Vettel not taking Friday lead for granted

2012 European Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Sebastian Vettel was quickest in Friday practice in Valencia but admitted the competitive order could change on Sunday.

With temperatures expecting to rise over the rest of the weekend, the winner of the last two races in Valencia was cautious about his prospects: “The conditions will change again for Sunday I think; it was a bit cooler today, which will make a difference.

“It?s close between the teams and it?s not yet clear what the right strategy is for Sunday, hopefully we can make a step forward tomorrow.”

Longest stint comparison – second practice

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

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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Sebastian Vettel 105.345 105.473 105.689 105.19 105.434 105.49 105.166 105.008
Mark Webber 105.899 106.093 105.585 105.691 105.717 105.718 106.311 108.901
Jenson Button 106.461 106.14 106.036 106.272 106.491 106.667 105.823 105.853 105.846 105.972 106.422 106.522
Lewis Hamilton 103.612 101.246 105.77 100.397 107.97 109.416 100.522
Fernando Alonso 105.68 105.969 105.569 106.414 105.348 105.606 110.232 105.425 105.49 105.462 107.081 105.767 106.321
Felipe Massa 105.075 104.844 105.193 104.861 104.994 108.649 105.135 105.475 106.96 108.207
Michael Schumacher 106.086 106.705 106.534 107.348 106.048 105.96 105.67 105.664 105.528 105.863 106.253 105.617
Nico Rosberg 105.763 105.75 105.658 105.571 105.93 105.427 107.746 105.497 111.233 105.407 105.731 105.632 110.059 105.459 105.783 109.597 106.073
Kimi Raikkonen 104.88 105.162 104.843 105.123 105.427 105.05 105.388 105.405 105.476 105.279 105.274 110.19 105.163
Romain Grosjean 105.194 113.815 105.296 105.268 105.255 108.069 104.524 105.346 104.884 104.802 104.999 105.031 104.634
Paul di Resta 105.768 108.966 104.953 105.284 105.546 105.373 105.367 105.229 105.17 105.64 105.836 105.301 105.326
Nico Hulkenberg 105.958 106.444 105.505 105.505 105.622 105.319 104.957 105.212 106.057 105.527 105.324 104.928
Kamui Kobayashi 110.09 101.085 121.86 101.46 107.622 102.671
Sergio Perez 105.045 105.089 106.001 105.179 105.677 105.277 105.727 105.52 105.489
Daniel Ricciardo 107.315 106.959 106.42 106.271 106.201 106.066 106.069 106.542 106.786 106.928 106.598 106.835 111.413
Jean-Eric Vergne 107.908 108.484 107.735 107.683 107.285 107.399 108.005
Pastor Maldonado 105.659 105.517 105.473 105.335 105.555 105.053 105.29 105.284
Bruno Senna 106.916 106.415 106.333 106.301 106.295 106.111 105.925 106.249 105.85 105.411 105.679 105.969
Heikki Kovalainen 105.569 105.882 105.861 106.027 106.37 106.147 106.396 106.733 106.539 106.553
Vitaly Petrov 105.526 105.678 105.634 105.663 106.067 106.032 105.912
Pedro de la Rosa 107.571 107.425 105.215 112.976 104.704
Narain Karthikeyan 108.002 107.714 108.326 108.119 111.536 107.861 109.791
Timo Glock 111.18 102.424 130.236 106.606 102.837
Charles Pic 109.514 109.042 108.138 109.338 108.98 109.083 108.383

Conditions for practice at the Valencia street circuit were not as hot as expected, and much windier. Drivers generally found good life from the medium compound tyres – but the concern is whether this will still be the case later in the weekend when the track is forecast to be as much as 10C hotter.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012Lotus are one team which have tended to perform better in hotter conditions, but less well in qualifying. Romain Grosjean’s race-fuel stint looked particularly strong – even compared to Sebastian Vettel’s.

