How much slower were the 2014 cars in Australia?

2014 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2014The new cars were considerably slower than their predecessors over a single lap in Melbourne but their straight-line speeds were higher and the race pace was encouraging too.

Here’s how the cars’ performance in Australia compared to previous seasons.

One-lap pace

The fastest lap time set during the 2014 Australian Grand Prix weekend – Nico Rosberg’s 1’29.375 – was over three seconds slower than the cars were lapping last year. Even taking into account the wet conditions which prevented significant improvement of lap times during qualifiyng, the drivers weren’t going to find that much time between final practice and Q3.

The more conservative tyre allocations being used this year will certainly have played a role in slowing the cars’ single-lap pace. And we are still in the early days of a new formula – teams will add more performance to their cars at a rapid rate.

They need to, because in Melbourne the F1 cars were lapping almost six seconds slower than they had been just three years ago.

Race pace

This graph shows the race winners’ lap times throughout the Australian Grand Prix over the last four years.

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58
2014 102.038 97.687 95.765 94.939 95.438 94.977 95.417 94.55 94.217 94.364 95.185 134.269 149.953 141.208 134.486 93.976 94.04 93.195 92.478 93.331 92.839 93.144 93.213 93.936 93.941 94.539 95.588 95.416 94.069 94.946 94.272 95.305 94.088 93.979 93.981 94.464 95.19 115.194 101.375 93.394 93.243 93.286 92.672 92.786 94.137 93.148 93.498 92.704 92.8 92.757 93.863 93.001 93.026 93.052 93.185 93.309 93.857
2013 104.043 94.567 93.365 93.488 93.684 94.365 93.91 93.881 112.931 98.498 91.949 92.833 91.877 92.377 92.94 93.126 93.492 93.331 93.423 93.426 92.846 92.939 93.112 91.979 92.49 92.348 92.313 93.17 93.112 95.108 92.089 91.885 92.108 111.259 97.93 91.881 91.675 91.513 91.769 92.062 91.297 90.359 91.544 90.564 90.947 89.872 90.205 90.673 90.792 90.576 90.242 89.915 90.109 90.421 89.737 89.274 89.843 91.761
2012 99.264 93.414 93.35 93.131 92.984 93.117 93.244 93.124 93.394 93.767 93.985 93.628 93.97 94.164 94.645 114.021 99.358 93.348 93.3 92.88 92.903 93.141 92.84 92.701 92.76 92.152 91.943 91.788 91.813 91.812 91.565 91.597 91.632 91.989 92.215 111.349 111.615 164.349 143.729 159.748 141.646 91.355 90.567 90.232 90.22 90.014 89.828 90.702 90.081 89.858 90.049 90.047 90.124 89.697 89.645 89.187 89.738 90.846
2011 98.109 93.006 92.713 92.803 92.342 92.605 92.502 92.537 93.24 92.572 92.669 92.902 93.698 112.075 98.385 91.548 90.8 91.81 91.018 91.055 91.288 91.084 90.875 92.24 91.699 91.328 91.568 91.113 91.339 91.054 91.707 91.611 91.406 91.871 92.597 113.737 99.321 93.632 91.005 90.53 90.14 90.419 90.503 89.844 90.47 90.669 90.297 90.471 90.71 90.732 90.873 91.087 90.671 90.656 90.899 89.962 90.516 91.946

2011: Sebastian Vettel won for Red Bull. Tyres: Soft and hard.
2012: Jenson Button won for McLaren, Safety Car deployed from laps 37 to 41. Tyres: Soft and medium.
2013: Kimi Raikkonen won for Lotus. Tyres: Super-soft and medium.
2014: Nico Rosberg won for Mercedes, Safety Car deployed from laps 11 to 15. Tyres: Soft and medium.

Fears that Sunday’s race would be dominated by the need to save fuel were not entirely realised. However the shortening of the race distance by one lap due to a false start, and a five-lap Safety Car period, will have helped teams stretch their fuel out.

