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Posted on March 4, 2013

Now that the testing is finally over and the teams are back at base preparing their cars for departure to Melbourne later this week, we can look more closely at what happened in Barcelona last week and what it tells us about the relative pace of the cars.

We’ll do it in two separate posts:

* Analysis of lap times and long runs, looking for further trends and indicators
* A look at some of the Technical innovations which indicated what we might see in season

With the help of JA on F1 Technical Adviser Mark Gillan, formerly the top operational engineer at Williams, we can look closely at what happened on the final day of testing in Barcelona, with some stunning single lap times and some longer runs.

We see a similar pattern with several of the teams, like Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari, where the drivers did short low fuel runs in the morning, when the track was improving and then in the middle of the day through the afternoon, they focus on long runs. The difference between the short run lap times and the long run times is significant – up to 8 seconds per lap. This isn’t all fuel load, some of this is the drivers working on ways of getting the tyres to last.


Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the test, 1.5 seconds faster than last year’s pole position time on a qualifying simulation run on soft tyres. It appears that the Mercedes ran on less fuel than its rivals when it did the short runs, as the lap time margin between short runs and long runs is bigger for them than Ferrari, for example.

The tyre degradation for the Mercedes and the Ferrari looks quite similar, if you study the longer runs on the right of the graph. This indicates that Mercedes has improved in this area over the recent testing period; so they will be quite pleased after the test with both qualifying pace and tyre degradation.

Although they have showed their hand, at least they know that their car can find the grip on the single lap, whereas several teams have not been able – or willing – to show that yet. Remember that Mercedes was a clear second slower than the pacesetters in the final few races of 2012, so they will not have made up all of that in one winter. But they have definitely improved their car.


The Ferrari looks very consistent on longer runs and was faster than the Mercedes in Sector 1 and Sector 3 on the short run, so it looks like a car that Alonso and Massa can compete with. There are more development parts promised for Melbourne and Malaysia. Ferrari was behind in the final races of 2012 and will not have made up all the gap. However, the car looks stable and one has to presume that Alonso will get the most from it throughout the year; they should be in the hunt therefore.


Button’s long runs show consistency too, but the lap times area clearly slower than the other two, noticeably so. It could be higher fuel, but more likely the gap in correlation as they try to get the maximum out of the changes they made to the chassis from last year. It’s a longer-term project with McLaren, from the looks of things. They can never be underestimated when it comes to development, so they will be there as the season goes on, even if they don’t set the pace in the first race.

Of course the question everyone wants to know at this stage is – who will be the fastest in Melbourne?

These graphs illustrate how hard it is this year to predict that accurately, for the reason that not all teams have been as open as Mercedes in showing what they have got.

Red Bull, for example, were working to a totally different run plan to Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren.


Vettel’s graph shows consistency, with shorter runs. In the morning the team was working on its passive DRS system as well as trying different floors and in the afternoon a development passive DRS, according to sources. This is consistent with this kind of run plan. At no stage do they show their hand performance wise, because they are working on trying out different things.

This shows two things: they are pushing hard to get the passive DRS working, as they clearly see significant gains from it, but also it shows that they are confident their basic car is fast enough to compete in Melbourne. For all that Vettel said it hadn’t been a great test, this run plan looks like a team that feels it has a good car to start the season, but is pushing the envelope hard for the future.


As for Sauber and Force India, both teams had similar run plans, short runs in the morning until the track stabilises and then longer runs in the afternoon. Both look reasonably consistent on the long runs, the Sauber is pretty much where you would expect them to be, building on last year, given that they had a good car last year and have put a fast driver into it.

Hulkenberg’s last three runs look good as do Di Resta’s last two.

As for the other teams, Ricciardo looked very consistent on his longer runs, but they were much slower than the front runners. You have to be careful with a graph like his because the tyre degradation is always worse when the driver is hitting a faster basic lap time.


The Toro Rosso and Williams cars didn’t look particularly quick at the end of this Barcelona test. Williams has had to change its exhaust, which may be part of the reason.


  1.   1. Posted By: Seán Craddock
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 7:27 pm 

    Great insight. Surprised there’s no mention of Lotus, would like to see how they fit in to all of it

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    We featured them last week. Read that article. They were on a different run plan on Sunday.

    [Reply]

    Dave C Reply:

    James you’re still adamant Redbull are sandbagging and say they have the fastest car but I think they’re struggling, Vettel will be lucky to qualify in the top 6 and Webber might not make Q3, Mclaren seems like they’re sandbagging but are no quicker than Lotus or Ferrari, which believe it or not leaves Mercedes as the fastest car, come on Hamilton another year with the fastest car, time to deliver.

    [Reply]

    madmax Reply:

    To be fair Hamilton did deliver with the fastest car last year but reliability kept letting him down.

    Anon Reply:

    I’ve heard this many times before, I wouldn’t be surprised if Red Bull struggle into Q3 then lockout out the front row. Funny how you say Hamilton will have the fastest car again but he has never been part of a constructors winning team despite having highly competitive team mates.

    James Reply:

    Armchair commentator or man in the job for the best part of two decades. I know who I believe…

    VP of Common Sense Reply:

    Dave- Hamilton, Mercedes, James Allen and everyone on the grid do not share your opinion that Mercedes are the fastest car. It’s extremely wishful thinking on your part. Red Bull never went for an outright fast time and Ferrari didn’t run their F138 in true Melbourne spec. Mercedes probably ran lower fuel levels than others. They do look quicker but don’t expect any miracles this yer.

    Carlos Aguilar Reply:

    Vettle was the slowest driver of the last 4 days of testing last year in Barcelona. Guess what happened after?

    Adrian Newey Jnr Reply:

    Why would Red Bull give away their pace or bring all of their updates to the test? Their car is the most heavily scruitinised, so it would make sense to sandbag until the final session of qualifying in Melbourne!

    Richard Reply:

    Hamilton and Rosberg will deliver providing the team do not let them down either operationally or fail to provide upgrades quick enough.

    Jitesh Watwani Reply:

    With lap times that are 1.5 seconds faster than last years pole, and accounting for softer compounds, if the mercedes can do 1.20.1, low fuel or not, they have improved a lot.

    Hamilton can make the most of even a bad car, and based on what we have seen, I dont think its too far fetched to expect to see him win one of the first four races.

    With Ferrari showing good pace in an interim spec Alonso is going to be right up there and hopefully just that little bit ahead. Kimi isnt going to make it easy for them, but Im just not sure about how the engine mapping ban has affected their pace.

    Better than last year Im betting. 3 or 4 way fight to the championship.

    Gilesgf1 Reply:

    @madmax The fastest car is the one that finishes at the front… reliability has nothing to do with it

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    @Gilesf1 The fastest car is the one that finishes at the front… reliability has nothing to do with it

    If you are to finish first, first you must finish.
    I would say reliability is paramount so far as winning races is concerned. However, to set a single fast lap it’s not a requirement. The snag is – the points are only handed out at the end of the race :-)

    KRB Reply:

    Huh? Well, you could have a rocket of a car that’s 3 secs faster than any other car, but if that car can’t finish any races, then you get no points.

    Reminds me of the 1984 McLaren. In the season review video, narrator Clive James summed up the year with the words “Anything as fast as the McLarens fell apart; anything as reliable finished later”. Piquet in his Brabham turbo had 9 poles in 1984, yet only finished 5th in the WDC standings. Sound familiar?

    madmax Reply:

    @Gilesgf1

    The fastest car is the fastest car, not the most reliable fast car finishing.

    So you are saying someone who gets pole and surges ahead in the race but comes 10th because of a bad pitstop isn’t the fastest?

    KRB Reply:

    @madmax, that (a bad pit stop) would be different, if we could see that the car had the fastest race pace, and was able to make it to the finish.

    The front-half of the grid could make a car that would pull away from every other car over the first 2,3,6,8 laps, but which would blow up (not literally, but figuratively) soon after. Likewise every team could make a 100% reliable car, but as Webber said a few years back about that fast-and-reliable balance, “we’re not racing tractors out here!”

