Ferrari make progress and Lotus look quick in Spain

2012 Spanish Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2012Ferrari appear to have made a step forward with their car and Fernando Alonso said his first impression of the changes was “positive”.

As usual Lotus kept a low profile but they appear to have a quick car this weekend.

McLaren and Red Bull were at the top of the times in the second practice session and are likely to be in contention for pole position on Saturday.

Longest stint comparison

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

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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Sebastian Vettel 91.654 93.73 91.409 91.761 92.081 91.398 91.702 91.773 91.539 91.746 91.257 91.588 101.091 91.271
Mark Webber 90.907 91.18 90.935 91.115 91.028 126.291 91.063 90.577 91.678 91.441 91.244 91.405
Jenson Button 90.39 90.231 94.646 90.125 90.204 91.48 90.662 91.696 90.49 90.773 90.761
Lewis Hamilton 90.424 90.06 90.312 90.124 96.429 90.513 90.179 90.259 90.148 89.894
Fernando Alonso 90.264 89.761 90.177 91.266 90.46 90.85 90.986 91.576
Felipe Massa 91.163 90.953 91.098 91.422 91.794 92.195 92.092
Michael Schumacher 91.338 91.069 91.109 91.126 92.256 93.826 91.561 94.291 91.95 91.882 92.234 92.791
Nico Rosberg 91.147 91.42 91.348 91.846 92.531 91.57 91.825 92.46 92.484 92.429 93.234
Kimi Raikkonen 90.145 90.141 90.307 89.632 89.687 90.146 90.831 90.812 90.899 94.884 90.789 91.933 91.691 91.572 92.644 92.164
Romain Grosjean 90.66 89.58 90.29 90.017 89.882 89.879 90.232 93.7 90.304 90.739 90.622 90.869 91.377 92.155 92.865
Paul di Resta 90.842 90.953 90.866 91.45 96.767 94.924 90.93
Nico Hulkenberg 90.387 90.236 90.959 90.247 90.658 90.739 90.892 92.146 92.142 94.408
Kamui Kobayashi 91.611 90.592 91.048 93.913 90.521 90.483 90.195 90.359 90.262 90.613 90.752 95.16 90.972 91.141 91.056
Sergio Perez 91.105 91.546 92.322 91.886 92.062 91.419 92.554 94.273 93.817
Daniel Ricciardo 92.298 91.847 91.848 91.691 92.339 92.285 92.633 92.076 93.873 94.84 96.492 92.997 93.527 93.149
Jean-Eric Vergne 91.428 91.435 91.2 91.168 91.383 91.69 92.194 92.357 93.448 93.677
Pastor Maldonado 90.823 90.133 89.744 89.967 90.479 90.648 94.653 89.973 90.613 91.003 90.917 91.009 97.576 92.001
Bruno Senna 89.42 90.859 89.935 89.966 90.055 90.33 90.775 91.096 92.802 93.163
Heikki Kovalainen 90.156 91.104 90.705 91.204 92.09 96.843 91.479 99.307
Vitaly Petrov 93.596 93.662 91.203 90.915 90.898 91.537 91.107 92.356 92.811 92.345
Pedro de la Rosa 92.828 92.573 92.755 92.874 93.14 93.324 94.054 103.421 95.767 101.466 98.905
Narain Karthikeyan
Timo Glock 91.967 92.271 92.383 93.621 93.919 104.022
Charles Pic 94.776 94.294 94.254 94.173 94.097 94.281 94.235 104.672 93.887 94.133 93.849 94.262 96.108

In second practice several teams seemed to made examining their cars’ race stint a higher priority than usual, getting their soft-tyre runs out of the way early on.

Kimi Raikkonen ran a 16-lap stint on the soft tyres and looked able to get at least a dozen laps out of them. Team mate Grosjean said: “The balance felt strong on both tyres and we were able to complete long runs to give us valuable tyre data for Sunday.”

The harder tyres performed much as expected, being considerably slower – by over a second per lap – but much more consistent.

