Red Bull ahead but tyre failures are the main concern

2013 Belgian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2013The relative performance of the cars in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix was of secondary importance to the worrying recurrence of the tyre failures problem.

When Sebastian Vettel limped back into the pits just 11 laps into his race simulation run it immediately brought back memories of the series of alarming and dangerous failures that occurred during the British Grand Prix.

While Fernando Alonso, who also suffered a puncture, does not think F1 is heading towards a repeat of Silverstone, the failures will be examined as a matter of urgency.

Pirelli had already given the teams strict limits for camber angle within which the tyres should be used. It remains to be seen whether the failures were isolated incidents or a symptom of a wider problem.

The latter may need further steps may to be taken to ensure driver safety is not compromised on one of the fastest circuits on the calendar.

The Red Bulls were by far the fastest cars on the track but the two cars were strong in different parts of the circuit as they evaluated different parts.

Mark Webber was over seven-tenths of a second faster than Vettel in the middle sector, but the world champion more than made up for it elsewhere on the lap. Significantly, both featured among the top four cars through the speed trap, despite straight-line speed normally being a weakness of theirs.

Lotus were the closest team to Red Bull on one-lap pace and their race pace looks at least a match for the Red Bulls.

Mercedes were a long way off the pace but we’ve seen this from them on Fridays before this year – having consistently had the quickest car over a single lap they can afford to spend Friday concentrating on their high-fuel runs. They were at the bottom of the speed trap chart.

Here’s all the data from Friday practice for the Belgian 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
Sebastian Vettel 115.663 115.472 115.576 116.038 115.586 115.65 115.804 115.909 116.132 116.113
Mark Webber 116.16 116.137 119.027 116.039 115.852 116.616 116.177 116.743 116.605 116.666
Fernando Alonso 112.538 120.035 110.51
Felipe Massa 117.01 115.953 116.278 119.693 115.644 116.13 115.955 116.674
Jenson Button 119.51 118.819 117.213 116.837 118.673 117.99 121.66 116.675 117.063 118.349
Sergio Perez 117.428 117.228 117.012 117.455 117.616 117.747 118.077 118.198 117.941 117.903 122.249 117.471 118.141 117.628
Kimi Raikkonen 116.773 117.567 115.98 117.685 116.075 120.591 121.055 119.671
Romain Grosjean 115.96 116.103 115.48 115.237 115.369 120.477 115.056 115.286
Nico Rosberg 116.786 116.419 116.316 116.28 117.788 116.355 116.518 116.809 116.685 116.385 116.892 117.069
Lewis Hamilton 117.812 117.243 124.867 116.437 121.244 117.249 125.382 117.355
Nico Hulkenberg 117.365 117.07 119.095 126.806 117.003 117.586 118.135 117.365 117.076 117.445 118.062
Esteban Gutierrez 117.95 116.906 116.903 116.928 117.037
Paul di Resta 117.129 118.399 120.151 121.218 127.583 117.225
Adrian Sutil 117.732 119.131 117.113 116.972 116.588 117.034
Pastor Maldonado 118.84 119.202 118.407 122.032 120.163 120.462 119.916 122.117 119.301 121.353
Valtteri Bottas 119.057 119.029 117.692 117.562 122.642 120.203 120.067 118.322 119.074
Jean-Eric Vergne 117.205 116.806 117.944 117.042 116.773 121.871 117.161 119.645 116.473 116.319 116.708 116.821 116.866
Daniel Ricciardo 116.252 116.392 116.079 116.244
Charles Pic 122.815 121.419 119.742 120.993 120.33 119.079 119.569
Giedo van der Garde 119.604 119.093 119.186 119.631 119.372 119.795 119.578 119.967
Jules Bianchi 119.804 119.692 120.546 121.118 119.328 119.39 124.007 124.762 121.896
Max Chilton 114.701 118.155 114.418

