Rear wing tweak key to McLaren’s pace

Abu Dhabi GP FP2 analysis

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Abu Dhabi, 2010

McLaren say they’ve finally got their Suzuka rear wing working, which was key to Lewis Hamilton’s pace in second practice today.

However Ferrari seemed to suffer a drop-off in performance when running with a higher fuel load at the end of the session.

Find all the times and interactive data from second practice here.

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

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time around Abu Dhabi by Friday evening, and he credited it to the team finally getting a handle the rear wing it has been trying to perfect for four races:

We?ve been hoping for some time to improve our revised rear wing. It hasn?t really been working fully since we first tested it at Suzuka, so we?ve not been able to use it to its fullest extent. We knew that it had potential though ?ǣ and to have it finally working properly is a huge plus for us.

The car feels good, so I?m hopeful for a good qualifying result tomorrow afternoon. Of course, it will be tough, because the Red Bulls tend to pull out half a second in Q3, but our pace is closer to theirs than it?s ever been.

Of all the weekends this year, this time I feel like we really do have the right package to challenge the fastest cars. I think we can fight for the front row.
Lewis Hamilton

Jenson Button was running a different programme which goes some way to explaining the 1.2 second gap between the two. No wonder McLaren were so keen to make sure those new parts arrived in time.

It also explains why Button topped the speed trap at 319kph while Hamilton was bang in the middle on 311.5kph – behind all the other championship contenders.

But also remember how quick Hamilton was here last year, topping all three parts of qualifying.

At the time he said he particularly enjoyed hustling his car around the tight sequence of bends at the end of the lap which reminded him of a kart track. In that last part of the lap he was two tenths of a second faster than anyone and almost a whole second up on Button.

As Hamilton pointed out, the Red Bulls (and Ferraris, for that matter), always seem to keep a little pace in hand for qualifying.

The super-soft tyre runs in second practice were also disrupted by a yellow flag caused by Jaime Alguersuari. As we don’t know how many laps each driver had to abort and how much life they had taken out of their tyres, we can’t take these times completely at face value. And there are the usual questions of fuel load and engine life.

Ferrari have got some work to do. Although the car appears to have pace Alonso’s heavy-fuel running at the end of the session gave cause for concern.

If you zoom in on the final ten minutes in the chart above and compare his spread of lap times to the likes of Hamilton’s and Vettel’s you can see Alonso’s lap times increasing a much quicker rate.

At this point Ferrari could have done with Felipe Massa on the track gathering more data, but he was stopped by the side of the road. The radio feed captured him telling the team he’d run out of fuel.

It would be extraordinarily unusual for a team of Ferrari’s calibre to make so basic a mistake as to send a car out without enough fuel in it. And we saw at Spain last year, when Massa was low on fuel at the end of the race, how accurately they can measure fuel use when a car is on the track.

However Cosworth explained some of the peculiar engine difficulties faced at Abu Dhabi which may have caught Ferrari out:

Turn seven is very tight, which can lead to possible issues with engine push into the corner, as well as pick-up out of it.

The engine is usually in full injection cut on the way into the corner, both to save fuel and reduce the amount of engine push, although the latter is a driver preference. A balance must be found to allow the engine speed to drop low enough in full cut to negotiate the turn without the risk of an engine stall.

If the minimum car and engine speed thresholds for full cut are too high, the engine will fire-up mid corner, potentially upsetting the balance of the car. If they are too low, then there is the possibility of an engine stall.

Ferrari ran a different rear wing in FP2 to FP1, and their straight-line speeds increased by almost 5kph as a result

Meanwhile, on the topic of engines, Mark Webber changed his between the two practice sessions.

Finally, the problem of graining reared its head again due to the low-grip surface due to the rain which fell before practice. Bridgestone’s Hirohide Hamashima explained:

Once the dry tyres were used, drivers encountered a very slippery and green surface so we saw a lot of sliding and resultant graining on both front and rear tyres. This graining occurred even when used with low fuel loads on the harder medium compound, showing just how slippery it was.

