Rosberg believes Mercedes can “annoy” Red Bull

2013 Japanese Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2013Red Bull hold the upper hand in Japan but Nico Rosberg is hopeful that Mercedes can keep them honest this weekend.

“I hope we can annoy the Red Bulls a little bit,” said Rosberg after Friday’s two practice sessions.

But the day’s running didn’t go entirely to plan for Mercedes as Ross Brawn explained: “Both drivers suffered flat spots with the tyres, which forced us to adapt our programme, but they were still able to complete enough running to get a good feel for each compound and how it’s working at this circuit.”

Lewis Hamilton was given a lap time target of mid-1’40s when he began his longest stint on the hard tyres. Then after being told he was three tenths off Fernando Alonso’s pace he lowered his times into the 1’39s.

Alonso, who was following him on the track and also on the hard tyres, couldn’t match that pace. He reported his tyres were “zero” and stayed out until he’d hit the ‘cliff’ of tyre performance and his lap times had risen above 1’44.

Team mate Felipe Massa also felt the cliff coming but stayed out for one more lap in the 1’41s before pitting. Ferrari, it seems, have a weakness on race pace comparable to what we saw in Korea last week.

But there is some cause for optimism. Rob Smedley told Massa during the session his pace was good “for the cars that we’ll be with on Sunday”.

Alonso also believes there is more time in the car. “We definitely lost a few extra tenths from the first lap,” he said. “We hope to get a clean lap tomorrow and to be ahead of those cars, such as the Toro Rossos and the McLarens that we cannot have in front of us, as happened today.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Suzuka, 2013Lotus’s preparations were compromised by Kimi Raikkonen going off the track for the second Friday in a row. “We lost a reasonable amount of long run data collection as a result of Kimi?s spin,” said trackside operations director Alan Permane, “meaning Romain?s programme was modified slightly and we might look at doing some race simulation work during tomorrow?s practice”.

McLaren were in a similar position because of Sergio Perez’s crash. Jenson Button’s race engineer Dave Robson told him his pace was “strong compared to our competitors” before telling him to target laps around 1’40.5, which he fell short of by around a tenth.

Button, however, is wary of the change in weather conditions which is expected. “I believe there?s a cooler weather front coming in for tomorrow,” he said, “so we need to be careful about the direction we take with the set-up to best cope with it”.

“We found a good balance on the [hard] tyre,” added Button, “but still need to do some work with the [medium], because we didn?t gain too much going from the harder tyre to the softer one”.

Pirelli believe the medium tyre to be around half a second faster than the hard. Red Bull did most of their race fuel running on the softer tyre, indicating they may feel confident enough to run it for longer in the race. Recent evidence suggests that Lotus should also be able to go down this root if today’s setbacks haven’t compromised them too badly.

Sauber appear to have picked up where they left off in Korea. Nico Hulkenberg is confident of getting into Q3 again but it will be a stern test for Esteban Gutierrez to be close to his team mate in his first qualifying session at Suzuka.

Here’s all the data for the Japanese 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 17 18 19
Sebastian Vettel 99.253 99.332 99.41 106.554 99.705 99.7 100.158 99.889 100.054 100.426 107.183 101.729
Mark Webber 99.462 99.471 99.665 99.61 102.872 99.581 99.948 100.288 122.921 99.657 100.237 100.739
Fernando Alonso 100.439 100.382 100.651 100.449 100.108 104.22 100.207 100.421 100.61 100.674 100.979 101.553 102.063
Felipe Massa 100.051 99.95 104.535 100.35 100.821 100.32 100.781 101.924 100.638 101.052 101.387
Jenson Button 101.08 100.934 101.036 101.756 100.692 100.996 100.937 101.078 101.231
Sergio Perez 96.157 113.737 95.709 121.882 105.502 104.516
Kimi Raikkonen 109.275 110.67 95.809 95.988
Romain Grosjean 100.788 101.05 100.779 103.168 100.946 101.146 101.623 101.421 101.936 101.811
Nico Rosberg 100.206 99.381 99.248 99.465 99.094 98.94 103.536 108.242 98.531 98.415 100.408 98.671 98.774
Lewis Hamilton 101.035 100.734 101.477 100.223 99.933 103.78 99.649 101.338 99.403 99.43 99.484 103.119 99.858 101.205 102.289 101.246 102.517
Nico Hulkenberg 101.048 104.468 100.291 100.046 100.077 100.831 100.236
Esteban Gutierrez 100.832 100.553 100.611 100.481 102.933 101.136 100.914 100.683 100.735 101.211 101.688
Paul di Resta 101.159 101.214 101.155 100.881 111.456 100.834 100.613 100.486
Adrian Sutil 101.55 101.236 100.904 100.698 101.22 101.979
Pastor Maldonado 96.722 113.914 106.113 107.359
Valtteri Bottas 101.725 101.845 101.676 101.853 101.809 101.214 101.915 101.825 105.423 105.823 103.269 102.322 102.128
Jean-Eric Vergne 101.892 102.901 101.819 101.627 101.284 101.099 102.593 101.474
Daniel Ricciardo 100.304 102.597 100.386 100.419 100.288 100.414 100.433 100.523 100.573 101.662 101.834 101.868 109.567 102.963
Charles Pic 104.834 107.08 104.511 104.218 104.582 103.867 103.414 103.786 103.316
Giedo van der Garde 106.16 105.886 104.535 104.021 103.885 104.373 104.134 105.978 104.384 104.056 104.117 104.254 104.028 103.78 103.695 104.647 104.391 104.305 104.628
Jules Bianchi
Max Chilton 102.38 102.168 101.87 101.857 102.006 102.356 103.953 103.363

