Red Bull fastest in the dry but rain expected tomorrow (FP2 analysis)

Red Bull cars filled the top two places in both of today’s practice sessions at Japan, confirming pre-race expectations that the RB6 would be the car to beat around sinuous Suzuka.

Rain has already begun to fall at the track and much more is expected tomorrow. Will Red Bull retain their advantage in more challenging conditions?

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

Red Bull enjoyed a healthy performance margin over Ferrari today. Their qualifying pace, reflected in their best lap times in second practice, seems especially strong.

Reflecting the same pattern seen at other races this year, the two are closer on race pace. Zoom to the final 15 minutes on the interactive chart above to compare their lap times.

After his crash in first practice Lewis Hamilton managed only a few laps at the end of the second session and had to run with the old-specification rear wing. Jenson Button’s pace showed McLaren are in the mix with Ferrari but Red Bull are surely out of reach in dry conditions.

Robert Kubica cautioned against building up unrealistic hopes after finishing the second session third fastest, ahead of both Ferraris and McLarens. He’s not the only person in the paddock worried about what the weather will do:

We need to wait and see what the weather will bring us tomorrow and try to do our best in all conditions. The forecast is saying there will be quite a lot of rain, so it was important to do a lot of running today and complete all our evaluation ahead of the race, which looks like it might be dry. If it is wet tomorrow, then today will have been our only chance to drive on dry tyres before the race.
Robert Kubica

Rain began to fall at the track after second practice and is expected to stay throughout tomorrow.

Adrian Sutil was the only one of Force India’s driver to use the new floor on the car in first practice. By the second session both cars had the upgrade but Vitantonio Liuzzi still ended up 1.5 seconds off his team mate.

The gap between the two Williams drivers can be explained by the traffic Rubens Barrichello encountered. A look at the ultimate lap times before shows he was on team mate Nico H?â??lkenberg’s pace before a technical problem intervened.

Nico Rosberg had a gearbox problem in the first session and struggled with understeer in the second. He was 0.05s slower than Michael Schumacher – not much in terms of time but it left him three places behind.

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Lap At time Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’31.465 20 69 32
2 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’31.860 0.395 15 60 29
3 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’32.200 0.735 18 63 32
4 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.362 0.897 21 67 34
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.519 1.054 16 55 35
6 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.533 1.068 15 62 28
7 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’32.703 1.238 12 42 32
8 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.831 1.366 13 58 27
9 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’32.842 1.377 11 51 26
10 10 Nico H?â??lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’32.851 1.386 13 67 26
11 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.880 1.415 11 62 26
12 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.471 2.006 19 69 31
13 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.481 2.016 5 91 8
14 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’33.564 2.099 10 30 16
15 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.697 2.232 19 65 33
16 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.005 2.540 16 53 32
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.055 2.590 15 47 37
18 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’34.310 2.845 19 59 33
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.095 4.630 22 63 37
20 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.333 4.868 20 68 33
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.630 5.165 20 77 28
22 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.834 5.369 4 24 28
23 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’37.352 5.887 18 58 33
24 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’37.831 6.366 19 59 34

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best time in each of the three sectors that make up a lap added together.

Pos. Car Driver Car Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’31.431 0.034
2 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’31.860 0.429 0.000
3 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’32.110 0.679 0.090
4 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.165 0.734 0.197
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.503 1.072 0.016
6 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.533 1.102 0.000
7 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’32.703 1.272 0.000
8 10 Nico H?â??lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’32.768 1.337 0.083
9 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.797 1.366 0.083
10 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.826 1.395 0.005
11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’32.842 1.411 0.000
12 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’32.995 1.564 0.569
13 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.471 2.040 0.000
14 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.481 2.050 0.000
15 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.552 2.121 0.145
16 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.005 2.574 0.000
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.018 2.587 0.037
18 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’34.029 2.598 0.281
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.034 4.603 0.061
20 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.333 4.902 0.000
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.630 5.199 0.000
22 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.664 5.233 0.170
23 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’37.241 5.810 0.111
24 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’37.668 6.237 0.163

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52 comments on Red Bull fastest in the dry but rain expected tomorrow (FP2 analysis)

  1. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 8th October 2010, 9:48

    Rain could really mess up Red Bull’s party. McLaren are strong in the wet (though it will be difficult with the limited running with the upgrades) and Alonso isn’t exactly the world’s worst wet-weather driver (Spa notwithstanding).

