Engine rules tweak can’t keep Red Bull off front row

2011 European GP qualifying analysis

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011

Changes to the rules on engine mappings for the European Grand Prix did not keep Red Bull from locking out the front row.

Sebastian Vettel took his seventh pole position out of eight races.

Here’s all the data from qualifying in Valencia.

Qualifying times in full

  • The engine mapping restriction may not have stopped Red Bull from locking out the front row, but their advantage over their rivals was not as great as it has been. Perhaps more significantly, they did not find as much time between Q2 and Q3 as they often have done this year.
  • Nick Heidfeld saved tyres by not doing a lap in Q3: “When I went out in Q3, we saw that Sutil was not going to do a lap time so we quite rightly came back in because the cars ahead had posted times that were considerably quicker.”
  • Adrian Sutil didn’t do a lap because the team didn’t think they could improve on tenth place: “We didn?t go out in Q3 because we felt it was better to save another set of soft tyres for the race. Also, we saw in Q2 that Heidfeld was three tenths away and that it would be difficult to improve on P10.”
Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’39.116 1’37.305 (-1.811) 1’36.975 (-0.330)
2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’39.956 1’38.058 (-1.898) 1’37.163 (-0.895)
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1’39.244 1’37.727 (-1.517) 1’37.380 (-0.347)
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’39.725 1’37.930 (-1.795) 1’37.454 (-0.476)
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’38.413 1’38.566 (+0.153) 1’37.535 (-1.031)
6 Jenson Button McLaren 1’39.453 1’37.749 (-1.704) 1’37.645 (-0.104)
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’39.266 1’38.373 (-0.893) 1’38.231 (-0.142)
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’39.198 1’38.365 (-0.833) 1’38.240 (-0.125)
9 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1’39.877 1’38.781 (-1.096)
10 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’39.329 1’39.034 (-0.295)
11 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’39.690 1’39.068 (-0.622)
12 Paul di Resta Force India 1’39.852 1’39.422 (-0.430)
13 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’39.602 1’39.489 (-0.113)
14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’40.131 1’39.525 (-0.606)
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’39.690 1’39.645 (-0.045)
16 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’39.494 1’39.657 (+0.163)
17 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1’39.679 1’39.711 (+0.032)
18 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1’40.232
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1’41.664
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus 1’42.234
21 Timo Glock Virgin 1’42.553
22 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 1’43.584
23 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1’43.735
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1’44.363

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.

  • Michael Schumacher was just nine-thousandths of a second slower than his team mate. He said: “I might have improved by one place but in the penultimate slow corner, I attacked a bit too early, got oversteer and had to lift for a moment which cost me the place to Nico.”
  • Fernando Alonso remains undefeated by Felipe Massa in qualifying this year, but once again the gap was small.
Team Driver Lap time Gap Lap time Driver Round
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 1’36.975 -0.188 1’37.163 Mark Webber Q3
McLaren Lewis Hamilton 1’37.380 -0.265 1’37.645 Jenson Button Q3
Ferrari Fernando Alonso 1’37.454 -0.081 1’37.535 Felipe Massa Q3
Mercedes Michael Schumacher 1’38.240 +0.009 1’38.231 Nico Rosberg Q3
Renault Nick Heidfeld 1’38.781 -0.287 1’39.068 Vitaly Petrov Q2
Williams Rubens Barrichello 1’39.489 -0.156 1’39.645 Pastor Maldonado Q2
Force India Adrian Sutil 1’39.034 -0.388 1’39.422 Paul di Resta Q2
Sauber Kamui Kobayashi 1’39.525 -0.132 1’39.657 Sergio Perez Q2
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 1’39.679 -0.553 1’40.232 Jaime Alguersuari Q1
Lotus Heikki Kovalainen 1’41.664 -0.570 1’42.234 Jarno Trulli Q1
HRT Narain Karthikeyan 1’44.363 +0.779 1’43.584 Vitantonio Liuzzi Q1
Virgin Timo Glock 1’42.553 -1.182 1’43.735 Jerome D’Ambrosio Q1

Sector times

Here are the drivers? best times in each sector.

