Analysis: What we have learned from Barcelona test
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Feb 2013   |  6:40 pm GMT  |  172 comments

The four day test at Barcelona ended today with rain, but the three previous days gave the teams a chance to learn more about the performance of their new cars and especially about the way they work on the new Pirelli tyres.

While it is still a bit early to say too much in terms of who is fastest in outright pace, as the definitive aerodynamic packages will only come onto the cars in the final test next week, we can nevertheless look at some details of long run performance, which shows us who is looking good.

Below you can see charts expressing the longer runs from Day 3, the final dry day. The first thing to note is that Alonso and Ferrari are not there, as they did not do any longer runs.

The lines going upwards indicate the tyre degradation; the lap times increasing as the tyre performance goes away, despite the lightening of the fuel load. Many of these are similar to race stints.

However the run of Grosjean is the stand-out performance of the day. He did three stints with Hard, Medium and Medium tyres. Look at his final run on the medium tyres. It stands out as the fastest and most consistent of all the runs.

The car looks quick and it seems to have inherited the 2012 Lotus’ ability to look after its tyres. It’s very encouraging for the Lotus engineers. There is real pace there too.

Rosberg’s run is interesting as it has more laps under 90 seconds than others. This may be due to fuel load, as it’s not possible to be certain how much fuel they were carrying. But as you can see, the degradation is more pronounced and more variable. Rosberg’s second run in particular looks reasonable, with 15 laps starting and ending around 89 seconds.

The Williams runs are interesting as they are quite consistent,even if they are slower than some of the others. This could be fuel related, but what engineers will be encourage by is the consistency, especially of Maldonado’s runs. He was using Medium-Medium-Hard-Soft. It’s a slow start, but assuming he’s running race fuel the degradation is not too bad. Arguably the Williams is the most consistent across the different tyre compounds.

Button’s run is consistent, again not exceptionally quick. The performance is similar to Hulkenberg’s runs and the degradation is slightly worse than Maldonado’s. We don’t know the fuel loads, so it’s hard to draw too many conclusions.

Likewise Webber’s run in the Red Bull. It’s consistent, he’s quicker on the medium tyre, but it’s not outstanding. It will be interesting to compare with next week’s runs when the teams fit the definitive Melbourne bodywork.

Overall conclusions then, a very encouraging picture for Lotus, Williams look like they will race well, although the outright pace isn’t known yet, the Pirelli tyre degradation is high, but they say it will improve in warmer conditions, Red Bull and McLaren not giving much away at this stage, but certainly clear of the Lotus.

[Additional Technical Input and Charts: Mark Gillan]

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the final stint of Grosjean is quite misleading as the car was running on light fuel after long stint, hence the lap time were more consistent compare to his initial run.

There are still much work to do. The intial stint looks bad, deg is too high.

Bring back refuelling.


Grrrr, enough talk, bring on the racing! Seriously thanks James for all the great info' during the quiet season!

I want these questions answering NOW!

1) Will HAM have the car to compete with, if not regularly beat, the other top two (VAT & ALO) The season will be poorer if these three cannot race together at some point?

2) At what point will Perez pass HAM on the track and how will HAM react?

3) Will we finally see VET show his great tallent in a car that it just equal to ALO and HAM (although he's bound to have a car faster than HAM)rather than faster?

4) Can BUT lead a McLAren title charge?

5) Will MAS challenge Alonso and how far will that challenger be allowed to go?

6) Can WeEB compete with VET again now the exhaust blowing is all but eliminated? It seemed to be as though VET was a master of that particular car configeration.

7) Can HAM stamp his authority over Rosberg and therefore Merc?

8) Does Perez merrit his seat at McLaren or was it just a case of too few options for McLAren?

9) Can GRO lift himself above last year and fulfil his potential?

10) Will RAI have the car to challenge for the title in a three way battle with VET and ALO?

11) Will the tyres turn the sport into a complete joke? Will the drivers actually be able to drive 'fast' for more than 10 laps per race?

12) Are McLaren hiding a super car or are they really struggling from time to time?

13) Is every driver on the grid really as happy as they have all claimed to be throughout testing?

14) What will be this year's must have innovation on the cars?

Wishing everyone hear a great season, good health and good luck to all the drivers! And thanks in advance to JA for another year of the best F1 site on the web.


Agreed! Great post. Here's my half bobs worth...

1) At points but not consistently.

2) Probably pretty early in the season and he will be a fair opponent as always.

3) Possibly, although my suspicion is that Alonso would shade it in a straight fight.

4) Yes, in the right car.

5) Not a chance. He'll be out at the end of the year.

6) No. Webber will have days during the season he is faster but over the whole season Vettel will beat him again.

7) Probably, but I suspect it will be closer than some people give Britney credit for.

8) Yes he does. I expect him to win a couple of races this year and finish in the top 6 of the championship.

9) Definitely. I expect the same speed with the errors ironed out.

10) If he has a very dominant start and wins several of the first few races he has a shout but a burn from the stern with late season improvements from Lotus would seem less likely.

11)I suspect it is being over played and when we rock up it will similar to start of 2012. I hope so at least!!

12) Are McLaren hiding a super car or are they really struggling from time to time?

I suspect they have a strong car and it just needs a few understand issues ironed out. I expect the car would be up to championship challenge, maybe more likely a constructors challenge than a drivers one. Maybe...

13) I doubt it.

14) I suspect something to do with the exhausts.


"6) Can WeEB compete with VET again now the exhaust blowing is all but eliminated? It seemed to be as though VET was a master of that particular car configeration."

No one else seems to have picked up on this and correct me if I'm wrong, but towards the end of 2012 the Red Bull had advanced Coanda exhausts (the only form of exhaust blowing allowed) and these haven't been outlawed in 2013. Why do you say that they have been eliminated?


Hey Wayne!

Great post! Here's my opinion

1. By Spain or Monaco, he'll be there!

2. now and then, all season long, Lewis will be cool....

3. If equal to Alonso, go with Alonso, Hamilton is faster if equal to both, Rosberg might surprise in that mix!

4. Possibly? Consistency is the key!

5. Now and again, but Alonso's the man!

6. Yeah, I think this season will Webber's strongest against Vettel. Mark has much to prove!

7. Hamilton will come out on top, but it will be close! Like Hamilton vs. Button (at times)

8. Perez is quick and talented. Lots of pressure there, though...?

9. Grosjean is the best French driver (I know, he's Swiss), since, Prost, Arnoux, Pironi, Cervert and Siffert (Swiss). Although, not quite in Prost's class! Forget about the accidents, that's over!

10. Very much a possibility! His qualifying pace is the key?

11. Good question! Pirelli will get it together--I hope!

12. Near super car.... Can the drivers max it? That's the question.... They'll miss Hamilton's qualifying speed!

13. Yeah! I think they all have reason to hope.... There's been no total disasters, so far!

14. Innovation-I can't say.... Tire conservation and good ol' reliability are a must this season. It could be as close as last year's Championship.

