Few chinks in Red Bull’s armour in India

2012 Indian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

The first day of practice for the Indian Grand Prix offered few crumbs of comfort for Red Bull’s rivals.

Here’s all the data from practice.

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 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Sebastian Vettel 93.071 92.873 93.083 98.318 92.721 92.776 92.34 92.34 99.095 91.607 101.19 91.212
Mark Webber 93.91 93.444 93.388 93.744 93.704 92.522 92.575 92.565 92.786 92.505 92.411 92.04 91.587
Jenson Button 94.73 89.595 96.445 88.548
Lewis Hamilton 93.382 92.92 96.268 92.351 92.692 92.671 98.568 91.911 92.028 99.161 91.914 92.264
Fernando Alonso 92.644 92.829 92.09 92.288 92.331 92.349 91.997 95.313 91.954 91.559
Felipe Massa 88.964 94.417 92.288 95.395 92.221 88.296
Michael Schumacher 94.191 94.07 93.936 94.675 93.835 93.705 99.958 93.837 93.363 93.365 100.97 93.312 93.221 93.343
Nico Rosberg 94.296 93.762 102.852 94.385 94.387 94.038 94.239 94.118 98.763 93.426 94.136 93.266 93.54 93.335 95.062 92.377 92.775 92.258
Kimi Raikkonen 93.969 94.26 92.567 93.473 93.372 92.919 93.009 93.623 93.17 93.085 92.763 92.608 93 92.543 92.435 92.483 92.143 92.135 91.731 91.817 96.067
Romain Grosjean 94.584 93.698 93.289 93.597 92.917 94.07 93.054 93.107 103.079 92.673 92.577 92.63 93.314 92.804 92.653 93.828 92.5 92.023 92.506
Paul di Resta 95.96 94.624 94.106 99.376 93.877 93.751 93.664
Nico Hulkenberg 94.25 94.025 93.697 93.777 93.56 93.021 92.974 92.636 92.958 96.767 92.733 92.479 92.127 92.095
Kamui Kobayashi 95.266 94.375 93.909 94.309 94.147 93.565 93.051 92.953 93.058 92.718 92.837 92.487 93.588 92.216 93.681 91.875 92.106
Sergio Perez 93.502 93.28 93.61 94.119 92.815 93.17 92.735 92.95 92.906 92.906 92.519
Daniel Ricciardo 95.104 95.094 94.094 94.262 94.513 94.343 93.746 94.045 96.062 93.437 94.263 93.864 93.599 94.012 93.221
Jean-Eric Vergne 95.424 95.056 94.668 94.52 94.638 94.761 94.569 94.413 94.921 95.086 93.728 93.829 93.809 93.634
Pastor Maldonado 95.166 93.88 93.732 93.853 100.005 93.414 93.234 93.3 93.051 93.427 99.278 92.88 92.268 92.151 91.904
Bruno Senna 95.682 94.683 93.532 94.023 93.528 94.422 93.18 93.429 93.206 93.658 92.961 92.88
Heikki Kovalainen 95.395 94.722 94.518 96.269 94.757 94.16 94.62 98.623 93.971 94.015
Vitaly Petrov 90.36 98.37 89.795 95.217 89.606 89.865
Pedro de la Rosa 95.014 101.573 94.738 94.953 95.181 94.625 94.48 94.372
Narain Karthikeyan 94.042 96.518 93.087 92.053 97.697 92.732 98.427
Timo Glock 95.624 95.682 96.494 95.441 94.861 96.325 95.027 98.936 94.859 94.811
Charles Pic 97.264 102.8 96.542 96.423 97.127

Sunday’s race is for 60 laps and some drivers were able to run 20-lap stints with little difficulty during the second practice session.

That raises the prospect of drivers being able to make one fewer stop than they did in 2011. “Last year the winning strategy consisted of two stops,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery, “but this year one pit stop might even be possible for some drivers from what we can see so far.”

Curiously, Kamui Kobayashi chose to do his race simulation run at the beginning of the session. He did 17 timed laps and set his quickest time on the 16th.

Jenson Button’s progress was halted by yet more technical problems for McLaren: “I had a gearshift problem during my long run in the afternoon. The team is currently looking into it ?ǣ hopefully, we?ll have it sorted by tomorrow.”

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 41.893 (2) 22.881 (1) 21.447 (1) 1’26.221 0.000
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 41.915 (3) 22.936 (2) 21.474 (3) 1’26.325 0.104 0.014
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 41.973 (4) 23.098 (4) 21.724 (9) 1’26.795 0.574 0.025
4 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 42.061 (5) 23.363 (7) 21.598 (5) 1’27.022 0.801 0.000
5 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 42.379 (9) 23.067 (3) 21.584 (4) 1’27.030 0.809 0.000
6 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 42.169 (7) 23.300 (5) 21.662 (7) 1’27.131 0.910 0.000
7 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 42.156 (6) 23.323 (6) 21.703 (8) 1’27.182 0.961 0.000
8 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 41.875 (1) 23.566 (14) 21.792 (11) 1’27.233 1.012 0.000
9 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 42.461 (12) 23.429 (8) 21.470 (2) 1’27.360 1.139 0.037
10 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 42.436 (10) 23.435 (9) 21.661 (6) 1’27.532 1.311 0.206
11 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 42.297 (8) 23.599 (16) 21.960 (14) 1’27.856 1.635 0.366
12 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 42.486 (14) 23.665 (17) 21.791 (10) 1’27.942 1.721 0.062
13 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 42.455 (11) 23.566 (14) 22.008 (15) 1’28.029 1.808 0.267
14 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 42.476 (13) 23.564 (13) 22.046 (16) 1’28.086 1.865 0.092
15 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 42.809 (16) 23.546 (12) 21.850 (13) 1’28.205 1.984 0.250
16 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 42.739 (15) 23.446 (10) 22.054 (17) 1’28.239 2.018 0.000
17 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 43.133 (20) 23.538 (11) 21.802 (12) 1’28.473 2.252 0.123
18 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 42.901 (17) 23.933 (18) 22.181 (19) 1’29.015 2.794 0.152
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 42.939 (18) 24.156 (20) 22.171 (18) 1’29.266 3.045 0.054
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 43.115 (19) 24.065 (19) 22.221 (20) 1’29.401 3.180 0.205
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 43.742 (22) 24.597 (21) 22.537 (21) 1’30.876 4.655 0.237
22 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 43.575 (21) 24.606 (22) 22.740 (22) 1’30.921 4.700 0.029
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 43.743 (23) 24.663 (24) 22.777 (24) 1’31.183 4.962 0.189
24 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 43.880 (24) 24.627 (23) 22.756 (23) 1’31.263 5.042 0.230

McLaren were only the fifth-quickest team but Lewis Hamilton is confident they’ll perform better on Saturday: “I think we?re probably quick enough to qualify third or fourth fastest at the moment, but, to go for pole, we?re going to really need to push hard in our development work tonight”

Their real one-lap speed deficit to Red Bull is probably closer to the four-tenths we saw in first practice than the nine-tenths gap in the second session.

But in race trim the car looked like a match for anything, as Hamilton was told during the session.

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’27.619 1’26.221 57
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’28.175 1’26.339 55
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’28.044 1’26.820 58
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’28.447 1’27.022 63
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’29.291 1’27.030 64
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’28.046 1’27.131 63
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’27.929 1’27.182 46
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’29.850 1’27.233 56
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’29.895 1’27.397 55
10 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’27.738 36
11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’29.760 1’28.004 55
12 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’28.178 39
13 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’28.993 1’28.222 60
14 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’29.204 1’28.239 61
15 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’28.542 1’28.296 47
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’29.802 1’28.455 58
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’30.041 1’28.596 64
18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’30.401 1’29.167 58
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’29.320 43
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’30.630 1’29.606 46
21 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’29.691 26
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’30.896 20
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’32.859 1’30.950 50
24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’32.369 1’31.113 54
25 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’32.125 1’31.372 44
26 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’31.903 1’31.493 53

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Buddh International Circuit, 2012Despite topping both practice sessions on Friday Vettel was characteristically cautious about Red Bull’s potential. “We?ve had worse Fridays, so I am happy,” he said.

But with no obvious weakness in their race pace he will be eyeing a shot a pole position which should set him up for a crack at victory. A fourth consecutive victory is a distinct possibility.

Ferrari technical director Pat Fry explained Felipe Massa’s troubles in second practice:

“One of the settings on his car was incorrect and that compromised the balance of the car and prevented him from getting the most out of the set of softs and also led to him spinning, which damaged one of the tyres, pretty much ending his session.”

First practice saw the debut appearance of Esteban Gutierrez in an official F1 session. Journalists expressed scepticism over Sauber’s reasons for outgoing driver Sergio Perez’s absence from the first session.

After having his first run Gutierrez said: “It is obviously different to testing and it is challenging to stay focused. I think the circuit here is amazing, especially with the chain of fast corners. However, my target was to progress during that session and make sure I brought the car home in one piece.”

Speed trap

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 320
2 15 Sergio Perez Sauber Ferrari 319.9 0.1
3 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 319.8 0.2
4 11 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 318.5 1.5
5 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 318.4 1.6
6 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 317.8 2.2
7 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Mercedes 317.3 2.7
8 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 317.1 2.9
9 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 316.3 3.7
10 25 Charles Pic Marussia Cosworth 316.1 3.9
11 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 315.9 4.1
12 24 Timo Glock Marussia Cosworth 315.4 4.6
13 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 315.1 4.9
14 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 315.1 4.9
15 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 315 5
16 19 Bruno Senna Williams Renault 314.7 5.3
17 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT Cosworth 314.4 5.6
18 3 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 314.2 5.8
19 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 314.1 5.9
20 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT Cosworth 314.1 5.9
21 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham Renault 312.3 7.7
22 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham Renault 312.1 7.9
23 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 312 8
24 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 311.9 8.1

The Red Bull pair had been quicker in a straight line after the team introduced their Double DRS upgrade, but were at the foot of the speeds in India. Could this prove their only weakness?

2012 Indian Grand Prix

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31 comments on Few chinks in Red Bull’s armour in India

  1. xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 26th October 2012, 17:18

    Interestingly, despite their lack of straight line speed, Vettel is second fastest in S1, which I think contains that immense straight.

  2. Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 26th October 2012, 17:33

    Alonso and Hamilton’s long stint lap times look very competitive, so I should expect them to be in contention for the podium places, while Vettel looks as strong as ever. It’s also disappointing to see even more mechanical issues at McLaren.

    As for tyre strategy, what are the chances we’ll see a repeat of Korea – drivers (in the case of Korea, Perez) going for a one-stop strategy, only to see it backfire due to higher than anticipated wear?

  3. Omar de la Cruz (@omardelacruz) said on 26th October 2012, 19:11

    Can anyone tell me what Lotus meant with this tweet? “Ferrari are laying a new road with their pit stop pullaways… An observation from an undisclosed team source”

    I wasn’t able to watch any of the sessions. Thanks!

  4. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 26th October 2012, 19:14

    Quite interesting to see that Alonso is around a second per lap faster than Webber. It could well be that Red Bull are sandbagging a little, as per usual, but if Fernando can get into 3rd of 4th in quali, then I reckon he may be able to secure 2nd in the race.

    I can’t see anyone but Vettel winning though, the Red Bull is just too far ahead, and not much can stop the Bull charging, especially in Vettel’s hands. The only thing I can see stopping them now is mechanical problems, or some incident out on track, and neither seem likely. I think we’ve been spoilt by top retirements (Not that they’re necessarily good), and is unlikely to happen much more…although I wouldn’t be surprised if McLaren wanted to prove me wrong.

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 26th October 2012, 19:57

      Agree with that. RBR are ahead by a fair margin. Should be a formality. RBR sand bagging on the race stint almost certainly (enough to get race data), they have been stronger in this aspect all session, and there is no reason to believe otherwise this weekend. RBR 1-2 barring reliability or silly mistakes.

  5. BBT (@bbt) said on 26th October 2012, 19:53

    Not much there to suggest RBR aren’t going to walk away with it.
    The most interesting thing is Ferrari are ahead (if not level at worst case) with Mclaren, but then we have known that for a race or two when it comes to race pace.

  6. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 26th October 2012, 20:14

    Hamilton sounded pretty optimistic about his race pace, but from this graph there is nothing much to get excited about I think. Vettel’s long run is at least as good, if not better than Hamilton’s, and although Webber started out a little slower, he didn’t insert any slow-down laps like Hamilton, Vettel, and Alonso, and he did get down to those 1m31s later in his stint too.

    The season is not over yet, but more and more it feels like it’s turning into a huge anti-climax, first of all for the obvious reason of Vettel running away with the championship (and all of the races), but also because of the tyres. Pirelli made this year’s tyres softer, so how is it possible that degradation is so much less of an issue than throughout 2011 and also the start of 2012?

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 26th October 2012, 20:31

      @adrianmorse Well the teams have gotten used to the tyres and understand how to set up their cars for the tyres now, for one.

      For another there is a lot less downforce now, with less flexing in the front wing and no direct EBD effect. The primary issue with the 2012 Pirellis is degradation (which is a function of heat) and not wear (which is about the amount of rubber left on the tyre). With this less downforce, cars go through corners slower, and the tyre gets less heat in it, which helps degradation.

  7. Luis o said on 26th October 2012, 21:39

    I hope I don’t regret loosing hours of sleep this saturday and sunday morning.

  8. It is totally awesome that McLaren and Ferrari have good race pace. It will be of no moment once Vettel runs up a 6 second lead in the first few laps.

    I think McLaren should settle for a race where Hamilton’s suspension does not break. They will need it to regain P2 in the WCC, without which they will have to consider this season one of their most disappointing in a generation.

  9. Red Bull ominous over the single lap yet again, not so much in race pace though. Given Vettel’s ability to pull out a gap in clean air I think he’ll be pulling away however (if on pole).

  10. John H (@john-h) said on 26th October 2012, 23:53

    Remember Murray’s comically bad dictum… F1 is IF backwards! Mark my words, Vettel DNF this wknd.

  11. John H (@john-h) said on 26th October 2012, 23:55

    Run more wing Torro roso for Pete’s sake!!!

  12. Tyler (@tdog) said on 27th October 2012, 0:13

    It looks like Lotus are seriously considering a one stopper.

  13. James (@goodyear92) said on 27th October 2012, 0:53

    There’s not much here to suggest this won’t be another of Vettel’s weekends. Even if McLaren can match Red Bull through the race, it’s going to be nigh on impossible to remain close to them in the last two sectors, and their top speed is nothing too advantageous in comparison. It’s also worth pointing out that both McLaren and Ferrari’s race pace looked faster than the Bulls’ during practice at Korea. It came to the actual race, and it just wasn’t the case. I imagine the same will happen here as well. If Vettel wins and Alonso is further back than second, I will begin to lose hope for anything but a dull conclusion to the title battle.

    Alonso or Lewis, please pull something out of the bag!

  14. Lachie (@lachie) said on 27th October 2012, 6:54

    I think I’ve finally crossed over into tape-and-decide mode. I’ll tape the qualy and if I see the result is interesting watch it back, otherwise I have better things to do than watch yet another roflstomp :(

  15. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 27th October 2012, 8:22

    It looks pretty dire for McLaren. Low top speed and nowhere in the times. Looks like they’re trying to take a leaf out of Red Bull’s book and failing.

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