Mercedes quickest over one lap but need race pace

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

After the first four races of 2013, here’s how the performance of each of the teams’ cars compare.

Teams performance in the first four races of 2013

This table compares the fastest lap time set by each team at each race weekend in 2013 (in any session) and shows how far each team was off the quickest last time as a percent.

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain
Red Bull 0 0.25 0.91 0.28
Ferrari 0.98 0.49 0.32 0.36
McLaren 2.78 0.66 1.38 1.49
Lotus 0.53 0.39 0.29 0.88
Mercedes 0.48 0 0 0
Sauber 2.65 1.55 1.88 1.72
Force India 1.78 0.41 1.91 0.98
Williams 3.43 1.22 2.81 1.92
Toro Rosso 2.26 1.59 1.6 1.78
Caterham 4.96 2.92 4.59 3.2
Marussia 4.41 2.33 4.25 4.17

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2013Mercedes have had the best one-lap pace of any team over the last three races and took pole position in the last two. But translating that into race pace is their concern at the moment.

Team principal Ross Brawn said their lack of race pace in Bahrain had been a particular concern: “We have made progress in the latter area and will evaluate some developments over the upcoming race weekends to help improve the situation.”

“We’re not there yet but we are making progress and of course, performing in the race is what really counts.”

Behind Mercedes the balance of power is much as it was last season: Red Bull fractionally ahead of Lotus and Ferrari, with little to separate the latter pair.

The early sign is that qualifying pace is less important this year compared to being able to make the fragile tyres last. Only one of the first four races was won by the pole sitter.

But that may change in the next two races at tracks where passing is famed for being difficult: the Circuit de Catalunya and Monaco.

However rain-hit qualifying sessions and the encroachment of race strategy into qualifying has had an effect on the data. Drivers choosing to set Q3 times on the harder of the two available types of tyre means we don’t always see the best each car is capable of.

Change in performance since last year

Here’s how the teams’ average performance deficits so far this year compare to last year:

Team Average deficit (2013) Average deficit (2012) Change
Mercedes 0.12 0.87 -0.75
Red Bull 0.36 0.38 -0.02
Lotus 0.52 0.68 -0.16
Ferrari 0.54 0.75 -0.21
Force India 1.27 1.16 +0.11
McLaren 1.57 0.18 +1.39
Toro Rosso 1.81 1.82 -0.01
Sauber 1.95 1.15 +0.8
Williams 2.34 0.96 +1.38
Marussia 3.78 4.83 -1.05
Caterham 3.91 3.49 +0.42

Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2013McLaren and Williams have made the biggest steps backwards since last year. Both teams are planning major upgrades for the next race in Spain as they attempt to salvage their seasons.

In McLaren’s case they’ve gone from having the quickest car of 2012 to languishing in sixth behind Force India. Williams have gone from being at the sharp end of the midfield to looking over their should at Caterham and Marussia in qualifying.

Marussia are the team who’ve made the greatest gain so far. But Caterham came out fighting in Bahrain and put one over their rivals as the battle at the back remains as fiercely fought as ever.

Another teams which has had a difficult start to 2013 is Sauber. Their eighth place in the performance rankings is reflected in the points standings at the moment.

Over to you

Can McLaren, Williams and Sauber turn their poor starts to the season around? Or is it time to cut their losses and concentrate on the major rules change in 2014?

Have your say in the comments.

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Image ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei, McLaren/Hoch Zwei