Bahrain Grand Prix FP1 analysis

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ferrari's consistent pace was clear to see in first practice at Bahrain
Ferrari's consistent pace was clear to see in first practice at Bahrain

Adrian Sutil was fastest in the first practice session at Bahrain but Felipe Massa impressed with his consistency in the Ferrari. Here’s a look at the data from free practice 1.

The teams and drivers got their first taste of the extended Bahrain Grand Prix circuit in the first free practice session this morning.

After a quiet start all bar one of the cars made it onto the circuit. As ever the Bahrain circuit proved very dusty, the cars kicking up as much dirt off-line as they do off-track at some venues. Medium tyres were the order of the day as they acclimatised to the changed track.

McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari

FP1 lap times: McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari
FP1 lap times: McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari

The first graph shows the times for the top four teams and when they set them during the session.

McLaren appear to have switched their drivers from light-fuel running at the beginning of the session to heavier fuel loads later on. Although Lewis Hamilton achieved a quicker time than Button on his later run, Button’s times appear to be more consistent.

McLaren made the early running until they were knocked off the top spot by Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. Felipe Massa was out at the same time posting some consistently quick laps – ten of his 19 were within 1% of his quickest time.

Red Bull, meanwhile, struggled to find the pace.

Williams, Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso and Sauber

FP1: Williams, Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso and Sauber lap times
FP1: Williams, Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso and Sauber lap times

Adrian Sutil set the fastest time of the session at the end of a stint of seven flying laps.

Robert Kubica was a surprising third fastest but the time seems to have been a bit of a one-off – his other times in the same stint were around 1.5s slower.

Sauber did not show the kind of pace that had been expected from them after testing, but looking at the size of the gap between them and the fastest runners it looks like a safe bet they were concentrating on heavy fuel running in this session.

Lotus, Virgin and HRT

FP1: Lotus, Virgin and HRT lap times
FP1: Lotus, Virgin and HRT lap times

The main story with the small teams was how little running they did. Indeed, HRT F1 didn’t even set a time in the first session, with Bruno Senna appearing on the track only for a few laps in the final minutes.

Lotus and Virgin at least got some running in but neither got within two seconds of the slowest established running. The sheer length of the Bahrain circuit this year is exaggerating the gap somewhat, but it is still a depressing figure for them.

Top 50 lap times

The top 50 times set during the session:

Rank Driver Lap time Lap

Adrian Sutil 116.583 10

Adrian Sutil 116.696 9

Fernando Alonso 116.766 17

Adrian Sutil 116.888 8

Fernando Alonso 116.908 15

Fernando Alonso 116.909 7

Robert Kubica 117.041 14

Felipe Massa 117.055 9

Jenson Button 117.068 6

Felipe Massa 117.096 16

Adrian Sutil 117.158 6

Lewis Hamilton 117.163 6

Michael Schumacher 117.163 6

Felipe Massa 117.167 18

Felipe Massa 117.183 8

Felipe Massa 117.191 7

Vitantonio Liuzzi 117.194 9

Nico Rosberg 117.199 8

Mark Webber 117.255 14

Vitantonio Liuzzi 117.317 8

Nico Rosberg 117.364 9

Felipe Massa 117.364 14

Felipe Massa 117.366 6

Fernando Alonso 117.496 13

Vitantonio Liuzzi 117.535 18

Robert Kubica 117.57 8

Mark Webber 117.637 16

Vitantonio Liuzzi 117.67 17

Jaime Alguersuari 117.722 7

Lewis Hamilton 117.759 3

Michael Schumacher 117.759 3

Nico Rosberg 117.766 4

Felipe Massa 117.803 5

Mark Webber 117.809 11

Fernando Alonso 117.817 5

Mark Webber 117.828 7

Nico H???lkenberg 117.894 7

Jenson Button 117.903 4

Vitantonio Liuzzi 117.919 7

Sebastian Vettel 117.943 12

Felipe Massa 117.956 12

Mark Webber 117.977 10

Robert Kubica 118.085 7

Michael Schumacher 118.104 4

Lewis Hamilton 118.104 4

Jaime Alguersuari 118.159 9

Vitantonio Liuzzi 118.174 14

Felipe Massa 118.179 3

Jaime Alguersuari 118.181 6

Nico H???lkenberg 118.256 10

Fastest laps

Extended data on the times set by all the drivers. The only times set by Senna and di Grassi were ‘out’ or ‘in’ laps and are not counted in the official classification:

