The Perfect Lap

pirelli-f1_4Below follows an analysis provided by German publication AMuS and kindly translated by Patrick Heemstra. Paraphrased by thejudge13 and John Myburgh.

The ‘perfect lap’ is defined as one where the best 3 sector times from any driver are added together to give the ultimate lap time at a given race occasion. So before the cars hit the track in Melbourne here’s one last look at what we can glean from Barcelona test 2.

We all know Nico Rosberg was the ‘King of Barcelona testing’ with a best time of 1:20:130 and the Mercedes driver almost drove the perfect lap but missed it by 17 thousands of a second.

Nico’s fastest lap included a sector 1 time just 0.005 slower than his best 1st sector and a sector 2 time that was 0.012 from the best.

The perfect lap would have been a combination of Alonso and Rosberg’s laps giving a time of 1:19:887!

Just 4 drivers drove ‘ideal laps’ – Pastor Maldonado, Paul di Resta, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton. The ‘ideal lap’ is where their fastest time was in fact made up of a single lap with each sector being the fastest that each driver actually delivered over all.

The driver furthest from the ‘ideal lap’ was Caterham driver Charles Pic. His quickest time was 0.456 slower than the sum of his best individual sectors.

2013 Pirelli Formula 1 Tyres

Fernando Alonso (0,260 s), Jenson Button (0,265 s), Esteban Gutierrez (0,327 s), Mark Webber (0,261 s), Jean-Eric Vergne (0,291 s) and Sergio Perez (0,300 s) also were some way from their ‘ideal lap’. They either attacked the lap too fast, so lost grip in the last sector, or they were too cautious in the first sector and failed to heat the tyres quickly enough.

Most drivers recorded their fastest time on their second lap, i.e. the first flying lap. The exceptions were Esteban Guitierrez and Romain Grosjean who delivered their best time on their second flying lap.

The Red Bull drivers were not looking to post fastest times. Sebastian Vettel posted his best during an 8 lap run. The sequence of lap times were like this: Out lap then a 1.22,514 min – 1.35,920 min – 1.25,222 min – 1.26,509 min – 1.27,305 min – 1.28,366 min – box lap. You can see how the tyres suffer when drivers start the stint fast with a corresponding amount of fuel. Despite the 3rd lap being a cooling lap to cool the tyres, Vettel’s lap times following this still fell away dramatically.

His second fastest time with 1.25,222 is already 2.7 seconds slower than the quickest and then the times fall almost by a second per lap thereafter. Jenson Button got his time of 1.21,444 in a sequence of five laps. The McLaren driver cooled down his tyres even more. Button’s second lap was a 1.55,197. After that he completed a lap in 1.23,592.

Hamilton’s fastest time was set in a sequence of seven laps. The most impressive was during his 2nd attempt. The Englishman completed a lap of 1.20,610 and added five laps to that. Here is the exact sequence of seven laps: Out lap then a 1.20,610 min – 1.35,176 min – 1.21,981 min – 1.26,752 min – 1.27,198 min – box lap. The Mercedes must have had at least 15 kg of fuel in the tank, probably closer to 20kg. The time of 1.21,981 following the tyre cooling lap looks very good though. After this Lewis’ times were more like Vettel’s in the 1.26 and 1.27.

The fastest laps were all set between 11.30am and 1pm. In this period the track was rather mild. The best slot for the longruns was between 2pm and 4pm. In this period the track temperatures were going down to just under 20 degrees Celsius. The graining didn’t appear to be that much, but it was still there and wasn’t ideal as the Pirelli’s didn’t get to the minimum heat of 80 degrees or more which is required to make them work.

Paul HemberyPaul Hembery said, “All the compounds and constructions have changed for 2013, and the drivers should notice a wider working range and a bigger window of peak performance. The performance gaps between the compounds are also larger, which means that teams have a greater opportunity to use strategy to their advantage by exploiting the consequent speed differentials.”

In relation to the Australian Grand Prix he added “Cold weather conditions during pre-season testing meant that we weren’t able to showcase them [tyres] to the best of their abilities, but we are expecting a different story in Albert Park, with two to three pit stops per car.”

We are in for a very interesting season and the strategists are going to earn their keep this season as there are a number of scenarios you could run and, on paper, they all seem viable.


Don’t forget to join TJ13, Charlie W and others and play along. We have 32 contenders so far….

You have to simply predict the pole position, fastest lap, person who will make up the most number of places during the race together with the order of race positions from 1-10.

There were 20,000 global entrants last year and I managed to finish in the top 400. They had a prize of $35,000 of motorsport ‘vouchers’ for the global winner and other prizes for certain race weekend achievements.

