Shuffled grid expected for Australian Grand Prix

2012 Australian Grand Prix practice analysis

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012

Fernando Alonso expects some change to the usual running order in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

Speaking after rain disrupted both of today’s practice sessions the Ferrari driver said: “There?s no point looking at the time sheet from today with a view to making predictions for qualifying.

“Tomorrow I expect to see a very mixed up grid because there are so many teams that have done a good job over the winter”

Two dry sessions might have given us more of an indication what shape the teams are in heading into the first race of the season. But there’s little to be gleaned from Friday’s practice data.

Longest stints in second practice

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2012drivercolours.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Sebastian Vettel 96.975 94.545 94.76 100.204 93.14 92.762 92.582 92.194 93.093 92.238
Mark Webber 96.77 94.613 93.47 99.706 93.196 93.014 92.296 98.319 94.191
Jenson Button 97.522 95.382 94.465 93.971 98.084 93.478 93.039 97.377 93.742
Lewis Hamilton 98.217 96.638 94.969 93.93 93.713 93.52 93.935 93.252 97.736
Fernando Alonso 96.203 90.341 101.103 93.942 91.645
Felipe Massa 91.505 96.233 95.469
Michael Schumacher 95.198 90.643 93.651 89.819 94.001 89.662 89.183
Nico Rosberg 95.103 94.222 96.714 92.394 94.366 95.545 92.184 92.403
Kimi Raikkonen 99.638 95.459 96.795 98.475 94.275
Romain Grosjean 96.19 95.245 94.44 94.873 93.828 93.774 93.466 92.822 93.551
Paul di Resta 92.302 91.639 101.381
Nico Hulkenberg 94.015 94.469 95.791 89.808 100.355 89.971 89.292
Kamui Kobayashi 107.17 115.464 106.098 112.065 105.117 105.22
Sergio Perez 92.06 90.25 95.293 98.905 90.199 91.226
Daniel Ricciardo 105.742 102.248 101.492 100.592 100.827 99.414 99.952 99.706 99.124 98.914
Jean-Eric Vergne 100.443 98.016 97.306 96.161 95.673 95.111 95.065 94.485 97.608 100.834
Pastor Maldonado 98.144 95.905 95.829 94.965 94.108 112.631 94.92 99.014 98.892
Bruno Senna 98.326 97.954 95.429 94.891 96.913 98.661 94.583 95.688 94.312
Heikki Kovalainen 93.347 95.456 96.354 92.182 91.932 96.402 94.389
Vitaly Petrov 99.066 99.423 99.802 99.622 92.767 103.045 98.999 96.897
Pedro de la Rosa
Narain Karthikeyan 108.73 105.645 102.627 102.865
Timo Glock 101.389 110.926 102.833
Charles Pic 106.55 112.445 103.927 115.871

Michael Schumacher was quickest at the end of the second session but was cautious about Mercedes’ potential:

“I would not go so far as to speak about being confident, as the weather conditions were too mixed to gain a clear picture,” he said. “We know what Friday sessions are for and don’t know what fuel loads others were running.

“On the other hand, it is good to see that we were competitive in different circumstances today and that the car provides good handling – I just feel it.”

Looking at the longest stint lap times from the second session (above) Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes had comparable rates of drop-off in their performance. Where Ferrari are in this picture is even harder to tell as their stints were shorter.

Ordinarily teams would use this part of the session to compare the tyre compounds on offer, but their ability to do that was limited by the conditions.

Red Bull put both their drivers on the soft tyre for this late stint. Jenson Button did the same, whereas Lewis Hamilton used the medium.

Schumacher also used the medium for his last stint. Pirelli said the tyre was “particularly well suited to the conditions” and added: “the performance gap between the two compounds has significantly decreased”.