“The long run pace was there and the car felt good,” said Grosjean. “We still have a few things to try with the set-up, so there should be some more pace to come. Qualifying will be the big moment for us as we have seen that we need to find a little bit of improvement there.

“It?s not the end of the world, as we have seen that we can make good gains on Sunday with our race pace. The trick will be to find more speed in qualifying without disturbing this.”

Fernando Alonso was less happy with his long run, saying the tyres “seem to degrade quite significantly here”.

In Canada Mercedes took great care not to over-stress their rear tyres, which has been a problem for them in earlier races. Nico Rosberg said: “Although it’s cooler today, the conditions are still really hot out there, but I believe that we understand the tyre work on the rears a bit better now. It was also difficult to avoid locking the front tyres in the braking zones.”

Sector times and ultimate lap times – second practice

Car Driver Car Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3 Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 26.220 (1) 45.192 (3) 27.894 (2) 1’39.306 0.028
2 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 26.274 (5) 45.259 (6) 27.932 (3) 1’39.465 0.159 0.000
3 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 26.298 (7) 45.488 (13) 27.710 (1) 1’39.496 0.190 0.148
4 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 26.229 (2) 45.283 (7) 28.018 (6) 1’39.530 0.224 0.396
5 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 26.346 (8) 45.084 (1) 28.144 (10) 1’39.574 0.268 0.126
6 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 26.459 (14) 45.195 (4) 27.941 (4) 1’39.595 0.289 0.000
7 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 26.254 (3) 45.170 (2) 28.177 (13) 1’39.601 0.295 0.000
8 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 26.368 (11) 45.344 (10) 27.972 (5) 1’39.684 0.378 0.217
9 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 26.272 (4) 45.284 (8) 28.141 (9) 1’39.697 0.391 0.248
10 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 26.349 (9) 45.328 (9) 28.029 (7) 1’39.706 0.400 0.027
11 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 26.389 (12) 45.222 (5) 28.251 (15) 1’39.862 0.556 0.006
12 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 26.358 (10) 45.378 (11) 28.146 (11) 1’39.882 0.576 0.108
13 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 26.461 (15) 45.499 (14) 28.068 (8) 1’40.028 0.722 0.047
14 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 26.419 (13) 45.474 (12) 28.174 (12) 1’40.067 0.761 0.080
15 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 26.284 (6) 45.504 (15) 28.337 (16) 1’40.125 0.819 0.119
16 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 26.504 (16) 45.608 (16) 28.210 (14) 1’40.322 1.016 0.189
17 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 26.741 (17) 45.815 (20) 28.407 (17) 1’40.963 1.657 0.000
18 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 26.761 (18) 45.642 (17) 28.585 (19) 1’40.988 1.682 0.133
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 26.792 (19) 45.733 (18) 28.482 (18) 1’41.007 1.701 0.190
20 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 26.920 (20) 45.745 (19) 28.598 (20) 1’41.263 1.957 0.000
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 27.064 (21) 46.521 (21) 28.839 (21) 1’42.424 3.118 0.000
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 27.139 (22) 46.670 (22) 28.982 (22) 1’42.791 3.485 0.167
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 27.423 (23) 47.186 (24) 29.306 (23) 1’43.915 4.609 0.345
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 27.440 (24) 47.143 (23) 29.481 (24) 1’44.064 4.758 0.137

Traffic, yellow flags and a narrow window of optimum performance on the soft tyre meant quite a few drivers did not set times that were fully representative of their potential.

McLaren were particularly low down but Lewis Hamilton isn’t concerned: “We think we know what the problems were though, and how to put them right, so we ought to be fine for tomorrow.

“I?m quite confident that we?ll have improved things for qualifying.”

Force India were an impressive second-fastest thanks to Nico Hulkenberg. Team mate Paul di Resta said: “Our single lap speed looks strong, as does the long run pace, and we appear to have a good feel for the tyres already.

“Given the pace we have shown today we seem competitive so hopefully we can challenge for the top ten in qualifying tomorrow.”

