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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:38 am 
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Quote from Kimi Räikkönen about the media making headlines out of everything:

“They look at the results of Friday’s practice and ask why you were eighth, seventh or sixth when it’s of no importance. They create headlines out of the free practice results, though the pole won’t be decided until Saturday”

That made me check if Kimi was actually right about the non-importance of the standings in free practice. I compared the final standings in all the three free practices this year with the result of the following race, and this was the result:

First Practice
If you set the fastest time in the first practice, there is 58% chance you will finish on the podium in the race on Sunday.
If you set the second fastest time your chances of finishing on the podium Sunday drops to 42% and the same goes for the third fastest time.

Second Practice
The percentages is almost the same as for First Practice. Only difference is that the chance of finishing on the podium Sunday if you set the second or third fastest time rises from 42% to 47%.

Third Practice
If you set the fastest time in the third and final free practice your chance of a podium position on Sunday rises from 58% to 63%.
If you set the second fastest time your chance of a podium finish drops to 37%, while it is still 47% with the third fastest time. This drop must be a coincidence caused by the limited amount of data.

Conclusion
Even though there isn't enough data behind the percentages to support a statistically based conclusion, it seems that it makes a difference whether you set the fastest time in one of the free practices or not, but it doesn’t matter if you set the second or third fastest time. If you don’t set the fastest time, you can more or less flip a coin regarding whether you will finish on the podium on Sunday, no matter what your position in any of the free practices was.

Does that mean that Kimi is right or wrong? Are the headlines about free practice timing just media junk, or does it actually give us interesting information?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:57 am 
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I somewhat agree. Teams regularly test parts or settings in the FP sessions. Towards FP 3 they are more settled towards the final set up, I would think that would be the most representative.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:03 pm 
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It matters under what circumstances someone sets the fastest time in FP, or how far above their usual position they are. When the Red Bulls were 1-2 and a second clear of the field, that was newsworthy. If a Williams sets a time in the top ten, that's arguably newsworthy as well.

If Vettel tops Hamilton by 0.060, that's not a sign Ferrari will be on top this weekend. That's where the media tends to exaggerate things to draw a conclusion. Nobody ever seems to like to say the cars are equally matched.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:02 pm 
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Perhaps we should ask the teams whether the "ranking" during practice matters. My guess is that people like to see rankings (for whatever reason) and the sport's pundits (broadcasters, governing body, race promoter, etc) use "rankings" to promote the suspense for the weekend and sell tickets.

Not convinced here that drivers see it as all that important, because in order for one team to beat another, they have to FIRST prep and tune their cars to take maximum advantage of the conditions. That's why they call it "free practice?"

Finally, given the extreme regulation of engine component use, some teams try to conserve wear and tear during practice. So you really don't see results in practice in full perspective.

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Last edited by MB-BOB on Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:07 pm 
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MB-BOB wrote:
Perhaps we should ask the teams whether the "ranking" during practice matters.

It does for sponsors. Perform well, get written about, get air time for your sponsors. Beyond that, probably not.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:11 pm 
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Exediron wrote:
MB-BOB wrote:
Perhaps we should ask the teams whether the "ranking" during practice matters.

It does for sponsors. Perform well, get written about, get air time for your sponsors. Beyond that, probably not.

If only you had not parsed out my second sentence which said the same thing, albeit not mentioning sponsors. But that's what the "etc." meant.

Practice is about the "show" as much as about the "go"...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:36 pm 
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I don't know how it makes a difference if you set the fastest time in free practice. It's more like a representation of pace that was there already prior to, and not because of free practice.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:56 am 
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Free practice is only good for gaining basic understanding of the tires to the track and car setup. That said, they don't generally push to the absolute limit in practice
so as to keep their cards close to their chest. In Red Bull's dominant 4-year run they would never be even close to being the fastest in free practice sessions, always
alluding to difficulties with the car or setup.

Yet come qualy, they'd suddenly be in the mix in Q1 & Q2, but come Q3 they were the fastest cars and were several seconds faster than in free practice.
Those were the most sandbagging years I can recall in F1.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:19 am 
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F1 MERCENARY wrote:
That said, they don't generally push to the absolute limit in practice so as to keep their cards close to their chest.


Why is it a problem to show the competitors during practice that you are faster than them? It's not like you are using some special device to increase speed, that the other teams immediately can apply to their own car, if they see it works for you.

And if you're holding back during practice, how can you know what the effect of what you are testing will work under other conditions during qualifying and race?

These are questions I have sometime asked myself, when I have heard the term Sandbagging. I'm sure there is a very good reason for sandbagging, but I can't see it. Can someone please explain it to me?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:03 am 
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Beleriand_K wrote:
F1 MERCENARY wrote:
That said, they don't generally push to the absolute limit in practice so as to keep their cards close to their chest.


Why is it a problem to show the competitors during practice that you are faster than them? It's not like you are using some special device to increase speed, that the other teams immediately can apply to their own car, if they see it works for you.

And if you're holding back during practice, how can you know what the effect of what you are testing will work under other conditions during qualifying and race?

These are questions I have sometime asked myself, when I have heard the term Sandbagging. I'm sure there is a very good reason for sandbagging, but I can't see it. Can someone please explain it to me?

Complacency, probably.

Let's say Ferrari and Mercedes are fighting for the world championship. In free practice, Mercedes and Ferrari looked evenly matched, but Ferrari is a little bit ahead. The car feels okay - maybe not perfect, but good enough. They work a little on optimizing it, but not too much; after all, they're already the quickest, so maybe it's as good as it can be.

Now if they knew Mercedes was holding back by a larger amount than they were, they might work harder to find that extra few tenths, knowing they were behind the ball and they needed it. If Mercedes did a long run and made the tyres last longer, they'd know it was possible: if, however, Mercedes aborted the long run before they reached what they knew would be the end of the tyre life, Ferrari might think nobody could go longer than the run they already did and use it for their calculations.

That's just an example, but I'm sure that sort of thinking is at the root of it. Just like drivers talk about how it's good to have a fast teammate, because they can use that teammate as a reference to see if they could be going quicker: teams do it the same way. If Ferrari sees Mercedes taking a corner faster than they're taking it, they know it's possible and they'll look at why they can't do it. If they don't see that happening, they might assume their car is going as fast as it's possible to go.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:03 pm 
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Probably depends on why or why not you set that time. If you have the best car, you are probably going to set the best time even when you are just going about your usual business. If you have a mid field car, you are not going to go for a time as your energies could be better spent elsewhere.

Best car will naturally give the best time, not the other way around.


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