Best sectors and ultimate laps

Here are the drivers best sector times from the second session:

Car Driver Car Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3 Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 30.371 23.393 35.233 1’28.997 0.186
2 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 30.302 23.594 35.232 1’29.128 0.131 0.164
3 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 30.433 23.800 35.625 1’29.858 0.861 0.341
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 30.597 23.538 35.874 1’30.009 1.012 0.332
5 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 30.767 23.999 35.697 1’30.463 1.466 0.246
6 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 31.039 23.827 35.865 1’30.731 1.734 0.735
7 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 30.701 23.837 36.618 1’31.156 2.159 0.776
8 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 30.877 24.153 36.348 1’31.378 2.381 0.127
9 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 31.239 24.191 36.656 1’32.086 3.089 0.098
10 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 31.031 24.424 36.667 1’32.122 3.125 0.072
11 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 31.195 24.409 36.627 1’32.231 3.234 0.065
12 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 31.254 23.980 37.008 1’32.242 3.245 0.525
13 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 31.419 24.282 36.931 1’32.632 3.635 0.000
14 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 31.392 24.579 36.719 1’32.690 3.693 0.132
15 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 31.582 24.433 36.912 1’32.927 3.930 0.112
16 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 31.494 24.614 37.144 1’33.252 4.255 0.000
17 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 31.431 24.787 37.402 1’33.620 4.623 0.488
18 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 31.638 24.761 37.471 1’33.870 4.873 0.442
19 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 31.684 24.898 37.335 1’33.917 4.920 0.358
20 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 31.884 24.888 37.713 1’34.485 5.488 0.000
21 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 31.952 24.968 37.605 1’34.525 5.528 0.079
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 32.136 25.009 37.625 1’34.770 5.773 0.000
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 34.095 26.905 39.967 1’40.967 11.970 1.660
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 53.525 35.542

Despite having had little pre-season running, Marussia look capable of beating the 107% rule in Q1 and making it into the race. Timo Glock was only 3.9% slower than Schumacher in the second session.

Unlike all of the drivers in front of him, Glock set all three of his best sectors on that lap. But even knowing that – and assuming this was a low-fuel run on new, soft tyres, and that the faster cars will pick up more time on a fully-dry track – this is a positive sign the MR01s can qualify on merit.

It’s hard to be similarly optimistic about HRT’s chances, but at least they have done more running so far than they had at this point last year.

Straight-line speeds

Maximum speeds – first practice:

# Driver Car Engine Max speed Gap
1 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 313.9
2 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Mercedes 312.8 1.1
3 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 312.8 1.1
4 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 312.5 1.4
5 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 312 1.9
6 3 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 311.9 2
7 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 311.2 2.7
8 15 Sergio Perez Sauber Ferrari 310.4 3.5
9 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 309.1 4.8
10 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 308.7 5.2
11 11 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 308.6 5.3
12 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 308.2 5.7
13 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham Renault 307.6 6.3
14 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 306.8 7.1
15 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 305.6 8.3
16 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 304.4 9.5
17 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 303.1 10.8
18 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham Renault 302 11.9
19 19 Bruno Senna Williams Renault 301.5 12.4
20 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 301.3 12.6
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia Cosworth 297.1 16.8
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia Cosworth 290 23.9
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT Cosworth 266.2 47.7

Maximum speeds – second practice:

# Driver Car Engine Max speed Gap
1 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 314.5
2 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Mercedes 311.8 2.7
3 15 Sergio Perez Sauber Ferrari 311.7 2.8
4 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 311.1 3.4
5 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 308.6 5.9
6 11 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 308.3 6.2
7 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 308 6.5
8 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 307.9 6.6
9 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham Renault 307.4 7.1
10 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham Renault 307.3 7.2
11 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 304.2 10.3
12 24 Timo Glock Marussia Cosworth 303.8 10.7
13 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 303.6 10.9
14 25 Charles Pic Marussia Cosworth 301.6 12.9
15 19 Bruno Senna Williams Renault 300.1 14.4
16 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT Cosworth 299 15.5
17 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 298.6 15.9
18 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 297.7 16.8
19 3 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 297.6 16.9
20 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 297.1 17.4
21 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 297.1 17.4
22 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 296.7 17.8
23 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 296 18.5
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT Cosworth 150.3 164.2

Mercedes’ rear wing, which is believed to enhance the power of its DRS to give it superior drag-reduction, has been the focus of much discussion. Schumacher was the second-fastest driver through the speed trap in both sessions.

