Mercedes are ahead but for how long?

2013 British Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Nico Rosberg, Silverstone, Mercedes, 2013Mercedes have locked out the front row of the grid for the third time this year. Unlike the previous two occasions it’s Lewis Hamilton, not Nico Rosberg, who’s at the sharp end.

They now face 52 punishing laps of Silverstone which will reveal just how well they’ve got to grips with the tyre wear problems that plagued them earlier in the season.

Mercedes’ difficulties with tyre degradation was brutally exposed in Spain where they lined up first and second but finished sixth and twelfth. How will they fare at Silverstone, a circuit which is every bit as tough on tyres as the Circuit de Catalunya?

The start

Directly behind the Mercedes pair on the grid are the two Red Bulls, so except a combative start to the race. The Mercedes drivers have tended to get off the line well but have been vulnerable in the opening laps – recall how Sebastian Vettel attacked them in Spain and Bahrain.

After the flat-out blast through Abbey and Farm, the slow switchbacks of Village and The Loop which lead onto the Wellington Straight will give plenty of opportunities for position-swapping in the opening seconds of the race.

Fernando Alonso starts from tenth on the grid and will need one of his trademark brilliant starts to begin the process of getting on terms with title rival Vettel.

Silverstone’s lack of slow corners compared to many other circuits can make it a tricky circuit for overtaking. But as has become commonplace this year and extra DRS zone has been added. In addition to the one on the Wellington straight there is also one on the Hangar straight leading into Stowe.


The medium and hard tyres are available this weekend and the drivers in the top ten will all start on the softer compound. Jenson Button, who lines up 11th, said he is pleased with the benefit of having a fresh set of tyres and being able to start from the cleaner side of the grid.

Alonso is expecting the race to be an “uphill struggle” as Ferrari seem not to have the pace this weekend.

Red Bull will be hoping Mercedes’ prior difficulties over a race stint will continue to dog them. Hamilton admitted he has concerns about their tyres: “We know that tomorrow is another day and our Sunday performance isn’t quite as strong right now.”

“Our long run pace looked OK yesterday and we were able to manage the tyres quite well. It’s going to be tough to keep Seb behind but we will give it everything we’ve got.”

Two of the most interesting storylines for the race are found on row three. Paul di Resta failed to get beyond Q1 in the last two races but clearly had excellent race pace in his Force India. He starts fifth tomorrow which will allows us to see what he can do when he has the springboard of a good qualifying position.

With the often slow-starting Mark Webber one place ahead of him, and the degradation-heavy Mercedes at the sharp end, a home podium for Di Resta is not out of the question. “Our tyre wear looks healthy and we?ve given ourselves a good opportunity to get in some clean air during the race,” he said.

Pirelli expect two or three pit stops to be the norm. Di Resta ran a canny single-stop race in Canada, and he has a good chance of being able to make one stop fewer than those in front of him.

Daniel Ricciardo has chosen an opportune moment to remind Red Bull what he is capable of by qualifying sixth, two days after Webber announced his impending retirement.

Here’s all the data from qualifying:

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’30.995 1’31.224 (+0.229) 1’29.607 (-1.617)
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’31.355 1’31.028 (-0.327) 1’30.059 (-0.969)
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’31.559 1’30.990 (-0.569) 1’30.211 (-0.779)
4 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’31.605 1’31.002 (-0.603) 1’30.220 (-0.782)
5 Paul di Resta Force India 1’32.062 1’31.291 (-0.771) 1’30.736 (-0.555)
6 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’32.097 1’31.182 (-0.915) 1’30.757 (-0.425)
7 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’32.002 1’31.097 (-0.905) 1’30.908 (-0.189)
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’31.466 1’31.530 (+0.064) 1’30.955 (-0.575)
9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’31.400 1’31.592 (+0.192) 1’30.962 (-0.630)
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.266 1’31.387 (-0.879) 1’30.979 (-0.408)
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1’31.979 1’31.649 (-0.330)
12 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.241 1’31.779 (-0.462)
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’32.105 1’31.785 (-0.320)
14 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’31.953 1’32.082 (+0.129)
15 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1’32.168 1’32.211 (+0.043)
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’32.512 1’32.359 (-0.153)
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’32.664
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’32.666
19 Charles Pic Caterham 1’33.866
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’34.108
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1’35.481
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1’35.858

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton 28.537 (1) 36.499 (1) 24.571 (1)
Nico Rosberg 28.684 (3) 36.650 (2) 24.650 (2)
Sebastian Vettel 28.748 (5) 36.697 (4) 24.766 (3)
Mark Webber 28.564 (2) 36.689 (3) 24.900 (5)
Paul di Resta 28.705 (4) 37.047 (8) 24.984 (7)
Daniel Ricciardo 28.969 (9) 36.831 (6) 24.953 (6)
Adrian Sutil 28.886 (8) 37.100 (10) 24.840 (4)
Romain Grosjean 29.058 (10) 36.806 (5) 25.081 (12)
Kimi Raikkonen 28.845 (6) 37.076 (9) 24.993 (8)
Fernando Alonso 28.859 (7) 37.024 (7) 25.052 (10)
Jenson Button 29.094 (11) 37.437 (11) 25.033 (9)
Felipe Massa 29.188 (14) 37.456 (12) 25.090 (13)
Jean-Eric Vergne 29.123 (12) 37.495 (13) 25.106 (14)
Sergio Perez 29.164 (13) 37.515 (14) 25.107 (15)
Nico Hulkenberg 29.368 (17) 37.607 (15) 25.070 (11)
Pastor Maldonado 29.231 (15) 37.811 (17) 25.231 (16)
Valtteri Bottas 29.352 (16) 37.967 (18) 25.267 (17)
Esteban Gutierrez 29.552 (18) 37.782 (16) 25.314 (18)
Charles Pic 29.743 (20) 38.496 (19) 25.609 (19)
Jules Bianchi 29.721 (19) 38.732 (20) 25.655 (20)
Giedo van der Garde 30.065 (22) 39.281 (21) 26.135 (21)
Max Chilton 30.013 (21) 39.661 (22) 26.167 (22)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 311.8 (193.7)
2 Jules Bianchi Marussia 310.2 (192.7) -1.6
3 Max Chilton Marussia 309.9 (192.6) -1.9
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 308.8 (191.9) -3.0
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 308.8 (191.9) -3.0
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 308.6 (191.8) -3.2
7 Jenson Button McLaren 307.5 (191.1) -4.3
8 Adrian Sutil Force India 307.5 (191.1) -4.3
9 Sergio Perez McLaren 307.4 (191.0) -4.4
10 Paul di Resta Force India 307.3 (190.9) -4.5
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 306.9 (190.7) -4.9
12 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 306.4 (190.4) -5.4
13 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 305.5 (189.8) -6.3
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 305.2 (189.6) -6.6
15 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 303.9 (188.8) -7.9
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 303.9 (188.8) -7.9
17 Mark Webber Red Bull 303.1 (188.3) -8.7
18 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 303.1 (188.3) -8.7
19 Valtteri Bottas Williams 302.3 (187.8) -9.5
20 Pastor Maldonado Williams 302.1 (187.7) -9.7
21 Charles Pic Caterham 301.9 (187.6) -9.9
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 299.9 (186.3) -11.9

Over to you

Will it be a home win for Hamilton? And how well will Alonso be able to limit the damage from tenth on the grid?

Share your views on the British Grand Prix in the comments.

Update: After this article was published Paul di Resta was sent to back of grid as his car failed a weight check

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59 comments on Mercedes are ahead but for how long?

  1. xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 29th June 2013, 18:35

    Just read somewhere Di Restas car was underweight at scrutineering…

  2. F1abw (@f1abw) said on 29th June 2013, 18:36

    Williams being that low in the speed trap is interesting seeing as they have been running the low drag boomerang wing this weekend.

  3. liam (@) said on 29th June 2013, 18:36

    Until Ferrari, RB and Lotus conduct there own test session. Hell knowing Ferrari if things keep going down and also Lotus, it’s possible. We heard it come from Horner’s mouth that RB were thinking it

  4. Olivier42 (@olivier42) said on 29th June 2013, 18:40

    Fernando Alonso starts from tenth on the grid and will need one of his trademark brilliant to begin the process of getting on terms with title rival Vettel.

    You accidentally a word here ;)

  5. lubhz (@lubhz) said on 29th June 2013, 18:41

    what’s wrong with Massa’s driving, and his car? Faster on the speed trap but miserable on all sectors?

  6. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 29th June 2013, 18:43

    Some seem to think the race is already decided (not you keith). Have some faith in the drivers on the grid. I’m sure the British Grand Prix of 2013 is going to give plenty of fireworks.

    *Goes into corner and starts praying*

  7. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 29th June 2013, 18:44

    With lower temperatures, and some useful experience gained since Spain I don’t think Mercedes will drop off the pace as badly as they have previously. Vettel to win though,

  8. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 29th June 2013, 18:45

    Paul di Restas surely must be moved to the back of the grid.

    “A Technical Report released by the FIA several hours after qualifying ended on Saturday evening confirmed that checks had found Di Resta’s car to be 1.5kg below the minimum weight required to comply with Article 4.1 of F1’s technical regulations.

    The matter has now been referred to the stewards of the meeting at Silverstone for further consideration but Di Resta could be relegated to the back of Sunday’s grid should a penalty be imposed.”

  9. MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 29th June 2013, 18:45

    Di Resta’s car was found to be underweight

  10. George (@george) said on 29th June 2013, 18:46

    How did Hamilton find 1.6s from q2 to q1? That’s rediculous!

  11. Aimal (@aimalkhan) said on 29th June 2013, 18:47

    I remember both Ferrari’s going out in Q2 in Valencia last year and Alonso went on to win that race. I am not saying he will win this one too.. but anything could happen.

  12. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 29th June 2013, 18:49

    I expect the whole field to overtake each other midway through the Hangar straight, killing the joy completely.

    2 DRS zones here too? how inoperant can FIA be?

    • PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 29th June 2013, 18:52

      People shouldn’t be surprised by the 2 DRS zone decisions, I thought it was decided before the season that all races apart from Monaco and Susuka would have 2? I don’t support this decision, but it’s not really a surprise.

    • Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 29th June 2013, 19:52

      Absolutely, they should’ve put only 1 DRS ZONE, at the Wellington straight. Hangar straight is going to be very “overpowered”. Overtaking wasn’t hard in the past.. And with DRS, that’s going to be a HUGE FACTOR IN THE RACE… Should’ve been only at Wellington straight.

    • Sri Harsha (@harsha) said on 30th June 2013, 4:07

      The 2 DRS zones problem came with the new ruling of Using DRS in DRS zones only.
      After the New ruling Last year Mclaren’s Sam Micheal reported that with the New DRS rule every track must have two DRS zones. That Helped teams in Qualy but destroying the race and to add that we have Softer tires means in the DRS zones they can’t even fight.

  13. MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 29th June 2013, 18:52

    From Autosport:

    Webber, however, said he was not convinced by Mercedes’ apparent worries.

    “Not really,” said Webber when asked if he expected Mercedes to fade away in the race. “Lewis was pretty sensible in Montreal. The last time they raced on this type of circuit was Barcelona, and they got lapped. That is not going to happen.

    “I think they did pretty well at that test, to be fair. They have moved the bar up for themselves a big chunk on Sundays – anyway… that is the way it went.

  14. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 29th June 2013, 19:02

    Pit stops, 2 to 3 expected, should be an interesting race. I would think Merc will do 3 stops, maybe Red Bull too. Lotus would likely shoot for 2 stops, maybe Ferrari too. Might be the only chance Ferrari has to move up if their tires don’t grain too badly.

    Still think Red Bull will win. Good podium chance for Ricciardo or Sutil now if Di Resta is penalized and has to move back for the start.

    Hoping for a good race!

  15. TMF (@tmf42) said on 29th June 2013, 19:04

    I don’t think they’ll drop like a stone, it’s gonna be tough but if they can keep the RBRs behind for the first stint they got a fighting chance. But what do I know, yesterday I thought it’s gonna be Ferrari for the win ;)

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