Analysis: Who’s got the real speed after Melbourne season opener
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Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Mar 2014   |  2:41 pm GMT  |  142 comments

As always on JA on F1 we like to bring the fans closer to the sport in many ways and after the first race of the new Formula 1 in Australia, we’ve analysed the performances of some of the leading teams to give a better picture of the relative pace at this early stage of the season.

Thanks to JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan, we have some pace charts which give a good idea of the relative speed of the cars and Mark has given us his thoughts on what it all means and what we can expect in the coming weeks and months. The graphs show the fuel-corrected lap times of the cars in question, as a direct comparison of pace.

[Note: Click to enlarge the graphs - The vertical axis is the lap time in seconds, the lower the position on the graph the faster the lap time. The horizontal axis is the Lap Number. The start of the race is to the left and the finish is to the right on lap 58]


Williams vs McLaren
Two of the great names of F1, Williams and McLaren are back on form this season and were contending for podiums in the opening race. McLaren managed to get Kevin Magnussen up there – joined by Jenson Button after the disqualification of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo – while Williams was challenging for a podium with Valtteri Bottas until he hit the wall on Lap 10. He still recovered to finish 6th.

The first speed graph (click to enlarge) shows the relative pace of McLaren and Williams. Things to note here are Button’s final stint on the medium tyre, which is strong and indicates that the McLaren goes well on that tyre. Magnussen lost some time on his middle stint and dropped back a bit from Ricciardo during this period, possibly a mixture of inexperience and instructions to save fuel. He was clearly following varying fuel modes in the final stint, as a prelude to an attack on Ricciardo at the end, but the challenge never came to much as he didn’t want to risk a certain third place.

What is clear from this graph is the inherent pace of the Williams in the dry. It is clear to see in the first stint, which is superior to the McLaren pace. Bottas was able to push hard and gain places. Being aggressive like this is easier when working through the positions from P5 backwards but becomes harder the further forward you go as the stakes get higher. Bottas crashed when in P6. Had he been in P3 at the time, chances are he would not have been pushing quite so hard.


There is every reason to believe that they will challenge for the podium in Sepang next week, based on the impressive pace shown in Melbourne.

A concern for Williams will be its wet weather performance (not shown in the graph). In the wet qualifying, the Williams lacked rear end stability in the wet. Williams has had a problem in this area for a few years now and never perfected the Exhaust Blown Diffuser, which helped calm down the rear end of the F1 cars. The EBD is banned now, which helps Williams, but the car is clearly still quite unstable at the rear, which the drivers can cope with in the dry conditions, but struggle with in the wet. This will be a concern for Malaysia next week, where it is often wet.


How big is Mercedes’ advantage?

Looking at the second chart above (click to enlarge), which features only the Mercedes-powered teams and the one below which features Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, it is clear that Mercedes has a significant pace advantage, but looking at how it was managed, it’s clear that they did not reveal the full extent of it in Melbourne.

Only at the start and after the Safety car (Lap 15 onwards), as Rosberg looked to establish a lead, did we see some of the speed the car has. The rest of the time he was managing the race. This is reminiscent of the way Sebastian Vettel drove the final part of last season in the Red Bull, but the pace advantage here is greater than Vettel enjoyed in the second half of last year.


At times, particularly in the second stint after the safety car, the Mercedes is 1.2 or 1.3 seconds faster than its pursuers. In development terms, with last year’s rules that is equivalent to about a year of aerodynamic development. But with this “immature” 2014 technology of the new hybrid turbo power units, the gap will be made up more quickly, as teams and engine builders make breakthroughs. Renault and Ferrari have yet to fully exploit the power unit they have.

The teams look at graphs exactly like these and the others will consider Mercedes’ pace ominous. They have a buffer and it will take a lot for others to catch up.

Red Bull were faster than expected after their testing problems, while Ferrari did not show its true pace as the drivers were managing electrical issues and braking issues in Raikkonen’s case.

Key to this will be the Technical Directives from the FIA’s Charlie Whiting and Jo Bauer. These are private documents circulated only to the technical heads of teams which give permissions and instructions from the FIA, essentially amendments to technical regulations. The public and media do not get to see them but effectively they supersede the F1 Technical Regulations.

This year, as the fuel flow metering row in Australia showed, there will be all sorts of advantages sought by teams and the FIA will be issuing Technical Directives left right and centre to deal with them. It is here, as much as in the development race in wind tunnels back at the factories, that the title will be won.

The power units are supposedly homologated now, which means only adjustments for reliability reasons are permitted. But sometimes things are permitted under the premise of reliability which have performance advantages or allow an engine maker to maximise what is already there. This is the key to the 2014 championship.

Mercedes will not want to change anything!

And for Malaysia? What happens there?
Malaysia will be a huge challenge for the teams, as the heat and humidity will stress the cooling ability to the limit and many teams will be obliged to open up the body work to increase cooling. This will damage aerodynamic performance and in some cases will add to the car’s instability in corners. Unlike Melbourne it is very easy to overtake in Sepang, thanks to the two long straights linked with a hairpin and so a battle like Ricciardo vs Magnussen would have a different outcome, when one car has 309km/h top speed and the other 273km/h, as was the case in Melbourne.

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142 Comments
  1. aveli says:

    interesting analysis. magnussen may not have been given enough laps to pass ricciardo. I suspect they thought he could do what hamilton did each time he was asked to attack the car in front.

    1. sean says:

      first of all dont get me wrong as a british fan i support all our drivers, but i find it hard sometime with people opinions on hamilton like his some sort of driving god and he does no wrong! yes his a great driver infact i put him in the top 2/3 of current drivers but lets remember with his driving style means he is prone running into people (just ask massa) he doesnt overtake everyone in his sight and when hamilton came into f1 he was in the best car if it wasnt for a inter team battle ( and spygate) that year mclaren would have won the drivers title by a long way and the constructors too ( before any says it i know they were kick out but im sure you all get what i mean). so let not endlessly compare magnussen to lewis and just let him get on a race and see how well he goes.