Last year we grew accustomed to seeing Red Bull towards the bottom of the speed trap times and that was the case here as well. However the rapidly-drying track in the second session appears to have exaggerated the difference.

Predictions Championship

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2012 Australian Grand Prix


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45 comments on Shuffled grid expected for Australian Grand Prix

  1. Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 16th March 2012, 11:47

    Wow, what an intriguing couple of sessions that was. It would have been great to see a bit more sunshine for FP2, but if anything the rain has prolonged the agony of trying to spot an order before Quali.

    Horner said afterwards RBR still haven’t done a low fuel run, and I don’t think Mclaren have either – just my opinion but I reckon it’s too close to call between Mclaren and RBR at the front, with Mercedes not too far off in third.

    Literally counting down the hours until Quali now!

    • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 16th March 2012, 21:05

      Well, the dry running was limited and with a green track, its a fair assumption that not many will have done a low fuel/qualy run tests on the track.

      Expect it in FP3 however, thats when we see whose going to be the benchmark. Or atleast get a good idea.

  2. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 16th March 2012, 11:49

    Keith,just a suggestion, it would have been great if the sector times are color coded for say top 3 or 5, or just sector time rankings are mentioned in bracket.
    It would give more insight about the relative performance of cars in different sectors, specially in technical circuits like Catalunya.

  3. McLarenFanJamm (@mclarenfanjamm) said on 16th March 2012, 12:27

    Seen on Twitter that Vettel has apparently told an interviewer that he was not happy with the car at all today. Tomorrow’s target is to just try and make Q3…

  4. Estesark (@estesark) said on 16th March 2012, 12:29

    Luis Perez-Sala, team principal of HRT, thinks that his team’s season might not start until Malaysia, or even Shanghai.

    I can’t say I’m going to miss them.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 16th March 2012, 13:08

      I was a bit shocked to read that. I wonder whether Luis Perez-Sala is just being cautious, or whether they are really in worse shape than last year.

      I would miss them, however, even if only a little bit. The teams at the back of the grid add their own stories to a Formula One season, even if those stories are not as interesting as the fight for the championship (not that last year’s championship story was very interesting…) Last year, for example, I found it interesting to watch Ricciardo come into the team and see how he compared to Liuzzi, and also to see the HRTs regularly fighting with the Virgins.

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 16th March 2012, 13:36

        @adrianmorse I imagine they will miss this weekend but will be back for Sepang. They’re just far too off the pace and haven’t set any reasonably good practice times either.

      • Estesark (@estesark) said on 16th March 2012, 13:36

        I don’t find their story to be exciting. It’s not that I’m only interested in the championship battle, it’s just that I want every season to mean something for every driver. For example, picking one driver from every team: Will Vettel become only the third driver to win three titles in a row? Will Hamilton put his personal troubles behind him this year? Will Massa salvage his reputation? Will Schumacher do enough to merit another year in the sport? Will Räikkönen make a successful comeback? Which semi-rookie will cement their reputation by triumphing at Force India? Will Pérez do enough to put him in contention for a Ferrari drive next year? Will either of the Toro Rosso drivers impress enough to move up to the senior team? Will Senna flourish at a team so strongly associated with his uncle? Will Caterham move up into the midfield? Will Pic show that he deserves his place in F1, having never won any other series?

