Lap Time Watch: Two teams are slower in Bahrain than last year

2017 Bahrain Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Last week in China every team on the grid was able to lap more than two-and-a-half seconds quicker than they had 12 months ago. But in Bahrain two teams are actually slower than they were in 2016.

This circuit gives a drastically different picture of how much lap time each team has gained. Renault have gained two seconds more than any other team. Last year both their cars were out in Q1, this year both made it to Q3, and they are 3.3 seconds faster than in 2016:

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2017
2017 Bahrain GP qualifying in pictures
So why have most teams gained comparatively less time or, as in the case of Force India and McLaren, become slower than they were 12 months ago? Sebastian Vettel says this was to be expected.

“I think it was expected that we go quicker this year, depending on the layout: sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less.”

“Probably this layout is one of the least favourite ones this year in terms of how much faster we can go, compared to the year before.”

In short, Bahrain has very few of the medium-to-high speed corners where the new 2017 F1 cars are so much quicker than the previous models.

Nonetheless the lap time improvement compared to 2015 is in the same region of what we’ve seen already this year at other circuits. The target was for cars to be five seconds quicker than the 2015 pole position time at the Circuit de Catalunya.

And for the third race weekend in a row the previous track record has been broken by the new cars. Valtteri Bottas established a new benchmark with his first ever pole position lap of 1’28.769.

The race lap record, set by Pedro de la Rosa in 2005, is 2.7 seconds slower than this. As race fastest laps this year have been 3.7-4.4 seconds slower than the pole time, we can expect this refuelling-era record to remain safe for another year.

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix

Browse all Bahrain Grand Prix articles

15 comments on “Lap Time Watch: Two teams are slower in Bahrain than last year”

  1. SFI have looked really poor this weekend. Both drivers have complained of weak rear in the first 2 races but now on this rear limited circuit they really struggled. SFI hasn’t been that fast this season but they’ve delivered, I hope they’ll get quicker. Curiously both SFI and Ferrari came with sizeable upgrade packages and both somewhat underperformed thus far.

    The field was quite bunched up, not that many fast corners, it’s about top speed, good braking, good traction, good direction change.
    This new Ferrari has it’s strength on aero and managing the front wear, today though on a rear limited circuit and a circuit devoid of fast corners they didn’t look as spectacular, that said worryingly Ferrari have look to have made a step backwards, the RB’s are closer, and Mercedes is farther ahead, in the first 2 races Ferrari improved more than Mercedes relative to last year but in this weekend it’s been .7 for both. I wonder if it’s just circuit, if this is related to PU limitations or bad upgrades. One thing that I found strange is how early the Ferrari’s were braking at turn 1, before the kerb whilst many other cars were well ahead of the start of the kerb.

    1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
      16th April 2017, 2:37

      Karun Chandok was speaking to Lauda after the session yesterday, and the latter seems convinced that it is a “circuit thing”. I believe that Haas is a good indication of that, as Grosjean’s brakes were already reaching critical temperatures in Q3 – probably this is the reason they’ve picked Bahrain to test their new brake supplier.

      1. So perhaps brembo isnt coping with the heat. Maybe that explains Ferrari’s s1 performance as well.

  2. Could it be that where the previous years Ferrari went well at Bahrain, this year’s one struggles comparatively? Maybe what ever was limiting the Mercedes’ advantage last year is working to limit Ferrari’s closeness to the top?

    Either way, as RB have shown, even when being a second or so down, they are able to be closer in the race to the leaders.

    Hoping for a better getaway as well since the Ferraris are on the clean side.

  3. Monza is a going to be slower laptimes then last year.

    1. nelson piquet
      16th April 2017, 8:48

      they can run lower downforce and still be faster, i don’t think so

    2. Don’t think it’ll be slower, but no more than half a second faster

    3. Max predicted this as well

  4. Rick (@addvariety)
    16th April 2017, 7:33

    Well this explains why Red Bull is reasonably close to Mercedes and especially Ferrari. They lack pure downforce, but still are one of the best in terms of mechanical grip, which shows here.

    I also heard some insiders say that because there’s a lot of sand at this circuit, it takes longer to get the rubber down on track. And as usual the tyres have to stick first before you can use downforce and since they won’t stick as much, we see lots of mistakes and the teams with the best mechanical grip fare better.

    1. Latter is a very good point. Durable, hard tyres degrade less leaving less rubber on the track. Think that may be a problem at other ‘green’ tracks too, like Hungary.

    2. @addvariety Agreed. Bob Furnley also said with these temperatures theres no where to hide every car was able to perform at their best.

  5. McLaren are in real trouble this year, they are further off the pole time than they were in 2015, losing 0.4 tenths per KM in 2015 to now being 0.6 tenths behind. That McLaren is by far the slowest car on the grid, only being flattered by other teams making qualifying mistakes/reliability issues.

    1. Sorry typo, it should be 0.4 seconds and 0.6 seconds, not tenths.

    2. @emu55 Indeed. Alonso wouldn’t have passed Q1 without STR failure that brought the yellows. Sainz was going to improve massively and Perez too.

      1. In addition, Erickson and Magnusson both had team mates in q2 and q3, which suggests their cars have more pace than they showed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.