Heat and fuel sensors the talking points in Malaysia

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2014The Friday practice times in Malaysia suggested we could have as many as four teams separated by a little over two tenths of a second.

That would be a welcome departure from Melbourne where Mercedes had up to a full second in hand over their rivals. But in all likelihood this is only partly a case of their rivals closing the gap and mainly down to Mercedes not wishing to over-exert their engines on practice day.

Fuel consumption was expected to be less critical at Sepang than Melbourne. But with the mercury soaring well above 30C, tyre conservation has emerged as one of the major challenges of the weekend.

According to Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery the medium tyre offers a lap time gain of 1-1.2 seconds. But over a race stint drivers found they lost pace over a stint much more quickly than they did in Melbourne, as the graph below demonstrates.

Another notable development during qualifying was the number of driving errors. One major consequences of cars with less downforce and much more torque is that corners which were once ‘easy flat’ now require a feather of the throttle – a considerably more challenging act given the power delivery of the new engines.

That’s why we saw Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa heading off backwards at turn eight and Lewis Hamilton slewing wide in turn ten. These were much less challenging corners in the downforce-smothered cars of years past. Here’s hoping the rebalancing of power versus grip in the new F1 cars is here to stay.

The other major talking point of the weekend is likely to be fuel sensors. Already Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has acknowledged his team have had another faulty sensor and indicated Toro Rosso had two more. Almost every driver’s fuel flow rate was checked during second practice.

Red Bull are standing their ground on the issue as they prepare to take their appeal to the FIA. But would they disobey the FIA’s instructions again if they continue to have fuel sensor trouble tomorrow? We should know around six hours after the chequered flag falls on Sunday…

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
Sebastian Vettel 104.28 104.454 104.744 104.674 104.848 106.058 107.095 105.131 107.545 105.252 105.185 105.396 106.091
Daniel Ricciardo 106.738 105.863 106.162 105.857 109.699 106.361 106.18 106.959 107.354 107.906 109.537
Lewis Hamilton 103.756 106.479 103.529 104.624 104.529 105.094 105.539 105.124 108.81 106.142
Nico Rosberg 104.121 104.353 104.438 104.647 114.394 104.8 104.651 105.17 108.328 105.879
Fernando Alonso 105.065 104.562 105.201 105.089 105.276 107.066 106.813 107.228
Kimi Raikkonen 105.845 105.554 105.046 104.964 105.47 105.492 107.938 106.585 106.719 106.673 106.5
Romain Grosjean 104.005 106.693 104.464 104.447 111.733 107.969 104.37
Pastor Maldonado
Jenson Button 107.634 107.557 106.506 106.341 110.121 107.053 107.118 107.292 108.606 108.913
Kevin Magnussen 106.89 106.785 109.747 106.751 107.154 107.922 110.224 109.009 110.056
Nico Hulkenberg 104.106 104.495 105.052 106.128 105.373 105.87 106.448 106.777 107.468
Sergio Perez 105.45 105.779 105.909 105.884 105.961 106.241 108.233 106.806 107.463 107.851
Adrian Sutil 108.639 105.314 105.582 107.139 107.556 107.7 106.598
Esteban Gutierrez 106.256 107.053 106.602 107.187 107.355 107.682 107.788 107.337 108.332 108.022 108.96 108.933
Jean-Eric Vergne 105.23 104.878 105.28 105.526 106.104 106.551 106.639 106.63 107.114 108.93
Daniil Kvyat 105.443 104.079 104.632 105.821 105.589 106.358 109.255 117.274
Felipe Massa 104.094 104.672 105.231 106.299 105.889 105.284 106.532 106.387 106.205 107.544 107.419 109.004 108.566
Valtteri Bottas 110.311 104.406 104.71 105.974 105.449 105.317 106.448 108.011 106.686 111.162
Jules Bianchi 107.505 110.15 108.61 108.794 112.402 109.173 108.861 108.919 108.476 108.736 109.441
Max Chilton 109.09 108.596 108.79 109.12 109.182 109.375 110.723
Marcus Ericsson 116.21 112.285 109.29 109.11 113.1 110.232 110.426 108.876 109.418 112.06 110.887 110.457 111.669 113.072 113.306

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Sepang International Circuit, 2014Ferrari look much more competitive following their disappointing Australian Grand Prix weekend. Kimi Raikkonen in particular enjoyed possibly his best day in the F14 T so far this year.

“This was definitely a positive day and I had a better feeling compared to Friday in Melbourne,” he said afterwards.

Raikkonen said he was “more comfortable” in the car and had “no problems whatsoever”.

The handling seemed to be good even if, as we found on the race simulation, we will have to pay very close attention to degradation, which is particularly high here.”

