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Vettel Heads A Close First Day At Barcelona
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  10 May 2013   |  3:47 pm GMT  |  86 comments

Sebastian Vettel continued to set the pace during free practice for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, but it was very close between him, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber and it promises to be a very competitive weekend.

As with pre-season testing the long run performance of the Lotus of Romain Grosjean was the stand out from the day and combined with Raikkonen’s single lap pace, just 2/10ths of a second slower than Vettel, Lotus look to be a force this weekend as well.

There was a scare for Paul Di Resta who suffered what appeared to be a left rear tyre delimitation on the exit of the final corner, which forced him to stop on track. The incident was similar to Lewis Hamilton’s problem in Bahrain but Di Resta stopped the car quickly before any damage was done to the suspension.

After minimal dry running in Friday’s FP1 session, following a heavy rain shower, this afternoon gave the teams their first real chance to test the upgrades that are typically added to the cars as the European season begins. These are the product of 10-12 weeks of development work in the wind tunnel and comprise new front and rear wings, modifications to floor, exhausts and engine covers as well as brake ducts in some cases. Ferrari has modified its side pods.

And with a fully dry track and optimum weather conditions the afternoon session became crucial in testing new upgrades as well as the new specification Pirelli hard tyre.

Like in March, the Mercedes pairing of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton set the initial pace during the opening twenty minutes using the hard tyre – but were quickly disposed once the medium tyre runs commenced. However the Ferrari looked particularly competitive on the hard tyre as well as the medium.

On the lower fuel runs on the medium tyre the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers took charge. After a number of short runs throughout the field there was a flurry of single laps on the option compound with Vettel getting the better off his team mate and the Ferrari drivers. Edging out Alonso by 2/100ths and Webber by 8/100ths of a second, Vettel’s time remained unbeatable and puts him in a strong position at a track on which he is surprisingly yet to take a pole position.

The two teams then set about collecting high fuel data on both tyre compounds. The drop off from the ultimate pace of each tyre was large, however consistency and degradation was managed better for these two teams than was seen for others. Mercedes once again seemingly struggled to match their competitors in times of tyre life.

Behind the top three, Kimi Raikkonen took fourth place away from Felipe Massa with a single run on the medium tyre before also switching attentions to race simulations. Lotus have continued with their ability to manage the tyre life, with Romain Grosjean managing a ten- lap run on the medium compound. The Frenchman didn’t complete a qualifying simulation and ended the day in eighteenth place, but with Raikkonen’s one-lap pace and his own long stint consistency Lotus look in good shape to challenge at the front this weekend.

Behind the Mercedes duo in sixth and seventh, the top ten was closed out by Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne and Paul Di Resta. Vergne had a much needed good Friday after the recent qualifying efforts of team mate Daniel Ricciardo. And following third place in FP1, he posted a genuinely quick time in the afternoon to split the Force India cars.

The Silverstone based squad have cemented their position as the fifth best car in Formula One and are looking for a trouble free weekend to kick off their European season. However things did not go to plan for Di Resta when his rear-left tyre delaminated entering the pit straight. It was a situation similar to that of Hamilton in Bahrain and will give Pirelli plenty of headaches tonight.

Given that Di Resta had done only seven laps on the tyres at that point and other cars covered more laps it may be that the problem is a manufacturing quality control issue. It is certainly a concern on the back of the failures in Bahrain. Luckily for Di Resta the team saw the problem coming seconds before it happened thanks to thermal imaging.

There was a large amount of graining apparent after only a couple of laps on the medium tyre. This occurred predictably on the front-left tyre, which is under heavy load during numerous long right-handers, with the inner shoulder of that tyre looking particularly strained.

McLaren seem to have found minimal gains on their range of upgrades. They still have a new front-wing which they are yet to run and finished the day in twelfth and thirteenth places, with Jenson Button getting the better of Sergio Perez. The pair completed six laps each in FP1, with Button the only car to not complete a flying lap.