Sector times and ultimate lap times

Pos No. Driver Car S1 S2 S2 Ultimate Gap Deficit to best
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 31.621 (1) 48.143 (8) 29.567 (1) 1’49.331 0.000
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 32.073 (5) 47.390 (1) 29.916 (7) 1’49.379 0.048 0.011
3 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 32.280 (10) 47.760 (3) 29.882 (6) 1’49.922 0.591 0.227
4 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 31.976 (2) 48.195 (9) 29.944 (8) 1’50.115 0.784 0.395
5 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 32.101 (8) 48.029 (6) 30.001 (9) 1’50.131 0.800 0.033
6 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 32.406 (15) 47.574 (2) 30.187 (16) 1’50.167 0.836 0.151
7 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 32.333 (11) 47.801 (4) 30.068 (11) 1’50.202 0.871 0.549
8 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 32.407 (16) 48.002 (5) 29.844 (5) 1’50.253 0.922 0.000
9 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 32.023 (3) 48.239 (10) 30.116 (13) 1’50.378 1.047 0.158
10 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 32.079 (6) 48.691 (15) 29.720 (2) 1’50.490 1.159 0.139
11 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 32.200 (9) 48.646 (14) 29.728 (3) 1’50.574 1.243 0.037
12 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 32.348 (13) 48.064 (7) 30.189 (17) 1’50.601 1.270 0.000
13 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 32.091 (7) 48.748 (17) 29.803 (4) 1’50.642 1.311 0.349
14 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 32.340 (12) 48.431 (12) 30.077 (12) 1’50.848 1.517 0.124
15 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 32.362 (14) 48.335 (11) 30.162 (14) 1’50.859 1.528 0.336
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 32.068 (4) 49.031 (18) 30.032 (10) 1’51.131 1.800 0.437
17 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 32.523 (19) 48.586 (13) 30.164 (15) 1’51.273 1.942 0.174
18 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 32.485 (17) 48.716 (16) 30.254 (19) 1’51.455 2.124 0.189
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 32.510 (18) 50.218 (20) 30.218 (18) 1’52.946 3.615 0.305
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 32.648 (20) 50.167 (19) 30.280 (20) 1’53.095 3.764 0.062
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 32.728 (21) 50.247 (21) 30.446 (21) 1’53.421 4.090 0.061
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 32.816 (22) 50.670 (22) 30.804 (22) 1’54.290 4.959 0.128

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’55.636 1’49.331 36
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’58.929 1’49.390 46
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2’03.176 1’50.149 49
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’56.863 1’50.164 37
5 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’57.084 1’50.253 45
6 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’59.441 1’50.318 44
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’55.198 1’50.510 32
8 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’55.518 1’50.536 41
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’55.614 1’50.601 43
10 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’55.224 1’50.611 37
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’55.373 1’50.629 41
12 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’57.358 1’50.751 37
13 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’56.110 1’50.972 44
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’57.081 1’50.991 42
15 Jenson Button McLaren 1’57.281 1’51.195 42
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’56.770 1’51.447 40
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’56.858 1’51.568 46
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’55.954 1’51.644 44
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’57.887 1’53.157 37
20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’53.251 29
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’59.209 1’53.482 40
22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’58.600 1’54.418 26
23 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’57.821 16

Speed trap

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 305.6
2 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams Renault 301.9 3.7
3 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 301.9 3.7
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 301.5 4.1
5 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault 299.2 6.4
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 298.6 7
7 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 296.3 9.3
8 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 296.2 9.4
9 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 296.2 9.4
10 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 295.5 10.1
11 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 295.5 10.1
12 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth 295.4 10.2
13 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 295 10.6
14 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes 294 11.6
15 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari 293.8 11.8
16 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 293.7 11.9
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 293.7 11.9
18 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 293.5 12.1
19 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault 292.2 13.4
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth 290.8 14.8
21 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 289.3 16.3
22 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 288.5 17.1

2013 Belgian Grand Prix

Browse all 2013 Belgian Grand Prix articles

Advert | Go Ad-free

35 comments on Red Bull ahead but tyre failures are the main concern

  1. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 23rd August 2013, 18:47

    It’s strange to see Hamilton so low as he looked very on it (in real life).
    He looked to take a lot of speed into the corners and was on the accelerator as one of if not the fastest.
    The red bull looked very planted and stable.

    Could the drainage on the start finish line be hurting the tires?

    • GT Racer (@gt-racer) said on 23rd August 2013, 20:33

      I spent some time watching his in-car camera on sky’s ipad app during FP2 & Hamilton’s car looked horrible.

      It looked to understeer on entry & then switch to oversteer on exit, He had a couple fairly big saves.
      He was also downshifting to 6th through Eau Rouge although was remaining flat out on the throttle.

      Although I wasn’t able to see as much in-car stuff from Nico, His Mercedes looked just as bad in pretty much the same places as Lewis.

  2. Suave (@suave) said on 23rd August 2013, 18:51

    Interesting to see the Red Bulls so far up in the speed trap. Vettel is 4kph quicker than the next person down. Could this be a defensive tactic to make it difficult for the other to pass them on the long straights?

  3. Latvian (@latvian) said on 23rd August 2013, 18:55

    just look how flat Vettels line is

  4. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 23rd August 2013, 19:00

    Two years ago, Red Bull brought a very effective low-downforce configuration to Spa and Monza, and the early signs are that this year they have done it again. Vettel’s long run looks pretty solid too (for as long as it lasted, of course), so at the moment it looks like Red Bull are in the best shape.

    Mercedes’ form is a little worrying for those hoping they would challenge Red Bull for the second part of the season, and equally worrying is the fact that they are so much slower in the speed trap than anyone else, particularly Red Bull. It would be ironic if Mercedes are blown away on the straights by Red Bull. Rosberg’s long run looks good, though.

    I also find it surprising that Mercedes, and Hamilton in particular are currently opting for the high downforce approach. In both of the past two events in Spa Hamilton complained about being too slow on the straights, culminating in last year’s infamous telemetry tweet. If they keep their current setup, Mercedes will struggle to overtake anyone on the straight, and they will be sitting ducks if anyone manages to get within 1s of them.

    • mantresx (@mantresx) said on 24th August 2013, 1:33

      Yep, I remember in 2011 in Monza the Red Bulls with the DRS on had literally no angle on the rear wing, it was the magic of the blown diffuser because in 2012 the wing was more conventional and they were quite uncompetitive.

  5. Rigi (@rigi) said on 23rd August 2013, 19:05

    strange how mercedes is now the slowest and red bull the fastest in the speed trap

    • Shrieker (@shrieker) said on 23rd August 2013, 19:11

      Speed trap is located right on the exit of Eau Rouge. The cars carrying the most speed through Eau Rouge will show faster trap speeds. I bet the bulls are a good 10 km/h down on top speed compared to -say- the Mercs.

      • BJ (@beejis60) said on 23rd August 2013, 19:58

        In addition to this, I saw HAM downshifting through Eau Rouge which is not what most do… I seriously doubt they’re running a high-downforce configuration like someone mentioned above.

        • Shrieker (@shrieker) said on 23rd August 2013, 20:09

          Yes i do think they re running a low df setup as well. In addition to that, someone on sky broadcast (Ant iirc) mentioned the engine situation. They had a used(very) engine on the car and Ant said the gears were too long and that the team can’t get it so wrong regarding the gear ratios. So what he thought was that they weren’t pushing the engine and blow it up because they would like to use it in another fp session elsewhere.

          • hunocsi (@hunocsi) said on 23rd August 2013, 20:29

            Or they might have just used an old engine today and will use a brand new one for the rest of the weekend.

  6. hunocsi (@hunocsi) said on 23rd August 2013, 19:16

    The speed trap is just after Eau Rouge, at the beginning of Kemmel straight – the highest top speed probably belongs to the Force India and Willams drivers as had the highest speed at the end of S1 which is at the end of Kemmel. We know Vettel used a very low downforce setup (or at least rear wing), but I didn’t expect him to be that much faster than anyone else on top of the hill, and it means he doesn’t even have to worry about anyone overtaking him there because he’ll get a big advantage by this. The weird thing is that on a whole lap the RB9 has the same pace with even more downforce as it is shown by Webber’s lap time – so far it looks like whichever way they will go, nobody will have a chance against them.

    Just a few more interesting stuff from these data:
    – Pic was the fifth fastest after Eau Rouge – which means he got through there very quickly and helping him by a lot for the long straight – and still only had the 18th fastest S1
    – Williams and Force India going for low downforce, high top speed, which is great for overtaking in the race but pretty bad in qualifying and no chance of going after someone who is fast in the slower middle sector
    – Rosberg’s and Hamilton’s top speed are very slow, that is pretty unusual by Mercedes as usually they are the ones with the higher top speed, tho it might work out for them because they seem pretty quick in S2, and if I remember right, they haven’t really used DRS in either FPs so far, maybe they are hiding their real pace – but they still have to work on stability as Hamilton looked very uncomfortable in the car today

    • hunocsi (@hunocsi) said on 23rd August 2013, 19:32

      I forgot one thing – as well as they didn’t use DRS, Merc drivers always lifted in Eau Rouge and changed back to 6th gear, are they just playing with us and have they got it in them again?

  7. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 23rd August 2013, 19:27

    Can anyone find me a diagram showing where the DRS is?

  8. If Red Bull choose to run the low downforce set-up that Vettel was running (and I assume they will) then it looks to be they’ll have a strong set-up in race – not too much energy through the tyres in S2 and they won’t be sitting ducks on the straights – and they look very quick over one lap, but then we said the same in Hungary!

    Since it’s highly probable there’ll be at least some rain though, I’m just looking forward to a good race! That also may tend them towards a slightly higher downforce set-up however.

  9. GT Racer (@gt-racer) said on 23rd August 2013, 21:33

    Its now suspected that Van Der Garde’s accident was also caused by a tyre failure.

    Pirelli have told teams/Drivers they believe tyres are been damaged by a kurb (As I understand it the Kurbs have not been changed for this year), However earlier Pirelli insisted the damage was caused by a piece of debris.

    The teams/Drivers are not buying Pirelli’s explanation & have asked Charlie Whiting to investigate the matter.

    As I said in an earlier article, There were ‘damaged’ tyres which hadn’t actually failed on other cars & there were no problems at all on the GP2/GP3 cars.

    • @gt-racer I’m surprised more didn’t immediately jump to that conclusion – having just witnessed Vettel’s failure in around the same area I believe (one in which you never usually see cars going off, especially in the dry) I immediately suspected it’d been another tyre failure.

      If this is going to be a genuine problem during the race I hope Charlie just red flags it this time for intergity’s sake but I’m remaining hopeful that it’s just coincidental and that there are no problems so we can have a problem-free weekend and Pirelli can retain some dignity :)

  10. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 23rd August 2013, 21:55

    I know statistics experts will kill me for this, because especially in F1 things are not so easy to predict, but if you observe Vettel’s season so far, he has.
    Race 1: 3rd
    Race 2: 1st
    Race 3: 4th
    Race 4: 1st
    Race 5: 4th
    Race 6 : 2nd (a first would have make my logic perfect!)
    Race 7: 1st
    Race 8: DNF (without the problem probably 4th or 5th, well, just an “if”)
    Race 9: 1st
    Race 10: 3rd

    My point is, that almost perfectly, this year Vettel has won every 2 races. Guess which race comes? The second after his last victory in Germany. Cheers on Vettel!!! (But my bet on the Predictions Championship goes for Kimi for some historic reason)

  11. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 23rd August 2013, 22:20

    I would be shocked if Red Bull kept Vettel on the low-downforce setup. As Webber has proven, the high-downforce can be just as quick in the dry, and it’ll no doubt be more ideal in the wet. I know there’s a long way to go in terms of how the weather develops, but surely Red Bull will put Vettel on the safer option.

  12. TMF (@tmf42) said on 23rd August 2013, 22:40

    Mercedes didn’t reveal how fast they are – but it seems they lost confidence in their engines.

  13. karter22 (@karter22) said on 23rd August 2013, 23:35

    It´s going to be another tough weekend…

  14. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 24th August 2013, 1:01

    The speed trap positioning is a bit misleading, as its at the top of Eau Rouge.
    It really suggests that Redbull are the quickest there. Not rip necessarily that they have the fastest car in a straight line.

    • erix said on 24th August 2013, 4:04

      Fastest at eau rouge means RBR gonna be fastest in most corners.

    • What it suggests was what Brundle pointed out that they get an incredible exit from La Source and can nail it through Eau Rouge easily. That would suggest that they’ve got good stability and traction, which is usually achieved by a good set-up and a bit of downforce.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.