British Grand Prix: Friday Practice

Posted on June 29, 2013

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And so to Silverstone. Looking forward to being there on Sunday, when it seems that it will be nice and dry. And fortunately we got some dry running in Free Practice 2 as well. Which is good, as otherwise I might have had very little to say.

After all the tyre controversies and testing controversies, it’s nice to get down to some running. And the degradation seems to be significantly lower here than we might have expected. OK, it’s the hard and medium tyres, but the laptimes were very consistent through stints, and indeed there seemed to be plenty of tyre performance left at the end of reasonably long stints. I can’t see too many problems with a two-stopper unless the temperature goes up a lot.

Interestingly, the pace is fast. Significantly faster than last year – for the first time in 2013. Which is either due to the cool ambient temperature, or the fact that the teams aren’t having the same tyre problems we’ve got used to seeing. Either way, the evidence suggests that we’re not likely to see another Barcelona-like four-stop race.

So to the pace of the cars themselves. We have the usual deal (except that there is no good race stint data from Massa, Raikkonen, Button, Bottas and Gutierrez) with the stints being plotted on a race history chart. Each line represents a car, and the steeper the line slopes up, the faster the car is going.

2013_britain_1

I know that different compounds were used for different runs (Vettel/Hamilton on hards, Grosjean/Webber/Rosberg on mediums), but the differences in degradation and pace do not seem to be too large. There is certainly no evidence of the mediums not lasting long. Anyway, it’s Red Bull fastest from the blue lines at the top of the chart, with Alonso thereabouts although he brought his tyres in more gently. Grosjean looks good – but not as good as some have suggested – although given that he has not matched Raikkonen this year, the Lotus looks to be reasonably competitive.

Then there is a bit of a gap to Force India, Mercedes and Toro Rosso. The Force Indias set off quickly and the Mercedes gently, but it was the German cars which has the better pace overall. The data from McLaren is very sparse, with only a few laps done – I’ve plotted Perez, but it’s not easy to tell his pace. Best guess is behind this group – and about level with Hulkenburg’s Sauber. Not promising.

The tail of the field is beginning to look like a three-way fight, with Williams having worked their way backwards into the Caterham/Marussia battle. It really does look like they could be beaten here in the race on merit. Pic was fastest of the back four, but it looks like another close run thing.

The underlying pace chart for the FP2 practice runs using the intelligentF1 model fits is like this:

  • Webber (hards)
  • +0.2s Alonso
  • +0.3s Vettel (mediums) / Grosjean (mediums)
  • +0.8s Rosberg (mediums) / Hamilton (hards)
  • +1.0s Di Resta / Sutil / Vergne
  • +1.4 Ricciardo
  • +1.8s Hulkenburg
  • +1.9s Perez
  • +2.8s Pic
  • +3.0s Maldonado / Bianchi
  • +3.3s Chilton
  • +3.5s van der Garde

In comparison with Canada, Lotus definitely look better, and Mercedes look worse. The podium is most likely to be made up of drivers in the blue, red and black cars. It will be interesting to see how well Mercedes can hang on – the gaps are much smaller than in Barcelona so they should be well in the points, and whether Toro Rosso can continue the points scoring with both drivers having an eye on the 2014 Red Bull seat. Not sure this is one for the McLaren fans though…

A final thought. When Ferrari have looked really good on Friday, Vettel has won – and when they have been thereabouts, Alonso has delivered on the Sunday. Based on that warped logic, Alonso would be favourite…

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