#F1 Forensics: 2013 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix: Friday Practise Analysis

Brought to you in partnership with Dr James Beck of IntelligentF1

And so to Silverstone. Looking forward to being there on Sunday, when it seems that it will be nice and dry. And fortunately we got some dry running in Free Practice 2 as well. Which is good, as otherwise I might have had very little to say.

After all the tyre controversies and testing controversies, it’s nice to get down to some running. And the degradation seems to be significantly lower here than we might have expected. OK, it’s the hard and medium tyres, but the laptimes were very consistent through stints, and indeed there seemed to be plenty of tyre performance left at the end of reasonably long stints. I can’t see too many problems with a two-stopper unless the temperature goes up a lot.

Interestingly, the pace is fast. Significantly faster than last year – for the first time in 2013. Which is either due to the cool ambient temperature, or the fact that the teams aren’t having the same tyre problems we’ve got used to seeing. Either way, the evidence suggests that we’re not likely to see another Barcelona-like four-stop race.

So to the pace of the cars themselves. We have the usual deal (except that there is no good race stint data from Massa, Raikkonen, Button, Bottas and Gutierrez) with the stints being plotted on a race history chart. Each line represents a car, and the steeper the line slopes up, the faster the car is going.


I know that different compounds were used for different runs (Vettel/Hamilton on hards, Grosjean/Webber/Rosberg on mediums), but the differences in degradation and pace do not seem to be too large. There is certainly no evidence of the mediums not lasting long. Anyway, it’s Red Bull fastest from the blue lines at the top of the chart, with Alonso thereabouts although he brought his tyres in more gently. Grosjean looks good – but not as good as some have suggested – although given that he has not matched Raikkonen this year, the Lotus looks to be reasonably competitive.

Then there is a bit of a gap to Force India, Mercedes and Toro Rosso. The Force Indias set off quickly and the Mercedes gently, but it was the German cars which has the better pace overall. The data from McLaren is very sparse, with only a few laps done – I’ve plotted Perez, but it’s not easy to tell his pace. Best guess is behind this group – and about level with Hulkenburg’s Sauber. Not promising.

The tail of the field is beginning to look like a three-way fight, with Williams having worked their way backwards into the Caterham/Marussia battle. It really does look like they could be beaten here in the race on merit. Pic was fastest of the back four, but it looks like another close run thing.

The underlying pace chart for the FP2 practice runs using the intelligentF1 model fits is like this:

  • Webber (hards)
  • +0.2s Alonso
  • +0.3s Vettel (mediums) / Grosjean (mediums)
  • +0.8s Rosberg (mediums) / Hamilton (hards)
  • +1.0s Di Resta / Sutil / Vergne
  • +1.4 Ricciardo
  • +1.8s Hulkenburg
  • +1.9s Perez
  • +2.8s Pic
  • +3.0s Maldonado / Bianchi
  • +3.3s Chilton
  • +3.5s van der Garde

In comparison with Canada, Lotus definitely look better, and Mercedes look worse. The podium is most likely to be made up of drivers in the blue, red and black cars. It will be interesting to see how well Mercedes can hang on – the gaps are much smaller than in Barcelona so they should be well in the points, and whether Toro Rosso can continue the points scoring with both drivers having an eye on the 2014 Red Bull seat. Not sure this is one for the McLaren fans though…

A final thought. When Ferrari have looked really good on Friday, Vettel has won – and when they have been thereabouts, Alonso has delivered on the Sunday. Based on that warped logic, Alonso would be favourite…

10 responses to “#F1 Forensics: 2013 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix: Friday Practise Analysis

  1. Thanks again for the analysis, I have been using this to help with the Castrol game this year, and I would be very curious to see how starting position affects finishing position, relative to race pace. What I have found is generally if the driver can make it into the top 5 they will tend to finish according to race pace but beyond that there tends to be a traffic penalty that is impossible to overcome.

    I lack that maths to quantify it properly (hint hint) but do you think such a thing could be done? I do realize there would be certain limitations but over time could it be accurate? Would love to hear your opinion.

  2. “After all the tyre controversies and testing controversies….”

    Hardly. Last year it was soft and hard tyres. This year Pirelli bring medium and hard compound tyres. Gee, when you have degradation problems I wonder who that benefits.

  3. Qualifying has just finished, eventually Lewis Hamilton made a blinding lap in Q3 to take pole by over 4 tenths to Nico Rosberg, with both Red Bulls locking up the second row. Paul Di Resta finished 5th (very impressive from him), Ricciardo was 6th (even more impressive from him), Sutil was 7th, Grosjean and Raikkonen 8th and 8th respectively, and Alonso a lowly 10th (by his standards).

    Based on the charts you generated, IntelligentF1, it’s fair to say that Red Bull look heave favourites for the race win tomorrow, particularly Sebastien Vettel as he starts on the clean side of the track. Mercedes will definitely have to hang on I think, unless they have something up their sleeve, because in qualifying they tried not to touch their hard tyres at all, they just used 3 sets of the option tyre (one through Q1 and Q2, 2 in Q3 for both their drivers). I am thinking they will try to race longer than the Red Bulls and try something different, Ross Brawn is a cunning man and he must have something prepared.

    Force India, provided they get a nice and clean start, will have a very strong race, possibly getting close to the podium if they get some luck their way. Ricciardo might struggle but that depends on traffic as well. I think Lotus being 8th and 9th will be penalized in the first part of the race, and unless they get a large portion of clear air, they won’t be in for a very good finishing position. Ferrari, Alonso in particular, likewise : starting 10th will be very very penalizing for him unless he can make 3-4 positions right off from the starting line. If he can get to 5th by the first few corners, then his race will look a whole lot better and could go on to catch Vettel and/or Webber.

    What I’m saying is hardly rocket-science, but I was quite happy to see that the Mercedes race-pace was not as bad as I feared, because I was really expecting to see a Barcelona-like scenario where both drivers would end up 70 seconds off the leading car. Ok, yesterday the conditions were kind of cool, and Sunday is due to be much hotter, comparatively, so maybe their performance will take a turn for the worse tomorrow. In any case, they do seem to be getting somewhere with their tyre management and perhaps they can finally get rid of the “Tyre Eater” tag.

    I will be rooting for a podium for Lewis Hamilton, and if somehow he can make it on the top step of the podium, I’ll be rightly chuffed. But I’m not holding my breath, Sebastian Vettel is the much stronger and safer bet for the race win tomorrow, because the Red Bull is a better car, overall, than the Mercedes at present, even if the one-lap pace of the Mercedes is just formidable.

      • You believe what you want to believe, man. The Mercedes was a quick qualifier from the beginning, and Hamilton got podium finishes in Malaysia and China, having started on pole in China.

      • “Amazing what a 1000K test where you didn’t learn anything can do.”

        n my part of the world, this is called pure politics of envy

        Get over it, and move on. Bitterness is a bad disease.

  4. Assuming that the Mercedes will reproduce at Spa and in Monza their hungarian’s success, I’ll say that it took them 3 years and a illegal private test session to return to the top!
    Nothing to write home about isn’t?

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