date Added: 09/06/2009

I want the complex rationale! :)
Date Added: 09/06/2009

i too would like to see the complex rationale. especially if it included graphs.

i suspect though, that you're right. annoyingly the man did a better job than nico in turkey, and that's not what is written in the script.
Date Added: 09/06/2009

Marc: You may be correct in what you say but my point is really that Kazuki deserves to be given a light fuel strategy occasionally just so that we can see what he is really capable of. He has the speed and consistency, the lap times prove that, but can he deliver in situations where more aggression is needed? As long as he is handicapped by high fuel loads in the early part of the race, we cannot say.

I am not claiming that he is a Hamilton or Alonso, just that he is much better than would appear from his results in the Williams team. In GP2 he had enough gumption to regularly finish on the podium against pretty good opposition, at least. And it would not hurt Williams if they had two drivers able to score points in each race. Giva Kazoo a chance!
Date Added: 09/06/2009

I too want the full complex rationale - With graphs and pie-charts. Indeed I would like -plaster tyre tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and .. twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one is.. (to be used as evidence..), pictures of the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to mention the aerial photography. All without using italics.

-With apologies to Arlo Guthrie
Date Added: 09/06/2009

F1Punter & Sidepodcast: Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you (sorry, Sidey, no graphs - maybe next time...):

Ignoring their first stints where Kazuki was fuelled so much heavier, we can look at the second stint in which Rosberg was given slightly more fuel and did a few laps more than his team mate. Nico's lap 19 was the first out after the pit stop, whereas it was lap 27 for Nakajima. So we have to compare Rosberg's lap 20 with Kazoo's 28 and so on. It's a bit hard on the eyes but Nakajima is a little bit quicker on most laps, as you'd expect from his marginally lighter load.

Lap Rosberg Nakajima

19 1:52.056
20 1:29.725
21 1:29.743
22 1:29.398
23 1:29.829
24 1:29.364
25 1:29.135
26 1:29.272 P 1:28.828
27 1:28.805 1:50.064
28 1:29.010 1:29.708
29 1:29.013 1:29.266
30 1:28.890 1:29.336
31 1:28.795 1:29.252
32 1:28.730 1:29.181
33 1:28.639 1:29.041
34 1:28.775 1:29.145
35 1:28.666 1:29.114
36 1:28.222 1:28.728
37 1:28.256 1:28.777
38 1:28.312 1:28.714
39 1:28.507 1:28.681
40 P 1:28.563 1:28.862
41 1:28.734
42 1:28.568
43 P 1:28.738

In their final sessions, we can take it that the loads are equal. Nakajima's ruined last stop is evident in the extra half minute on his first lap out but then he gets down to business and puts in some very quick times. For the last seven laps he is quicker than Rosberg, his last lap being his quickest. Rosberg may have been easing off towards the end, although it could be said he should have been trying to pressure Trulli (4 secs ahead). Nakajima was the same distance behind Rosberg and his quick laps show that he was still trying to catch him as the flag fell.

44 1:29.224 2:08.919
45 1:29.215 1:29.327
46 1:29.123 1:29.360
47 1:29.052 1:29.307
48 1:28.696 1:29.236
49 1:28.719 1:28.961
50 1:28.968 1:28.823
51 1:28.695 1:29.006
52 1:28.808 1:28.778
53 1:28.455 1:28.372
54 1:28.798 1:28.534
55 1:28.735 1:28.272
56 1:28.814 1:28.155
57 1:28.844 1:28.069
58 1:29.447 1:27.988

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that the difference in the times was not more dramatic - it would have been great if Kazuki had turned out to be considerably quicker! But it is enough to prove that there is little to choose between the two in terms of sheer speed.

What struck me while I was compiling the tables was the consistency of both drivers. Their times were consistent and tended to improve steadily as the fuel loads lightened in each stint. Again, there was nothing to choose between the two.
Date Added: 09/06/2009

Hmmm, my gaps between the times haven't come out, making it very difficult to separate the times. Sorry about that, folks - the blog doesn't recognise tab breaks. :(
Date Added: 09/06/2009

good racing going on here keith
Date Added: 09/06/2009

Fractal: Ah, if only I could...

Nakajima is my current substitute for Scott Speed (the underdog I love to support) and I cannot resist an opportunity to show that his bad press is just not deserved!
Date Added: 09/06/2009

Rob: Anything is better than the politics!
Date Added: 09/06/2009

interesting re:consistency, because rosberg recently complained that was exactly what the williams didn't have.

Date Added: 09/06/2009

To be fair, the Williams FW37 seemed much improved in Turkey and it may be that it likes the circuit, which would explain the consistency. But I'll bet that Sir Frank just looks at the times and thinks, "Damn drivers - never anything but whine, whine, whine..."
Date Added: 10/06/2009

Re: Politics. Going over the point, counterpoint of the various people involved over the last couple of days, it has occurred to me that maybe this whole thing is about revenge. A year ago when Max was a S&M joke, nearly every manufacturer said he should resign. What if after Max weathered the storm he decided to get even? Over the last 6 months he has slowly and steadily maneuvered FOTA to a place where they either capitulate or leave. Either way, he proves he holds the power, not them, and he ends with his foot on the neck of F1. And with the manufacturers gone, Bernie has a much easier fight on his hands over the split of the FOM money. That could explain why he has been so quiet. Does his income depend on good ratings, or is there a floor in the contract which guarantees him a minimum? Thoughts? Am I becoming paranoid?
Date Added: 10/06/2009

Lonny: Well, Max has always been into revenge and carries grudges for a long time, as we saw with his campaign against Ron Dennis. But I think you go a little too far in stating that Bernie would go along with the loss of the manufacturers from F1. As long as Ferrari is one of those that goes, the revenues of F1 will suffer and Bernie could end up not being able to pay his CVC masters. I can't see him accepting that.

As for paranoia, is not that the normal state for anyone involved or interested in Max's F1?
Date Added: 10/06/2009

Mr Soap
Nakajimas fuel strategy probably owes more to the fact he rarely gets into Q3 than anything else. With the capability of choosing fuel load regardless of qualifying, heavy fuel makes a certain amount of sense. That is, unless you've got confidence in your drivers overtaking skill - something I have yet to observe in Nakajima outside of the first lap. Admittedly not helped by his general lack of time on camera.
Date Added: 10/06/2009

Good point about getting into Q3, Mr Soap - Nakajima would certainly help his cause of he were able to make it past Q2 more often.

I did some study on Nakajima's races last year (using VisionF1) and he does seem to have overtaking skills in spite of being heavy so often. We have, as you say, seen little of him on camera this year so I will have to repeat the exercise at some time.
Date Added: 10/06/2009

Thanks Clive. After Piquet and Alonso, I doubt that there are a pair of team-mates that the bookies and general public perceive as being so far apart. Perhaps unjustly so then.
Date Added: 10/06/2009

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