SPANISH GRAND PRIX, Free Practice 2
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m22.808s 34 Laps
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.825s + 0.017s 35
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m22.891s + 0.083s 36
4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m23.030s + 0.222s 32
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.110s + 0.302s 37
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m23.140s + 0.332s 35
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.398s + 0.590s 45
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m23.840s + 1.032s 37
9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m24.058s + 1.250s 31
10. Paul di Resta Force India 1m24.104s + 1.296s 25
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m24.175s + 1.367s 32
12. Jenson Button McLaren 1m24.306s + 1.498s 35
13. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m24.854s + 2.046s 31
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m24.888s + 2.080s 38
15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m25.167s + 2.359s 38
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m25.321s + 2.513s 32
17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m25.441s + 2.633s 37
18. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m25.851s + 3.043s 35
19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m25.963s + 3.155s 30
20. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m26.078s + 3.270s 31
21. Charles Pic Caterham 1m26.930s + 4.122s 35
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m26.970s + 4.162s 25

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86 Comments
  1. Irish con says:

    Perez had the new mclaren front wing on at the end of the session but didn’t really do much with it. Wasn’t a new tyre run so no one learned anything. Mclaren doesn’t look good at all. Another Sebastian, Fernando and Kimi shoot out for me on Sunday.

    1. Quade says:

      I feel sorry for McLaren, a team with rich history, pride and engineering genius; nothing seems to be going right. Clearly, there are people in the wrong places; both as management and as drivers.
      The teams board has to bite the bit and make the necessary changes to personnel that will see McLaren rise again in 2014. Sadly, it seems a “civil service” culture has overtaken McLarens killer instinct/competitive edge.

      If the current slide in form and hemorrhage of exceptionally talented personnel (eg Lewis and Paddy Lowe) is not haulted, then McLaren might become a permanently middle-of-the-pack team, which would be an unacceptable nightmare.
      I pray that lessons have been learnt.

      I pray that come Silverstone, Jenson would have the courage to damn the FIA and do some doughnuts for the fans as Lewis did in 2009 when they had another car slump. The worst the FIA will do is fine him (as they did Lewis).

      1. AuraF1 says:

        It would be fun but wasn’t Lewis running about 20th in 2009 as opposed to the 2013 midfield positions? I suppose its a small comfort to mclaren to know that even with the ‘talents’ of Lewis and Lowe they’ve still had worse years…

      2. Tim says:

        To be honest, I doubt that having been in an even worse position in the past will bring the McLaren team any comfort at all.

      3. AuraF1 says:

        I probably should have voiced my sarcasm a little more strongly – this is the Internet I forget where dry statements don’t tend to carry ;)

      4. AuraF1 says:

        Also isn’t this the car built by Lowe and combining Lewis and Jensons input? So losing Lowe might not be the worst thing that ever happened after all…

      5. Sid says:

        Last year’s car was built by Tim Goss(current technical director) and it was mean, so all’s not bad for Mclaren…

      6. Jimbob says:

        +1. People overestimate the power of one person in such a big organisation. Last years car was a belter and was designed by Goss’ team… Guess who’s designing next years car???

        Lowe is very good but not definitely not the sole reason for McLaren’s recent form.

        And to all who think Lewis would make such a difference.. I don’t think so, he’s half a second quicker than Jenson over one lap and that’s it, in the race with this car he’d still end up near Jenson and Sergio.

      7. Gareth says:

        Same every time, Mclaren let themselves down too much too often

  2. Val from montreal says:

    “Maintenant ou Jamais” ( now or never ) is the headline written in one of Montreal’s most circulated newspapers this morning … Article talks about Alonso’s return to home soil this week-end and this week-end could be the deciding grand-prix for the Spaniard’s chances for 2013 title … Ferrari has the car to compete the article implies but it also says If Vettel wins on sunday , ALO will find it vert hard to win the title this year … I agree

    1. Equin0x says:

      Why do you agree? you think it’ll be hard for Fernando even though he has the fastest car in race trim?? so I think even the biggest Vettel haters are starting to believe Seb is just an extraordinary driver, a driver that will more than likely dominate the sport for the next decade as long as he doesnt lose form and interest, poor Hamilton and poor Alonso.

