Ferrari not as competitive in Singapore, says Alonso

2012 Singapore Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Marina Bay, 2012Fernando Alonso’s assessment after the first two practice sessions in Singapore was that Ferrari are not as competitive as they were at the last race.

Alonso was able to take the battle for pole position to the McLarens at Monza but the silver cars and Red Bull appeared to have more pace than Ferrari during practice.

Sebastian Vettel headed both Friday practice sessions – the first time Red Bull have done so all year. But he was cautious on their chances.

“It?s still Friday and today?s results are not so conclusive as some drivers got stuck in traffic, etc…” said Vettel. “Most important is that the car seemed to work on either tyre, so we go from there.”

Here’s the data from the first two practice sessions:

Longest stint comparison

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
Sebastian Vettel 115.813 115.352 115.321 115.725 115.618 115.822
Mark Webber 108.964 128.511 109.589
Jenson Button 115.386 115.005 129.622 115.548 115.951 123.531 116.946 119.345 116.37 119.335
Lewis Hamilton 115.067 114.779 122.916 114.332 114.978 114.859 123.436 115.855 115.519 115.506 116.529 117.673
Fernando Alonso 116.26 120.118 115.083 115.739 114.874 115.362
Felipe Massa 127.461 112.757 140.422 112.338 111.851 118.927
Michael Schumacher 115.915 116.193 117.587 116.482 116.992 119.581
Nico Rosberg 119.255 115.918 116.588 116.826 117.437 117.994 118.422 125.847 119.112
Kimi Raikkonen 114.905 114.644 114.882 116.373 119.885 116.998 121.203 116.563
Romain Grosjean 124.499 117.103 117.047 117.66 116.853 118.196 116.787 118.117
Paul di Resta 115.144 115.28 115.227 116.313 119.28 115.631 116.168 119.826 116.167 116.633 119.325 116.159
Nico Hulkenberg 115.249 116.134 122.536 115.427 115.73 116.302 115.727 116.151 122.042 117.131 117.42 120.827
Kamui Kobayashi 117.761 117.992 121.568 118.709
Sergio Perez 115.573 115.886 115.981 120.251 144.032 118.667 116.07 117.583 120.704
Daniel Ricciardo 117.871 117.866 117.626 119.224 120.062 117.984 120.021 117.843
Jean-Eric Vergne 119.418 118.313 118.326 117.551 117.727 124.652 118.117 119.067 118.994 121.462 122.021
Pastor Maldonado 117.483 116.83 116.571 116.574 116.555 116.413 117.889 124.091 116.946 117.483 118.135
Bruno Senna 129.103 118.807 111.452 125.429
Heikki Kovalainen 115.514 115.795 116.647 116.116 116.081 116.044 116.189 117.962 116.497
Vitaly Petrov 118.429 118.364 117.654 118.011 118.342 118.776 121.466 119.688
Pedro de la Rosa 117.426 117.312 119.41 118.683 118.267 118.451 118.645
Narain Karthikeyan 120.821 118.823 118.345 118.672 120.999 118.685 119.111 119.309 119.863 119.388
Timo Glock 117.259 117.582 126.723 118.689 119.01 118.672 118.714
Charles Pic 122.04 119.488 120.717 119.984 122.792 125.948

According to Pirelli the super-soft tyre is around 1.5s fastest per lap than the soft tyre. This means they will be in high demand during Q1 and Q2, which in turn will leave drivers with fewer fresh sets for the race.

Last year some drivers went to considerable lengths save fresh sets of the softer tyres in qualifying : three drivers in Q3 elected not to set a time at all.

Rain before first practice today meant the track was especially ‘green’ to start with. That will improve as the weekend goes on, but high tyre degradation is likely to play a vital role in the race with drivers hedging between two- and three-stop strategies.

It was clear from the long runs that the super-soft tyres were going off particularly quickly. “It?s tough in these temperatures, especially on the long runs, but to be honest I think everyone?s struggling a bit too,” said Hamilton.

“We?re looking at set-up and balance to improve our long-run pace, but today?s performance isn?t a bad place from which to start.”

