Friday practice can reveal a lot about the form of any given team and free practice two says a lot about a teams race pace; often they simulate long runs on real fuel loads expected on Sunday.
In Melbourne, the Ferrari pair were strangely absent from the front, with a rumour that slowly became accepted knowledge, that their power unit wasn’t ‘dialled up to 11’ so as to speak. The hot conditions in Australia along with a failure of new cooling systems not performing compared to the far colder winter testing environment of Barcelona, meant that the prancing horse powered cars were only half baked.
Further, TJ13 revealed last week how the Haas power unit struggles indicated a more serious issue with Ferrari’s engine requiring bodywork to be opened up, thus compromising aero. A compounded problem when considering the engine output wasn’t maxed at all either.
Whatever their reasons, the new team principal in Mattia Binotto assures the journo’s in Bahrain that all is well, and they expect the team to back where they left off in Barcelona. As is oft the case, Melbourne was an exception to the rule.
“Today we focused on ourselves and our problems and the modifications we made after Australia, and to react and address the issues that we had,” says Binotto yesterday during a press conference.
And yet, in an effort to explain the 0.6 second advantage over second best Mercedes in the qualifying simulations of Friday, Binotto remained circumspect on his drivers prospects for qualifying on Saturday. Obviously conscious that the entire nation of Italy is hanging on his every word.
Vettel and Leclerc were neck and neck with their best soft tyre simulated qualifying laps around the 1:28.8 mark, the closest Mercedes was that of Hamilton on a 1:29.5, over half a second behind.
“I think it’s quite obvious, you may see the GPS data, the speed on the straight, we were certainly pushing different engine modes compared to what the others were doing today. So I’m expecting a very tough battle tomorrow.” clearly the red team’s expectation is that Mercedes will ‘engage party mode’ by Q3.
But should the Ferrari pair maintain their pace and achieve a front row after qualifying, then there’s every reason to expect a Red victory and perhaps one from the new boy Charles Leclerc.
Looking at the long run data from Free Practice 2, TJ13 see’s Leclerc as the fastest driver of the field with a combined average lap time (ignoring traffic blighted laps along with in and out laps) as the fastest average time of 1:34.86. This takes into account runs on both soft and medium tyre compounds.
Next best is Vettel, a full 0.4 seconds behind his young team mate. Perhaps more worrying for the British crowd is Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, languishing in 5th place out of the top 3 teams.
|Soft tyre ave||Med tyre ave||Combined ave||Delta||Rank|
Of course, by Sunday the teams may’ve figured out a little more on their setups as both sides of the garages exchange data, but based on what we’ve seen on Friday, it most definitely wasn’t Lewis’ floor causing the lack of pace in Melbourne and truly Bottas is the quicker of the pair still with Verstappen not far off the Finn.
Gasly must be looking over his shoulder as former Red Bull Racing driver and 2019 Toro Rosso returnee Daniel Kyvatt very much impressed, often going quicker than Gasly in the senior car.
Another notable mention must go to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who definitely seems to have the better of his new team mate, and ex Red Bull Racing GP winning driver, Daniel Ricciardo.