Red Bull’s pace and Schumacher’s progress (Practice 2 interactive chart)

Did McLaren disguise their true pace in second practice?

Did McLaren disguise their true pace in second practice?

While other teams turned up with eye-catching performance upgrades, Red Bull got everyone’s attention by dominating the second practice session in Spain by eight tenths of a second.

Is that a true reflection of how much quicker the RB6 is than rival teams’ cars? Take a closer look at the times from second practice using the interactive chart below.

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Mark Webber downplayed Red Bull’s performance advantage on Friday evening:

Don?t read too much into the times; McLaren probably weren?t showing everything today.
Mark Webber

Webber probably picked out McLaren as the team to watch because, having topped the morning session, Lewis Hamilton didn’t improve his time in the second session, suggesting he had a bit of fuel in his tank when he did his soft tyre run in the afternoon.

The Red Bulls, meanwhile, were two seconds faster in the second than the first, and Michael Schumacher – third in both sessions – found one second between the two practice periods.

As ever, reading anything into practice times is tricky because we don’t know the fuel loads. Perhaps what’s truly significant here is not Red Bul’s speed over a single lap but the fact that they need to investigate that potential this early on a Grand Prix weekend.

Until now we’ve been used to seeing them avoid doing low-fuel runs until Saturday. Perhaps the progress teams like McLaren have made in this area has prompted Red Bull to shore up their defences in this crucial area of car performance.

At Mercedes, Schumacher beat team mate Nico Rosberg for the second session in a row – a further indication that the revised, longer W01 is to his liking.

Interestingly, towards the end of the session many of the top teams’ times are grouped together, suggesting fuel loads around the half-tank level. Unsurprisingly Sebastian Vettel looks the quickest but the pace of the Mercedes seems to be closer to the Ferrari here.

Remember, however, that the track was very busy at this point and we saw several drivers aborting laps due to traffic.

What’s your reading of the practice sessions so far this weekend? Who do you think has the fastest car? Have your say in the comments.

2010 Spanish Grand Prix
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20 comments on Red Bull’s pace and Schumacher’s progress (Practice 2 interactive chart)

  1. KONL said on 8th May 2010, 1:14

    On the updated W01..

    Schumi certainly seems to like the car, but what about Rosberg?

    He was doing quite well before the update, and if the positions were reversed (i.e. if Schumi had 50 points), I don’t think we’d have seen as much criticism of the W01 as we do now….

    • Mike said on 8th May 2010, 3:26

      To be honest I doubt Rosberg is going slower, If he is, we will hear complaints from him,
      What are the chances of them actually building a slower car? not likely.
      And what are the chances of Mercedes running two completely different cars??? Equally unlikely.

      I think Schumacher must just have it to his liking now, This will only cause favouritism complaints from the Schumacher? CHEAT! clan… but that’s usually quite amusing.

      I don’t think the W01 was a bad car, I think it was a good car, but some drivers just can’t drive some cars as well as others, just as Rubens started beating Button half way through last season.

    • BasCB said on 8th May 2010, 7:43

      Schumi did have far more troubles with the car before, so he had a lot more to gain than Rosberg.
      And from the coverage i have seen, especially in China, not feeling good in the car made him not push as much to the limits in corners.
      So now he feels a lot better in the car and he is on a track he nows as good or better than a lot of other drivers, he gets closer to his and the cars limit and makes a large improvement.
      Rosberg improved as well, but was driving on the limit before and has gained only some thenths by the changes. In qualifying i am pretty sure, they will be closer together.

  2. Steve said on 8th May 2010, 5:08

    michael has always wanted a car that oversteers….. anyone who actually knows anything about F1 and his career, knows that…

    michael drove 950hp cars
    with the best f1 tires ever (middle of tire war)
    with less aero and more oversteer

    the modern cars are comparatively boring, even michael has said so, and alonso, but the drivers have no say in the matter…

    if this new car can be setup to oversteer, unlike the previous shorter w01, well… expect changes….

    that being said, nico is very very good

    • Mike said on 8th May 2010, 5:46

      I actually don’t understand how a long car will cause oversteer, I can only assume its to do with the aerodynamics because wouldn’t a longer can be more “stable” and less likely to oversteer?