    2. Justin Bieber says:

      Yeah, very good analysis.. The Championship will be decided on race 5 in May.. Where did you find such an insightful article? The Journal de Montreal perhaps? Who wrote that brilliant article?

    3. Sebee says:

      I think Red Bull need to throw the kitchen sink at this one for psychological warfare reasons.

    4. Doobs says:

      Except Alonso will NEVER give up…

      1. Jimbob says:

        Neither will Raikkonnen or Vettel ;) We have an awesome championship battle ahead of us… I suspect Hamilton, Rosberg and Grosjean will be there or there abouts too.

      2. dean cassady says:

        +1 you got it right, Jimbob!

  3. Sven says:

    Ferrari look the strongest.
    Red Bull seem just behind them, but Lotus are better than RB at race pace and tyre wear. I expect the usual suspects on the podium.

    1. Skan says:

      If Alonso is not on pole on Saturday, he will complain of driving the 5th fastest car on the grid!

      1. Doobs says:

        That was 2012. Get with the times buddy. If he finishes fifth or whatever, he’ll tell it like it is.

      2. Nasidas says:

        well, well, it looks like he is not driving the fifth fastest car on the grid, but the fourth fastest car on the grid! (esp. since he and Massa matched times)

    2. Justin Bieber says:

      Right.. since Vettle was slightly faster than Alonso and Lotus have better race pace and tire wear than RB it means Ferrari looks the strongest..

      1. Sven says:

        Alonso was held up by traffic on his fast lap. He could have gone faster. Liek RBR, Ferrari are very fast on a single lap, but unlike RBR, Ferrari also have the best race pace and great tyre wear, so overall, Ferrari IS the strongest car.
        Yeah, I know: it probably sucks that Alonso can’t claim any longer that he’s driving a dog of a car. ;)

  4. Jacob says:

    Another track another delamination. I think the only track we havent seen one yet this year was Albert Park. I’d like to know Pirelli’s response to the tyres behaviour and how that fits with them still being “safe”

    1. Neil Jenney says:

      Agreed. I’d like to see some objective commentary on the safety of the current tires that is divorced from the ongoing ‘artificial racing’ debate.

    2. Fan says:

      +1

      When have we ever seen this much delamination in 5 weekends of racing? when someone gets hurt it will be too late to ask the questions…

      1. chris green says:

        safety issues with the pirelli’s reminds me of the fatal accident mark donohue had at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix at the Österreichring. tyre failure was blamed for the accident.
        donohue’s wife sued goodyear – eventually reaching a substantial out of court settlement.

    3. j says:

      It seems like a bit of a pattern but then again when they study the “delaminated” tires they always seem to have a large shard of carbon or metal embedded in them.

      I would like to see the next cars with a lot narrower front wing and less pieces that can break off but it will never happen because a wing end plate tagging a back tire and breaking off is a lot safer than a front tire contacting a back tire which throws the following car up into the air.

    4. Quade says:

      Drivers who have suffered delaminations this year (just four races in).

      Lewis Hamilton
      Filipe massa (twice)
      Paul Di Resta
      Mark Chilton

      During practice in Malaysia, Jenson Button routinely braked at a corner, only for the tyre to burst!

      “Whatever the cause, this is not something we like to see and once we have established all the facts we will decide whether some further modifications to the tyres are required to help avoid this type of issue.”
      - Paul Hembery (Pirelli)
      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/05/10/pirelli-change-tyres-latest-failure/

      Pirelli don’t seem certain that the incidents are due to faults in tyre philosophy/construction. I too believe we really should’t blame the tyres for these things. Its got to be the teams employing voodoo!