Such was eventual winner Nico Rosberg’s advantage that he clearly backed off to a significant extent for much of the second half of the race. Prior to that in the laps immediately following the Safety Car he had been on a par with previous seasons in terms of race pace.

Speed trap

One respect in which the new cars are undoubtedly more impressive than the ones they replace is straight-line speed. The V6 turbos propelled the cars to higher top speeds in three of the four measuring points during the race.

The higher top speeds but slower lap times point to a rise in power and a fall in downforce. That much was clear to see from how the drivers struggled to get the power down coming out of Melbourne’s slow corners – Valtteri Bottas’s tap of the wall at turn ten being the most obvious example.

The rest of the season will reveal how quickly the teams bring performance to their cars, and how much of it comes from unlocking more performance from their engines, or recovering lost downforce. With some teams already talking about making half-second gains in Malaysia next weekend, a fascinating development race is in prospect.

2014 F1 season


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Image © Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

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72 comments on How much slower were the 2014 cars in Australia?

  1. Rucknar (@superted666) said on 21st March 2014, 12:35

    How far off GP2 cars are we now? Must only be a few seconds between F1’s slowest and GP2’s fastest…

    • Having just been collecting data from the GP2 tests for the season preview article I can tell you, sort of.

      In Bahrain for F1 testing the fastest of the fast laps was a 1:33.258 set by a Williams and the slowest of the fast times was a 1:38.707 set by a Lotus. The next slowest was a 1:38.083 set by a Caterham. Meanwhile the fastest GP2 time so far has been a 1:39.129 set by Haryanto in the Caterham. So if they can find a bit more speed, then when Kobayashi said he’d be better off turning up in a GP2 Car, he may actually be right.

      Of course we won’t actually know until they’re all going for it in anger, on a dry track. (Hopefully in Malaysia)

      • Interested information thx.

      • KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 21st March 2014, 14:27

        So, the gap is slightly smaller than in previous years. Only in Monaco were the fastest GP2 cars on par with the slowest F1 machines, now it looks like they’re about the same everywhere (until F1 cars start getting more upgrades).

      • Bleu (@bleu) said on 21st March 2014, 15:03

        There’s no GP2 race in Malaysia this year.

      • DaveD (@daved) said on 21st March 2014, 15:06

        You can’t compare the slowest cars from Bahrain testing with GP2. The F1 cars that were slow there were essentially not functioning yet. Wait till they go back for the Bahrain race and THEN compare.
        But all in all, I agree with @jerseyf1 in that these comparisons are meaningless anyway. They are slowing the F1 cars down every few years because they become impossible to drive when the G forces make drivers start to black out. Then they give the engineers a few years to claw back the time at which point they slow them down again.
        The only alternative would be to put the drivers in flight suits to prevent blackouts. And that would not stop drivers from being killed when they had a wreck at 420kph (260mph) with a blowout on a straight from debris or something.

        • joc_the_man said on 21st March 2014, 17:24

          Dave pls dont throw in G-forces arguments. We all know that is baloney. F1 cars 2014 are SLOW – pls DO face it. I among many are NOT happy with this – you, however seems happy abt it. 2014 are on par with 1999. To me, this is terrible and development taking huge leaps BACKWARDS. That is what FIA wants, but many of us fans are sad. F1 is no longer the pinnacle of motorsports. Face it, man.

          • DaveD (@daved) said on 21st March 2014, 19:18

            No, I’m not happy about them being slower at all. I’d love to see them go faster every year. I think they will go faster than last year by the second half of the season so I’m not panicking about a new formula they haven’t had time to work on yet. And Nico was running the same times as last year in the first 19 laps (with heavy fuel loads) and they simply had him slow down and just finish because he was obviously so much faster than any other teams.
            I’m betting their qualifying time in Bahrain will be about the same as 2013 and possibly even faster. In 2015, is will be back to 2011 times.
            During the race, I think they’ve gone too far with the fuel limits and especially that namby-pamby rule they used to disqualify RIC last week. WHO CARES….let them race. And why is 100kg “green” and not 120kg? That’s BS they just make up and can fix anytime they want.

