Red Bull to the fore as McLaren vary set-ups (FP2 interactive data)

Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Monza, 2010

There may have been just five hundredths of a second between Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button’s lap times in second practice – but Hamilton’s car was almost 12kph faster in a straight line.

Encouragingly, the top three teams are very evenly matched – their best ultimate laps covered by just 0.076 seconds. Here’s the data from second practice.

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

McLaren conducted side-by-side tests of their steep and low rear wings in the second session and found they produced similar lap times – Lewis Hamilton just a few hundredths quicker than Jenson Button.

But the difference was clear to see in the speed trap. Hamilton was fourth-quickest, clocking 341.2kph, Button 21st, at 329.3kph.

The track was much hotter come the second session, surface temperature up from 21C into the high 30s. Teams began the session on the hard tyres before switching to the softs – and at that point McLaren’s 0.7s per lap advantage was overturned by Red Bull and Ferrari.

This was over half an hour after the McLaren drivers set their best laps, so it’s safe to assume the track was in a better condition by that time.

The McLaren drivers did go out on soft tyres but couldn’t find much of an improvement – whether that’s because the time wasn’t there or they had more fuel in remains to be seen.

Button said the pair may choose to go different ways on set-up for the race:

We have a lot of data to go through, so it will be a busy night tonight. But we?re pretty competitive with both packages, which is positive because it means the car is working efficiently. Our car is mechanically strong, so we just need to confirm what downforce level to run.

The team are very open to the decisions the drivers take, and Lewis and I will be able to choose the package that we feel is right for us ?ǣ but it won?t just be a driver decision, it will be made with our engineers and the team management.
Jenson Button

Ferrari may also have been trying difference aero parts on their two cars as Fernando Alonso’s best straight-line speed was 8.2kph faster than Felipe Massa’s.

Vettel set the fastest lap time but as he was only 17th fastest through the speed traps he may have to take a little more wing off to avoid being overtaken in the race. He admitted he’s wary of the competition:

McLaren is extremely quick and their cars went off a couple of times, so I don’t know if they had a clean afternoon. Ferrari was quick in the afternoon too, it will be tight.
Sebastian Vettel

It’s fair to say that more was expected from Renault and Force India – instead the midfield team that’s looking conspicuously strong at the moment is Williams.

The new teams are their customary second off the midfield. Virgin had some demon low-downforce kit on their car helping their drivers to the two fastest straight-line speeds in the second session.

Timo Glock was quickest of all, hitting, 345.9kph in the speed trap. But he thinks the set-up was a mistake:

We made an aero change, which was really low downforce and not the right way to go, so unfortunately we lost some time.
Timo Glock

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Lap At time Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’22.839 20 70 27
2 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’22.915 0.076 21 70 32
3 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’23.061 0.222 17 65 20
4 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’23.154 0.315 8 35 22
5 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’23.210 0.371 14 36 38
6 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’23.415 0.576 21 71 22
7 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’23.708 0.869 23 70 31
8 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’23.709 0.870 28 81 32
9 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’23.852 1.013 22 73 30
10 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’23.857 1.018 17 70 29
11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’24.181 1.342 23 63 35
12 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’24.380 1.541 21 62 36
13 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’24.407 1.568 14 46 21
14 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’24.448 1.609 14 52 29
15 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’24.517 1.678 14 34 35
16 22 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1’24.547 1.708 25 76 32
17 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’24.785 1.946 10 17 31
18 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’25.106 2.267 19 53 23
19 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’26.204 3.365 21 61 38
20 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’26.306 3.467 20 50 41
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’26.631 3.792 26 83 31
22 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’26.676 3.837 24 93 25
23 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’29.498 6.659 3 6 5
24 21 Bruno Senna No time

Ultimate laps times

A driver’s ultimate lap is his three fastest sectors added together.

Pos. Car Driver Car Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’22.839 0.000
2 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’22.876 0.037 0.278
3 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’22.915 0.076 0.000
4 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’22.925 0.086 0.136
5 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’23.070 0.231 0.140
6 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’23.315 0.476 0.100
7 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’23.653 0.814 0.056
8 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’23.708 0.869 0.000
9 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’23.780 0.941 0.072
10 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’23.821 0.982 0.036
11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’24.101 1.262 0.080
12 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’24.235 1.396 0.282
13 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’24.258 1.419 0.122
14 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’24.302 1.463 0.105
15 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’24.310 1.471 0.138
16 22 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1’24.547 1.708 0.000
17 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’24.704 1.865 0.081
18 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’24.964 2.125 0.142
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’26.098 3.259 0.208
20 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’26.123 3.284 0.081
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’26.468 3.629 0.163
22 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’26.551 3.712 0.125
23 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’29.498 6.659 0.000

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35 comments on Red Bull to the fore as McLaren vary set-ups (FP2 interactive data)

  1. The McLaren drivers did go out on soft tyres but couldn’t find much of an improvement – whether that’s because the time wasn’t there or they had more fuel in remains to be seen.