      Perez fears the tyres might soon cause an accident.
      That might be part of the new hand of lotteries the tyres have added to F1. In addition to tyre whispering, drivers might now need dice rolling skills to stay alive.

      Here’s a little curiosity. Do you know Pirelli boss, Paul Hembery travels to every grand prix as Charles Pic’s “advisor?” Hmmmm!
      http://www.auto123.com/en/racing-news/f1-paul-hembery-admits-pirelli-could-change-tack-after-bahrain?artid=154647

      1. MrNed says:

        Pirelli provide the teams with recommendations of the settings window within which the tyres should be kept: pressure, toe-in/out, tracking, etc. etc. The teams regularly push beyond these recommendations – as with anything in F1 it’s a judgement of where to draw the line in the pursuit of competitive advantage. There’s a possibility that these delamiinations are the result teams pushing the tyres outside of their safe limits. At this stage we don’t know enough detail to say that the fault lies entirely with the Pirelli tyres – it may, it may not.

        I don’t hold a strong view on the tyre situation – it’s not ideal, but neither were the “last the whole race” Bridgestones, nor the Bridgestone / Michelin tyre war that preceded them. At least the Pirellis produce action and excitement!

        Pirelli will be working hard to understand these failures – no doubt about it – and when they do then I’m sure we’ll hear all about it and if the tyres are to blame then the problem will be fixed. In the meantime it’s the same for everybody.

      2. dean cassady says:

        +1
        Good addition of perspective.
        Personally, I’m loving the racing during the Pirelli era.

      3. Doobs says:

        I think there’s no inherent problem in the tyres but they don’t seem too robust. Any piece if debris seems of cause problems…

  5. Stephen Taylor says:

    Merc and Mclaren won’t be challenging the frontrunners this weekend me thinks.

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      Merc should be there in qualifying but will probably fade away during the race..

      1. Doobs says:

        Cooler conditions may help them as may the new hard…
        Who knows

  6. goferet says:

    Can’t help feeling we have been here before.

    As always just as when it begins to look like it’s going to be massively competitive for pole between Lotus, Red Bull and Ferrari, somebody comes through and changes the script.

    Anyway, if one is to take today’s times at face value, by the looks of it, Red Bull’s upgrades have been the least impressive whereas Lotus and Ferrari have made a huge step forward especially over one lap.

    And the fact Vettel has never been on pole in Barcelona, it may turn out to be one of his bogey tracks, so that’s another negative in their favour.

    Ferrari look super competitive at this moment in time but it remains to be seen if they can convert this good form because Bahrain showed there maybe a little correlation issue between their practice pace and race pace.

    Yes, Mercedes are a little off the pace especially with the medium tyre and interestingly Lewis was told over the radio that they’re 6 tenths slower than the Red Bulls and Lotuses (no mention of Ferrari). However, the hard tyre looks a little promising.

    Am surprised Mclaren are still struggling for pace, maybe they haven’t yet got a perfect setup for the cars yet.

    As for Sauber, Hulkenburg wasn’t happy at all for the car was very slow in a straight line.

    Good showing by the Force Indias, however, it’s looking like it will be tricky for the team to consistently get both cars to finish.

    Last but not least, with the upgraded Caterham, Charles Pic appears to be the weakest link in the team for Van der Garde is getting on with it already.

    1. mhilgtx says:

      I fear you may be right about RBR and Seb on this track. I picked him to win but, before knowing this was more of a front tire track. Front tire limited tracks are the kriptonite of RBR so far this year. So barring a Ferrari mess up, it may very well be Alonso’s race to lose. Here is hoping for rain.

    2. Stephen Taylor says:

      Not sure about whether it is Fernando’s race to lose . Think alonso may have been carrying a little less fuel but he’s certainly up there.

    3. Stephen Taylor says:

      I think if you were to read the following from the Mclaren you might be wanting to re-evaluate some parts of of your potential theories on Mclaren.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/22487736

  7. Curro says:

    Look at the difference in camber front to rear in those RBR tyres… I guess SV loves his oversteer :)

  8. MISTER says:

    Are these tyres safe to race with?
    There have been 3 similar tyre problems in two weekends. Seems to me that teams and media are not very brave in asking or reporting on these tyre failures. Failures! That’s what they are!

    Pirelli need to go! Bring someone which can give us some racing tyres. There’s one thing to make tyres to the FIA’s requirements and another to make tyres which are destroyed after 5 laps or are delaminated.

    I am amazed that neither BBC’s article or yours James did not covered this problem in more detail.

    1. j says:

      Do you own an iPod or phone?

      The last podcast I heard, it was either JAonF1 or BBC, went into detail about the cause of the two failures last race and I’m sure we will find out about this one once they get a chance to deconstruct the tire.

      I’d tell you the cause of the previous two but as an F1 fan I can’t believe you didn’t hear it already. google.com/search?q=massa+tire+failure

      1. [MISTER] says:

        I am not using google for F1 related news.
        I am using this site every day, BBC and Autosport sometimes. I think Massa’s two failures and Lewis’s deserved an article.
        Now we have another one. It gets ridiculous..

      2. Martin says:

        It is purely speculative, but I suspect there wouldn’t be this reaction if the tyres were otherwise not a talking point. When you consider language where a tyre that is still able to deliver 98% of the required lap time is called “destroyed”, we are dealing with emotional reactions to a sporting contest, not a detailed engineering analysis.

        Cheers,
        Martin

      3. mhilgtx says:

        He actually deflected and didn’t really answer the question on that podcast. Also its not like they have shown anything as proof. Just like today when they ran down the pits as fast as they could to throw a red bag over that tire. Will Buxton said he hadn’t seen anyone run down pit lane that fast in years if ever.

      4. mhilgtx says:

        I am speaking of the JA podcast. I of course don’t get your BBC coverage.

  9. Well says:

    I think it’s rather sad how the media are too scared to call out Pirelli tyres being this bad. See Sky F1, they were literally stumbling and fidgeting how they are not allowed to call it a tyre failure. And they weren’t the only ones, same with the BBC and RTL.

    Tyres are laminating at high speeds even when they are being nurtured by slowing down a few seconds a lap, hello?

    What are you all waiting for, a driver to get hurt? Or is your free catering at Pirelli motorhome more worth to you?

    1. James Allen says:

      If you we’re listening to our BBC coverage today you would not have said this..

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        How do you think Mclaren will fare?

      2. James Allen says:

        Looks a bit of a struggle. But we’ll learn more in FP3. They seem a bit down

      3. Stephen Taylor says:

        Do you think the FIA might have to have a ‘quiet word’ with Pirelli over their tyres

  10. Chromatic says:

    James, it would be nice during these practice sessions, fp2 esp, if we were occassionally given lap times of drivers on long runs, say just one graphic of 7 or 8 laps for RK and same for LH or FA.
    Even if you are following live timing, still nice to see drivers’ runs compared as part of coverage…..?

  11. mhilgtx says:

    A few notes from the guys in the US broadcast.

    Most importantly they got to preview Ron Howard’s F1 film about Niki Lauda and Hunt and gave it rave reviews.

    Will Buxton said that Mclaren had good body language and looked pretty pleased. Not sure what you read into that.

    Ferrari and RBR appear to be the top of the class however Lotus had some issues and wasn’t able to do much track time. So I am not sure its a good idea to rule them out.

    Force India tried their version of the FRIC system but I believe had some issue with it and switched back away from it for now.

    Perrilli in the mean time had yet another de-lamination and this one looked pretty strait forward and will be extremely hard for Paul Hembry to spin.

