Does pole position result in a win at Chinese GP?


Formula One arrives for the Chinese GP on April 14th at a circuit renowned for its overtaking opportunities. With plenty of opportunities for drivers to swap positions, how often does the driver on pole win the race?

Shanghai International Circuit: overtaking opportunities


The Shanghai International Circuit hosted its first race in 2004 and boasts a twisted layout shaped like the Chinese character ‘shang’. The track is spread across 3.4 miles that consists of seven left-hand and seven right-hand corners, interrupted by two long straights.



Not only is the course well known for its change of acceleration and deceleration through a number of sweeping corners – making high demands on both driver and car – but also for its high-speed straights. These straights offer crucial overtaking opportunities, making the Chinese Grand Prix one of the most exciting on the calendar.


In total there were 1143 overtaking manoeuvres in the 2012 season with an average of 57.15 passes per Grand Prix. The 2012 Chinese Grand Prix topped the chart in a dry race, with no less than 90 successful overtaking manoeuvres.


Lewis Hamilton is the only two-time winner in China since the inaugural race in 2004, underlining the varied challenges of the Shanghai circuit, but also that the track favours an aggressive driver who is always looking to overtake.


Tyres & weather


With discussion still surrounding the make-up of the Pirelli tyres amid concerns of extensive tyre degradation, and with the possibility of a return to last year’s compounds, scrutiny will once more be placed on the tyre manufacturer.


Pirelli have already announced that the teams will use the soft and medium compounds, which they say guarantees the best compromise between grip and performance on this circuit.


Despite only raining once in qualifying, be sure to monitor the weather, as rain at the Chinese Grand Prix can be a common occurrence – Sunday has seen rain in 44% of races – so the intermediates and full wets could make an appearance.


However, unlike Malaysia, where the showers tend to be short and heavy, the rain in China is frequently light but long lasting, making it ideal for the intermediate tyre.


Qualification as a race performance indicator at Chinese Grand Prix


After proving that there was a good correlation between qualifying position and final race positions throughout the 2012 season, we examined the past nine Chinese Grand Prix to give an indication as to how much influence Formula 1 bettors should place on the relevance of qualifying.


The data shows that there is a strong 0.59 correlation between qualifying and race position over all Chinese GPs.


Incredibly 78% of races at the Shanghai International Circuit had a correlation above 0.5, which emphasises that for three quarters of the data, qualifying provided a meaningful predictor of a drivers’ race performance.


The 2007 Grand Prix showed the weakest correlation of 0.38, which saw pole sitter Lewis Hamilton crash out in lap 30 and two other top 10 qualifiers retire after intermittent periods of rain soaked the Shanghai International track.


Despite raining for the majority of the race, the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix saw the strongest correlation of 0.78. Nine of the top ten qualifiers finished inside the points.


55% of drivers who qualified on pole at the Shanghai International Circuit over the past nine years have won the race, while the average finishing position is 3.7 – which may be surprising given the amount of overtaking opportunities around the track.


What the Malaysian GP taught us


Controversy surrounded the Malaysian Grand Prix as three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel defied team orders and overtook teammate Mark Webber – who had turned his engine down after being told Vettel wouldn’t challenge him – to win the Grand Prix.


Vettel claimed his second pole position of the season, while Webber qualified fifth fastest. Despite complaining about tyre degradation throughout the weekend, both Red Bull cars performed well on their tyres on Sunday.


The German is the 1.909* favourite with Pinnacle Sports to win a fourth consecutive drivers’ title, while Red Bull are offered at 1.621* to win the constructors.


Mercedes continued their good start to the season as Lewis Hamilton finished third ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg. However, team orders were evident as Rosberg was considerably quicker than Hamilton, but was directed not to overtake towards the end of the race.


Despite still lacking the pace to compete for race wins McLaren appeared to improve dramatically from the Australian Grand Prix, as Jenson Button qualified eighth ahead of Sergio Perez in 10th. Button was forced to retire, while Perez laboured home in ninth to secure his first points for McLaren.


Ferrari produced another solid qualifying performance with Felipe Massa (2nd) once again starting ahead of Fernando Alonso (3rd) on the grid. However, Alonso crashed out during lap two, while Massa could only manage a fifth placed finish.


In the hot dry conditions of practice the Lotus proved to be extremely quick, but during wet qualifying Kimi Räikkönen could only qualify in seventh, while Romain Grosjean only managed 11th. With that said, both drivers finished in the points and will fancy their chances in the heat of China if it stays dry.


Formula One bettors should combine the data from the relationship between qualifying and finishing position with the knowledge that the Chinese GP offers a number of overtaking opportunities.


It is also advantageous to keep up-to-date with the weather movements, while considering subjective factors such as the Shanghai International Circuits characteristics, the teams race strategy, tyre degradation and season form to ensure they are in a stronger position to make an informed decision about Formula One race winners.


(Source: Pinnacle)




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