Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2014

New cars three seconds off 2013 pace on first day

2014 Australian Grand Prix Friday practice analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2014How quick the new generation of F1 cars will be compared to last year has been a major talking point of the off-season. Last year there were claims the new cars could be as much as three seconds per lap slower than the old ones.

Until today the clearest indicator of the new cars’ performance came during test in Bahrain. The fastest time of that test – Felipe Massa’s 1’33.258 – was within a second of last year’s pole position time by Nico Rosberg.

Today’s first official practice sessions of 2014 provided a new opportunity for comparison. Here’s how this year’s fastest time compared with last:

Year Best Friday lap Driver Difference
2013 1’25.908 Sebastian Vettel
2014 1’29.625 Lewis Hamilton +3.717s

That may be the most useful comparison we get in terms of single lap time performance this weekend, as Saturday’s running was disrupted by rain last year.

Although the gap between the two is wide – much wider than the Bahrain lap times led us to expect – there’s good cause to believe the teams were being particularly conservative today given reliability concerns.

Mercedes’ motorsport boss Toto Wolff expects to see rapid improvement in lap times. During today’s press conference he predicted the new cars will “go quicker than the old ones in a couple of races”.

In terms of straight-line speed, they’re already there – though of course these figures will owe a lot to set-up:

Year Best Friday speed trap Driver Difference
2013 313 kph Lewis Hamilton
2014 317.8 kph Valtteri Bottas +4.8

Longest stint comparison

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2014drivercolours.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Sebastian Vettel 95.173 94.294 93.9 94.043 94.545 93.986 94.726 95.997 96.918 95.109 94.504 94.426 94.397 96.417
Daniel Ricciardo 95.753 95.033 95.292 95.227 94.937 95.083 95.242 95.745 95.295 95.558 94.705 95.387 95.541
Lewis Hamilton 94.194 93.597 99.786 94.251 94.304 104.533 93.993 93.936 95.805 95.386 93.91 93.606 93.6
Nico Rosberg 94.825 94.192 94.227 93.489 93.619 93.739 93.441 93.576 94.542 94.171 99.748 94.58
Fernando Alonso 94.632 94.594 94.786 95.225 94.63 95.572 95.638 95.375 95.271 95.441 102.404
Kimi Raikkonen 96.94 96.226 96.7 97.44 98.396 96.079 97.635 96.695 95.915 96.979 98.241 97.196 103.566 113.501
Romain Grosjean 94.419 94.187 97.479 93.646
Jenson Button 95.222 94.304 94.794 94.625 95.047 95.128 95.495 94.94 94.939 95.138 95.382 95.842 97.594
Kevin Magnussen 95.774 95.699 95.926 95.693 95.883 95.681 95.759 95.18 95.51 96.238 96.015 96.418 96.316 96.532
Nico Hulkenberg 95.724 95.332 95.467 95.48 96.159 95.305 96.22 95.406 94.965 95.339 95.083 95.15 95.282 95.503 95.679 95.145 94.934
Sergio Perez 94.868 94.703 94.961 95.201 94.885 95.116 94.798 94.879 95.162 95.183 96.069 95.956 95.438 95.441 101.975 96.582
Adrian Sutil 97.583 98.278 98.351 116.669 96.98 98.851 98.249 97.276
Esteban Gutierrez 94.63 95.659 95.024 100.572 95.524 114.404 94.479
Jean-Eric Vergne 97.489 96.678 96.566 96.562 96.245 96.461 96.396 96.234 96.654
Daniil Kvyat 103.892 97.693 97.91 97.376 96.339 102.773 105.411 96.206 96.229 99.665 99.161 96.47 95.618 97.632
Felipe Massa 96.43 95.991 96.1 95.545 95.483 95.55 95.68 95.381 95.606 96.064 95.771 95.682 96.187 95.963 96.33 96.364 96.167 96.286 97.625
Valtteri Bottas 98.836 95.257 94.815 94.508 94.492 94.467 94.502 96.45 94.645 94.649 94.62 95.795 95.017 95.072 95.143 95.333
Jules Bianchi 99.165 100.806 100.341 99.09 99.561 98.855 106.153 102.42 100.959
Max Chilton 100.198 101.779 100.173 100.22 100.473 102.628 99.991 101.083

Fuel preservation is going to play a major role in races this year and the longer stints in the latter part of second practice gave the drivers chance to experiment with hitting their targets.

