Red Bull look quick but McLaren aren’t far behind

2011 Japanese GP FP2 analysis

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2011

Vettel looked quick with high fuel

Red Bull showed eye-catching pace in the second practice session at Suzuka.

But McLaren’s performance over longer stints suggests they aren’t far behind and they were quickest through the twisty first sector.

Here’s all the data from the second practice session.

Longest stint comparison

  • Lewis Hamilton said he wasn’t concerned about Red Bull appearing to be quicker over long runs as he believed they run with less fuel in practice.
  • As we don’t know what fuel loads the cars run, we can compare how their lap times change over a stint to get an idea of their performance over a stint. By this measure, Jenson Button seemed to do better than Hamilton. The Red Bull pair were evenly matched, but Button’s pace indicates the McLarens may be able to race with them. However, set-up changes and track evolution will alter the picture between now and Sunday.
  • Ross Brawn acknowledged this could be another race where tyre degradation is significant: “It’s clear that tyres will be a major factor in the race on Sunday.”

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Sebastian Vettel 97.991 97.813 97.556 97.695 98.19 97.823 108.781 98.615 98.184 139.533
Mark Webber 98.194 97.88 100.724 97.972 102.805 97.857 97.769 101.056 98.308 98.798 103.156
Lewis Hamilton 100.258 99.893 102.591 99.954 101.232 104.448 116.567
Jenson Button 99.759 100.995 99.427 100.27 99.664 99.394 98.976 99.882
Fernando Alonso 99.649 99.226 99.224 99.05 100.387 99.595 103.354 100.562 101.34 126.089
Felipe Massa 101.031 100.77 100.436 100.858 100.459 101.415 100.841 101.925 107.264 102.398
Michael Schumacher 99.571 99.387 107.051 99.682 99.817 99.914 120.898
Nico Rosberg 100.498 101.331 101.041 100.56 100.599 101.01 130.191
Bruno Senna 105.133 102.655 100.978 100.535 101.155 101.404 102.075 103.521 103.818 103.835
Vitaly Petrov 102.046 101.272 104.492 101.981 101.883 101.134 101.361 100.959 138.178
Rubens Barrichello 110.147 98.255 106.298 106.499 97.123
Pastor Maldonado 129.796 100.595 99.933 100.403 99.317 98.622 98.387
Adrian Sutil 100.974 100.557 100.506 105.524 100.139 100.715 102.843 101.422 102.416 127.757
Paul di Resta 101.564 101.141 102.467 101.289 101.168 101.588 102.187
Kamui Kobayashi 97.384 108.598 97.012 109.261 96.445 106.766 96.787
Sergio Perez 100.381 100.483 101.314 101.029 104.234
Sebastien Buemi 102.152 101.958 101.97 101.785 101.4 103.314 102.137 103.145 104.151 104.461 136.568
Jaime Alguersuari 100.399 100.337 100.788 101.102
Heikki Kovalainen 102.64 101.461 101.513 101.58 101.522 101.928 101.733 102.535 103.716 104.99
Jarno Trulli 101.969 101.008 100.994 100.475 107.365 104.02 105.096 100.365 100.812 99.94 100.026 104.113 100.91
Daniel Ricciardo 104.454 103.808 108.512 108.098 105.585 108.725 103.409 106.152 103.713 103.221 104.129 116.292
Vitantonio Liuzzi 102.888 102.48
Timo Glock 102.404 102.405 101.915 101.963 101.957 102.278 102.391 102.788 120.273
Jerome dAmbrosio 103.177 103.09 102.939 103.078 103.744 105.718 103.82 103.358 103.789 105.554 103.468 119.778

Ultimate lap times

An ultimate lap is a driver’s fastest three sector times combined.

  • Hamilton was among the drivers who did not get a clear lap in on soft tyres. He was the fastest driver through the first sector, a mere two-thousandths of a second up on his team mate.
  • Button was fastest in sector two and Fernando Alonso was quickest through the short final sector.
Car Driver Car Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’31.901 0.000
2 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.075 0.174 0.000
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’32.095 0.194 0.000
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’32.147 0.246 0.000
5 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.448 0.547 0.000
6 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.699 0.798 0.283
7 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.710 0.809 0.000
8 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.157 1.256 0.088
9 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’33.446 1.545 0.000
10 19 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’33.626 1.725 0.079
11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’33.674 1.773 0.116
12 18 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’33.681 1.780 0.000
13 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’34.150 2.249 1.888
14 9 Bruno Senna Renault 1’34.185 2.284 0.372
15 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’34.226 2.325 0.167
16 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’34.601 2.700 0.000
17 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’36.124 4.223 0.999
18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’36.225 4.324 0.000
19 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’37.418 5.517 0.022
20 25 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’38.093 6.192 0.000
21 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’38.278 6.377 0.109
22 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1’38.714 6.813 0.049
23 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’39.702 7.801 0.098
24 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’42.075 10.174 0.405