Radio chatter from the high-fuel runs

Here are some of the team radio messages from during the race-fuel stints. See F1 Fanatic Live on Twitter for more:

Sector times and ultimate lap times

Car Driver Car Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3 Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 29.017 (5) 42.057 (2) 37.266 (1) 1’48.340 0.000
2 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 28.867 (1) 42.119 (3) 37.665 (3) 1’48.651 0.311 0.000
3 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 28.890 (2) 41.960 (1) 38.007 (10) 1’48.857 0.517 0.229
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 29.019 (6) 42.255 (5) 37.590 (2) 1’48.864 0.524 0.100
5 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 28.988 (4) 42.180 (4) 37.728 (4) 1’48.896 0.556 0.000
6 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 29.064 (7) 42.438 (6) 37.798 (5) 1’49.300 0.960 0.000
7 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 28.975 (3) 42.496 (7) 37.868 (7) 1’49.339 0.999 0.000
8 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 29.256 (9) 42.723 (10) 37.811 (6) 1’49.790 1.450 0.000
9 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 29.327 (10) 42.654 (8) 38.058 (11) 1’50.039 1.699 0.000
10 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 29.340 (12) 42.916 (13) 37.886 (8) 1’50.142 1.802 0.019
11 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 29.242 (8) 42.888 (12) 38.133 (12) 1’50.263 1.923 0.000
12 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 29.359 (13) 43.020 (14) 37.966 (9) 1’50.345 2.005 0.000
13 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 29.337 (11) 42.845 (11) 38.300 (14) 1’50.482 2.142 0.154
14 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 29.534 (16) 42.696 (9) 38.561 (17) 1’50.791 2.451 0.000
15 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 29.478 (14) 43.152 (17) 38.214 (13) 1’50.844 2.504 0.608
16 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 29.481 (15) 43.069 (15) 38.486 (16) 1’51.036 2.696 0.086
17 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 29.650 (18) 43.160 (18) 38.428 (15) 1’51.238 2.898 0.212
18 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 29.617 (17) 43.107 (16) 38.950 (19) 1’51.674 3.334 0.335
19 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 29.920 (22) 43.578 (19) 38.720 (18) 1’52.218 3.878 0.000
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 29.748 (20) 43.708 (20) 39.120 (22) 1’52.576 4.236 0.000
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 29.868 (21) 43.883 (22) 39.112 (21) 1’52.863 4.523 0.000
22 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 29.693 (19) 43.786 (21) 39.457 (23) 1’52.936 4.596 0.000
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 30.227 (23) 44.772 (24) 39.110 (20) 1’54.109 5.769 0.405
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 30.382 (24) 44.599 (23) 39.467 (24) 1’54.448 6.108 0.000

Hamilton reckoned his mistake at the last corner on his fastest lap cost him half a second. That plus track evolution means there’s good reason to expect McLaren will be in the fight for pole position with Red Bull.

Alonso who ran a new high-downforce rear wing on Friday, was more pessimistic about his team’s chances: “The first impression is that we are not as competitive as we were in Monza, two weeks ago.”

“We still lack a bit of performance on tracks like this one, where you need maximum aerodynamic downforce.”

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’50.566 1’48.340 51
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’51.459 1’48.651 41
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’51.525 1’48.896 46
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’51.655 1’48.964 45
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’50.615 1’49.086 43
6 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’51.943 1’49.300 51
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’51.658 1’49.339 56
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’53.227 1’49.790 58
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’53.080 1’50.039 45
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’53.028 1’50.161 44
11 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’52.986 1’50.263 44
12 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’52.716 1’50.345 40
13 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’51.576 1’50.636 52
14 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’52.275 1’50.791 50
15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’52.296 1’51.122 47
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’52.839 1’51.450 44
17 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’52.629 1’51.452 36
18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’53.189 1’52.009 56
19 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’54.908 1’52.218 49
20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’55.091 1’52.576 43
21 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’55.335 1’52.863 49
22 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’55.760 1’52.936 48
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’56.656 1’54.448 47
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’54.514 30
25 Ma Qing Hua HRT-Cosworth 1’58.053 20

Timo Glock says Singapore is his favourite track and he managed to out-pace both the Caterhams on Friday practice. But Heikki Kovalainen had to abandon his effort at a flying lap due to Bruno Senna’s spin.