      • BasCB said on 8th May 2010, 7:39

        The car was made longer wheelbase to have the weight push more on the rear and less on the front (by being further away from the front and closer to the rear)
        This makes the front wheels a little bit more responsive and takes away part of the understeer they had.
        I think that explains it, but i am no expert, just following the discussions for some time now.

        • bernification said on 9th May 2010, 9:17

          This does exactly the opposite- the less weight over the front wheels, the more they will be pushed along. This is exactly how you create a car with understeer.

          More weight needs to be over the front wheels to give them an ability to turn.

          Anyone remember the Hillman Imp? Couldn’t turn- all the weight was over the rear axle (Rear engined).

      • BBQ2 said on 8th May 2010, 8:42

        It is all about weight distribution mate. Ross said, MSC had to sit abnormally to affect weight in the W01. I can only hope he sits better now in the B-spec and that ultimately improves his driving results. Nico might have now have to sit differently to affect a weight distribution, who knows? :-)

        Technically, I would assume a longer wheel would affect the rear characteristics going into corners and therefore the longer the wheel the more oversteer you would have. I am not an Engineer myself but it sounds logical or not?

    • Michael relies on a car with a good front end that goes where he want’s and does not mind the back end slideing the shorter w01 did not allow this unlike the updated version

  3. theTTshark said on 8th May 2010, 5:41

    Back in the Group B days of the WRC, Ari Vatanen started out driving the Ford Escort (the last of the RWD cars) and found himself in the mist of the AWD wars. He got a seat with Opel but did terribly next to his team mate because he had never learned how to drive a car that understeers. He makes the switch to Peugeot and all of a sudden starts winning again… Schumacher isn’t the first driver to have problems with understeer. Looks like he might still be quick after all.

  4. BasCB said on 8th May 2010, 7:44

    Did you have the interactive chart in full screen mode before as well, Keith? I only noticed it now and it is great. The laps are better to see etc.

  5. BasCB said on 8th May 2010, 7:45

    Mark Webber has a pretty impressive run of consistent laps towards the end. But both he and Vettel got the impression McLaren is getting close to them.

    I am a little bit worried about Ferrari. They do not look as confident as they would have with working upgrades. But they might still have something up their sleeves.

  6. Patrickl said on 8th May 2010, 8:58

    “Until now we’ve been used to seeing them avoid doing low-fuel runs until Saturday. Perhaps the progress teams like McLaren have made in this area has prompted Red Bull to shore up their defences in this crucial area of car performance.”

    In Australia, Malaysia and China, Red Bull were already doing low fuel runs in FP2 just like the rest.

    Sometimes they do opt to let Webber do a few more low fuel runs and Vettel more longer runs though.

  7. m0tion said on 8th May 2010, 9:13

    PDLR surprises me most, maybe the preseason testing here wasn’t all low fuel showboat runs.

  8. John Beamer said on 8th May 2010, 9:35

    If you look at the speedtrap data the McLaren’s were 309 in the morning and 305 in the afternoon so they were definitely on heavier runs or were sandbagging for sure.

  9. BasCB said on 8th May 2010, 9:37

    maybe a little off topic, but i just read something about the Ferrari F-duct system and about how they activate it.
    They have to put their right hand on the hole, to block it. Thus they have only the left hand for driving and possible pushing and turning of buttons.

    Sounds pretty underdeveloped and dangerous to me, maybe they should just work on it a little bit more. Read it for yourself here http://www.formule1nieuws.nl/modules/news/article.php?storyid=32303 (dutch site)
    through translator: http://translate.google.cz/translate?hl=cs&sl=nl&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.formule1nieuws.nl%2Fmodules%2Fnews%2Farticle.php%3Fstoryid%3D32303

  10. Magnificent Geoffrey said on 8th May 2010, 9:52

    If it turns out that Michael just couldn’t get to grips with v1.0 of the Mercedes and has now recaptured the pure pace he held prior to his retirement, I will be very, very scared.

  11. Ferrari Cowboys said on 8th May 2010, 9:56

    Rosberg said he went the wrong way with setup, but just one more thing to point out in the Schumacher / Rosberg duel; Michael has always gone well here, but it’s not one of Nico’s best tracks. I think it’s just a coincidence that the new car has come along now and that Rosberg will be back to the high standard in the coming races.

    Qualy looks set to be the best of the season so far, but I’m sure Monaco will top it!

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