Sector times and ultimate lap times

Pos No. Driver Car S1 S2 S3 Ultimate Gap Deficit to best
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25.265 (3) 34.289 (9) 40.340 (1) 1’39.894 0.157
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 25.311 (5) 33.903 (4) 40.695 (7) 1’39.909 0.015 0.000
3 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 25.394 (6) 34.036 (5) 40.514 (3) 1’39.944 0.050 0.000
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 25.737 (13) 33.658 (1) 40.575 (5) 1’39.970 0.076 0.000
5 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 25.574 (10) 33.801 (2) 40.596 (6) 1’39.971 0.077 0.132
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 25.265 (3) 34.115 (6) 40.732 (9) 1’40.112 0.218 0.000
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 25.249 (1) 34.197 (7) 40.742 (10) 1’40.188 0.294 0.450
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 25.885 (16) 33.884 (3) 40.419 (2) 1’40.188 0.294 0.088
9 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 25.439 (7) 34.577 (12) 40.531 (4) 1’40.547 0.653 0.081
10 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 25.623 (11) 34.220 (8) 40.721 (8) 1’40.564 0.670 0.213
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 25.258 (2) 34.590 (13) 40.843 (12) 1’40.691 0.797 0.000
12 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 25.467 (8) 34.734 (16) 40.811 (11) 1’41.012 1.118 0.002
13 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 25.692 (12) 34.635 (15) 40.896 (13) 1’41.223 1.329 0.102
14 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 25.788 (15) 34.363 (10) 41.089 (15) 1’41.240 1.346 0.017
15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 25.759 (14) 34.531 (11) 41.060 (14) 1’41.350 1.456 0.057
16 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 25.479 (9) 34.896 (17) 41.296 (16) 1’41.671 1.777 0.000
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 26.194 (19) 34.597 (14) 41.552 (17) 1’42.343 2.449 0.188
18 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 25.991 (17) 35.505 (19) 41.885 (18) 1’43.381 3.487 0.257
19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 25.993 (18) 35.440 (18) 42.319 (19) 1’43.752 3.858 0.000
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 26.512 (20) 36.013 (20) 43.096 (20) 1’45.621 5.727 0.082

Comparing the sector times of the two Mercedes drivers gives a clear indication how much pace the W05s have in hand. Lewis Hamilton gave away three-tenths of a second to Nico Rosberg in the middle sector and vice-versa in the last. Even taking into consideration the possibility of differing set-ups, there’s clearly plenty of pace in the W05 we didn’t see today.

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.028 1’39.909 49
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’40.843 1’39.944 50
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’41.523 1’39.970 39
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’40.691 1’40.051 51
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.923 1’40.103 43
6 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’41.686 1’40.112 57
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’42.117 1’40.276 49
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.111 1’40.628 48
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’41.830 1’40.638 57
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’41.642 1’40.691 53
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1’41.402 1’40.777 48
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.274 1’41.014 38
13 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.365 1’41.257 49
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1’42.869 1’41.325 53
15 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.904 1’41.407 57
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’41.671 27
17 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’42.531 18
18 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1’46.911 1’43.638 30
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1’43.825 1’43.752 47
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1’45.775 1’45.703 55
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1’51.180 10
17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 2

It was another day to forget for Lotus whose drivers completed just 20 laps between them on Friday.

“Both cars were delayed in the morning with mapping issues,” explained technical director Nick Chester.

Pastor [Maldonado] then suffered from a turbo-related problem with his car. This meant we needed to remove the engine and subsequently he was unable to run in the afternoon.

Romain [Grosjean] was able to get some more laps in the afternoon, however a wiring issue caused difficulties with his gearbox. More lessons learnt, and we’ll be focusing on getting as much mileage as possible tomorrow.”

Speed trap

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 320.4
2 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes 320.2 0.2
3 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 320 0.4
4 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 320 0.4
5 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 319.6 0.8
6 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 319.1 1.3
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 317.8 2.6
8 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 315.1 5.3
9 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Renault 312.7 7.7
10 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 312.5 7.9
11 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 312.3 8.1
12 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 310.9 9.5
13 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 310.7 9.7
14 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari 309.6 10.8
15 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari 308.2 12.2
16 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault 307.6 12.8
17 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 306.7 13.7
18 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari 305.4 15
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault 302.5 17.9
20 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 298.7 21.7

As in Australia it’s almost all Mercedes-powered cars at the top, with the fastest Ferrari giving away 8kph at the speed trap, a deficit they acknowledged before the race weekend began.

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Images © Red Bull/Getty, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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27 comments on Heat and fuel sensors the talking points in Malaysia

  1. matt90 (@matt90) said on 28th March 2014, 16:17

    It might be nice to start showing an ultimate lap for each car.