            As for your claims about G-Force being baloney, it’s not a problem right now BECAUSE they keep limiting the cars every few years and let the engineers claw it back. If they didn’t, they would have a problem. They already have over 4Gs on some corners and if you let Adrian Newey and company keep pushing with double diffusers, exhaust blown diffusers, ground effects, whatever wing packages they wanted…you’d easily be over 5 G’s by now. CART tried that at Texas Speedway back in the early 2000’s and 21 of the 25 drivers were complaining of dizzinesss while they were driving.

            No, I’m not happy about it, at all, right now. But I think it’s a lot better than we’re seeing and only Mercedes is there right now. I think Nico could have easily shaved another couple of seconds off his lap times with low fuel and some fresh tires at the end of the race. So I’m just not panicked yet.

            Don’t mistake the fact I don’t care about the noise levels as much as you with me thinking it’s OK to drive slow. Not even close. I don’t like fuel limits or tire BS making them drive like little old ladies.

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 21st March 2014, 12:52

      I don’t know the answer and I wonder when people will stop making this comparison between GP2 and F1 laptimes anyway.

      F1 cars have smaller engines, much more sophisticated technology, greater efficiency, more advanced mechanics and aerodynamics, smaller fuel tanks, longer races, better drivers, quicker pitstops, faster acceleration, better braking, higher topspeed etc etc. It’s the pinnacle of motorsport and stands head and shoulders above GP2 and any other series and they don’t come anywhere near close. In formula one terms a car lapping as little as 1 second per lap off the pace is considered nowhere near fast enough, so GP2 cars are nowhere in comparison.

      • Rucknar (@superted666) said on 21st March 2014, 13:56

        1 second a lap is close if you like it or not. F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport perhaps but it’s so heavily regulated it’s not the pinnacle of what could be achieved in any regards.

        • Breno (@austus) said on 21st March 2014, 14:08

          1s isnt close. Rosberg was 1s faster than everyone, no one was close to him all race.

        • pastaman (@pastaman) said on 21st March 2014, 15:11

          umm 1 second is not close. that would amount to a victory of close to a minute by the end of a race, which would have happened with Rosberg had there not been safety cars

        • Mads (@mads) said on 21st March 2014, 16:33

          @superted666
          If the gap actually was 1 second, I would agree with you.
          But I don’t think it is.
          The slowest F1 teams at that test, were slow because their cars weren’t working. Not because they actually were that slow.
          Secondly, I think it is unfair to compare the worst F1 car with the best GP2 cars.
          A team in F1 could build a car which was 15 seconds slower then the fastest, but would that make F1 slower then GP2? No. I don’t think so.
          A better comparison would be the fastest of each series compared, as those two would be the closest to the performance limit of their respective series.

    • maarten.f1 (@maarten-f1) said on 21st March 2014, 13:37

      Whatever the difference is now, it’ll be much greater a few races into the season when the teams will start to gather more data, learn about the engines and cars and how to squeeze the most out of them. At this point we’re one race into the season, and despite all the testing there are huge unknowns to the teams at this point. Just the fact that Ron Dennis expects a 0.5s improvement for the next race should tell you that there is a lot of untapped potential.

    • dkpioe said on 21st March 2014, 13:50

      more important is the sound comparison between gp2 and f1. gp2 sounds much better now then f1 cars.

  2. Marcus said on 21st March 2014, 12:37

    After looking at onboard laps of the 2013 cars and the 2014, It seems a lot of the time lost is in the braking.. They have to brake so much earlier than in 2013 it seems, is it just me?

    • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 21st March 2014, 22:45

      Well they have more power, and more energy to find for MGU-K, and a new braking system, and harder tyres, so yeah.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 22nd March 2014, 5:23

        They’ve also been coasting into corners to conserve fuel. And they’re heavier, and aren’t as stuck to the ground. And from all accounts the new braking system is tricky. And they’ll get better at reducing braking time no doubt.

  3. Daniel (@tamburello) said on 21st March 2014, 12:46

    Please let it rain in Malaysia. The torque is the most entertaining asset the new formula has.

    • Cranberry said on 24th March 2014, 23:57

      Absolutely agree with you!
      I don’t understand these “no longer the pinnacle”-arguments.

      What is the pinnacle if not the most talented drivers driving the most advanced machines at the limit of what is possible?

      Perhaps they are slower, but seeing drivers fight their cars into obedience made me sit on the edge of the couch even when it wasn’t “my guy” doing the fighting.
      However, I can’t escape the feeling that this would have been a fantastic opportunity to introduce the long talked about cost-cap. Just thinking about teams having limited funds and being forced to choose whether to develop aero or engine, it makes me cry that it cannot be realised…
      The noise of the cars does bother me though…. F1 cars being quieter than a teenager’s Corolla with an aftermarket muffler just doesn’t feel right.

  4. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 21st March 2014, 12:53

    Frankly, more power and less downforce is a good thing in my opinion. Overall lap time be damned, the drivers were overdue for a challenge. I’m relishing seeing who can wring good speed out of these cars.

    • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 21st March 2014, 14:00

      Exactly. The Drivers are working a hell a lot more which clearly separates the best from the rest.

      • BJ (@beejis60) said on 21st March 2014, 19:05

        Same. I miss the days of Senna ‘dancing’ with his lotus going into and coming out of turns instead of ‘driving’ it simply in and out…

    • James said on 21st March 2014, 15:02

      Beautifully put :).

    • DaveD (@daved) said on 21st March 2014, 15:14

      +1 It is so refreshing to see which drivers can really drive. And I’m looking forward to seeing Red Bull on a consistent pace so we can see how good Seb is when he has a car that is consistently good, but not totally dominating.
      I’m a big Silver Arrow fan, but I like to see RACING. So I frankly won’t pay much attention to Lewis and Nico as they ride off into the sunset with an easy victory, but will be watching to see how Williams, McLaren, RB and Ferrari compete. I don’t like him because I’m a HAM fan, but I think Alonso is the best all around driver on the grid. It will be interesting to see what he can do if Ferrari can get their car competitive.
      And if everyone catches Merc, then I’ll be cheering for Merc to win the close races :)
      I hated watching RB run off with the championship unchallenged the last few years, and as much as I love them, it will be boring if Merc does the same now.

      • so we can see how good Seb is when he has a car that is consistently good, but not totally dominating.

        2008? 2009? 2010? 2012? The first half of 2013? I don’t know why people claim that he’s had a dominating car throughout his career.

      • gazzaguru said on 21st March 2014, 17:34

        I believe the drivers are working a lot less this year than last as the speed of the cars is around 4s per lap slower the G force and hence load on the body especially the neck, legs and arms is significantly less. As a result the drivers do not need to be anywhere near the shape they needed to be in for 2010 – 2013.

        • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 22nd March 2014, 14:04

          Which is more thrilling? Brute force or ballerina balance? We’ve seen that any of the drivers can get in shape, now let’s see who has the eye-hand-foot coordination.

      • joc_the_man said on 21st March 2014, 18:12

        Loads in your statement there dave…I pick just two…
        Our drivers CAN NOT race this year. They have to nurse the fuel. That is reality and pls face it. Listen what many drivers stated. To me, this is BAD.
        Then, why is MERC domination better than RBR?
        2014 version of F1 is a farce as stated by sooo many now. Let us try to get FIA to acknowledge that they are sooo destroying the sport.

        • joetoml1n (@joetoml1n) said on 21st March 2014, 21:06

          You didn’t watch the AUS GP then, the drivers can race… And the race wasn’t dominated by fuel saving..

          • joc_the_man (@joctheman) said on 21st March 2014, 21:48

            Well Joe, I did. There was no racing for the top 3 positions to talk abt. Then, what do we know abt how much faster they could have gone if they would have more fuel and no fuel-flow meter? I would state, a lot!

