#F1 Forensics: #ItalianGP Friday Practice Analysis

Brought to you in partnership with Dr James Beck of IntelligentF1

Now I’m hoping that Monza will see a return to business as usual for IntelligentF1 meaning the Friday analysis as well as a race report.

2013-Italian-GP-Friday-S-Vettel © PirelliBut first things first. A quick glance at the headline times suggests that this is a walkover for Red Bull, and analysis of Vettel’s second long run (on the medium tyres) would suggest that he will disappear into the distance. I don’t think it’s quite as stark as that made it look, but I’m not about to provide hope for those hoping that the story here will be any different.

A quick look at those who ran both the hard and medium tyres revealed a couple of interesting points. Firstly, there were a number of cars (Vettel, the Lotuses for example) who were much quicker on the mediums – by way more than a second. But there were others, notably Webber (in the other Red Bull) that were more or less the same pace. In general, the pattern was that the slower stint (if there was a clearly slower stint) came first, almost independently of the tyre choice.

Indeed, the number of cars with equal pace on both tyres was such that the dominant factor is most likely to be fuel, and the pace difference between the tyres can’t really be picked in race conditions from this data. Therefore, I have selected the slower stint from each car as the most likely to be representative of a first stint fuel load on the (reasonable) assumption that the race pace of the tyres is approximately equal.

Incidentally, this suggests that the race is most likely to be one stop – there is no large penalty from the harder tyres, the mediums are still gaining pace at 15 laps and the pit lane penalty is large at Monza.  It may depend on the temperature, but I reckon that the teams will be hoping to do one stop.

I digress. A first stint pace from 2012 was about 90.2s – the pace this year is much hotter. Vettel is 1.5s faster than that – and the midfield are also quicker than the fast guys from last year. This is partly due to the softer tyre compounds but it also says something about the switch to the 2012 constructions as the race pace was generally slower than 2012 in the first half of the season.

The teams are certainly more comfortable on the 2012 construction tyres, and they are going quicker, which suggests they are able to use more of their pace in race conditions… resulting in dark blue cars at the front. I’d guess that Red Bull are also compromising their qualifying setup less – which gives an advantage on a Saturday too.

To the race history chart then. The slowest representative stint of each car (yes – data for everyone here!) has been plotted against a mythical car travelling at constant speed. If a car’s trace goes up then it is ‘catching this car’ – down and it’s dropping back. The curves have been fitted using the IntelligentF1 model to get to an estimate of the underlying pace of each car.

2013_italy_1

So even excluding Vettel’s very fast stint as it was likely on lower fuel, he is still in a race of his own. With Webber next up. Alonso’s pace picks up well in his stint, and then it is Lotus, Mercedes and McLaren. This bodes well for McLaren as they have been performing better on Sunday than on Friday recently – and clearly so at Spa.

With Mercedes also generally quicker on Sundays, this leaves questions about the performance of the Lotus cars. They did run faster stints, which means that they were lower fuel, or they are quick on the medium tyre however I’m inclined to think that they will not be in podium contention here.

Behind the top five teams Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso are almost inseparable therefore some scrap for the last points could be in store. Williams look to be a little adrift again, although Maldonado was very inconsistent in his stint and did put in a few laps which would get him on the back of the battle ahead.

Once more, Caterham and Marussia are adrift, and the gap is steadily increasing from the opening races. If anything, Marussia were slightly faster, and Chilton looked good.

The IntelligentF1 fits give the following pace table:

  • Vettel fastest
  • +0.4s Webber
  • +0.6s Alonso
  • +0.8s Raikkonen
  • +0.9s Rosberg/Hamilton
  • +1.1s Button/Perez
  • +1.2s Massa/Grosjean/Di Resta
  • +1.4s Hulkenburg/Gutierrez/Ricciardo
  • +1.5s Vergne/Sutil
  • +1.6s Maldonado (in the fast bit)
  • +2.2s Bottas
  • +2.7s Bianchi/Chilton
  • +2.8s Pic
  • +3.2s van der Garde

Unless all the evidence is really misleading, it really is Red Bull’s to lose…

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3 responses to “#F1 Forensics: #ItalianGP Friday Practice Analysis

  1. Well, Red Bull absolutely walked it in qualifying, and Mercedes (Hamilton in particular, to my own disappointment) kind of self-destructed. But they were due a bad weekend I guess.

    Vettel and Webber have the front row locked out. Hulkenberg absolutely stormed the field in his Sauber and took 3rd, ahead of both Ferraris. Raikkönen is 11th, Hamilton 12th, Rosberg rescued 6th for Mercedes but I think they will be massively disappointed and angry.

    McLaren had a better than usual qualifying, both cars made it to Q3 so good on them, it seems the low-downforce setting helps them. So much for the Mercedes engine’s supposed extra power, the first Mercedes-powered car was 6th in qualifying.

    Given what we saw in FP2 and the race stints of the Red Bull, I think the race is pretty much in the bag for Vettel. Mercedes will do (very) well to get back around the podium with either car, by the looks of what happened today. Ferrari are the safer bet to get anything between 2nd and 5th with both Alonso and Massa. Driver of the day in qualifying has got to be Hulkenberg, I’m still in awe of his lap in Q3 😮

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