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Red Bull strong for qualifying, but race pace looks close in India
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Oct 2012   |  11:38 am GMT  |  42 comments

Today’s first day of running in India was very interesting with stable weather conditions and no stoppages meaning that everybody was able to learn a lot about how their cars perform in single lap pace and race pace.

In the afternoon the Red Bulls had the edge on single lap pace, almost 6/10ths of a second ahead of the Ferrari, although some caution is needed in assessing the times, because Sebastian Vettel set his fastest time on the third lap on soft tyres, while Fernando Alonso’s time came after the tyres had done six laps. The teams used the opportunity to simulate qualifying at the same time of day as they will qualify on Saturday afternoon.

The Red Bull looked very easy to drive on low fuel, with lots of traction out of low speed corners, while the Ferrari looked the opposite. The car was a real handful for both drivers, with Massa spinning off the circuit twice and Alonso having a few “moments”.

But the Ferrari looked much better with high fuel. McLaren also looked good in race trim, but might perhaps be a little disappointed with the pace they showed on the single lap. But they have time to work on that for tomorrow.

Later on in the session, on the high fuel runs, the leading contenders were very well matched on race pace with Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus lapping consistently in the 1m 32s and high 1m 31s.

It is a vital race from the point of view of Ferrari and Fernando Alonso, who must react to the recent run of three wins by Vettel. The German has never won four races in a row and Ferrari’s goal must be to keep that tradition.

Ferrari has brought a new front wing endplate, new brake ducts and a new diffuser to India, while the Red Bull has only a couple of detail changes, according to the boss Christian Horner.

This morning in free practice, Esteban Gutierrez got his chance to drive the Sauber as Sergio Perez sat out the session due to the aftermath of a cold. Gutierrez managed to do 29 laps, some 150 kilometres, with one notable moment where he almost went off.

[More to follow]

INDIAN GRAND PRIX, Free Practice 2

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m26.221 35
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m26.339s + 0.118 33
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.820s + 0.599 34
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m27.022s + 0.801 38
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m27.030s + 0.809 40
6. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m27.131s + 0.910 38
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m27.182s + 0.961 24
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m27.233s + 1.012 37
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m27.397s + 1.176 36
10. Bruno Senna Williams 1m27.738s + 1.517 36
11. Paul di Resta Force India 1m28.004s + 1.783 32
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m28.178s + 1.957 39
13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m28.222s + 2.001 37
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m28.239s + 2.018 37
15. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.296s + 2.075 23
16. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m28.455s + 2.234 40
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m28.596s + 2.375 38
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m29.167s + 2.946 35
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m29.320s + 3.099 43
20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m29.606s + 3.385 22
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m30.950s + 4.729 37
22. Timo Glock Marussia 1m31.113s + 4.892 35
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m31.372s + 5.151 20
24. Charles Pic Marussia 1m31.493s + 5.272 31

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“aftermath of a cold.”



i still think its far from over. Alonso will be up there no doubt. still thinks theres another twist to come in this season.


What’s the point of a sort of similar race pace. That was the same the whole of 2011. RBR are might fast in qualifying, start of the front row, no car in front to give you bad airflow, break the DRS time threshold, and cruise to victory.

I’m starting to get bored with F1 again, just like back to the early 2000s. Schuey had tailor-made tyres, best car, Ferrari were spending millions, FIA on their side, F1 alienated many fans.

Then, bang, Alonso and Hamilton! F1 was back in business. And now, for the past 4 years (yes, I also include 2009), you have no competition. 2010 was sort of OK since Webber was really challenging too, earlier this year was also excellent with competition all around, but Newey works his magic…and back to boredom. I can’t wait for 2014 in the hope that something might change. Next year will be another RBR / Vettel year, boring, reminiscent of early 2000s.


Yeah, it’s only boring if your team is not winning the way Red Bull is right now. Would you have the same complaint if your favorite team is dominating the races?


Yes I was in 1998!


Hi James – according to my calculations, RAI did 35 laps on a set of hard tyres in today’s second free practice. Can you confirm this? If yes, he is the only one of the leading drivers to not do a long run on soft tyres – and the pace at the end of that stint (on tyres that were more than 30 laps old) is quite impressive. That suggests that it may be possible to start on hard tyres with a single stop for new softs at lap 35 or thereabouts – could that be a possibility for front running teams?


“Raikkonen finished the first day fifth overall on a 1 minute 27.030 seconds, but while he was pleased with his car on the softer of the two tyres, he admitted it wasn’t quite so good with the harder compound.”


what i still do not understand is why the DRS is allowed all the time in prac/quali session but limited int he race – this forces a lot more development and resources to be channelled at aero – which raises costs – and means the technically fastest cars are at the front negating the real need for DRS in the race…?

i still see no real benefit to DRS as a tool to help the spectical as its badly applied.


Ferrari and Alonso’s must have one focus (and it has nothing to do with flags or ships or anything like that).

Their one and only aim should be to be in the lead going into the second lap.


It is far from over. With Alonso’s luck this season, when Button, Hamilton or Vettel did not finished their races like in Valencia, Hockenheim, Spa, Singapore, Monza etc. we can be sure, that it is going to rain in Abu Dhabi and Austin…

Also Renault will introduce a new version of the alternator for Redbull at the Austin GP. So there is another chance for lucky Alonso to get more points over Vettel.


Yeah, Alonso’s had real luck this season, rammed at Spa, car reliability problems in Monza, given an average car for almost every race.

Compared to Vettel who’s been blessed with the fastest car by a mile and Hamilton’s retirement at Singapore.


How about Vettels 2 DNF’s due to alternator??? Vettel has had other set backs, and was almost written off in the championship when he was 40+ points behind Alonso! A legend in my opinion…


To say Vettel has had the fastest car is wrong. Yes, he probably has the fastest one now, but that was not the case early on in the season. Look where McLaren were early on in the year, they had the best car but squandered their advantage. And while Alonso has driven brilliantly all year, Spa and Monza aside, he’s also had a fair amount of luck, especially in Valencia and less so in Malaysia. At the end of the day, it is a team sport, and as is invariably the case, the team that pulls it together in the end wins.


Yeah, my comment about Alonso in Spa doesn’t read too well. Obviously there was nothing he could have done there.


THere wasn’t much Alonso could do in Spa!


Rain in Abu Dhabi and Austin? Keep hoping!


Surely, this has the hallmarks of yet another Vettel pole and then him running away with the race by keeping 2-3 seconds ahead of any rival? I love F1 hugely but turned off the Korean GP after a few laps because Vettel had built up the required lead within 5-6 laps.


That a strange thing to do if you “love” Formula One. You’d have done the same thing at Valencia then, and missed the best race of the season.


James vettel has won 4 in a row. Brazil and Abu Dhabi 2010 and Australia and Malaysia 2011. But I agree the red bull looks very easy to drive and alonso really has to grab the Ferrari by the scruff of the neck to drive it. If alonso starts 3rd he has a chance on the long drag down to turn 4 on the first lap Sunday.


he hasn’t won 4 in a row in a single (same) season.


What looked to be shaping up as a classic championship fight is fizzling out into a damp squib.If Vettel is on pole, the race is effectively over (not Vettel’s fault) and not worth watching.


Car + driver weight is the same. The advantage of a lighter driver is more ballast weight to play with.


I just read a report of mr Anderson about problems at Ferrari. He is indeed right, they lack a person who is going to see a bigger picture and be able to design a car like this. Look at Red Bull, they did not start strongly but now have the fastest car- this is what Ferrari cannot do, they do not have a person to do it.

I think Vettel is going to be the youngest 3 times world champion. Sad……


I think Ferrari did very well in turning the car in Australia around.

Ferrari had the fourth best car and now it’s like second. They need an extra bit to be up-there. They did all this progress with a “broken” wind tunnel. The other teams should be happy Ferrari had the problems with the wind tunnel, otherwise they would’ve been the fastest now.


I do not think so. They have been having this problems since several years already and are confused because there is nothing they can trust: they use 2 wind tunnels and they have the CFD data.


James, before Red Bull found this speed advantage 3-4 races ago, based on what was happening at that time, who would you have expected to be on top here back then?


This is it guys! I was afraid that it’s gonna happen. Red Bull are too dominant again and I don’t see anybody winning WDC but Vettel. I am great Alonso fan but I think it is Game Over for him and of course rest of the paddock! Too bad that by far the best driver of today doesn’t have a competitive car to fight for the championship. Another wasted year at Ferrari! I would also like t hat FIA has better control over the rules because Mr. Newey always finds a way to bent them and RBR goes on unpunished!

Good luck Fernando in 2013!!!


Spot on DannyF1

It is very disappointing to see alonso working in the cockpit extremely hard to do a quick lap

Ferrari is not only slower than RB8. Most notably F2012 is very hard to drive

Vettel and webber are working the car / tyre easily around the lap ! Oh this RB8 is too good for rest of the field.