The track surface improved considerably in the second session, as shown by the quicker lap times. There was much less graining – next to none with the medium compound – however it was still seen on the super soft compound when used with heavier fuel loads.??
Hirohide Hamashima

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Lap At time Laps
1 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’40.888 15 64 25
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’41.145 0.257 19 72 28
3 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.314 0.426 17 63 29
4 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’41.315 0.427 18 67 29
5 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.576 0.688 19 65 31
6 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’41.583 0.695 18 64 20
7 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’42.096 1.208 15 58 31
8 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’42.132 1.244 10 32 28
9 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’42.203 1.315 20 63 31
10 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’42.222 1.334 19 71 29
11 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’42.246 1.358 8 29 29
12 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’42.449 1.561 12 37 32
13 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’42.535 1.647 15 71 21
14 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.768 1.880 13 46 26
15 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’42.914 2.026 20 57 37
16 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.950 2.062 24 71 34
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’43.128 2.240 16 59 16
18 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’43.584 2.696 25 72 33
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’45.180 4.292 22 64 36
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’45.259 4.371 23 74 31
21 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’45.612 4.724 20 63 35
22 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’46.053 5.165 23 78 29
23 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’47.210 6.322 20 60 32
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’47.434 6.546 7 17 28

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 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’40.854 0.034
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’41.046 0.192 0.099
3 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.225 0.371 0.089
4 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’41.244 0.390 0.071
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’41.459 0.605 0.124
6 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.576 0.722 0.000
7 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’41.819 0.965 0.427
8 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.999 1.145 0.133
9 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’42.023 1.169 0.073
10 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’42.129 1.275 0.074
11 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’42.188 1.334 0.034
12 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’42.256 1.402 0.193
13 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’42.503 1.649 0.032
14 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.648 1.794 0.120
15 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’42.757 1.903 0.157
16 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.863 2.009 0.087
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’43.117 2.263 0.011
18 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’43.433 2.579 0.151
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’45.180 4.326 0.000
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’45.199 4.345 0.060
21 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’45.564 4.710 0.048
22 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’45.857 5.003 0.196
23 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’47.015 6.161 0.195
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’47.176 6.322 0.258

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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69 comments on Rear wing tweak key to McLaren’s pace

  1. Alexi (@alexi) said on 12th November 2010, 17:49

    wow @ Schumacher :D

  2. Its too late unfortunately.

  3. MikeSRandall said on 12th November 2010, 18:00

    ‘The engine is usually in full injection cut’

    Can anyone explain what this means? Not a phrase I’ve heard before…

    • Franton said on 12th November 2010, 18:04

      Sounds to me like a temporary fuel starvation mode. I didn’t think they’d dare do anything like that, especially with EBD’s.

      • That information was from cosworth, and i don’t think the cosworth cars are running EBD’s ? so I would guess the way the ferrari runs while off the throttle is completly different. meaning it was probably just a basic error from the ferrari crew :)

    • MikeSRandall said on 12th November 2010, 23:20

      Hmm, interesting. As the sentence goes on to say:

      both to save fuel and reduce the amount of engine push, although the latter is a driver preference.

      I don’t really see how this could have anything to do with EBD (exhaust-blown diffusers for anyone who, like me, was struggling with the terminology)

      I wondered if this was anything like regenerative braking or the like?

      • MikeSRandall said on 12th November 2010, 23:26

        Ok, I seem to have found the solution now. F1 Technical () suggests that the aim of injection cut-off is to reduce torque by shutting off one cylinder per revolution, hence saving load on the engine and reducing fuel consumption. (Full explanation at Clever stuff! It’s at times like these that I wish I had stayed at university until the end of my Mechanical Engineering degree. Ho hum…

        • MikeSRandall said on 12th November 2010, 23:27

          Hmm, the links seem to have disappeared. Try http://www.f1technical.net and http://www.f1technical.net/features/10698

          • MikeSRandall said on 12th November 2010, 23:30

            Another interesting point to arise from that article (sorry, I seem to be talking to myself now…) is the fact that this can be used as a substitute for traction control. The paper the article is based on was written by Chrysler, who supplied Lamborghini engines to the Larousse team in 1994, the year after traction control was banned. (Although no-one told Benetton… Allegedly…)

          • Aussie Fan said on 13th November 2010, 2:47

            it actually IS (or can be used as) a form of traction control if it is used when in the ‘throttle open’ portion of the engine map. Hence why it is only used in the ‘throttle off’ portion of the map, & even then only in tight, slow corners.

            Its basically to stop the rear wheels from pushing the car into understeer in tight corners because of the engine’s power output (remember they make power even when on idle), so to get around this they cut the ignition up to a point on the way into the corner.