Again, fantastic post Wayne. Maybe my all-time favorite!


Great reply Wheels! Here's what I think:

1)Merc was fastest in testing last year about now and it was a disater in season, I reckon they will lead the midfield but sadly not regularly mix it with RBR, McLaren and Ferrari.

2) Yes, HAM will be cool, it's not like Perez took HAM's seat, HAM gave it up of his own free will. I still think there will be an incident if Perez is ever behind HAM though!HAM has nothing to prove but he'll try anyway...

3)I don't think VET is as good as ALO and HAM, but I'd love to be wrong - the sport can only benefit from three equally tallented drivers for the next five years.

4)Nail on the head, consistency will win this year's WDC. I just don't think BUT can get enough out of the car in Qualy...... That is where McLaren will miss HAM the most.

5) The force tells me that MAS will suprise us all this year and run very well, possibly his best season ever but ALO is definitely the man...

6)WEB will beat VET this year, nothing logical tells me that - it must be the force again!

7)Reliability and luck aside, HAM will own Merc by the end of the year by 40 points over ROS.

8)I think circumstance forced McLaren into their decision, they were banking on HAM until the 11th hour. Perez has not done enough to justify that seat, but that does not mean he will not start justifying it now!

9)GRO is incredibly quick, he may be the second quickest driver in F1 after HAM (not saying HAM is the best, just the fastest over a lap) in outright raw pace. But can he 'race' a car consistently? I think yes and I'm glad he was not just disposed of, he merits this new chance.

10)RAI will have the car early on and there is no question at all that he has the ability, he may be the second best overall driver in F1 after ALO. But RBR and McLAren will out develop Lotus and he will drift away.

11) It getting that way with the tyres, we're on a slippery slope here gentlemen and someone needs to apply the brakes to all this crazyness!

12) The McLaren (with it's driver line up) will be untouchable one race and fourth fastest the next......

13) I actually think they are! You're right, no disasters that I can see this year so far.....

14)I can't see past reliability this year either. This will be less a fast driver's season and more a 'car/team' season - sadly.


4) Yes, he can:)


Wayne, I know let me answer some of your questions with great authority.

1. Yes

2. When they race in China, there is going to be a safety car on lap 37. Hamilton will be on 3rd position behind Vettel and Alonso. Perez will pass Hamilton during the safety car as this is where lapped cars are allowed to regain their positions. I think Hamilton will not notice.

3. We already saw it in 2012. McLaren was the fastest car in many races.

4. Yes, with a dominant car

5. No

6. No

7. Yes, you will witness Hamilton getting on top of Britney

8. Merit? Yes. Win a title? No.

9. He fulfilled his potential already and will do it again this year.

10. I though you wanted a 3-way title battle with Vet, Alo and Ham, no?

11. No

12. They are OK

13. Are all people happy when you ask them "How are you?" and they always say "great!"?

14. Nursing


Ham on top of Britney. I think Britney (spears) and hammo would both enjoy that


Phew, thanks for sorting that out for me ALex, now I can relax and watch stress free 🙂

rob in victoria bc

I agree. Keep DRS + bring back refuelling.


Keep DRS and bring back refuelling and more stable tyres! I rubished DRS but I was wrong - I'll never buy into these tissue paper tyres though.

JA, let's have your predictions for the grid in Australia!


After the last test in Barcelona (although it was snowing there on Saturday!)


James, is it just me or do the tyres drop off mid-stint for a lap before getting faster or is it just a coincidence?

I'm just looking at Rosberg [Laps 22, 42, 57] Hulkenberg [lap 7] Grosjean [Laps 18, 35] Maldonado [Lap 23] Button [Lap 20]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but last year in commentary, the commentators always talked about the second phase of the tyres during races. The first phase they would be quick with fresh rubber and after a few laps they hit almost like a mini cliff. Once the rubber is approaching the end of its life it tends to have this "second phase" but can drop off quite quickly.

That was why you would hear drivers moaning that their tyres were going off, and then they would have a few faster laps following this, before they properly went down hill.It looks as though these tyres are quite similar to how last years behaved (ie first and second phase)


From Pirellis comments you're correct - the idea of a quick transition to a second phase is still the same as last year. The big difference this year is a wider set up window. Last year only a very specific set up with very specific cars and very specific drivers could get into the narrow window - so the cars took most of the season to adapt. This year they will suit (or are designed to anyway) a larger variety of set ups.

But the 'falling off the cliff' is still going to happen.


Could be they had a slight off or simply just slowed down for a couple seconds to change a setting or two.


Sadly nothing said about the Ferrari


They have fastest one-lap pace..


Hi Alex,

According to Autosport the Ferrari is possibly lacking in traction out of corners compared to some of the other teams. Since Ferrari has been quite open about a new exhaust configuration coming for the next test, this may not be particularly relevant.

My observation in previous years has been that the third sector of Albert Park is most indicative of downforce levels as the corners are faster, and whoever is quick in that sector tends to have a fast qualifying car on most tracks.

It is unlikely we will see true Q3 performance runs in the next Barcelona tests. Running max power engine modes probably won't happen. Running leaner is harder on the exhausts, which is important for testing these ever changing parts.


They didn't do any longer runs.


Try reading paragraph 3.


Then the title of the article should be...what we have learned from ling runs in barcelona....


There are loads of things we have learned from the testing in Barcelona that James hasn't covered. He just chose to compare the long runs. James goes to all this effort and gives us fantastic insights to the sport and all you can do is complain about the title. I thought it was a really helpful article. Perhaps the one thing we can ask that hasn't been answered is why Ferrari chose not to do any long runs.


It says in the post that they did not do a long run.


Hiya, it is mentioned that Ferrari didn't do any long runs on this day.


But still, Alonso spent 3 days and Massa 1 day, I am sure there is something you learn from it too, no?


Richard, really, read the title of the article. It states what we have learned from Barcelona and it means that we did not learn anything about Ferrari from Barcelona. What is so hard to understand?

I get the long run analysis, appreciate it. I know that this is what James wanted to share as it was interesting, but please do not suggest that it is obvious that I should not ask any question about the Ferrari as it was about long runs. It was 30% of the whole testing period.


Certainly but the analysis was of long runs in this particular article, no?


The article suggests they didn't do any long runs.


See the title of the article, it doesn't imply that you only care about long runs.


Did you read the article, or just look at the charts?

It said that Ferrari didn't do any long runs on Thursday, so no long runs to compare.


I read the article, but thank you for spending time to reply. Long run is not the only indicator. The article says about what we have learned from this test in Barcelona and it looks like nothing we have learned about the Ferrari.


For sure as things stand Lotus maybe the car to beat in the early races for with the exception of today, they have been the most consistent in having either of the drivers finishing the day in the top 3.

Also another advantage in Lotus' favour from last year, is they preferred the hot climate and so the hotter the track, the better they perform.

Further more, taking into account Kimi's confidence that they can now take the fight to the top teams (presumably in qualifying) then it's looking quite positive.

Am not surprised to see Red Bull being cagey for they tend to do this sort of thing till the brollies get taken down for Q3 qualifying but I have a sneaky feeling, with too many Red Bull gadgets being banned, it may have slowed them down plus Newey said, last season took time away from the 2013 development.

The team that maybe a little worried is Ferrari for lack of a race simulation run isn't a sign of confidence but rather the lack of.

I remember in 2010 when Ferrari had a strong winter testing, they were doing race simulations at will.

As for Mclaren, Jenson reckons their car won't be up for it in the first couple of rounds as the new Mclaren isn't an evolution of the car we saw at Brazil 2012, so it appears Mclaren maybe the 3rd or 4th fastest car come Melbourne.


Yourself and Sri may be completely accurate, or you could both be completely off the target.

One thing I have picked up from all professionals watching the tests is that this is one of the hardest winter tests they have seen.

RB have a history of sandbagging.

Do you remember they tested throughout the winter last year, and at the final test, with 2 days left they ran the B spec car?

One thing that defines F1 teams is their level of intelligence, trust me they will all be hiding their true pace until Melbourne.

Alonso, probably the cagiest of them all, has said over the winter, we won't get a true measure of the cars performance until Malaysia.

Speculate all you want, we only have a guess at whats happening.


Even once we get to Melbourne, Red Bull won't show their hand until Q3. All the teams are cagey, especially with aero parts because you can learn so much about them by looking at them. We won't know the full package until the racing starts - but all the conjecture adds to the drama, don't you think?


Cagey indeed. Spotting the opposition a win in Australia, to lull them into a false sense of superiority.

I understand the whole real track/street track thing, but if it chucks it down in Malaysia like last year, we won't get a clear picture either. Then China has been very kind to Mercedes-powered cars the last few years, then Bahrain with the sand and the high temps. Maybe we won't get a true read until Spain.


I reckon we should finally have it sussed by Brazil!


I think there has been a lot of ignorance around the fact that testing performance has nothing to relate to.

Alonso is probably the most realistic in saying ask us again in Malaysia.

After Australia they can decided rather their results in testing were "true" or not.

Then add a few races to make adjustments, scrap stuff, or add stuff and that's were we get a clearer picture on how Winter development went, then begin seeing how the cars start transforming for the rest of the year.


I would not read too much into Button's comments. He is a known moaner and the next thing you will see with some tweaking he will top the time-sheets. But sometimes his moan may be based on truth as we saw last year when he was languishing below top-10 while Hamilton was in top-3. So we really do not know how McLaren will work. RB is known for hiding their performance. But come P3 in any race and then they will show their full hand. Ferrari is a bit unknown, but definitely they are more competitive than they were last year. So that means they will be in the fight always for top-5 if not top-3. Mercedes, I doubt will be in top-5. So overall, it will be very interesting season. Lotus and RedBull competing for initial few races and McLaren and Ferrari in the mix sometimes. Later on as season proceeds, it will be RB, Ferrari and may be MCLaren with Lotus in the mix sometimes. As Kimi said, they have to be realistic as their budget is not high so development may not be that steep as seen in other teams. If luckily he nails some races in the beginning and gains enough lead, then he has a chance to fight WDC till the end with a weaker car. For Lotus, first few races are a big opportunity and perhaps the only one.


I did not know that my sincere comment about Button complaining about the car more than Hamiton does (a known fact) would totally throw the discussion into comparison between those two drivers besides the usual hurling of accusations against me. I made that comment just to show that we cannot dismiss this year's McLaren based on his comments. Anyway each one has his/her own opinion - so I'll leave it at that. But if you disagree, no need to resort to any accusations. I'm not a Hamilton fan or anti-Button fan, for your information. I do know it is very early for predictions, but there is no harm in doing so - after all every journalist does so and you do read their views. So bear with mine too (may be not so informed like theirs) otherwise why have comments section? And my comment about comparison of cars as of now is very relevant to the topic too. I may change my view after next test, I'll keep you posted about that :-).


Hi MookF1, I like Button's style of driving, but not his interviews as he seems to always complain about the car to me - you may interpret as feedback. Yes "more" or "less" is subjective as none of us have statistics to give - it is a general perception that you make over some years. The reason I say that is many other drivers like Kimi or Massa or Vettel and er ... Hamilton (getting into hot water) do not complain so much. I'm sure they do convey their complaints to their team, but not so much to the press. I think the reason Button does it both in press and to the team is two reasons: (i) he is being defensive as he does not want to be seen as the guy who is not performing when Hamilton in the same car was qualifying well (this "fact" that Hamilton qualifies better is statistically accurate, no shame in that as I think Hamilton probably would outscore anyone on the grid in one lap). (ii) he has a very narrow operating window and is like fish-out-of-water when the car is not within that range. About this point, many drivers also have this issue - Kimi, Webber, Massa and to some extent Vettel also. On this front, I think Alonso is the best of all and may be Hamilton is next. As I said earlier, both the points are "subjective" based on some general observations and facts. Many may agree with this view and many may not. I would like to hear your predictions after next test - just for fun, no one is going to take those seriously anyway including perhaps yourself. Have a good day.


Hi Sri, I think it is pretty obvious if you compare the two drivers then it would lead the discussion into a comparison of them isn't that what you have just said you had done yourself.

On the usual hurling of accusations, sorry if I misinterpreted your comments and that me calling you a [mod] was seen as a highly derogatory word. I am sure I have seen it used in the past on this site and didn't mean it to result into any kind of slanging match just an observation that it sounds may have been levelled at you in the past. I myself have never commented on one of your posts.

I also wasn't dismissing your predictions I just didnt want to comment on them as I think predictions are irrelevant at this time but i found your comment about Hamilton and Button worth commenting on. I am of a different opinion when it comes to the "known fact" of Button being a moaner I just don't know what your evidence for that is. The only place I see that coming from is Hamilton fans on comment sections like this. Hence my accusation of you being a Hamilton fan apologies again as you have said your not and therefore yours was an unbiased comment!

I am a Button fan but also Hamilton too and I myself didn't like it when Button and other Drivers more diehard fans were giving Hamilton excessive abuse about him mentioning his personal problems in 2011. I am hoping that they both preform well this year.

I honestly like and appreciate Buttons feedback, to me it comes across as honest and informative. It just goes to show how much perspective and subjectivity plays apart in interpreting a driver or teams comments. I think his feedback is good, as do others but yourself and others interpret it as "moaning" and him as a "moaner".

I think your point about dismissing his comments is wrong he did caveat it and say he meant in relation to his car and no one elses. That means his car may still be the fastest and his comments still perfectly valid. During the season he is to me very straight forward even when he finishes second and has the opportunity to talk up his race hell say whether he had the pace of the car in front or not. I don't see that as moaning just truthful.

Anyway like you said we have different opinions but thats what i thought comments boards were for and I genuinely appreciate other peoples perspectives including yours as it helps me frame my own.


moaner? How so? Do you mean, good at giving feedack?


BUtton is always on the radion complaining about a lack of grip, plus in interviews after quals and practice he always complains about not finding balance in the car. Good at giving feedback? Hes horrendous at that, in canada last year he was in the back of the field while Hamilton won, if he gave good feedback his engineers would have been able to work out a better setup.


"good at giving feedack?"

No, Sri is right.


Completely agree, he is one of the best for feedback as I tried post in reply yesterday but JAonF1 didn't fancy the comment??!!!

Clearly Sri is a bit of a [mod], hence the completely irrelevant below top 10 to top 3 line. Normally I wouldn't bite but its pre season and testing reveals little if anything in my opinion. In regards to Hamilton and Button suggesting Button is a moaner is Pot calling the Kettle black. Button to me is one of the more honest drivers in terms of his feedback he doesn't blame it all on the pitstops, the sun in his eyes, the guys back at the factory, the back markers etc etc. I prefer him to be honest than tell us after every single race, that it was his best performance ever and he could not of squeezed more out of the car!! There are 3 drivers that kill me on self promotion with PR talk and thats Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton. Button is definitely not one of them.

Could really do with improving your comment functions on here, a like button and dislike for comments, and definitely an improved speed for posting, sometimes it takes hours!! Also wouldn't of minded an email saying why you didn't post my original comment, you have harvested my email address, use it!


Because the language used was not acceptable.

We try to keep the standard of posts high here.

Posts like yours add little or nothing to the level of debate on the site, this one today was marginal.

if you don't like the site then there are plenty of others that you - and others who wish to simply criticise - can frequent instead.


All the drivers 'moan'. It's the one thing they can do to get the engineers to change things. A lot of people just hate Button - almost invariably Hamilton's more bizarre fans who have this diametric 'I love Lewis therefore I must hate everyone who does not follow the religious code'.

Button is just quite open with the media about when he's struggling or the team is unsure. He's not cagey like Alonso who, as has been reported, gets furious and complains to his team, but is careful not to say it in quite the same way to the media.

Lewis has effectively 'moaned' about the Mercedes - rightly so. It's not really moaning - it's answering questions, managing expectations and applying pressure to the team - as all drivers do in F1.


Now Mercedes are the biggest mystery from this season's winter testing.

The team has been putting in some competitive times on the hard and medium tyres and as shown above, Rosberg's long run wasn't too shabby but since conditions are quite cold, maybe this is why the team has been competitive taking into account, the team did well last year when we had similar conditions at China.

On the other hand seeing as Mercedes are virtually the only team not to have set a time on the soft tyre, this would lead one to believe they're keeping their gun powder dry for Melbourne, not forgetting Rosberg's positive assessments.

So yes, really can't figure out where Mercedes are at because of Lewis' pessimism for it contradicts Lauda's prediction that the team can now push the top 3.

As for Williams, it will be fantastic if they have made another step in performance from 2012.

For if Maldonado could plant his car in the top 5 in 2012, imagine what he can do with better equipment.


"So yes, really can’t figure out where Mercedes are at because of Lewis’ pessimism for it contradicts Lauda’s prediction that the team can now push the top 3"

Either Hamilton is preparing his fans for dissapointment or he taking a leaf out of Alonso's book.

Alonso consistantly talked the Ferrari down last year when it was clear that the race pace of the Ferrari was extremely competitive and the press went along with his narritive with headlines like "How is Alonso leading the championship with that car".

If Hamilton can create the illusion that Alonso created with the 2012 Ferrari then he can go some way towards gaining the respect that Alonso received from the media and fans in the sport.


Lauda's comments are based on the cars potential rather than where it sits now.

The team think the car will be a better platform for development compared with last years car. This is also echoed by Nico's comments that the car is more stable.

Lewis is not pessimistic, he is telling it as it is, several commentator who covered the testing have also indicated the Merc seems to have less down force than the front runners.

The comments out of Mercedes seem to be genuine and while Mercedes do make trucks I don't think Lewis will be claiming to be driving one in Melbourne.


Would not pay any attention to Lauda's comments. Since Hamilton has just come from driving one of the fastest cars he is in the best position to judge where the Merc is in relation to the top teams.

He has said the Merc has less down force than last years McLaren. This is not good as not only does it reduce corner speed but also increases tyre wear.

The good news is that Nico thinks the car is better than last years Merc. so hopefully we should see a few podiums. Realistically it will not be a challenger for the championship.


Maybe Mercedes can't turn on the soft tyre? Maybe they are wearing out their rubber too quickly as they have the last 3 years?

I would be careful about reading too much into Rosberg's comments. From Williams to Mercedes, he has won a race and been in a team that couldn't develop throughout the season.

Hamilton has come from Mclaren, has won every year and watched relentless development at the front of the field.

The first time he drove the car he spoke of it lacking downforce compared to a car from last season.

We can safely assume that in a no rule change year, all design groups are finding a similar amount of time to their rivals, I wouldn't be looking too deeply at what Mercedes are saying or doing.

As to Lauda.

He was a great racing driver in the 70's, a cunning one in the 80's and a annoying commentator since.

He's been a non executive at Mercedes for 6 months..


Hi James,

Considering that of all the above only Rosberg, Grosjean and Maldonado did nearly 60 laps, is it safe to assume they all had a full race fuel load? Then, it appears to me that the Mercedes is really quick in the first stint with a full fuel load. Of course, I dont know the tires the three were using at their first stint.


I believe James said mediums in each of the drivers respective paragraphs.


Grosjean and Maldonado were on the hard and medium tyres respectively, it doesn't say what tyre Nico was on


Very interesting and insightful, as usual!

Also James, I was wondering how you feel about or what you make of Checo's comments a few days ago about possibility of 10 stops!!! unless Pirelli can provide more durable tyres prior to the Melbourne race?

Sergio had raised concerns about the new Pirelli rubber after witnessing "extreme" degradation at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday...

Excuse the external link, cheers.


This is where McLaren really begin to feel the pain of losing Lewis. There is no longer a driver who can jump in the car and understand it straight away as Lewis could. It is likely that there's nothing at all wrong with the McLaren.