However Sauber appear to be running true to form with a car that is quick on a long run but not as good over a single lap.

“For me it was a rather difficult day because I wasn?t happy with the balance of my car,” said Sergio Perez. “On low fuel I struggled a lot, while it was better on a high fuel load.”

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’40.973 1’39.334
2 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’39.465
3 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.838 1’39.595
4 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’41.117 1’39.601
5 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’39.644
6 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’41.105 1’39.700
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.065 1’39.733
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’41.784 1’39.868
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’40.984 1’39.901
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.182 1’39.926
11 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’41.620 1’39.945
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’40.994 1’39.990
13 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’40.890 1’40.075
14 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.158 1’40.147
15 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’42.109 1’40.244
16 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.861 1’40.511
17 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’43.209 1’40.963
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.777 1’41.121
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’42.442 1’41.197
20 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.758 1’41.263
21 Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1’42.175
22 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’42.299
23 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’45.338 1’42.424
24 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’44.147 1’42.958
25 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’45.120 1’44.201
26 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’44.996 1’44.260

After a series of difficult races, Jenson Button appeared to make some progress, though he admits there is still work to be done:

Jenson Button, McLaren, Valencia, 2012“We did a lot of work to improve the front [wheel] locking, but we?re also going to go back on a few changes in order to get a car set-up that we know feels reasonably good. There are a couple of other changes we?re also considering for tomorrow which could be quite interesting.

I think we?re quicker over a single lap than the time-sheets suggest, but the car is still a little tricky to drive on [soft] tyres. I’m confident that the changes we’re now making will make a difference ?ǣ but whether that will be enough to challenge at the front is still an unknown, because the field is so extremely competitive right now.”

With each passing race, Toro Rosso seem to slip further from the midfield group and Caterham close in on them further. Today’s practice indicated the trend is continuing.

Heikki Kovalainen said: “In [second practice] we ran a new version of the front wing and the initial feel it gave was good – it’s too early to tell how much it’s worth but it’s a good sign that what was predicted in the factory seems to have worked on track.

“There’s more to come for the next race but this looks like it could be a good step.”

Speed trap – second practice

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Mercedes 319.1
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 318.4 0.7
3 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 318.3 0.8
4 15 Sergio Perez Sauber Ferrari 318.3 0.8
5 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 318.1 1
6 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 317.9 1.2
7 3 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 317.7 1.4
8 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 316.8 2.3
9 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham Renault 316.1 3
10 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham Renault 316.1 3
11 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT Cosworth 313.6 5.5
12 11 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 313.6 5.5
13 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 313.4 5.7
14 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT Cosworth 312.9 6.2
15 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 312.6 6.5
16 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 312.2 6.9
17 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 311.9 7.2
18 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 310.5 8.6
19 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 310.2 8.9
20 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 310.2 8.9
21 19 Bruno Senna Williams Renault 308.2 10.9
22 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 308.1 11
23 24 Timo Glock Marussia Cosworth 308 11.1
24 25 Charles Pic Marussia Cosworth 307.8 11.3

2012 European Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images, McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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17 comments on Vettel not taking Friday lead for granted

  1. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 22nd June 2012, 19:09

    Very interesting, once again. I think with these kind of temperatures, we might have an emulation of the Bahrain GP. The Lotuses will continue to look faster as the weekend goes on, and Vettel will be in the mix for the win, probably fighting from pole on Sunday.

    I think it’ll be interesting to see how Force India do though. By my recollection, they were quite strong in Bahrain.

    • Tom (@newdecade) said on 22nd June 2012, 19:35

      Redbull/Lotus battle for the win it seems. 8 from 8? Try comparing the redbull/lotus stints vs jenson button’s without thinking “ouch”… I imagine Lewis will provide a good show in quali but I don’t believe the Mclaren noises about getting their setups straightened out by end of fp3.

