The laptime data from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes a while to sort through, and it holds a number of mysteries. It has taken a fair amount of effort to extract the underlying pace of the cars. The main reason for this is the fuel model. Last year’s data, and quoted fuel penalty figures on the web were way out – unless you were Adrian Sutil or Michael Schumacher. It took a long time to realise that their tyres in the first stint must have been used for two qualifying runs, and the second stint tyres were new. Once I got that, then their traces began to make sense with the data from the other cars – and this confirmed that the fuel data on the web was wrong. This also explains why Rosberg passed Schumacher relatively easily on the first lap – his tyres gave him an added three tenths of a second advantage on top of his two tenths underlying pace advantage.
The other really interesting thing to note in the cars’ underlying pace is that the pace on the harder medium tyres really was about 1.5s off the pace of the softs – usually about half the deficit seen in qualifying is a good guess – this time the tyres were a lot slower than that. Just goes to show that nothing is obvious.
Anyway, to keep things interesting, I’m going to post this as three tables: soft tyre pace; medium tyre pace and difference between soft and medium tyres for each car.
Hamilton, Alonso joint fastest
Schumacher, Sutil, Di Resta, Petrov +1.3s
Kobayashi, Alguersuari +1.6s
Buemi +1.8s (only a few clear laps so this is quite uncertain)
Barrichello, Maldonado, Senna +2.0s (new tyres were worth a lot)
Vettel, D’Ambrosio no clear laps
Button fastest +1.2s from fastest soft tyre pace
Schumacher, Sutil +2.6s
Di Resta +2.8s
Ricciardo +7.4s (but I think that there was something wrong with the car)
Vettel, Webber, Buemi, Kobayashi, D’Ambrosio no clear laps
This highlights that there were a few people who didn’t make the most of their pace – notably Petrov and Perez. The Mexican forced himself onto a long stint on the hard tyres by breaking his front wing on the opening lap – and would surely have been ninth had he not made that mistake. Petrov looked good in the first stint, and then somehow his race fell apart in the middle stint.
Bruno Senna, on the other hand, stands out as slowest of the midfield, although there is still an appreciable gap to the Lotus/Caterham cars. The Williams race pace was flattered by their having new tyres available, but from the back row of the grid it is clear that Barrichello could have done little better.
As a matter of interest, the variation of the pace difference from softs to mediums was quite high, so here’s another table:
Soft to medium pace difference:
Perez, Kovalainen +1.2s
Hamilton, Schumacher, Barrichello, Sutil +1.3s (Hamilton cruised the last stint)
Massa, Liuzzi +1.4s
Maldonado, Di Resta +1.5s
Senna, Alguersuari +1.6s
Alonso, Petrov +1.7s (Alonso had not much to race for in last stint)
Trulli, Glock +2.0s
Well, intelligentF1 suggested that McLaren were fast on the medium tyres – it looks like they were. Ferrari are clearly slow on harder tyres and Sauber reasonably fast. The surprise for me is to see Kovalainen high on this list – usually the cars at the back have struggled on the harder tyres.
Great drives from Hamilton and Alonso. Reputation enhanced for Rosberg and Sutil. Underlying data provides relief for Petrov and Perez, and makes it look less bad for Schumacher. And bad news for Massa and Senna.