Pos. Driver Car Fastest On Gap Within 1% Laps
1 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’56.583 10 0 4 18
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’56.766 17 0.183 5 18
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1’57.041 14 0.458 3 19
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’57.055 9 0.472 10 19
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’57.068 6 0.485 2 19
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’57.163 6 0.58 3 19
7 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’57.194 9 0.611 7 19
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’57.199 8 0.616 3 15
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’57.255 14 0.672 6 17
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’57.662 8 1.079 4 16
11 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’57.722 7 1.139 6 18
12 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’57.894 7 1.311 7 20
13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’57.943 12 1.36 6 17
14 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’58.399 6 1.816 6 13
15 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’58.782 8 2.199 2 11
16 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’58.880 12 2.297 4 13
17 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 2’00.250 17 3.667 6 18
18 Kamui Kobyashi Sauber-Ferrari 2’01.388 6 4.805 2 11
19 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2’03.680 7 7.097 2 8
20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2’03.848 12 7.265 6 21
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2’03.970 7 7.387 5 15
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2’20.111 3 23.528 1 3
23 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2’24.558 2 27.975 1 2
24 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth

NB. ‘Within 1%’ refers to the number of times a driver set a lap time that was within 1% of his best.

Analysing practice

This is the first in a new series of articles analysing the lap times from practice. If you have any suggestions for improvements or changes you would like to see, please post them in the comments.

51 comments on “Bahrain Grand Prix FP1 analysis”

  1. Brilliant stuff. Are you typing all these into an excel from the FIA timing’s or do you have a clever way of importing the data quickly. If you are typing in each lap time you are very dedicated!!

    1. It’s based on the FIA timing data for accuracy.

      1. I can see this site becoming one of the top websites for F1 in no time with this kind of great analysis. it already is good website but will be the best. keep up the good work. :)

      2. Fantastic work Keith! Is the raw data available to the public somewhere? It would be interesting to calculate an estimate of the variance for each driver.

          1. Thanks for that! Keep up the great work Keith- best f1 website around!

  2. The graphs are kinda hard to read, maybe with (thin) lines connecting the dots they’d be easier to read?

  3. Excellent, excellent article!

  4. Amazing analysis. However, the graphs are hard to read. Also the colours are too similar on some of them. I think i line joining (while they are on track) makes a lot of sense.

    1. Is it too hard to tell the difference between the square and circle? Lines make everything even harder to read, I tried that.

      1. I found it a little difficult yes. Maybe have light/dark blue etc for different drivers in the same team?

      2. Yeah a little, hard to think of an alternative tho.

        1. I found them very hard to read, but its 3:52am here so I guess its my own fault.

          They arn’t perfect, but any idea I can think of to improve them, will only make it worse… Epi’s light and dark shades wasn’t too bad imo.

      3. OK. I see you tried that. But if you see below, I would also recommend “normalizing” to give a truer comparison of variation. That is, “control” for lap time. And give the differnces in percentage driver average rather than total changes. You might even use a log scale or the like if it gets too zig-zaggy.

        I think this kind of analysis will be essential this season, as consistency will be the key to race-distance speed, and the ability to crack out 12 awesome laps, then pit, will be of no consequence.

      4. How about Xs and Os? Is that do-able?

        1. That would be quite difficult I think, as the colour would become less distinct.

  5. Great work Keith! When do you expect to have an analysis of practice session 2 up?

  6. looks like red bull having problems…

  7. I (surprsingly) couldn’t understand the graph? :@

    1. Basically, you want to see your times clustered in the bottom right of the graph. Like playing darts, but the bullseye is the bottom right, indicating fastest lap times. Having your dots, or squares, clustered close together indicates consistent lap times, again like throwing all your darts in a tight grouping.

  8. This is just fantastic!!

  9. Very detailed analysis! I think perhaps circles and triangles might be easier to read than circles and squares?

  10. Marc Connell
    12th March 2010, 16:05

    alot of sutil … hes going to do well!

  11. Great work. I love this stuff. One quick suggestion may be to line-connect each driver’s dots to make them easier to see and to amplify the consistency issues. Also, since the range of fuel loads can be so high, the total times are of not much value. Therefore it might be good on a separate companion chart to neutralize differnces in speed between drivers on the graph—each driver’s average should be his baseline and all drivers put to the same baseline. So we can see the actual relative variation in lap time in pure terms.

    I think that other graph would clearly show, actually, that Ferrari was not as consistent as McLaren or RedBull. Hamilton and Button are strikingly more consistent than other drivers, especially in the later stint(s). Their dots are clustered closely, while Alonso’s bounce around much more.

    Further, taking account of speed, you can see here that Ferrari put in some lower fuel laps at the end while some rivals were on higher fuel. Since they were then on a much cleaner track, the fact that they didn’t beat McLaren’s and Mercedes’s fastest times by much says that the latter teams may be both more consistent and potentially faster in qualifying.