Complete practice times

  • Paul di Resta gave some insight into Force India;s set-up approach: “Both cars ran with different programmes and looking at the feedback it seems like the route taken with Adrian?s car is probably the better way forward for the rest of the weekend. Also, I spent a lot of the day fighting the rear and that was partly due to the tyres going away quite quickly ?ǣ which was the case for both the medium and soft tyres.”
  • Sebastien Buemi is encouraged by Toro Rosso’s pace which was noted here earlier: “It?s a bit early to talk about car performance, but if you compare today to Singapore, where we were at the back of our group, today we seem to be ahead of all of them with the exception of Petrov. The car is better suited to this type of track, but we still need to wait and see how qualifying goes tomorrow, as it will be a tight fight.”
Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Stint lap At time Laps
1 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’31.901 1/1 61 32
2 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.075 0.174 1/4 54 33
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’32.095 0.194 4/4 67 35
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’32.147 0.246 1/1 57 28
5 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.448 0.547 1/4 45 34
6 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.710 0.809 1/1 72 26
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.982 1.081 3/3 73 27
8 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.245 1.344 2/2 66 26
9 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’33.446 1.545 1/2 45 36
10 18 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’33.681 1.780 1/3 55 33
11 19 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’33.705 1.804 3/3 46 25
12 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’33.790 1.889 1/3 63 36
13 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’34.393 2.492 3/5 51 35
14 9 Bruno Senna Renault 1’34.557 2.656 1/3 46 27
15 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’34.601 2.700 2/3 59 33
16 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’36.038 4.137 5/5 41 33
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’36.225 4.324 1/1 55 35
18 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’37.123 5.222 5/5 14 13
19 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’37.440 5.539 4/4 67 30
20 25 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’38.093 6.192 1/2 59 30
21 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’38.387 6.486 7/7 17 15
22 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1’38.763 6.862 2/4 56 36
23 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’39.800 7.899 5/5 13 24
24 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’42.480 10.579 2/2 8 3

Speed trap

  • Red Bull appear to be running less downforce than their rivals and this is reflected in the speed trap.
# Driver Car Engine Max speed Gap
1 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 309.8
2 19 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari 309.7 0.1
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 309.7 0.1
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 309.1 0.7
5 18 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 307.3 2.5
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 306.7 3.1
7 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault Renault 306.1 3.7
8 9 Bruno Senna Renault Renault 305.6 4.2
9 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Mercedes 305.1 4.7
10 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 304.7 5.1
11 4 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 303.6 6.2
12 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams Cosworth 302.6 7.2
13 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 301.8 8
14 17 Sergio Perez Sauber Ferrari 301.7 8.1
15 24 Timo Glock Virgin Cosworth 301.4 8.4
16 15 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 300.4 9.4
17 25 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Cosworth 300.2 9.6
18 14 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 300 9.8
19 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 299.8 10
20 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams Cosworth 298.4 11.4
21 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Renault 294.7 15.1
22 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT Cosworth 287.6 22.2
23 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus Renault 285.1 24.7
24 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT Cosworth 271.8 38

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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39 comments on Red Bull look quick but McLaren aren’t far behind

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 7th October 2011, 12:27

    I get the impression Renault were right with their estimates they are not completely lost at the higher speed Suzuka. Mercedes will suffer from tyre wear again.

    Good to hear Di Resta talk about the different approaches, it shows how the individual results of drivers in FP sessions are often more to do with setup routes then their speeds compared to their team mates.

  2. BasCB (@bascb) said on 7th October 2011, 12:28

    Also, does anyone believe Vettel has got a real fight on his hands here for pole?

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 7th October 2011, 12:42

      I sure hope so. That is if McLaren are right about the fuel loads being less than theirs.

      Also, a lot of the other teams seem to be saying tracks like this suit their cars – track where the RB6 was typically dominant last year. Seems people have tried to follow their lead and Red Bull have simply evened our their advantage over all track types.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 7th October 2011, 20:15

      Sigh, once upon a time I might have but now, even though Button and Alonso look able to challenge, I cannot really believe it will happen.

  3. matt90 (@matt90) said on 7th October 2011, 12:33

    Hi Keith. Is there still an easy link to the TV times that I’m missing?

  4. Tango (@tango) said on 7th October 2011, 12:43

    Is it me or are the Lotus (green and yellow) doing quite well?

  5. Eggry (@eggry) said on 7th October 2011, 12:51

    I hope Hamilton is right.

    • Klaas (@klaas) said on 7th October 2011, 13:20

      We’ve been fooled with this picture many times this season, when the RedBulls are shy in FP and then Vettel pulls a half-second margin pole position. Vettel goes quick only when it matters.

  6. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 7th October 2011, 13:29

    Good to see Mercedes aren’t topping the speedtrap list.
    Still a slightly higher speed for Schumacher than Rosberg, but not a really big gap.

    I’ve wondered this year if Schumacher compromised downforce to get a lighter rear, so the car feels more like he wants to. While at t he same time compromising his speed against Rosberg.

    I’m curious how this inter team battle will end. I think Schumacher is finally giving Rosberg a real fight for his money.

  7. PJ (@pjtierney) said on 7th October 2011, 14:01

    Anybody know what the ultimate lap for the session was? (ie: add up all the purple sectors)

  8. Marina (@marish) said on 7th October 2011, 14:04

    I guess I misunderstood something but why Renault are going to stick with the version of the car Bruno Senna is running? The times seems to indicate that the Petrov’s car is faster. I don’t think that they have diffirent fuel loads, otherwise what is the point in comparing them?

  9. Gill (@gill) said on 7th October 2011, 14:14

    Whats the news on Ferrari’s pace ?

  10. Veggen (@veggen) said on 7th October 2011, 14:40

    Nice analysis as always.
    However, may I suggest to change the scale of the lap time chart to 110 to exclude the outliers? This would make it much easier to separate the individual drivers. The inlap times are not really interesting, and only clouds the important information.

  11. Richard said on 7th October 2011, 14:57

    Anyone have a list of who kept DRS active through 130R?
    That would probably separate the top-6 from the rest; though I guess its SFM/RB/VMM anyway.

    RB’s pace looks well clear – perhaps JB can keep in touch with good tyre use.
    I suspect a RB will just keep to the minimum required gap strategy we have seen most of this year.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 7th October 2011, 15:18

      @Richard, how do you see RB clear, with Button and Alonso both being faster than Vettel & Webber? Are you relying on RB keeping a half second in hand for qualifying,ie sandbagging, or do you think McL and SF are able to reach their ultimate set-up earlier than RB? To me it seems like the cars are more equal than they have been for years.

      • Richard said on 7th October 2011, 16:55

        Hi, I am using the graph data; just FA & SV for an example.

        Both are long runs & the Red Bull is quicker.
        This could be fuel load differences of course.

        I think Red Bull know there car’s very well as there has been no radical re-design since 2009 unlike McL so they just test new parts & do long run race setups in FP1/FP2 before thrashing the other teams in FP3/Qually.

  12. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 7th October 2011, 15:31

    Wonder why RBR decided to run low on downforce, as noted there… it seems to be a completely different approach to what we’re used to see from them. Or maybe they’ll raise the wings and storm to pole as always tomorrow, miles ahead of the rest.

  13. McLaren’s pace through the esses suggest that the have higher baseline downforce, they are back to their high-chord flap, or both. Slow trap figures confirm this. RBR is at the top. Either way, that will redound in the race, when DRS will be restricted. But somehow I have a feeling that RBR will crank up the downforce and just do their normal disappearing act.

  14. vho (@) said on 7th October 2011, 15:50

    With RB running lower downforce they seemed to be quicker in heavy fuel mode – about 1sec+ faster than Jenson on a similar fuel load. This could be encouraging for RB as they will aim to sprint ahead at the beginning of the race and build a lead (sounds familiar doesn’t it?), meanwhile the others are fighting in the back of the pack and may run out of tyres to be able to hunt them down. But the catch is how they will fare during qualifying given that Jenson and Alonso are ahead of them and whether they can keep the lead during the first few laps of the race. If they stay the same (if not similiar positions) we will have a good show on our hands – and see whether Vettel can pull off another Monza-like overtaking move.

  15. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 7th October 2011, 17:36

    LOOKS AS IF THERE’S A MISTAKE WITH THE PRACTICE TIMES. Both Ultimate lap times and Practice times are the same. Also the title mentions RB as the fastest but I see Button on top in both charts

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