  • Fernando Alonso was second-fastest in the first two sectors but a slow third sector – two-tenths slower than his team mate – left him fourth on the grid
  • Rubens Barrichello locked his brakes in the last corner in his best lap in Q2 – without that he could have made it into the final ten.
  • Paul di Resta also rued an error in Q2: “On my final flying lap in Q2 I was on the edge and simply made a small mistake at turn 17 ?ǣ I missed a downshift and ran wide. That meant I lost the advantage I?d made at the start of the lap.”
Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel 25.590 (1) 43.981 (1) 27.400 (2)
Mark Webber 25.716 (4) 44.127 (3) 27.320 (1)
Lewis Hamilton 25.776 (5) 44.170 (4) 27.428 (4)
Fernando Alonso 25.614 (2) 43.983 (2) 27.706 (6)
Felipe Massa 25.715 (3) 44.227 (5) 27.504 (5)
Jenson Button 25.806 (6) 44.351 (7) 27.405 (3)
Nico Rosberg 26.050 (8) 44.237 (6) 27.894 (7)
Michael Schumacher 25.839 (7) 44.367 (8) 27.922 (8)
Nick Heidfeld 26.141 (11) 44.605 (9) 28.035 (13)
Adrian Sutil 26.095 (9) 44.963 (13) 27.973 (10)
Vitaly Petrov 26.118 (10) 44.883 (11) 27.932 (9)
Paul di Resta 26.237 (13) 44.865 (10) 28.106 (15)
Rubens Barrichello 26.221 (12) 44.963 (13) 28.130 (16)
Kamui Kobayashi 26.384 (16) 44.946 (12) 28.138 (17)
Pastor Maldonado 26.344 (15) 45.181 (17) 28.072 (14)
Sergio Perez 26.398 (17) 45.021 (15) 27.992 (11)
Sebastien Buemi 26.311 (14) 45.099 (16) 28.026 (12)
Jaime Alguersuari 26.676 (18) 45.266 (18) 28.199 (18)
Heikki Kovalainen 26.940 (20) 45.874 (19) 28.789 (19)
Jarno Trulli 26.910 (19) 46.138 (20) 29.077 (21)
Timo Glock 27.325 (22) 46.324 (21) 28.904 (20)
Vitantonio Liuzzi 27.292 (21) 46.936 (22) 29.250 (23)
Jerome D’Ambrosio 27.539 (23) 46.957 (23) 29.198 (22)
Narain Karthikeyan 27.567 (24) 47.115 (24) 29.681 (24)

Speed trap

Here are the drivers? maximum speeds.

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph) Gap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 317.5
2 Rubens Barrichello Williams 317.5 -0.0
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 316.6 -0.9
4 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 316.4 -1.1
5 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 316.3 -1.2
6 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 316.2 -1.3
7 Jenson Button McLaren 315.7 -1.8
8 Adrian Sutil Force India 315.6 -1.9
9 Nick Heidfeld Renault 315.5 -2.0
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 315.5 -2.0
11 Paul di Resta Force India 315.4 -2.1
12 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 315.4 -2.1
13 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 314.6 -2.9
14 Sergio Perez Sauber 314.4 -3.1
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 313.4 -4.1
16 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 313.4 -4.1
17 Felipe Massa Ferrari 313.0 -4.5
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams 312.6 -4.9
19 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 312.3 -5.2
20 Mark Webber Red Bull 312.1 -5.4
21 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 310.7 -6.8
22 Timo Glock Virgin 309.1 -8.4
23 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 307.6 -9.9
24 Jarno Trulli Lotus 307.1 -10.4

2011 European Grand Prix

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40 comments on Engine rules tweak can’t keep Red Bull off front row

  1. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th June 2011, 17:40

    Pretty much as was expected. Massive props for doing the numbers as ever!

    • Trix (@) said on 25th June 2011, 18:59

      This. Thanks Keith for all this number crunching. You must have some statistics-trained monkeys hidden in the basement to do all of this and so quickly.

      I love being able to compare the times between the drivers, between the races and between the seasons. Makes it so much more interesting and it’s a great help to see if a certain gap (*cough* Red Bull versus the rest of the pack *cough*) has indeed been closed down or if our imagination is playing tricks on us.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th June 2011, 19:41

      Yep, glad I chose to skip this far an amazing movie about Lidice (backgroung here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidice) instead.

      It was pretty emotional but a well made movie for sure. And we had seats with adaptable positioning and full service during the watching!

      • Trix (@) said on 26th June 2011, 10:59

        Finally saw Sarah’s Key earlier this week, Bas, not sure I’m up for Lidice at the moment.
        But since everyone is raving about it, I am most certainly going to find some free time all by myself to see it in the next couple of weeks.
        For sure.

  2. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 25th June 2011, 17:44

    An amazing stat is that over the past three races, if you take the aggregate of the fastest times in qualifying of the Mercedes drivers, they are equal, to three decimals!

    Monaco: Schumacher -0.059s (vs. Rosberg in Q2)
    Canada: Rosberg -0.050s
    Europe: Rosberg -0.009s

    At Monaco, Rosberg’s Q2 time was faster than his Q3 time.

  3. Ralph Schumacher said on 25th June 2011, 17:51

    True red bull is on the front row but i suspect the engine mode is still a bit higher that other teams’. The RB7 did seem to be spemding a bit too long on the red line, possibly we will see some reliability issues arise during the grand prix tomorrow?

    • Quin10-10 said on 25th June 2011, 20:05

      As all the off-throttle combustion occurs in the exhaust system it shouldn’t really affect the engine, especially at only 10% throttle opening. Also, current rev limits are far below capability. Don’t foresee any problem there but I do miss the days when one would sometimes go BOOM.

      • cyanide (@cyanide) said on 25th June 2011, 20:36

        It surely does. Off-throttle combustion/retarding the ignition can melt and destroy valves and exhaust headers, not to mention skyrocketing temps that can melt bodywork.

      • Paul A (@paul-a) said on 25th June 2011, 23:58

        Incorrect. All combustion starts at the point of ignition (spark plug) and close to the fuel injection point – both at the top of the cylinder. Engine mapping (ignition and valve timing) allow a decrease in piston pressure (less horse power to be absorbed by the brakes) with the practical result that more gasses are still being burnt after, or downstream of, the exhaust valve.

        As “cyanide” points out this can have adverse effects. However, most of these effects are due to extremely complex harmonics, not “skyrocketing temps”. The absolute temperatures of the burning gasses will not change although their distribution will move further downstream (i.e. into the exhaust system.) The harmonics of the back pressures are likely to be the killers of the exhaust valves.

  4. MVEilenstein said on 25th June 2011, 17:54

    HRT 6th and 12th fastest in the speed traps is clearly a function of a strong engine but no downforce. Any time they make up on the straights is lost as soon as they lift.

    Still, they are beginning to close the gap on Virgin and Lotus. Good for them. Imagine what they could do with a little more money.

  5. Fixy (@fixy) said on 25th June 2011, 17:56

    I don’t like drivers not even trying to improve their position – sure, Sutil would have been 10th anyway, but F1’s spirit is to fight, never surrender.

    • MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 25th June 2011, 17:58

      F1′s spirit is to fight, never surrender

      Felipe Massa would beg to differ.

      • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 25th June 2011, 18:09

        Example?

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th June 2011, 18:19

          I think he’s referring to Hockenheim.

          • MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 25th June 2011, 18:22

            Yes.

          • Rob said on 25th June 2011, 18:45

            Letting Alo past is probably the only reason he is still driving for Ferrari today. He sure doesn’t have the speed to drive one of the red cars.

          • OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 25th June 2011, 22:41

            So, MVEilenstein, what would you have done in that situation? Refused and left F1?

          • Mike said on 26th June 2011, 7:29

            @Rob Then neither did Kimi.

          • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 26th June 2011, 7:47

            So that makes Raikkonen, Schumacher, Berger, Coutlhard, Moss, Peterson, G Villeneuve, Collins etc. non-fighters as well as they’ve sacrificed their own races to help their team-mates over the years…

            Not to mention drivers like Hill or Hamilton who have retired, or wanted to retire, a healthy car.

          • Todfod (@todfod) said on 26th June 2011, 9:38

            Gotta agree with Rob. As harsh as it sounds, Massa is on the Red team just to help Alonso, and not because of his abilities.

            @ed24f1. I dont remember the time Hamilton wanted to retire a healthy car… when was this?

          • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 26th June 2011, 12:01

            @Todfod – Europe 2009, after his puncture on the first lap.

            It’s rubbish to suggest that Massa is only at Ferrari to help Alonso and not due to his ability – he helped them to 2 Constructors Championships, and has won 11 races for them so far.

            Only Schumacher, Lauda and Ascari have EVER won more races for Ferrari in the F1-era by my calculations.

    • dau said on 25th June 2011, 19:05

      He didn’t surrender, it’s more like some sort of tactical retreat. By not running, he may have lost the chance for a better place in qualifying, but improved his chances for the battle that actually counts: the race.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 25th June 2011, 22:22

      Hmm I disagree Fixy. You don’t get any points for qualifying. Play the long game and try to secure as many points for tomorrow as possible.

      That IS the best place for your fighting spirit.

    • OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 25th June 2011, 22:42

      Sutil wants points.

    • DVC said on 26th June 2011, 0:34

      F1 is about using the rules to win the race. If you think your best chance of winning is to not run qualifying at all, then that’s what you do.

  6. Lagavulin said on 25th June 2011, 19:11

    It seems that only Rosberg, Petrov, Maldonado, Buemi, Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton saved 1 set of new softer tyres. Alguersuari has got 2.
    Petrov is the first driver in grid who can start on new soft tyres..

    waiting for keith’s analysis

    • Adrian Morse said on 25th June 2011, 19:15

      Vettel, Alonso, and Hamilton all went out for a second run and aborted half way, so they didn’t exactly save a set.

      • VXR said on 25th June 2011, 19:29

        Hamilton locked his front tyres up at turn one on his last flying lap. He aborted it shortly after.

        All the Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull drivers used their tyre allocation pretty much the same as each other.

        Not sure about the McLaren’s pace on the medium tyre. Should last well though. Two or three stops on the cards for most.

        • Lagavulin said on 25th June 2011, 19:50

          All the Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull drivers used their tyre allocation pretty much the same as each other.

          don’t think so.. Button “stressed” all 3 new softer tyres with 3 flying laps. And probably Webber too, but i am not so sure. So little advantage for Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, even if none has a really new set.

    • JamesAlrawazik said on 25th June 2011, 22:02

      Lagavulin. I think I’m right in saying that it’s actually Heidfeld who’s the first driver on the grid who can start on new soft tyres, not Petrov??

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 25th June 2011, 22:20

    Wow, never noticed the HRT so high on the speed chart before, not bad!

    I think it was a wise decision by both Sutil and Heidfeld (or rather their respective teams) to not run in Q3. I would expect a good race from Heidfeld especially tomorrow. Would be difficult to justify anything less than what he qualified with.

  8. MVEilenstein said on 25th June 2011, 23:00

    No idea what you’re talking about.

  9. Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 25th June 2011, 23:41

    Nice to see Schumi and Massa running their team mates so close. They both seemed to be on it in Canada and it will be great if they can keep that momentum going this weekend!

  10. Antifia said on 26th June 2011, 8:42

    The engine rule may not have done the job, but perhaps the blown exaust’s rule will. It is so shameful how the F1 big wigs go around managing the show. I, for one, believe Formula 1 is part of the entertainment industry (like any sporting event) but these guys should try to understand what entertains F1 fans – what they are doing is just irritating. And there is that underlying feeling that who they really want up front is a Ferrari.

  11. J Button Fan said on 26th June 2011, 8:54

    change the damn regulations on tires! they are absurd and annoying. separate the qualifying tires and the race tires for starters. the damn FIA comes up with crazy rules sometimes!

  12. Lagavulin said on 26th June 2011, 10:26

    @JamesAlrawazik
    yeah it could be. we can’t know for sure if he used the same set in Q2, but in this case he has got a brand new set of softer tyres. Good

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