      1. aveli says:

        he is as good as he is and i didn’t use any of the words you used to describe his driving. every word I used to describe his driving is still above.
        i understand you get so upset each time hamilton’s driving is correctly described.
        there is evidence to suggest massa’s engineer rob smedley did ask massa to destroy hamilton’s race so you’re not the only one who feels that way about how good hamilton is at driving his car. i wonder if you’d be so upset by magnussen’s driving in the future because I suspect he will demonstrate some impressive driving in the future.

      2. Valois says:

        Boo hoo. Massa was asked to destroy Hamilton’s race. Boo hoo. It would be so much better if there were no other drivers in the track so Hamilton could drive all he can drive. Seriously, we’re talking about Interlagos, not Monaco.

      3. aveli says:

        valois, why? what wrong has he done to you to deserve all this resentment? even button said the guy is the best f1 driver to have stepped foot in the sport and too many people make false claims about him being in the best car bla bla bla. alonso and others have said vettel the youngest ever back to back to back to back quadruple champion is not in the same league as hamilton and he showed alonso the way in his rookie season. rosberg showed the 7 times world champion the way in 3 consecutive seasons and you still get upset when i say say he is the best driver ever. enjoy the races and praise whichever driver you like rather than antagonise me.

      4. KRB says:

        aveli, the Smedley-Massa radio exchange is just how rival engineers-drivers talk to each other during a race. I saw nothing sinister in it at all.

        It’s the same as people who use Ron Dennis’ “we were racing Fernando” line during China 2007 as a linchpin for their asinine theories that (Brit) Hamilton was always #1 at (Brit) McLaren that year.

        That is how racing teams talk on the pit radio!!

      5. aveli says:

        krb, smedly only started telling massa how to drive after hamilton overtook the ferraris at the first corner too many times. there is a picture of hamilton walking passed the ferrari garage in 2007 and every ferrari mechanic had their eyes turned towards hamilton as he sips from his drink bottle while walking by. only if looks could kill. you could see the hatred in their eyes. smedly meant what he said to massa and you know it.
        there has never been a driver in the history of the sport to have brought about such emotion in people.

      6. Torchwood Five says:

        The Massa incidents were mainly in 2011, and some of those times, Massa was hitting HIM (there was at least one radio message from Ron/Rob Smedley to his driver to ruin Hamilton’s race) prior to one of those collisions.

        Lewis improved his overtaking since then to point where he could even breeze past Massa, which I was starting to feel like Felipe was Lewis’ Kryptonite!

    2. Voodoopunk says:

      “I suspect they thought he could do what hamilton did each time he was asked to attack the car in front.”

      Hit them?

      1. sean says:

        i didnt say he hit everyone but he does have his fair share on contact in races i was just saying some fans get abit blinded by hamiltion thinking he can do no wrong which isnt the case.

      2. aveli says:

        i think voodoopunk was responding to my post. hamilton has demonstrated his driving ability by putting his car on pole more often than all the drivers. there isn’t one driver out there who could drive faster than he does in the same car. he has already demonstrated in his rookie season and now he is much much much faster. look at how many times he out qualified button in he same car. i use qualifying as a reference because many factors outside driving ability do not affect qualifying, like massa being instructed to destroy hamilton’s race.
        he the best ever in the history of the sport and we may not see another as good in our lifetime.

      3. Barry says:

        “he the best ever in the history of the sport and we may not see another as good in our lifetime”

        What a ridiculous statement.

        He is not.

      4. Rohind says:

        @ aveli Really, the best ever?? A certain 4 time world champion and a Ferrari driver doesn’t come to your mind

      5. aveli says:

        rohind, senna left the 4 time champion looking silly he resorted to crashing into him in order to win one of his championships. hamilton doesn’t resort to sabotage to win anything. he overtakes cleanly on the edge upfront, in a way I haven’t seen anyone else do.
        please name another.

      6. Kevin says:

        aveli…

        I’ll name 3 drivers better than Hamilton…

        Juan Manuel Fangio
        Jim Clark
        Ayrton Senna

        Shall I go on?

        Just ask Hamilton and even he will tell you probably the same names.

      7. Ron W says:

        Hamilton doesn’t resort to sabotage?!

        Did you let Trulli past under the safety car?

        He flat out lied and tried to cheat.

      8. aveli says:

        kevin, fangio was a great driver but didn’t drive his car on the limit like hamilton does. he didn’t pull as much g force as hamilton does. he wasn’t even fit enough to cope with the g forces hamilton pulls in his car let alone pull them.
        jim clark was also a great driver but didn’t again pull as much g as hamilton does and didn’t overtake on the edge up front like hamilton does. look at hamilton’s onboard footage and compare it with the rest. only magnussen seem to follow the same lines hamilton follows. vettel misses the ape des completely and still put the car on pole because he could go full throttle halfway into the corner. clark was better than vettel but not in the same league as hamilton.
        out of all of them, i’d say senna was the greatest but he resorted to sabotage to win and didn’t overtake on the limit up front like hamilton does. hamilton studied senna and came up with a much superior driving style, clean and on the edge.
        please bring more names…..as they say, bring them come!

      9. Barry says:

        @aveli

        Juan Manuel Fangio
        Jim Clark
        Ayrton Senna

        Were all better than Hamilton.

        Pulling more G’s doesn’t make a better driver. The fact you come to that conclusion is bemusing. More so, the reasoning behind your cherry picked comparisons is muddy at best.

        One could argue the cars Fangio and Clark raced were *MUCH* harder to control than the cars of today. That makes them both much better drivers than Hamilton. The list of comparisons could go on forever.

        Senna most definitely overtook on the limit up the front. Hamilton, himself, has said he attempts to emulate Senna. Further more, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a driver on the current F1 grid who *HASN’T* studied Senna’s driving style. Saying Hamilton has come up with a superior version is complete hearsay.

      10. Kevin says:

        aveli…

        A shame that you don’t know the politics of how things were back in the day. I recommend you watch the movie “Senna” before speaking of “sabotage to win”.

        As for your comments on Fangio and Clark it only sounds like you may want to learn a little more about them both. Just because they didn’t have the same “G Forces” and “driving on the limit” is an poor argument that makes no sense to me. In an era where multiple drivers died every year, Jim Clark included, these guys were pushing harder in my opinion with what they had and risking more. Check out the documentary “1: Life on the Limit” for some history about it.

        But maybe you’re the expert and the majority of people must be wrong including Hamilton himself. Here it is in his own words…

        “Michael [Schumacher] was a phenomenal driver but for me, Ayrton Senna was the greatest ever.” – Lewis Hamilton

        Nuff said…

      11. Sean Hastie says:

        I’ve started a right ding dong here haven’t I oops

      12. NJ says:

        I for one, still recall when McLaren needed a set of Fastest Laps from Hamilton and all he did was lock-up the fronts and actually lose quite a bit of time. I think it was one of those races in Turkey.

      13. Joel says:

        Don’t kid yourselves guys, I’m a Vettel fan and I will say only a fool would question Hamilton’s driving ability, it’s a shame to see people judge a driver’s style after one bad season (2011, let’s not forget that was 3 years ago now) does this mean Ayrton Senna was no good because of the licence suspension he got?… I think not. As for 2007 it is silly to suggest that either driver cost McLaren the driver’s title, but I will remind you guys of the qualifying incident in Hungary that year (if you don’t know about it, look it up)

      14. TimW says:

        And what about all the blindingly fast laps that he has delivered in his career? And what about all the amazing overtakes he has pulled off cleanly? While it is true that Lewis is not the only driver in F1 history to have made no mistakes in his career, there is a reason he is so highly rated within the sport. Don’t let your love of a rival driver or dislike of Lewis blind you to the obvious and proven talents he posseses.

      15. aveli says:

        your recollection is not biased.

      16. F1Cat says:

        @Rohind: +1

  2. Steve Zodiac says:

    At least we can all excuse our favourite drivers when they lose now bu claiming they must have been cruising to save fuel!

  3. neilmurg says:

    Not only the ease of overtaking, but the track demands different things of the cars, so we will get to compare different elements of their performance.
    eg Will RBRs balance and downforce help them in the high/medium speed corners enough to compensate for a lack of power/top speed? Will the fixed gear ratio’s play a part?
    I wish it was this weekend.
    I’m hoping for a dry weekend, save the fun of wet weather performance for a dull racetrack like bahrain or china

    1. James Allen says:

      I wish it was this weekend too. It’s very tough to come back to UK, then go back out again + 8hours next week, timezone wise!

      1. BogRacer says:

        Cry me a river James…Lol

      2. kenneth chapman says:

        crimea a river!!!

      3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Please forgive my lack of sympathy, you obviously work hard though it’s still going around the world to see live F1! ;)

        I’m hoping for a dry then wet then dry race!

      4. Rob in Victoria BC. says:

        Are any drivers staying over in Asia to avoid this?

      5. Moog says:

        If you want a rest James, I’ll happily take your place :)

      6. David says:

        me too!

      7. Paulo Vilela says:

        Me too :-)

      8. Rockman says:

        Are you the same Moog from MCM?

      9. ferggsa says:

        Yes, but now you can sleep during the race because the noise wont wake you up

      10. Gaz Boy says:

        Let’s hope the FOM soundboard chaps can sort out the sound issues at the mixing desk, otherwise, and I never thought I would say this, but the onboard shots will be too quiet!

      11. Gaz Boy says:

        I issued a post on this very matter, the lop-sided early fly away races schedule. It would have been easier to have AUS and MAL back to back for transportation and commerical reasons, then after a two or three week break have CHI then BAH back to back. It was like that in 2012 and 2013, and it worked, so why change something if it didn’t need fixing?
        Answer: probably Mr E.

      12. Ahmad says:

        Yes, I agree.

        If Bernie wanted to “optimise” costs and the life of people involved in running F1, he would consider “packing” 2 or 3 close-by back-to-back races followed by 2 to 3-week breaks.

        For example:
        - AUS+MAL+CHI or SIN+CHI+JAP
        - CAN+USA
        - SPA+MON+ITA
        - HUN-AUT+GER+BEL or reverse

      13. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Ahmad: This year, the Austrian GP returns, but in June as a stand alone weekend – wouldn’t it have been better to have it back to back with its old historical partner Hungary, like it did in 1986/87?
        Common sense, you say? Obviously doesn’t apply to billionaires with bowl haircuts!

      14. Ken Switzer says:

        air travel these days is no longer a matter of “jet sets” and fun. It is tedious as hell, esp long haul.

      15. Anirudh S says:

        You are welcome to come to my humble home in India to relax Jamesji and charge your batteries before malaysia:-)

      16. stig says:

        James, how do you rate going to Maylaysia GP from a fans perspective?

        I`ve been to Abu Dhabi, Budapest, Spa, Barca, Siverstone.

      17. James Allen says:

        It’s pretty good. Very hot and humid, so quite a difficult place to be a spectator in the stands I’d imagine.

        But it’s a lovely country, good value and the track and facilities are pretty decent

      18. Bill says:

        Great for fans. You can sit in stands and see ten corners. China even better

      19. Rockman says:

        I was there last year!
        Pretty good track facilites, but it’s hot and humid.
        Large screen in front died after 5 laps, on-track commentary was in English and Malaysian which made it hard to follow what’s going on in the race.

      20. JohnBt says:

        This is the sole reason I felt Ross retired after his successful portfolio, too much jet lag is not a joke.

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      Dont bother, this Malaysia, it rains everyday in the late afternoon, F1 has dodged some bullets with the weather in recent years but another 2009 type shortened race is always a possibility.

  4. Christos Pallis says:

    As not a particular fan of Redbull I am concerned that their pace despite the obvious renault problems was impressive. James, do you feel Redbull have the best aerodynamic package? Also if so do you believe they will get on top of the power unit deficiencies? Or indeed have they pushed too far with packaging that they will suffer too much in that area to make the overall package be a winner?

    Thanks

    1. Dave Emberton says:

      I agree. Given Vettel will probably be faster than Ricciardo once he gets a reliable car (I know Vettel [mod] like to believe he won’t be, but he probably will), the strong second of Riccardo does make me wonder if we’re actually looking at another Vettel-dominant year. And the performance of Toro Rosso proves that whatever was going on with Renault isn’t nearly as bad as had been thought.

      1. BogRacer says:

        Don’t underestimate RIC. The boy is quick and his elbows are sharp! I’ll say it now: RIC will at least match VET in quali this year. No more EBD has neutralized VET’s mid-corner advantage.

      2. kenneth chapman says:

        one could hope that you are right and nothing would please me more. however it will not be easy and we will just have to wait and see just how far redbull are prepared to go to give ricci equal billing…..or not!

        it made me somewhat angry during the off season when i read so many posts saying that ricci was not up to the challenge..without him even driving the car? i really do hope that he can make the breakthrough as i do believe that he is vastly underrated.

      3. TGS says:

        Vettel’s long run pace in practice was .7 secs quicker than Ricciardo so you may have a point. He was still a second off Rosberg though.

      4. jT says:

        I’m an Aussie and always support the Aussies, but I’m not so sure how ‘Strong’ Ricciardo’s second was. I’d say he scraped a second. Drove an very mature race though and no matter what the outcome of the fuel saga, they’ll never be able to take that moment away from him. First podium in front of home crowd. Keep smiling RIC!

    2. NJ says:

      Their pace was masked by Fuel Flow shenanigans.

  5. Michael Spitale says:

    I saw Kimi was 5 mph slower than Alonso in speed traps each lap. Was he down on power a bit? Ferrari is already slower in a straight line than other teams, but being down on your teammate is never ideal.

    1. John M says:

      Yes, he was. Both drivers had eng…. Power unit issues, but Kimi moreso.

      Considering that and the fact that he HATED his current setup I think Kimi did okay in Australia. He was right behind Alonso, before the safety car double-stacking completely screwed him over. I firmly believe that he’ll be beating Alonso when they get the car to his liking.

      1. stig says:

        Dont forget Kimi always goes well in Melbourne, Alonso not so much.

        Alonso will have to raise his game this year for sure, will be interesting to watch.

        Think you are right.

      2. Michael Spitale says:

        As a huge Kimi fan I hope you are right. However, I don’t think he would be faster than Alonso. More along the lines of matching him. I think clearly if he had full power as we have learned he was down a bit to Alonso would have helped a lot. As well as not getting a stacked pit stop to knock him down 2 as you pointed out as well.

    2. Pete says:

      Ferrari said its down to “electrical problems”

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        The Italians invented electricity……..but implementing it has always been a problem for them……..

      2. jake says:

        “Italians Invented electricity”
        really! that’s shocking, and I thought it was a natural phenomenon. Well done the Italians… :-)

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Jake: “Italians invented electricity” – courtesy of f Al Murray (The Pub Landlord) and James May (Top Gear’s Captain Slow) – British wit/sarcasm/irony/hyperbole at its best!

      4. Gaz Boy says:

        PS The British invented gravity – courtesy of Sir Isaac Newton. Perhaps that’s why British kit car teams dominate with their chassis immense downforce!

  6. Yago says:

    Thanks James, amazing article.

    Watching at the graphs, there are a few things to consider.

    1) Ricciardo was clearly saving fuel at the end of the race, laps 46,47,48. McLaren wasn’t. It would be interesting to see that graphs of the Toro Rossos, to see if it is the Renault engine, or that Red Bull were pushing with a higher fuel flow rate than the rest, and hence had to save fuel for a few laps.

    2) The last four laps from Alonso are totally inconsistent with the lap times of the rest of his last stint. Or they are taking a different approach on fuel saving, just reducing the fuel flow rate for most of the stint, and then increasing it for the last laps (rather than slowly driving for a few laps as Ricciardo did), or they are not exploiting their true performance for some reason. I tend to think it’s the later, as I think for performance it is better to back off for a few laps. Plus Alonso’s words were that they were no longer saving fuel for the last part of the race.

    2) Probably all drivers were having graining on the laps preceding the second pit stop, except Alonso.

    3) Contrarily to what it could appear, Force India are much slower than the leading group: Mercedes, Williams, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari. Amazing job from Hulkemberg, probably the performance of the weekend.

    4) Mclaren are a bit weak with the soft compound, but very fast with the medium.

    5) I’m not that sure of William’s pace. They are quick, but I think way off Mercedes pace.

    6) Mercedes are on a different planet.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Judging by the graph I’d say Force India have decent pace on the soft tyres but loose out on the mediums.

      1. Yago says:

        Well that’s true. But the second stint was heavily affected by graining. I think Hulkenberg and Alonso did a better job on that respect. If you look at the laps before the safety car, after the positions after the start were settled and divers were already within their race craft, the difference is big between Hulkenberg and Ricciardo and Magnussen.

    2. stig says:

      I think Australia is a bit of a one-off track, and I would not read to much into it yet. Malaysia will give a Clear Picture.

      Ferrari need to get to grips with their engine fast, RBR will be a second quicker once Renault solve issues, within 1-2 races!

  7. H.Guderian (ALO fan) says:

    “It is a matter of everyone doing their job and being focused on what they have to do at home, without trying to say that it is your fault or my fault,”

    “As a team we must react together – and that is what I have asked all my engineers and people.”

    ===== GUESS WHO SAID THAT =====
    Hint: He said that the last *FOUR* years in a row.

    The first one to post the correct answer will be granted a lemon ice lolly totally free of charge.

    P.S.: OH MY GOD!!!!

  8. Gaz Boy says:

    Dare I say it, but Williams have some potential great pace in that car to unleash this year – could be a comeback season for Frank like 2001 or even recently in 2012.
    Still, at this moment in time, F1 is a playground for the Brackley Mercedes lads and lasses – in lap times at least.

  9. CC says:

    Mercedes have a big advantage at the moment, but can they sustain it?
    Can Ferrari get on top of their indifferent aero?
    McLaren are there-abouts, if not quite there – yet.
    Williams are something of a dark horse – they could be in for a great summer season if everything gels properly.

  10. All revved-up says:

    If Mercedes continue their Melbourne engine domination – Mercedes will reap the rewards covering all their F1 investment to-date. To me, Mercedes is coming across as “high tech” and “reliable” and “able to develop cutting edge technology”. I appreciate that it’s just perception as the engine builders are not the same team as those that design and build their road car engines.

    Ferrari in contrast seem under tremendous pressure. LdM complained that aero was too dominant a factor in F1 – and made the memorable quote : we build cars, not aeroplanes.

    This year – it seems Ferrari has no room to hide. If their engine continues to be uncompetitive, their complaints about aero come across as excuses for mediocrity.

    btw – Williams vs McLaren for podiums. Never imagined things could turn around so sharply. Good to have the “old names back”.

    Looks to be an interesting year – Williams vs McLaren vs Ferrari vs Mercedes vs Red Bull

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I agree with the Prancing Horse comments, they have yet again produced a good car, but not a great one.
      James Allison has got a lot to implement before Ferrari can turn up at the start of the season and lock out the front row and waltz off into the distance – circa 2001 to 2004.

  11. Krischar says:

    Thanks for the graphs james

    The last graph clearly reflects the problems of Ferrari, they were slow and just dismal to say the least. As allison confessed they have a massive gap to close in on mercedes. I am sure Ferrari cannot catch up with Mercedes and 2014 will be another season of failure

    Williams does have some mega pace compared to the last few seasons

    Lewis or Nico for 2014 WDC (I prefer lewis though)

  12. audifan says:

    clearly mercedes are out ahead by quite a lot at the moment , but that gap will close
    personally I would like to see rosberg with a DNF in the next couple of races ….not that I have anything against hime but I feel that it would re- level the playing field and give the other teams a chance to catch up [ and his team mate as well of course ]

    that red bull chassis looks ominously quick …if renault sort their problems quickly we could see great racing with more teams in the mix that for many a long year …mercedes , red bull , williams almost immediately , and with ferrari and McLaren looking the most likely to finish races they could be there as well ; silent prayer for lotus of course

  13. Arnie S says:

    Interesting, thanks for the article. It seems also that ALO and RAI (apart from the final stint) is fairly equal in lap times. Given the fact that Rai seemed to have more problems than ALO, then it could be an interesting fight

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Actually the last stint is the one that matters to compare them, as is when Alonso got rid of Hulk and cout unleash his pace. The difference is quite big…

    2. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      Can’t see Alonso and Kimi’s lap times as fairly equal there. It looks like in laps under 1 min 34s, Alonso did 38, Kimi managed 28 and Rosberg did 49!

      Though I’m not too worried for Kimi as we don’t know if his electrical issues were the same and I’m sure he’ll adapt over the first few races. Still think Alonso’s relentless race lap times will beat him, though Spa may be an exception.

      Alonso needs Kimi to be right back on it, to keep him sharp but mainly to keep the focus away from Kimi’s issues and fully on Ferrari improving their entire car, the aero, the power if that’s even still possible, and the drivability of the torque delivery and brake by wire.

      The bigger issue is Merc are miles ahead, most of Rosbergs laps being over a second faster than the Ferrari. Merc are also seriously cruising, I mean Rosbergs fastest race laps were on laps 9/10 and 18-23 when heavy with fuel! I bet they could have lapped the field if they’d kept top pace, been fully reliable and had there been no safety car.

      I think a dry Malaysia will look like Le Mans, with the different categories of car, especially on the straights.

  14. goferet says:

    Looking at the graphs, maybe it would be prudent if the other teams switched development to 2015 already thereby saving on resources because looking at Mercedes’ advantage, it looks big and I can’t think of any team losing with such an advantage.

    Certainly the Mercedes looks like the Mclaren of 1988, lets just hope for the good of the show, reliability keeps the team in check.

    Williams have been the engima of the season for one moment they look fast then the next moment not so much only to turn around and display good race pace.

    Now the drivers need to step up to the plate and do the business otherwise Claire Williams nerves will get shot to shreds.

    Anyway, it’s good to see Williams and Mclaren back at the sharp end, it appears we’re back in the 90s were both Williams and Mclaren were stronger than Ferrari.

    Regards Red Bull, it’s nothing short of a miracle for having been able to turn around their fortunes in a short period of time and that’s why Riccardo’s disqualification was a very bitter pill.

    Anyway, bring on Malaysia but after last year’s classic inter-team battles at the front, am afraid we may have a straight forward race this year.

    1. Multi 21 says:

      You say that teams should already turn to 2015 because the Mercs have too big an advantage as McLaren did in 1998.

      But in 1998 Ferrari had won the 3rd race of the season and their development was good enough to get Schumacher into a title decider at Suzuka.

      Long way to go. More races, more retirements and double points still to come.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Multi 21

        No, actually I was referring to Mclaren 1988 as in Senna/Prost’s Mclaren that won 15 out of 16.

      2. Multi 21 says:

        Yes, you did.

        Probably should have paid closer attention! I’ve heard lots of comparisons to 1998 lately and assumed it was another.

    2. neilmurg says:

      The rules aren’t changing a lot next year, so development this year will benefit next year. And engines aren’t frozen, they can change at the end of the year, for a few years yet I think. There is also a lot of potential development in the way the teams deploy their ERS energy for tactical and strategic advantage.
      It may be that Merc have a one year advantage which they will want to cash in on while focusing on aero development to match/exceed the class of the field.
      Reliability is likely to favour Mercedes, as they won’t have to stress their engines/setup so much to stay up front.

      1. goferet says:

        @ neilmurg

        Oh, I forgot the rules aren’t changing for 2015.

        You’re right in that, development in 2014 will carry over to 2015.

  15. Random 79 says:

    Just like to say thank you for adding the click to enlarge feature for the charts – much better and much easier to read now :)

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      If that didn’t work, there is always the Top Gear powerchart……………..

  16. Michael says:

    With the advantage Mercedes holds at the moment they should finish 1-2 in every race barring any DNF’s.

  17. nealio says:

    Informative article Mark, may we have more like this? The part concerning technical directives was very enlightening. Bravo!

  18. AlexD says:

    There is something fundamentally wrong with Ferrari. In the last couple of years they have been changing personnel rather frequently: Costa –> Fry –> Allison.
    They have phenomenal drivers, best of the best – Alonso and Kimi. They have money and have everything. I think it is a Management/Leadership Problem. Will Domenicali now get rid of Allison? Ferrari needs a new (non Italian) management and ideally they need to have many more non-Italian people working there.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I don’t think it’s the whole situation but Ferraris dominant years were built on unlimited testing eras – they are not really a high tech simulation company, they always preferred hard testing. It could be a generation before the whole Ferrari structure adapts – regardless of the staff they pull in from elsewhere…

      But I guess even Newey with an unlimited budget took years to get RBR up to their dominance – so is give the new Ferrari set up a few years before judging it (although I expect both drivers will have moved on from either F1 or the scuderia by then)

      1. German Samurai says:

        All teams had unlimited testing. That’s why teams based themselves around Silverstone. To test their cars.

        Ferrari in that golden era was one of several teams with huge budgets. Toyota had a larger budget and McLaren had a budget the same size as Ferrari — plus Newey designed the McLaren.

        What Ferrari did have in that era was Schumacher. He was the difference at the end of the day.

  19. Racing Fan says:

    Data from FIA official Web site. Intermediate 1 – top speed: 275,5kmh for Bottas. 264,7kmh for Ricciardo, but 271,4kmh for Kyviat. 267,3kmh for Rosberg!!! Intermediate 2 – top speed: 306,2kmh for Perez, 287,6kmh for Ricciardo. 296,0kmh for Rosberg!!!! Finish line: top speed 303,3kmh for Bottas, 286,5kmh for Ricciardo, 294,4kmh for Rosberg!!!, 295,7kmh for Kyviat. The diference of top speed between Ricciardo and Rosberg was never above 9kmh. The numbers show that Williams have chosen a low downforce setup, RB probably a high downforce setup and Mercedes GP a intermediate option. What´s the diference from 2013? The advantage of Mercedes GP is nothing but a myth. I don´t believe Mercedes can handle with Malaysian track as they did at Melbourne´s track. Rosberg opted for a level of torque that allowed him to build that advantage. The track was less abrasive and that help to save the tyres. I think that there is a lot of people letting their hearts go to fast.

    1. Multi 21 says:

      You are comparing the BEST top speeds.

      That’s not the speeds they do every lap. When I was watching on Friday FP2 I was paying special attention to the speed difference at S3 (across the start finish line) between Mercedes and Red Bull was almost always over 10kmh.

      But, it’s not like there’s anything new in that. Red Bull have had a history of running with the highest downforce and lowest straight-line speeds of the field. Just go and look at speed trap data from 2013 in Australia and Malaysia and they did alright in those races.

      1. Racing Fan says:

        Ok. The top speeds, but my comparison, I think, is better than believe that the diference between Renault and Mercedes is simply that range of 309km and 274kmh. That´s not the truth, I think. F1 is more complicated than that. Ok. that´s not the speed they reach every lap, but the truth is that Rosberg never reached 309kmh and probably the Mercedes will never be able to do that im Australia because it depends on the aero design and optimization of the package. The more simple the projects are and less appendices the cars have, more easy the cars reach highest speeds, but they dont win races only with high speeds on the straights. A lot of people says that Rosberg didn´t show the true pace. First, I think is not the truth. You can see the race lap analysis from FIA and it is clear that the tyres on the Mercedes deteriorated at the same time of the race of the others drivers. If Mercedes have more pace, they will need to improve a lot the balance of the car, because the tyres will not follow that possible pace. During the race (lap 31) there is a slow motion that shows that the front tyres of Mercedes was clearly deteriorated.

  20. Quade says:

    Can we have lines joining the graph points? It will make it much easier to read, especially for tired or bad eyes.

  21. Methusalem says:

    Back in 2010 when it was announced that F1 will see a complete change in engine regulations in 2014, I remember hearing quite often then that MERCEDES will have a big advantage. How come?

  22. Anthony says:

    “The power units are supposedly homologated now, which means only adjustments for reliability reasons are permitted.”

    Does this relate only to hardware, or to software as well?

    I have in mind that Mercedes’ advantage seems to be largely in integrating the three power sources into one seamless flow of power. Renault acknowledged a few weeks ago that they had a way to go on that front, and Ferrari couldn’t utilise all of their harvested electrical power in Melbourne and had problems in integrating the braking and harvesting.

    To the layman, these sound like the kind of problems that might be solved by tweaking software, so I wonder whether that is still permitted, even though the hardware has been homologated.

    1. Pedant says:

      Agreed. I cannot believe that Merc, Renault or Ferrari can have achieved an optimum mapping between the outputs and inputs of the various elements of their power trains on their race simulators, without any race experience and driver input. To deny them the oportunity to correct this mapping, without resorting to claims for ‘increased reliability’ or ‘cost reduction’ is absurd.

  23. Ahmad says:

    It looks like the Malaysian race will be dominated by Mercedes-powered teams with only RBR possibly spoiling the party behind Mercedes.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      In a dry race, yes. Mind you, a wet race with these new torquey turbo’s will be a complete lottery in terms of form!

  24. I do feel for Ross Brawn, obviously this car is still a big part Ross, imagine him staying one more year and maybe (i know season is long) but maybe would have gotten one last championship title. I have more respect for him then most in F1 (never meet him, and was never a Ferrari fan during the MS time, but one needs to acknowledge what this man achieved.)
    Also at McLaren, many things happening this year is probably due to someone who is not in the front of the team anymore.

    Btw…will be interesting to see if Kimi and Boullier left the sinking boat the last second, or if they will get the water out of it and keep it afloat

    Cant wait until next week! :D

    1. German Samurai says:

      Ross Brawn is overrated.

      Let’s look at the facts.

      He only ever gave Schumacher the best car on the grid in 2001, 2002, and 2004. Brawn also came up with the best car in 2009, but that was more to his very liberal interpretation of the regulations more than anything.

      Those are the facts. Brawn wasn’t fired, it was made clear to him a year ago that this would be Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda’s team going forward. They made Brawn irrelevant in the team knowing Brawn would walk away. You can’t even really say this car is Brawn’s car because he had been made increasingly irrelevant in the team.

      Mercedes made the change because Brawn wasn’t getting the results despite the massive funds and resources at his disposal.

  25. Red Rider says:

    Many of you comment on the huge speed advantage of the Mercedes Team. This being the case, I wonder how much the team will let their two drivers race one another. With reliability and maybe fuel being factors, they might be told to keep the order whatever it might be, and this could occur rather early in the race.

    1. Brent says:

      It would be a strange race if they didn’t. The two Mercedes cruising along 1,2, thirty seconds ahead half a dozen cars racing hard for third.