    Good analysis, Keith!

    McLaren use to run more fuel in the end of the sessions this year, so I assume that they had a good pace in the soft rubber too.

    Lewis said about different set ups:

    “With and without the F-duct was pretty similar for us”, Hamilton observed. We have two [downforce] levels, one is slower down the straights but quicker in the corners, and the other one is quicker down the straights but slower through the corners and they pretty much balance themselves out. Its pretty much deciding which one’s better on high fuel and whether there’s more potential in one setting than the other.”

    • miguelF1O (@) said on 10th September 2010, 22:14

      Are they allowed to choose one config for qually and one for race the fduct version could be better if they get pole if they dont it would be better to choose f-ductless config

      • miguelF1O (@) said on 10th September 2010, 22:17

        Ferrari Redbull and Williams made special tiny f-ducts to get the best balance of performance mercedes went the opposite direction very low downforce pack, anyway ferrari and mclaren looked promising and redbull seemed to be on the edge

  2. All the clicky clicking shows me that McLaren are distinctly faster than RBR on the hard tire, on long runs, in either configuration. And their lap 31-37 run was considerably quicker than Ferraris 7 lap run from lap 39. The soft tire runs were comparable, assuming these are all high-fuel runs. Qualifying will be very close, and I don’t see RBR’s Q3 afterburners counting for much here, now. But I expect to see McLaren dominate in the race. Given their hard-tire edge, McLaren should consider qualifying on hards too.

  3. Mclaren have that afterburner thing too – is that not what causes the low drone at low speeds/ engine revs?

  4. McLaren were fastest in sector 1, Red Bull in sector 2 and Ferrari in sector 3. Intresting!

  5. Yes , no team will admit the after burner issue . But yes , it’s highly possible mclaren did the same thing to their car by retarding the engine at turns to feed their diffuser with constant gas flow .
    The engine did sound v different btw Hungary and at spa . So I guess it should be the case

    But how effective is their constant feeding gas system would remain to be see , only in singapore , if mclaren could break or close their gap to red bulls , then I’ll say they have a great chance of winning the titles , given they have an upcoming update for Singapore , their driver experience and cohesion within team , and not forgetting they have one extra engine than the bulls who are running close to the 8 engine limit alr .

    And I just like to pt out that Ferrari seems to have lost their common sense : they said they will halt development after this round or Singapore round shall they be out of title contention . But they auld have realize that by doing so early last year , their car wasn’t any better than mclaren nor the red bulls ! Instead they should continue developing or use it as a parts testing session given the limited test opportunities !

  6. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 10th September 2010, 18:25

    Seems like the low-downforce setting might be the way to go – they don’t want to be sitting ducks at the start. Button might go for a bit more but I’d be surprised if there’s an extreme difference.

    If there’s a McLaren 1-2, Vettel’s pace might end Alonso’s hopes for good – and put a serious dent in Webber’s too.

    • Tiomkin said on 10th September 2010, 18:57

      Webber is already looking shaky, had the famous Redbull reliability problems at FP2. Hope they sort it.

    • tharris19 said on 10th September 2010, 20:35

      Webber has been very competative in qualifying throughout the year. I would wait to see what he brings to the table tomorrow.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 10th September 2010, 21:16

        … and Vettel has often been off the pace in qualifying when he appeared fastest in practice.

      • I wonder if Webber’s chassis needs to be replaced?
        If you recall, he’s now using Vettel’s old chassis that was found to have a ‘crack’ in it. Suspect the crack has re-appeared.

        Seems strange that he’s a couple of tenths off Vettel in every sector. Not losing time anywhere in particular.
        As a Webber fan, I watch his and Vettel’s times very closely, and aside from fuel loads, this is an unusually large and consistent gap. Something’s up.

    • miguelF1O (@) said on 10th September 2010, 22:20

      i think that mclaren may have the edge on qually but Ferrari on race trim the red bull will have to fight for podium

      • Typically thats the opposite of whats gone on, usually Redbull have been fastest in Quali an often mat chable or catchable in the race, the exceptions being Hungary an Silverstone.

        McLaren has generally been stronger in the race etc so I’d be suprised if Mclaren where to quali well and race badly, rip up the form book certainly.

        I was wondering, depsite the possibility of being nailed in the first lap with a larger rear wing which frankly I think is small, whether a large rear wing wouldn’t be better for overtaking anyway, a better exit and tighter line throught the parabolica, slip stream and better breaking into the first chicane.

  7. high speeds down the straight makes for passing, can see Lewis using that setup, but harder to get a good grid position, Button needs the better grip for qualifying so guess he will use the higher down force, he will need a good start to stay ahead of the field, hope he do’s well in qualifying.

    • I don’t know if it’s quite as clear-cut as it seems. In a slip-stream the extra drag won’t matter so much, and with more downforce the McLaren would be able to follow through the Parabolica more closely in order to pick the tow up. Finally, the car would be more stable under braking so he’d be able to break later into other corners.

  8. Surely if there is no real difference in laptimes with the fduct on or off they will go with it off! As the low straight line speed with it on may make overtaking hard and make them vulnerable to being passed down the straight. Agree?

    • Another factor is fuel. Running the high drag configuration must cost a lot of additional energy for the same lap time—assuming the F-Duct does not reclaim all of the penalty on the straights. That will mean qualifying and starting with a lot more weight, and the possibility of having to go down on revs in the middle of the race.

    • But higher downforce helps with tyre wear and braking performance…so it’s all swings and roundabouts.

      The closer the laps times are with the dif setups the more sense it makes to run each car differently from a team point of view. It covers off all eventualities.

      Each driver though (since they are trying to win a world championship) will want to be on what they perceive to be the optimum strategy.

      • Buttons preferance for well set up stable cars makes it highly likley he’ll take the F-Duct route, Hamilton is the interesting one though, personally despite him not minding a slightly unstable car I think high downfroce has more benefits than low so I think they’ll go for it.

        I think McLaren missed a trick by not brining a medium downforce F-Duct wing like Ferrari, I think that might be the best of both worlds. Something simular to what they had at Spa, seemed to work okay.

        • McLaren have brought spa-spec wing, they’re just referring to it as high downforce because it is relative to the extreme low-drag Monza set up.

  9. Does anyone know if using the F-duct affects how the gear ratios are set? I wonder if it has any benefit or not in terms of hitting the limiter when slipstreaming?

    Otherwise, they surely must remove it on both cars from FP3 onwards.

    Very surprised at Vettel being P1 today. Also surprised that Sutil didn’t run in FP1 on a track that Force India really should try and cash in on.

    • It is probably very hard to say as many things could affect which gear ratios are used. However I disagree about them having to go with the low downforce setup as a higher downforce enables to car to be better around the tighter corners, more stable under breaking and also provides much better tyre wear which could be crucial if they manage to stay out on softs for longer. It would also mean that other cars would find it harder to follow them out of the corners so may not get close enough for the extra straight line speed to matter.

    • hitting the rev limiter is basically just a speed thing.
      they will set the cars up so that with medium full tanks they will be hitting the limiter right at the end of the straight. in a slipstream this means they will hit the limiter earlier. the f-duct, if it gives a straightline speed advantage (it does usually, but it’s not so clear cut here), would obviously affect the top gear ratio.

  10. I like the ‘ultimate lap’!!

  11. Jameson said on 10th September 2010, 20:59

    This is really interesting. McLaren are running a massive rear wing compared to everyone else, but were still able to beat last year’s pole position by 3 tenths! I hope they drop a bit of wing off and sweep the weekend!

  12. judo chop said on 10th September 2010, 22:59

    What’s the benefit of McLaren not using the f-duct with the low rear wing? Especially since Hamilton’s car still had the shark fin. Surely, low or steep wing, reduced drag is always a plus. Maybe McLaren are sandbagging.

    • the f-duct adds drag; therefore it’s only useful if you are already running a decent amount of wing. the way it distorts the airflow is not efficient overall.

      it’s not just the shark fin, which doesn’t necessarily add drag (it’s also used to regualarise the airflow over the rear wing when the car is cornering).

      • judo chop said on 11th September 2010, 1:25

        Following on. What about the other teams? Williams seemed certain to run it given Sam Michaels comments and Renault were undecided. If most teams do run it wouldn’t it seem odd that the team that’s most utilised it doesn’t?

  13. michael said on 11th September 2010, 9:59

    100000$ is a small price to pay for a world championship!!!,ferrari makes this kind of money selling their team caps I guess.I am still not satisfied on how Ferrari got away with this, the rule is very clear!!!. Jean Todd knows too well how Ferrari gives team orders!!!

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