Canadian Grand Prix: Friday Practice

Posted on June 8, 2013

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Yes, I do still exist. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks, and the Monaco race was so follow-my-leader that there really was nothing interesting to say. Had I time on my hands I would probably have written something, but it would have been fairly dull. So let’s move on to Canada, which is always much more interesting. And also has short laps, which means more data…

Unfortunately, it rained in FP2. But the good news is that the rain was light enough not to ruin all the data. The pace of the stints isn’t entirely consistent, but there are nice consistent patches, so I’ve concentrated on fitting those. The majority of the runs are on the supersoft tyres, with the pace difference between the tyres (based on Webber) being pretty small – he was a few tenths faster on the harder tyre, but he may well not have refuelled as the fuel effect is really small in Montreal. In general, the pace is reasonably consistent with the first stint equivalent pace from 2012 – with the exceptions being the few fast cars, who are faster than last year.

There is data for everyone except Di Resta and Button, and I’ve plotted that on the chart below. As always, each line represents a car, and if you think of the top of the chart as an imaginary car going constant speed, if the line is going up we are catching up to our imaginary car, and the line is going down, we are dropping back.

2013_canada_1

The first thing to jump out (at least at me) is that the spread is bigger than it has been in recent races. The second is that Ferrari are fast and Lotus are not. The expectation on these race pace curves is to see the red lines and the yellow lines at the top. They might be playing with fuel loads, but there would need to be some sandbagging going on for Lotus to be genuine contenders. In fact, Red Bull are somewhere near Ferrari, and that’s it. Alonso has to be a heavy favourite based on this data – and it looks like they will be able to two-stop. The only other time Ferrari looked this good on Friday was in Bahrain, though, and they didn’t deliver on the Sunday. Not sure I see that happening twice.

After the Ferraris and Red Bulls, there are a group of cars consisting of Mercedes, Force India and Lotus. Also within this group (although less easy to see as their pace is not as quick at the start) are the Toro Rossos (especially Ricciardo) and Perez. The McLaren sped up significantly towards the end of the stint suggesting that it might even head this group. Sutil was actually fastest, but he did run another, slower, stint. Unexpectedly, Pic is also on the back of this group, but the pace difference to van der Garde is so big that this is almost certainly a light fuel load.

The group at the back is Sauber, Williams and Marussia – all at pretty similar pace. In fact, Grosjean’s stint fits best in this group, which suggests to me that the Lotus pace is due to much more than fuel effect. Marussia haven’t delivered fully on their Friday pace yet – maybe they run a little light, or maybe a big performance is coming… Van der Garde is off the back, so Caterham’s real pace is very hard to figure. They might be in trouble.

Interestingly, the degradation does not seem to be too bad. All the cars are increasing pace through the stint, and with the small fuel effect this means that the degradation is pretty low too. Only a couple of cars (Webber!) show signs of running out of tyres – indeed many have quite a lot left as they are able to go faster on their last flying lap – a little test to see what is left in most cases I would suspect. Two stops looks to be the most likely option.

The best fits to the pace I have using the intelligentF1 model fits are:

  • Alonso fastest
  • +0.3s Vettel
  • +0.4s Massa
  • +0.5s Webber
  • +0.9s Sutil (also ran a slower stint)
  • +1.2s Perez (only towards the end of the stint)
  • +1.3s Rosberg
  • +1.4s Hamilton
  • +1.6s Raikkonen (yes, really!)
  • +1.8s Ricciardo
  • +1.9s Pic (surely low fuel)
  • +2.1s Vergne
  • +2.2s Grosjean/Bianchi
  • +2.3s Hulkenburg/Gutierrez (most of Hulkenburg’s stint was slower)
  • +2.5s Chilton/Maldonado/Bottas
  • +4.7s van der Garde (surely not this slow)

So, Alonso looks to be heavy favourite, Toro Rosso look good for a good result and Vettel looks to keep racking up the points. Lotus have work to do. Oh, and Mercedes will to go backwards in the race as there will be some overtaking…

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