In an interview while Button was in the duldrums last season, Paddy Lowe said there are two types of driver in modern F1; those who need tonnes of driver aids, engineers, telemtry etc and those who can get in straight away and begin giving feedback. Paddy Lowe put Jenson in the category that needs help and Lewis in the category that jumps in radios back info immediately.

With the experience of last year in mind, its really hard to see how the McLaren can be set up properly. We can only pray that the "no grip" issues don't rear their head again, because Lewis telemetry and engineers are all too far away at Merc these days (Paddy Lowe might even be joining them too).

I pray for my dear McLaren. 🙁


Two types of Drivers

The great drivers are usually in the latter, and the fastest drivers are definitely in the latter.

Also, the drivers that are in the former category are more likely to struggle if the car is not behaving in a nice fashion, and are less likely to push the boundaries in terms of performance, which can be good in some situations, but bad in other situations. If these drivers have success, either they are very lucky, or their success is completely overshadowed by the usually much greater success of another driver.

The drivers in the latter category can handle a car that is not behaving well very well, and tend to push the boundaries in terms of performance. These drivers create their success and their luck through their skill.


Indeed Andrew!


The reason Schumacher was so good in his prime, was that he combined both qualities. He did this arguably better than any driver in the modern era, 'modern' in this case meaning since the advent of telemetry and the suite of electronics now used in F1.

The only 'arguable' point should have been did he do this only a bit better than someone like Alonso, or did he do it better by a factor of light years. It's a shame he muddied that debate by coming back and racing for 10th place with Torro Rossos for 3 years.


Have you got a link to that interview please? Because the last one I saw with paddy Lowe he praised jenson as a more accurate giver of technical feedback and set up information - while saying Lewis was more of a natural drive around problems type who needed more guidance on set up. He mentioned that jenson often made strategy calls which they weren't used to having to instruct Lewis on strategy - the impression I got was that mclaren found Lewis should be left to do the racing bits and controlled for the strategy whilst jenson was more likely to read the race but struggle to match the aggression and risk taking of Lewis.

This would tally far more with Lewis demanding most of the set up adjustment controls be moved off his new merc. He doesn't want to fine tune everything like Schumacher or button - he wants a general set up by the team and then he wants to drive hard - around problems if necessary.


That's why I asked you for a link to that interview you mentioned because the last interview I saw with paddy Lowe he said the exact opposite - if you can show me then I'll be able to read what you're referring to. I'm confused because your comment doesn't tally up with what paddy Lowe said toward the end of 2012. But if he said that I'd love to read it. I'm not reading anything with a bias - I'm a mclaren fan more than a jenson or Lewis only supporter - so if you show me the interview I'll read it with interest. Then I'll just have to analyze why I heard paddy Lowe say the opposite in another interview.


The "impression you got?" No, read the article. In any event, it was made to explain why Jenson Button was all lost with set up and finishing outside the top ten, while Lewis was regularly placing the same car in the top three (without voodoo).

Paddy Lowe, as technical director was also deeply involved with retraining Jenson with the help of Lewis setup, Lewis telemetry, driving techniques etc. Thats what got Jenson out of the hole last year and saved his bacon. Unfortunately, this is a new season and Lewis last season telemetry can't help.

Go again and re-read that article without any scales and you will understand why Ron Dennis is still so bitter and why there is no driver in the team to correctly interprete the manners of the new McLaren.

It really stretches things to claim that Jenson is more technical than the person whose setup and telemetry he needed to save his own life, but in todays F1 commentary, such mystery is common place.


I dont believe Checo really thinks there will be 10 pitstops in any race. He was exaggerating to emphasize his point about the the seeming fragility of this years tire specs.


Some people made ridiculous pit stop predictions last year as well. The temp was too low for the tyres again this year, Pirelli commented on it a few days ago, and once more today:

There will certainly be more pit stops than during the back end of 2012, but that is intended (and asked for by Whitmarsh, for example), and I doubt very much that it will be Checo's 10.


I think that shows how noob Perez really is. There have never been tyres that bad and there will not be in 2013. Noob does not deserve a top car yet.


Perez a noob? Really!? I think lots of you guys just under rate young people without a real base. Perez was driving a low profile car last year and doing amazing stuff with it (in his 2nd year), and more than once during the season!... At the start (2011) of his F1 career again a bunch of "experts" were telling: what? Perez with Sauber? Is that the right choice? Whos this guy anyway?... jus another noob. Now all these "experts" will eat their words (Montezemolo included!) Perez is going to deliver Top Results... and why not? Becoming champion. After all he´s a great skilled driver sitting in one of the best cars on the grid. Just the fact that YOU dont like him or is not your favorite doesnt mean anything.


I agree witH F1 UK......

I forsee Perez giving Button a very hard time.


If macca put a certain rookie in their car in 2007 don't see a problem with Checo.


And this so called 'noob' was the guy who was the master of the tyres last year, doing what nobody else could...


At least talk normally mate, it's not a computer game and he's far from being a noob anyway, Perez often faster than Hamilton whilst driving a Sauber, says it all really.


Had Button been more of an obvious team leader then nothing wrong with selecting Perez. I have the feeling given a free choice of any driver on the grid Perez would not have been considered and was only picked because out of the drivers that were available McLaren thought he had the most potential.

Nothing against Perez and hope he takes the full benefit from this very lucky break.


And more 11th places than any other driver last season too. Mark my words, Perez is not ready for the front of the field.


Says how extremely good the Sauber was. Actually after the spanish GP somebody analized how fast the cars went through some corners and guess what: Sauber and Williams were the bests.


It seems to me that Mercedes is actually doing really well and will be challenging. None of the other drivers (Grosjean excepted) from the graphs above touched on 87 seconds, whereas Rosberg did on 3 of his stints and his times didn't fall off a cliff. On the one occasion that Grosjean did hit 87 seconds the deterioration of his times on that stint was marked. Of course, everyone will say it's too early to tell because of fuel loads etc, but based on what we see up there, Merc are looking good right now.


i think ferrari is very strong & hiding its speed.


i'm inclined to agree with you on that point. i have ferrari tipped to sweep melborne and to dominate most of the season. i also think that they are better positioned to dominate the '14 regulations as they are a "complete" team---engine, chassis all in one roof.


I think Mercedes is sandbagging..


Really! You think a team playing catch-up would waste time and effort on gamesmanship?



However it is very unlikely that Mercedes could have leapt ahead of Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus.

Also note it is easy to reduce engine power and therefore hide your true speed but not so easy to fain poor handling such as was reported by trackside comentators.

Would love to be wrong but I think the Merc will not be the car to beat.


If they are sandbagging they wouldn't be playing catch-up anymore, rendering your argument null.


what makes you think so?


Ferrari are strong on long runs and race pace. But their quali was poor last year. If Ferrari are allocating more time to quali runs, this seems reasonable.


Sam Tremayne of Autosport reported earlier in the week that Ferrari was very impressive through Elf, Renault and Turn 3 and also said they looked particularly nimble through the sweeping Campsa right hander. He set up shop for extended times at each if these sections and he broke down how all the teams were making it through those corners and dealing with the tyre degradation. It's still only testing but Ferrari looks competitive. Massa also said the car had no new parts on it and was the same one that ran in Jerez, so they should have huge updates for this final test starting Thursday.


sure, by running the softs and having many short one lap stints.


LOL. Hamilton has attracted a lot of interest in Mercedes but everyone forgets about Rosberg. Rosberg destroyed Schumacher like he was still partnered with Nakajima.

It will be interesting to see how much Mercedes can improve the car in such a short time. It's looking very positive at the moment. No major concerns with tire degradation or burning bodywork as in last season. They are finally starting on the same page as the other top teams. It should be an interesting season.


You will find that Lewis and Rosberg know each other quite well. This is not the first time they have been teammates (which explains their friendship). Lewis is faster.

Take a look at these pics:


When Mclaren were looking mid 2009 at replacing Kovalainen, Rosberg was a name mentioned often. His father told him to turn it down because of the Lewis/ Mclaren relationship.

The same contract that Button signed.

I think it speaks volumes, and the fact the team is excited by adding "the missing piece" says everything about what they think of Nico.


Lewis was quicker in karts and the perception is that he's faster in F1 - things change around between drivers as circumstances change.

My own feeling is that when both have good days, they will be similar on qualifying pace, but Rosberg will have more bad days - a locked brake somewhere costing 3 tenths sort of thing - especially if the pressure is on. On race day, I'd expect Lewis to edge away over a stint, although I don't really have a good feel for Nico's tyre management skills as he's not had a well balanced car with the Pirellis.

My suspicion is that Mercedes will have no need to play favourites as the car won't be good enough to win races, so we will know who is quicker in a W04. An interesting question is whether Rosberg has enough capital in F1 to hang onto a drive if he is not close to Lewis' level, as there's no obvious reason to step up, and all the teams beneath him are looking for money at the moment. The same thing applies to Webber and Massa to a degree. Webber might get a drive at Ferrari, but several drivers could be in the last team of their careers given the current lack of mobility between teams.


I agree with most of what you have to say but there is another interesting dynamic you did not touch on. Mercedes are not expected to be challenging for the WDC however they have stated their aim to be at least fourth in the WCC.

I think there will be quite a bit of information exchange regarding setup and race tactics across the garage in order to maximise the team points. So while a bit of rivalry is inevitable I think it will be more good natured.

Come 2014 the gloves will be off for real.


1) Rosberg destroyed an over 40 year old in the first season, by the end of 2012, there was little to choose between them. Take said Rosberg and place him against a 25 year old Schumcher, he wouldn't have seen which way he went. So let's not get too carried away.

2) Why will Mercedes be able to improve quicker than the other teams? Surely they would have improved like this during the Schumacher years. In Germany, that man is a legend, and everyone spoke of now he's partnered with Brawn, watch him turn this team around...

Yet 2010,11 and 12 were generally poor.

MSC spoke over the winter of the budget being the biggest stumbling block to success, and maybe Mercedes have funds in place to start the season well, as in 2011 and 2012 but they don't develop quickly enough once they return to Europe.

Aldo Costa last designed a car in 2011, the Ferrari was ok, nothing cutting edge and very easy on its tyres.

May I offer similar traits to this years Mercedes?


car being easy on its tyres would be ideal. the only thing the 2011 ferrari didnt have was blown diffuser(shown by the one win it had when they were banned). other than that it was fine which is why it was so surprising to see the knee jerk reaction and change everything for 2012


James, very impressed with the prompt updates and reports. Well done! And a big thank you too.

Glad to see Lotus looking good, although they did have a few issues with Kimi's running. I feel no one has even tapped into the cars full potential... or even tried to. This years tyres are supposed to be faster over one lap so theres more time to come.

What will help with the form guide is some detailed info from someone watching at trackside, assessing the cars handling, traction, etc.

As for the next test, teams will bring updates but I'm sure the big guns will still hold that little extra back for Melbourne 😉


James, are laptime data like these publicly available, or do you just have good contacts?



In this site you can find all lap times:


It will be easier to understand the plots if you put units in the axes. Regards


james ,

what do you think is the pecking order ?


James, is there any reliable info on the difference in tyre compounds over a lap? soft-med-hard?


Just after seeing this from Pirelli for anyone else who wants to know.

"The time difference between the slick compounds was in the region of 0.5s per lap, but the unusual weather conditions in Barcelona meant that this was not entirely conclusive."


James, great analysis as usual, in the absence of data, what's your gut tell you about the Ferrari situation?




If we look at Romains last run it looks like he was learning how to conserve tires. I feel that at this point teams are trying to get an understading of the tires. It also looks like Mercedez may be on the hunt, but of course looks can be deceiving. We wont know until Q1 in Australia. I honestly CANT wait for the first race, this is taking too long!! LOL


I think the fight for best-of-the-midfield is gonna be interesting between Hamilton, Kimi, Rosberg and Grosjean with maybe a Sauber in the mix.

Title will be fought between the traditional top 3

Should be good


Kimi is not a mid field driver. He is among the very best. He came 3rd last year in the forth best team -in a second best team he could win.


I meant: Cannot see Kimi being part of midfield group.


traditional top-3 last year was Vettel, Alonso and Raikkoknen in WDC. Cannot see Kimi being part of the group.


I'm guessing Mercedes are doing well because the track is cold and the tires are not getting cooked.

Williams looks steady which is promising.

Would like to see some comparison on Marussia and Caterham. I think Marussia is way ahead even with the cosworth motor.


Hi Greg,

a thing to remember is that they are driving around at least 6 seconds off their maximum pace even in the last stint. This means there is less load through the tyres and therefore less wear. Increased downforce hurts tyre wear (ignoring car balance effects that Mercedes has had), so this brings the field closer together in races than in qualifying. If tyre wear is not an issue you a race like Austin where the fastest cars clear out. Otherwise you get a compression in times, but the cars with less downforce start down the grid and basically cannot win a straightforward race.

So if we assume Mercedes is lacking downforce, which is reasonable given the rule continuity, it makes sense that through diminishing returns for the top teams that Mercedes would be close in long runs but may struggle in Q3 pace in Melbourne.

A comment in Autosport on Caterham was that the car looked bad in both slow and fast corners.


Its the other way around. Less downforce = more tire wear. With less downforce the rear of the car moves around more and the tires wear out faster.


Sounds like last year's story about the 'car to beat' is being repeated. Will you hit the mark this time?


Out of mind does not mean out if sight and Ferrari will be the dark horse this year- pardon the punh. I definitely think they will be the team to beat. 🙁

It should be a very tight field even with these - excuse me- rubbish tyres. Mercedes are consistent over several laps & recall Lotus doing a few 1.23's in succession with Kimi behind the wheel. What no one knows is outright pace on equal fuel and I suspect Red Bull and Ferrari may well just come out at Melbourne and dust everyone up on the first Sat quali. But Im guessing Lotus & Mercedes will be right there with a few other to keep them company.


Hero was senna- yeah that's why right now I'm thinking Ferrari will be stronger as the Bulls don't have constant quali speed of the DDRS. That's not to say they won't come up with something else..I think Mclaren have a great package but the change to pull rod front suspension may take them a while to optimise & this will handicap them ( bit like Ferrari last year). I just can't wait to see whose found extra pace at the second Barcelona test because that may determine first two races..- I really hope it's Lotus with DDRS - Kimi sat out half of Wed then after just 1 lap was 3rd on the day- epic instant pace ! Can't wait to go to Melb too- last chance to hear the V8 live!


.. and won't it be interesting if Massa is the one inching ahead for the 'dark horse'? He looks feisty!


If Massa manages to last the season with the Scuderia, I see him changing places with Bianchi. Could be 2014, could be sooner if Bianchi proves himself at FI, which I predict he will.

I think both McLaren and Ferrari, maybe even RB, will be scrambling for Bianchi before year's end.


I definitely hope Felipe lays down the gauntlet to Fernando and truly hope Ferrari allow him to take the lead if he finds peace with this car.. I couldn't hope for a better outcome and I honestly think that late last year Ferrari realised that they can't always back Fernando to win.- of course it's all dependant on just how strong Felipe is


Do you really believe that the Scuderia is going to let Felipe beat Fernando?


When did Ferrari gave a worst strategy to the driver who was ahead in the championship?


Even if he can do it, Ferrari will hamper him so that Alonso finishes ahead. They have shown this before, the #2 is usually given the worst of the 2 pit stop stratetgies, or he wont get the latest development parts, or he will be given development parts on which they need more data.


I do. If massa shows the form that he showed at the end of last year they will have to (also remember 08 where kimi was WC) Ferrari are only ruthless because they are practical and it has been clear so far that alonso was their main chance. In my view mclaren adopted the wrong strategy with button in '10 and '12 for example.

The question is whether he can? My opinion is he can't but of all the drivers who I wish well felipe is at the top of my list.


No, but I do expect tension and high anxiety !


Do you think Red Bull will be handicapped by the banning of DRS during qualifying?

They have proven over the last 3 years, they need to qualify on the front row to control the race etc, and could only do it properly with their DDRS after Singapore. Even then, if Lewis got pole, they didn't have the speed to race, merely follow.

I wonder if qualifying this year will be a little different for Vettel?



The strategy for the EBD was too qualify out in front, other technologies would demand unique strategies. It doesn't prove that Red Bull need to finish in front. Recall Vettel storming through the pack to the front after starting dead last from the pit lane at the Abu Dhabi GP? He finished 3rd.

There is nothing formulaic about F1, teams etc. The sport employs some of the most intelligent people, so formula's can't be applied to their thinking. Many have come from military jet, research and robotics fields. Even Martin Whitmarsh thats slated so much used to head the production of the Harrier Jump Jets airframe.


Hi Quade,

I don't think your basic premise is wrong, but you didn't really rebutt the point HWS was making either.

The Red Bulls have been consistently set up to be first to the end of the first stint of the race and controlling it from there. The cars are set up to be fast in qualifying and geared to accelerate well, which is especially important with heavy fuel loads. Monza 2011 is a great example of this. Even though low on top speed, the Red Bull was the fastest car in the early part of the race, passng Alonso on acceleration around Curva Grande.

Abu Dhabi had Red Bull reducing wing levels and changing the gearing, to make the car more effective at overtaking. It was probably a faster race car too. However, in qualifying it would be slower and that means you need other things to go your way.


Bear in mind that 3rd placed finish in Abu Dhabi owed a huge amount to changing the car to a very different spec to which it qualified, to assist over taking because as it qualified was perfect for a race from pole.

Tornillo Amarillo

The best Grosjean, Webber and Bottas for me... I guess.


maybe williams decision to use the old car at test 1 has been vindicated.

also noted some interesting design aspects around the front of the williams. little winglets inside the wing pylons and also strange looking wheel hubs.


i am impressed by maldanado's and webber's graphs simply because they seem flatter than the rest suggesting that the tyres do not fall off as dramatically as the others.

surprised by the that of the smoothest driver though. it seem to have steep gradients, straightest nevertheless.


Interesting! No data from Force India?


Lotus' pace isn't that impressive, considering he did a full race sim. That last stint must've been on low fuel, yet he was still 7-8 sec slower than a qualifying lap.


Button's times look incredibly consistent compared with everyone elses


Why is it "certain" the Red Bull and Mclaren are clear of the Lotus?




Are you a team principal with years of experience? THey know what they're doing.


i'm very sorry...very sorry. in did not know i had to have years of experience as a team principal to voice my stupid opinions on an opinion blog. Again, i'm very, very sorry. please accept my sincere apology.


I never said you were stupid. I was just saying that you're trying to tell groups of engineers that have been doing this for decades that they are doing something wrong. Thats like me telling James that hes not a good journalist even though Ive never written an article in my life LOL


The teams would disagree. Once a team has a basic understanding of a car and know that systems are working it is VERY important to do a race sim.

When all is said and done the most important thing about a car is that it can get to the end of a race - as fast as possible.

Only in race conditions can they know that cooling systems work well enough for a car to survive a pitstop or that the bodywork can cope with the heat of the exhaust. A part might be able to cope with vibration for a few laps... but can it last a race distance? Will a wheel nut still come off having gone through the heat cycle endured over 25 laps?

The point at which a team goes for a race sim. is a good indicator of how much confidence they have in the car's systems and reliability.


most of the things you mentioned do not need a race simulation to be understood. material strength and vibration affects are tested in factory. no need wasting valuable testing time on such things. plus, they already know a lot about the materials they are working with.


If it was that easy they wouldn't need to test.

They are not allowed to simulate following another car in their wind tunnels. Material testing in the factory is very sophisticated but they cannot recreate the whole car conditions found in a race. I think it was ferrari who suffered from burnt bodywork at the first test. The front suspension failure Lotus had last year was not found in the factory.

Real life vibrations and side wind effects through a bend and when following other cars can only be found out on a track. The teams have to know that what appears to be OK in the factory can survive the variety of loads over a whole race distance out on track.


They ( claim that Red Bull is definitely the car to beat after Barcelona.


The McLaren degradation appears to be much worse than just about every other car. It varies between 0.3 and roughly 0.4 seconds per lap. Most of the others are losing only half that time or less per lap. The graphed line already looks pretty steep, but the horizontal axis for the McLaren is stretched out compared to the others because of the shorter runs.