    An observation on F1 vs Indycar. I watched the Sao Palo GP last night from my DVR and I was struck with one huge difference between the two cars. Besides the fact that Dallara’s car is one of the ugliest cars to ever be called an open wheel care; there is a huge difference in the gearbox. F1 cars execute the shit what must be exponentially faster than the IndyCars. Does F1 run a dual clutch and Indy doesn’t or is it software related or what?

    Lastly James when do you think there will be a piece on all the various updates?

    1. mhilgtx says:

      I forgot one thing.

      Jules Bianchi is my driver for the day for muscling that obvious ill handling Marussia around the track at anything like a competitive pace. They spent a good lap or more watching that thing have absolutely zero stability. I thought of putting a 90 HP motor on one the aging gocarts at my local putt putt – gocart track. That is how little traction the thing seemed to have and rarely pointing in the direction it was traveling in.

      1. Raymond Yu says:

        When have you seen that Marussia handle badly this year? It’s slow, but it’s never been imbalanced.

      2. Irish con says:

        U serious? The Lap bianchi did yesterday when the camera showed him the hole way around was the most I have ever seen a car oversteer on lap in my life.

    2. Martin says:

      F1 doesn’t run dual clutch gearboxes as they are too large and heavy, and don’t actually save any shift time on what is possible with a single clutch, just make it smoother. It is more about high precision actuators reducing the time to engage and disengage the clutch and in between change gears. The end result is something similar to what Zero Shift – http://www.zeroshift.com is developing – to maintain (near) constant drive on upshifts.

      From a quick re-reading, there is nothing too old fashioned about the Indycar gearbox. The fine tolerances of the F1 box will be greater as the box is much cheaper. A much bigger factor in what you are hearing is probably the engine. With an 18000 rpm limit rather than 12000 rpm, no turbo plus seven rather than six gears, the percentage that the revs need to fall and the amount of inertia that the engine needs to lose is significantly greater in the Indycar. The excess exhaust pressure in the turbo also needs to be managed.

      Cheers,
      Martin

      1. mhilgtx says:

        Thank you very much, I was wondering if all fell to just software or was it also mechanical. It turns out is much more than that.

  12. Anne says:

    Well so far is more of the same. Maybe tomorrow during qualy there is a surprise but I doubt it.

    P.S. I´d like to hear what Pirelli has to say about the problem Di Resta had. I´ve seen this same problem last race

  13. Lol says:

    Of course my post about the media scared to critisize Pirelli was not allowed to be posted. Censorship at it’s finest.

    Proved my point about the media then, eh James? Enjoy your free meals at Pirelli motorhome.

    1. James Allen says:

      There is no record of a post from you about this previous to this one…???

      Sorry if that disappoints your conspiracy theory

      1. SketchCND says:

        James,

        I used to think reasonably intelligent people read your site. Of late though, it seems like it is just the Mad, Bad and the Sad who are using the Comments section of your excellent articles as their own personal ‘soap box’ (forum). It is really frustrating to have to wade through the nonsense to find anything remotely intellectual these days. Seems to me your commenters think this is a general forum to sprout absolute garbage, ‘fun facts’ or other pointless stats that have absolutely nothing to do with the article.

        I used to read the same rubbish on a different ‘Planet’ of F1 but tend to avoid it now.

        Please don’t let your site deteriorate into something similar – or correct me if I’m wrong here.

      2. James Allen says:

        It is a perpetual problem to keep the standard high

        But you are right it’s time for another crackdown! Posters be warned!

      3. leef1nut says:

        If you think the comments on here are bad you should take a look at the Sky F1 site. Total morons.

      4. Quade says:

        The levels of quality, intelligence and fairness here are very welcome to those of us, who like you, have been frightened off “the different ‘Planet’ of F1″ and similar.

        That said, it is absolutely out of order to accuse other users of “sprout absolute garbage.” Lets bear in mind that some users might be very young, others new, some expressing opposing opinions, yet others enthusiastically learning about F1. Its a website thats increasing in popularity, so the audience will be mixed. There are huge riches to be gained from diversity.

      5. mhilgtx says:

        Wait are you talking about me? I will use spell check from now on. :)

    2. j says:

      As you rarely add anything pertinent I for one wouldn’t mind him/her being blocked from time to time. LOL ;)

      See how you fare on some other F1 sites with comments like this. Good luck with that.

    3. Kbdavies says:

      Your post is indeed here, and watching BBC2 today, i must agree with James. They called it out for what it was – a clear delamination.
      Problem is it seem to be a QA issue – affecting individual tyres or different batches of the same tyre. This makes it a lot more worrying.

      I have always said the Pirelli tyres sometimes differ from batch to batch (same type). This would explain why quite a few cars behave differently on the same set of tyres at different times – even when all other variables have been unaccounted for.

      Pirelli’s excuse of debris can no longer wash. Di Resta’s failure today was the 6th delamination this season.

      - Button’s tyre delaminated after a lock-up in China.
      - Guttierez suffered similar at Bahrain.
      - Hamilton’s tread came off in FP3 at Bahrain.
      - Van Der Garde suffered a partial tread seperation just after Hamilton.
      - Massa’s tred flew off during the race.
      - Di Resta’s failure today.

      When will the FIA, the fans and the journos who support these tyres wake up to the farce that F1 is fast becoming? That, my friends, is the question.

  14. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Pirellis, Pirellis, Pirellis…
    Always talking too much this few years about it, maybe that’s because the tires have more problems than advantages.

  15. Iain:R8 says:

    James,

    I really enjoyed your commentary today, along with Alan McNish. It really worked well on BBC2. Gary Anderson was also on good form. There seemed to be something for the engineers(me) and the casual fans etc. Is there any chance that Gary could do something tomorrow, on non destructive testing? Do the the teams carry portable ultrasonic or x-ray testing kits? It looks as if the teams are going to have to carefully check their tyres.

    1. Brad says:

      “I really enjoyed your commentary today, along with Alan McNish”
      +1

  16. Elie says:

    James I watched the live timing app very carefully and noticed Kimis last stint on mediums was high 1.28s to high 1.29′s – he did a few in the 1.31+- when he caught traffic. At the same time the bulls & ferrari were doing 1.29- 1.31. Obviously we don’t know fuel loads but they must be comparable given they did about 10 laps each. It’s really a question of who finds that single lap pace now. Usual question- will Kimi put it on the second row- if he does Lotus may shine again. But so many things coming on/ off cars tomorrow may change things dramatically.

    1. Martin says:

      The fuel weights tend to be similar, but considering the cars could do at least 70 laps with various fuel management scenarios, 10 laps is no particular guide. Six – seven off the pace to me suggests around the 70 kg mark of fuel, so say 30 laps worth.

      Red Bull is generally reported as running heavier than other teams when it does long runs. Its general strategy is to be strong at the start of races and be leading after the first pit stop. This is reflected in the car’ gearing strategy.

      The Lotus cars and Ferrari cars, by nature of their weaker qualifying speed, are more likely to favour a set up biased slightly towards the middle and the end of the race.

      Do you test where you want to be strong or work on your weaknesses. Long term, the former is a better strategy for ensuring good performance.

      Using the soft tyre Rosberg set a 1:20.130 in March, so a medium tyre time of 1:22.8 by Vettel is unlikely to be on anything like empty tanks regardless of temperatures and wind directions. Therefore a few thousandths of a second isn’t relevant when there is much more available with less fuel and different engine modes. So apart from the China front row, the existing patterns that we have seen suggest that the Lotus is likely to be fundamentally a slower qualifying car than the Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, so fourth would be a good effort assuming there are no penalties for the lead six.