        Then we get to HRT. de la Rosa is too old to have any significant future in the sport (I know Schumacher is older, but the difference is that Schumacher is still pretty good), and I think he has mainly been hired by the team for his nationality. It was the same Spanish kick which prompted the team to massively disrupt their off-season by moving to Spain – so it should come as no surprise that they don’t have a car ready. Meanwhile, Karthikeyan is only driving because he has sponsorship from Tata, and even that means so little to the team that he was dropped last year as soon as Red Bull came calling with a more tempting offer. Those aren’t stories that interest me, sorry.

        • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 16th March 2012, 13:56

          But those stories do cover almost half of your comment… ;-) @estesark

        • fyujj said on 16th March 2012, 15:00

          I think DeLaRosa is, at least, in as good a shape as Schumacher.
          In 2010 he was only dropped by Sauber ‘cos of ‘pay driver’ Perez.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th March 2012, 15:08

            De la Rosa wasn’t replaced by Perez – Sauber dropped him five races before the end of 2010 and replaced him with Nick Heidfeld.

            Perez may bring sponsorship but he was also GP2 runner-up in 2010, in his second year in the series, which is a respectable accomplishment and good enough for any driver to get a seat in F1 on merit. Indeed, six out of the seven GP2 runners-up have done just that.

            And Perez had an excellent first season in F1 last year – so much so I picked him as my rookie of the year.

          • fyujj said on 16th March 2012, 15:21

            That’s right, I forgot.
            I just meant to say that’s he was performing quite well that year.
            As for the ‘pay driver’ thing, I put it quoted just to say that almost everyone there is one, no matter how good they are.
            (I’m replying to myself as keith’s comment has no reply button).

          • dkpioe said on 16th March 2012, 15:52

            Perez has shown enough speed and skill to suggest he is not a pay driver, so get over yourself.

          • Paxter (@paxter) said on 17th March 2012, 1:19

            de la Rosa is no where close to Schumacher, from a Career point or from his form this year. That’s an insult on its own, also to put down Perez is silly he has gotten into f1 by his own merit yes he may be funded by the richest man in the world but almost every new driver brings with them sponsorship and drive money. I don’t see why Perez should be singled out.

      • tigen (@tigen) said on 16th March 2012, 17:47

        They’re too slow to want them to be in the race. They’re pretty much just a safety hazard for the other drivers, unfortunately. And an interference in Q1. And a random DRS boost for drivers lapping them.

        I don’t mind them trying to compete but when they are clearly unprepared I don’t really have sympathy. I think they should be allowed to try to qualify, if they can’t them keep them out.

  5. arporter (@arporter) said on 16th March 2012, 12:41

    I recon Marussia where doing lots of lower fuel runs so in case they don’t get within the 107% tomorrow they can point to their practice performance today and be allowed to race on Sunday.

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 16th March 2012, 12:47

      @arporter it doesn’t work that way. They basically have to set a laptime that is within 107% of P1 time of Q1 qualifying. 107% of a free practice time doesn’t count.

      • mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 16th March 2012, 12:51

        Yeah but they could say to the FIA look we were posting competitive thats what the car can do. Much better than were just miles off in qualifying and have nothing else going for them

      • arporter (@arporter) said on 16th March 2012, 12:53

        I know but if they fail to meet the 107% in qualifying, they can justify their participation through their performance in practice sessions so dispensation can be given

      • vjanik said on 16th March 2012, 12:57

        it does work that way. if they fail to reach the 107% mark, its up to the stewards to decide if they race.. and the stewards will be looking at FP1 in context to see if they will allow them to race. (as happened several times last year)

      • Alex W said on 16th March 2012, 13:12

        They can have “faulty cars” for qualy and may be allowed in, on practice results…

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 16th March 2012, 19:50

        @mrgrieves @arporter @vjanik If they don’t make the 107% cut in qualifying – they have to have a free practice time that is FASTER than that – which DOES make qualifying 107%.

  6. Dave (@davea86) said on 16th March 2012, 12:46

    I just hope the predictions are right and it’s really close. While I have a huge amount of respect for what Red Bull have done the last couple of years, I’ll be really annoyed if they do their usual trick and smash the field in quali.

  7. brum55 said on 16th March 2012, 12:50

    I really do worry for Ferrari and Alonso’s chances this year. But then Merc & RB don’t seem happy either whilst McLaren seem eerily quiet.

    • James (@jamesf1) said on 16th March 2012, 18:46

      I think everyone is just nervous and anxious to know where they stand so they can get to work to catch up or stay ahead. There is much less downforce, tweaks in the regs and, as ever, everything to play for.

      The lack of dry running today is only going to make P3, qualifying and the race 100 times better. Bring. It. On.

  8. Theoddkiwi said on 16th March 2012, 13:29

    I really don’t get the feeling that Redbull are going to dominate qualifying. Remember they were using different engine maps for qualifying for periods last year. Thats gone.
    I think it is not only going to be closer amongst the top 3 or 4 teams but also amongst the team drivers to.
    I think all the drivers are quite genuine in saying they have no idea where they will qualify as in they have no funny tricks up their sleeves.

  9. Bigbadderboom (@bigbadderboom) said on 16th March 2012, 13:30

    Alonso

    There’s no point looking at the time sheet from today with a view to making predictions for qualifying.

    I guess Fernandos waiting until after P3 to make his first F1Fanatic prediction of the season!!!!! :)

  10. rdpunk (@) said on 16th March 2012, 13:48

    A very interesting sesion. Just finished watching them and the merc’s look quick. However, how much feul, and how much was he going for it? It is vvery hard to predict as no-one really wanted to push. Interesting point made my AD during the sesion, I didn’t know teams had that little spares at this stage in the season! I would of thougth that they would have pleanty of spare parts available.

    • dkpioe said on 16th March 2012, 15:27

      judging by the testing times and by the top speed advantage shumacher had over mclaren that use the same engine, he was obviously on much lower fuel then redbull and mclaren, oh and being ahead of rosberg also suggests it was lower fuel that made the time. ;)

      • Jack (@) said on 16th March 2012, 20:14

        @dkpioe

        judging by the testing times and by the top speed advantage shumacher had over mclaren that use the same engine, he was obviously on much lower fuel then redbull and mclaren

        Not necesarily…. It is common knowledge that Mercedes, being an engine supplier for McLaren Mercedes, obviously won´t give them a better engine than what they use too. They are customers… Just as Ferrari sells engines to Toro Rosso… I don´t see Toro Rosso up there! Get my point?
        They have an obligation to provide a good product BUT, they will always keep the best for them… It´s just common sense.

  11. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 16th March 2012, 14:39

    This pre season has been soooooooo frustrating. I can never remember any season where after every session the picture of where everyone is is less clear. A Schumacher fan i really hope this isnt a false dawn even though i keep telling myself practice means nothing the race is Sunday but where is everyone! Usually we have clues through pre season tests and pre race practice but this years showing nothing!

  12. Himmat said on 16th March 2012, 18:01

    Caterham seem to be doing fine. Add that to the fact that Kovalainen was o.7s off his absolute best time and yet finished comfortably in the Top 10 is just great. Cant wait for Q1 in less than 12 hrs time!!!

  13. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th March 2012, 22:37

    @keithcollantine – I know this might be an impossible request given that you need twenty-four colours, but would it somehow be possible to change the colours used in the graphs? The problem is that I’m red-green colour-blind, so I have some trouble making out the graphs and the key if I want to compare drivers. It’s not that big of a deal if it can’t be changed, but colour-blindness is so common that I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one experiencing trouble with it.

    • matt said on 17th March 2012, 3:07

      I’m not in your boat re: colour blindness but do find it hard sometimes to distinguish the graphs. Maybe as an alternative to colours, perhaps different styles of line e.g. dashes, dots etc like in a CAD drawing. Maybe to reduce colours / line styles, it could be a combo of the 2 each tam has a dash style with driver A in Blue and Driver B in yellow for example.

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