    It’s a balance between decent race pace, and decent reliability. The team who gets that balance right has designed the best car.

    jjpm Reply:

    Another way to look at it :

    2010 Barcelone day 4 : Vettel will be World Champion
    P Driver Team Time
    1 Hamilton McLaren 1m20.472s
    2 Webber Red Bull 1m20.496s +0.024
    3 Massa Ferrari 1m20.539s +0.067
    4 Sutil Force India 1m20.611s +0.139
    5 Vettel Red Bull 1m20.667s +0.195
    6 Schumacher Mercedes 1m20.745s +0.273
    7 Barrichello Williams 1m20.870s +0.398
    8 Kobayashi Sauber 1m20.911s +0.439
    9 Buemi Toro Rosso 1m22.135s +1.663
    10 Kubica Renault 1m23.175s +2.703
    11 Kovalainen Lotus 1m25.251s +4.779
    12 Di Grassi Virgin 1m26.160s +5.688
    —————
    2011 Barcelone day 4 : Vettel will be World Champion
    P Driver Team Time
    1 Schumacher Mercedes 1m21.249s
    2 Alonso Ferrari 1m21.614s +0.365
    3 Rosberg Mercedes 1m21.788s +0.539
    4 Heidfeld Renault 1m22.073s +0.824
    5 Barrichello Williams 1m22.233s +0.984
    6 Kobayashi Sauber 1m22.315s +1.066
    7 Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m22.675s +1.426
    8 Vettel Red Bull 1m22.933s +1.684
    9 Kovalainen Lotus 1m23.437s +2.188
    10 Di Resta Force India 1m23.653s +2.404
    11 Sutil Force India 1m23.921s +2.672
    12 Maldonado Williams 1m24.108s +2.859
    13 Button McLaren 1m25.837s +4.588
    14 D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m27.375s +6.126
    —————
    2012 Barcelone day 4 : Vettel will be World Champion
    P Driver Team Time
    1 Raikkonen Lotus 1m22.030s
    2 Alonso Ferrari 1m22.250s +0.220
    3 Senna Williams 1m22.296s +0.266
    4 Hulkenberg Force India 1m22.312s +0.282
    5 Kobayashi Sauber 1m22.386s +0.356
    6 Hamilton McLaren 1m22.430s +0.400
    7 Petrov Caterham 1m22.795s +0.765
    8 Schumacher Mercedes 1m22.939s +0.909
    9 Maldonado Williams 1m23.347s +1.317
    10 Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.393s +1.363
    11 Vettel Red Bull 1m23.608s +1.578
    —————
    2013 Barcelone day 4 : ??? will be World Champion
    P Driver Team Time
    1 Rosberg Mercedes 1m20.130s
    2 Alonso Ferrari 1m20.494s +0.364
    3 Button McLaren 1m21.444s +1.314
    4 Hulkenberg Sauber 1m21.541s +1.411
    5 Raikkonen Lotus 1m21.658s +1.528
    6 di Resta Force India 1m21.664s +1.534
    7 Maldonado Williams 1m22.415s +2.285
    8 Vettel Red Bull 1m22.514s +2.384
    9 Bottas Williams 1m22.524s +2.394
    10 Pic Caterham 1m23.115s +2.985
    11 Bianchi Marussia 1m23.167s +3.037
    12 Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.628s +3.498
    13 Chilton Marussia 1m24.103s +3.973

    [Reply]

    Timmay Reply:

    V. Good post

    Dave C Reply:

    Yes Vettel will be world champion no doubt about that, but its not to say they have the fastest car at this time, they wasn’t the fastest at Australia last season or was I wrong in saying Mclaren, Lotus and Mercedes were all faster in qualifying? The point is the reality is that Vettel flatters the car and if he were to leave Redbull I doubt they’d win another championship unless the 2014 rule change gives them a huge advantage.

    Paul Jarman Reply:

    This is exactly what they spoke about on the Sky coverage of Barca 2. Red Bull, and in fact all teams, run the same sort of fuel levels one year to the next to give them a delta between the old and new cars in testing. What the above figures show is that they consistantly run heavier fuel than the others. There’s no way they won’t be up there come quali 3 in Melbourne

    Ed Bone Reply:

    Excellent comparison jjpm. Puts a healthy perspective on all the current speculation.

    The proof will come in Melbourne, and while I would love to think we would have a “new order”, as it were, it is difficult to imagine for example Mercedes being anywhere near the front (much as I would love that), and equally hard to imagine that Red Bull, Ferrari or Mclaren won’t dominate the weekend.

    The only caveat I would make is that Lewis might have had a galvanising effect on the Mercedes team, and along with all the internal restructuring they have been doing, who knows? They might get the downforce Lewis says they need and pull off a surprise or three.

    KGBVD Reply:

    ??? = Vettel, we all know it!

    Carl Craven Reply:

    try telling that to a Hamilton fan rubbing everyone’s face in it due to the recent testing.

    Ben Reply:

    Hmm, slightly disingenuous post. These may be the times on the last day of testing but they don’t represent how close red bull were to the fastest times in those tests. Ie how close was red bulls fastest time to the top across the final test, what potential they showed.

    2010 – 0.195
    2011 – 0.620
    2012- 0.603
    2013 – 2.4 seconds

    This test is very different to the others.

    Shammy1971 Reply:

    Interesting post, there are two significant points here:

    1. As Ben highlighted, the time difference is significantly larger this year, especially between the fastest cars and the mid field – Senna, for example, was very close to Alonso in last year’s test.

    2. Sometimes, fast times are set to appease management or lore sponsors, look at Alonso’s pace in the final test of 2012, this in a car that was 2s off the pace in Melbourne. With a big question mark over Mercedes staying in the sport and the hiring of a big gun in Hamilton it would not be a surprise if did not head the times in Melbourne.

    If I can throw my two pence worth in, and it probably is not worth that. I think Alonso’s Ferrari will head the McLarens and Lotuses and the Mercedes will probably trail them until Hamilton is up to speed. RedBull? probably the fastest if not at the first race then certainly over the course of the year. Vettel, Alonso and Hamiliton are exceptional drivers so to understand the pecking order of the cars we need to look at Massa or Webber. I’m discounting Rosberg as he is an unknown quantity (all be it, the only man in history to match and better Schumacher!) but Hamilton is better measure for his talents.

    Adriana Gonzalez Reply:

    James Allen , I am new to this site , and I think it is the best that I had visited for F1, I have a question if you allow me . Do you think that RBR did not use the vanity plate at the front cone because it could affect the flexibility ? or just because it is better for them like it is.

    [Reply]

    Jonathan Reply:

    I’m glad I;m not the only one that thinks along theses lines!

    I am certain that Newey is keen not to lose the flexible nose he has been working on for so long.

    If only the FIA would look at having some equally clever people to police the rules… It is pathetic to have a “test” that goes nowhere near being able to enforce a very clear rule.

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Donald
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 7:28 pm 

    Can you please give a bit more detail regarding what you mean by ‘gap in correlation’? Thank you.

    Interesting article. RBR playing it cool as usual :)

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Gustavo
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 7:36 pm 

    McLaren made a small change lately that to me signals a great deal: they changed the name of the car and now call it MP4-28″A”. Wonder whether the MP4-28″B” will feature a front push-rod suspension configuration…

    [Reply]

    Rob Reply:

    More likely that there’s a problem with their current design which is why they feel the need for a B spec.

    [Reply]

    James Hobson Reply:

    I noticed that too. Extremely interesting.

    [Reply]

    Dave C Reply:

    And not to forget the cars that end with 8 is not good, remember the ill fated MP4-18 that didnt even race 10 years ago? Newey failed big time there, Adrian seems good when theres a big regulation change but when its stable for years he seems to run out of ideas hence why Redbull hasn’t had the fastest car since 2011.

    [Reply]

    Lewis Reply:

    Did you not watch 2012 after the summer break where Red Bull were clearly quickest, barring maybe Abu Dhabi and Brazil?!

    [Reply]

    KRB Reply:

    Dave C lives in a different F1 reality than you or I.

    Only one team scored a Grand Chelem (pole, fastest lap, and led entire race) in 2011 or 2012: Vettel in the 2011 Indian GP, and Vettel in the 2012 Japanese GP. Yeah, an absolute dog of a car, eh?

    Dave C Reply:

    Ok so was the Redbull fastest at Germany, Hungary, Spa? Or were they remotely fastest at Monza? I guess they were fastest at Singapore too right? And as say Abu Dhabi and Brazil they were also weak, so it shows you they wasn’t the fastest car after the summer break apart from maybe silverstone, Korea and Suzuka, but then Mclaren and Lotus were faster in more races than that, we’re not even talking about the first half of the season.

    Lewis Reply:

    Germany and Hungary were before the summer break, at Spa and Monza they were 3rd quickest after McLaren and Sauber (Spa) and Ferrari (Monza) and they were quickest at Singapore, just that Lewis managed to pull out a wonder lap before his car let him down again.

    Random 79 Reply:

    Hasn’t had the fastest car since 2011? It’s only been one year.

    But you’re right, they should have skipped the championship winning RB8 and gone directly to the RB9.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    Nice pick up. Time will tell what it really means in terms of a new chassis.

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    They always call the car -A, I remember excitement when this was noticed last year too!

