F1 / Reaction / Who Is Best When It Is Wet

Who is best when it is wet?(20/07/2009)

Wet conditions can transform a race so Bettorlogic have studied those drivers who sing when it rains and those who head for the umbrellas.

Sebastien Vettel

Analysis is based on the last 10 years


The drivers that suffer most when it rains are those starting from the front of grid. Front row starters win 8% less races in the wet; 12% less podiums; 13% less scoring races and suffer a 10% rise in retirements.

Drivers that start on the other rows that make up the top 10 suffer likewise but to a lesser extent with the exception of the second row who have scored points in 5% more races when the spray is flying and have a 4% reduction in retirements.

The beneficiary of these reduced figures are those starting from 11th-15th (Q2 qualifiers) who have scored points in 6% more races and retired in 5% fewer grand prix.

Current Drivers

The most telling stat about Jenson Button is that he has an 18% better record of finishing higher than this qualifying position when races are staged in the wet and his 71% improvement is the best of any of the current crop who have had 10 or more wet races (Lewis Hamilton next best 70%).  When starting top-10 in the wet, Button’s scored points in 7/9 races with a third of those podium finishes and only one retirement.

Less effective is his team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, because although his figures when starting from any qualifying position are pretty similar whether it’s wet or dry, he has suffered when starting in the top-10. In 23 such races, he’s yet to win; has retired in 43% (compared to 23% T10 starts in the dry) and has finished worse than his starting position in 61% of wet races (51% when dry).

 Of all the current drivers, Sebastian Vettel has the best statistical record in the wet albeit from only nine such races. Two of his three wins have been in the conditions; he’s scored points in 67% of the nine races (compared to 40% when dry) and has a 31% better record of finishing higher than qualifying in the wet compared to the dry (67% - 31%).

Team-mate, Mark Webber is another who normally takes advantage of wet conditions as he’s scored points in half his 16 wet races (30% in the dry) and in 7/12 when starting from a top-10 position with two of those podiums. However he doesn’t make great strides during the race because in 12/16 he’s finished worse than his starting position which is an 8% dip compared to his performance in dry conditions (46% improvement).

Based on the facts, Felipe Massa has been harshly treated when it comes to wet races. Contrary to what many may think, his win/podium/scoring points return is better in the wet than in the dry. He’s scored points in 57% of his 14 wet races, podiums in 36% and wins in 14% compared to a 9% win, 22% podiums and 47% points scoring races when dry. His top 10 starting return is even better with no retirements in 10 races, points scored in eight, podiums in five and two wins.

If there is a top driver unsuited by the wet, then it’s Kimi Raikkonen. He may have won two of his 18 such grand prix, but he’s retired in as many as he’s scored points (7) and from a top-10 starting position has regressed come raceday in 11/16 which is 24% worse than when it’s dry.

Lewis Hamilton has built a solid reputation for performing in the wet, most particularly when winning at Silverstone last year. With a much less competitive package, he’s managed to score points in both wet races this season which has maintained his record of scoring points in 8/10 such grand prix of which he’s won three and retired in just one. Those figures may look impressive but, apart from the win return; they pretty much match what he does in the dry with the exception of top three finishes where his return of 56% podiums in the dry is 16% better than in the wet.

We’d be wary of taking a position on Heikki Kovalainen in the wet because the majority of his ten such races were with a much more competitive package. However, he has scored points in 7/10 (includes one this season) but has gone backwards from his starting position in 6/10.

Apart from Barrichello, Jarno Trulli has had more top 10 starts (21) in the wet than any of the current crop and his percentage return is pretty similar to those when starting a dry race. He’s retired in 29% of the 21, scored points in 33% (only one podium) and regressed from his starting position in 76%.

Nick Heidfeld’s  wet weather return has been heavily influenced by whether he starts from a top-10 position. He’s yet to retire in 12 such starts, has scored points in 10/12 and improved his position in 75% compared to a 55% improvement when it’s dry. Compare those figures to when he starts from 11th or worse - 5/10 retirements, 1/10 points scoring racces, 3/10 positon improvement - and it's clear he likes to be near the front.

Nine of Robert Kubica’s 12 starts in the wet have been from a top-10 position and across the board he has returned poorer figures in such conditions. He’s scored points in 44% of the nine compared to 70% of 30 in the dry and retired in 44% compared to just 10% in normal conditions.

Wet or dry seems to make little difference to Fernando Alonso except when starting top-10 when his scoring points return from 14 wet races is 64% compared to 80% from 87 dry races and his improvement from grid to finish is 10% lower compared to 67% in the dry.

The majority of the other drivers have had too few wet races for meaningful analysis and although Nico Rosberg has had 12 such grand prix, eight of those were when starting outside the top 10 (he’s yet to score a point from such a position.). Giancarlo Fisichella has had 20 non top-10 starts in the wet and the most notable facts are that he has scored points in only two –despite being in a much more competitive car than he's had recently in most of the 20 – and he’s retired in almost half those races  



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