Canadian Grand Prix: Underlying Pace

Posted on June 13, 2013


So here is the performance chart of race pace in Canada 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 (Alonso on the hard tyres). Just to put the ‘pushing hard’ against ‘tyre management’ thing into some perspective, the pace was just less than 0.5s faster than last year (but the gaps were bigger) in comparison with the pace in Barcelona which was roughly the same as 2012. There is a perception that Barcelona was a tyre management cruise and Montreal a flat out race. It doesn’t really have a basis in fact.

One interesting thing about this race is that the temperature being higher on the Sunday meant that the medium was the tyre in the right window for the race – (almost) everyone was significantly faster on the harder tyre in the race.

  • Vettel (Red Bull): 1st: +0.7s on supersoft, +0.1 on medium: He may have been a touch slower than Alonso on the medium tyres, but we will never know how fast he could really have gone. Given the pace gap shown by Webber, he had at least 0.2s in hand.
  • Webber (Red Bull): 4th: +1.2s on supersoft (traffic), +0.4s on medium: Not really in the same race as Vettel. Lost time behind Rosberg, but didn’t really have the pace to beat Hamilton.
  • Alonso (Ferrari): 2nd: +1.3s on supersoft, fastest on hard: Eventually he got through to second place, but it took much longer than the Friday practice suggested. Ferrari seem to be fast on either Friday or Sunday (but not both). Disappointing first stint, but finally got going about halfway through the race.
  • Massa (Ferrari): 8th: +1.7s on supersoft, +0.7s on medium: May have started in the midfield, but really wasn’t helped by staying on supersofts at the first stops. With a change to mediums, likely to have been in the battle for sixth – as long as he could overtake…
  • Button (McLaren): 12th: + 2.4s on supersoft, +0.7s on medium: McLaren need to start making the most of the pace that they have. Underdelivered here – Button’s pace on the mediums should have seen him in the Vergne/Di Resta battle. But they ran too long a first stint and took it very easy for the first part of the second stint. Really should have had some points.
  • Perez (McLaren): 11th: traffic on supersoft, +1.0s on hard: Not as fast as Button, but was less compromised by the strategy choice and conservative target pace of the team.  Also lost far too much time behind Bottas. McLaren did not deliver on their pace in Canada.
  • Raikkonen (Lotus): 9th: +1.9s on supersoft, +0.9s on medium: Three points in two races is not championship form. Lotus weren’t fast here, but Raikkonen was only a couple of tenths off Massa, and as fast as Rosberg. Without the pitstop issue and traffic, should have been in the battle for sixth.
  • Grosjean (Lotus): 13th: +1.7s on supersoft, +1.6s on medium: Starting on the medium worked for most, but Grosjean wasn’t fast on it. And killed the supersofts. Either Kimi has stepped up this year, or Romain has stepped backwards – Grosjean has gone from being at least as fast to well adrift. Not good.
  • Rosberg (Mercedes): 5th: +1.9s on supersoft, +0.9s on medium: Same pace as Raikkonen. Not helped by staying on the supersofts in the second stint, but in the end made no difference. Was lucky that the cars of similar (or faster) pace were well behind at the end of the first stint giving him an untroubled run.
  • Hamilton (Mercedes): 3rd: +1.3s on supersoft, +0.4s on medium: Not as fast as Vettel or Alonso, but genuinely thrid quickest. And in a different league to Rosberg – for the first time. Paced himself to a little quicker than Rosberg in the second stint, then upped his pace once Webber/Alonso started catching him. If he had increased pace earlier, by only a few laps, then Alonso wouldn’t have caught him. A mistake, or a fuel-consumption constraint?
  • Hulkenburg (Sauber): ret: traffic on supersoft, +2.8s on medium: Sauber were slow here. At the back between Bottas and Ricciardo on merit before retiring. Where did the Barcelona race pace go?
  • Gutierrez (Sauber): 20th/ret: +3.3s on supersoft, +2.2s on medium: Was going quite a bit quicker than Hulkenburg on the mediums. But still slow…
  • Di Resta (Force India): 7th: +1.4s on supersoft, +0.7s on medium: The headlines talk of the 57 laps on the medium, but the real story is that he was quick. Faster than Rosberg, as quick as Massa, and able to escape the traffic due to starting on the medium tyre. Solid drive.
  • Sutil (Force India): 10th: traffic on supersoft, +1.4s on medium: Silly drive through cost eighth, but was much slower than Di Resta – possibly due to being hit by Maldonado. Shame he spun trying to pass Bottas as we don’t know whether he could have been fast. If the car was damaged, then passing Bottas and running at Di Resta pace could have had Rosberg worried.
  • Maldonado (Williams): 16th: traffic on supersoft, +2.2s on medium: Overshadowed by his team mate, but was only a little slower in the race. Assaulted a Force India, though.
  • Bottas (Williams): 14th: +3.9s on supersoft, +2.1s on medium: Killed the supersofts in three laps, but got protection from the slower Ricciardo who no-one could pass. Faster than Maldonado again, but only just. Finished in the right place on pace.
  • Vergne (Toro Rosso): 6th: +1.7s on supersoft, +1.0s on medium: I suggested a while back that if Vergne learned to qualify then his race pace always looked strong – I had him as the most likely for the Red Bull 2014 drive until he was patchy over the first few races this year. He’s had two good races in a row now. Not as fast as much of the midfield, but took advantage of the fact that no-one could get past Ricciardo – who he was genuinely much faster than.
  • Ricciardo (Toro Rosso): 15th: +4.4s on supersoft, +2.3s on medium: Had balance problems and killed the tyres. Horribly slow, but the Toro Rosso in fast in a straight line, and he held everyone up to ensure a great result for his team mate. Which is something.
  • Pic (Caterham): 18th: no data on supersoft, +3.3s on medium: The newer teams are beginning to be left behind a little. Not much else to say.
  • Van der Garde (Caterham): Ret: no data on the supersoft, 4.3s on medium: Really slow and getting in everyone’s way. I think he’ll try to forget about this race…
  • Bianchi (Marussia): 17th: +2.9s on supersoft, +2.6 on medium: Picked the medium tyre and went reasonably well. Much faster than Caterham – but might have been better off staying on the medium for longer. Still 20s behind Maldonado.
  • Chilton (Marussia): 19th: +3.4s on medium, +3.4s on hard: Not in the same race as Bianchi here. And didn’t really make the supersoft last. With two stops, and more time on the medium he would almost certainly have beaten Pic.

There isn’t really enough data to produce a supersoft table, so the underlying pace league table on the medium tyre looks like this:

  • 0.0s Alonso
  • +0.1s Vettel (with pace in hand)
  • +0.4s Webber/Hamilton
  • +0.7s Massa/Button/Di Resta
  • +0.9s Raikkonen/Rosberg
  • +1.0s Perez/Vergne
  • +1.4s Sutil
  • +1.6s Grosjean
  • +2.1s Bottas
  • +2.2s Maldonado/Gutierrez
  • +2.3s Ricciardo
  • +2.6s Bianchi
  • +2.8s Hulkenburg
  • +3.3s Pic
  • +3.4s Chilton
  • +4.3 van der Garde

Better reading for Lotus and McLaren, and Hamilton and Vergne. Not good for Sauber and Caterham, Grosjean and Ricciardo, and a reality check for Bottas.