Australian Grand Prix: Friday Anticlimax

Posted on March 16, 2012


So there you go. All the waiting, the anticipation, the chewing through the laptime data from testing, and along comes the first Friday of a Grand Prix weekend of the year. And it rains. Limited running, no sensible dry laptimes and essentially nothing to learn.

As you may have guessed already, this will be a short post. Fortunately, I do not have deadlines to meet, nor editors requiring that I write something, no matter how irrelevant. If there’s nothing to say, I can say nothing.

And indeed, as far as the relative pace of the cars is concerned, nothing is precisely what I have learned from Friday practice. However, there is something (if tentative) which can be gleaned by glancing down the laptimes.  Runs of over 10 laps were attempted by a number of drivers in each of the practice sessions, and although these findings are coloured by the evolution of the track during this time, the tyre degradation does not appear to be very high. Even with a green track, the tyres were holding up well, with drivers setting their best lap times after 10 laps in some cases, and towards the end of the run in a surprisingly high number of instances.

Although it is hard to say whether this means two stops instead of three, or perhaps (intriguingly) one stop instead of two, I would be surprised if the running on Saturday suggests that we are in for a lot of pitstops on Sunday. The word is that the medium is not much slower than the soft (can’t tell until qualifying from the data), and indeed a new medium may be just as fast as a used soft, so we may see strategies of soft-medium for the first two stints, with the final stint being a choice depending on the behaviour of the individual cars. Could be interesting, and given how close in performance the cars are, it may be worth a few points to whoever gets it right.