Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014

Raining and graining are the concerns in China

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

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Start with a low-grip track surface. Add the coolest track temperatures of a dry session so far this year.

And throw in a circuit where the cars pass through two medium to high-speed turns of more than 270 degrees.

These conditions are a recipe for tyre graining, where small pieces of rubber form on the surface of the carcass, ruining the performance of the compound.

Judging by the radio messages during the second practice session, every driver struggled with this on their race-preparation runs. They tweaked the settings on their steering wheels to try to cure it and cranked up their front wing angles when they switched to the harder tyres.

Some drivers, like Kevin Magnussen, were having their first experience of the Shanghai International Circuit, where this is a common problem.

“The first corner here is very tricky, and that’s where you do the damage to the front tyres,” he said.

“I don’t know why we’re not as competitive as we’ve been in the previous races, but we have a lot of front tyre degradation – and we need to investigate why. In fact, I’ve never had this much front tyre graining – it’s very difficult to deal with, so we’ll adjust the set-up and my driving style to compensate. It’s a new track for me, too, so I need to adapt to that.

“We’ll try to solve things overnight – but, if it rains tomorrow, at least we won’t have any front tyre graining.”

The local weather forecast still calls for rain tomorrow, and if we do get our third wet qualifying session in four races drivers won’t be worrying about graining. At least not until Sunday, when the weather is expected to be dry again, and the loss of Friday’s rubber build-up due to the rain will put the track right back to square one.

Marco Mattiacci, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Ferrari are also in the spotlight but they are subject to even greater attention this weekend after their poor race in Bahrain was followed by the shock resignation of Stefano Domenicali on Monday. Today they were ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes on pure lap time.

But rather than being a sign that they have suddenly found some performance in the F14 T this appears to be a reversion to the form we saw before Bahrain, where they were the second-fastest team on Friday in Australia and Malaysia as well.

The one-second-plus performance advantage Mercedes had in the first three races is no doubt hiding behind a hefty slug of fuel in the tanks of the two W05s today. Lewis Hamilton may have ended the day quickest but he was clearly unhappy with the balance of his car and has some progress to make overnight.

Nico Rosberg was third fastest but was advised to back off by two-tenths of a second in the final sector due to the yellow flag caused by Pastor Maldonado. It looks like he eased off a little more than necessary as he lost almost all his time to Hamilton in that sector.

Note also both W05s enjoyed a 3kph straight-line speed advantage, indicating they can afford to add more wing to improve their tyre management.

Red Bull, who surely enjoy the best car in the field in terms of sheer downforce, seemed the least troubled by graining. At the end of his race stint Daniel Ricciardo’s race engineer Simon Rennie complimented him on his long run on soft tyres during which he went further than anyone else.

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
Sebastian Vettel 103.94 103.499 103.972 104.108 104.373 104.512 105.95 105.736 106.011 106.684
Daniel Ricciardo 103.525 103.532 104.168 103.921 104.085 104.603 104.243 104.343 104.472 104.741 104.815 104.677 105.531 104.873 104.377 104.374 104.643
Lewis Hamilton 103.081 102.837 107.96 104.039 103.993 109.552 106.542
Nico Rosberg 102.697 111.538 102.694 103.263 103.701 104.446 104.489 104.371 104.466 104.584
Fernando Alonso 103.922 103.031 103.276 103.854 103.785 104.456 106.179 106.829 106.212 108.632 105.516 105.749
Kimi Raikkonen 104.321 104.938 105.08 105.276 105.584
Romain Grosjean 105.897 105.819 105.196 105.975 105.871 105.779 106.235 105.836 106.145 106.252
Pastor Maldonado 100.455 111.569 110.06 101.022
Jenson Button 104.69 104.694 105.034 105.455 106.215 106.441 107.442 106.098 106.085 106.311
Kevin Magnussen 105.39 105.454 105.96 107.375 107.05 107.454 107.27 106.854 107.14 107.434 107.133 107.472 107.583 108.364
Nico Hulkenberg 104.04 103.858 104.382 104.329 107.378 104.858 104.982 104.93 105.231 106.121
Sergio Perez 104.088 103.614 104.06 104.623 104.814 104.705 104.825 105.271 105.468 105.289
Adrian Sutil 106.784 106.549 106.976 107.078 107.373 107.971 107.561
Esteban Gutierrez 105.567 105.292 105.318 106.19 106.282 106.47 106.422 106.995 107.119 106.989 107.456 107.234
Jean-Eric Vergne 105.468 104.923 105.291 111.511 105.416 105.845 105.349 105.598 105.727
Daniil Kvyat 105.114 105.687 105.937 105.35 104.633 104.596 104.705 104.854 105.1 105.48 105.438 105.353 105.938 106.798
Felipe Massa 103.349 103.567 105.355 105.82 104.266 104.546 104.597 104.663 104.854 104.72 105.046 105.554
Valtteri Bottas 105.879 105.337 105.435 104.861 104.956 105.429 107.226 104.773 104.476 105.259 105.371 105.293 104.664
Jules Bianchi 107.484 107.136 107.301 110.121 107.79 107.141 108.418
Max Chilton 107.859 107.678 107.928 107.87 110.359 109.008 108.881 110.468 125.471 108.4 108.047 108.14
Marcus Ericsson 108.541 109.008 109.479 110.527 107.842 107.87 107.919 112.129 108.441 109.585
Kamui Kobayashi 106.29 106.209 105.801 107.28 106.43 106.738 108.879 107.971 107.704 108.544 110.568