    2. grat says:

      At least early in the season, I would expect it to be “race, but don’t be stupid”– Both cars need to finish in the points as much as possible. From the team’s perspective, it doesn’t matter which car is in 1st and which is in 2nd, as long as they lock out the top two.

      Last year in Malaysia, for instance, both Red Bull and Mercedes decided that whoever was in front at the end of the last pit stop rotation, would bring their car home in the lead.

      Nico complained bitterly, but kept position, and well, we know about Multi-21.

  26. Malcolm says:

    Another great article, thanks James and Mark. JB’s last stint was very consistent as was Hulkenberg’s.

  27. KenC says:

    The pictures say it all. Thanks!

  28. Jayne says:

    When red bull get full power they will be the team to beat,you’ve only got to look at their corner speeds compared to the rest..I fear they will be back quicker than anyone thought possible and dominate this set of rules too.

    Rb10 looks so different to the rest….let’s hope that it takes a while for Renault to deliver however it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they challenge and close gap next weekend.

    J

    1. grat says:

      Depends. Historically, they’ve done well with good corner speeds, and “ok” straight line– but this year, the straight line speed is going to be much more important. Gaining a tenth in the corners doesn’t help if you lose half a second on the straights.

    2. Dan says:

      Red Bull will not get near Mercedes this year.

      This is not 2009, with a penny-less brawn losing their advantage the second half of the season.
      This is Mercedes, a quality team, with quality drivers and a huge budget.

      Being a Hamilton fan and also liking Rosberg, I’m just glad I can enjoy the dominance of one team for once.

      1. Jayne says:

        What happened last year then ? Same team with same drivers and budget..they still have a great deal to prove and deliver it under great pressure

        My money is on red bull to take them and win it again this year.no doubt it is Mercs best chance to win it this year but if they don’t beat the bulls this year they never will

      2. Dan says:

        What happened last year? Mercedes were very competitive, but took too long to get a hold on the tyres, so switched most o their attention to 2014.

        Formula one moves is cycles, last year was the end of that evolution of car, which Red Bull had nailed from the beginning.

        Red Bull will not even get close this season in my opinion. Mercedes is a big an advantage since the first few races of 2009 with Brawns double diffuser.

        Nothing lasts forever and Red Bulls time of dominance is over, that’s not to say teu won’t be competitive, but dominance… No way.

        I can’t wait for the race next week

    3. JohnBt says:

      You are not wrong, but a 5th title for Vettel will kill F1 for sure.

      1. Rockie says:

        Why would it kill F1? I for one am looking forward to someone breaking MSC’s record 7 titles watching F1 should be about excellence and performance!

      2. Brad says:

        seconded!

  29. Elie says:

    Ferrari had an issue with the MGU-H (mainly) which dramatically effected their pace. Amazing how people forget Ferrari was quickest in a straight line during free practise – it was always one of if not the quickest in a straight line at the Bahrain tests also- but obviously the Mercs get to that top speed faster and are better all round. Anyway things are still being sorted and I wont be surprised if someone totally different wins at Malaysia because whilst Nico cruised to victory – look what happened to the other Merc… Reliability is still key in these early races and the outcome of the WC could be down to who manages to finish these next few races with decent points until everyones reliability improves.

    1. KRB says:

      After Australia, here are the current points streaks:

      10: ROS
      5: PER
      4: ALO
      3: BUT, HUL
      1: MAG, BOT, RAI, VER, KVY

      I think reliability will be a bugbear for the entire first half of the season at least.

      1. Elie says:

        WHAT..
        5- Perez???
        3- But ? 1 Hulk/ Magnussen wtf are you talking about.
        Here is the actual top 10 table..
        NR is 25, KM18, JB15, FA12, NH10, VB 8, KR6, JEV4, DK2 SP1..

        Where on earth do you come up with such crazy “streaks”

      2. Anthony says:

        No, you’re wrong – KRB has correctly listed the numbers of consecutive points finishes.

      3. KRB says:

        Elie, consecutive points finishes. As a Kimi fan, I would’ve thought you’d be well versed in those! :-)

        Ok, there’s no correlation between reliability in 2013 vs 2014, or not likely to be. But still, I think it’s been awhile since the consecutive-points-streak (CPS) leader at any given moment was under 10 races. If and when Rosberg has a DNF or non-points finish, we’ll likely be in such a situation.

        Still far away from the great unreliability of the 70′s and 80′s … Nigel Mansell retired from nearly half his races!

        Grands Prix: 187
        Finished: 92 49.20%
        Retired : 93 49.73%
        Classf’d: 99 52.94%

      4. Elie says:

        Sorry KRB -brain fade. Kinda pointless having rookies in there though..

      5. iceman says:

        Wow, 10 consecutive points finishes for Rosberg. I didn’t realise he’d had such great consistency. I’d almost say he’s turning into a Nick Heidfeld, except for the fact that Nico wins races :) Hamilton is going to find him very hard to beat in the championship.

      6. KRB says:

        Hmm, not sure it’s consistency rather than just a current spate of luck with reliability. The only time Mercedes finished out of the points last season was Hamilton’s 2nd-to-12th nightmare in Spain.

        Rosberg’s last retirement was when his engine blew late on in Hungary.

        The longest points streaks from 2013 were:

        13 ALO
        11 VET
        10 RAI
        9 WEB, HAM, ROS
        8 MAS
        7 VET, BUT
        6 DIR, ROS
        5 GRO

        Given the Mercedes’ current pace advantage, any incident-free race finish should be in the points.

  30. Steven M says:

    James, you say that the other teams will catch up to Mercedes, but Mercedes wont be staying still. Id imagine that they will keep developing to maintain the gap. A

  31. Pedant says:

    Graphs are said to be ‘fuel corrected’
    What precisely does this mean?
    I appreciate that they are intended to be a basis for informed discussion but without a definition of ‘fuel corrected’ they are meaningless.

    1. Mark Gillan says:

      The lap times are corrected to remove the effect of fuel, i.e. at the start of the race the cars have 100kg on board and at the end they should have effectively zero. I have simply removed the impact of the fuel throughout the race so one should be able to compare lap times at any point in the race and any difference in lap time is the result of traffic, tyre degradation, etc and not the result of reducing fuel level.