However some drivers struggled to get the best out of the harder tyre, such as Jenson Button: “The [soft] seems to be a bit easier for everyone as it?s softer and therefore more receptive to generating temperature. In P2, we also started to find a way to get the [hard] to work, but then, later in the session, we couldn?t quite get back to that sweet-spot.”

Ferrari had the opposite problem as technical director Pat Fry explained: “The car balance seems to be better on the hards than the softs and that partly explains the fact that we did not manage to significantly improve our times moving from one compound to another, without however forgetting that Fernando was always in traffic when he was on a set of new softs.”

As Lotus demonstrated in Bahrain, saving fresh sets of tyres in qualifying can pay off handsomely in the race. If the soft tyres are durable to do race stints on – and it looks like they are for Lotus – expect to see them reduce their running in qualifying to keep some fresh sets in reserve.

The large performance gap between the two tyres could make Q1 especially interesting. As the slower cars switch to the soft tyres at the end of the session, it may force more of the front-runners than usual to do likewise. Particularly as the gaps between the teams on hard tyres are so small – the top 14 were covered by 1.1s in first practice.

Sector times and ultimate lap times – second practice

Car Driver Car Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3 Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 23.055 (2) 31.564 (3) 28.780 (1) 1’23.399 0.000
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 23.240 (7) 31.499 (2) 28.824 (2) 1’23.563 0.164 0.000
3 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 23.207 (4) 31.470 (1) 29.094 (6) 1’23.771 0.372 0.000
4 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 23.213 (6) 31.686 (7) 29.010 (4) 1’23.909 0.510 0.000
5 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 23.118 (3) 31.696 (8) 29.104 (7) 1’23.918 0.519 0.000
6 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 23.019 (1) 31.573 (4) 29.372 (16) 1’23.964 0.565 0.000
7 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 23.320 (11) 31.812 (11) 28.932 (3) 1’24.064 0.665 0.016
8 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 23.209 (5) 31.657 (6) 29.199 (11) 1’24.065 0.666 0.000
9 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 23.240 (7) 31.634 (5) 29.242 (13) 1’24.116 0.717 0.098
10 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 23.268 (9) 31.719 (9) 29.317 (15) 1’24.304 0.905 0.118
11 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 23.351 (15) 31.927 (15) 29.063 (5) 1’24.341 0.942 0.077
12 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 23.333 (14) 31.873 (12) 29.159 (9) 1’24.365 0.966 0.000
13 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 23.329 (12) 31.924 (14) 29.137 (8) 1’24.390 0.991 0.078
14 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 23.358 (16) 31.898 (13) 29.207 (12) 1’24.463 1.064 0.137
15 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 23.306 (10) 31.961 (16) 29.421 (18) 1’24.688 1.289 0.000
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 23.489 (17) 32.066 (17) 29.178 (10) 1’24.733 1.334 0.000
17 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 23.330 (13) 32.156 (19) 29.256 (14) 1’24.742 1.343 0.027
18 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 23.494 (18) 32.109 (18) 29.387 (17) 1’24.990 1.591 0.057
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 23.763 (19) 32.462 (20) 29.708 (19) 1’25.933 2.534 0.363
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 23.763 (19) 32.844 (21) 29.941 (20) 1’26.548 3.149 0.192
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 24.089 (21) 32.976 (22) 30.249 (21) 1’27.314 3.915 0.000
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 24.296 (22) 33.081 (23) 30.260 (22) 1’27.637 4.238 0.027
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 24.556 (23) 33.314 (24) 30.365 (23) 1’28.235 4.836 0.000

The Lotus’s performance over a single lap was masked by Grosjean caught Felipe Massa and Charles Pic at the end of his lap.

As the sector times show, this may have cost him between three and six tenths of a second – having been quickest in the first sector he was 16th in sector three. The surprising thing is that Raikkonen, whose lap was not impeded, wasn’t much further ahead of him.

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.996 1’23.399
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’24.808 1’23.563
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’25.607 1’23.771
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’25.252 1’23.909
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’25.285 1’23.918
6 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’25.217 1’23.964
7 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’25.539 1’24.065
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’25.187 1’24.080
9 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’24.912 1’24.214
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’25.339 1’24.365
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’25.433 1’24.418
12 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’25.918 1’24.422
13 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’24.430 1’24.600
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’26.297 1’24.468
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’24.688
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’25.367 1’24.733
17 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’26.226 1’24.769
18 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’25.047
19 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’25.120
20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’26.296
21 Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1’26.630
22 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’27.475 1’26.740
23 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’28.267 1’27.314
24 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’28.633 1’27.664
25 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’29.107 1’28.235
26 Alexander Rossi Caterham-Renault 1’28.448
27 Dani Clos HRT-Cosworth 1’31.618

Having been fastest in the first session Alonso did not do a clear lap on soft tyres in the second session, so it’s hard to get a read on exactly how competitive the Ferrari is.

It’s worth pointing out that prior to today the closest a Ferrari had been to the pace in first practice this year was eight tenths of a second. In first practice they were fastest by almost four-tenths of a second – a huge swing.

Even if only part of that is a genuine gain in performance it points to a considerable improvement in the F2012, though we await tomorrow’s running for solid evidence of their progress.

Alonso said: “First impressions are positive: some parts worked as we expected, others less so, but broadly speaking, it confirms the tendency we had already seen in Mugello last week, which is that the data emerging form the wind tunnel has been been confirmed on track.”

A problem with Pastor Maldonado’s DRS cost him some time in the morning session.

Speed trap – second practice

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 321.6
2 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 321.3 0.3
3 15 Sergio Perez Sauber Ferrari 320.6 1
4 11 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 317.3 4.3
5 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 317 4.6
6 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Mercedes 316.5 5.1
7 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham Renault 316.3 5.3
8 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 315.6 6
9 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham Renault 315.6 6
10 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 313.4 8.2
11 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 313.4 8.2
12 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 313.2 8.4
13 3 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 313.1 8.5
14 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 312.5 9.1
15 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 312.3 9.3
16 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 312.1 9.5
17 19 Bruno Senna Williams Renault 311.5 10.1
18 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 311.5 10.1
19 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 311.2 10.4
20 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 309.5 12.1
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT Cosworth 308.2 13.4
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia Cosworth 307.5 14.1
23 25 Charles Pic Marussia Cosworth 307.4 14.2
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT Cosworth 305.4 16.2

While much attention has been focused on Mercedes’ straight-line speed courtesy of the Double DRS, Lotus have consistently been among the quickest through the speed traps this year, which remains the case here.

Make your predictions

Predict the pole sitter and the top five finishers this weekend for your chance to win F1 prizes. Enter here now:

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Spanish Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

Advert | Go Ad-free

21 comments on Ferrari make progress and Lotus look quick in Spain

  1. cg22me (@cg22me) said on 11th May 2012, 19:48

    Interesting to see the difference in Speed Traps times within teams… Force India and Sauber, especially, have large variations between drivers.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th May 2012, 1:00

      I was looking at the Sauber times, it could be trying 2 different strategies ie. low downforce/high top speed-v-high downforce/low top speed or it could be matching the tyres (sorry) to the drivers, in the race where Perez shone he was mostly in clear air and appeared very smooth, his speed was deceptive, conversely where Kamui shines is in a dogfight driving crazy lines around other drivers so if Perez gets a break he may be able to run fast and long on the softs, whereas Kamui needs more downforce so as not to slide and overheat his tyres when driving to his strength.
      This should be the year of the smooth driver.

  2. Kevin Campos (@kcampos12) said on 11th May 2012, 19:54

    Why are the Bottom teams so slow in a straight line? doesn’t less down force =higher top speeds? Is it the
    Cosworth engines?

    • d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 11th May 2012, 20:08

      @kcampos12

      Its not so simple. There are essentially two types of air forces on the car; downforce and drag. While more downforce *usually* equates to more drag, the best cars are able to generate more downforce EFFICIENTLY by doing so with less drag.

      Therefore, where sometimes commentators last year for example would say that the Mercedes or the Renault was an “efficient” car aerodynamically, it would basically mean that the car produces great downforce without much drag. The worst cars not only dont produce much downforce, but even when they do – they dont do it efficiently; meaning there is lots of drag (slower in the speedtraps.)

      Factor in the weaker Cosworth engine – and there you have it.

      • ivz (@ivz) said on 11th May 2012, 22:50

        Corner exit speed would also have an effect on top speed wouldn’t it? Say for example a car with more downforce can carry more speed through the apex, get on the power much sooner, and exit the corner 10 or 20kph faster?

        • @ivz Which would mean that Red Bull doesn’t carry speed through corners,and it’s slow out of the corners,when opposite is true.Like @d3v0 said it’s not so simple.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th May 2012, 1:06

            Dejan, not necessarily so, it might be carrying much more downforce so it is fast(er) in the corners but cannot overcome the extra drag to achieve a high top speed.

  3. Alfred (@afya) said on 11th May 2012, 20:54

    How come Kobayashi’s speed is 10+mph slower than Perez’s. Track time wise, he is however faster than Perez. Are they running different wings?

  4. BBT (@bbt) said on 11th May 2012, 21:19

    That looks like Lotus, Mclaren, RBR is the order… interesting.

    • Snafu (@snafu) said on 11th May 2012, 21:36

      Lotus will definitely win this if they be on pole but if they get stuck behind another car, they’ll lose their advantage because of dirty air…let’s not forget how hard it is to overtake in Barcelona.

      • @snafu Could’t agree more.Lotus race pace is unquestionable,but they lack qualifying pace which might cost them dearly when they find themselves stuck behind a slower car,which in turn will shoot their tyres.I hope and pray that the DRS zone works well for Lotus on sunday,and they don’t put gears too short,otherwise it’s not looking good for them.Usually i’m in favor of race performance over the qualy position but this time i would go for highest grid position possible,even if it means one more set of soft’s are used.

  5. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 11th May 2012, 21:27

    The large performance gap between the two tyres could make Q1 especially interesting.

    Perhaps the frontrunners will have to be a bit more aggressive this time. They normally seem to carry quite a lot of fuel, in order to be able to do 3 or 4 timed laps, interspersed with cooling-down laps. Perhaps tomorrow they will try only 2 flying laps with a cooling-down lap in between.

    I think the Lotus is looking pretty good, especially Grosjean. If I were a betting man, I may put a fiver on him for pole (and get pretty good odds?). As it is, I’ll put him at the top of my prediction.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th May 2012, 0:01

    As much as I don’t like either of them, I’m happy to see Ferrari and Lotus step up. When was the last time we had a season where five teams were all within an equal shot of winning races?

  7. HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th May 2012, 1:17

    Webber is looking very consistent, looks like he has booked another p4. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

    Alonso is the Joker in the pack, p5 or p1 maybe.

    Lotus look to have the best weapon.

    Jenson is looking good if he can keep his wheels on.

    Vettel can’t be ruled out.

    Seriously, do we really need a tyre lottery to make the racing interesting?

  8. Gap between tyres will make an interesting qualy season.Wonder which of the big guys will slip tomorrow.Hope it’s Seb,finger would be in full swing through the inlap,cucumbers all over the place.

  9. Tom (@newdecade) said on 12th May 2012, 5:08

    I predict people going from the top 5 to the drop-zone in the last minutes of Q2 due to the above mentioned compound choices – with only 1.1s of field spread its going to absolutely bonkers. At least one big name will definitely be scalped!

  10. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 12th May 2012, 11:13

    Ferrari do look good but I fear that having the most to prove means that other teams may still have something hidden away still, Ferrari need to evaluate their car ASAP so it makes sense to approach practice all guns blazing.

    I’d love it if Lotus were competitive. Can’t help but think they have unfinished business from Bahrain.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.