On Mayweather vs Pacquiao

I was going to write a whole long post about the fight, but I find that Ricky Hatton has said everything I was going to say, in a much better way, and with greater authority, here.

The only thing I might add is that one of the things that counts against Mayweather in the public perception is that he always (or almost always) plays the villain in the build up to his fights.  Which makes sense from his point of view, because it keeps people’s interest.  Because he’s stuck with an interesting problem, in that he’s enough better than the rest of his division that the fights aren’t all that close, and he’s a counter-attacking fighter, and people don’t seem to get the effort and precision involved in being a good counter-attacker, so that’s not a big box office draw either.  If he didn’t play the villain, it’d be very similar to the problem there is in the heavyweight division, where we know who is going to win (a Klitschko) and how they’re going to win so people aren’t all that interested, so they don’t watch, so the purse isn’t that big.  And if my job involves people trying to hit me in the head, I am going to try to get paid as much as I can.

So Mayweather plays the villain and people pay to watch people hit him, and, of course, he’s good enough that they don’t.  Because Mayweather has an exceptional defence, one that I wish to show several UK boxers as something to be emulated.  He does other things that I think help him, such as staying in reasonably close to fight shape (unlike people who shall remain un-named but are obvious), so there’s less stress on his body overall, which may be why Old Father Time has bitten him less than other people.

Basically unless he turns up too old on the 2nd of May (which can happen and in the [paraphrased] words of Bernard Hopkins, you never know you’re too old until you turn up too old), Mayweather is winning this one.

I am still, however, utterly hoping and praying that Pacquiao will win.

Bahrain Grand Prix

Fastest Friday Practice Price Fastest Saturday Practice Price Fastest Qualifying Price
Nico Rosberg 5/2 Lewis Hamilton 8/13 Lewis Hamilton 4/9
Amount won/lost on a £1 bet -£1 Amount won/lost on a £1 bet £1.62 Amount won/lost on a £1 bet £1.44
Amount won/lost on a £10 bet -£10 Amount won/lost on a £10 bet £16.15 Amount won/lost on a £10 bet £14.44
Season Total £1 bets -£1.47 Season Total £1 bets £3.20 Season Total £1 bets £3.02
Season Total £10 bets -£14.67 Season Total £10 bets £29.95 Season Total £10 bets £28.24

Chinese Grand Prix

Fastest Friday Practice Price Fastest Saturday Practice Price Fastest Qualifying Price
Lewis Hamilton 8/15 Lewis Hamilton 2/9 Lewis Hamilton 2/9
Amount won/lost on a £1 bet £1.53 Amount won/lost on a £1 bet £1.22 Amount won/lost on a £1 bet £1.22
Amount won/lost on a £10 bet £15.33 Amount won/lost on a £10 bet £12.22 Amount won/lost on a £10 bet £12.22
Season Total £1 bets -£0.47 Season Total £1 bets £1.58 Season Total £1 bets £1.58
Season Total £10 bets -£4.67 Season Total £10 bets £13.80 Season Total £10 bets £13.80

The Great Driver Debate

First, the background: I am a Sebastian Vettel fan.  I have been since the Toro Rosso days.  So I get a bit miffed when people say he’s only got 4 world titles because of the car.  This is not to say that the Red Bulls weren’t amazing, because they were, but that because you pretty much have to have a good car to win the driver’s title.  Merely good racers have won the title, but it’s rare that average (in comparison to the rest of the field) cars do.

I may get a little irritated by the Hamilton fans on Twitter that insist that he’s all talent, while Vettel is all car.  I think Hamilton is a fabulous talent, but the Mercedes last year was head and shoulders above any of the other cars, and I seemed to recall that that McLaren he won in was a little bit good too.

Gut feeling (and a certain pro-Vettel bias) is probably not good enough to decide this, so I thought, what would be a good way of seeing if both Vettel and Hamilton’s winning cars were better than everything else in the field.

One quick and dirty way I thought of was looking at the performance of the other car from that team.  If the car is better than everything else in the field, you’d expect the team-mate to come second.

I’ve compiled a list of the driver’s world title winners from the past 10 years, and of who came second to them.

Year Winner Second
2004 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)
2005 Fernando Alonso (Renault) Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren)
2006 Fernando Alonso (Renault) Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2007 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2008 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2009 Jenson Button (Brawn) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2010 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2011 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Jenson Button (McLaren)
2012 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2013 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2014 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

In that list, there were only two times where a constructor had drivers finishing first and second in the driver’s championship, Ferrari in 2004 and Mercedes in 2014.

Now the interesting thing for me is that in none of Vettel’s championship winning years did his team-mate finish second to him.  Which suggests he might have some talent beyond being in the right car at the right time.

Obviously, this is very rough and ready, and misses things like the curse that afflicted Mark Webber.

Another way to look at it might be to look at the positions of the winning driver and his team-mate directly.

Year Winner Team-mate
2004 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 2nd (Rubens Barrichello)
2005 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 5th (Giancarlo Fisichella)
2006 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 4th (Giancarlo Fisichella)
2007 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 4th (Felipe Massa)
2008 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 7th (Heikki Kovalainen)
2009 Jenson Button (Brawn) 3rd (Rubens Barrichello)
2010 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 3rd (Mark Webber)
2011 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 3rd (Mark Webber)
2012 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 6th (Mark Webber)
2013 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 3rd (Mark Webber)
2014 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 2nd (Nico Rosberg)

On average, the team-mate of the winner finished in 3.81th place.  Which we shall round to 4th 😉  Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel have all had team-mates that finished lower than that.  On average, Alonso and Hamilton’s team-mates finished in 4.5th place, while Vettel’s team-mate finished in 3.75th place.  So not as far behind, but there’s not much of a difference.

Obviously, we’re never going to get a proper head-to-head of Alonso vs Vettel or Vettel vs Hamilton, and the one season where Hamilton and Alonso were in the same car, they scored the same number of points.  To me all of this suggests that they are pretty much of a muchness in terms of driving skill.  Which I grant is not a great conclusion to end with, but it is what it is.