Bring on Melbourne!


So when can we expect an announce from Force India ?


When they've finished pushing Ferrari for a 2014 deal for engine supply. Then Bianchi gets the drive. If they don't get a deal, Sutil gets the seat.

It has nothing to do with driver ability - Sutil is the chip they are playing against Ferrari - it is simply negotiation - saying to Ferrari - you want Bianchi in a race seat, we want your engine deal next year - what's it worth to you?


I'm guessing they'll give Sutil and Bianchi a day each at the next Barca text, the wet running on Friday won't have given them a good enough chance to evaluate them.


Sutil should have a seat. Right out the gate he was over a second faster than Di Resta under similar conditions. Considering PDR has had the benefit of considerably more testing this year and AS has been away for a year, it seems like a no brainer.

The decision FI face should be who gets the second seat RDR or Bianchi.


Think that's simplifying things a bit, loads of things can effect headline lap times, Force India are the only ones who know the score.


Hi James,

Love the graph's.

For the next test could you colour code the tyre stints?

Would make it easier to compare.

Thanks again.


The graphs provide excellent easily understood comparisons. Is it possible to add graphs from practice runs at the Barcelona Grand Prix 2012?. The possible rate of tyre degradation would also show up.


Assessment from Autosport(McLaren and Ferrari fast, Red Bull hiding pace as always):

Pos Driver Team Time Gap

1. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m21.848s

2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.875s + 0.027s

3. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m22.160s + 0.312s

4. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m22.188s + 0.340s

5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m22.197s + 0.349s

6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.616s + 0.768s

7. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m22.623s + 0.775s

8. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m22.675s + 0.827s

9. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m22.726s + 0.878s

10. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m22.826s + 0.978s

11. Jenson Button McLaren 1m22.840s + 0.992s

12. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m22.877s + 1.029s

13. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m23.024s + 1.176s

14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.366s + 1.518s

15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.718s + 1.870s

16. Paul di Resta Force India 1m23.971s + 2.123s

17. Max Chilton Marussia 1m25.115s + 3.267s

18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m25.124s + 3.276s

19. Jules Bianchi Force India 1m25.732s + 3.884s

20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m26.177s + 4.329s

21. Charles Pic Caterham 1m26.243s + 4.395s

22. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m27.563s + 5.715s


Red Bull were hiding a lot of pace in testing last year weren't they!


They came with a B spec car to Oz


Hi James

Once again an F1 writer/commentator has neglected to make comments about the performance of the Sauber. You placed Nico's graph but said nothing regarding analysis of it. Whilst yours is one of the best sites around for F1 news and tech analysis please remember there are fans of all the teams, and mid grid team fans like myself are always wanting info, it is so easy to get info about the top teams, however F1 is more than those teams


One of the ways to hide the fastest times is to run a sector of the lap as quickly as possible to get an idea of maximum potential, and then slow for the rest of the lap to post a slow lap time.

So if we extract each drivers fastest sectors and string them together, we have the fastest potential for each man.

As for the fuel load, if you know the run lasted eight laps, you may safely assume that the car was carrying enough fuel for eight laps at the beginning of the run, so deduct time accordingly for the extra weight.

It's not rocket science, just needs a bit of effort to program the computer to filter the results, but there must be lots of analyists trackside who have hours to fill.


Math lesson for fans that may not realise.

You can't simply compare the slopes of the above graphs as they appear here. They are distorted due to the fact that the lap scales are different.

In this case slope is the difference in lap time over difference in lap count. You have to calculate this value for each slope in order to do a direct comparison. This is tedious. Nice if someone who likes this kind of thing can plot them on the same graph.


Hi James,

I like your article - its very good. However I am curious - I think Rosberg did not do any race simulation. He did only couple of long runs. It may be quite inaccurate to put them together as racesim... Or do you have any info on their fuel load?

As far as I know only Lotus, RB, Williams (Maldonado,Bottas) did race simulation... I think racesims cant be compared to long runs of other teams. My opinion is that it will be better to first compare only long runs together and then race simulations extra.


Last year Alonso fought the championship with a car that initially was 2 seconds off the pace. Everybody agrees that after the first test the F138 is a much worthier car than its predecessor. So logically it seems that Ferrari should be in an even stronger position to fight the championship. But i am afraid this deduction is too simple. It seems to me that tyre management is going to be more than ever the key in this year's championship. And this comes down to the car's aerodynamic design & easyness to find the right balance. Teams that master the aerodynamics best (with best designers & best windtunnels & of course best budgets) will be fighting the title...But haven't we been fighting this trend for years ?


Also the theory "we fought with a 2 second gap, so why not with a 1 second gap" only holds true because the field was so tight and jumbled up last year. If there's only 1 or 2 (or even 3) teams sharing the majority of the wins between them, you simply won't be able to win a championship with a car that's off the pace.

Tornillo Amarillo

Rosberg said: "Take the rear. We had massive problems with tyre heating and losing grip and all that. That seems to be history now. And that is really a massive change."

Such a relief...


James when will the fia and ASNs let us know what is happerning with the empty slot july 21? I am desperate to know and want to get planning where to go this year, I was planning on hungry this year but a trip to say france or germany would be a lot cheaper. Is there any deadline, this also must be difficult for the teams to plan for.......


I think Bernie already said only 19 races. So the calendar stays as it is and there's no July 21 race date. So you can book that holiday...!


James, reading the stories about extreme tyre degradation and the effect the temperature has had, is it perhaps too much of a risk that no tests took place this year in Dubai or Bahrain?

Some fans, myself included, did not enjoy the roulette of tyre performance that so dominated the first half of last season. Is this year going to be worse?

Do we only have 3 tests this year due to the resource restriction agreement? Are they all in Europe for the same reason?

Is it otherwise wise to assume that tyre behaviour is linear with temperature and the graphs above can be adequately extrapolated (and can Pirelli supply such information)? Otherwise, there graphs aren't very informative.



As it's known the Teams have got lap timing data divided up to 10 (or some like that) sectors per lap. Is it possible to get share that data and to assess cars' particular performances at certain sections, like cornering speed, acceleration and breaking etc.


I came across this analysis on outright performance and tyre degradation (

The Ferrari seems to be struggling on the longer runs!


Sorry, It's interesting that they seem to be struggling so badly. Perhaps the cold weather is influencing the tyres?


We do not need refuelling back simple !!!!


If the insisted approach is for different tyre compounds and tyre management, then why not allow the teams to decide which tyre compounds they run at each race? Obviously Pirelli cannot take every option to each venue, but perhaps the teams should specify their option in advance. This would result in different strategies, good/bad compound gambles, and some mixed results, but can allow the teams to maximise their car's performance.

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