        • DaveD (@daved) said on 22nd March 2014, 3:35

          Are you TRYING to argue or did you not understand what I wrote? I said I wouldn’t even pay attention to Lewis and Nico if they run off with the championship too easily. I also said it would be boring if Merc ran off with the championship too easily.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 22nd March 2014, 5:43

            I think if F1 is that predictable that after one race it’s future in this new era is already ordained, then yes I guess F1 might as well pack it in, but personally I’m still willing to at least give it some time to mature and really see what we have.

            They’re obviously going to tackle this learning curve, and even forgetting that different tracks treat different cars differently, don’t the teams deserve the chance to work their magic over some time with these new creations?

            I thought it was obvious that for most, including Merc, they aren’t nearly satisfied with their cars right now. NR won, LH dnf’d. There’s more to come.

          • DaveD (@daved) said on 22nd March 2014, 20:21

            @robbie I completely agree. I was addressing joc’s @joctheman question/assertion that I thought it was OK if Merc ran off with the championship compared to RB. I don’t want ANYONE running off with the championship. Even if it’s “your team”, that’s like getting excited about your favorite football team beating up on school boys in a scrimmage. It proves nothing without some decent competition.

            This was one race. I think Merc will dominate at least the first few races as it takes a while to make up so much ground from the other teams. But eventually Merc starts to get further up an asymptotic curve and the other teams simply have more room to work with on that same curve.

            Also, someone else will have a break through such as the double diffuser or EBDiffuser and then Merc is on the back foot trying to catch them.
            It’s much too early to write this season off or any championships.

  5. joetoml1n (@joetoml1n) said on 21st March 2014, 13:32

    I’m all for the new regulations, change was most definitely needed. It’s obvious that performance will come, from both engine and aero as well as mechanical (which as well as developments, will partly be down to set up – as not every team has optimised so far due to lack of testing). So I’m going to reserve my full judgement on whether the cars are too slow until at least half way through the season, possibly until next season..
    I do feel though that the cars should be faster, at least to ~2006/7/8 (although preferably 2004 ish!), guess you can’t have everything though.. Furthermore, slower speeds, doesn’t mean worse racing.. Often you will find the opposite!

  6. Chris Kiss (@bluechris) said on 21st March 2014, 13:39

    Keep in mind that as matter the fuel all teams was on safe side… as the season will progress we will see near the limit finishes which means from the upcoming races a bit more power will come…

  7. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 21st March 2014, 13:55

    More power with less downforce – it’s about time! Frankly I’m not bothered about a 1-2 second difference (which will be clawed back in 3 months anyways) if we see drivers really wrestling their cars around the track.

  8. Sam Andrew said on 21st March 2014, 14:28

    It’s amazing that the cars were so close considering how much less fuel they have to use this year; the key to consistent quick times wont be to just pile on as much down force as possible, but to minimise drag and increase efficiency as well.

  9. Eric (@thedutchguy) said on 21st March 2014, 14:32

    Comparing the speed of last weekend to the previous years doesn’t paint a pretty picture, but if you compare it to a decade ago, you’ll start wondering where F1 took a wrong turn.

    Fastast lap in 2004 was 1:24.125, almost ten seconds faster than the current pace. Schumacher would have lapped the entire field on lap nine or ten. Crazy.

    • joc_the_man said on 21st March 2014, 18:19

      Agree. This is the route FIA has taken. F1 is no longer the pinnacle of motorsports. Sad times.

      • Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 22nd March 2014, 3:01

        You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that to be the pinnacle of motor-sports, you must be the fastest.

        This is not the case, speed by itself does not make one series better or worse than other, what makes F1 the pinnacle of motor-sports (or at least open wheel single seaters) is the level of technology and mechanical skill that is involved in the sport.

        If you want speed to be the deciding factor than clearly the Red Bull Air Race is the pinnacle of motor-sport, with top speeds in excess of 440km/h compared to the highest recorded speed of an F1 car of 369km/h.