Iam massive alonso fan as well, i feel totally disgruntled to see vettel (Average driver) winning multiple WDC’s in mighty / unbeatable RB8

11 Seasons / Years ago I have seen a kid doing some unbelivable (brilliant) drives in a minardi, Even today iam still seeing the kid driving at unbelivable levels in a RED minardi and fighting for WDC (Despite ferrari ineptness)

Bravo Alonso for turning the season as interesting and meaningful one to watch

Alonso – (Genius, Conqueror, Wizard)


If Alonso Is such a genius and conquerer, why can he not help develop the Ferrari into a winning car? He has had 3 years to do so??? No doubt he has driven extremely well, but the records do not show him being able to develop a car in the same way as the greats. All we keep hearing is the same whinging, “our car is not good enough” etc etc. Ferrari were a top team when Alonso joined them, and yet he always has excuses for not winning. Raikonnen won a wdc in his first year, Schumacher joined Ferrari when they were a mid field team at best. Schuey never made excuses, just praised and rallied the team behind him and won 5 WDC’s! I’m sure the history books will remember who the real genius and conquerer is!!!


True… and If he is to add his 6 tenth of as second they would definately be the domiant force in F1. I guess no help from PetroDeLaRosa does’nt help ether, or using rivals secretive docs to gain advantage…

sad situation at Ferrari


Looks like it will be 4 in a row!

The gap from the Bulls to ALO has grown, compared to this stage in Korea. And the gap to RAI behind has narrowed ….

just when ALO needs his teammate’s help, he reverts to form. These are worrying times for ALO, but I think he’ll be on the second step Sunday.

Webbo is making threatening noises to Seb, but I will be very surprised if he makes it past Seb.

Hey, those kerbs really are seperating the men from the boys….


How much time does Webber loose by being taller and heavier than Vettel? With a fuel effect of 0.35s (was it? can’t find the post) for 10kg of fuel, surely it makes a noticable difference.


True, and I know Webber was happy with the regulation changes a couple of years ago. But considering how much effort drivers put into loosing a few kilos it must make a noticeable difference?


Hi Sebastian,

By the numbers I’ve seen listed, Webber is about 12k heavier than Vettel. At a rough guess, this 12 kg would be 0.2 metres further above the ground than the ballast in Vettel’s car. For simplicity, I’ll assume a track width of 1.5 metres as the track is wider at the front due to the narrower tyres.

You then have to make some assumptions about the height of the front and rear roll centres, but the sprung weight transfer tends to dominate.

While sparing you the maths, my calculations suggest that Webber will have an additional 2 kg of weight transfer onto the outside tyres for every g of cornering force. This additional load into the outside tyres isn’t mirrored by a transfer of aerodynaic load to the outside tyres – the body just compresses the springs.

So going around a corner at the same speed, Webber’s outside tyres have to generate a greater centripetal force than Vettel’s in accordance with F = mv^2/r. So you are looking in a 3g corner, 6 kg being transferred to the outside tyres. At 3g the car is probably tranferring about 600 kg of weight (not mass) to the outside tyres, if a worked example I have from a book on suspension is in anyway indicative.

This weight transfer is available to put additional load into the tyres, but it loses the extra effect of aerodynamic downforce. The standard friction formula, F = um, (where u should be the Greek mu = the coefficient of friction), gets modified for downforce to be the weight on the tyre. So while for road cars um = mv^2/r and the masses cancel, in downforce cars the left side of the equation is potentially more than doubled.

In plugging some numbers through all this, with several car assumptions, if Vettel can go around a 80 m radius corner at 180 km/h, then Webber would be limited to 179.46 km/h.

I won’t claim high confidence in my numbers, but I think my methodology is okay, and it is probably just my assuptions that are a bit rough.




Super cool! Thank’s for this effort!!! If that difference was directly translated to laptime it would be a couple of tenths. Which makes a huge difference.

James, this is a great topic for a blog post. How driver weight and height affects lap time. Surely you can get a team to do the math.


It makes a difference in terms of packaging which Adrian Newey is famous for. He even cuts out small grooves for his drivers hands to turn the wheel with their knuckles bunched.

I believe Adrian has said before his ideal driver is a 5′ woman who weighs next to nothing. He wants jockeys not drivers!

That said he has commented that there isn’t a huge difference between seb and marks cars.


At least for weight there’s not much difference as driver and car will weigh the same. The cars are always underweight and use ballast to get them up to the legal weight. So the only difference is it just means that Webber has less ballast to play with in terms of moving the placing of it in the car to help with balance etc.


It won’t be as much as the equivalent weight of fuel, as the fuel weight is on top of the 640kg minimum, whereas the driver’s weight is included in it. But it’s a disadvantage for sure. There’s a reason why F1 drivers tend to be smaller than average. You see a higher proportion of big drivers in touring car racing where the cars are much heavier.


Webber loses time since 4 years behind Vettel and others. He never has been a runner up in the championships, makes huge mistakes like in Korea 2010 or Monza and Singapore 2012.

Besides that, Newey is helping him in a big way with his seat and its position in the Redbull car.


He might be taller and heavier than Vettel, but he would have less ballast in the car, so the overall weight of the car+driver will be the same, I think.

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