    [Reply]

    Richard J Reply:

    Perhaps its just Ron D’s way of ensuring that should the MP4-28 win the WCC it can’t be attributed to Paddy Lowe.

    [Reply]

    Raymond Yu Reply:

    Last year’s car was never MP4-27, it was the MP4-27A. There was never an MP4-27B – though technically you could say the car they raced from Hockenheim onwards was the MP4-27B

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: Anne
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 7:38 pm 

    So the way I see it Red Bull is going to fool everybody early in the season just like they did last year. And in the second half they are going to show their true colors and win all the races and the champioship.

    [Reply]

    Brad Reply:

    Only this time they are right up there for the first race…scary thought is’nt it… Here’s Massa with some analysis, courtesy of Autosport.com…”Massa said he was particularly impressed by the on-track performance of the Red Bull, which he reckoned had all the hallmarks of being another winner. “The Red Bull is a very competitive car,” he said. “It is a very stable car and you can see, not just by being behind it, that it has a very good rear. They are consistent on long runs with tyre degradation.”

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    And I agree with Massa. My point is if Massa saw that why aren´t the analyst or journalists telling us the same thing?

    [Reply]

    Ambient Sheep Reply:

    Because he’s an F1 driver, and they’re not?

    Brad Reply:

    Gary Anderson has been saying all along how planted the car is from trackside.

    Anne Reply:

    Yes but Gary Anderson didn´t say that the RB is strugling. Andrew Benson is contradicting himself. He said that they are all close and at the same time he said Webber has shown RB is ahead of the pack.

    Rob Reply:

    I wouldn’t put it beyond that PR powerhouse.

    [Reply]

    Dave C Reply:

    Fool everyone? Elaborate please, the way I see it was Vettel challenged and won races with the 3rd or 4th fastest car in the first half of last season and when the car was the quickest or only slightly slower than Mclaren he blew the field away, no question about it, and this year he seems to be starting in a very average car, so much for Newey eh?

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    Last season: Australia RB got a podium, nothing in Malasya, podium in China, win in Barhain. Not 3rd or 4th, better than that and with great strategy too. And they followed that patron until Singapore when the began to dominate. This season I see more of the same from RB. Nothing great right now but far from being in trouble. So with the right development they go for the gold at the end.

    [Reply]

    Craig D Reply:

    I don’t know where you’re getting average car from. Following testing the consensus appears to be it’s right up their; they’re just not pushing it.

    While you say for certain Red Bull are the quickest, I don’t think they’re struggling at all.

    My impressions are that the picking order is:

    Red Bull
    Ferrari
    Mercedes
    Lotus
    McLaren

    I think the Lotus will be able to outrace McLaren right now, and Mercedes have really surprised me. Can definitely see Hamilton finishing on the podium in Oz.

    [Reply]

    Craig D Reply:

    *While you can’t say for certain… (and *there haha).

    Dave C Reply:

    Hamilton barely finished on the podium with fastest car last year, soundly beaten by Button if I remember, but the point is if you think Hamilton will be on the podium then you must rate the car, coz surely you can’t be overrating Hamilton again can you??

    Steve Reply:

    If you think the speed of a car and driver is the be all and end all then you are mistaken. I love how you say when Vettel has one of the quickest cars he blows away the field, did Mark happen to be 2nd or 3rd in these races or at least in qualifying?

    [Reply]

    Gazza Reply:

    By the half way stage of last season the Red Bull had 4 poles, 3 wins and led the constructors championship. Hardly the 3rd or 4th fastest car. Webber had in fact out scored Vettel, the car thanks to Newey was consistantly quick.

    [Reply]

    Simon B Reply:

    Not sure which championship you were watching last year????

    [Reply]

    VP of Common Sense Reply:

    The testing data in 2013 in no way suggests that the RB9 is in any way average. I think you really reaching and hoping that Red Bull has gotten it wrong, but James Allen, Autosport and most of the racing press believe that the Bulls are clearly the pace setters. Vettel and Red Bull remain heavy favorites for the championships.

    [Reply]

    KRB Reply:

    Dave C isn’t anti-RBR … he’s anti-Lewis. He wants to set up a situation wherein Lewis can only fail to meet expectations, so he can then pile on.

    Hence the claim that the McLaren was faster in Japan, Korea, and India.

    I would call him our resident F1 sophist on this blog, but sophistry requires reasonably clever arguments.

    James Allen Reply:

    Let’s keep it at a higher level, please.

    matthew Reply:

    completely agree with KRB.

    etls Reply:

    Looking over the testing time of the last 2 days set for both drivers in each teams.
    One thing all those who have done analysis seem to of neglected is when putting the two time sheets together,
    how come all of the Renault powered cars have set slower times to that of the teams using Mercedes and Ferrari engines.

    Lotus are top of the Renault cars and it came in 8th after Force India.
    And weren’t they (Lotus) tipped to be the team to give RB a close run this year! rhetorical.

    Is it not a bit coincidental that since Renault were told not to use a revise MAPs to that of 2012 regulation,
    how all of their powered cars are bunched up after Lotus in the running order.

    Are we to take it (analyze) that all of these Renault cars just happen to be using a larger fuel load when doing their Q test run,
    hence why they set slower times, than the Mercedes or Ferrari powered cars!

    I think Ross Brawn hit the nail on the head, when he commented that he thinks (the situation could now harm Red Bull and Lotus,
    as their similar exhaust solutions for 2013 were probably designed to work in conjunction with “a clever engine management system”.)
    http://formula-one.speedtv.com/article/f1-engine-maps-trouble-for-red-bull-lotus-report/

    It looks to me from the times set over the last 2 days, that those teams powered by Renault are still adjusting for the lost of the
    new MAPs they intented on intergrating.

    Renault CEO said in an interview that is was important that they and their partners keep ahead of the competition.
    Not “its important we are at the front competing with the competition”.
    I thought his statement was little presumptuous, seemed like he was saying “We the best and we’ll do anything to keep it that way”.
    Hence the teams turning their cars with new MAPs with out first asking a simple question of the FIA, “can we use new MAPs for this year?”

    Two questions, has it been Renaults system management aiding those boys, (with the exception of Kim, maybe Webber) as to why they have been so quick?
    And are they really as good as the Ferrari/Mercedes guys when the car has to be driven, powering into and out of corners?

    Dave C Reply:

    Well if read carefully I said Redbull DID have the fastest car at Japan and Korea and maybe India but it wasn’t the fastest car for rest of the year and thats fact, make assumptions on my belief if you want but Im neither pro nor anti RBR, nor am I anti Lewis, all Im saying is that Mercedes and Ferrari will have a faster car at Melbourne than the Redbull just like Mclareb, Mercedes and Lotus was faster rhan the Redbull at the beginning of last season, christ Ross Brawn looked angry after quali at Melbourne last year when they didn’t secure pole and he’ll expect pole this year, and I stand by my opinion that Redbull will not be the fastest at Melbourne.

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    Vettel won in Bahrain, his next win came when he had a dominant car again. The Red Bull won in Monaco and Britain with Webber at the wheel.
    Btw, that car was never 3rd or 4th best

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    I’m not sure they were fooling anyone. I think the loss of the blown exhaust hit them hard, and it took them a little time to recover.

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    I don´t think the banned of blown exhaust hit them hard. It´s true it schock them early in the season. But despite that they still had a competitive car. And at the of the season they were dominante again. Although Vettel didn´t lead the DWC until the last few races, RBR was leading the CWC for most of the season. So that shows that the car wasn´t bad at all.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    The RB8 definitely wasn’t bad, you’re right, but after the dominance they had in 2011 it might have seemed that way at first – all performance is relative.

    When you said that Red Bull was going to fool everybody and then show their true colours in the second part of the season you gave the impression (at least to me) that they would deliberately go slower in the first part of the season.

    If that is what you meant then I think you’re wrong, but if that’s not what you meant then I’m wrong :)

    Anne Reply:

    If you read the article about Vettel here it shows they are trying to fool others or in other words sandbagging. They might not win all the early races but they are not in bad shape at all. I see a deja vu of last season

    James Reply:

    Just like last year right? everyone claimed RB were going to blitz Melbourne and what happened? Mclaren were the quickest, and if it wasn’t for dodgy pit stops / reliablity issues then Hamilton would’ve won the title last season, he didn’t blow the field away at all, the only time he did that was when he had the quickest car, if the Mclaren was quick Hamilton would put it on pole and then suffer issues that were out of his control.

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    I understand that McLaren shoot themselves in the foot. But that doesn´t change the fact that RB was a competitive car.