  12. Fred Schechter
    12th March 2010, 16:21

    I can only hope Keith that you’ve pre-setup these charts and they’re all automated exports (Even still that’s a ton of work just for the proper uploading!).
    Thanks again for real data about the sport we love!
    Yayyy! Let the season begin!!!!

  13. The 2010 “good news” could be Force India

  14. Hi,

    This is fantastic work.

    Is there any way to make it interactive ie so you can select which drivers/teams to show (say up to 4 at a time ?) That might help make it easier to read.


    1. I’ve no idea how to do that but if anyone wants to suggestion a solution I’m all ears!

  15. Fred Schechter
    12th March 2010, 16:24

    Also, a side note, I (and I’m sure many others) am color blind. If you could do something to indicate in a more shape/texture/contrasty method some of these plots it would be VERY appreciated (I can in no way tell if it’s Alonso or Hamilton,, or Button or Massa). Simply no way to tell at all (AAAGH! my eyes!)
    The data though is tasty!

    1. This might be asking too much, but I’d say maybe putting the driver’s initials inside the shape would not only help clear things up for those who are color blind but everyone in general when trying to make sense of which driver is which.

    2. Nope… you’re the only one. Everyone else see’s color fine.

      … just joking with you Fred! If only the world were color blind. Of course, we’d then have a harder time diffusing bombs and knowing when to stop or go at a traffic light.

      1. Fred Schechter
        14th March 2010, 4:09

        Green is on the bottom, red is on the top, all the reds disappear means GO!!

        Besides, bomb diffusing is for the color sighted and lucky.

        Can’t wait for GO!!!

  16. Excellent stuff. F1Fanatic keeps getting better and better.

    But I agree with the previous commentators that having lines joining the lap times will be good. If you feel that lines make it too crowded, may be try something like dotted lines, dashed line and stuff, excel has plenty of options I believe.

    As expected, Massa is doing well on one of his favorite circuits. But I guess picture will change once the track gets rubbered in.

  17. replace square with triangle and increase the size of em.

    1. Best idea so far for me

  18. They stiol didnt show thr potential, i belive they all have more in the beg tomorrow is going to be fun. Ferrari is where my money will be on

  19. Love your web page. Living in USA its so hard to get good infos about f1. The coverage here is nothing like in Italy or UK Thanks so very much.

  20. These charts and this analysis really is fantastic. Great work!! It would be really cool if the charts could be user-customizable. i.e. visitors could select which drivers data they want to see, and the charts would update in real time.

    I’m thinking you could do something with dojo charting widgets. I don’t have much experience with them, but if you’re interested, I could take a look at what it might take.

  21. Great information. Thank You very much. This is the best site about F1.

  22. Yet again Keith excellent stuff. It puts into perspective the cars and drivers abilities.

  23. Great work and I’m sure amateur statisticians are drolling over all the data. I found the second graph hard to read but it does cover most of the teams – the biggest problem is that some colors are too similar to one another, otherwise I don’t see how you can do much better with this ammount of drivers in one table.

    Great effort and I’m looking forward to reading article about FP2 soon.

  24. As a former F5000 Tasman Championship winning mechanic (1973), I say that your analysis here of F1 is the best I have ever seen of any motor racing – anywhere.

  25. Does anyone know if there was so much concern over tyre degradation back in the 80s and 90s when refueling was banned? Was everyone forced to drive gingerly in the first stint to protect their tyres?

    1. “Was everyone forced to drive gingerly in the first stint to protect their tyres?”

      Oh yes, Mr Prost was particularly good at that.

      1. but what about Senna?

  26. Robert McKay
    12th March 2010, 18:39

    What’s very nice is you see little clusters of points going diagonally down to the right, which shows how the pace farily linearly increases as the fuel burns off. Cool.

  27. This site is definitely the best on the web for accurate, up-to-the-minute, F1 information! And the opinions are great too! Thanks, Keith, for all your work!

    These graphs are awesome. After staring at them for a few minutes, the info sank into my brain and was processed. Lines might help, but I dont see any reason to change anything else!

  28. Speed traps show Sutil wasn’t fastest in all sectors. Yet he’s P1. Does that mean Force India are now quicker through the corners? If thats the case, then they are a definitive for regular points.

  29. Hi Keith,

    Ace job on the contact, mate! I agree, lines will end up looking like a spider’s web due to lap-to-lap variance. I don’t have much trouble reading the graphs, but I work with these kind of data on almost a daily basis. If you don’t mind, I will try to make some suggestions about the content once I’ve had some time to work it through.

    Well done on an excellent site! This is truly “next level”.


    1. Hi Keith,

      I have a couple of samples for you to look at if you are interested. Could you give me an e-mail address to send it to you to, if you want to have a look?


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