Sector times and ultimate lap times

Pos No. Driver Car S1 S2 S3 Ultimate Gap Deficit to best
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 33.452 (1) 42.142 (2) 18.240 (2) 1’33.834 0.018
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 33.503 (3) 42.182 (3) 18.298 (3) 1’33.983 0.149 0.037
3 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 33.459 (2) 42.252 (5) 18.403 (6) 1’34.114 0.280 0.000
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 33.707 (7) 42.062 (1) 18.433 (8) 1’34.202 0.368 0.000
5 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 33.567 (5) 42.197 (4) 18.532 (14) 1’34.296 0.462 0.115
6 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 33.547 (4) 42.418 (7) 18.426 (7) 1’34.391 0.557 0.051
7 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 33.928 (10) 42.332 (6) 18.213 (1) 1’34.473 0.639 0.000
8 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 33.686 (6) 42.473 (9) 18.436 (9) 1’34.595 0.761 0.103
9 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 33.827 (8) 42.496 (11) 18.445 (10) 1’34.768 0.934 0.144
10 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 33.829 (9) 42.486 (10) 18.489 (12) 1’34.804 0.970 0.283
11 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 34.222 (16) 42.465 (8) 18.386 (5) 1’35.073 1.239 0.016
12 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 34.112 (13) 42.602 (15) 18.362 (4) 1’35.076 1.242 0.033
13 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 34.106 (12) 42.572 (14) 18.504 (13) 1’35.182 1.348 0.000
14 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 34.186 (14) 42.534 (12) 18.555 (15) 1’35.275 1.441 0.000
15 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 34.215 (15) 42.536 (13) 18.579 (16) 1’35.330 1.496 0.011
16 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 33.987 (11) 42.962 (16) 18.639 (17) 1’35.588 1.754 0.121
17 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 34.657 (18) 42.999 (17) 18.480 (11) 1’36.136 2.302 0.000
18 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 34.644 (17) 43.226 (18) 18.851 (18) 1’36.721 2.887 0.001
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 35.077 (19) 43.510 (19) 19.043 (21) 1’37.630 3.796 0.000
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 35.172 (21) 43.686 (20) 18.940 (20) 1’37.798 3.964 0.107
21 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 35.165 (20) 43.792 (21) 18.909 (19) 1’37.866 4.032 0.255

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’34.768 1’33.852 59
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’34.787 1’34.020 55
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’34.487 1’34.114 55
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’34.157 1’34.442 55
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’35.364 1’34.202 34
6 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’35.179 1’34.411 45
7 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’35.635 1’34.473 49
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’35.126 1’34.698 49
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1’35.868 1’34.912 56
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’35.154 1’35.087 48
11 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’36.760 1’35.089 58
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’36.066 1’35.109 54
13 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’35.900 1’35.182 52
14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’36.399 1’35.275 53
15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’36.165 1’35.341 44
16 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’35.450 1’35.709 35
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’36.340 1’36.136 64
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’36.178 1’36.722 18
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’37.595 22
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’37.629 8
21 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’37.630 31
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’38.025 1’37.905 51
23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’38.763 1’38.121 51