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: cartweel
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 7:50 pm 

    fantastic set of graphs and great insight! It is clear that the Mercedes has some pace. Are there plots for the lotus too? Can’t wait for the opener- it will be a good season if there are 3-4 teams battling for wins…

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: Maysoon
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 7:54 pm 

    Tyres degradation was the major problem for Mercedes, so they rarely go out to Q3!
    and I think this will make a difference for them if they are improved!

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Richard
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 8:03 pm 

    Actually the fact that Red Bull were concentrating on passive double DRS signals a fundamental problem that I think they may have. – A power deficit as compared to Mercedes and Ferrari powered machines. Given that everyone’s aero will now be very highly develeped similarly to Red Bulls, it then puts them at a disadvantage on the straights. If they can get a passive double DRS working properly then they stand a chance of winning, if not they could be left out in the cold this year.

    [Reply]

    aezy_doc Reply:

    The Red Bull has had a slower straight line speed than other front running teams for the past 3 years, the passive DDRS will help them be faster on the straights, meaning that they now stand a chance of overtaking if for any reason they don’t qualify at the front. I still think they will be mighty through the bends and have a race winning car.

    [Reply]

    Richard Reply:

    They will of course be good as ever through the bends, but time allows others to catch up, and there comes a point where there is little room for further improvement. I think passive DDRS is fundamental to their strategy this year, but it is notoriously difficult to get working properly.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    You’re right.

    I remember Hamilton fighting with Webber.

    Every lap Hamilton would nail him on the straight, then Webber would get him in the turns, and them Hamilton would pass him on the straight again.

    I can see similar situations happening again this year.

    Richard J Reply:

    I hope you are right.

    If it’s because they just have time and money to burn on it with the rest of the car working perfectly we are in for a very dull year.

    [Reply]

    Troll Dad Reply:

    Richard,
    I hear you, but last year you saw 2 things…
    1 – Lotus frequently topping the speed traps or getting close to it.
    2 – Red Bull consistently gearing the car so it’s RPM limited, especially with DRS open.

    IMO, the lack of straight line speed is a choice for better downforce / shorter gearing not lack of power.

    [Reply]

    Richard Reply:

    The lack of striaght line speed is directly related to an engine power deficit. They have used shorter gearing on the car for faster acceleration off the line. I think passive DDRS is fundamnetal to their MO this year given that other front running teams such as McLaren and Ferrari at least will have equally as good aero.

    [Reply]

    Rick Reply:

    So how do you account for Lotus topping the speed traps ?
    It’s not like Lotus were on a super low drag set up either, they were fairly quick round the corners too.

    Yak Reply:

    Really? Because I have a vague recollection of there being a significant disparity between Red Bull and Lotus in the speed traps. Both are running Renault engines, so if it’s really down to engine power and not aero and gearing, why would Renault be short-powering their flagship team?

    Sacrificing straight line speed is a choice made by Red Bull, which certainly in the last few years has paid off pretty well for them. The simulations they run tell them higher downforce is faster overall than higher straight line speed.

    Given the difficulty of implementing a passive DRS in a properly usable fashion, I don’t suspect any team is really counting on getting it to work. Starting off the season building your year’s hopes on one element, which as of yet has seemingly yet to be figured out by anyone on the grid, seems a pretty daft move for any team, let alone one aiming for their fourth consecutive WCC and WDC.

    Luca Reply:

    well yes and no, if they run shorter gearing it will get them to their top speed quicker, but the amount of drag they put on the car limit their ultimate top speed too – and i doubt after this many years under frozen engine rules the Renault unit is that underpowered.Also, as mentioned the Lotus was regularly top of the speed trap standings.

    RedBull set-up the car, using the Double DRS in the latter half of last season, to get them on pole and then run off out of the DRS zone in the race. This meant getting on the front row via use of the higher top end the DDRS allowed them whilst not for-going any wing for the corners, hence they had the benefit of downforce in the corners and a decent high speed down the straight once the wing was washed.

    I would have thought the Passive DRS is to help them maintain this sort of tactic for 2013. If they cant get this new passive system working well and consistently, i would imagine they have more standard qualifing and taller gearing for higher top speeds like the rest of the field… time will tell tho

    Richard Reply:

    Of course the Lotus and Red Bull cars are different aerodynamically. It is a well known fact that the Renault engine is down on power compared to the Mercedes unit, but Red Bull have ruled the roost with their supremely efficient aero, and maximised downforce. As the regulations have remained fairly static for a while that has allowed other teams to improve aerodynamically to those sort of levels. Given the law of diminishing returns Red Bull have been looking to counter their power deficit by getting a passive DDRS to work properly. Furthermore it is also well known that Red Bull run with shorter gearing to aid fast starting, but it ultimately makes them a bit slower on the straights with a lower top speed.

    [Reply]

    I will Reply:

    Apology for my ignorance. James/fellow F1 fans, can you explain to me what the passive DRS mean?
    Thank you in advance.

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    The idea is that there is a switch that will automatically trigger a drag reduction system of some sort. Not a physical button press type switch, but something triggered by airflow. As it’s not something activated by the driver, seeing as driver-activated movable aero devices are not allowed (the standard DRS rear wing being the exception), it is allowed under the regulations. It also wouldn’t be limited to being used in just one or two places around the track like the standard DRS is.

    The difficulty is in getting it to engage and disengage at the right times. You’d want it working as much as possible really, but you wouldn’t want it activating unexpectedly for example in the middle of Eau Rouge. And I guess you’d want it to disengag as quickly as possible in braking zones (seeing as the car’s drag contributes a lot to slowing down the car). But having it disengage on application of the brakes like the normal DRS I guess wouldn’t be allowed. It’s all good to get a few km/h extra down the straight, but you might lose some of the benefit (or worse) if your braking zones are extended as a result. Or perhaps less likely, you might even find yourself with an unstable rear of the car under braking, which is not much fun.

    So basically, it needs to be predictable and consistent switching, without it being driver (or of course pit) activated. And that switching apparently, is a rather tricky engineering problem, even for the particularly clever folk of the F1 world.

    [Reply]

    Richard Reply:

    Well my understanding of passive DDRS is that it operates in respect of air speed once the main DRS has been activated electronically within the permitted zones with passive meaning not activated by the driver, but a fluid or air switch.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Hi,

    The current drag reduction system is initiated by the driver using a mechanical actuator. The “passive” DRS uses a concept also used with the F-duct in 2010 where changing air pressure is used to activate a switch and then air is allowed to flow through a pipe to stall the rear wing. So at least in the Lotus case, air is ingested near the roll hoop and air box inlet and it travels down above the engine to a point above the gearbox. A low speeds the air will exit over the beam wing, which roughly the same height as the top of the tyres. At a particular air speed there should be sufficient pressure for the switch to be activated and the air flow is directed to a second pipe that takes air up to the rear wing. By blowing air on the underside of the wing the wing is effectively stalled and air travelling beneath the wing flows straight on rather than being directed upwards. This increases the air pressure behind the car, reducing drag. The upper rear wing surface still forces some air upwards so the downforce isn’t completely lost, just greatly reduced.

    The key problem is that the switch suffers from what is caller hysteresis, which means it opens and shuts at different pressures, for example the switch might open at 250 km/h to reduce drag, but only opens again at 230 km/h and the the flow needs to reattach so the car will probably be doing so 225-220 km/h before the driver can get maximum braking performance from the rear of the car.

    The general idea is that the passive DRS would only be open for the straights, but some teams may feel that the downforce at the rear as provided by the floor is sufficient for really quick corners as not much time is made of lost in them relative to slow corners. For Red Bull to go down this path removes one of its overtaking options, best shown at Spa where Vettel was able to use the car performance to get right behind cars out of Blanchimont and then out brake them.

    Whatever choice they make, there is a trade off. Reducing rear downforce will make the KERS energy recovery more complex as there will be less weight on the rear. You could try to balance the two so that the brake balance is roughly consistent with no KERS and DRS above the switch speed and then KERS harvesting beneath the switch speed. Most of the power from stopping comes at high speeds, so a significant amount of harvesting potential is lost by doing this.

    Another problem is adjusting to varying weather conditions such as wind, temperature and rain, and also the effects of following another car. It could easily be that the passive DRS system you need to overtake is taken away by the slipstream. The final thing is being certain that the switch will not open in the middle of a corner.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Cheers,
    Martin

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Jim
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 8:23 pm 

    James–

    First, a hearty thank you for putting this information into a format that can be fairly easy to digest. I’ve been an F1 fan since the mid 1960′s and this is really a ‘golden age’ for constructors, drivers and fans. There were a lot of years back before the worldy wide interwebs where folks in the western US only had Mr. Rob Walker and R&T mag as their small window into the F1 ‘circus’. This is shaping up as another really competitive season and I’m happy for all the teams.

