F1 teammates compared: Palmer Index updated after British GP

This week F1 Anorak pays respect to Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne, for his small contribution to the ongioing development of the Palmer Index.

As explained post-Azerbaijan, the Palmer Index shows the aggregate gap between teammates in qualifying throughout the season, in percentage terms. One driver thus emerges as having performed better than his partner.

After the Austrian Grand Prix, Ferrari chief Merchionne was frustrated enough and eloquent enough to refer to his driver Kimi Raikkonen as a “laggard” – and thus the Palmer Index now has a derogatory name for those trailing drivers in each team. Hooray!

The Palmer Index uses lap times from the last qualifying session in which both a team’s drivers competed. The decision to use this data is based on that session being the last opportunity to get comparable data for the driver pairing, and that the session is – most of the time – the one in which both drivers will have been having to work the hardest.

Sure, Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Felipe Massa (Williams) might work a lot harder in Q3 than Q1 – but if their teammate drops out in Q1, then Q3 doesn’t give us comparable data. We have to take their Q1 times, comforted that at least one driver tried hard and still failed to get the car through to the next session.

Equally, those lucky enough to be driving a Mercedes or a Ferrari can often just phone it in for Q1 and Q2, and might think nothing of being a second behind their teammate. All they care about is reaching the next round. To include the data from the earlier sessions, then, would distort the overall picture.

palmer index after britain watermark
Click image to zoom in

The wet weather and more reliability issues for Red Bull‘s Daniel Ricciardo combined to produce a fairly huge four per cent swing in favour of Max Verstappen after the British Grand Prix. Going forward, I’ll be looking for ways to account for and perhaps strip out the sessions affected by reliability.

I’ll also get to producing a line chart of how each team’s margin has progressed through the season – thus showing how the margin at McLaren has begun to stabilise in the middle third of the season, while the gap at Renault continues to grow at a consistent rate.

For the time being, here is the real Palmer Index in table format. It shows each team’s faster driver on the left and slower driver on the right, with the overall margin and the most recent change.

It also shows how many times each driver has outqualified their teammate. Note that both Esteban Ocon (Force India) and Lance Stroll (Williams) – each in their first full season in F1 – have been outqualified by more senior teammates nine times out of the 10 rounds so far. Yet the actual time and position margins have been much closer at Force India than Williams, and the Palmer Index reflects this.

This article was written by sgibson.

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