Also there are 3 ‘experts’ to play against – Autosport and 2 others I don’t remember (I think Herbert was one) – and they were soundly beaten by TJ13 🙂

Anyway we have our own league within the global game called “TheJudge13 All Star F1 racers” so if you fancy a bit of fun and banter why not enter.

11 responses to “The Perfect Lap

  1. I am a bit concerned that there is no tyre supplier after this year. Apparently it costs the tyre supplier a lot of money to design, produce and supply F1 tyres and I believe Paul has had his ear bent about the cost versus the benefit in publicity. So Pirelli are unlikely to want to extend this or to sign up for another contract. Judge can you find out more?

    • Pirelli are happy to sign up – was chatting to them last month.

      Reading between the lines because they would not say this – the problem is Bernie is stringing out the ‘get round the table’ moment.

      Another source I was speaking to suggests Mr. E does indeed want Pirelli to continue – they are great for his new found love of the show.

      Pirelli will be requesting improved terms…

  2. How much faster would an absolute ‘perfect’ lap be?? By this I mean if we computer mapped the track and found the perfect lines, speed, braking points at every millisecond in simulation?
    Obviously based on data gained from the drivers and telemetry (as you would need grip etc data and it would need the performance perameters for the current car.

    What I guess I’m interested in is how far the DRIVERS are off the fastest possible ‘theoretical’ lap with their current car? How much potential for improvement is there?

    Perhaps it needs a 2 part answer. 1) how fast in current cars with a robot driver (ie not limited by forces on human body)?
    2) how fast in current cars with humans?

    I’m sure its a difficult question but teams must do something like this for drivers…a ballpark estimate would be interesting

  3. I don’t think it would be much faster than the laps we see in qualy.
    The g forces on the driver are not a problem within the adhesion limits of the tyres, so the advantage gained would be in perfect line and perfect throttle , braking and gear changes, maybe half a second quicker.

    • Sorry, now realised you wanted a 2 part answer, well
      1) 0.5 sec max or less maybe as little as 0.1 sec if the driver was good to start with.
      2) same as above, g forces are not the limiting factor, grip is.

      Any team with a good simulator can give the answer if they want to devote the time to finding out.

  4. Hi ‘thejudge13’ & ‘rpaco’
    Interesting. It surprises me its as little as that honestly. I’m not doubting you as you obviously have a better handle on it than me but are there any advances on this? Anyone?

    It would be fascinating to see some data from the teams on this. Personally I was assuming it might be in the realm of 2sec’s or so. Depending on length and composition of track obviously. I guess that even that pace you are talking about rpaco amounts to 30seconds over the best drivers qualifying pace if we took it over the entire Grand Prix. That’s fairly substantial.

    Are we assuming that the top drivers are basically driving a ‘perfect theoretical’ lap in qualifying and the tailenders are just off on car speed? I guess the fact that they all qualify within milliseconds of each other despite the differences in car means its fairly good indicator of how fast a lap can be done.

    I just wonder if over an entire lap whether a millimeter more throttle a millisecond earlier, perfect braking with brake points a metre late , millimeter perfect lines through the corners and complete track flow (max corner speed to perfect exit grip and angle for the straight/following corner set up to braking and smooth entry…etc) might make more difference? I can’t see the drivers even knowing this EXACTLY let alone getting it right…at every single point on the track…the whole lap.

    I’d love to see a computer digitally map the course, take all the telemetry information and ‘max allowances/tolerances’ of the design/performance package and do one of those ‘flying overlays’ you see in rally games or TV simulations.

    By the way, great site guys. Brilliant

  5. Driving on track is very much harder than it looks, I know, in my younger days I spent a lot of money at Brands Hatch racing school, I never graduated, I ran out of money and skill, but I did it for the thrill mainly anyway.
    (plus the danger of “going off means going home”)

    The F1 driver is almost a machine anyway, he does get probably all but one corner right on each lap and very rarely from an in car tv shot you can see that a car is not on the right line usually on a straight or up to a braking point.

    But it comes back to the tyres, of course if the degradation and temperature be accurately computed together with track surface at all points of the track plus the wind strength and direction (which affects downforce) then an accurate robot drive could be made. But as I said any team with a modern advanced simulator can probably do this. In fact they probably need to in order to calculate the necessary fuel load if the driver has a perfect race with no one in the way. Maybe the Judge’s team contacts can find out.

  6. rpaco,

    Thanks for that. It looks extremely difficult to me, at no point does driving an f1 car looks easy.
    I was just curious how all the little things add up in a perfect world. I do wonder what the teams have on this but you’ve been invaluable.

  7. Pingback: Daily F1 News and Comment: Saturday 18th May 2013 | thejudge13·

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