  2. BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th March 2014, 16:31

    Hm, as far as fuel sensors etc go, this is a very informative piece from AMuS (German), a lot from the FIA press conference earlier, some bits from what Horner said erlier, but also some interesting details like:

    Der erste Verdacht, dass es wegen Problemen auch bei Lotus und Caterham am Sprit von Total liegt, bestätigte sich nicht. Toro Rosso fährt Kraftstoff von Cepsa.
    Doch dann sickerte durch, dass drei Teams offenbar ihre Sensoren modifiziert hatten. Und zwar an den beiden Benzin-Zuleitungen und den Kupplungen zum Sensor. Nicht in böser Absicht, sondern aus konstruktiven Notwendigkeiten. Darunter ist auch Red Bull.

    My quick translation from German of that paragraph:
    The first thought, that because Caterham and Lotus are having trouble, there is some issue having to do with the Total fuel was not confirmed. STR uses Cepsa fuel.
    But then it came to light that three teams apparently modified their Sensors. These changes are made at the fuel supply and their connections to the sensors. Not with malicious intent, but for assembly/construction needs. One of those teams is Red Bull

    • mateuss (@mateuss) said on 28th March 2014, 19:12

      That’s something I was wondering all along, but there was no information on this.

      I thought that the way the sensor is “connected” makes a difference to the readings. If it was me, I wouldn’t have mandated just the sensor but the mounting and some other things.

    • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 28th March 2014, 19:22

      @bascb Interesting! But I imagine they haven’t modified the device itself, doing so could doom their chances to win their appeal.

    • Shena (@shena) said on 28th March 2014, 22:06

      A genuine question, is it confirmed info. that STR use Cepsa fuel? Because I heard before despite the fact that they are often sponsored by various oil companies, in practice teams powered by the same engine manufacturer are supplied with fuel from a single company which would be a factory team have a contract with.

  3. JimG (@jimg) said on 28th March 2014, 17:18

    If Red Bull do stand their ground, could they be black flagged? Their points from Melbourne could be reinstated, but if they’re not allowed to finish the race what comeback would they have?

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 28th March 2014, 18:54

      @jimg Interesting question. I don’t know if you could be black flagged for breaching the technical regulations during a race, or if it is something that can only be punished by post-race exclusion. I suppose you could be black flagged for disobeying the instructions of the race director, though. Or there is always the black flag with orange spot (your car has a technical problem, sort it out) to fall back on.l

  4. Jimbo (@jimbo) said on 28th March 2014, 17:54

    In “Sector times and ultimate lap times” how is the “Deficit to best” calculated? I would have assumed it was the fastest time from each sector added together to create their best possible lap time. This makes no sense when in six out of seven cases of drivers actual fastest laps being equal to their ultimate lap their quickest sector times were all set on different laps. If the deficit to best is 0.000 you would expect the sector times to be from the same lap.

    • timi (@timi) said on 28th March 2014, 18:27

      That is how they are calculated @jimbo. Since we don’t have sector times from each lap for every driver I’m assuming the drivers with deficit of 0.000, did indeed set their fastest time with 3 sector PBs.

      I may be wrong, but unless there is a spreadsheet with every sector time for every lap for each driver, I’m taking it as described above.

  5. Ferrari seems to be confirmed as 3rd engine on the speed trap. I think it became quite clear after melbourne that the engine with less peak power is Ferrari but they did manage to be the most reliable in Melbourne which is definitely even more critical in Malaysia that combined with the fact that there’s less demand on both fuel and power in malaysia perhaps Ferrari teams will do as the practice suggest. Marussia, and Sauber in particular seemed to be more in place, that said Ferrari tends to run light in practice so in the end Ferrari fans shouldn’t get ahead of themselves.

    • I hope the analysis is right and we see close competition, besides shower threats and downpours, malaysia isn’t good in producing good dry races so fingers crossed.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 28th March 2014, 22:18

      @peartree if there’s one strength Ferrari has had in recent years it’s been reliability, which has been second to none. Part of that has been down to the reliability of their engines, and so far it looks like they’ve managed to retain that trait in the new engines. That could certainly help them in the early races this year, but so far we haven’t seen anywhere near the kind of failure rates that many were predicting, so maybe it won’t be such a huge advantage after all. Seems it’s easier to work towards reliability with a blindingly quick car than to coax speed out of a slow car built like a tank.

  6. Jarv F150 (@jarvf150) said on 28th March 2014, 18:27

    Thought I would do this….
    Ultimate S1 = Williams, S2 = Red Bull, S3 = Mercedes
    Cars are best sector from either driver.

    Ultimate 25.249 33.658 40.34 1:39:247
    Mercedes 25.265 33.903 40.34 1:39:508
    Red Bull 25.737 33.658 40.419 1:39:814
    Ferrari 25.394 33.801 40.514 1:39:709
    Williams 25.249 34.115 40.732 1:40:096
    McLaren 25.439 34.577 40.531 1:40:547

    What surprises me in the speed trap data is the difference between the Toro Rosso.
    All the other teams cars are very close in top speed as you might expect with fixed gear ratio’s.
    But these two are quite far apart; are different cars allowed different gear ratio’s or is this all areo setup?

