Mercedes FP2 race simulations improve in Shanghai

Untitled (Recovered)

The race simulations here in Shanghai were revealing once again. Both Ferrari and Mercedes split their drivers’ longest stints, with one running the medium compound and the other the soft.

Hamilton and Vettel’s longest stints were on the soft tyre. The raw data (not adjusted for slow laps) showed

Hamilton              14 laps                  Ave time: 1:44:065

Vettel                   13 laps                  Ave time: 1:44:544

The gap is around half a second. Vettel interspersed his run with 3 very slow laps, whilst Hamilton only had one.

Yet when we extract the long lap time anomalies and compare both drivers over on a like for like basis over their first 10 flying laps of the stint the picture is different.

Hamilton              10 laps                  Ave time: 1:42.731

Vettel                   10 laps                  Ave time: 1:43.461

The gap now has grown to around three quarters of a second.

Rosberg and Raikkonen’s longest race simulations were run on the harder medium compound tyre.

Rosberg               13 laps                  Ave time: 1:43.541

Raikkonen           19 laps                  Ave time: 1:43.687

Clearly Raikkonen’s average time is affected by running more laps, so again if we take the first 10 flying laps of each driver’s stint, this is what we see.

Rosberg               10 laps                  Ave time: 1:43:455

Raikkonen           10 laps                  Ave time: 1:43:537

In Malaysia, Kimi’s average lap time was quicker in his FP2 race simulation than both Mercedes cars and that stint was also run on the medium tyre

It appears Mercedes have regained some of the lost ground in FP2 over the past two weeks, though not as much as many expected. Track temperatures are lower in Shanghai, but the gap to Ferrari is very close on the medium tyre – which is expected to again be the preferred race tyre come Sunday.

“I think we definitely have a race, like we said we would,” commented Hamilton following the conclusion of FP2. “It’s between us and Ferrari, and Nico is quite quick as well.

Last time out in Malaysia, Lewis’ Friday running was heavily compromised, though he still came through taking pole position on Saturday for the race in Sepang.

“I’ve had a full day (of running) today, which makes a big difference,” Lewis added. “The prime didn’t feel so good, but it didn’t feel too bad on the option – we need to analyse compared to the others.”

Mercedes favoured the prime tyre for the race in Malaysia, using an extra set options in qualifying, which ultimately compromised their race strategy.

Despite being 5th quickest in the session, Nico Rosberg was still confident. “It’s looking good for tomorrow, we have an amazing car.

“I think we’ll be fast, of course, on one lap I think we will be quickest – and then on race pace we need to review now.”

Pirelli were predicting a performance gap between the two tyre compounds of 1.6-7 seconds per lap. TJ13’s analysis would suggest the difference in lap time during stints will be much smaller.

Paul Hembery commented, The main thing today is that there’s been very little graining despite the cool temperatures here, which is a positive step and has allowed the teams to prepare for the race effectively so far. The performance gap between the two compounds is close to what we expected, and we would anticipate a two-stop strategy to be the most likely option for the race on Sunday.”

A one stop it is then eh Paul?  😉

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42 responses to “Mercedes FP2 race simulations improve in Shanghai

  1. Hmmm, I dunno. Seems like Paddy is working his magic at Mercedes. Either that or Mercedes started 2014 with an PU that was about 90% perfect. Ferrari of course had one that was much less perfect so maybe the jump Ferrari made cannot be negated by further improvements from Mercedes… or that much any way. We are going to see some great racing this year!

    • I’m guessing we might see performance swinging between Mercedes and Ferrari i.e. Ferrari perform better at hotter tracks while Mercedes will prefer the cooler tracks. Seems Pat Symonds might have been onto something with his comments about Mercedes tyre deg during testing.

      I don’t think you can lay the blame at Paddy’s door entirely if Mercedes do experience a dip in performance entirely. More to do with Lauda and Wolff cutting back on staff, who have gone to other teams taking knowledge with them. Mercedes may have hit a development peak on the Power Unit already. Time will tell if that’s the case.

    • His methodology is different.

      The significantly slower laps during a stint should be discounted because they improve the longevity of the tyre and reduce the average lap time.

      • What have the FIA done with their site?!?! It’s near impossible to navigate now. I can’t even get to FP2 lap times. Then they made their Race Previews one big .png image?!!

        Were any of the slow long run laps of the “charge the ES” variety? That was a big problem for Ferrari last year, but they look on top of it this year.

    • Medium is but looking at lap times could easily see HAM wanting to go O-P-O. Big question is how much fuel did they throw on board for his long stint as deg in the first stint will either make or break that possibility.

      Also of note HAM owned S2 but RAI frequently quicker in S1 by a tenth or so. RAI and HAM look to be running more DF than VET and ROS, at least for P2.

      • That’s only if he’s able to do a minimum of 18 laps on the set he starts the race on, with a further 20+ on the primes.

        • That’s where his tyre life was when he came in and changed tyres. Barring getting caught from behind and assuming no SC, I could see him wanting to stretch first stint long enough to make that happen.
          Think HAM prefers softs.

  2. According to Ted Kravitz, it was the Ferrari’s fuel system that looked suspicious, hence the issuing of the technical directive.

    • Well if they were running “modified” in the FP sessions, then it doesn’t look to have hurt them much. They look very good.

  3. Very Interesting.

    I believe the fastest lap in 2014 was 140.402 by Rosberg, same tire compound as last year too. Unless there were some extenuating circumstances I do not remember, Mercedes is already 3 seconds a lap faster, and we are only through FP2.
    What do you think will be qualifying time assuming dry conditions? 1:35.5’s?
    Is it possible they will hit 1:34’s?
    Lap record is Schumacher at 132.2xx.
    If Merc gained 5 seconds over a year that would be crazy. At that pace, by next year Merc should be getting damn close to lap records at more than a handful of tracks.
    Judge, could you compare this data with last years practice sessions to see the reality of the improvement over a stint, as opposed to single lap pace?

