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.

Strategy

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

2013 British Grand Prix

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59 comments on Mercedes are ahead but for how long?

  1. Putti SPIII (@veldaarf1) said on 30th June 2013, 8:50

    This is going to be a bloody fight between Red Bull and Mercedes for the win. I hope it’s exciting! Pity that di Resta has to start last. It has ruined a solid double points finish for Force India. Can Alonso and Kimi pull off something magical? Fingers crossed!

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