    [Reply]

    spyke Reply:

    +1 so true but now the threat of pay tv might kill the live races for me

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Pukka
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 8:23 pm 

    How often were the cars using DRS around the lap and was it been used in the same way by all the teams?

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: Panagiotis
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 8:31 pm 

    Close then, wow and bulls the mistery! I ve got the feeling Bulls might have an issue if they don’t get passive DRS working for the season (last year first part they had an issue with speed, second part with the introduction of DDRS problem solved. DDRS was their tool to qualify high and lead races, till Huston. But this year DRS will be only available in the designated area for qualifying. Bulls need to recover the lost speed, and I didn’t see that speed in Barcelona).

    Maca statements reminds me Ferrari last year, car does unexpected things, propably due to the same reason front suspension or tyres or maybe correlation? Then again Maca might show up and win first race after bad testing like it always does.

    Ferrari is Ferrari And yes they finally got a single lap spead, and correlation problems solved, giiiiiiiiii. I hope Sauber goes well and see those tiny side pods be a success story. It seems that Tyre management might determine winners and that’s not cool tho.

    Great analysis mr. Gillian, bravo James by next year you may call it on f1 technical encyclopedia! Excellent that’s high class journalism!

    Ferrari no matter what!

    [Reply]

    AlexD Reply:

    I so much looking forward to see Ferrari fighting for Poles and taking them. I would love people to see what Alonso could do with a fast car and not always try to do miracles when starting behind.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: Bloke
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 8:33 pm 

    Two words which will render all of this analysis redundant: TRACK TEMPERATURE.

    All of the cars were operating outside of the optimum window due to the low ambient and track temps. Melbourne (probable will be 30 deg + in ambient) will have a marked effect. Take McLaren for example, and probably Red Bull. Both seem to be struggling with higher degradation than, say, Mercedes – but if my understanding is correct, their issue is cold tear, not ‘normal’ deg – so they find their graining issues are far, far less pronounced.

    I wonder whether those that got the best out their tyres in a chilly Barcelona, will be outside the optimum range in a more representative Melbourne?

    [Reply]

    aezy_doc Reply:

    Time will tell… I really hope that the tyres hold up well and allow the drivers to push. Totally get tyre management being an integral part of the sport, but I don’t really like to see tortoise beating hare!

    [Reply]

    Theoddkiwi Reply:

    Not likely, the local weather forecasters are predicting a dry but cooler than normal Autumn. Ambient temps are already cooling off. Considering the race is at 5pm i think track temp will be in the low 20s possibly even lower.
    Looking at the radar there is a big low pressure system pushing up from the south well to the west of Australia. Thursday the 14th is predicted to be 19 degrees, and that’s about when the low starts to cross Victoria.

    [Reply]

    Adam Reply:

    Theoddkiwi – I have no idea where you get your weather forcasts from but it is currently forecast to be 34 degs on Thursday, 35 degs on Friday, 36 on Saturday and 30 on race day. All hot, sunny and extremely dry. This would make track temp at least in the 40′s

    [Reply]

    Stickymart Reply:

    Are Oz weather conditions that stable that they can be predicted over a week in advance? Wish they could do that over here!

    Theoddkiwi Reply:

    I got my info from the Bureau of Metrology

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/ahead/temp.seaus.shtml

    “In contrast, there is a 60 to 75% chance of cooler than normal nights over southern SA, southwestern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.”

    And this from Weatherzone
    “The hemispheric long wave pattern has been relatively fast moving in recent weeks. There are five main troughs. Currently the most significant troughs are near the longitudes of the Indian Ocean, Western Australia, the south Pacific, South America, and the Atlantic Ocean.
    Summary:
    Over southern and eastern Australia the cold front events with potential to bring widespread rain are now expected about 17 March to 21 March, 1 April to 5 April, and 7 April to 11 April. Rain events originating in the tropics and moving south are possible about 15 March to 19 March, 28 March to 1 April, and 5 April to 9 April.”

    Yes it is going to be in the thirties for the next 7 days, but then the temp is predicted to drop a fair bit. Either way i very much doubt its going to be 30 degrees ambient on race day. I doubt its going to rain though.


  12.   12. Posted By: Mr Ed
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 8:36 pm 

    Jenson’s front right looks a bit unhappy in that picture

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Irish con
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 8:48 pm 

    I think the problem with times being so close everyone will interpret it slightly differently so everyone will have a slightly different idea of who is fastest. I still will be shocked if we get to Melbourne and Seb isn’t on the front row. Ferrari has been reported to lack traction by Gary Anderson and Mark Hughes so maybe they won’t go too well in Australia. I think McLaren are also a bit behind were they need to be so could be lotus to challenge red bull the most.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: goferet
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 8:55 pm 

    Right, I understand when people refer to fast and slow cars, they’re in fact referring to a car’s qualifying pace.

    And so in such a closely contested season such as this where the difference between the top teams plus the difference amongst the midfield teams could boil down to possibly hundredths of a second >>> Could it be argued therefore that really there won’t be a fastest car because like Horner said, this season will be so close that it will be the track characteristics that will favour difference teams.

    Thus, this means from race to race we may have different teams on pole till that point when the less funded teams can’t cope with the big boys in the development race.

    Also it’s worth keeping in mind that some teams may work their tyres better in qualifying than in the race giving the impression that they’re faster despite being slower in race conditions.

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: goferet
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 9:15 pm 

    The tyre degradation for the Mercedes and the Ferrari looks quite similar
    ————————————————

    Uh-Oh!!!!!!!!!

    Great scope by Mercedes to hire former Ferrari employee Aldo Costa >>> designer of the 2011 Ferrari which was famous for being easy on it’s tyres so much so that the car couldn’t generate enough heat to it’s hard/medium rubber.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Except Alonso was going 2 seconds per lap faster at the start of each stint, which takes more out of the tyres, regardless of fuel load, so the McLaren looks noticeably worse without any other info.

    While I’m apologising for being pedantic, you meant scoop rather than scope :-)

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Random 79
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 9:16 pm 

    Great analysis again James & Mark, keep it up!

    Looking forward to the first race to see how it all shakes out on track.

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: goferet
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 9:21 pm 

    Apart from the top teams, another major talking point of 2013 will be whether Marussia really did get a jump of Cathetham.

    Yes, this will be a major talking point for the people at the back usually have a say in what happens at the front e.g. Austin 2012.

    [Reply]

    [MISTER] Reply:

    I am actually following this very closely. I like both teams, so it will be interesting to see how this goes.

    Also, I am following the Torro Rosso, as to where they are now.

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: madmax
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 9:23 pm 

    Thanks for analysis James.

    Is there any place we can get the raw lap by lap data?

    There was a website supplying it but hasn’t got data for the last day and a half.

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: Bring Back Murray
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 9:33 pm 

    Well I’ve got a bit of hat eating to do it would appear. I was rather critical of Hamilton going to Mercedes – pretty much thought he’d thrown his career down the pan. But no – they seem to be getting themselves into gear pretty quicky.

    OK, so its only testing but still… bring on the first race.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    Sources claim that by the end of the year hats may end up on the endangered list.

    We do need to wait until they go racing, but so far they’re looking good.

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    I do so hope you are right :-)

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Steve
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 9:36 pm 

    I just want to see Hamilton in a team/car that is top 4 in terms of speed in race and quali and has near perfect reliability like Ferrari, Red Bull or Lotus.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: Tornillo Amarillo
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 10:11 pm 

    If Melbourne is hotter than Barcelooona, and if Red Bull is better than that is showed in testing, and if Button is lost again in setup, and if Lotus goes well, and Massa goes well, and Perez still learning how to push buttons in the new steering wheel, and if Rosberg is right up there, maybe this can be the “unpredictable year”.

    So the game seems to be consistency again, and for that Vettel and Alonso are the masters… Bet for Alonso?

    [Reply]

    Tornillo Amarillo Reply:

    Oh! I forgot Kimi…!

    [Reply]

    Elie Reply:

    Wrong- Kimg if consistency and speed is Raikkonen- had been since the day he entered the sport!

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Joe S
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 10:17 pm 

    Hi James. The BBC are reporting that Honda are set to return to F1 as an engine supplier and that McLaren will run their engines from 2015. Do you have any information or have you heard anything about this yourself?

    Many thanks for the fantastic writing and analysis with which you bring such joy to countless F1 fans.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I have heard and commented on this a few times since last October.

    I’m not sure that Honda people are at Woking, but I think there is something going on.