    BTW
    This brings up an idea I had for the site…

    Could you link corresponding race weekend article with last years race?
    By that I mean, put a link to the 2014 FP2 review at the bottom of the current FP2 review, that way we have a quick way to compare lap times and such. Same for all the other sessions.

    I was trying to search the site with the tags china, china 2014, 2014 qualifying, etc, and by the 4th search I still hadn’t gotten to the article I wanted….

    • In the future the link to year on year like for like articles will be possible – but last year we didn’t do FP2 analysis. Also we are looking at ways of getting interactive lap time graphs up on the site – so if any one knows how – shout up…

    • Development in F1 is fairly exponential, I doubt next year they will be making such large gains as this year. In a time period of stable rules the gains become less and less each season, teams find as most avenues where large chunks of improvement can be found have been explored extensively and most improvement is just small refinements. Maybe in 5 years if the rules aren’t changed they’ll be pushing the lap records. Doubt that will happen though as more rule changes will be brought in to slow the cars down again!

  4. Just a thought…

    Could it be that Ferrari were not actually that far behind last year, but it was mostly the instability, Alonso’s frustration, politics etc that actually prevented them to having a better season?

    I cannot imagine that Toto/Paddy/Niki have done such a bad job already or that Ferrari have done such an excellent job already.

    Biut if Merc do lose their advantage quite quickly, it’ll highlight once again what a big mistake it was to push Brawn out.

    In any case, looking forward to the next couple of seasons at the new regulations mature and it’ll be harder to find performance. We may have some cracking seasons like ’07/’08.

        • The more you peer at F1 through the looking glass of theoretical physics, the more like theoretical physics F1 appears to behave…

    • “Could it be that Ferrari were not actually that far behind last year”

      Unlikely as far as I go. Merc were light-eons away from all else in 2014. A heavenly package by Saint Ross, as it happens.

      “I cannot imagine that Toto/Paddy/Niki have done such a bad job already”

      I can. Lauda is one big friction. Toto is a good finance type, but he has no business running a team and very little experience (remember how well Williams was doing under his tenure?). Paddy has something about him that makes cars pop, and development paths veer unexpectedly. All in all a perfect combination by the looks of it… 🙂

      BTW, Hamilton’s value seems to be increasing by the GP to Merc… Remove Hamilton, and who will pedal the Merc to victory?

      “Ferrari have done such an excellent job already”

      To my surprise, might be. At first I was skeptical at Marchionne’s brutal hacking of heads, but all said and done it does seem like Ferrari’s revival will ultimately go to his credit (bar Allison who was poached by il Padrino quite some time before).

    • Every time somebody ask me what’s wrong with Mexico -I’m Mexican- I answer that the problem is that it’s full of Mexicans. Ferrari reminds me a lot of what a group of Mexicans working together usually achieve: nothing, no matter how many resources they have. But fire irresponsible managers, politicians, threat to fire everybody else, hire foreigners for key positions and treat locals as slaves and things improve a lot. As long as I know that’s what Ferrari did in the Schumacher era and that’s what they are doing now -except I don’t know if the Italians employees are mere robots now-. Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if they simply weren’t doing the job they were paid for doing in the last years.

      • While I do agree with the basic sentiment, also being Mexican, the simple truth is that the idea of putting foreigners in charge solves everything disproves itself: you’d also need foreigners doing the actual work as well. Mexicans would be unable to succeed abroad as well.

        • Well, those Mexicans who succeed abroad aren’t the average Mexican -the average Mexican doesn’t want to try abroad to start with according to my experience trying to hire project managers and engineers and being unable to find enough people-. But I see the point and agree with you, good people is good everywhere. What I was trying to say is that there is a huge cultural problem in the way work is understood and done in Mexico by the majority, and Ferrari reminds me of that behavior. It’s only when a different idiosyncrasy is introduced and they are pushed to work under it that they perform.

  5. “It’s between us [I guess he means his side of the garage] and Ferrari, and Nico is quite quick as well.”
    – Lewis is certainly racking-up the withering put-downs on his team-mate…

    • …while Lewis’ prospective pay check goes up and up and up by the GP if Toto intends to keep Merc on the path of victories…

  6. I am quite certain that Raikkonen did his 19 lap stint on the Mediums, while Vettel did his long run on the softs. Not the other way around as reported here (I watched the Sky broadcast and Raikkonen was clearly on the white marked tyres during his race sim, while Vettel was on the yellow marked tyres). James Allen’s FP2 analysis seems to support this.

    Please double check your sources for the tyre usage data. It wouldn’t be the first time the FIA/FOM cocked it up.

    • Thank you.

      Our analyst wrote the original piece as has now been restored – as you say with Vettel on the soft tyre long run and Raikkonen on the medium tyre.

      Though contrary data from FOM caused him to re-write it.

      • Your honor -or anybody else-, where do you get the data on tyres each driver is using in FP2? I run my own race pace analysis but most the time I have to guess if I don’t see it in TV because the FIA document that Fortis links to doesn’t have that info.

          • The FOM app, of course. So far I have refused to pay for it. Thanks Matt.

          • Although they do screw things up as well, I was paying close attention to Hulkenberg and my jaw dropped when he improved his time by 2 seconds or so on what appeared to be a fresh set of mediums. Later this was corrected to be softs.

  7. Hmmmm, SkyF1 never mentioned this long run discrepancy between Merc and Ferrari. I gather they fear accurate reporting in this respect might amount to fewer viewers.

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