Italian Grand Prix: Underlying Pace Analysis

Posted on September 13, 2012


Hamilton won, Perez was the fastest car. Who else was quick at Monza? This is the view of the intelligentF1 analysis. All pace is relative to the fastest car (Perez on medium tyres).

1st. Hamilton (McLaren): +0.3 on mediums, +0.8s on hards. Was always at least as fast as the car behind. The later laps showed that his pace on hards was at least this quick, and was never in danger from Perez. The ‘would Perez have caught him in four more laps’ question is not really applicable, as the McLarens would have made their first stop later – their tyres were fine.

2nd. Perez (Sauber): +0.0s on mediums, +0.5s on hards. Consistent pace difference on the two types of tyre with Hamilton. Basically, he was just fast, and made the tyres last. What more could you want – except to qualify higher?

3rd. Alonso (Ferrari): +0.3s on mediums, +0.9s on hards. Slightly slower than Hamilton on the hard tyre – the claim is that he lost pace in the damage to the floor from the trip over the grass whilst fighting Vettel. Relative to Massa you can argue for no more than 0.1s. Was slowing towards the end with a trace that looked like mild ‘phase 2’ degradation.

4th. Massa (Ferrari): +0.5s on mediums, +1.0s on hards. It may have looked like Massa slowed to let Alonso by, but his pace was consistent with that before Vettel passed, and after Alonso got by. Suffered the same late race drop-off as Alonso, but also while in no danger from behind – this drop-off is only seen on the Ferrari cars.

5th. Raikkonen (Lotus): +0.9s on mediums, +0.8s on hards. There is an argument for his behind held up behind Schumacher on the mediums, and that he was as fast as Alonso/Hamilton on race pace. However, the early stop was an error. Had he stopped at the time the McLarens did, he had a very good chance of beating both Ferraris to the podium.

6th. Schumacher (Mercedes): +0.9s on mediums, +1.1s on hards. Struggled in the first stint. Two stops worked out OK, but didn’t have the pace on the hard tyre to make a real impact. Reasonable.

7th. Rosberg (Mercedes): +1.3s on mediums, +0.8s on hards. Nico has reason to be a bit annoyed. The pace in the first stint was awful, and the evidence supports Mercedes suggestions of a dodgy set of tyres. His pace on the hards was excellent, but the first stint left too much to catch up. Had he been where Schumacher was at the end of the first stint, his pace was enough to have beaten Massa. Did much better than it seemed.

8th. Di Resta (Force India): +0.9s on mediums, +1.4s on hards. Quiet, unobtrusive, more points. Tidy.

9th. Kobayashi (Sauber): +1.3s on mediums, +1.3s on hards. That’s a long way from Perez. Must be wondering where his team mate’s mojo performance come from. No real time lost in traffic either.

10th. Senna (Williams): +1.1s on mediums, +1.6s on hards. The Williams was not that quick at Monza. Lucked into a point – was way outside the top ten on merit.

11th. Maldonado (Williams): +0.8s on mediums, +1.4s on hards. Faster than Senna again, but lost out due to penalties. Sounds familiar…

12th. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso): +1.1s on mediums, +1.5s on hards. Jumped Senna in the stops and had him beaten for pace. But the engine didn’t pick up out of the last corner. Decent job.

13th. d’Ambrosio (Lotus): +1.0s on mediums, +1.8s on hards. Was quick towards the end of the race on the medium tyres – the time difference suggests that he may also have had a suspect set of tyres (or something) in the opening stint – especially the way his pace continually deteriorated through the stint. Had he made an early stop for the mediums (once it was obvious he was struggling) and gone for two stops, he would have been in the thick of the battle for the final point. Another one who did better than it first appeared.

14th. Kovalainen (Caterham): +2.2s on mediums, +2.3s on hards. Caterham seem to be dropping away from the midfield after the summer break. Was also hanging on ahead of Petrov on the hards when his last stint was suspiciously slow (tyres again?) in comparison with his others.

15th. Petrov (Caterham): +2.4s on mediums, +2.4s on hards. Not quite as fast as Kovalainen, but his final stint was the right speed, so he should really have been able to get by.

16th. Pic (Marussia): +2.6s on mediums, +2.7s on hards. This guy is quietly beginning to make a name for himself. Another very good performance being within touching distance of the Caterhams.

17th. Glock (Marussia): +3.1s on mediums, +2.6s on hards. First lap damage meant an early stop and an unrepresentative pace on the mediums. After that he was marginally quicker than Pic, but on a compromised strategy. A solid drive, but must be getting concerned about the drives his team mate is producing.

18th. de la Rosa (HRT): +3.5s on mediums, +3.7s on hards. HRT are also dropping back relative to their direct competitors. Curiously, de la Rosa found more pace in the last 10 laps (on quite old tyres) which he didn’t have before. Looks like there is more pace in that car which has not been unlocked.

19th. Karthikeyan (HRT): +3.5s on mediums, +3.7s on hards. Was still within a few seconds of de la Rosa with just a few laps to go. Not sure that much more can be asked.

20th/ret. Webber (Red Bull): +0.8s on mediums, +1.3s on hards. Just about faster than Maldonado and Di Resta. The least convincing Webber performance for some time. No obvious problems in the traces – just not fast.

21st/ret. Hulkenburg (Force India): +1.3s on mediums, +1.1s on hards. Either evidence that the medium tyres were more suited to the end and the hards to the beginning of the race (to explain Perez performace), or simply different performance from Di Resta. A couple of laps earlier on the pitstop, and he would have had a good chance of a point – until the brakes failed.

22nd/ret. Vettel (Red Bull): +0.5s on mediums, +1.0s on hards. Same pace as Massa – Red Bull were not fast here. Could well have salvaged fourth (due to Massa’s deteriorating pace) if he had been able to keep going.

Ret. Button (McLaren): +0.4s on mediums, +0.8s on hards. Marginally behind Hamilton in the first stint, but matching him in stint 2. Pace projection from his retirement has him finishing about 1s ahead of Perez, so it is likely that a McLaren 1-2 was lost. Can’t see any evidence for his being able to trouble Hamilton though.

Ret. Vergne (Toro Rosso): +2.0s on mediums: Surprisingly slow even before the failure. It looks like all was not well for a little while…

Quite a mixed bag in the underlying pace. A few performances which looked poor seem a lot better once the data is sifted through.

It is worth noting that the fewer the stops, the harder it is to be confident of the fuel load effect, but I get the same fuel effect for the 2011 race, so I think it’s OK. Roll on Singapore.