        The illogical points in your argument are numerous and quite frankly irrelevant, F1 has and always will be about making the best single seat race car that can be made, top speed is a significant factor, i’ll grant you that but it pales when compared to advancing technological skills and design, which is what the new regulations allowed for.

        • joc_the_man (@joctheman) said on 22nd March 2014, 6:26

          Of course it is not only top speed, come on.

          My point relates to the path FIA has taken with F1.

          To many, it is NOT only about the technology. It is about being the undeniable motorsport in terms of speed around tracks, high level of technology, drivers racing their vehicles to the limit and standing out in terms of coolness – the cars, teams and drivers that many want to be associated to. One of the “trademarks” of the sport has been the high rev screaming engines – once you experienced it, you will never forget.

          I believe FIA is playing a dangerous game. The lift up ONLY the technology based on a ultra-green efficiency profile. They sacrifice speed, drivers ability to race, coolness (looks 2014 is ridiculous) and the loudness. Many many will turn away from F1 because of this. This is my point.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 22nd March 2014, 13:17

            You might be right, and there are still other issues such as double points and DRS that need to go away on top of the quietness or the speed that is bothering some, but what I consider in all of this is that if in fact “many many will turn away from F1″ then that should hurt their bottom line and as soon as that happens then they will reconsider the direction they’re going. I think it has to hit them in the pocketbook for them to stand up and take notice. It is often said that BE or FIA don’t care about what the fans think or want, but I would find that hard to believe if, in an extreme example, the viewership fell off by half.

  10. sato113 (@sato113) said on 21st March 2014, 15:01

    can someone who knows about f1 engines, tell me why this year’s cars are faster in a straight line? (excluding aerodynamic reasons).
    Does turbo boost really affect end of straight speed?

  11. Sam (@) said on 21st March 2014, 15:21

    NR posted that lap in lap 19 whlst KR last year did it in lap 56 or so. So NR had plenty more to give in those last few laps if he wanted to.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st March 2014, 16:29

      @ardenflo Note the 1’29.375 I referred to was the fastest lap of the weekend, not just the race. Rosberg’s fastest race lap was over three seconds slower than this. So your point doesn’t apply to that.

  12. Hallard (@hallard) said on 21st March 2014, 16:11

    I really like the new formula. More power (or at least a broader powerband) and less downforce was always going to be a good thing.

    That being said, I still want the cars to be faster. F1 cars were at their peak performance a decade ago, and I hate to think that will never be surpassed. I understand that the FIA can’t allow the cars to keep getting faster every year (since it would get to be unsafe pretty quickly), but it seems like most other racing categories are continuing to get faster and faster, as F1 stagnates.

    More downforce just makes for poor racing, so I think the answer is more tire grip, and even more power. 18″ wheels with wider tires would be great for increasing mechanical grip, and making the cars look nicer as well. As for power, I hope the manufacturers can develop the engines between seasons, and frankly I think that the ERS limits should be gradually raised as well. Opportunities for engine/ERS development has the added benefit of keeping manufacturers interested, because they don’t want to invest in the sport if they cannot develop and differentiate their engines from those of their competitors. Tire wars were bad, aero wars are bad… I’d say it’s time for engine wars again :-)

    • Michael Brown said on 21st March 2014, 17:39

      I think F1 should reintroduce ground effects, but make them heavily regulated to avoid situations like Team Lotus all those years ago.

  13. MemorableC (@memorablec) said on 21st March 2014, 16:32

    I for one am Glad to see mechanical grip factor in a bit more this year then many years past, It is harder to drive a car fast, it looks harder and therefore faster when the car is moving around, plus I love powerslides. (who doesn’t?)

    Come next year though when the aero guys catch up the cars will be matching last years pace if not beating it.

  14. Richard said on 21st March 2014, 16:54

    Well if the cars were twice as fast the race would be over in half the time.

    As I can only watch half the races end-to-end these days I greatly appreciate the races taking slightly longer.
    More F1 viewing time for me :)

  15. What caused the 3,5 second gap betweek 2000 and 2001??

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