High tyre wear raises prospect of exciting Korean Grand Prix (Practice two analysis)

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Korea, 2010

The low-grip surface at Korea and the high tyre degradation the teams are experiencing could be the a recipe for an exciting race on Sunday.

On top of that the three championship contenders all seem quite evenly matched following the first two practice sessions at the Korean International Circuit.

You need to upgrade your Flash Player

View interactive chart full screen

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

After a quiet first practice, Ferrari showed their hand in the second session and got in among the front runners.

As the track surface became cleaner and more rubber went down in the second session, lap times continued to improve, though not as quickly as in the first. That makes it tricky to pick which of the three top teams, if any, might have an edge.

Lewis Hamilton’s fastest time was bettered six minutes later by Fernando Alonso, who went a tenth of a second quicker. Five minutes after that Mark Webber found another tenth.

Alonso pipped Webber to the fastest time in sector two. Webber was quickest in the final sector. McLaren were the fastest of the three in the long first sector (though Renault were quicker still).

So although the top of the times sheets placed Red Bull ahead of Ferrari followed by McLaren, the pecking order might actually be the reverse of that.

However there is a clear split in straight-line performance between the three cars. McLaren are up near the top of the speed trap figures but both their key rivals were around 7-8kph slower in FP2:

1. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes – 316.9kph
6. Jenson Button, McLaren – 315.8kph
7. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren – 314.5kph
12. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull – 307.9kph
13. Felipe Massa, Ferrari – 307.8kph

With two long straights following the first corner this has obvious implications for what could happen on the first lap.

The big question for race day is how much the changing grip levels will influence strategy. As we saw in Montreal, low grip can mean higher than usual tyre degradation. In Canada that forced many drivers to make two tyre stops instead of the usual one.

As the track surface rubbers in the rate at which the tyres ‘go off’ should decrease. During second practice we heard Nico H???lkenberg complaining that his tyres were “falling to pieces” and he was warned to expect the same in the race.

Looking at the lap times of drivers like Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton from the end of the session shows how severe tyre degradation was. Instead of finding an incremental improvement in lap time as the fuel load came down their lap times levelled out or even rose.

Vettel had to use the soft tyres earlier than planned in second practice today as he picked up a puncture on his hard tyres. His first laps on soft tyres, much earlier than his rivals, was well off the pace they were setting on hard tyres.

Bridgestone expect that, come the race, the soft (option) tyre will be up to speed:

We saw a lot of graining on both compounds front and rear today. This is related to the dirty surface as the tyres cannot grip the tarmac properly.

This situation should continue to improve with the track surface evolution tomorrow. We expect that the option tyre should give a faster lap time and if the surface continues to improve it should have reasonable durability. How much durability depends on the track surface evolution so this will be the crucial question for the next two days.
Hirohide Hamashima

What happens to the track in final practice tomorrow will strongly influence what the teams decide to do on Sunday. Drivers who qualify in the top ten, of course, have to start the race using the tyres they qualify on.

In Montreal the Red Bull drivers started the race on hard tyres, expecting the soft tyres would go off too quickly in the early stages. But that gamble failed to pay off.

If any of the top three teams get the call wrong this weekend it could cost them dearly in the championship.

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Lap At time Laps
1 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’37.942 16 73 23
2 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’38.132 0.190 20 68 30
3 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.279 0.337 19 62 29
4 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’38.718 0.776 17 66 28
5 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.726 0.784 16 88 19
6 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’38.820 0.878 20 62 32
7 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’39.204 1.262 8 48 22
8 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’39.267 1.325 15 62 28
9 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’39.268 1.326 15 61 29
10 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.564 1.622 18 68 26
11 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.588 1.646 19 63 25
12 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’39.598 1.656 13 61 25
13 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’39.812 1.870 19 60 34
14 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’39.881 1.939 16 62 25
15 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’39.971 2.029 16 63 22
16 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’40.478 2.536 14 59 30
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.578 2.636 15 60 28
18 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.896 2.954 19 61 31
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’42.773 4.831 18 67 28
20 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’42.801 4.859 18 92 19
21 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’43.115 5.173 17 67 26
22 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’44.039 6.097 21 73 29
23 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’45.166 7.224 7 68 17
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’46.649 8.707 2 92 3

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best three sector times added together.

Pos. Car Driver Car Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’37.936 0.006
2 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’38.132 0.196 0.000
3 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.279 0.343 0.000
4 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’38.338 0.402 0.380
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’38.614 0.678 0.206
6 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.726 0.790 0.000
7 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’39.080 1.144 0.187
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’39.125 1.189 0.079
9 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’39.233 1.297 0.035
10 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.564 1.628 0.000
11 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.588 1.652 0.000
12 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’39.598 1.662 0.000
13 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’39.812 1.876 0.000
14 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’39.881 1.945 0.000
15 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’39.887 1.951 0.084
16 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.397 2.461 0.181
17 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’40.426 2.490 0.052
18 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.815 2.879 0.081
19 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’42.724 4.788 0.077
20 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’42.773 4.837 0.000
21 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’42.896 4.960 0.219
22 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’43.892 5.956 0.147
23 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’44.904 6.968 0.262
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’46.226 8.290 0.423

2010 Korean Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Korean Grand Prix articles

Image ?? www.mclaren.com

Advert | Go Ad-free

61 comments on High tyre wear raises prospect of exciting Korean Grand Prix (Practice two analysis)

  1. Alexi (@alexi) said on 22nd October 2010, 15:24

    Looking good for an Alonso pole – I mean, Ferrari should not be running on max engine settings yet considering their situation, and they did it before.
    Oh, and a very exciting race of course if it’s anyhting like Canada.

  2. DaveW said on 22nd October 2010, 15:49

    I have a feeling, kind of a sick feeling, that this thing will be decided before the apex of turn three. That track is not that wide, the walls are right there.

    Webber is just not going to let Hamilton drive by even if he is closing on him like an artillery round into turn 3, as will be the case. Hamilton knows he absolutely must get ahead of Webber by turn 5 to keep his title hopes on. Same applies with regard to Alonso.

    The scenario of two RedBulls fighting each other,with six cars bearing down on them at 10-15kph in their draft at 200mph is pretty chilling.

  3. Rob Wilson said on 22nd October 2010, 16:27

    It’s not chilling it’s down right exciting! I cant wait for this race!

  4. Glenn said on 22nd October 2010, 17:00

    This is the quintessential F-Duct Track. Who can keep their high speed advantage in Sector 1 while still having enough downforce to tackle Sector 2 & 3?

    Oh and while I’m here did anyone else see Webber in FP2 and his 3 wheel action in the corners? I almost dropped my jaw when I saw that @ 1:30 in the morning. I have not seen them do that before, Camber in the track, perhaps but it was quite a sight to see.

    • Hallard said on 22nd October 2010, 18:45

      I saw that too, with his inside front 3 inches off the ground!

      I think that it was occuring because he was running a softer anti-roll bar in the rear (or a stiffer one in the front), to keep the oversteer to a minimum on such a slippery track. As the track rubbered in, oversteer wouldnt have been as much of a concern and they could stiffen up that rear anti-roll bar as needed, which might have been why we didnt see it on webber’s car later in the session.

      At least that’s my hypothesis :)

  5. Marcello said on 22nd October 2010, 17:12

    Great article Keith

  6. Is the track really ‘low-grip’? The cars are already one and a half seconds faster than optimistic simulations (Mercedes, iirc), and 4 seconds faster than the more pessimistic simulation predictions (Williams, again, iirc).

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.