            Also this does relate to EBD, as by NOT cutting ignition like this ( by retarding it instead when the throttle is lifted into corners) is how the engine mamages to still provide similar flow of exhaust gas over the rear diffuser as to when the car is on full or partial throttle. Without using this type of system the car would have no downforce being generated by the EBD as soon as the driver lifted their foot off the throttle (remember Mclaren getting theirs to work like this & the distinctive engine note their cars now have on corner entry when the throttle is lifted.

  4. Graining on softs with fuel bad news for McLaren as that car fiends for tires.

  5. Franton said on 12th November 2010, 18:03

    McLaren have been working on this wing since Suzuka? Where was it last race or the race before that? This could have won them the driver’s championship (for sure!) by now.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th November 2010, 19:18

      Remember them always having issues or wet days on friday? It probably prevented them from getting to grips with it and deciding they were ready to use it in the race.

    • Younger Hamilton said on 13th November 2010, 0:00

      This is probably a Murphy’s law reference Any Major Updates that McLaren bring always wont work no matter what the situation no matter whichtrack

    • Frans said on 13th November 2010, 2:54

      Probably the new rear wing is for the new f-duct to work properly which they only introduce it at Suzuka, so basically it’s a wing that never existed before Suzuka.

      But McLaren sure are relentless considering f-duct is banned for 2011.

      In the end it’s a bit too late, but maybe there will be a few surprises.. who knows? :)

      • bosyber said on 13th November 2010, 9:53

        Well, if it finally allows them the speed to challenge for the win, that keeps their slim chance for Hamilton alive – not in their own hands, but a win in the last race would surely make them feel better about the end of year, and hopeful for next year.

  6. Don’t worry Franton, there’s still time to win the drivers ;)

    But surely if it was just a tweak it could have been ready weeks ago!!

  7. Petrov looks great. But Schumi can concentrate for all 3 sectors :(

  8. DeadManWoking said on 12th November 2010, 18:55

    This smacks of another McLaren PR smokescreen.
    Vettel’s run on the supersofts was limited by Yellows, but his best sector times were .076 faster than Lewis in the medium speed S1, only .073 slower in the high speed S2 and .195 slower than Lewis in the slow S3. This and Lewis’ highest trap speed of only 311.5, which was posted on his 1st solitary timed lap of 1:03.292, suggest that rather than having a revised rear wing that was finally working properly they merely cranked up the wing angle for more downforce in the slow S3 and the Mickey Mouse 5-6-7 and 8-9 in S2 on his later laps.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th November 2010, 19:21

      To be fair to them, Lewis does state, that both RBR and Fernando Alonso usually show their true pace only on saturday in Qualifying.

      And it might be, that the new wing allows a bit different drag/downforce trade off and is a bit slower, but works better with the higher downforce bits.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th November 2010, 19:21

      Vettel’s run on the supersofts was limited by Yellows

      Are you sure? Alguersuari set his last lap at 59 minutes, so the yellows came out about a minute after that, then Vettel doesn’t finish his out-lap until 66 minutes. Didn’t seem to take them that long to drag the Toro Rosso out of the way. And this would probably also have involved Red Bull sending Vettel out knowing his first lap would be compromised by yellow flags, which doesn’t seem likely.

      • DeadManWoking said on 12th November 2010, 20:01

        There were other temporary yellows after Alguesuari’s but I can’t remember who for right now, I’ll have to wait till I DL qualy :) Vettel’s laps were:
        16 1:49.731
        17 1:41.614
        18 1:53.961
        19 1:41.145
        20 1:42.204
        21 2:02.795
        22 P 2:00.307
        23 8:47.440
        His outlap 16, a quick one 17, one slowed by something 18, his FL 19 then a slightly slower one (yellow?)20 followed by a very slow lap 21 and then he pitted 22 and didn’t come back out till his high fuel run.

        • DeadManWoking said on 13th November 2010, 0:21

          I just saw a replay of FP2 on Speed. Vettel’s slow lap 18 was caused by Massa’s yellow. The yellow for Alguesuari was too early to affect him and was actually quite short, under 30 seconds. The yellow for Massa pulling off on the side had a much greater effect on the session, lasting about 2 minutes. Just as Vettel finished his FL on his 19th lap Speed went to commercials so I don’t know what happened to him on his 20th to 22nd.

    • Nah..

      Maybe they finally get the revised wing to work properly, so that they won’t lose too much speed on the straight when the crank up the wing angle for more down force?