    Would not be any earlier than 2015, that’s for sure

    [Reply]

    James Clayton Reply:

    Kobyashi to join Perez at McLaren for 2015? :)

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    I believe Mclaren is under contract to use Mercedes engines in 14 & 15, so Honda might not be available till 2016
    I’m not sure that Honda would be the force they once were.
    In the 80′s, they moved Formula One engine technology forward considerably faster than the others. Once Renault returned, they overtook Honda who withdrew. They came back with Mugen and then their own team, but ignoring the fact that the chassis were poor, the engines were anything but cutting edge. They were heavy, thirsty and unreliable. This in an era when their biggest rival, Toyota was out performing them
    The other huge advantage Honda and Mclaren had between 1988-1991 was two drivers who rank in the top 5 all time greats. There was no competition to Senna or Prost.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Mansell and less so Piquet were still pretty handy in 86 and 87. I’m not sure of Mansell’s usual racing weight, but he was giving away a fair bit of time to Senna and Prost in particularly with his build. His weight is part of the package as to why he wasn’t as good as those two.

    As the downforce was a fair bit less the penalty wouldn’t be as great, but it would still be more than two tenths per lap.

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    I won’t disagree with anything you say, but Honda re wrote the engine rules when they competed in the 80′s. it took the others a few seasons to recover the deficit.
    1986 to 1990, if you didn’t have a Honda behind you, you were merely picking up crumbs. I know Senna won in 1991, but that was largely due to 4 straight wins at the start of the season and an unreliable Williams Renault.
    The writing was on the wall. Senna had told the Honda engineers that the new V12 was not good enough after his first drive after his winter break.
    If you look back to that era, the V10 was the best compromise between the torque of the V8 and the outright power, but heavy consumption, of the V12.

    Regards Mansell’s physique, whilst it may not have been as waif like as others, I wouldn’t use that as an excuse. Even when teamed with Prost Ferrari, it was driving style more than weight which made the difference.
    On the premise of weight affecting performance, why has it never been mentioned when considering respective performances of Prost and Senna. After all, Prost was considerably lighter..

    Cos Reply:

    @hero_was_senna

    You make some sound points but (and I hate to admit it) the 1980s was a long time ago (God I feel old!!) ….and lets face it, technology / manufaturing have moved on a long way in those years.

    The car industry as a whole is focusing alot on smaller more efficient engines and it’s
    interesting to see that now F1 is getting into smaller more efficient engines Honda are planning a come back. Looking forward to seeing what stories come up between now and 2016 – especially if there are any amendments to the rules re the engines.

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    I agree with all your points, I was just speaking in regards of what Honda would bring to the party now.
    In the 80′s, they dominated engine development, and like any era, they moved technology on massively.
    Inevitably the others caught up and moved the game on, so by the time Mugen/Honda returned in the late 90′s, their historic engineering prowess was no longer an advantage.
    Mclaren may well be speaking to Honda, after all, they do not want to be a customer engine team but the focus, but I doubt with the restrictive rules as they are, Honda would be unbeatable.
    Honda historically always used F1 as a grounding for their engineers but would they be able to accept an F1 that gives no incentive for progress?

    Martin Reply:

    On Senna and Prost, I’m again not sure on the weight difference. I believe Senna was high 60 kg. Prost is now 58 kg which might be a bit lighter due to more cycling. Either way in qualifying Senna was quicker, so he didn’t need an excuse. The races had more variables, so the drivers were hardly flat out.
    Cheers,
    Martin

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Lawrence
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 10:21 pm 

    Always great to read (thanks James) and the passionate and knowledgeable comments as well. Looking forward to the beginning of the season :) .

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Erik
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 10:24 pm 

    James, what happened to McLaren? They were the darlings of the first test, with Buttons hard tyre run on the first day…

    [Reply]

    Carl Craven Reply:

    Bear in mind that Webber also showed his hand but apart from that they’ve barely looked like topping the times in any other session.

    Looking at the physical shape of the times it’s pretty obvious that Button is seeing much less drop off in time than other drivers with the exception not surprisingly of Hulkenberg.

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: Grant
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 10:28 pm 

    This analysis cannot be right or wrong because it basically doesn’t say anything.
    I’m not trying to be harsh but I just feel the article is ‘sandbagging’ on verdicts.

    [Reply]

    Red Rider Reply:

    Wow Grant. I sure would not like being around when YOU ARE trying to be harsh.

    CHEERS AND LET’S ALL ENJOY THE SEASON.

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    Grants got a point though, with weather, cold, and people hiding their true performance, were all just guessing.

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Paul Braithwaite
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 10:37 pm 

    Hi

    It occurs to me that last year Mercedes had a lot of tyre issues especially at warmer tracks where they overheated their tyres. If that is still the case you might expect them to be putting their tyres into the correct operating window under these colder conditions better than other teams.

    This might explain their turn of speed which might quickly disappear when we get too Melbourne.

    [Reply]

    Doug Reply:

    +1

    My thoughts exactly.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Possibly, but Mercedes is probably running out of dumb reasons to make a mess of its car packaging. In the last three years it has ended up with either the weight distribution wrong or the CoG too high. With rule stability and a couple of seasons studying the quick cars it has probably worked out the fundamentals this time, so it comes down to how much downforce the car has to be quick in qualifying. Less downforce wears the tyres less, so the penalty in the race is less than in qualifying, so you get a convergence of long run times across the field.

    [Reply]

    KRB Reply:

    More downforce wears the tires less, not less downforce. The less downforce, the more slight wheel spin you have in and out of corners, and that accounts for most of the wear on an F1 car’s tires.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Hi KRB,

    I’ll do my best to explain I believe you are wrong. I’ll make some general observations first. If we assume that wheelspin is the dominant factor in wear, it would make sense that the cars are never front tyre limited, and would possibly never wear out. To suggest that wheelspin is the probably suggests that drivers have no ability to control it, i.e to modulate the throttle. We can see that the lap time drop off from damaging the tyres is severe, so unlike drag racing there is no performance advantage from exceeding the limit of the tyres. And it is interesting how the fastest cars have just enough downforce that they don’t get wheelspin, and yet the slower cars do? Do you really think Vettel and Hamilton are pushing less than Kartikeyan, i.e using less throttle out of corners? Or would they drive to the limit of the car and try to optimise the time over a stint. Any wouldn’t the slow drivers do the same?

    If we look at tracks with high tyre wear, they tend to the tracks with long fast corners. Look at the recent races at Turkey. Four stops for the quick cars and three for the slower ones. Why is that?

    Now why is it that the cars with the most downforce tend to have bigger margins over the field in qualifying than in the race? You could try arguing something about tyre warm up, but frankly that doesn’t stack up – the reality with tyre warm up is suspension geometry related, which is pretty clear if you compare the Red Bull and McLaren in 2012 with their out lap strategies.

    The 2013 testing problem has been about graining as the tyres are below their operating range, so they don’t grip and the surface tears. This is not the normal wear pattern, but it is fundamentally the same as what you are proposing.

    Now, to tyres. Imagine you have a grinding wheel in front you and you want to shave something down. The harder you push the more you’ll take off until the elastic deformation range of the thing you are grinding is reached.

    And a tyre with no toe-in rolls in straight line, the contact patch is stationary. There is no friction if there is no wheelspin or brake locking. In a corner the tyre contact patch is being twisted as the tyre rolls forward. The tyre grips and can generate a coefficient of friction much greater than 1 (ignoring downforce) due to the tyre surface keying into the ground. The more downforce the greater the grinding action. A key difference between this below/on the limit cornering and wheelspin is the relative speed between the road and the tyre is greater.

    When a car is sliding, which is normal due to slight handling imbalances, the relative speed between the tyre and the road is less than for slow corner wheelspin.

    There is also the comment that cars with more downforce wear there tyres less because they slide less. This completely ignores the driver, who must now be slower over most of the straight, but decides he can cruise through the corners. What really happens is that a team sets up a car that is well balanced, but a decision is made to reduce wing to be able to overtake. The estimate is sometimes wrong and the car becomes more out of balance and the tyre wear increases.

    Jake Reply:

    I thought, less downforce = more sliding around = higher tyre wear.
    Higher downforce = more drag = slower straight line speed.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Hi Jake,
    Please see my reply to KRB above for a more detailed answer. But in short the amoumt of sliding comes from the front to rear car balance. With increased downforce adriver will have to corner faster to maintain the lap time and the increased load on the tyres from the downforce increases wear.
    Cheers
    Martin

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    Worth bearing in mind that this car was the responsibility if Aldo Costa. An engineer who when leading Ferrari always built cars which looked after the tyres.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: shri
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 11:00 pm 

    For Ferrari – The graphs does not seem to say that their long run laptimes are consistent.

    Anyways we shall see in Melbourne where all of them stand compared to each other.