      • Snafu (@snafu) said on 22nd June 2012, 20:38

        a podium is all I can predict for Mclaren here. but it’s 2012…anything is possible!

      • arvindsi (@arvindsivaraman) said on 22nd June 2012, 21:28

        Don’t count out Ferrari yet. Alonso looked really good in his long stint considering he was on medium tires. I believe they’re in strong contention for the win here.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 23rd June 2012, 9:34

        Lotus and Force India looks great on long pace; Ferrari, Red Bull and Maldonado’s Williams are okay, but much shorter runs than those two teams, so hard to tell. If Button’s long run pace is it, McLaren would be lucky to get points really. Mercedes not looking great, but faster than Button. I don’t know the tyres though.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 23rd June 2012, 2:30

      At most races the Lotus cars have been really competitive in practice doing race simulation but just can’t convert in the race. I guess the lack of a good starting place combined with the tyres inability to take the fight to the car ahead are holding them back.

  2. Bradley Downton (@bradley13) said on 22nd June 2012, 21:07

    With this being 2012… don’t rule out Force India for a strong result. They think they’ve worked something out about the tyres that no-one else has, hence why they won’t say what. But if they have, they could have a MASSIVE advantage. Not saying they’re going to beat everyone, but this is 2012. I think a podium is possible for Force India. Thought probably more so for Hulkenberg than di Resta. I think the Hulk just seems more comfortable fighting up front, whereas di Resta seems more comfortable battling in midfield. Just my opinion though.

  3. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 22nd June 2012, 21:18

    I’m a little surprised the McLarens are so high up in the speed trap. For most of last year, they ran very high downforce settings which made them fast over a lap (in race and qualy), but slow on the straights. At Spa last year, for example, I don’t think they even reached 300 kph on the Kemmel straight, and Jenson Button had to use both DRS and all of his KERS to pass Rosberg on the straight. With regards to their chances for this European GP, I think at least Hamilton will make it into Q3, but with Hamilton doing no long run and Jenson doing a slow one, I fear for their pace in the race.

    During FP2, JEV was one of the first drivers out on softs, and the onboard cameras stayed with him quite a while, as he struggled massively to hit his apexes and make his braking points. I think it’s a real shame the Toro Rosso is turning into such a dog, because the intra-team battle between Vergne and Ricciardo would be much more interesting if it were played out inside the top 10. Also, I suspect this damages their chances of getting a Red Bull seat any time soon; I doubt even Vettel would look good in this Toro Rosso.

    Finally, it’s good to see Senna third in the ultimate lap chart, with a final sector time more than a tenth faster than Vettel’s. His performance went mostly unnoticed by the SKY F1 crew, I think, but this is a good first step towards a much needed turnaround of his fortunes.

  4. PaulM (@pmelton) said on 22nd June 2012, 21:30

    I was wondering today whilst watching the practices play out, if McLaren are setting their cars up for the expected warmer temperatures… They seem to be really focused on tyre wear these days, and could be positioning themselves for a long first stint to get track position.

  5. ozzy (@ozzy) said on 22nd June 2012, 22:42

    I would not bet on any one to win, but i must bet on redbull to make the rest look incompetent

  6. ozzy (@ozzy) said on 22nd June 2012, 22:44

    Vettel – Webber – Hamilton – Alonso – Kimi – Grosean – Button – Perez

  7. Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 22nd June 2012, 23:26

    Totally unpredictable, I think that we’ll see some overnight improvement from Mclaren and Ferrari and they’ll show strongly tomorrow. Vettel on single lap and Lotus on long runs doing well for now. If Mercedes sorts out their long runs low key performance they must be seriously considered if not the favourites.
    Happy to see Caterham closing up to STR, they deserve this morale boost.

  8. Eggry (@eggry) said on 23rd June 2012, 2:23

    Mercedes and Mclaren’s speed trap speed are insane!! It’s interesting to note some promising teams(Red Bulls, Lotuses, Ferraris and one of Force India) are fairly slower in terms of speed trap.

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