Red Bull even further ahead than it looks

2013 Indian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Buddh International Circuit, 2013“The Red Bulls are unfortunately looking incredibly quick,” said Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane following today’s practice sessions, “but we?re leading the charge behind them”.

Just how far behind Red Bull’s rivals are at the Buddh International Circuit? The gap on the time sheets at the end of second practice was half a second. But it seems likely Sebastian Vettel left some of the RB9’s potential unexploited on his fastest lap on Saturday.

Several drivers found they got a better time out of the soft tyres on their second flying lap. Romain Grosjean, who was ‘best of the rest’ behind the Red Bulls, improved his time by two tenths of a second.

Vettel was also on course to improve on his second lap but dived into the pits before completing it. As the data below shows he set the quickest times in all three sectors and Grosjean was an ominous three-quarters of a second off his pace.

No doubt the picture will change on Saturday as we have often seen in the past. But realistically, whatever kind of fuel load Red Bull were running today, it’s hard to envisage any of their rivals threatening them tomorrow.

So Sunday’s race is likely to be a Red Bull benefit, much as the previous two races at the Buddh International Circuit were. But expect the tyre strategies to mark a departure from the previous races.

Pirelli have brought significantly softer tyres to this weekend’s race which should prevent it from being a one-stop race for most drivers as it has been before. The hard/soft combination has been replaced with medium/soft. But to really appreciate how big a departure this is, consider that the 2013 medium tyre compound is approximate to last year’s soft.

Given that, it’s no surprise the teams are finding this year’s soft tyre very fragile. Pirelli expect two or three pit stops per driver on Sunday. The front-left especially takes a pounding around the long turn ten and eleven right-hander.

In practice drivers found the tyre only lasted around half-a-dozen laps or so. Nico Hulkenberg exclaimed “Jesus that looks bad” when he saw the state of the blistering on his front-left when he came into the pits.

Most drivers did their longest runs on the medium tyres compounds. Fernando Alonso persevered with the soft for several laps and the rate of drop-off in his lap times on the chart below was much quicker than for those on the mediums.

“The [medium] tyre seems to last forever, while the [soft] tyre doesn’t” Button commented Button after practice. “There?s a very big difference between the two tyre compounds so I think we?ll see some very interesting strategies this weekend.”

Whether that happens depends on how many of the teams can make the soft tyre last long enough to only need one further pit stop after getting rid of them. The size of the performance gap between the two will likely lead drivers to run the soft for the first stint then switch to the medium for the rest of the race.

But however the strategies play out the battle for victory is surely going to be a Red Bull-only affair.

Here’s all the data from practice for the Indian 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 20 21 22
Sebastian Vettel 90.892 90.66 92.315 93.365 96.044 91.392 94.94 89.997 90.48 91.358 90.781 90.567 90.248 89.987 89.98 90.184 106.668 89.785
Mark Webber 91.626 91.554 91.295 91.676 92.458 96.468 91.431 94.844 90.854 90.627 91.117 91.079 92.496 91.61 89.909 89.884 89.946 94.659 90.097
Fernando Alonso 92.022 92.359 92.963 94.367 94.324 93.976 93.608 93.14 93.396 93.685
Felipe Massa 92.658 92.422 92.475 92.384 92.129 93.349 94.572 93.407 95.128 91.882 94.866 91.693 92.484 91.714 92.325 91.591 91.278 91.171 91.192 91.06
Jenson Button 92.552 91.921 91.851 91.906 91.955 91.901 96.465 91.733 98.635 91.578 91.243 91.676
Sergio Perez 92.62 92.671 92.337 92.625 92.702 96.965 92.005 92.932 92.982 92.38 92.225 92.202 92.963 92.535 95.157 103.364 91.469 91.065 91.292 91.138 91.066 91.327
Kimi Raikkonen 93.824 93.26 97.173 92.751 93.343 93.082 93.649
Romain Grosjean 91.709 91.426 90.798 91.089 90.865 91.917 100.113 90.596 90.431 90.464 94.468 90.666
Nico Rosberg 92.216 91.467 94.233 91.615 95.779 91.087 90.824 90.95 97.612 91.735 90.637
Lewis Hamilton 92.874 95.137 92.737 92.718 92.886 92.617 93.283
Nico Hulkenberg 93.59 92.816 92.359 93.213 96.273 92.425 92.861 93.264 91.921 91.974 99.594 92.599 91.452 91.381
Esteban Gutierrez 95.436 92.807 93.009 92.877 92.78
Paul di Resta 92.203 93.069 97.331 92.06 91.913 91.761 91.901 91.94 92.02
Adrian Sutil 94.437 93.363 92.781 93.18 94.161 93.472 93.02 93.551 98.403 92.134 92.288
Pastor Maldonado 94.264 94.951 94.987 94.996 94.222
Valtteri Bottas 111.308 95.552 94.078 95.123 94.741 94.645 94.522 94.299 94.794
Jean-Eric Vergne 93.211 93.086 93.407 93.57 109.751 92.9 92.524 92.649 92.4 92.225 92.121
Daniel Ricciardo 89.015 104.807 96.498 88.021 105.664 88.029
Charles Pic 95.899 95.116 95.169 95.208 95.074 95.559 95.825 99.195 95.699 95.28 94.286 94.2 94.631 93.837 93.723 94.312 93.642 93.371
Giedo van der Garde 98.267 96.053 95.616 94.972 95.116 96.213 95.276 94.919 94.299 94.333 94.232 93.936 93.734 93.457 93.721 93.487 93.407 93.323
Jules Bianchi 93.714 94.462 94.237 93.886 93.3 93.298 93.465 93.13 92.5
Max Chilton 95.925 95.241 95.316 98.267 94.378 94.314 94.284 95.477 94.4

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 41.885 (1) 22.279 (1) 21.202 (1) 1’25.366 0.356
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 42.130 (3) 22.444 (2) 21.225 (2) 1’25.799 0.433 0.212
3 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 42.063 (2) 22.617 (4) 21.460 (7) 1’26.140 0.774 0.080
4 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 42.445 (12) 22.576 (3) 21.281 (3) 1’26.302 0.936 0.097
5 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 42.164 (4) 22.773 (8) 21.449 (4) 1’26.386 1.020 0.196
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 42.314 (7) 22.664 (6) 21.452 (6) 1’26.430 1.064 0.000
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 42.323 (8) 22.623 (5) 21.613 (10) 1’26.559 1.193 0.073
8 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 42.171 (5) 22.979 (12) 21.451 (5) 1’26.601 1.235 0.000
9 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 42.254 (6) 22.801 (9) 21.692 (11) 1’26.747 1.381 0.110
10 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 42.402 (10) 23.059 (13) 21.511 (9) 1’26.972 1.606 0.000
11 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 42.398 (9) 23.078 (14) 21.762 (13) 1’27.238 1.872 0.137
12 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 42.649 (13) 22.731 (7) 21.875 (16) 1’27.255 1.889 0.049
13 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 42.780 (16) 22.927 (11) 21.722 (12) 1’27.429 2.063 0.000
14 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 42.438 (11) 23.089 (15) 21.964 (17) 1’27.491 2.125 0.000
15 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 42.817 (17) 22.910 (10) 21.778 (14) 1’27.505 2.139 0.215
16 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 42.752 (15) 23.292 (16) 21.498 (8) 1’27.542 2.176 0.066
17 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 42.690 (14) 23.477 (18) 21.782 (15) 1’27.949 2.583 0.000
18 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 42.979 (21) 23.399 (17) 22.009 (19) 1’28.387 3.021 0.044
19 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 42.894 (18) 23.657 (20) 21.974 (18) 1’28.525 3.159 0.167
20 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 42.970 (20) 23.564 (19) 22.020 (20) 1’28.554 3.188 0.245
21 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 42.949 (19) 23.734 (21) 22.123 (21) 1’28.806 3.440 0.560
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 43.387 (22) 23.973 (22) 22.720 (22) 1’30.080 4.714 0.084

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’26.683 1’25.722 59
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’26.871 1’26.011 55
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’26.990 1’26.220 56
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’27.227 1’26.399 57
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’28.214 1’26.430 45
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’26.899 1’26.582 63
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’27.692 1’26.601 62
8 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’28.730 1’26.632 50
9 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’27.416 1’26.857 63
10 Jenson Button McLaren 1’27.335 1’26.972 62
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’28.336 1’27.304 35
12 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’28.468 1’27.375 56
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’27.800 1’27.429 54
14 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’27.770 1’27.491 59
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’27.608 38
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’28.342 1’27.720 44
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’28.538 1’27.949 62
18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’28.035 1’28.431 55
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’29.413 1’28.692 63
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’29.560 1’28.799 52
21 James Calado Force India-Mercedes 1’29.197 22
22 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’30.026 1’29.366 60
23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’30.471 1’30.164 44

Speed trap

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 321.7
2 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 319.6 2.1
3 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 319.4 2.3
4 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 319.3 2.4
5 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Ferrari 319.2 2.5
6 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes 318.9 2.8
7 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso Ferrari 317.3 4.4
8 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari 316.2 5.5
9 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 315.4 6.3
10 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 315.2 6.5
11 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 314.9 6.8
12 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari 313.2 8.5
13 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth 313.1 8.6
14 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault 312.4 9.3
15 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault 312.2 9.5
16 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 312.2 9.5
17 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth 312.1 9.6
18 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 311.9 9.8
19 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams Renault 310.7 11
20 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault 310.3 11.4
21 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 310.2 11.5
22 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams Renault 310.1 11.6

2013 Indian Grand Prix

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18 comments on Red Bull even further ahead than it looks

  1. tmax (@tmax) said on 25th October 2013, 15:18

    @KeithCollantine Correct me if I am wrong, I think if Pirelli had chosen the tire compounds which were close to each other like Japan the race might turn out interesting with different strategies. How about Soft and Super-soft Instead of the medium ?

  2. DaveD (@daved) said on 25th October 2013, 15:31

    Another Vettel snooze fest. We should just spend our time betting on the gap for the win. 20 seconds? 25? 30?

    • Rocky (@rocky) said on 25th October 2013, 16:20

      I’m thinking of missing India and picking it back up after the Vettel celebrations are all over. From a sponsor point of view the The Red Bull of Vettel giet very little air time.

  3. Meander (@meander) said on 25th October 2013, 15:33

    Are we getting used to Grosjean as main challenger?

  4. Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 25th October 2013, 16:19

    Vettel did left something eh.. I was live timing and after his second flying lap on the OPTION TYRE, he set two purple sectors, 41.8 and 22.2 respectively, only for then to pit at the end of his lap.

  5. PeterG said on 25th October 2013, 16:57

    Its frankly pathetic that the option tyres are once again falling to bits after only 2-5 laps, Whats the point in spending a fortune transporting hundreds of tyres across the world if there so bad drivers can’t wait to get off them.

    That & the amount drivers are having to nurse the tyres this season is simply a joke.

    I do not watch F1 & racing in general to see them all tootling around a couple seconds off the pace not really racing one another purely because there nursing race tyres that are as fragile as these.

    And listening to the sky commentators all talking about how brillant tyres blistering after 3 laps is is equally disturbing. F1 seriously needs to look at itself & get back to allowing drivers to race before more of the top guys get bored of ‘Formula maintain the gap & hit your Lap Delta’ like Mark Webber has.

    Depending on how things are next year I may be 1 fan that moves my viewership to another category because I hate how things are right now & am pessimistic about the future with the prospect of tyre & fuel saving next year :(

  6. Yuriy said on 25th October 2013, 17:00

    Should be very interesting battle for second place between Lotus Mercedes and Ferrari.
    This is what I’m looking for this weekend.

  7. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 25th October 2013, 18:28

    I think Webber should at the least lengthen his gear ratios, or even take some downforce off to be quick on the straights. It’s highly unlikely he will qualify on pole with the form Sebastian Vettel is currently in, so it looks like he will be battling with Lotus, Mercedes, and Ferrari for P2.

    How often have we not seen him go down the same setup route as Sebastian Vettel only to complain that he couldn’t overtake anyone because his gears were too short? The setup works for Vettel because a) his is leading the race, and b) he can usually make passes even with a low top speed (Belgium 2012 springs to mind).

    • @adrianmorse he showed that in Suzuka too. Coincidentally, both areas in which he overtaked in those two races were after very high speed left handers in the middle of straights approaching chicanes which bend left-right and follow onto another straight!

  8. Euro Brun (@eurobrun) said on 25th October 2013, 19:04

    “As the data below shows he set the quickest times in all three seconds”

    I know he’s fast, but that takes the biscuit! lol.

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