Teams face difficult choice over Monaco tyres (Practice two interactive chart)

McLaren don't look happy with the super-soft tyres at Monaco

McLaren don't look happy with the super-soft tyres at Monaco

The drivers ran on the super-soft tyres for the first time this weekend in the second practice session – and discovered they may struggle with them in Sunday’s race.

Take a look at the second practice times in detail with the interactive chart below.

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Struggling on super-softs

Jenson Button’s radio comment during the second practice session asking about how the other teams were coping with wear on the super-soft tyre was a bit of a giveaway.

It hinted at the doubts over the MP4-25’s performance on the slow-speed, low-grip track and both Button and Hamilton’s lap times indicate the team were struggling to find the same kind of performance and durability on the super-soft tyres that their rivals were.

Red Bull had problems with the super-soft tyres last year and, as Mark Webber acknowledged after the session, their slow corner performance was lacking at tracks like Singapore and Yas Island. So far they look more comfortable this year – on a par with the Ferraris but, as expected, not enjoying the performance margin they had in Barcelona.

Almost every driver who’s reached Q3 the season has elected to qualify – and therefore start the race – on the softest tyre available. On the face of it, that should remain the case in Monaco, as the alternative to the super-soft tyre is not the soft tyre Bridgestone brought last year, but the medium.

But perhaps, with overtaking so difficult at Monaco and the super-soft tyre potentially too fragile to cope with a maximum fuel load at the start of the race, for the first time there could be a real benefit in gambling on the medium tyre. Still I suspect most teams will stick with super-softs because they won’t want to give away track position in qualifying.

Kubica looks quick

The light rainfall in the second half of the session was not enough to force driver to change to intermediate tyres – but its effect on the lap times is clear to see.

But Robert Kubica continued to put in quick times, lapping in the low 1’15s at this point. According to his team, Kubica set the quickest time achieved on the medium compound tyre – I can’t verify that but assuming it’s true it’s a further indication that Kubica has excellent pace this weekend.

One driver who doesn’t seem to be going so well – and not for the first time this year – is Vitantonio Liuzzi. He was almost a second slower than Adrian Sutil in the first session and over a second off in the second. He said the VJM03 isn’t working for him on low fuel runs, which we’ve seen evidence of in several races this year – he’s yet to beat Sutil in qualifying.

After a difficult weekend in Spain Nico Rosberg seems to be happier this weekend. Mercedes have reverted to the shorter wheelbase W01 used before Barcelone which they think will be better suited to the Monaco track.

Despite losing time in the morning with a broken pushrod he beat Michael Schumacher by just over a tenth of a second in the afternoon session.

At Williams, Rubens Barrichello and Nico H?â??lkenberg were doing side-by-side tests new front and rear wings and so it’s likely they ran with similar fuel loads at similar times. In which case, rookie H?â??lkenberg had a good showing by lapping two-tenths of a second faster than his team mate, nothwithstanding the deteriorating track conditions later in the session when Barrichello set his best time.

The new teams

The quickest runner from the new teams was Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus, 1.2 seconds off the slowest midfield runner, Jaime Alguersuari.

As in the first session the true performance of the new teams compared to the establish runners seems to be slightly exaggerated by the time at which they set their laps. But in relative terms they seem to be about as far behind as they were in Barcelona, possibly a little closer.

Within a few minutes of today practice finishing a rain showed doused the circuit, washing away today’s rubber build-up.. By the time they get back on track on Saturday the circuit will have a day’s worth of rubbish dropped on it. The teams are chasing a moving target at Monaco and the one which calls the conditions best stands to win big on Sunday.

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39 comments on Teams face difficult choice over Monaco tyres (Practice two interactive chart)

  1. Glenn said on 13th May 2010, 21:18

    The big thing that i’m looking to find out is what was the gap from the Prime to the Option. It was within 0.4 of a Sec a would say it is worth a shot for some of the teams to gamble on the Prime in Q3 to enjoy more consisent laps and a longer stint at the beginning of the race. and then optimize the Option tire at the end of the race where the pace will really show on the Option. As oppossed to Running slow times on the Option at the beginning because of heavy fuel and then running slow times at the end because of 50 lap-old-tires.

    Should be an interest saturday to see what the teams do depending on their tire wear and track conditions.