Drivers will be given targets for fuel consumption by the teams during the race. Each team will have their own terminologies for this.

Force India, for example, told Nico Hulkenberg to “lift and coast 25” – this refers to the practice of lifting the throttle just before the braking zone for a corner and coasting until the brake point is reached, this being one of the most effective ways of saving fuel without compromising lap time.

Similarly a message to Valtteri Bottas during the session said “Practice fuel save for the next few laps. Target to stay at 400 on the dash.” Expect to hear similar messages like this during the race, much as the teams already use for managing tyre degradation.

The Mercedes drivers were running at the quickest pace during their race stints. If that is representative of the speed they can run at while hitting their fuel consumption targets, it’s another indication they are the team to beat this weekend.

Sector times and ultimate lap times

Pos No. Driver Car S1 S2 S3 Ultimate Gap Deficit to best
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 29.890 (2) 23.897 (3) 35.838 (1) 1’29.625 0.000
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 29.894 (3) 23.843 (2) 36.045 (2) 1’29.782 0.157 0.000
3 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 29.825 (1) 24.113 (10) 36.194 (4) 1’30.132 0.507 0.000
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 30.051 (5) 23.983 (5) 36.205 (5) 1’30.239 0.614 0.142
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 30.212 (8) 24.111 (9) 36.155 (3) 1’30.478 0.853 0.060
6 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 29.947 (4) 23.835 (1) 36.728 (10) 1’30.510 0.885 0.000
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 30.124 (6) 24.021 (6) 36.640 (9) 1’30.785 1.160 0.113
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 30.278 (11) 24.038 (7) 36.604 (8) 1’30.920 1.295 0.000
9 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 30.346 (12) 24.152 (13) 36.507 (6) 1’31.005 1.380 0.055
10 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 30.500 (13) 23.979 (4) 36.552 (7) 1’31.031 1.406 0.000
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 30.191 (7) 24.094 (8) 36.769 (11) 1’31.054 1.429 0.000
12 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 30.235 (9) 24.113 (10) 36.771 (12) 1’31.119 1.494 0.000
13 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 30.277 (10) 24.113 (10) 36.893 (13) 1’31.283 1.658 0.000
14 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 30.855 (15) 24.346 (14) 37.020 (16) 1’32.221 2.596 0.274
15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 30.763 (14) 24.602 (16) 36.990 (15) 1’32.355 2.730 0.000
16 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 30.998 (16) 24.506 (15) 36.916 (14) 1’32.420 2.795 0.048
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 30.999 (17) 24.945 (18) 37.519 (17) 1’33.463 3.838 0.183
18 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 31.138 (18) 24.708 (17) 37.640 (18) 1’33.486 3.861 0.000
19 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 31.649 (20) 25.060 (19) 38.048 (19) 1’34.757 5.132 0.000

Sebastian Vettel’s lap in second practice gave Red Bull some encouragement about how close they are to the front runners. A look at the sector times showed he had more than a tenth of a second in hand, further demonstrating that the RB10 is quick – reliability is the priority for the world champions.

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’29.625 38
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.604 1’29.782 48
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’31.840 1’30.132 48
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’32.793 1’30.381 51
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.357 1’30.510 56
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’32.599 1’30.538 64
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’32.977 1’30.898 51
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’32.403 1’30.920 65
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.847 1’31.031 62
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’33.533 1’31.054 56
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1’33.446 1’31.060 65
12 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’32.431 1’31.119 50
13 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’33.855 1’31.283 60
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1’36.445 1’32.355 49
15 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’35.578 1’32.468 33
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1’34.272 1’32.495 65
17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1’40.859 1’33.486 35
18 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’33.646 12
19 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1’46.922 1’34.757 33

Pastor Maldonado and both Caterham drivers failed to set a lap time.

Speed trap – second practice

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 317.8
2 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes 316.9 0.9
3 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 316.8 1
4 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 315.5 2.3
5 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 315.2 2.6
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 315.2 2.6
7 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 315.1 2.7
8 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 314.8 3
9 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 311.8 6
10 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 310.7 7.1
11 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 310.5 7.3
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault 310.4 7.4
13 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Renault 309.1 8.7
14 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 308.2 9.6
15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari 304.8 13
16 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 304.7 13.1
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 302.3 15.5
18 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari 302 15.8
19 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari 298.8 19
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault 169.3 148.5

Eight drivers were quicker through the speed trap than last year’s highest speed.

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei