Soft tyre’s short life poses strategic conundrum

2013 Chinese Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2013In practice for the Chinese Grand Prix drivers discovered the soft tyre is far quicker than the medium compound but does not last long.

They found it good for a single flying lap in second practice and were unable to improve on subsequent runs. “It looks like the soft tyre is the one for qualifying, but it seems that we won?t see that many stints on the soft tyre during the race,” said Mark Webber.

Webber’s 14-lap stint on the medium tyre (see graph below) showed it should stand up well in the race. As Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery notice, it should prove more durable once the track conditions improve:

“In total, we?d expect the soft tyre to last between 11 to 12 laps in the race and the medium tyre for about 18 laps. This would suggest a maximum of three pit stops but it?s also possible that we?ll see two stops if the track keeps on evolving at this rate.”

Hembery put the performance difference between the tyres at “around one-and-a-half seconds, which is a little higher than we initially expected but it?s still early days here”.

This adds up to a strategic conundrum for the teams similar to what unfolded in Melbourne. The soft tyre is undoubtedly the way to go for those in the hunt for pole position. But those expecting to be in the lower reaches of Q3, and those who qualify on row six, might be better off starting on the harder compound, as Adrian Sutil did at the Australian race.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Shanghai, 2013“There may well be people who chose, in Q3, to conserve tyres or plan to start on the more durable tyre,” said Ross Brawn. “But I think pole position will be set on the soft tyre because it’s so
much faster.”

Shanghai is a circuit where the track condition improves rapidly, particularly on the first day of running. This may go some way to explained Felipe Massa’s final time in second practice being considerably quicker than Nico Rosberg’s but the pace of the Ferrari should not be underestimated.

Ferrari led the way in the first two sectors of the lap with Mercedes – and Rosberg in particular – showing great pace in the final sector.

Lotus, meanwhile, appear to have much better pace on the soft tyre than the medium, which may not help them in the race.

Here’s all the data from practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Longest stint comparison

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

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2013drivercolours.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Sebastian Vettel 105.608 105.724 106.755 107.261 107.819
Mark Webber 104.275 104.256 103.232 103.31 103.654 103.967 103.776 103.451 106.533 103.483 103.531 103.046 103.078 102.422
Fernando Alonso 102.668 103.809 105.745 105.722 106.043 106.355 107.513
Felipe Massa 101.309 108.765 102.048 103.039 102.866 105.163 106.04 103.553 104.107 103.998
Jenson Button 103.639 104.175 105.585 105.862 105.488 106.345 107.328
Sergio Perez 104.907 105.843 105.948 106.997 107.379
Kimi Raikkonen 103.448 103.313 104.046 103.622 103.747 104.282 104.35 105.798
Romain Grosjean 103.914 103.341 103.738 103.403 104.056 103.722 103.222 103.337
Nico Rosberg 102.244 103.749 104.41 103.089 102.919 102.946 103.436 105.23 103.282 103.58 103.748 104.297 104.3
Lewis Hamilton 102.706 103.62 103.377 103.535 102.811 103.426 112.201 103.708 103.453 103.299 104.116 105.265 108.375 104.668 106.876
Nico Hulkenberg 103.337 103.741 103.709 104.572 106.354 103.9 104.433 105.057 105.184
Esteban Gutierrez 104.144 104.66 104.973 105.99 106.93
Paul di Resta 102.706 102.756 103.578 103.836 103.321 103.04 103.54 103.401
Adrian Sutil 103.696 103.369 104.326 104.002 104.666 105.384 104.316 103.647
Pastor Maldonado 103.659 103.77 103.671 103.81 103.827 104.57 105.084 105.26 106.124
Valtteri Bottas 104.941 105.073 106.422 107.514 106.378 106.097
Jean-Eric Vergne 105.636 105.515 105.55 106.474 105.132 104.668 107.065 107.09 105.301 105.198 105.453 105.949 106.292 106.83
Daniel Ricciardo 105.254 104.16 104.266 106.359 104.862 104.844 104.535 104.273 104.946 104.738 105.221 106.717 106.512 106.358 106.864 110.285
Charles Pic 108.601 107.632 110.362 112.006 107.801 108.424 108.254 108.411 110.36 109.919
Giedo van der Garde 106.178 106.201 108.247 109.437 108.177 109.807
Jules Bianchi 105.993 106.078 106.926 106.847 106.934 107.777 109.389
Max Chilton 103.227 108.593

Sector times and ultimate lap times

Pos No. Driver Car S1 S2 S2 Ultimate Gap Deficit to best
1 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 24.935 (1) 28.337 (1) 42.068 (4) 1’35.340 0.000
2 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 24.937 (2) 28.455 (2) 42.100 (6) 1’35.492 0.152 0.000
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 25.195 (3) 28.671 (4) 41.889 (2) 1’35.755 0.415 0.000
4 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 25.281 (8) 28.682 (5) 41.856 (1) 1’35.819 0.479 0.000
5 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 25.347 (11) 28.655 (3) 42.090 (5) 1’36.092 0.752 0.000
6 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25.210 (5) 29.126 (14) 41.968 (3) 1’36.304 0.964 0.192
7 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 25.271 (7) 28.694 (6) 42.467 (10) 1’36.432 1.092 0.000
8 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 25.209 (4) 28.931 (10) 42.374 (7) 1’36.514 1.174 0.000
9 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 25.230 (6) 28.905 (8) 42.460 (8) 1’36.595 1.255 0.000
10 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 25.288 (9) 28.936 (11) 42.567 (12) 1’36.791 1.451 0.000
11 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 25.304 (10) 28.922 (9) 42.714 (15) 1’36.940 1.600 0.000
12 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 25.386 (12) 29.076 (12) 42.501 (11) 1’36.963 1.623 0.000
13 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 25.620 (13) 28.880 (7) 42.603 (13) 1’37.103 1.763 0.000
14 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 25.648 (14) 29.092 (13) 42.466 (9) 1’37.206 1.866 0.000
15 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 25.782 (15) 29.354 (17) 42.751 (16) 1’37.887 2.547 0.324
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 25.854 (16) 29.308 (16) 42.893 (17) 1’38.055 2.715 0.130
17 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 25.972 (18) 29.445 (18) 42.710 (14) 1’38.127 2.787 0.000
18 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 25.934 (17) 29.237 (15) 43.105 (19) 1’38.276 2.936 0.000
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 26.063 (20) 29.608 (19) 43.054 (18) 1’38.725 3.385 0.000
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 26.054 (19) 29.801 (20) 43.416 (20) 1’39.271 3.931 0.000
21 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 26.079 (21) 29.968 (21) 43.767 (21) 1’39.814 4.474 0.000
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 27.090 (22) 30.912 (22) 45.225 (22) 1’43.227 7.887 0.000

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’38.095 1’35.340 46
2 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’38.790 1’35.492 48
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’37.965 1’35.755 47
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’36.717 1’35.819 56
5 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’37.658 1’36.092 52
6 Jenson Button McLaren 1’38.069 1’36.432 54
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’37.171 1’36.496 59
8 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’38.125 1’36.514 53
9 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’38.561 1’36.595 48
10 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’37.942 1’36.791 47
11 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’39.360 1’36.940 36
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’38.398 1’36.963 48
13 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’40.032 1’37.103 44
14 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’39.336 1’37.206 58
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’39.057 1’38.127 53
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’39.392 1’38.185 39
17 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.180 1’38.211 53
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’39.158 1’38.276 56
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’41.966 1’38.725 45
20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’42.083 1’39.271 42
21 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’39.814 27
22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’42.056 1’43.227 23
23 Ma Qing Hua Caterham-Renault 1’43.545 20

Speed trap

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 321
2 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari 320.1 0.9
3 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 319.9 1.1
4 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 319.8 1.2
5 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 318.7 2.3
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 318.5 2.5
7 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth 318.4 2.6
8 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth 317.9 3.1
9 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 317.5 3.5
10 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 317.4 3.6
11 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault 315.5 5.5
12 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 315.5 5.5
13 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault 315.1 5.9
14 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 315 6
15 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 314.9 6.1
16 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 314.8 6.2
17 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 314.2 6.8
18 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 312.3 8.7
19 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 307.3 13.7
20 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes 307.1 13.9
21 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 305.4 15.6
22 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams Renault 305.3 15.7

2013 Chinese Grand Prix

Browse all 2013 Chinese Grand Prix articles

Images ?? Red Bull/Getty, Lotus/LAT

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83 comments on Soft tyre’s short life poses strategic conundrum

  1. timi (@timi) said on 12th April 2013, 19:27

    Hard to draw too many conclusions regarding race pace, apart from the tyre deg situation.

    Qualifying looks as though it’ll be very very close though. Can’t wait!!

  2. zimkazimka (@zimkazimka) said on 12th April 2013, 20:00

    if absolutely everyone is pushing 80% because of tires, well than 80 is the new 100, at least in this particular sport.

    • Dizzy said on 12th April 2013, 20:28

      Doesn’t make it any more acceptable or any more interesting or exciting.

      Watching drivers driving to a lap delta purely because the tyres dictate it is boring.
      All the constant talk about tyres before/during/after every race weekend is also getting to the point of stupidity.
      Tyres should be black/round & not something thats discussed that often like was the case throughout most of F1’s history.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th April 2013, 20:41

        While tyre management might be a skill F1 drivers need it is not half as entertaining or skillfull as traction management, harder tyres with less grip might make for slower lap times but they are a lot more entertaining and talent critical.

  3. According to several drivers the levels of tyre saving means there having to lap slower than what GP2 cars could do.

    Paul Hembrey coming out & saying the soft’s are working like there supposed to because there a ‘qualifying tyre’ is absurd. If you want 1 lap qualifying tyres then bring qualifying tyres, the race tyres should be suitable for the race & not only work in qualifying.

    F1 is supposed to be about drivers pushing to the limit, All this driving to a lap-time & running about tyre saving is not f1 should be about & reading the many fan comments all around the internet it isn’t what the vast majority of fans want either!

    • Lari said on 12th April 2013, 21:34

      @HCA
      “Vast majority”? Some grounds for that choice of words? Other than “it seems to me” or “so many posts in xx forums”? It is a known fact that when you’re not happy, you want to share the feeling with other likings, but when you’re happy or content you just smile and not necessarily write about it at all because you are happy. It’s always the complainers that flood the internet forums, and yes, this is based on same basis as your “vast majority” comment.

      Give us links to over 2 million different forum users complaints and we can talk about majority then, since in average (2008) there were 3.5-4M people watching each race. Source: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/f1-information/f1-tv-audience-figures/2008-itv-f1-tv-audience-figures/

  4. C.Logan said on 12th April 2013, 21:08

    Paul Hembrey coming out & saying the soft’s are working like there supposed to because there a ‘qualifying tyre’ is absurd. If you want 1 lap qualifying tyres then bring qualifying tyres, the race tyres should be suitable for the race & not only work in qualifying.

    completely agree.

    a lot of the comments from Paul Hembrey come across as a bit arrogant, it especially annoys me when he goes on about how f1 was always boring & how there had never been any passing in f1 until pirelli came in. both comments are completely untrue & totally absurd. there was plenty of good racing, plenty of excitement & a decent level of overtaking before pirelli came in & turned f1 into a tyre saving formula.

    i was told a few years ago that he wasn’t very liked in the wrc paddock when he & pirelli were a part of the wrc.

  5. TMF (@tmf42) said on 12th April 2013, 21:31

    I liked 2011 specs and was ok with the good 2nd half of 2012 but why they went for jello in 2013 is beyond me.

  6. FunkyDevil (@funkydevil) said on 12th April 2013, 21:59

    sauber’s shift timing looks good both cars on top in speed trap .

  7. R.J. O'Connell (@rjoconnell) said on 12th April 2013, 23:27

    I don’t think F1 fans are ever content with the on-track product as a whole.

    I remember all the complaining from when I first started watching 10-15 years ago. There wasn’t any overtaking, the races were too predictable, unless you liked Schumacher/Ferrari it ruined your weekend any time they won, there were only about 2-3 teams that had a fair chance of winning any race on any given weekend, good drives went to waste because mechanical reliability was garbage up until recent years, traction control was around and accusations were thrown around that the best driver never won, just the guy with the best car, and speaking of cars, car counts were at the minimum you could get to before third drivers would be used. That was the F1 of that age that I remember, not so much the loud V10s and extreme car designs and tyre wars.

    Here in 2013 you still have accusations that the best driver never wins, the overtaking problem now is that there’s too much of it thanks to DRS, the races went from too predictable and processional and now there’s too much “craziness” to the point where Williams winning a race last season was seen by some not as a great triumph but as a key example of what’s wrong with the sport today, fans still complain when the same guy wins repeatedly, tyre management is the new sticky issue of today, the Pirellis being accused of taking away deserving results the way the gearboxes and engines made of glass and parchment paper used to. All of the young driving prospects are categorized into “they have money so they must be the next Taki Inoue but six times worse” or “they don’t have a high seven-figure budget so they will never race in F1″.

    I think there are other things that are wrong with the sport besides the tyres. New teams (not rebrandings of established squads) can’t get in and if they can, they can’t be competitive. The ladder to F1 for drivers is busted too, team orders are a thing that’ll never be fixed unless you ban teams for anything that could even be remotely misconceived as a team order (or render the Constructor’s Championship as worthless as Confederate money), things like the Bahrain problem which is set to come up again highlight a socially backward side that’s engrained in the sport which I could rant about separately, but when I watch, I try to put that aside and appreciate what’s good about the sport, because there are still great displays of driving to be seen, it’s a more competitive grid, the racing is still good in my opinion. Just my two cents.

    • skd said on 13th April 2013, 5:55

      Completely agree

    • Lari said on 13th April 2013, 8:51

      @rjoconnell

      Completely agree, very well put. I started watching F1 from -93 when Hakkinen got his first chance with McLaren racing driver in the last three (?) racers as Sennas teammate, being reserve driver before that. But yeah, fans are never completely happy, whatever the reason might just then be and the saddest thing is that often they are the ones flooding the forums. I have enjoyed F1 for 20 years, even during Schumachers era when it REALLY, really was alot worse than now in terms of excitement, trust me. As the good advice saying “live like it’s your last day” is what I’m always aiming for, meaning I’m not wasting energy on the negative things, on things I can’t change/affect, I rather focus it on positive things that give more energy and keeps the smile on my face :)

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th April 2013, 9:53

      thanks for putting in your @rjoconnell money where your mouth is. I agree that there always seems a load of things to complain about and feel “how it was better in the xxx-era”

  8. W-K (@w-k) said on 13th April 2013, 0:15

    If things stay as they are, and it was my choice, in one of the top six teams, I think I would run
    Q1 – med
    Q2 – soft
    Q3 – med
    Start on those meds,
    Change to new meds,
    Change to new softs,
    Change to new softs.

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