Malaysian Grand Prix: Underlying Pace

Posted on March 27, 2013


So here is the performance chart of race pace in Malaysia constructed using the curve fits from the intelligentF1 model.

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 (Webber on the medium tyres).

  • Vettel (Red Bull): 1st: +0.1s on medium, +0.3s on hard: Stopped for slicks too early, and wasn’t as fast as Webber once the race settled down. A lightning final outlap and an extra set of new mediums put him on Webber’s tail after the final stop. All things equal would have been second.
  • Webber (Red Bull): 2nd: +0.0s on medium, +0.2s on hard: Got into the lead at the first stops, and was genuinely the fastest driver/car in the race. Both Red Bulls needed four stops, but so did the major competition. Earned the win he didn’t get.
  • Alonso (Ferrari): no data: Oops. If he had maintained his pace advantage over Massa from Australia, he would have been mixing it with the top four.
  • Massa (Ferrari): 5th: +0.5s on medium, +0.5s on hard: Lost ground on the intermediates at the start, but was about the same pace as Button, and slower than Mercedes/Red Bull. Faster than the McLaren on the hard tyres, though.
  • Button (McLaren): 17th/Ret: + 0.5 on medium, +0.9s on hard: Much, much better. Got near the front with drying-track brilliance. Was fifth on pace, and may have picked off the fuel-light Hamilton with his three-stopper, had the final stop been good. Had Lotus and Massa beaten on merit.
  • Perez (McLaren): 9th: +0.5s on medium, +0.9s on hard: Had the pace of Button, but didn’t pick up pace as the track dried as quickly which left him at the back of the upper midfield pack. Had he made a fourth stop when Hulkenburg did, he would have beaten Raikkonen for 7th.
  • Raikkonen (Lotus): 7th: +0.0s on medium, +1.1s on hard: As fast as anyone on the medium, once past Perez, but may have saved some tyre life at lower pace behind the McLaren. Quite why he couldn’t get past Hulkenburg is a mystery, but killed the tyres. A three stop didn’t really work, and he was really slow on the hards – much slower than Grosjean. Looks like he had lost interest by the end.
  • Grosjean (Lotus): 6th: +0.5s on medium, +0.8s on hard: He’s back. Faster than Raikkonen for the bulk of the race, and made the tyres last better in the second and third stints. The Lotus was slower on the hard (like McLaren) so wouldn’t have troubled Massa if he had four-stopped.
  • Rosberg (Mercedes): 4th: +0.2s on medium, +0.4s on hard: Looked faster than Hamilton all race, but this was partly as he was always on newer tyres – it was genuine only in the first dry-tyre stint. Not quite with Red Bull on pace, but close. A shame that Mercedes underfuelled and four-stopped – it could have been very interesting otherwise.
  • Hamilton (Mercedes): 3rd: +0.2s on medium, +0.4s on hard: More careful bringing his tyres in than Rosberg in the second stint, but at same pace thereafter. Cut pace by 0.9s to save fuel in the last stint, and team orders (obeyed) kept him on the podium.
  • Hulkenburg (Sauber): 8th: +0.7s on medium, +1.7s on hard: As with Button, brilliance on the drying track got him artificially high up, but had the pace to fight faster cars until the last stint when he was much slower on the hard tyres. Did very well.
  • Gutierrez (Sauber): 12th: +1.0s on medium, +1.7s on hard: To be 0.3s behind Hulkenburg on pace is not bad. Using the hards first dropped him back as the Sauber was not quick on these tyres. Recovered, but a three stop attempt failed, and he dropped out of the points.
  • Di Resta (Force India): Ret: +0.3s on medium, no data on hard: Lost time at pitstops, but this Force India is competitive. Di Resta was faster than Button/Massa/Grosjean in the first dry stint – and left Sutil behind. Promising.
  • Sutil (Force India): Ret: +0.6s on medium, no data on hard: This time was passed by his team mate. Still, Force India look to be just behind the top teams on pace. Now, to sort out those pitstops…
  • Maldonado (Williams): Ret: +1.7s on medium, no data on hard: Slightly better than Australia, but did visit the scenery a lot. Maybe trying to keep up with Bottas…
  • Bottas (Williams): 11th: +1.4s on medium, no data on hard: May have just missed out on a point, but Williams are still struggling (better here) and he is already faster than Maldonado – and pretty consistent. The data suggests that this guy could be good…
  • Vergne (Toro Rosso): 10th: +1.8s on medium, +0.9s on hard: Strangely, Vergne was much faster on the hard tyres, and this allowed him to run a fast three stop strategy to a points finish after losing nearly 30s in the pits clash with Pic. The data has always suggested his race pace was strong –  he just needs to learn to qualify. My driver of the race.
  • Ricciardo (Toro Rosso): 18th/Ret: +1.6s on medium, +1.7s on hard: Will be wondering how he went from more than 30s ahead of Vergne to being left behind in the second half of the race. The pace gap was big.
  • Pic (Caterham): 14th: +2.3s on medium, +2.3s on hard: The Caterham was much better here, and Pic recovered from the Vergne pit incident to beat his team mate. Continues to show potential.
  • Van der Garde: 15th: +3.2s on the medium, +3.1s on the hard: Still not yet in the same league as Pic. Beat Chilton though.
  • Bianchi (Marussia): 13th: +2.3s on the medium, +2.4s on the hard: This time Marussia were at the same pace as Caterham, and 0.6s behind Williams. Pic’s problems gave Bianchi a clear run, but it was close on pace this time. Consistency was extremely good.
  • Chilton (Marussia): 16th: +3.0s on medium, +2.7s on hard: Was left behind this week. Had more pace than Van der Garde in the dry, but lost too much time in the wet.

So the pace order on the medium tyre was:

  • 0.0s Webber / Raikkonen
  • +0.1s Vettel
  • +0.2s Hamilton/Rosberg
  • +0.3s Di Resta
  • +0.5s Massa/Button/Grosjean/Perez
  • +0.6s Sutil
  • +0.7s Hulkenburg
  • +1.0s Gutierrez
  • +1.4s Bottas
  • +1.6s Ricciardo
  • +1.7s Maldonado
  • +1.8s Vergne
  • +2.3s Bianchi/Pic
  • +3.0s Chilton
  • +3.2s van der Garde

And on the hard tyre:

  • 0.2s Webber
  • +0.3s Vettel
  • +0.4s Hamilton/Rosberg
  • +0.5s Massa
  • +0.8s Grosjean
  • +0.9s Button/Perez/Vergne
  • +1.1s Raikkonen
  • +1.7s Hulkenburg/Gutierrez/Ricciardo
  • +2.3s Pic
  • +2.4s Bianchi
  • +2.7s Chilton
  • +3.1s van der Garde

So Webber fastest, and Mercedes competitive. McLaren almost back, and Force India threatening to be at the front. Lotus and Ferrari not as quick this time. And strong stuff from Vergne, Bottas and Bianchi. Looks good for a classic season. Roll on China…