Australian Grand Prix: Underlying Pace

Posted on March 19, 2013


One of the more interesting things which can be done with the laptime data is that a performance chart of the race pace can be constructed using the curve fits from the intelligentF1 model. So who was fast, and who was not in Australia? Read on…

I have put the drivers and cars in number order – as it’s most helpful for team mate comparisons. The quoted pace is underlying laptime pace relative to the fastest pace (Raikkonen on the medium tyres).

  • Vettel (Red Bull): 3rd: +0.2s on medium, +0.9s on supersoft: Not quite as fast as Ferrari/Lotus on the medium tyre, but struggled on the supersoft after lap 3. Third fastest in the race and finished third.
  • Webber (Red Bull): 6th: +0.3s on medium, +1.6s on supersoft (traffic): Got stuck at the start, but didn’t have the pace to get back on terms. Pace on the medium tyre was only a shade slower than Vettel. Was fourth fastest on merit.
  • Alonso (Ferrari): 2nd: +0.0s on medium, +1.1s on supersoft (traffic): As fast as Raikkonen (fuel-tyre age corrected) for the bulk of the race – at least as fast as Raikkonen showed…
  • Massa (Ferrari): 4th: +0.5s on medium, +1.1s on supersoft (traffic): May have qualified ahead, and have been ahead of Alonso for the first third of the race, but comfortably slower once Alonso got ahead. Disappointingly, a similar gap to last year.
  • Button (McLaren): 9th: + 1.0 on medium, no data on supersoft: A second off the pace isn’t great, but the worrying thing for McLaren is that they look to be the worst on the tyres. The length of time that they can keep up their underlying pace is the shortest of any team. Button’s last stint was 3 laps shorter than Raikkonen’s, and his pace was dropping off 12 laps before the end. Raikkonen set fastest lap with two to go. Ouch.
  • Perez (McLaren): 11th: +0.9s on medium, +2.0s on supersoft: Same problems as Button, but if anything he was slightly quicker on underlying pace. Looks like he will keep Button on his toes – at worst.
  • Raikkonen (Lotus): 1st: +0.0s on medium, +0.3s on supersoft: Faster than anyone else on the supersoft – by miles, which is what we saw in Friday Practice. Was at least as fast as anyone on the medium tyres, and made them last longer than all bar Force India. Made it look easy.
  • Grosjean (Lotus): 10th: +1.1s on medium, +2.3s on supersoft (traffic): Should be the most disappointed person in the paddock. Started next to his team mate on the grid, was more than 1s a lap slower and finished well over a minute behind. And this from being (just) the faster driver over the season in 2012 by my reckoning. Hope there was something wrong with his car – for his sake.
  • Rosberg (Mercedes): Ret: +0.8s on medium, +0.6s on supersoft: As Mercedes went long on the supersoft, they found more pace – so they look very good on the underlying pace for this tyre. Rosberg struggled much more than Hamilton in the graining phase though. Once on to the medium they were not that much faster than McLaren, though looked after the tyres better.
  • Hamilton (Mercedes): 5th: +0.7s on medium, +0.6s on supersoft: Noticeably quicker than Rosberg when in the graining phase, but just a shade quicker under normal circumstances. Mercedes were in a bit of a pace gap between the top three teams and the rest. Not as consistent in pace as usually seen from Hamilton.
  • Hulkenburg (Sauber): Did not start
  • Gutierrez (Sauber): 13th: +1.8s on medium, +2.0s on supersoft: He made the tyres last well, but was a minute adrift of the Force Indias by the end, partly due to an inconsistent second stint. Will be interesting to see how he stacks up against Hulkenburg.
  • Di Resta (Force India): 8th: +1.5s on mediums, +2.0s on supersoft: Nearly caught his team mate by the end, but that would have been a travesty as he was totally outpaced. Force India looks to be as good as Lotus on the tyres, though.
  • Sutil (Force India): 7th: +0.7s on mediums, +1.9s on supersoft: A performance as impressive as it appeared watching the race. As fast as Hamilton on the medium tyres, and nearly a full second up on his team mate. Could have thrown it all away by taking five laps to get the supersofts anywhere near the pace at the end, but got away with seventh.
  • Maldonado (Williams): Ret: +2.6s on mediums, +2.3s on supersoft: From looking OK in testing, to being at the back of the midfield on Friday, the race was worse for Williams. And it looks like Maldonado may well struggle against Bottas too…
  • Bottas (Williams): 14th: +2.0s on mediums, +2.3s on supersofts: Was half a second faster than his team mate and didn’t stick it in the gravel. And his stints were very consistent. He did well – Williams did not.
  • Vergne (Toro Rosso): 12th: +0.8s on mediums, +1.9s on supersofts: Once on to the medium tyres, Vergne was almost as fast as Hamilton/Sutil, and faster than the McLarens. And destroyed Ricciardo. Wasn’t able to pass Grosjean/Button and went off track somewhere – should have been ninth.
  • Ricciardo (Toro Rosso): Ret: +1.5s on mediums, +2.1s on supersofts: Ahead of Williams and Sauber, but not in the same race as those ahead. Vergne was the faster in race pace in 2012 (by my reckoning) but never by this much. Something to watch.
  • Pic (Caterham): 16th: +3.3s on mediums, +7.3s on supersofts: The Caterham was appalling on the supersofts, and adrift of the rest of the field on the softs – by a full second.
  • Van der Garde: 18th: +4.4s on the mediums, +7.3s on the supersofts: Was quite a lot slower Pic, which made him comfortably the slowest car on the track.
  • Bianchi (Marussia): 15th: +2.3s on the mediums, +3.0s on the supersofts: To split the Williams in race pace on the medium tyre is quite some achievement. Marussia on the up.
  • Chilton (Marussia): 17th: +2.3s on mediums, +3.3s on supersofts: Was pretty close to Bianchi on pace, but got stuck behind van der Garde for a lot of the race. Got past though.

So the pace order on the all important medium tyre was:

  • 0.0s Raikkonen/Alonso
  • +0.2s Vettel
  • +0.3s Webber
  • +0.5s Massa
  • +0.7s Hamilton/Sutil
  • +0.8s Rosberg/Vergne
  • +0.9s Perez
  • +1.0s Button
  • +1.1s Grosjean
  • +1.5s Di Resta/Ricciardo
  • +1.8s Gutierrez
  • +2.0s Bottas
  • +2.3s Bianchi/Chilton
  • +2.6s Maldonado
  • +3.3s Pic
  • +4.4s van der Garde

Stars of the race? Well the obvious ones are Raikkonen and Sutil. But Vergne must be included, Bottas did well in a bad car, and the Marussia boys did a good job – I didn’t think Chilton would be as quick as Bianchi. Let’s see how they do in Malaysia.

Edit: Picture of Sutil’s last laps in answer to comment: