McLaren losing most time in first sector

2011 Spanish GP qualifying analysis

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

Red Bull’s closest rivals in Barcelona are losing the most time in the first sector of the lap.

Lewis Hamilton was only 12th fastest through sector one. That includes the long turn three where downforce is especially important.

Here is all the data from qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Qualifying times in full

  • The differences between the Q1 and Q2 times of the Red Bull and McLaren drivers show how big the performance difference between the hard and soft tyres is – around two seconds per lap.
  • Their decision not to used softs saved the HRTs and Virgins from elimination under the 107% rule. The 107% time, based on the fastest lap in Q1 by Michael Schumacher, was 1’28.767.
  • Repair work on Nick Heidfeld’s Renault kept him from setting a time but he will be allowed to start.
Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’23.619 1’21.773 (-1.846) 1’20.981 (-0.792)
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’24.142 1’21.540 (-2.602) 1’21.181 (-0.359)
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1’24.370 1’22.148 (-2.222) 1’21.961 (-0.187)
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’23.485 1’22.813 (-0.672) 1’21.964 (-0.849)
5 Jenson Button McLaren 1’24.428 1’22.050 (-2.378) 1’21.996 (-0.054)
6 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’23.069 1’22.948 (-0.121) 1’22.471 (-0.477)
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’23.507 1’22.569 (-0.938) 1’22.599 (+0.030)
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’23.506 1’23.026 (-0.480) 1’22.888 (-0.138)
9 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’23.406 1’22.854 (-0.552) 1’22.952 (+0.098)
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’22.960 1’22.671 (-0.289)
11 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1’23.962 1’23.231 (-0.731)
12 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’24.209 1’23.367 (-0.842)
13 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1’24.049 1’23.694 (-0.355)
14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’23.656 1’23.702 (+0.046)
15 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1’25.874 1’25.403 (-0.471)
16 Paul di Resta Force India 1’24.332 1’26.126 (+1.794)
17 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’24.648 1’26.571 (+1.923)
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus 1’26.521
19 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’26.910
20 Timo Glock Virgin 1’27.315
21 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 1’27.809
22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1’27.908
23 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin 1’28.556
24 Nick Heidfeld Renault

Team mate comparisons

Compare the best times of each team’s drivers in the last part of qualifying in which they both set a time.

  • With a faulty KERS, Sebastian Vettel was one fifth of a second slower than his team mate. It’s likely he would have been faster – and taken his sixth consecutive pole position – had his KERS been working.
  • Fernando Alonso was almost a whole second faster than Felipe Massa.
  • Rookie Paul di Resta beat Adrian Sutil for the fourth time out of five qualifying sessions.
Team Driver Lap time Gap Lap time Driver Round
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 1’21.181 +0.200 1’20.981 Mark Webber Q3
McLaren Lewis Hamilton 1’21.961 -0.035 1’21.996 Jenson Button Q3
Ferrari Fernando Alonso 1’21.964 -0.924 1’22.888 Felipe Massa Q3
Mercedes Michael Schumacher 1’22.671 +0.102 1’22.569 Nico Rosberg Q2
Williams Rubens Barrichello 1’26.910 +3.504 1’23.406 Pastor Maldonado Q1
Force India Adrian Sutil 1’26.571 +0.445 1’26.126 Paul di Resta Q2
Sauber Kamui Kobayashi 1’23.702 +0.335 1’23.367 Sergio Perez Q2
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 1’23.231 -0.463 1’23.694 Jaime Alguersuari Q2
Lotus Heikki Kovalainen 1’25.874 -0.647 1’26.521 Jarno Trulli Q1
HRT Narain Karthikeyan 1’27.908 +0.099 1’27.809 Vitantonio Liuzzi Q1
Virgin Timo Glock 1’27.315 -1.241 1’28.556 Jerome d’Ambrosio Q1

Sector times

Here are the drivers? best times in each sector.

