There’s a lot of debate about the effect of the more fragile 2013 Pirelli tires on the races. Drivers say they aren’t able to really drive flat-out, much to their frustration, instead having to drive to lap delta’s. When watching the races, it was also visibly apparent that drivers are not really pushing.
Up to now, making a good time comparison with last year has been difficult because the races were so different. For instance, in Australia and China last year, the race was won from pole -not so this year. The Monaco Grand Prix provided the first real race under somewhat similar circumstances, that would give us a chance to make a possible comparison. Both Mark Webber (2012) and Nico Rosberg (2013) won from pole, looking after their tires for most of the race, with a small gap to the drivers following.
Taking out the safety car laps, the average lap time of Mark Webber in 2012 was 1:20.823, or 108.7% of the pole time.
So in 2012, the average race lap in Monaco could be 108.7% of the pole time.
Taking out the safety car laps, the average lap time of Nico Rosberg in 2013 was 1:21.702, or 110.6% of the pole time.
Rather than being able to race, on average, to 108.7% of the pole time -which would make for an average lap of 1:20.274-, Nico Rosberg was on average 1.5 seconds per lap slower, which doesn’t even take into account the free set of fresh tires the drivers got after the red flag, which might work out to possible another tenth or two/three.
This is not meant as a statement about the tires one way or the other, but I thought it was very interesting to be able to quantify the impact of the tire wear.
The fact that after some laps Van der Garde in the Caterham (while running dead last) posted the fastest lap time, one and a halve second faster than leading man Rosberg just undelines your story. Very worrying indeed.