Speed trap

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 290.8
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 290.8 0
3 3 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 290 0.8
4 11 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 289.6 1.2
5 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 288.9 1.9
6 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 288.8 2
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 288.4 2.4
8 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Mercedes 288.3 2.5
9 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 287.5 3.3
10 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham Renault 287.3 3.5
11 19 Bruno Senna Williams Renault 287.1 3.7
12 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 286.5 4.3
13 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 286.2 4.6
14 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT Cosworth 284.9 5.9
15 15 Sergio Perez Sauber Ferrari 284.8 6
16 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 284.4 6.4
17 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 284.2 6.6
18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham Renault 283.9 6.9
19 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 283.9 6.9
20 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 283.1 7.7
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT Cosworth 282 8.8
22 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 281.6 9.2
23 25 Charles Pic Marussia Cosworth 280.6 10.2
24 24 Timo Glock Marussia Cosworth 279.9 10.9

Note that the Singapore speed trap is not the one where the highest speeds are recorded – that normally comes at Intermediate 1, the data for which is not available for Friday. Singapore typically sees some of the lowest top speeds of the year.

2012 Singapore Grand Prix

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25 comments on Ferrari not as competitive in Singapore, says Alonso

  1. All the better for the championship! Hopefully Red Bull can make up for the wretched weekend they had in Monza.

    • Blackmamba (@blackmamba) said on 22nd September 2012, 1:17

      This is nothing new for Alonso, even without the fastest car I would not be surprised if he were to win this GP. And watch out for Hamilton too, his long runs looked particularly good overall. But yeah, it would be great for the championship if both Hamilton and Vettel beat Alonso to cut their deficit!!

  2. Alonso is telling lies to delude others. If he gets his ferrari in the top 4 in quali , then he will use that fast starting ferrari to challenge for the lead before the first corner.

    • Blackmamba (@blackmamba) said on 22nd September 2012, 1:20

      It’s a short run to the corner so there wont be room to make up many places, which is why all the races before have been won from pole, except for ‘crashgate’ ofcourse!

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 22nd September 2012, 6:32

      Lies? I think that’s smarter than giving your fans false hope and then disappointing.

      Ferrari was a crap car in the first four races, ever since Barcelona it’s been decent, but not necessary the best either.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 22nd September 2012, 6:54

      He’s telling the truth in that the Ferrari is unable to match the qualifying pace of Red Bull and McLaren. But you’re right it’s still very possible for him to qualify 4-5 and have a good first lap and race from there.

  3. sdtaylor91 (@sdtaylor91) said on 21st September 2012, 22:01

    Looking like a great quali battle in prospect for tomorrow between McLaren and Red Bull. q3 between HAM and VET will be epic. I think lewis will just edge it, his car looked so hooked up from the onboards.

  4. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 21st September 2012, 22:32

    Quite surprising to see Red Bull so high in the speed trap. Not like them at all, even more so considering the type of circuit this is. Sauber are playing it cool too by turning up the downforce (I assume).

    Karthikeyan looks pretty dismal, 24th and 23rd best sector times, at least De La Rosa has a sniff at 20th!

  5. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 21st September 2012, 22:53

    I think, to be honest, that there is not much difference between the long-run pace of the front runners. Both Mercedes and Grosjean are a bit off, Hamilton and Massa seem to have a bit of an advantage, while Vettel, Webber, Button and Alonso run pretty much the same.

    All this based on the longest stint comparision purely. I read that Massa ran on super-softs on his long-run, while Alonso ran on softs. I don’t know about the tyres on which others set their runs, but that one is favourable for Ferrari: Massa showed some good pace on the super-softs, question is, how quickly he destroys them compared to others. He emphasised high tyre degradation, so that degrades his performance somewhat. And given that Alonso mainly tested new developments, the current state of the setup woek should be pretty much a mess with an improperly balanced car, using rubbers too much, even compared to others. Work to do then, but I think if they can get on the top of that without scrubbing off too much speed, Ferrari’s long-run pace is actually good.