    • Metallion said on 13th May 2010, 21:46

      I believe it’s true that Kubica was the fastest driver on the medium tire, lapping about 1:15:5, while Alonso’s fasest time on the super soft was 1:14:904. If you compare Alonso’s fastest times on medium and super soft I think the difference is a couple of tenths more if I still remember right. Don’t take my word for it though:)
      Hopefully someone else will have some input on this.

    • Patrickl said on 13th May 2010, 22:28

      Didn’t Rosberg and Schumacher do their longer stints at the end of the session on different tyres? I though that Schumacher was on the softer options and Rosberg on the harder primes.

      There was about a second between their laptimes.

      • MigueLP said on 14th May 2010, 1:10

        rosberg has always been very fast at monaco maybe he is the underdog in 07 rai won at monaco and became world champ in 08 despite the strange champ lewis won monaco and world champ 09 button despite 2nd part of the champ won the champ maybe the winner will become again the wchamp at the end of the season

    • GB2009 said on 14th May 2010, 1:33

      Sound theory, but 1 safety car and this strategy is shot to pieces….and we all know how often Monaco is run without a safety car…

  2. hyoko said on 13th May 2010, 21:25

    For the record, in the last 10 races only five victories were won from the pole position. The advantage doesn’t seem to be as huge as in Barcelona.

  3. bertie said on 13th May 2010, 21:40

    If people are really struggling with the super softs the chance of a bad crash and hence a safety car has to be high. Taking that into account gambling on medium tyres may be the way forward. Also, since the back half will presumably all be on the medium tyres the leaders after pitting could well get stuck behind the traffic esp. if a safety car has compressed the field.

  4. Salty said on 13th May 2010, 21:59

    Agree with you K that most will follow the season pattern and go option for Q3, but wonder if Button will wriggle into Q3 then sit on the primes. If he can drive them far enough, could gain valuable positions, let’s face it, they won’t overtake him. Downside to prime off the grid is if you want to try to one stop, a heavier car will punish them more in the early laps, but hey, Monaco is no tyre killer, not on ANY level.

    Sorta almost talked myself outta the argument, but still think there is room for a smart Q3 dude to make places starting prime.

    • Maybe Sutil can do it. It’s very likely he’ll get to Q3 but very unlikely he can qualify in top 8. So he might take that gamble.

      But in Monaco it’s a tough strategy, as the last stint is driven with softer tyres and the driver on that strategy should be much faster in the last laps, but won’t be able to overtake slower guys.

    • BasCB said on 14th May 2010, 8:59

      I was thinking of Jenson as well, he was thinking about the tyres. Or maybe rather Hamilton, as he takes more out of his tyres and mentioned this strategy in an interview on wednesday.
      Also Kubica might give this a try, qualifying on 8/9 on Mediums and going for a long stint to get near or on the podium.

  5. Patrickl said on 13th May 2010, 22:23

    Mercedes hasn’t reverted to the “short wheelbase” car, but they have reverted to their “Monaco front suspension” setup. It’s actually different from what they used before Barcelona.

    • Cobray said on 13th May 2010, 22:30

      Ross specifically calls it reverting to the previous suspension.
      http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2010/5/10754.html

      Monaco requires a particular set-up and therefore whilst we will run our new aero package but we will revert to our previous specification suspension system to allow for the steering lock required around this unique circuit.~Ross

      • Patrickl said on 14th May 2010, 13:10

        Yet … it’s different from the one used before Barcelona:

        “There is some specific front suspension for Monaco so it will be different again. As always we do some unique changes for Monaco, because the cars designed for circuits like Barcelona won’t get around the hairpin.”

        http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/83527

        • BasCB said on 14th May 2010, 17:37

          A moment ago i read an interesting analyses of the suspension issue from ScrabsF1:
          http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/monaco-set-up-the-misconption-of-wheelbase/

          Mercedes GP are bringing their previous front suspension to Monaco.  This results in the car resorting to its previous short wheelbase set up.  This is not aimed at creating a shorter more nimble car, but simply not being enough long wheelbase wishbones available to the team.

          • Cobray said on 15th May 2010, 1:02

            i don’t know whats going on guys. Seems like they are saying 2 different things.

            Particualary surprising since autosport is very accurate 99% of the time I wonder what is really going on.

            I’ll have to go with patrick on this seeing how uncomfortable schumacher was and how close he is to rosberg in practice 2. Doubt they are using exact previous suspension they used in china and previous races.

  6. Electrolite said on 13th May 2010, 22:58

    Half glad Mclaren are struggling, neither of them are in my top 5 predictions you see :D

  7. DaveW said on 13th May 2010, 23:26

    As it is impossible to pass, this is academic. You qualify as far up as you can, which means using the soft tires, and then you stick it out. You don’t pit unless and until your pursuers do, never mind the sparks coming from bare steel wires showing through the tread.

  8. Icthyes said on 14th May 2010, 0:13

    Will be interesting to see if anyone in Q3 decides to qualify and start on the mediums. That said, what would be the advantage? Even on rubbish tyres it should be okay to keep someone behind you, and staying out for a longer first stint won’t leap-frog you ahead of anyone, unless you can stay out long enough for the advantage of those on new tyres to be wiped out when they go off and slow down.

    And for argument’s sake, if McLaren get pole, they can just pit first. I doubt they’d come into any traffic after such a short time.

    • HG said on 14th May 2010, 1:10

      yes that will be interesting, i guess the start here like barcelona is important, so the extra meter or two at the start might make the softer compund more attractive

    • GB2009 said on 14th May 2010, 1:38

      I heard Davidson say the time-loss for a pit stop is expected to be 24 seconds (from in to out)…The slower cars are like 4 sec + slower per lap, plus they start a long way back.

      I would expect them to be 24 sec+ behind the leader by the end of lap 2, 3 at a stretch, so no way could this work. F1 suicide!

      • Icthyes said on 14th May 2010, 20:22

        Well I was imagining a gap would open up between the slowest established runners and the fastest of the new teams.

        It may be though that we see something nuts like Button pitting after Lap 1 and staying out for the whole race, nursing his tyres if there’s traffic and going for it in clean air.

  9. Vettel had huge problems with the tyre last year I hope the same doesn’t happen again to people. Should be a close race and looks like the first non-Red Bull pole on it’s way.

  10. m0tion said on 14th May 2010, 1:34

    Anyone know why Webber missed half the session? Nothing in any comments or press. Talk of a vibration and lack of pick up out of corners earlier. He got out for an untimed lap at the end but it loooked like they ran more laps on Vettel to compensate and get data. I’m hoping like Trulli today that it was an old engine unit.

    Kubica and Sutil were the most impressive. Kubica must be talking contracts to be pushing so hard. I don’t think RBR were giving it all revs through the tunnel despite posting the most S2 purples.

    Hamish posted 04 Trulli qualy lap Utube link during Q1. Always the best qualy lap in history for mine. Hope we get something special from Webber for posterity too.

  11. Macca said on 14th May 2010, 2:09

    Looking closely at the chart I would say that Webber is quicker than Vettel. His lap times are more consistent than Vettels who only really put down those 3 quick laps in the middle part of the session.

  12. Sri said on 14th May 2010, 8:18

    Hamilton is the one who’s by and large having tyre woes… McLaren traditionally were kinder on the tyres. They must have had changed geometry to get more performance out of it. Then again, i don’t see Button complaining as much… Erm… I’ll not want to start a flame war here, but…

    • Patrickl said on 14th May 2010, 11:34

      As the article states, it was Button who was wondering about tyre wear on other cars. You think that’s because he’s having no problems with his tyres?

      Hamilton actually did put in a longer high fuel stint in FP1 with pretty consistent laptimes.

  13. wasiF1 said on 14th May 2010, 9:08

    I think Kubica will be there in the top 5.

  14. BasCB said on 14th May 2010, 9:11

    I love these charts, especially in full screen mode.

    Impressively consant runs from Chandhok in the Hispania, Senna was struggling with a damaged car. I have the impression Kobayashi is doing pretty good as well, his runs in fp2 are about consistently improving his times as well.

    Looks like the Williams made a good step with their improvements. This would be a nice track for the Hulk to show what he can do.
    He said something like, there is a lot of time still to find by gaining confidence with an F1 car here.

    Alguersuari is still building his confidence as well, not going full throttle through the tunnel yet.

    Qualifying times will probalby be about 1.15 like todays times, as the track will start from zero on Saturday.

    • m0tion said on 14th May 2010, 12:30

      don’t know if you have noticed but Rubens doesn’t show up until qualy. Maybe he is managing the Cosworths

  15. BasCB said on 14th May 2010, 9:13

    From Alonso’s driving i get the impression he is feeling up to it here. Vettel might get pole as well, as he has this quali magic going, but only if Mark did not get under his skin for beating him at Spain.

    Massa is doing good as well. But my dark horse bet is Rosberg getting on top of it in Q3.

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