  • McLaren are weak in the first sector, Jenson Button ninth fastest and Lewis Hamilton only 12th.
  • Ferrari are stronger in the first sector, but there’s a trade-off, as Pat Fry explains: “A track like this favours cars that have a lot of aerodynamic downforce: that can be seen very clearly by analysing the best times in each sector. Our car is competitive in the first one, but we pay a very heavy price in the other two. That?s where we must improve.”
  • Schumacher did not do a Q3 time due to a KERS problem. His sector times indicate he could have been eighth.
Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Mark Webber 22.675 (3) 30.425 (1) 27.881 (1)
Sebastian Vettel 22.605 (1) 30.431 (2) 28.145 (3)
Lewis Hamilton 23.109 (12) 30.600 (3) 28.227 (4)
Fernando Alonso 22.684 (4) 30.864 (5) 28.416 (6)
Jenson Button 23.006 (9) 30.746 (4) 28.110 (2)
Vitaly Petrov 22.655 (2) 31.152 (8) 28.363 (5)
Nico Rosberg 22.989 (8) 30.981 (6) 28.477 (7)
Felipe Massa 22.855 (5) 31.248 (10) 28.736 (10)
Pastor Maldonado 22.885 (6) 31.197 (9) 28.714 (9)
Michael Schumacher 22.944 (7) 31.031 (7) 28.640 (8)
Sebastien Buemi 23.084 (11) 31.314 (11) 28.833 (12)
Sergio Perez 23.158 (13) 31.429 (13) 28.780 (11)
Jaime Alguersuari 23.206 (14) 31.486 (14) 29.002 (14)
Kamui Kobayashi 23.044 (10) 31.411 (12) 28.981 (13)
Heikki Kovalainen 23.901 (17) 32.206 (17) 29.296 (16)
Paul di Resta 23.433 (16) 31.790 (15) 29.109 (15)
Adrian Sutil 23.315 (15) 31.889 (16) 29.444 (17)
Jarno Trulli 24.251 (19) 32.531 (18) 29.739 (18)
Rubens Barrichello 23.926 (18) 32.730 (19) 30.254 (21)
Timo Glock 24.281 (20) 33.054 (21) 29.972 (19)
Vitantonio Liuzzi 24.320 (21) 33.041 (20) 30.342 (22)
Narain Karthikeyan 24.582 (22) 33.160 (22) 30.109 (20)
Jerome d’Ambrosio 24.625 (23) 33.339 (23) 30.592 (23)

Speed trap

  • There is a large spread between the fastest and slowest cars, with the KERS-less Lotuses 18kph down on the Force Indias.
Pos Driver Car Speed (kph) Gap
1 Adrian Sutil Force India 325.2
2 Paul di Resta Force India 323.2 -2.0
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 321.9 -3.3
4 Rubens Barrichello Williams 321.9 -3.3
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 321.8 -3.4
6 Vitaly Petrov Renault 321.5 -3.7
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 321.3 -3.9
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 320.9 -4.3
9 Jenson Button McLaren 319.2 -6.0
10 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 318.7 -6.5
11 Pastor Maldonado Williams 318.4 -6.8
12 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 314.6 -10.6
13 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 314.5 -10.7
14 Mark Webber Red Bull 313.6 -11.6
15 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 313.5 -11.7
16 Timo Glock Virgin 312.7 -12.5
17 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 312.3 -12.9
18 Sergio Perez Sauber 310.9 -14.3
19 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin 310.8 -14.4
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 310.6 -14.6
21 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 309.5 -15.7
22 Jarno Trulli Lotus 306.9 -18.3
23 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 306.8 -18.4

2011 Spanish Grand Prix

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51 comments on McLaren losing most time in first sector

  1. Mads (@mads) said on 21st May 2011, 18:56

    What on earth happened to Force India between Q1 and Q2? Soft vs hard tyres?

  2. Fixy (@fixy) said on 21st May 2011, 18:57

    What happened to D’Ambrosio in Q1?

  3. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 21st May 2011, 19:07

    McLaren are weakest in the downforce-dependant first sector. But Ferrari say they are good in the first sector lacking in the other two sectors because of less downforce. So I’m not sure what’s going on because that appears to be contradictory.

    • I have no idea. Is S1 that much downforce dependant with the big long straight? Ferrari’s aero is rubbish through s2 and s3 so they fall aware compared to Mclaren but Mclaren aren’t that far behind in the speed traps. I look at the cars and the times for ages and I always feel like a kid who has just understood the answer to 2+2 and is suddenly attempting trigonometry.

      • Boomerang said on 21st May 2011, 19:36

        Ferrari, on the other hand, obviously does very well when it comes to the direction changes. First right turn is sort of a beginning of S complex. They are good at it, they might be good in Monaco as well. We’ll see…

      • Rob said on 21st May 2011, 19:39

        I’d say they probably have problems with too much oversteer caused by the bumps in the first and third coerner. We have all seen how stiff the front of their car is.

    • Boomerang said on 21st May 2011, 19:31

      Well, it’s no contradiction Icthyes ’cause the fluid, in this case, the air, doesn’t behave in the same way at all speeds.
      It means that you can have car which is very good in certain envelope of speed. MP4-26 is missing aerodynamic efficiency in the envelope of speed characteristic for the first sector. However, weight distribution plays significant role as well. It’s pretty academic mate…

      • VXR said on 21st May 2011, 19:38

        However, weight distribution plays significant role as well. It’s pretty academic mate…

        Except for that you can’t move it around that much this season.

        McLaren look like sitting ducks in the first sector!

        • BBT (@bbt) said on 21st May 2011, 20:16

          McLaren look like sitting ducks in the first sector!

          Not really, wishful thinking on your behalf, where exactly would anyone over take in S1?

          • VXR said on 21st May 2011, 20:22

            where exactly would anyone over take in S1?

            Pretty much anywhere these days. ;)

            No seriously! They are particularly slow there compared to rivals! And with worn tyres……

          • BBT (@bbt) said on 21st May 2011, 20:51

            Well they are quick enough down the straight and it’ll take all of S1 to catch up after that (which you are right the following cars might do) but after the first lap no problems for the Mclarens assuming they make lap one OK.

        • Alistair said on 21st May 2011, 23:21

          On the contrary, if Vettel and or Webber don’t have a working or optomised KERS system at the start, they are in big trouble.

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 21st May 2011, 20:18

        Thanks for the explanation!

    • kenneth Ntulume said on 22nd May 2011, 9:31

      Icthyes the two of us!!!

  4. BBT (@bbt) said on 21st May 2011, 19:36

    Hate to say it, nah I don’t really, but it shows what a great lap Alonso pulled out of the bag.

    • Boomerang said on 21st May 2011, 19:38

      Yeah, he is not my favorite driver but he’s the most complete driver on the grid today. No doubt about it.

      • adamf184 (@adamf184) said on 21st May 2011, 22:47

        There is doubt about it and it comes in the shape of Vettel and Hamilton.

      • Alistair said on 21st May 2011, 23:10

        Well, complete ‘something’, I’ll grant you! Most complete ‘driver’? No. The most complete driver can’t finish behind a driver in his rookie season. Lewis’s combination of skill, speed, aggression, fitness, and, yes, experience, was more than a match for Alonso.

        Alonso is good, no doubt. But his recent team-mates are making him look better than he is. The same is true of Vettel. This is one of the odd things about F1. You don’t see it in other sports. Rooney isn’t the best player at Man U because he alone has special boots that make him run faster than his teammates. Federer isn’t a great tennis player because he has a special racket that allows him to hit the ball harder and more accurately than almost anyone else. But Vettel and Webber do have such a car. If only we had a standard spec. car for all F1 drivers. Then, F1 would be on the way to being a ‘sport’.

        • ads said on 21st May 2011, 23:29

          COTD right there

        • bananarama said on 21st May 2011, 23:38

          If we had a standard car F1 would be called GP2, if we knew what was going on at McLaren that year we wouldn’t have to guesstimate so much and if your love for Hamilton got any bigger you should ask to marry him.

        • Henry said on 22nd May 2011, 9:56

          I agree wholeheartedly with Bananarama:

          If you want single spec cars then go and watch GP2. Or you could always tune in to the various US motorports which involve lots of left-turns, and as much engineering capacity as it takes to bake a cake! ;)

          (since this is the internet I should add that those comments were at least slightly tongue in cheek)

  5. George (@george) said on 21st May 2011, 20:12

    Do we know why Kobayashi didn’t complete his final lap in Q2 yet?

  6. alan said on 21st May 2011, 20:34

    i was in montmelo today screaming for lewie to get the pole but what i saw (which is somethin i never saw on telly) was he can never get his foot back on the accelerator less than 20metres later than red bull in turn 9, those 20 metres is massive difference in my opinion if u do that on all sweeping corners here ur losing a good chunk of that second they are behind over the lap

    • Alistair said on 21st May 2011, 22:46

      A key observation. RBR have so much downforce that they can use the DRS in many fast corners: something every other driver can only dream of. However, there are no restrictions on DRS in qualifying; whereas, in the race, you can only use it to overtake. So, because of this alone, RBR will loose a chunk of relative time in race pace. They’ll likely still be quicker, though; after all, they have a whole second advantage.

      looking at the speed trap data, if RBR have such a downforce advantage over McLaren, and yet are so much slower in the speed traps, why don’t McLaren just add lots more wing to their car. They should aim to match Red Bull in downforce – and in the speed traps, if need be.

      • bananarama said on 21st May 2011, 23:44

        Interesting proposition, but thinking about it .. putting more wing on the car wouldn”t help the exact thing you describe. Once they use the DRS, the extra downforce on the wing is gone while on the RB lots of downforce from the rest of the car is still there. And once raceday is there, they woudn’t have the speed advantage anymore either.
        Also, I’m pretty sure they tried your idea on fridays and found their actual setup to be the better one :-P

      • Henry said on 22nd May 2011, 10:04

        Its not nearly that simple!

        There are different ways to get downforce onto a car, and adding lots of extra wing is not the most efficient way of doing it. If anyone was listening to bbc5 live commentary on Firday FP2, they would have heard a very clear explanation of this:

        Adding lots of wing adds downforce, but there is ‘efficient’ downforce and ‘dirty’ downforce. The dirty way to do it is add huge amount of wing, but that does not mean the car will be very drivable, and even through the corners yes you may be able to keep the throttle flat but the car will not be matching the pace of the cars with more efficient aero. Monaco is a track which is fine for ‘dirty’ downforce; barcelona you also have to create downforce that works in fast corners, slow corners, and on the straights. Set-up is always a compromise, if they could have the car set up perfectly for the race, every corner would require different tyre pressures, suspension set-ups, engine-maps, aero set-up, differential set-ups, etc etc etc.