      If it’s merely as simple as crank up the wing angle as you’re suggesting, you can sell your theory to other teams, so that they crank up their wings and top the time sheet too.

      • Just to clear I was talking to the DeadMan :-)

        • DeadManWoking said on 12th November 2010, 20:06

          My point is that Hamilton’s lap wasn’t that fast, if Vettel’s run on the supersofts hadn’t been interrupted twice he probably would have been faster. Hamilton himself still expects the Red Bulls to be a half second faster than him tomorrow.

          • How? If Vettel topped FP2 then it means Hamilton was slow? What about all the other guys behind Lewis?

            McLaren looked better in FPs for once, just relax. It is not like everyone is suggesting Hamilton will beat Vettel to pole tomorrow? And like Hamilton has said, RBR indeed always find a lot of extra pace in Q3. Mclaren may not be that fast, but it sure looked faster than their Friday in Brazil.

    • Aussie Fan said on 13th November 2010, 2:50

      +1 Mclaren smoke & mirrors, whenever I hear Whitmarsh talking it up I sigh & wonder why he can’t seem to wait to shoot his mouth off until AFTER a session where the results meant something i.e qualifying or the actual race.

      & what is going on with button?

  9. These charts werent working for me when displaying data for the brazilian grand prix, and these arent working now. Ive looked at them in Internet Explorer (i currently use Google Chrome) and they work on that. Is it just me with that problem, or a problem with google chrome?

  10. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 12th November 2010, 19:15

    That picture is immense. The dark silver and the red makes the McLaren look pretty bad-ass.

  11. Button is running much less downforce than Hamilton, hence his cars fastest speed through the trap.

    Button is running a new brake bias system that he has also been using since Korea. Currently this is causing the same front brake locking problems that he’s been having since Korea. Button may revert to a similar configuration to Hamilton for qualifying and the race. But then again, he may not.

    • Aussie Fan said on 13th November 2010, 2:53

      yeah if he sticks with the system he is using now at least he has an excues for getting flogged again.

  12. Alonso’s pace dropped off on the heavy fuel but the McLarens seemed to suffer more. Button showed the same situation but worse. Hamilton didn’t seem to do a run allowing us to measure the trend. I would mark this up to the graining. RBR looks much better, though, and if they get up front Saturday it could be another walk-over.

    • Younger Hamilton said on 13th November 2010, 0:03

      RBR looks much better, though, and if they get up front Saturday it could be another walk-over.

      Biased ****

    • Younger Hamilton said on 13th November 2010, 0:04

      Sorry i didnt watch Practice today so i dont have a clue on whats going on but the results

  13. sumedh said on 12th November 2010, 19:29

    If Massa is only 0.2 seconds off Fernando’s pace, it is clear that Alonso hasn’t showed his true pace yet then.

    And worryingly for Webber, Fernando seems to be faster than him. Then, he won’t even be able to get Vettel’s help.

    Starting second is not such a big disadvantage here, as shown by last year, and the run down to turn 1 being pretty short. This is turning out pretty good for Fernando!! Forza Ferrari :D :D

    • Please don’t jinx it :P I thought Brazil qualifying Alo would get at least p3 then the rain came :P Anything can still happen. Say Lewis is quick but Vet beats him to pole and then Web qualifies in front of Alo. It really looks close.

      • Adam Tate said on 12th November 2010, 22:35

        I hope it is close steph! Maybe something like Jerez in 97 where the top 3 in qualifying all set the exact same time!

      • sumedh said on 12th November 2010, 22:46

        Just read Stefano’s comments after the practice. And he doesn’t seem to be too excited. It seems that Ferrari’s decision to bring minimal to no upgrades for the final flyaway races might backfire.

        Lets see what happens tomorrow in qualifying. The race will turn out to be some sort of an anti-climax for sure. When you look forward to something so much, the final thing always lets you down. But qualifying will be immense, no doubt.

    • matt88 (@matt88) said on 12th November 2010, 20:15

      it’s a long way to the top if you wanna be WDC.
      let me touch some piece of iron, please… :D:D

  14. Maybe someones engine will blow up in Q3 and really spoil the whole weekend.

  15. How frustrating!!

    You know, I wonder if Lewis would move over to let Webber win. Now, I don’t think that’s realistically gonna happen, as he’s gonna be focused on the race.

    However…. wouldn’t it be awesome!! :D :D :D :D

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