      Cheers,
      Martin

      1. Elie says:

        Yes I argued the fact that the Lotus was never a 1 lap car last year with people who should have known better. This year has highlighted the fact that despite some improvements- it’s still not on terms with at least 3 teams over a quali pace. I try not to expect miracles every time Kimi does a flying lap and instantly nails a fast lap in quali. Because reality bites when the Bulls hit the sweet spot. Over a race there’s is nothing between Red Bull , Lotus or Ferrari and given their budgets it’s very easy to see why I like lotus so much.

  17. Quade says:

    The article says Mclaren still have a new front wing to test. Thats an error, Perez tested the new front wing today (Friday).

  18. Fareed Ali says:

    James you mention that Force India had warning of the tire failure through thermal imaging. How does this work? Do they take real-time images of the tires while the car is on track throughout the weekend?

  19. stu.b says:

    James,
    Love your site and rarely comment. I enjoy reading everyone’s opinion but lately its getting a bit much, I understand you have no way of stopping this but can we please go back to talking about racing. The tyres are what they are, every team has the same. Cheers.

    1. Mark in Australia says:

      +1

    2. Rach says:

      Hi stu, I agree it would be nice and I wish the debate wasn’t so aggressive but the problem is the tyres are so sensitive that it is only logical that they are discussed.

  20. All revved-up says:

    I guess many of us have been waiting for the European season to see if McLaren can turn into on track performance the “development potential” of their “radical design” strategy.

    What a cock-up by McLaren to go down the radical route. Especially considering that they had the speediest car at the end of the 2012 season.

    But everyone makes mistakes. Guess its time to own up, and use the rest of 2013 as a development platform for 2014.

    Still, it’s such a shame for us F1 fans to be deprived the challenge the 2012 car could have put up against non-radical Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus.

    I would like to be wrong, and see McLaren coming back strongly in the second half with a car that’s seconds faster than the opposition. It would be an exciting season if they can close the points gap. But right now, it doesn’t look promising.

  21. moxlox says:

    Can you tell us more about Force India’s thermal imaging that they used to spot the tyre failure early? They have thermal cameras on the car? Isn’t that unnecessary weight?

  22. dean cassady says:

    The obvious is well-stated, above.
    The subtle, not so much.
    We have three very competitive cars, all with comparative advantages against one another, none best at everything, and most notably differing trade-offs between race pace and single lap bluster, which can be summed by tire management design approaches.
    The Ferrari seems so well balanced and strong in both race and single lap. After the first race the bulls have consistently shown better in race pace than their LOUD public relations campaign against the tires have indicated. The flower seems to almost certainly be able to do the race distance on one set of tires less than these two rivals, in the right hands, anyhow.
    It is tough to call which package will get to the finish first.
    Just the way I like it.

  23. Ryan Eckford says:

    I think the issue of tyre management at Mercedes is being blown out of proportion.

    In Bahrain, they chose the medium compound instead of the hard compound for Hamilton for the second stint of the race, and would have definitely have finished much closer to Di Resta and Grosjean, if not in front of them if Mercedes had chosen the hard compound for the second stint.

    I don’t think they are as bad as many experts are suggesting, and I believe it is more of a driver thing in some cases.

    For example, the two Red Bull drivers in Bahrain, Vettel was managing the tyres beautifully, while Webber really struggled with tyre management, and the two Mercedes drivers, Hamilton managed his tyres pretty well, while Rosberg was eating up tyres until the cows came home.

    As you can see, tyre management tends to be a driver thing, and not necessarily a car thing, so I think Mercedes, especially Hamilton are looking quite okay.

  24. mercedes-born-again says:

    I don’t feel sorry for McLaren like a poster said above. Lewis Hamilton leaving them has made our fortunes at the Silver Arrows… Mercedes AMG is happy, really proud to have him driving for us! We’ll work better together! ;-)
    Wins will come one day. Patience!
    Delighted supporter.

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