McLaren retain straight-line speed advantage (Practice one interactive data)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Although Mercedes were fastest in the first practice session the practice times indicate the W01 is not the fastest car around Valencia this weekend.

McLaren have the fastest car through the speed traps but it’s not clear yet how much time Ferrari have found with their exhaust upgrade.

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Tick/untick drivers? names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

Even at this early stage in the weekend it’s clear the teams’ cars are a lot quicker around Valencia than they were in 2009. The fastest time in the first session by Nico Rosberg was 1.3 seconds faster than the best time seen in FP1 last year.

That was despite a track that was clearly dusty. While the track cleaned up and became quicker, the drivers’ tyres (they tend to only use a single set of primes in FP1) became increasingly worn.

That meant times improved slowly, the improving condition of the track being offset by the deteriorating medium compound tyres. As a result most drivers set their best time within their first dozen laps.

So although Rosberg set the fastest time of the session he did it 20 minutes later than the McLarens, in which time the track will have become faster by several tenths of a second. Remember also that we saw Lewis Hamilton abort a lap on which he was set to improve after catching a Lotus in the final sector.

Interestingly, we know from the radio broadcasts that on Rosberg’s two laps when he set his best time he only activated his F-duct for the second. As the graph above shows that second lap was 2.3 seconds faster. However Rosberg was 7.5kph slower than Hamilton through the speed trap.

As usual the McLarens showed great straight-line speed. Jenson Button was fastest, cutting the beam at 315.2kph and Lewis Hamilton managed 314kph. But the next fastest driver, Sebastien Buemi, was 2.5kph slower.

There seems to have been no major leap forward from the Red Bulls as they test the new version of their F-duct. Sebastian Vettel hit 306.7kph which was 15th fastest, though more or less on a par with Robert Kubica’s similarly-engined car.

As expected the RB6s look stronger in the final sector with its high-speed turns than anywhere else on the track. Kubica narrowly pipped Vettel to fastest time there by one thousandth of a second.

The Red Bulls appear to be losing time on the rest of the lap. But we are accustomed to seeing them run heavier fuel loads at this stage in the weekend and we’ll get a clearer picture of their performance after second practice.

It’s too early to draw firm conclusions about how strong Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes are with their exhaust upgrades.

Ten drivers in this session were driving on the Valencia street circuit for the first time in a Formula 1 car and it interesting to compare their different approaches on their first flying laps. While some built up their speed slowly, others were fast from their first lap. Here’s what they set on their first laps:

Driver Lap time Session time
Michael Schumacher 1’42.369 46 minutes
Kamui Kobayashi 1’44.476 33
Pedro de la Rosa 1’45.473 47
Vitantonio Liuzzi 1’46.032 48
Lucas di Grassi 1’49.569 18
Vitaly Petrov 1’50.479 48
Christian Klien 1’51.583 27
Bruno Senna 1’52.606 30
Nico H???lkenberg 1’53.366 47
Paul di Resta 1’58.306 46

Full first practice times

Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Lap At time Laps
1 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.175 12 77 16
2 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.339 0.164 8 56 19
3 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.383 0.208 9 55 21
4 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.715 0.540 13 72 20
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’42.182 1.007 9 55 21
6 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’42.216 1.041 12 64 24
7 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’42.275 1.100 11 60 17
8 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’42.312 1.137 11 74 18
9 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’42.421 1.246 9 54 22
10 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’42.463 1.288 9 55 21
11 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’42.707 1.532 9 52 23
12 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’42.962 1.787 12 60 17
13 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’43.310 2.135 11 60 23
14 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’43.380 2.205 12 59 19
15 22 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1’43.397 2.222 8 54 21
16 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’43.437 2.262 9 54 18
17 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’43.729 2.554 9 46 21
18 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’44.183 3.008 12 61 21
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’44.491 3.316 10 56 20
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’45.653 4.478 7 35 23
21 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’47.123 5.948 12 57 17
22 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’47.285 6.110 8 50 18
23 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’47.343 6.168 7 35 13
24 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’47.356 6.181 6 22 24

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