The car that stands out as different

Posted on October 6, 2011

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The intelligentF1 model has been used to get detailed simulations of two races so far, and there is one car that does not fit the norm. And it isn’t the Red Bull.

That Sauber-Ferrari is one curious vehicle. While we notice that the Ferrari is not fast on the harder compounds of tyres, the Sauber seems to behave in the opposite manner. After qualifying 15th at Monza, Perez was heading towards a very comfortable seventh place before his gearbox broke. When I first modelled the race, I had to double check that he really started on the prime tyres. He was consistently faster on the slower tyre than cars he quailfied behind, which were on the tyre which was supposed to be up to 1s faster. In fact, if you do the maths, the prime tyre was between 0.7s and 1s slower at Monza. This is much more than any new tyre effect (about 0.3s at Monza by my modelling). The Sauber? Kobayashi was 0.3s slower than Perez, and he was on options. We never got to see him on primes to compare.

So to Singapore. This time Perez qualifies 11th on super-softs, behind the Force Indias. In the race, he stays with them, but never gets past. Going into detail, Di Resta on the primes was just pulling away from Perez on the options in the first stint (once the early ‘golden lap’ grip on the options had gone). But in the second stint, Perez on primes a handful of laps older caught Di Resta who was on options. And Di Resta had gained 0.4s per lap performance on the options in comparison with the primes. If anything, the Sauber was faster on the primes than the options. Of the others, the Force India performance gap of 0.4s was the smallest according to the intelligentF1 model, with 0.5s being the norm.

Is this a trend? Well, I looked back at the data from qualifying, expecting to see that the Sauber struggled wherever the super-softs were used. Perez was in the top ten in Monte Carlo and in Hungary. Ah. This would be more like what would be expected from a car kind to its tyres, like the Ferrari.

But in general, the behaviour of the Ferrari, I can understand – it’s pretty similar to the other cars. The Sauber, which seems to be as fast or faster on harder tyres, I don’t. Guess I need to go model some more races.

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