    Hoping for a close & exciting season.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Danny Almonte
        Date: March 4th, 2013 @ 11:35 pm 

    I don’t think Mercedes have showed their hand. We still haven’t seen the car that will race in Australia. All the teams will be making improvements.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Quade
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 12:09 am 

    Hmmmm! I wonder if some of McLaren’s test time hasn’t been taken up with evaluating Honda engines? Maybe engine decision troubles and staff depletion is partly why their testing was so here and there?
    Its confirmed they’ll be using Honda engines from 2015. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/21655985

    [Reply]

    Quade Reply:

    That would be confirmed in inverted commas. Typo.

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Dan
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 12:09 am 

    Regarding this James

    “It appears that the Mercedes ran on less fuel than its rivals when it did the short runs, as the lap time margin between short runs and long runs is bigger for them than Ferrari, for example.”

    Is this an assumption based on the notion that all teams start their long runs on full tanks? Because if not, then surely Mercedes could have just been heavier on the long runs, rather than lighter on the short runs.?

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: .
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 12:19 am 

    Lol, everybody is just guessing, might as well predict the lottery for next week.

    [Reply]

    docjkm Reply:

    Yes. Dressed up, pure guesswork.

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    For us random internet-dwelling F1 fans, probably more like pure guesswork. For people with years of experience in the sport, it’s more like educated guesswork. Still guesswork as ultimately they don’t know certain details, but guesswork based on knowledge. An extrapolation more than just a wild stab in the dark.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Based on lap times yes, but the teams have other info including watching the cars on the track and acoustic analysis systems to estimate fuel levels. It isn’t perfect, but Massa is quite well qualified to say that when following a Red Bull that it looks pretty good with lots of rear grip.

    More of that plays into race pace than qualifying, the grid in Melbourne is in my view a bit of guess work.

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Craig in Manila
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 12:33 am 

    A so-called “long run” in 2013 is approx how many laps ?

    [Reply]

    Scuderia McLaren Reply:

    about 1.5 laps is defined as a long run I think.

    [Reply]

    Craig in Manila Reply:

    Yup, agreed.
    Hope the mechanics are getting paid per pitstop instead of a “flat rate” arrangement.
    And they can certainly forget about any thoughts of sitting in those chairs watching the TV !

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Quade
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 1:30 am 

    Just a thought. What if its Mercedes thats sandbagging?
    A few years back, when the Brawn did the same at tests we all thought the bigger teams were sandbagging, only for the Brawn to be a whole 2 seconds quicker than the feild on race day.

    What if?

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    While it is possible that Mercedes is holding back, the view that Red Bull is fast does not come from the lap times but people watching the cars on the track.

    I’m not sure of the truth, but there are suggestions that Mercedes has been using standard DRS more than other teams to get times, and that Red Bull has at times not used it at all.

    The commentary on Autosport, such as from an ex-McLaren mechanic is that the Mercedes drivers were trying, so they were making errors. The teams also have acoustic analysis systems that gauge how fast a car is accelerating, so that gives a clue on fuel weights and each team tends to stick to its testing pattern. Mercedes/Brawn probably run at the lighter end given previous history with the team, and Red Bull, partly based on mechanics changing teams and the word getting around tend to be heavier than most. The latter point makes sense as Red Bull makes a point of being fast at the beginning of a race as this cuts off the undercut opportunities for teams to mess around with your race if they have cars in positions 2 and 3.

    [Reply]

    I will Reply:

    +1

    [Reply]

    AndyK Reply:

    They dominated the test times that year. Everybody knew exactly what was coming in Melbourne.. I seem to remember a headline on this site saying words to the effect of ‘get your money on brawn for the championships”

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: Muk
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 2:33 am 

    based on a 10 stop strategy, we’re looking at 6 laps as a long run. Man the next 7 days in Melbourne are all above 30 degrees, I hope there is a cool change expected for the race weekend. I hate going to a boiling hot GP. Oh and i like the point that the first race starts at 5pm… i wonder if melbourne has the biggest temperature variation during a race. probably not a big deal… just a thought.

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: F1addicted.com
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 4:01 am 

    RB will still have the pace … their pace from last year has not disappeared!

    They are just obsessed with the passive DRS because they really need the straight line speed boost.

    Their entire strategy for 3 years has worked because of their qualifying advantage.

    That lets them lead the pack in the race, which as we have seen is a HUGE advantage for tyre deg control.

    However we also saw that last year, other cars also matched them in quali, therefore straight line speed in the race was more important for them – and the lack of it was their downfall (even though they won the WDC thanks to Lewis’ car problems stopping him from winning in AD, SP, Sing, and McLaren idiocy from Barca etc.).

    This is why they don’t car about ‘finding out’ anything else other than how to add on straight line speed to their existing package.

    McLaren are guaranteed pace … at SOME races. At others, we will hear Button give out his incessant “I don’t know why we were not fast here” speech.

    Mercedes are also not the fastest, because they do not have hot weather tyre experience with their current package. If they get a smidge of luck with tyres, they can win.

    [Reply]

    Quade Reply:

    The major components (DDRS, flexi-nose etc) that boosted their top speed above the feild last year, have been banned for this year, so it is really hard to justify any claims about pace carried over from last year.

    Lets wait for Melbourne to know the new speed ranking.

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    Red Bull lost their qualifying advantage when the regulations changed and removed the aero devices they’d put so much into. If they can regain an aero advantage, they don’t need straight line speed to win races.

    And given their success with their “downforce > straight line speed” method, I don’t imagine they’re suddenly abandoning it and putting all their stock in gaining speed down the straights. Look at Monza in 2011 when they were the downforce kings. They were 20 or so km/h slower down the straights from memory, and Vettel still put it on pole and won the race.

    Why they might be putting more track time into the passive DRS over other aero might be that they already tested other things and found the results they’d predicted in simulations, so they’ve moved on. They’re no doubt already working on new components for future upgrades anyway, but that takes time. The passive DRS is possibly something they also want to put more track time into. They might be relatively confident in their simulation and wind tunnel testing for wings, sidepods, etc. but feel the passive DRS switching is something that really needs to be learned about on track.

    To say they’re putting all their hopes on the passive DRS just because they’re out there testing it is a bit of a jump.

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Adrian Newey Jnr
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 4:12 am 

    James – Torro Rosso seems to have underperformed for the past few years. Where do you think Mateschitz/Marko wants them to be in the pack? Obviously it wouldn’t make sense for them to challenge the premier team, but equally it must irk them to be at the lower end of the mid-pack teams with supposedly the next generation of Sebastian Vettel’s!

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Seems a nice idea. Not so helpful for testing as even if you work out where a race simulation starts, there is still the different time of day leading to track condition changes.

    The first stint can be varied a bit by how the driver starts. If you do a race start simulation the tyres get a lot hotter than if you cruise out of the pits. This year’s tyres may not be as critical, but as an example, the first lap safety car at Monaco last year was regarded as very helpful at ensuring a one-stop race.

    [Reply]

    [MISTER] Reply:

    I think it’s more to do with changing the drivers.
    Having complete rookies can’t be good. We shall see this year an improvement, as both drivers are in their 2nd year.

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: Kit
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 4:28 am 

    One suggestion if it has not been suggested yet. Put all the data into a single graph with an option to click on driver’s name to turn on or off their individual graph. That will make comparisons easier with two or more drivers.
    Starting with the race analysis graphs once the season begins, perhaps?

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: Adam
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 5:02 am 

    So everyone forgets that Mercedes seemed to be fast at the start of last year too… Shuey plonked it in the second row in Melbourne in qualy. The double DRS they had helped them with that one lap speed. Overall they were slow. Don’t think they didn’t learn anything from that, even if they can’t run that system anymore.

    All this says to me is that a lot of people can’t wait for the season to start.. bring it on! see you in Melbourne!!!

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    Mercedes were fast early last year, but it’s only relative to the other cars around them. Aside from Melbourne, they also followed it up with great qualifying and (for Rosberg) a great race. Schumi also set the fastest quali time in Monaco, with Rosberg not far behind (and once again, a good race result for Rosberg and another DNF for Schumi).

    But then everyone developed their cars better than Mercedes, and everyone got a handle on the tyres while Mercedes seemingly went backwards in that area. It certainly wasn’t all down to the DDRS. Red Bull have certainly proved over the years that straight line speed isn’t everything.

