Brought to you by TheJudge13 Technical Analyst Tourdog
Lets start off with an apology. I am fairly new to the TJ13 system here, and inadvertently posted this article on Thurday for about 5 minutes. A twitter alert and such went out at that time. Well it obviously wasn’t ready, so I had to pull it. Sorry everyone. But I am good to go now, so lets begin..
Monza has come and gone. It was a wild weekend, but not because of much action on the track. As we all know the stories permeating the media are all about tire pressures, but this has masked the real news , which was Power Unit upgrades by both Mercedes and Ferrari.
With both teams bringing their most recent upgrades and fresh Power Units, it gives us a clear view of how the two teams compare, and there is no comparison.
Lewis Hamilton walked away from both his teammate, and the Ferraris in every session, in F1 terms it wasn’t even close. Hamilton laid down the fastest lap average in every session, and on both tires. He soundly beat Nico both when they had the same spec PU, and in the race when Nico was running his old one. This wasn’t just single lap pace, but average pace over multiple laps.
But before we get to lewis vs Nico, lets look at Ferrari.
Both Ferrari and Mercedes brought major upgrades to Monza, Merc cashing in their full set of tokens. It is hard to compare times in practice, and Qualifying times are not representative of pace, so lets take a look at lap times at the start of the race.
We have Lewis and Sebastian. At the Green flag, they both disappear into clean air. They both have what we can assume are comparative fuel loads. Neither has any traffic in front of them. They are on the same tyre.
Lewis hit lapped traffic for the first time on lap 18.
This is the difference between their lap times for laps 1-24.
Negative # = Lewis is faster
Positive # = Sebastian is faster
Over the first 18 laps where they are not contending with traffic, Lewis’s lap time on average, is 0.540 seconds quicker than Seb.
If we extend that out to lap 24, the last full lap before Sebastian pits on lap 25, the average is worse, 0.860 seconds. How much of that increase is because Vettel’s tires fell off,and how much is because of traffic, is difficult to discern. But the first 18 laps give us a pretty good indication of the long run pace difference between the two manufacturers.
You can see all of the top 5 drivers times (& Nico’s) in my previous article here.
I have added all the gap times between Lewis and Sebastian to it as well.
I really was hoping to avoid writing about the whole tire pressure controversy. Truth is we don’t know the details of pressure and temperature, when readings were taken, etc etc, I am not here to debate that. A quarter of a psi of pressure didn’t gain Mercedes 0.5 seconds a lap on Ferrari.
Matt Somerfield has an excellent write up about it you can read here.
But in looking at the lap times, and the radio traffic that is published, something interesting has shown itself.
Lewis came out of the pits on Lap 26 and started laying down consistent 1:27.6’s.
He turned it up on lap Lap 34, and put down the fastest lap of the race until that point on Lap 36, a 1.26.890.
On Lap 37 Lewis called the pits and asked, “Should I turn down the engine?”
The pit response was: “OK copy that last message, Lewis. Target 27.2, we’ll be happy with that.”
Lewis then settled into super-consistent 1:27.5’s, from lap 37 to 45.
Whether there was another radio call we did not hear that changed the directive to 1:27.5’s or not, we do not know. It’s either that, or Mercedes have a code that always overestimates times by a specific amount to try and “fool” competitors that are listening. Anyway Lewis was running 1:27.5’s.
Sebastian’s 40th lap was 0.3 seconds slower than Lewis. He had been fluctuating between less than a tenth , and 3 tenths of a second slower, but on Lap 41 Sebastian picked up his pace. Then on lap 42-44, Sebastian for the first time in the entire race, was able to put in back-to-back lap times that were faster than Lewis. As i said earlier, Lewis was running 1:27.5’s consistently. He did not get slower, Sebastian got faster.
Then on Lap 46, Lewis got this message, which we heard on lap 48:
“So we need to open this gap right up. Do what we can you’ve got seven laps remaining. OK Lewis we can go strat mode three, we need to pull a gap. Don’t ask questions, just execute.”
By the end of lap 46, Lewis dropped a tenth. Faster still on lap 47.
On lap 48 he put in the fastest lap of the race, a 1:26.672.
Nico also stepped up his pace on lap 46, dropping 2 tenths off his previous lap time. Laps 47 48 and 49, Nico was running 1:27.2’s, and then on lap 50 he slipped 3 tenths, and the motor blew on lap 51.
Sebastian ran a 1:27.492 on lap 48, lewis’s fastest.
So it appears the call to the Mercedes pit from the FIA about the Tyre pressure penalty went out on Lap 41. Ferrari overheard on the radio and reacted immediately, telling Seb to close the gap at all costs, knowing their window was 25 seconds.
Mercedes sat on their hands until lap 46, when the radio call went out to Lewis and Nico.
The 5 lap wait to come to a decision in the Mercedes pit could have cost Lewis the top step. In the end the penalty didn’t happen, so the times in a sense are moot.
But I think this is a good display of the age old saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth”.
Nico and Lewis
Nico had a “coolant leak” in his brand new Power Unit in FP3. This forced Mercedes to change out the whole Unit before Qualifying. I have previously discussed the situation with Nico, but just to touch on it, I am very suspicious as to why Merc put an old PU in Nico’s car, instead of another new one. I don’t buy the reasoning that they only brought two. If this was a fly-away race, maybe. But all of the trucks were at Monza, there was plenty of room to ship a spare. You don’t bring two brand new power units and not bring three.
But I digress.
Unfortunately, Nico was running in the pack at Monza. He pitted much earlier than Lewis too, on lap 18. If Nico had been out in clean air in the #2 position behind Lewis, we would have gotten a clear picture of how much faster the new Mercedes Power Unit is. But we can get a hot lap comparison of the two spec Power Units from Qualifying.
Q1 Medium tyre:
Lewis got in 4 laps in Q1, 2 were scratch laps, the other 2 averaged to a 1:24.450
Nico got in 5 laps, 2 were scratch laps. the other 3 averaged to a 1:24.9.
difference: 0.5 seconds to Lewis.
Q2 Soft Tyre:
Lewis went out for a single hot lap, time 1:23.383
Nico made two attempts in Q2, both single hot laps. His first lap was a 1:24.128, his second, a 1:23.864.
difference: 0.5 seconds to Lewis.
Q3 Soft Tyre:
Both drivers made two attempts.
Lewis ran a 1:23.397 and a 1:23.418
Nico ran a 1:23.942 and a 1:23.703
difference 0.5 seconds to Lewis.
That is pretty consistent. Lewis beats Nico by half a second in every Qualifying Session.
Both drivers ran multiple stints in the practice sessions, and most of those stints were over multiple laps. We of course don’t know what the fuel loads were, but in looking at the number of laps the drivers ran in each stint, and their relative times, we can make the assumption that they were running similar fuel loads each time they went out. You can see all their average times in the table, I will just list the gaps here.
FP1(medium): Stint 1: 0.5 to Lewis. Stint 2: 0.3 to Lewis. Stint 3: 0.4 to Lewis
FP2: Stint 1(medium): .16 to Lewis. Stint 2(Soft): .171 to Lewis. Stint 4(medium): 0.11 to Nico
Stint 3 doesn’t tell us much, as Nico ran 8 more laps than Lewis did, so their fuel loads were probably different.
FP3 Stint 1: No times Stint 2: Even Stint 3: 0.3 to Lewis
So what does all this tell us? Well, if we throw out FP1, Nico, with identical Power Units, is about 0.1-0.2 seconds slower than Lewis across similar distances.
Giving Nico the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he is only 0.1 seconds a lap slower than Lewis in equal equipment, then the new Mercedes power Unit was about 0.4 seconds a lap faster around Monza than the old.
Remember as well, that Lewis was able to turn up the new PU and increase his pace at will, so the odds are extremely good that Mercedes still isn’t running close to maximum.
In addition, Rosberg’s old PU was well worn, so this probably limited its available output slightly.
Thanks for reading.
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