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. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 13th November 2010, 10:43

    Keith, wasn’t it revealed after Barcelona 2009 that there actually wasn’t a problem with Massa’s fuel tank and he had enough?

  2. McLaren could help Fernando if they stay in front of the Red Bulls. They will help the Red Bulls if they stay behind them and in front of Alonso.

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