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? 😉