    [Reply]

    jjpm Reply:

    a little water to the mill here :

    The F1 World Qualifying Championship 2012 :

    Hamilton 289
    Vettel 260
    Webber 221
    Button 175
    Alonso 176
    Raikkonen 140
    Grosjean 135
    Schumacher 109
    Maldonado 129
    Rosberg 99
    Massa 98
    Kobayashi 53
    Perez 48
    Hulkenberg 48
    di Resta 40
    Ricciardo 11
    Senna 4

    based on Q3 results, 10 for 1st, 9 for second, etc

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: AlexD
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 7:35 am 

    On Red Bull, I hear different opinions.
    One of the opinions is presented by James here that Red Bull is all good, they know that they car is fast already now and they focus on the new DRS to ensure that they gain an advantage.
    Some people say that the change of the engine mapping after Jerez impacted Red Bull and they lost a bit of performance. People believe that this was the reason why Newey was absent from the last test as he has to work extremely hard to redesign the exhaust to make up the lost performance.
    Who knows? We will see in Australia.

    [Reply]


  40.   40. Posted By: Elie
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 9:04 am 

    Thanks for the analysis James.
    What the graphs don’t tell is who had is foot flat on the floor and who was driving at 90% during each stint- that will only come Melbourne.
    Any idea if Lotus were exaggerating – cause they keep saying they never ran low fuel – always had plenty on board- but that probably explains the 1+second on the last day.
    Going to be one hell of a weekend at Melbourne as all the BS stops and the racing starts- driving down from Syd on Friday.get there about 2.00pm

    [Reply]


  41.   41. Posted By: PFA
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 9:37 am 

    Aren’t Mercedes the ones with the most pressure on them (shareholders, public expectations, etc.), so implicitly the ones who have the most to gain by topping time sheets at this point? So while I am inclined to believe the car is at least closer to Lotus level than they were at the end of last year, I am skeptical about their real ability.

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: F1Goldenera
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 10:01 am 

    Insightful analysis as always explained helpfully in laymans terms. As a longtime Willams supporter I have nothing but admiration and respect for Prof Mark Gillan and the job he did with Williams during his tenure.
    Just enquiring though, is it because of this that the team has recived little technical analysis on the blog James, including a launch review of the FW35?

    Keep up the good work James & Co, free to read blogs like yourself and Joe Saward provide are underappreciated in this day and age.

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Simon Donald
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 11:27 am 

    This is all very interesting but I think there is way too much speculation going on! I don’t mean from James necessarily but from the F1 world and fans particularly. We all have our own little favourites who we would like to win so some think McLaren and Red Bull are sandbagging others think they are in trouble, some think the same about Ferraris, other that Mercedes are alternately genuinely quick or fuelled light. We won’t know until not Australia, but probably Sepang or China at the earliest. From testing all I think we can conclude is that the top 5 are McLaren, Red Bull, Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes in one order or another. All I can say is that I’m really excited about this up coming season. Hopefully no one dominates!!

    [Reply]


  44.   44. Posted By: Arty Phice
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 11:27 am 

    ‘Sandbag’ : Generic fall-back explanation for those who couldn’t be bothered to read the article properly or are too lazy to think.

    [Reply]


  45.   45. Posted By: Allan
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 12:49 pm 

    James, I wonder if you think Mclaren are using this as a development year to get the Chassis and development plans in place ready for the rumoured Honda engine deal. I also hear that Honda would be ready to enter in 2014 as well?

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: Darren
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 12:56 pm 

    Excellent analysis as always James. However from my years of watching F1 I have learned that nothing matters in testing, we have no idea who is genuinely fast till the first race. We can speculate but except in the rare occasion where a car is clearly much faster than the others (Brawn 2009) It’s all up in the air.

    In spite of what I have just said, for what its worth. Red Bull will not be slow and Mercedes will not be the fastest. Time will tell! Not long now!

    [Reply]


  47.   47. Posted By: Alex
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 1:04 pm 

    “This run plan looks like a team that feels it has a good car to start the season, but is pushing the envelope hard for the future.”

    Possibly the last 8 races/fly away leg at the end of the season that Vettel always seems to clinch the title through. Seriously, Vettel’s three WDC winning seasons have all been pretty interesting until around Singapore.

    Can’t wait for Melbourne, got Grand Stand tickets all 4 days!

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    EDIT, two of them were nail biters after Singapore but that’s generally his and Red Bull’s purple patch of the season.

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: Oli79
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 2:30 pm 

    I feel that Red Bull know what they have and have no need to flaunt it! As for Ferrari I think they have stronger package/driver than McLaren and will fight for the title only because of Alonso’s drive to win.
    I was in Jerez and was quite impressed with the Lotus and Sauber, espicially Kimi and Gutierrez. Also I don’t think we can discard Hamilton….the guy is like Alonso, he can compete in a Go-Kart!!

    [Reply]


  49.   49. Posted By: Marcelo Leal
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 3:20 pm 

    Hi James, good article!
    What I would like to understand is why everyone keeps saying that ‘Mercedes’ was 1 second slower (or more) than others on last season.

    I did a quick look at the last three qualifying official numbers from last season, and the result is this:

    For Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton (pole) time was: 1.40.630. Nico (the first Mercedes) was: 1.41.603. BUT the first ferrari (Alonso) was: 1.41.582. And nobody says that Ferrari was 1 second slower during these tests, just Mercedes… AND Jenson’s time in Abu Dhabi was 1.41.290. So, more than half a second slower than Lewis. Well, it was the Mercedes and Ferrari that were 1 second slower than McLaren, or Lewis was quicker than the others (independent of the car)?

    In the USA Mercedes was even in front of the first Ferrari (Massa), and half a second quicker than Alonso’s Ferrari (Michael 1.36.794 against 1.37.300). AND Jenson could not even get into Q3!
    Again, McLaren or Hamilton?
    Mercedes and Ferrari 1 second slower than front runners?

    The last race in Brazil, Alonso 1.13.253 and Nico 1.13.489.

    Yes, I’m a Lewis Hamilton’s fan, but just look at the numbers from last season qualifying, and you will see that all the buzz around the McLaren car is because of the Lewis Performance. If you take his numbers out, McLaren would look like a bad car and having a lot of work to do this year, etc, etc. In my opinion, more or less what happened with Mercedes and Ferrari qualifying last season.

    In Q2 in USA, Hamilton was 1 second faster than JB. He will give this second again this year. But now driving for Mercedes…

    [Reply]

    Joel Reply:

    Thats because, once the race starts, the Ferrari only moves forward relative to the front runners, while the Mercedes only moves backward…

    [Reply]

    Marcelo Leal Reply:

    Ok, that I can understand. But that does not makes the car 1 second slower or something, that is related with the management of tyres or other stuff. How fast a car is has nothing to do with reliability, pit stops, tyres management or etc. Or the car is fast or it is not. If Mercedes had the faster car on last season, the work they should have done on winter would be totally different (consistency, tyres management, and etc). Ferrari for example, had a bullet proof consistency and reliability, but lack of raw speed. The work should be better aero, better downforce, qualifying speed.
    That’s my point… if you look at the quali times from last season, Mercedes does not seems to be 1 second slower. In the begining of the season they had two or three poles…

    [Reply]

    Quade Reply:

    I love these questions. Brilliant.
    When is a car slow and when is it all about who is driving it?
    The Ferrari was slow (except for Alonso). Was the McLaren faster, or did they just have a blindingly outstanding talent in Lewis? He never ever claimed to be “lost and confused” by setup, again, just like Alonso.

    Perhaps, this seasons McLaren is as fast (or even faster) than last seasons, but we might never know.

    What really had speed last season, driver or car?

    [Reply]

    Marcelo Leal Reply:

    You got my point… thanks! ;-)

    If Button qualifies this season 5th, 6th… what they will say?

    That McLaren car’s improvements (the faster car from last season for some), from the winter was: “turn the car slower than last season”?

    Leal

    [Reply]


  50.   50. Posted By: Jerome
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 4:41 pm 

    Mercedes improved but so did everyone over the winter, I still don’t buy the hype. I got the feeling RBR and McLaren are sandbagging big time, RBR didn’t even do one lap testing, they’re so confident in the overall pace of the car! Judging from Alonso’s comment, I think Ferrari should be there about too. I’m still betting it will a close battle between the 3 top teams again.

    [Reply]


  51.   51. Posted By: Kidza
        Date: March 5th, 2013 @ 7:00 pm 

    James, in your view “it appears that the Mercedes ran on less fuel than its rivals when it did the short runs, as the lap time margin between short runs and long runs is bigger for them than Ferrari, for example”. I beg to differ.

    For example, when one looks at the long or longish runs of the Mercedes and Ferrari, its noticable that Rosberg’s runs were on average much longer than those of the Ferrari, suggesting, in my view at least, that the difference in lap time margin may be due to Rosberg carrying more fuel on his long runs than the Ferrari, for example.

    [Reply]

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