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Nico Rosberg Nurburgring 2013 © F1 Around The WorldSo it’s all change for the Nurburgring then. New tyres with kevlar belts and restrictions on their use are going to shake up the competitive order and split the season into two clear halves.

The sensitivities of running tyres sensitive to temperature with different heat retention properties are going to move different cars in and out of the performance window, and the championships will depend on the whims of Pirelli.

Not a bit of it. In fact the suggestion from Friday is that we have a very similar competitive order to that which we saw at Silverstone. Without exploding tyres. There are a few differences, but more of that later. The tyre compounds brought to Germany are the soft and the medium, and as at the other races where we have seen the soft tyre as the option compound, there is a big difference in one-lap pace between the two and a huge difference in tyre life.

It was easy to pick out the runs on the different compunds from the data as the soft degraded quickly as was running around six laps, and th medium was running consistently for more than 20 laps – in fact the degradation pretty much matched the fuel effect (so even laptimes) and there were no signs (at all) of phase 2 degradation. So for the front runners, we are looking at a strategy of soft-medium-medium.

Unless there are major changes to the track conditions, two stops with two stints on the mediums looks like the most likely strategy. Soft-medium-medium-medium is a possibility, especially if the first stint ends up being very short – but if the teams are thinking about that, then we may see some saving primes in Q1 as Mercedes did at Silverstone. From FP2 we have long run data from everyone bar Raikkonen and Bianchi. As always, I’ve put this on a race history chart, which is below: 2013_germany_1 In many ways this looks just like the plot from Silverstone. In fact it is so similar, here’s the Silverstone plot for comparison: 2013_britain_1

The real differences between the two are that Toro Rosso and Force India look less competitive, and Sauber look better. For the rest, it’s pretty much as you were. So much for the dramatic shake up in the competitive order.

Sebastian Vettel Nurburgring 2013 © F1 Around The World

Basically, Red Bull are quickest followed by Ferrari and Lotus. Mercedes are behind, but this seemed to be fuel effect in FP2 at Silverstone and there’s no reason (given that the picture is almost the same) to think they’re not doing the same here. Then we have a gap behind the first four teams.

Force India, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Sauber look to be fighting over the minor points and Pic’s run bodes well for Caterham. In fact Pic and Maldonado were closely matched, as were Bottas and van der Garde – but the latter were a lot slower. Marussia (or Chilton at least) seem to be a little adrift. So the pace table looks like this:

  • +0.0s Vettel
  • +0.1s Webber
  • +0.2s Alonso (but not consistently)
  • +0.3s Grosjean (but very short stint)
  • +0.5s Massa
  • +0.6s Rosberg (actually slightly closer to Red Bull than at Silverstone FP2)
  • +0.8s Hamilton/Gutierrez (fuel load? much faster than Hulkenburg)
  • +1.5s Di Resta
  • +1.6s Button
  • +1.7s Sutil/Hulkenburg/Ricciardo
  • +2.0s Perez
  • +2.2s Vergne/Pic
  • +2.4s Maldonado
  • +2.7s van der Garde
  • +2.9s Bottas
  • +4.0s Chilton

So the biggest question is over the competitiveness of Mercedes, as the fact that the data matches Silverstone suggests that they will be thereabouts. Lotus are a bit of a mystery as well, as they did more work on the soft tyre and seemed to learn that it wasn’t a viable race tyre. Their race pace looks OK – but the uncertainty is quite high.

Red Bull look strong. If you were hoping for a big shake up with the tyres, then I’ll think you’ll be disappointed. Maybe in Hungary…

17 responses to “#F1 Forensics: GROSSER PREIS SANTANDER VON DEUTSCHLAND 2013 – Friday Analysis

  1. After watching FP3, I get the feeling that Red Bull will be the top cars, even in qualifying. Rosberg looks quick but I think Vettel has the measure of him. For some reason, Hamilton can’t find the right balance and had quite a lot of over-steer throughout FP3. In his run on the soft-tyre, he was still 0.5s down on Rosberg, so it’s pretty sure Mercedes will have to work on his work in the 2 hours between FP3 and Qualifying.

    At the moment, I will say it looks like Red Bull have the front row nailed, Mercedes look more likely to get the second row, and that’s if Hamilton can find something special to match Rosberg because this morning he really looked like he was in a big struggle. Not that it’s unexpected, given the car was designed with Rosberg and Schumacher’s input, but on this occasion he just has to work with what he has.

    • I forgot to mention that Vettel absolutely smashed Rosberg’s time towards the end. I was thinking that 1.30.193 was quite fast, but Vettel put a storming 1.29.517. Hamilton did 1.30.7xx so he’ll be quite grim throughout qualifying I think.

      Vettel – Webber – Rosberg is the likely trio for the Top 3, with Rosberg possibly ahead of Webber if he can get a super lap together.

      • Rosberg might yet split the Bulls, (please, anything to keep an RB 1-2 from happening) and with luck there will be some shenanigans to keep the race from turning into a Red Bull PR event. I’m not saying I want them to lose, just want a close race with more than one team in with a chance to win, ideally on different strategies. I know, always a dreamer 😉

        Pretty sure they are trying to get Hamilton’s car back to where it was during FP1, as he said that the changes they made for FP2 made it worse. Hope they do manage to get it sorted but I’m not holding my breath.

        I wonder what Mercedes fascination is with running extra weight during FP2 race stints, surely they can’t think that they are fooling the other teams at this point? Maybe it helps them get a clearer picture of the tires?

        Thanks as always for the great analysis, Dr, Beck, especially as you have stated how busy you are ( I hope in a good way) 🙂

          • Yes, Odd that Hamilton looked fastest given the time difference in FP3, but Lewis is arguably the best qualifier in the field so not a total surprise. Webber had a bobble in his lap, but I’m still hoping Hamilton (or someone) will split RB
            On the other hand, Merc failing to respond to the rapidly evolving track is. Hint, When Raikkonen is in P2 you might want to update your projections with some new data.

          • Still think Vettel has the Quali pace today, Ferrari look quick but the track evolved massively in the last couple of minutes. First times Q3 should tell the story.

          • I’m going to be hacked off if Ham takes pole. I picked him for pole in my GP predictor but changed to it Vettel after FP3…

  2. Haa, what the hell do I know about F1 ? Answer : Zilch, nothing.

    I don’t know how on Earth Mercedes managed to turn Lewis’ car around for qualifying, that was something. And he even took Pole Position, that’s f****** brilliant considering he was nowhere in FP2 and FP3.

    It remains to be seen whether the race goes as plan, I have my doubts. Rosberg in P11 was a shocker, but the track was very fickle in Q2, cars that were doing high 1.30s or very low 1.31s suddenly were running 1.30.2, Rosberg had a 1.30.3 and Hamilton a 1.30.1, that was the margin and it took out Rosberg. It took easily have been the opposite.

    I wish the very best to Hamilton for tomorrow, hopefully no tyre-blowout as he could do with a win. Vettel starting on the dirty side but Webber has notoriously bad starts so Vettel will probably stay in 2nd. Watch out for Lotus too, they’ll be very much in for the win.

    • Which is twice as much as me, LOL! Lewis’ qualifying was spectacular. I just hope the race is going to be as exciting as the quali. Pretty stoked to see Ferrari on a different strategy, can’t wait to see how that plays for them.

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