    • Jarv F150 (@jarvf150) said on 28th March 2014, 18:34

      Because I have nothing better to do at the moment here is what I mean in top-speed difference between team mates.

      Toro Rosso : 6.4
      Red Bull : 3.3
      Mercedes : 2.8
      Force India : 2.2
      Ferrari : 1.8
      Marussia : 1.4
      Sauber : 1.3
      McLaren : 0.6
      Williams : 0.4

    • mateuss (@mateuss) said on 28th March 2014, 19:20

      TorroRosso often runs low drag, high speed setups (relatively to other teams). I wonder if they have much choice on on this.

  7. timi (@timi) said on 28th March 2014, 18:29

    Boy oh boy, the McLaren’s look painfully slow in the long runs! That, coupled with the embarrassingly bare team-clothing and car (in terms of sponsors)… and it looks to me as though McLaren are well and truly on their way to becoming a midfield team now

    • Ever considered they had more fuel in both cars for their long runs?

      and it looks to me as though McLaren are well and truly on their way to becoming a midfield team now

      But at this moment they are leading the constructors championship…

      • timi (@timi) said on 28th March 2014, 20:02

        @gdewilde I did consider that, and the proof is in the pudding, so we won’t know until Sunday night. However, what’s the point of an analysis article if you neglect to read into it? I’m just going off the data, but yes, they could be 2s a lap faster than everyone on Sunday.

    • Shena (@shena) said on 28th March 2014, 22:17

      You can’t use Button’s data for long-run comparison though. Only him and Ricciardo from the top 5 teams (MSC, McL, FER, RBR, WIL) was on Hard tyres first and then switched to Mediums. The rest were in reverse. They don’t refuel between the switch. Magnussen seemed to be dealing with some set-up or mechanical issues in the afternoon, so I wouldn’t read much into his.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 28th March 2014, 23:54

      They’ve claimed that they will announce their sponsor a few rounds into the season.

      • timi (@timi) said on 29th March 2014, 2:58

        @matt90 As any good CEO would. Even with a new title sponsor, they’ll have a tonne less sponsors than their rivals, although that seems to be the McLaren way. It’s much nicer having a clean looking car, as opposed to one with 20-odd companies’ logos stuck on haha!

        One thing that piqued my interest when Ron Dennis claimed they’d have a title sponsor within a few rounds, was the fact that he said they’d had many offers, but none of them truly valued McLaren for what it’s worth (in his eyes). Ron is a tough nut to crack, and has been out of F1 for years now. The McLaren he left was right at the top and the very name probably struck fear into competitors’ hearts. This most-likely lead to massive valuation for sponsor deals. I just wonder if Ron is stuck back there, thinking McLaren are serious top dogs worth pre-08 cash. It’s unlikely because you don’t get to his level without being very business-savvy, but his stubbornness is playing on my mind..

  8. HoHum (@hohum) said on 28th March 2014, 20:18

    After the AGP I had dared to hope that we wouldn’t be hearing about tyre degradation again as a major factor in race performance, c’mon Pirelli we have more than enough random unreliability with the PUs, we don’t need manufactured frailty thrown in on top.

    • ME4ME (@me4me) said on 28th March 2014, 21:58

      I don’t mind a 3-stop personally. As long as the tires are consistent. There are so many variables to this race, i can’t wait for qualifying and the race. Should be good fun to watch.

  9. HoHum (@hohum) said on 28th March 2014, 20:20

    Looks like RBR, DR in particular are running a lot of wing for this race.

  10. Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 28th March 2014, 20:40

    After analyzing the lap charts, to me it seems like Sebastian Vettel might be a good bet for the race (provided the car holds on)

  11. Giggsy11 (@giggsy11) said on 28th March 2014, 20:47

    I took the first 10 laps (used only 9 of the laps for each as one of the laps was a slowdown lap due to a breakdown) of Lewis’, Seb’s and Kimi’s and looked at the combined time it took to complete:
    Kimi: 952.33 secs
    Seb: 946.52 secs
    Lewis: 944.81 secs

    I also averaged these to a lap time:
    Kimi: 105.814 secs
    Seb: 105.169 secs
    Lewis: 104.979 secs

    You cannot draw a definitive conclusion from here (as Mercedes and Red Bull usually run heavier than Ferrari in practice and the idea of Mercedes sandbagging too). All you can suggest is that the Mercedes and Red Bull will be the two fighting for the podium places, whereas Ferrari are the best of the rest hoping their reliability will help them too a good haul of points.

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