Sector times and ultimate lap times

Pos No. Driver Car S1 S2 S3 Ultimate Gap Deficit to best
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25.875 (2) 29.669 (3) 42.771 (1) 1’38.315 0.000
2 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 25.922 (3) 29.580 (1) 42.954 (2) 1’38.456 0.141 0.000
3 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 25.866 (1) 29.692 (5) 43.168 (4) 1’38.726 0.411 0.000
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 26.052 (5) 29.683 (4) 43.076 (3) 1’38.811 0.496 0.000
5 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 26.101 (7) 29.645 (2) 43.269 (5) 1’39.015 0.700 0.000
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 25.966 (4) 29.857 (7) 43.295 (7) 1’39.118 0.803 0.000
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 26.130 (8) 29.849 (6) 43.304 (8) 1’39.283 0.968 0.000
8 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 26.148 (9) 30.052 (12) 43.291 (6) 1’39.491 1.176 0.000
9 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 26.076 (6) 29.875 (8) 43.586 (13) 1’39.537 1.222 0.000
10 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 26.183 (11) 29.876 (9) 43.589 (14) 1’39.648 1.333 0.000
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 26.201 (12) 30.106 (14) 43.429 (10) 1’39.736 1.421 0.000
12 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 26.297 (13) 30.068 (13) 43.379 (9) 1’39.744 1.429 0.000
13 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 26.180 (10) 29.998 (10) 43.581 (12) 1’39.759 1.444 0.000
14 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 26.383 (16) 30.004 (11) 43.443 (11) 1’39.830 1.515 0.000
15 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 26.306 (14) 30.142 (15) 43.676 (15) 1’40.124 1.809 0.000
16 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 26.358 (15) 30.248 (16) 43.753 (18) 1’40.359 2.044 0.000
17 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 26.385 (17) 30.290 (18) 43.720 (16) 1’40.395 2.080 0.000
18 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 26.439 (18) 30.273 (17) 43.743 (17) 1’40.455 2.140 0.000
19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 27.040 (21) 30.882 (20) 44.395 (19) 1’42.317 4.002 0.010
20 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 26.914 (19) 30.876 (19) 45.012 (20) 1’42.802 4.487 0.671
21 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 26.915 (20) 31.108 (22) 45.118 (21) 1’43.141 4.826 0.389
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 27.162 (22) 31.084 (21) 45.207 (22) 1’43.453 5.138 0.226

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’41.560 1’38.315 34
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’39.783 1’38.456 48
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’40.181 1’38.726 46
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’40.772 1’38.811 53
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’41.629 1’39.015 50
6 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’41.699 1’39.118 39
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’39.283 26
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’40.970 1’39.491 52
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’42.090 1’39.537 60
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1’41.977 1’39.648 49
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’41.175 1’39.736 46
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.366 1’39.744 49
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1’41.505 1’39.759 54
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’39.830 25
15 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’42.733 1’40.124 45
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’44.162 1’40.359 49
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1’40.395 30
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1’43.731 1’40.455 34
19 Felipe Nasr Williams-Mercedes 1’42.265 13
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1’44.270 1’42.327 34
21 Giedo van der Garde Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.615 16
22 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1’44.782 1’43.473 50
23 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1’44.038 1’43.530 48
24 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1’44.835 1’43.679 54

Speed trap

# Driver Car Engine Max speed (kph) Gap
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 331.1
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 331 0.1
3 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 328.1 3
4 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Renault 327.7 3.4
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 327.2 3.9
6 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes 326.8 4.3
7 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 326.2 4.9
8 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 325.8 5.3
9 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 325.3 5.8
10 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 324.8 6.3
11 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari 324.2 6.9
12 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 323.7 7.4
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 323.4 7.7
14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 323.2 7.9
15 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault 322.3 8.8
16 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari 322 9.1
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 321.3 9.8
18 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault 320.9 10.2
19 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault 320.3 10.8
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault 319.1 12
21 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 317.5 13.6
22 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari 317.3 13.8

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

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Images © McLaren/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo