F1 Forensics: Canada Grand Prix: Practice Analysis

Brought to you in partnership with Dr James Beck of IntelligentF1

Yes, I do still exist. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks, and the Monaco race was so follow-my-leader that there really was nothing interesting to say. Had I time on my hands I would probably have written something, but it would have been fairly dull. So let’s move on to Canada, which is always much more interesting. And also has short laps, which means more data…

Unfortunately, it rained in FP2. But the good news is that the rain was light enough not to ruin all the data. The pace of the stints isn’t entirely consistent, but there are nice consistent patches, so I’ve concentrated on fitting those. The majority of the runs are on the supersoft tyres, with the pace difference between the tyres (based on Webber) being pretty small – he was a few tenths faster on the harder tyre, but he may well not have refuelled as the fuel effect is really small in Montreal. In general, the pace is reasonably consistent with the first stint equivalent pace from 2012 – with the exceptions being the few fast cars, who are faster than last year.

There is data for everyone except Di Resta and Button, and I’ve plotted that on the chart below. As always, each line represents a car, and if you think of the top of the chart as an imaginary car going constant speed, if the line is going up we are catching up to our imaginary car, and the line is going down, we are dropping back.


The first thing to jump out (at least at me) is that the spread is bigger than it has been in recent races. The second is that Ferrari are fast and Lotus are not. The expectation on these race pace curves is to see the red lines and the yellow lines at the top. They might be playing with fuel loads, but there would need to be some sandbagging going on for Lotus to be genuine contenders. In fact, Red Bull are somewhere near Ferrari, and that’s it. Alonso has to be a heavy favourite based on this data – and it looks like they will be able to two-stop. The only other time Ferrari looked this good on Friday was in Bahrain, though, and they didn’t deliver on the Sunday. Not sure I see that happening twice.

After the Ferraris and Red Bulls, there are a group of cars consisting of Mercedes, Force India and Lotus. Also within this group (although less easy to see as their pace is not as quick at the start) are the Toro Rossos (especially Ricciardo) and Perez. The McLaren sped up significantly towards the end of the stint suggesting that it might even head this group. Sutil was actually fastest, but he did run another, slower, stint. Unexpectedly, Pic is also on the back of this group, but the pace difference to van der Garde is so big that this is almost certainly a light fuel load.

The group at the back is Sauber, Williams and Marussia – all at pretty similar pace. In fact, Grosjean’s stint fits best in this group, which suggests to me that the Lotus pace is due to much more than fuel effect. Marussia haven’t delivered fully on their Friday pace yet – maybe they run a little light, or maybe a big performance is coming… Van der Garde is off the back, so Caterham’s real pace is very hard to figure. They might be in trouble.

Interestingly, the degradation does not seem to be too bad. All the cars are increasing pace through the stint, and with the small fuel effect this means that the degradation is pretty low too. Only a couple of cars (Webber!) show signs of running out of tyres – indeed many have quite a lot left as they are able to go faster on their last flying lap – a little test to see what is left in most cases I would suspect. Two stops looks to be the most likely option.

The best fits to the pace I have using the intelligentF1 model fits are:

  • Alonso fastest
  • +0.3s Vettel
  • +0.4s Massa
  • +0.5s Webber
  • +0.9s Sutil (also ran a slower stint)
  • +1.2s Perez (only towards the end of the stint)
  • +1.3s Rosberg
  • +1.4s Hamilton
  • +1.6s Raikkonen (yes, really!)
  • +1.8s Ricciardo
  • +1.9s Pic (surely low fuel)
  • +2.1s Vergne
  • +2.2s Grosjean/Bianchi
  • +2.3s Hulkenburg/Gutierrez (most of Hulkenburg’s stint was slower)
  • +2.5s Chilton/Maldonado/Bottas
  • +4.7s van der Garde (surely not this slow)

So, Alonso looks to be heavy favourite, Toro Rosso look good for a good result and Vettel looks to keep racking up the points. Lotus have work to do. Oh, and Mercedes will to go backwards in the race as there will be some overtaking…

5 responses to “F1 Forensics: Canada Grand Prix: Practice Analysis

  1. Hello IntelligentF1,

    Thank you very much for your analysis of the long runs from all teams, it did give us a very representative view of where teams are standing. I think it’s fair to say that Ferrari being on top is not a surprise. Out of all the top teams, they’re the ones who use the tyres best. And the car’s pretty well balanced too. The scary thing is that based on your graph, Alonso is actually going faster and faster ! Vettel did that too but a little later in his long run.

    Red Bull right behind them is no surprise either, it has always been aerodynamically efficient, but it should also be noted that over the last few years, Red Bull haven’t had excellent races. McLaren and Ferrari are the ones that really shone on race weekend, though the race-day conditions were often very particular.

    Lotus is the surprising one, you would expect them to be right there with Ferrari, as you rightly pointed out. They’re always strong on race-day and I believe they’ll be up there with Ferrari, especially Raikkönen. Grosjean, if he doesn’t crash into someone at the start, might just follow up and get some points for Lotus.

    Mercedes still seem to have problems with how they (over ?) use the tyres. But they said that degradation wasn’t such a major problem for them so unless they make changes in their setup and somehow make their car faster on long runs. And unless they have absolutely blinding top speeds in the straights, they’ll get mauled. In Monaco, the track layout played in their favour, but Canada allows overtaking so I believe Ferrari, Red Bull and Lotus will eat them alive in the race.

    Let’s see how FP3 and Qualifying go today, it will give us a better idea of where teams stand.

  2. Great to see you posting, hope all the family stuff is settling for you, and I hope your daughter is doing better. I noticed watching FP2 yesterday that the Mercedes (not surprisingly) really outperformed in sector 3. Do you see them trying to go a different strategy, or is there not enough in it and they will just do there best to pull gaps before the DRS detection point and drive defensively the rest of the lap?

  3. Little update. Qualifying is over now, Vettel on pole, followed by Hamilton and Bottas. Rosberg was 4th, Webber 5th and Alonso 6th. Conditions were a bit random but wet. I think the Mercedes had the pace to take pole but Hamilton overshot the last chicane so his time was ruined. Interestingly, Q3 required some improvisation from the drivers and Hamilton managed to out-qualify Rosberg this time around.

    Ferrari and Lotus are unusually far back but the cool conditions hampered them, whereas Mercedes and Red Bull did well enough. Valteri Bottas had a blinding time to take 3rd. If the conditions remain cool-ish for tomorrow, perhaps Red Bull will have an easier than expected race. Ferrari are strong on the long runs but they’d rather have warmer temperatures.

    We shall see how things go tomorrow.

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