    Too bad it counts for nothing if their one-lap pace is bad, and it seems really bad. Singapore does not favour overtakings, so they could sit in traffic all Sunday with a good long-run pace…

    I’m disappointed.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 22nd September 2012, 6:58

      @atticus-2, I at the moment tyre degradation looks set to play a major role on Sunday, and if Alonso’s is better than his rivals, he could do very well from P5; I don’t see him starting any lower unless his car breaks down again. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the first pit stops around lap 10-11.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 22nd September 2012, 8:44

      Singapore does not favour overtakings, so they could sit in traffic all Sunday with a good long-run pace…

      You could have said the same thing about Valencia, yet Fernando got from P11 to P1. I think it’s hard to write off any circuit as unovertakable this year

  6. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate) said on 21st September 2012, 23:01

    Hopefully Lotus picks it up tomorrow in FP3 and Quals, because the cars looked rather sluggish. I realize the track doesn’t suit the car well, but….

  7. So far it looks like Red Bull & McLaren are the teams to beat (as was expected, tbh) but I think McLaren have the edge. Alonso & Kimi will still be there or thereabouts in the race, but I don’t think the Ferrari or Lotus has the qualy pace to match those two teams. I’m so annoyed that we haven’t really gotten a chance to see just how good the Williams really is… Personally I think it’s at least as good as the Sauber, but between Bruno’s poor driving & Pastor’s amazing ability to throw away points, we may never find out.

  8. marcusbreese (@marcusbreese) said on 21st September 2012, 23:41

    Force India & Williams are going to be high up on Sunday I think. Pole and 1st is surely between Ham and Vet, and maybe Button, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hulk, Di Resta or Maldonado up there too.

  9. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 22nd September 2012, 0:31

    I can easily see Alonso on podium again. I’d surprised if during the last couple of laps I don’t say to myself “he did it again”.

    I suppose the driver most likely to get the best out of the car on saturday will be Vettel. He seems to love this track, and if the Red Bull responds as well as it did today, he should be on pole with the McLarens quite close behind.

    • leotef (@leotef) said on 22nd September 2012, 6:56

      No offense at all, but I can’t help thinking of the role to be put on MAS during the race. Ferrari is well known in this area of game playing and Marina Bay is one haunting spot for those kinds of plots. Maybe this time to take out HAM and VET altogether? Based on the FP1 and FP2 where it seems Ferrari is bit off the pace of McLaren and Red Bull, and the straining up points gap up to this GP, well the probability of having some weird thing or accidents is rapidly increasing.

  10. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 22nd September 2012, 0:32

    Damage limitation for Sauber this weekend!

    Force India’s usual late-season resurgence seem to be happening once again. This is definitely a great chance for each of their drivers to try and come into the spotlight at last. Especially concerning potential seats for next year…

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 22nd September 2012, 8:27

      Though from those “long” runs @electrolite, it seems Sauber at least can work on getting ahead of Mercedes, who seem to not have found everything that is in those updates as they are slower than Sauber still. FI do indeed look good here, long runs that are as long as anyone’s, with pace not far behind what Hamilton showed. Interesting.

  11. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 22nd September 2012, 7:11

    I’m a little surprised at how short the long runs were, according to the graphic above. Webber did only three laps in his race simulation? The driver I followed most closely was Hamilton, and indeed the chart corresponds to what I saw. He had good consistent pace for the first 10 laps (including two slow-down laps – or laps where he made a mistake – I only saw the timing). His tyres had also done almost two flying laps in the qualifying simulation, but his starting tyres on Sunday will also have a lap on them (provided nothing strange happens and he does a run in Q3).

    It therefore looks like we can expect Q3 runners to come in as early as lap 10, which would point to a three-stop race. From FP1 the durability of the softs seemed much better, with many drivers setting good times late into the tyres’ life. However, 25 laps on a single set of tyres may be pushing it. An interesting strategy for those able to get into Q3 with two sets of super softs might be to do only a single run, and save a fresh set of options for the last stint on Sunday. I expect Hamilton and Vettel will try to battle it out for pole and do two runs, but Alonso might elect to do a single run, as I don’t see him starting lower than P5, or higher than P3. The same holds, to a lesser extent, for Button and Webber.

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