    But I don’t think their advantage in today’s dry will be the same as in a dry race. Alonso usually sandbags in practice and we have little idea of where Hamilton is.

    • Adrian said on 8th October 2010, 9:52

      Hadn’t Hamilton just set the fastest time so far for Sector 1 before he went off?

      • yes but it was early and RB hadn’t really been running much up to then.

      • DaveW said on 8th October 2010, 14:21

        He finished fifth in the session, I think, and still ahead of Button. So that makes the plot thick.

        We saw the same scenario in Germany with the upgrades and in England. Hamilton and Button were going off trying to get a handle on EBD behavior. I suspect that the off-throttle behavior, which you would see as you come out of the first Degner and try to settle the car for the tight second part, gave the McLaren guys fits. You could hear Hamilton’s car moaning dramatically off-throttle again, while Button’s car sounded normal.

        Clearly Button is not comfortable or willing to run the overrun setting and probably the different floor package it is designed to apply to that Hamilton is. If Hamilton can come to terms with the new spec I think he might be very quick.

    • F1iLike said on 8th October 2010, 11:35

      Neither are Vettel who took pole and won in a Torro Rosso… Pretty strong achievement.

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 8th October 2010, 15:19

        That car was insanely good in the wet. I mean, Bourdais qualifying 4th?

        Vettel is good in the wet but I think the cars contributed a lot to the premature “new Regenmeister” tag.

        • dragon said on 8th October 2010, 23:47

          ridiculous. The TR was performing strongly before and after Monza as well, but not enough to warrant the kind of performances Vettel was putting in, the kid definitely was outdriving the car. If it was Hamilton in his place at STR, you’d be gushing about how much HE was outdriving the car.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th October 2010, 11:52

      I am not too sure about that, i suppose that with really stable wet conditions Red Bull will be able to use their Downforce advantage.
      Only in the changable weather with a narrow balance between slicks and intermediates i see a weakness.

    • Patrickl said on 8th October 2010, 18:57

      Alonso doesn’t sandbag in practice. He doesn’t have the engines to go full speed on friday.

  2. Chris P said on 8th October 2010, 9:56

    I am very surprised at the news that Liuzzi is to stay with Force India for 2011. Has he finished many sessions above Sutil? Maybe only when Sutil has parked it in the barrier early in the session perhaps?

    • Daffid said on 8th October 2010, 10:18

      There’s no such news, just Liuzzi saying he has a contract… we’ve heard that sort of thing before. Doesn’t mean it’s a contract to race or a contract that Force India will honour. More likely FI are just hedging their bets in case Sutil jumps and they can’t get Heidfeld to partner Di Resta.

      • FI’s Szafnauer in interview told
        “We never talk about contracts…”
        He also said, there is a seat available in FI for 2011.

        I really hope petrove do well in next 2 races, so that we can see Sutil and Heidfeld and in FI 2011.

        • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 8th October 2010, 11:04

          Gotta feel sorry for Liuzzi. Apparently a lot of his problems come from the F-Duct, which he hates. He seemed closer to Sutil at the beginning of the season and it will be a shame if he loses his drive off the back of something that wont be in the sport next year, but hey that’s racing and you’re only as good as your last race.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th October 2010, 11:48

            It might be just that fact saved him from being dropped after being so far behind on Sutil at most races.

    • Daffid said on 8th October 2010, 12:11

      What I find interesting, is that Liuzzi looked better than Klein in the old Red Bull days, and Klein comes back after years, jumps in a dog of a car and absolutely hammers Senna. Senna’s trading on a convenient name at the moment.

      Whatever, I’m looking forward to seeing Di Resta drive, I’m hoping Sutil gets the Renault (or Merc…) drive so we can see how good he is, and Nick returns somewhere – he’d be a better FI bet than Liuzzi I reckon.

      • Sound_Of_Madness said on 8th October 2010, 15:15

        There is a possible explanation to that. Maybe that Klien put his head down as a test driver in various teams and worked hard, and so knows really well to set-up a car. On the other hand, Liuzzi spent less years as tester (and these on the non-testing years and in a lower team) and knows better car setuping. Or maybe that Liuzzi is just more plain lazy.

