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The Real Race explained 
by the Quali-flyer  

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The FIA fuel the foolishness - The Quali-flyer explains how banning refuelling between Qualifying and the Race will render Qualifying meaningless

The New Rules, an object lesson in planned change management - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest regulation changes by the FIA for 2003 and beyond

The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the new regulations for 2003

The Real Races :

Strategy, tactics, weather, tyres, traffic, mechanical failure and luck, all these play their part in a F1 race. The opportunities to point the finger of blame away from the driver are plentiful. How then can a driver measure himself against his peers, either stroking his ego or denting it in the process (not that I'm suggesting that a F1 driver would be egotistical) - and who are his peers? Is Coulthard going to gnash his teeth in angst because Michael Schumacher laps a track 1/2 second faster than he can, or will he just accept that the Ferrari today is a faster car? Did Paul Stoddart measure Webber's points tally in Melbourne against MS's and find him wanting? Where then is the real race and who is the opponent?

One opportunity exists to minimise or control those influences and to put two drivers into almost identical cars under almost identical conditions and measure their comparative skills. The afternoon before each race, for one hour every driver gets the chance to say "Here I am, I'm better than the other guy". Strategic (and contractual) implications will see Schumacher beat Barrichello in races, talent is required to put him in front on the grid. Where a driver sits on the grid for a race is primarily down to how his car compares to the other cars. Michael Schumacher could not put a Jaguar or a Minardi on pole. Many of the lead drivers could put a Ferrari there. Qualifying levels the playing field within a team, allowing the selection of 11 Alpha Males from the 22 starters.

Any driver's personal priority is to beat his team mate, in qualifying and in the race. After that he will try to maximise his position against the other teams.

Measuring the gap between drivers across teams in qualifying is the indicator of comparative strength of the teams, measuring the gap between drivers (refer to graphs) within a team establishes the comparative skills of those drivers. While the pecking order at Ferrari is well established and constant, few other teams can show such a strong supremacy.

Rookies impress or fail not on their ability to gain positions relative to the field, but relative to their team mates. They improve and reduce the differentials across a season, or they maintain those gaps and sink into obscurity. Lead drivers keep their premiership and salaries by beating their team mates consistently, or they get relegated.

My objective in these pages is to quantify the results in the real races (The Heretic provides excellent coverage of those other races held on Sundays) and to look at the drivers away from the various elements that can influence GP positions. As the season progresses the relativity between drivers will develop not only in the championship points tally but in the real race, qualifying.

Charting the results

The differentials between the qualifying times of the two drivers are presented graphically on each race page. Progressive average gaps are also presented which show the ongoing relative qualifying performance for the season to date. Where a driver does not present for a race due to injury etc. or qualifies outside the rules* (eg Sato did not set a qualifying time in Melbourne) that round is discounted for calculation of the average.

A table is also shown which shows the times that each driver has outqualified his 'opponent' during the season. This table is sorted according to the finishing position for each real race (the grid position for the next days GP) and shows each driverís best position so far this season, the wins-losses to his team mate and quali-points for the season. Quali-points are awarded for the best 6 qualifiers using the same 10,6,4,3,2,1 basis as the championship.

Where best times are discounted for race grid position (for example Barrichello had his best time at Brazil disallowed by the stewards) these best times are used for Real Race purposes.

*In order to start in a race a driver must, during official qualifying set a lap time that is no more than 107% of the lap time of the fastest driver. If he fails to make that cut-off it is then at the stewards absolute discretion as to whether he is allowed to start from the back of the grid. While drivers have been excluded from races (as Yoong was in San Marino) the stewards will allow a start where special circumstances exist or where the driver has been 'competitive' over more than one practice session (generally taken as achieving laps within 107% of the fastest time during a particular session).

Qualifying Heroes

The best three qualifying performers, relative to their team mate, are exalted as Heroes and placed on the Qualifying podium for that race.

Also Ran Award

Among the 22 drivers there are some who are consistently very good, some who have flashes of brilliance, some who are consistently mediocre and some who simply shouldnít be there at all. There are also some who are legends in their own mind, who are much better at talking than driving and who look to lay blame for their own failures on the doorstep of the car, the traffic, the weather or the Feng Shui of the track. These drivers are overrated, overpaid and often overawed with their own importance. Experienced lead drivers should outperform their team mates, when they donít they should accept their failures gracefully and get on with the job. Some donít or canít do that, these are the candidates for the Also Ran awards.

Every race will be assessed on its merits and, where it is deserved, the Also Ran awarded to an outstanding example of this philosophy of Cover Your Ass or to that deserving soul who performed to the least of his ability on the day.

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Japanese GP 
Qualifying Heroes

1 M Salo
2 J Villeneuve
3 M Schumacher
Japanese GP 
Also Ran Award
Previous Races 
Also Ran Award
USA E Irvine
Italy D Coulthard
Belgium D Coulthard
Hungary JP Montoya
Germany JP Montoya
France R Schumacher
Britain A Yoong
Europe J Villeneuve
Canada D Coulthard
Monaco R Schumacher
Austria J Villeneuve
Spain D Coulthard
S.Marino A Yoong
Brazil R Schumacher
Malaysia E Irvine
Australia N Heidfeld

The New Rules, an object lesson in planned change management

The death of 
Real Racing ?

The Real Races

Japanese GP

United States GP

Italian GP

Belgian GP

Hungarian GP

German GP

French GP

British GP

European GP

Canadian GP

Monaco GP

Austrian GP

Spanish GP

San Marino GP

Brazilian GP

Malaysian GP

Australian GP

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