        So what I am trying to say is: its not as simple as adding more wing, or we would all be F1 aerodynamicists!

  7. BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st May 2011, 21:00

    Looks like Webber did a great lap on the hard tyres as well. Will be interesting to see weather Red Bull will use different strategies for their drivers tomorrow.

    And I guess the effect of the changes for this year is really noticable on this track, first time this year where Q3 times are that far off last years times.

  8. BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st May 2011, 21:05

    With those remarks about using the hards in Q1 saving HRT and Virgin, the thought crossed my mind that McLaren and Red Bull try to give Kolles and Booth less reason to protest the results this way (… we helped you, so do not spoil the atmosphere with protesting our off throttle boost, or face not making the 107% split next time round).

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 21st May 2011, 22:21

      HRT and Virgin would be mad to protest anything, absolutely mad. It won’t do them any favours in the long run.

      • Alistair said on 21st May 2011, 22:59

        Can you think of any other way they’re going to win a race any time soon (or ever)?

        If I were them, I would very seriously consider launching a protest. As would the big teams, were they in their position. After all, Ferrari have been quick to get things banned (McLaren braking in 98, mass dampers, tyre specs, etc)whenever it suited them.

        I don’t think the big teams have done much to help the small teams. And I can’t see why the big teams would want to bother hindering them, in revenge, when they have bigger fish to fry; i.e, winning the championship.

        In fact, the protest might well help the big teams: were Vettel or Webber to win, a protest would reduce the points gap to these drivers with whom the others can’t really compete on outright car performance…as were the RBR to win, they would extend their gap over the others…

        You might think that the FIA would just throw out the protest, as it would lead to an absurd result. Well, they’re taken wins off of drivers before; and they’ve allowed half a dozen cars to ‘stage’ a race; so, don’t doubt them!

  9. Becken said on 21st May 2011, 21:27

    Looks like McLaren disabled their KERS in both cars in the end of Q3. Not enough to beat Webber and Seb, but enough to beat Ferrari with more comfort.

    • Alistair said on 21st May 2011, 23:18

      From MM. Source: F1-live,

      ‘They [Lewis and Jenson] may have been a little quicker had they gone out when it was less breezy, and had we been able to get our KERS Hybrid up to optimal operating temperature; but I don’t think we’d have been quite as quick as the Red Bulls,” he said. “To be clear, our KERS Hybrid is an excellent system, thanks in large part to the superlative work done by Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, but we struggled to get it up to optimal operating temperature today’.

      KERS is supposed to be about 0.4 sec.,here, isn’t it? So, we might be able to almost half the gap to Webber, in real terms. This makes the qualifying a bit more representative…

      Also, if McLaren are having problems with heating issues on KERS, it’s a good bet that RBR will have problems in the race…

  10. John H said on 21st May 2011, 21:46

    Wow, petrol in sector one was mighty!

  11. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 22nd May 2011, 1:28

    In response to Alistair’s comment, and i hope he reads this!
    I came up with an idea a while back which people turned a blind eye to or critisized, but one that i think would be a complete revolution to the sport.

    What about you give the drivers equal equipment for qualifying alone, so the fastest driver gets the pole position, not the fastest car – then for the race, they jump back into their normal cars and race as normal but – difference is the grid looks like somebody shuffled the deck! for example you could have Buemi nail a lap and put himself on pole for the race, but IN the race, he’s in his Toro Rosso thinking “how the hell am i going to pull this one off!”- i think it would be absolutely fascinating to see. Also think of the gaps between the drivers times in Qualifying, i mean your talking maybe half a second between pole and 24th on the grid, if that, Plus – more than likely a different pole sitter for each event. What you recon?

  12. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 22nd May 2011, 1:31

    correction: in response to alistairs comment about same spec cars.

  13. Doug said on 22nd May 2011, 10:04

    So Vettel’s KERS was not working yet he seems to think it can be repaired for tomorrow. Can anyone confirm how much time Red Bull have to fix it, considering the cars are in parc ferme? Is it going to be a rushed job or do they have all night?

    • VXR said on 22nd May 2011, 11:22

      They can replace the KERS with a new unit under parc ferme conditions. Michael Schumachers car will also be fitted with a new KERS unit.

      • VXR said on 22nd May 2011, 11:27

        Ross Brawn on Schumachers KERS:

        “We need to get it functioning for tomorrow but within parc ferme rules you are allowed to replace non-functioning components as long as they are the same,” he said. “We will have a go and see if we can get it going for tomorrow.”

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