Korean Grand Prix: Underlying Pace Analysis

Posted on October 18, 2012

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To be honest, I was disappointed by the Korean Grand Prix. I expected the Ferraris to push on and challenge the Red Bulls. You could argue that Massa might have done, but the ‘Felipe is faster than you’ call never came. Apart from that we had the adventures of Lewis and his not working McLaren (at least it was the usual way round of starting off working – then breaking – rather than the other way round) and good races for Toro Rosso and Mr. Hulkenburg.

But what does the intelligentF1 underlying pace analysis say? Well, here it is, and all the pace is relative to Vettel on the super softs:

1. Vettel (Red Bull); +0.0s supersoft, +0.2s soft: Made it look easy. Was faster than Webber and shielded from the rest. Had at least 0.3s per lap in hand on the last stint.

2. Webber (Red Bull); +0.3s supersoft, +0.4s soft: Slower than Vettel, not threatened by Alonso. Interestingly was much more careful with tyre wear than Vettel, as was slower at the start of stints before coming to his real pace – especially on the soft tyre.

3. Alonso (Ferrari); +0.3s supersoft, +0.4s soft: More or less matched Webber. Was careful with the tyres in the final stint, when the second stint suggested he should have been able to challenge early in the stint. Looks like Ferrari decided to stick with third at about half-distance.

4. Massa (Ferrari); +0.5s supersoft (in traffic), +0.3s soft: Genuinely faster than Alonso, for the first time on intelligentF1! Had the pace to be second.

5. Raikkonen (Lotus); +0.6s supersoft, +0.7s soft: Slower than those in front (including a healthy Hamilton McLaren) faster than those behind. Took his time getting past Hamilton, but then could only lose out by crashing.

6. Hulkenburg (Force India); +1.5s supersoft, +0.9s soft: Not fast in the first stint, but kept Grosjean and Perez back. Then fast on the soft tyres – and beat the faster Grosjean with a great overtake. Had a very good last few races.

7. Grosjean (Lotus); +1.5s supersoft (in traffic), +0.8s soft: Not as fast as Raikkonen this time, and should really have beaten Hulkenburg once he jumped him in the stops.

8. Vergne (Toro Rosso); +0.8s supersoft, +0.9s soft: Toro Rosso were quick here – as quick as Hulkenburg. Can’t quite figure out how Vergne ended up behind Ricciardo at the first stops as he was quicker throughout. If he can stop dropping back or getting stuck at the beginning of races, there’s a big result coming.

9. Ricciardo (Torro Rosso); +1.0s supersoft, +1.1s soft: Has a cunning knack of maximising his result when his team mate is faster, and nearly did it again here. Once past Schumacher, was always going to score points.

10. Hamilton (McLaren); +0.5s supersoft, +0.4s soft: Before the anti-roll bar failure, was as fast as Webber/Alonso on the softs and taking it less gently. Then lost about 1.4s per lap which made him as slow as the car he’ll be driving next year…

11. Perez (Sauber); +1.5s supersoft, +0.9s soft: Sauber again slow on the supersoft tyre. Got nowhere near a one stop, and decent pace on the supersoft in his middle stint would have got him eighth ahead of the Toro Rossos. Sauber should be disappointed not to have scored.

12. Di Resta (Force India); +1.2s supersoft, +1.2s soft: Slower than Hulkenburg in race trim again after promising Friday performance. Race was ruined by being stuck behind Schumacher, but his second stint was poor. Had a better long final stint, but ran out of tyres. Is starting to look like the number 2 at Force India.

13. Schumacher (Mercedes); +1.8s supersoft, +1.8s soft: As bad as Friday suggested it would be. As fast as the hobbled Hamilton in the evil-looking McLaren. Ninth fastest car.

14. Maldonado (Williams); +1.8s supersoft, +1.9s soft: One-stopped, but was never fast. Senna’s pace suggests that it was due to looking after the tyres to make the one-stop work. Wrong call.

15. Senna (Williams); +1.1s supersoft, +1.2s soft: On pace was about as fast as Di Resta, but dropped back in an inconsistent middle stint. Had the pace to catch Schumacher if his team mate let him by in the final stint. Odd strategy from Williams – letting the slow car on the wrong strategy hold up the faster car. Can’t help thinking that Senna would have been by if Schumacher was holding the last point.

16. Petrov (Caterham); +3.0s supersoft, +2.7s soft: Big gap to Caterham here. Looks like the way has been lost for the green cars. Beat Kovalainen on pace, which is quite rare.

17. Kovalainen (Caterham); +3.3s supersoft, +2.8s soft: Led Petrov for two stints, but succumbed to the faster car.

18. Glock (Marussia); +2.7s supersoft, +3.0s soft: First stint on the supersofts was slower, but matched the Caterhams for the rest of the race. Marussia are definitely making the most progress of the three last teams at the moment.

19. Pic (Marussia); +3.0s supersoft, +3.4s soft: Not as fast as Glock, who has reasserted himself in the team as the car improves. Stuck behind de la Rosa in the first stint, and never recovered.

20. Karthikeyan (HRT); +5.5 supersoft, +3.5s soft: Weird pace. Dead slow in the first stint, and then nearly competitive with the cars in front on the softs. Figure that one out.

Ret. de la Rosa (HRT); +4.2s supersoft, +3.7s soft: More understandable pace from this HRT. Still a chunk behind the rest.

Ret. Kobayashi (Sauber); +2.3s supersoft: Just slow – probably damaged in lap one incident.

Ret. Rosberg (Mercedes); no data

Ret. Button (McLaren); no data

Not the most interesting of races really.

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