        • Sound_Of_Madness said on 8th October 2010, 15:16

          Sorry, where “knows better car set-uping” I meant “doesn’t know better car set-uping”

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 8th October 2010, 18:26

        I seem to remember Klein doing quite well in 2005. In 2006, he was lacklustre.

  3. Damon said on 8th October 2010, 9:58

    Spa/Suzuka + rain = fantastic race weekend.

  4. Rahim RG said on 8th October 2010, 10:59

    I’ve before about but i’m still not clear….
    One thing i’m a bit surprised is this year…Red bull haven’t been that Great in the Wet as they were in Last year in Rain and in Cold Weather….
    Does anyone know why is that…..there’s no doubt Vettel and webber are pretty Good in Rain…..
    It wasn’t only the RB5…but the previous cars were strong too….including torro rosso….
    U Need more downforce in Wets…well they’ve got enough….so what else do they need….?

    • Rahim RG said on 8th October 2010, 11:04

      i mean i’ve asked before

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th October 2010, 11:50

      Actually they are probably pretty good in heavy rain. Just nothing special in changing conditions and on intermediates (seems that is one area where McLaren are top notch this year).

    • There was some talk at the beginning of the season that they’re not so good in rain because of the tyre wear EBD produces. But now McLaren and Ferrari both have EBD, so not sure how fast they will be. McLaren certainly seems the best at decisions in wet and the drivers can read the conditions very well.

  5. Possible outcomes:

    Rain for Qual: hammy, vettel, Alonso.
    Wet but not raining for qual: Alonso (as shown in Singapore), Hammy, Vettel
    Dry for qual: Vettel, Webber, Alonso

  6. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 8th October 2010, 11:32

    Rain might help Ferrari with their used engines. For Q in wet conditions I think I favor Alonso, Hamilton and Kubica if everything were consistent, but I don’t think that will happen. There are just too many variables to contemplate in the wet for me to have any confidence in my predictions.

  7. dgilles said on 8th October 2010, 12:11

    Since Martin spoke about the crash boy: Hamilton´s Monza, Hamilton´s Singapur; Hamilton´s Suzaka!!!!!!!!!

  8. Rahim RG said on 8th October 2010, 13:44

    Rain or Shine i hope its Vettel…

  9. If there’s any wet weather then Mclaren will 1-2. In Spa Button and Hamilton were the only ones who could improve their laptimes during qualy when the rain began to fall, they won at Aus and 1-2 at China. With a car as good as that in the wet and those two anyway then it’ll be a slice of cake for them. I imagine Scribe is doing the F1f cliche rain dance :P

  10. Sebas said on 8th October 2010, 17:17

    Viva la Vettel!!!

  11. I expected Ferrari to use Massa to run most of the tests, specialy due to engine limitation (and Massa used one extra last race). But Alonso is matching his lap count and moreover using all the power of it.

    • Santi said on 8th October 2010, 21:22

      maybe they used engines that have already been used twice for Alonso’s car in order to avoid unnecessary risks?

  12. DaveW said on 8th October 2010, 18:28

    Hamilton ran the old wing in FP2 because Button had the only other non-wrecked new design. And McLaren have some guy schlepping from England to bring Hamilton a new wing. Even if that guy got very brisk ride to Heathrow (MP4-12C taxi?)and got the first non-stop to Narita, making it to Suzuka for Q1 seems pretty dicey.

    If there is only one upgraded wing for qualifying, will Jenson Button be asked to give up that wing for qualifying?

    • Glenn (@glenn) said on 8th October 2010, 19:12

      24 hrs is a long time in the Air Freight business. I am sure they should not have any problems moving the piece from two of the busiest airports in the word.

      If it does happen though, Id say it would end up being a call, Especially when the qualifying will be in the wet. And possibly some showers in the Wet. Which wing is better for the wet conditions?

    • Younger Hamilton said on 8th October 2010, 21:36

      Team Radio: Jenson we’re giving up the new wing to Lewis
      JB:Why?? what happenned to his
      Team Radio:He broke his,im sorry Jenson but you’re now out of this title hunt we were going to tell you eariler
      JB:How can you do this to me i thought you guys were much better than this.You embarassed me in front of my Girlfriend and my Dad I HATE YOU ALL!!!

      P.S. Just a Parody and a Joke!!

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