Speed trap

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 295.3
2 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 294.7 0.6
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 293.8 1.5
4 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 293.1 2.2
5 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 290.4 4.9
6 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 290 5.3
7 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 289.4 5.9
8 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 288.9 6.4
9 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 288.4 6.9
10 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams Renault 288.2 7.1
11 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 288.1 7.2
12 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari 288 7.3
13 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth 287.6 7.7
14 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 287.5 7.8
15 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 285 10.3
16 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 284.5 10.8
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 284.4 10.9
18 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes 282.8 12.5
19 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 282.3 13
20 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault 280.3 15
21 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault 278.7 16.6

2013 Japanese Grand Prix

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Images ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei Lotus/LAT

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17 comments on Rosberg believes Mercedes can “annoy” Red Bull

  1. Todfod (@todfod) said on 11th October 2013, 15:40

    Damn those Red Bulls look fast. Mercedes will bother them in quali, but on race pace I really doubt there is anything touching the Bulls.

    Ferrari lack lustre as usual , and Lotus not looking much better than Ferrari

    • Akshay (@hamilfan) said on 11th October 2013, 16:01

      On the contrary If I am a Ferrari fan or a mercedes fan ( I am one ) , I will be afraid of Lotus . I think they have shown some great performance on race day . I think they can upset the podium plans of anyone else apart from the purple blue cars .

    • scuderia_fan85 (@scuderia_fan85) said on 11th October 2013, 20:15

      Todfod if Lotus can get both cars in the top 5 and have good starts, on race pace they will trouble Merc and Redbull.

    • Since that unfortunate turn from Hungary onwards the championship was always going to be Red Bull’s way similar to what happened when Pirelli chose harder tyres for the second half of last season. Red Bull and Vettel only lost at Hungary due to some mistakes and a damaged front wing. I think the only chance for the others is in India where Red Bull may suffer with the fronts.

  2. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 11th October 2013, 15:49

    “Annoy” is probably the perfect word choice in this situation.

  3. Beto (@chebeto) said on 11th October 2013, 18:51

    Vettel fastest in one lap. Vettel fastest in the Speed Trap. Even if Rosberg or Hamilton qualify better than Vettel, he will have a pretty nice time overtaking with DRS.

  4. Vettel, future teammate and current teammate top the speed trap

  5. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 11th October 2013, 19:52

    Ferrari look to be slipping into a no man’s land behind Red Bull, Mercedes and surprisingly Lotus. Hopefully I’m wrong and Alonso can work his magic to fight for a podium spot. I think you can tell whatever minor developments the teams had are now drying up, as there appears to be very definite gaps between the teams that are now pretty much static until the end of the season.

    • scuderia_fan85 (@scuderia_fan85) said on 11th October 2013, 20:12

      well Lotus, for a quarter of the 1st half of the season were ahead of Ferrari. but generally the E21 has been faster than the sickly prancing horse.

      • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 11th October 2013, 21:21

        I know that they started the season very well, and have been doing a great job. However I’m surprised to see them up there ahead of Ferrari and fighting Mercedes on race pace is because of their comparatively small budget. Usually that has a very telling effect on whether a team can remain competitive: Look at Brawn or Lotus in previous seasons (2011 particularly) or any midfield team. They really are working and using everything they’ve got very effectively, I can see why Ferrari have raided their staff!

        • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 11th October 2013, 21:37

          Good points. Then there is the antithesis of big spending equals big results, McLaren. Even Sauber is showing new signs of life with a much smaller budget than either Ferrari or McLaren.

      • Candice said on 12th October 2013, 1:54

        Prancing horse is the best car in first half of the season bar Hungary and best car since summer breaks bar Korea.

        Nice way to twist the fact

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 11th October 2013, 23:43

      It looks as though Ferrari is trying to follow RBR into the “more drag = more downforce = slower top speed but faster laptimes” equation but can’t get the last part right, meanwhile RBR have moved into another mode (and another world) of ” less drag, same downforce, higher speed, faster laps.
      It would appear that only exceptional circumstances can stop a RBR whitewash.

  6. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 12th October 2013, 1:20

    So now Ferrari are terrible in qualifying, and terrible in the race.
    Meanwhile at Red Bull…

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