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

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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

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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


Browse all 2014 F1 season articles

Image © Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

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

  1. OneBHK (@1bhk) said on 21st March 2014, 17:07

    Good Article

  2. joc_the_man said on 21st March 2014, 18:03

    lol – You are way off man. As stated by phmer3…the 2014 cars are SLOW. That is what FIA wants…I however think this is BAD. Huge leap BACKWARDS. To add to this, one lap is what the drivers can do in qualifying. During races, the need to nurse the fuel and perform eco-drive. F1 is no longer the pinnacle of motorsports. Sad times.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 21st March 2014, 19:51

      IMO saving fuel is better then saving tyres. At least saving fuel still means they are entering the corners at suicidal speeds and are desperate to maintain the highest possible exit speed to reduce the need to re-accelerate the car.
      That said I would love to see them have 120kg of fuel for the race. Just to ensure that they aren’t driving at “unnecessarily” reduced power for very long.

      • jpowell (@jpowell) said on 22nd March 2014, 7:36

        But if they had enough fuel to actually race they would also need to remove the fuel regulation device to complete the job.This would most likely mean even more domination by the best car driver combination ,sure that would require some more of those marsh mellow tyres .I’ll get me coat.

    • Stig781 said on 10th May 2014, 15:43

      Yes it certainly is the pinnacle, no other league is anywhere close.

  3. Baron (@baron) said on 21st March 2014, 18:39

    Getting really tired of the ‘bad sound’ argument. In the words of Christian Horner, it is an ‘immature’ critique.

  4. Mads (@mads) said on 21st March 2014, 19:47

    I don’t think that the cars are so slow that it is even close to being a cause for concern.
    The F1 cars of today are plenty fast. When I watch video’s from 20 years ago the cars still looks plenty fast, even though a modern F1 car would run rings around it.
    Of cause F1 needs to be the fastest. Otherwise it would loose it’s status and all that, but I don’t think we are close to that.
    No worries. With the new much broader powerband and lower downforce we are seeing the drivers struggle with the cars a lot more. I think that is well worth the loss of speed.
    Heck, I wouldn’t mind them loosing 5 seconds more worth of downforce if that meant they were going sideways through casino square!

  5. OneBHK (@onebhk) said on 21st March 2014, 20:10

    Wow, this is much better than Sky or BBC… Mark Webber on One Channel explaining about the new F1 season… Such an exciting perspective…

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/k6SJAXHU3LDYG36bPwz

  6. maxthecat said on 21st March 2014, 22:29

    Just confirms what we all know deep down, F1 is slow and quiet in 2014.

  7. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge) said on 22nd March 2014, 7:07

    All of you who think that F1 is to slow don’t know what you’re talking about. Just complaining and complaining. It’s endless. You want more action, you wanna see, more overtakes, more of the car throwing around….If they go faster, there are less opportunities to overtake. The article clearly shows that F1 2014 has or will have more top end speed. They are just slower in the corners, which means less grip. More grip=less overtaking=less car sliding.
    So you finally get what you wanted, but still complaining!
    SHUT UP alredy!

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 23rd March 2014, 11:44

      I don’t think most people feel they’ve finally gotten what they wanted, and more grip does not equate to less passing when it is mechanical grip which gives drivers’ confidence to attempt passes. Also, cars sliding is never desirable for a fast lap so the teams and drivers will be working to minimize that, and it was never something fans were asking for…it has just become a bit cool to have it as a side effect of the new era. Nobody was saying F1 needs slidey cars. Also, this being race one of a whole new chapter I don’t think we even have a clear picture yet of what the racing is really going to be like once teams settle in with everything, so I agree it seems silly to complain just as it is silly to so say we’ve finally gotten what we wanted.

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