Despite a couple of missed races in this season due to some personal circumstances, TJ13 returns this weekend with some predictions for the race on Sunday.
As the title of the article alludes, we all need to now forget Ferrari as a serious contender for anything apart from the odd race win, if they’re lucky this season. Mercedes have demonstrated the ultimate sandbagging in testing, and simply not allowed the competition in as the season has progressed, so hats off.
Now we need to look at the inter-team battle for the title, rather than the extra-team Championship fight.
And what better place to start than Friday’s free practice two in Barcelona at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, F1’s traditional testing venue during the winter months. The very place where we thought Ferrari had a step lead in terms of pace over the competition back in February at winter testing.
Friday practice yesterday can reveal a lot about the form of any given team and free practice two says a lot about a teams race pace as teams simulate long runs on real fuel loads expected on Sunday, TJ13 attempts to unravel this data to give an idea on who might be fastest on Sunday should things remains mostly the same.
Friday practice 2 results
|Red Bull Racing Honda||1:18.035||+0.751s||30|
|Red Bull Racing Honda||1:18.238||+0.954s||34|
|Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:18.722||+1.438s||40|
The outright fastest times above are never the best way to look at the performance of a driver for the up and coming Grand Prix. Indeed if we gather the data for the race simulations, discard the laps in traffic or in / out laps from the pit lane, we can get a better picture as to who is consistently the quickest driver.
Ever critical for Barcelona is who gets pole, the likelihood of overtaking at this track is very low, unless you have a significant pace advantage over the car you’re following, the pole sitter usually wins here unless something odd happens or a faster car can pass in the pits.
The fast lap qualifying simulations are not so accurate on Friday when compared to Saturday’s practice three sessions, but they do still simulate single lap pace.
Mercedes again look to be at the front for this, with Bottas quickest on the C3 (softest) compound doing a 1:17.284, slightly quicker than teammate Hamilton’s 1:17.333.
Ferrari look fairly fast sitting around the mid 17.5’s, but nothing compared to Mercedes and Red Bull are nowhere close for their C3 qualifying simulations, both Verstappen and Gasly around the 1:18 mark.
Looking at the average long run pace on each tyre during race simulations, Bottas again is the fastest but by quite a margin and far more than the official times say (only 0.049 ahead of Hamilton).
Averaging out the times set on each tyre, combining those times and comparing to the rest of the top 6 teams with their drivers, we see that Hamilton is way off Bottas’ race pace, a staggering 0.4 seconds a lap.
Unless Hamilton manages to sort out his car balance issues in time for tomorrow, it’s very likely we’ll see Valterri on the top spot of the podium once again with the quicker car thus far.
Should that happen, the next big question (and one number crunching cannot predict!), will Mercedes continue to allow Bottas to take the lion’s share of the points on Sunday?
One suspects that whilst Ferrari fails to put up a decent fight, there’s every chance we might see Mercedes continue to throw Bottas a bone, for now.