      1. Pedant says:

        Thankyou for the information. I thought perhaps that, considering how critical fuel consumption and fuel flow has become that you might have had access to some more accurate, car specific information, although I realise that teams are unlikely to publish this. Apologies for delay in replying.

  32. Alexander Supertramp says:

    Lewis hasn’t been able to complete a single race distance since testing. The Merc package is still fragile. Nico has had a good run, but who says both Mercedes cars don’t DNF in Malaysia?

  33. JohnBt says:

    Mercedes > Williams > Red Bull/Mclaren > Ferarri > Force India.

    It will change through the season with drivers handling I hope.

  34. jake says:

    The Red Bull has the best chassis, Merc. has the best engine. It’s never going to happen but I would love to see them combined.

  35. lee says:

    RE Formula One or rename it Formula Slow

    What has happened to the “Masters of Speed in Formula One”.
    They have been given electric wheelchairs.
    Is not Formula One the pinnacle of “Speed and Fast”.
    Is not Formula One to race flat out from start to finish no matter what
    Is not Formula One supposed to be loud and shake your body with engines about to explode
    Why do we have tyres that can’t go the distance and don’t provide grip for drivers after 5 laps.
    The FIA should be all sacked.
    Why do we have tyres that can’t go the distance and don’t provide grip for drivers after 5 laps.
    Let’s just have one set of tires that work and makes 60% of race distance flat out, with one mandatory tire change. Get rid of soft altogether and of course have wets when it rains (cost saving idea to formula one).
    Let the teams play with suspension setups for advantage only.
    Why do we have fuel saving in a Formula One Race they spend 100’s of millions to save a few dollars on fuel (it makes no sense it F1), having to slow down to save fuel is not racing. Have the greenies taken over Formula One. Let them have an electric car race all for themselves.
    Why do we have different front wings? Let’s level the field, every team to have the same front wing and ok make it adjustable. Stops also the aero game and huge costs for all teams so they can buy fuel.
    Level the field for all teams for a fair flat out REAL race and position fight with drivers showing what they can really do.
    Why get penalised for a gearbox change or engine change (get rid of that rule). Give the teams ten engines and gearboxes then its equal in performance all year.
    If a formula one driver has to back off for fuel or tires and can’t go flat out ITS NOT RACING.

  36. Carugatese says:

    You said: “At times, particularly in the second stint after the safety car, the Mercedes is 1.2 or 1.3 seconds faster than its pursuers. In development terms, with last year’s rules that is equivalent to about a year of aerodynamic development.” It sounds like an almost definitive verdict for the season, although the F1 cars are still “immature”: are we going to see a Mercedes championship and a “league for the others”?
    Another fact: top speed of Magnussen (podium finisher)in Melbourne only 273km/h?

  37. Fareed Ali says:

    Why are the Tech Directives kept secret? This is typical of the way F1 is treating the fans with a total lack of respect. If the results in 2014 are so dependent on these directives then let the public know about them so we can appreciate what is happening. It is the same issue during the races when we get no indication of what is happening with the ERS, fuel flow etc. By keeping everything in a “black box” F1 is robbing fans of the full experience and will end up losing fans.

  38. Luut says:

    Personally think Mercedes is fastest by far, followed by Williams and Mclaren. Next Ferrari and Red Bull. Hopefully, Mercedes will not be to far away to catch by the others.

  39. German Samurai says:

    Williams must be kicking themselves that they don’t have someone like Hulkenberg in Massa’s seat.

    What a waste.

    Ferrari must be thinking the same about their drivers. In my opinion Hulkenberg would almost certainly beat Alonso and Raikkonen in equal equipment.

    Come to think of it, McLaren must be thinking the same with their inexperienced rookie driver getting the edge over Button. You can’t make a serious run for the championship with Button as your number one driver.

  40. Ebi Bozimo says:

    It’s hard to believe that in an article where Williams, Mclaren, Ferrari and Mercedes were mentioned and in a race where he retired due to reliability issues and thus effectively did NOT participate, the first few posts would degenerate into an argument about HAMILTON. Smh!

  41. Mhilgtx says:

    I thought I posted the several days ago and it didn’t work

    This article is exactly why this website is probably my favorite website that doesn’t have anything to do with work the one website I come to almost every day and I know some of my comments seem to be critical or negative of FIA and I’m not even have disagreements with James your markers any of the other contributors here but I really do enjoy all information given here thank you James thank you Mark thank you everyone that gets his website going.

    I learned a long time ago and actually somebody probably told me this but it’s true that to understand whether someone that you’re dealing with this smart and competent is how easily they can explain complicated matters to you in an easy to digest understandable fashion. That’s one thing I get when dealing with ultimate professional such as my child neurologist who actually took 30 minutes to explain to me how the brain works in a way that I can understand obviously I can’t go to brain surgery but I do understand what the medicine that he was given my kid did I get the same thing here and that’s one of the reasons I truly enjoy this website.

    Mr. Allen I see your post above crying about having to fly eight time zones and yes I’m sure that’s an absolute meet there but I travel about 20 days a month 10 months a year all in the United States all multiple connections it seems like an never worked anyplace fun since my company only does business with third tier market dealerships and I would happily switch my job for yours. So if you want to switch out for Saturday couple months of the next flyway season this fall give me a call thanks again for all the work you and your team.buzz to make Formula One understandable British country hicks like me

    1. Mhilgtx says:

      Texas not British hicks

  42. Matt Larkin says:

    So the big question is WHY is the Merc so fast? Is it the PU? Is it mechanical grip? Is it aero? When Button’s Brawn was this much faster than the opposition, we all knew it was the DDD. But no-one seems to be pointing at one particular feature on the Mercedes as being the “killer” feature which others can’t copy (yet). Is it just that their PU use is “better”, their mechanical grip is “better” and their aero is “better”, each contributing similar amounts to their performance advantage? I’m surprised this isn’t being discussed more widely, which implies (to me) that no-one knows!!

    1. James Allen says:

      It is never just one thing

      The Merc is fast mainly because they spent two years designing the engine and chassis to work perfectly together and they have thrown huge resources at the Energy Recovery department in Brixworth

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