Red Bull dominate first two sectors but Ferrari’s pace is unknown (FP1 analysis)

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Red Bull are pulling out an advantage of half a second over their rivals in the first two sectors of the lap at Suzuka.

But while Lewis Hamilton showed promising pace before his crash, Ferrari’s performance around Suzuka is surely better than 11th and 13th in first practice suggested.

Meanwhile Suzuka specialist Sutil flattered his Force India with the fourth-fastest time.

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Tick/untick drivers’ names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

With heavy rain expected tomorrow the teams got in as much running as they could during first practice on a dry track.

But McLaren missed out on a quarter of the running available to them as Hamilton crashed halfway through the session.

He had just set the fastest time in the first sector of the lap up to that point and had been lapping at a similar pace to Sebastian Vettel. Although McLaren will be frustrated at the loss of track time, they may draw some encouragement from that. Apparently their new rear wing is working as well.

Both MP4-25s ran their new rear wing with revised F-duct. It seems Jenson Button was on a different programme to Hamilton, and had not beaten his team mate’s time by the end of the session.

Indeed Hamilton ended the session fifth despite missing half of it, which indicates the performance drop-off on the hard tyres was quite high. That should improve as more rubber goes down on the track this weekend.

Ferrari also seem to have been keeping their powder dry with neither car finishing in the top ten. Expect that to change in the next session.

Adrian Sutil, whose qualifying performance here last year marked him out as a Suzuka specialist, strung his three best sectors together in one lap to put his Force India fourth.

The ultimate times list shows the Mercedes and Williams are faster. However Sutil was slightly delayed by a hydraulic problem, so there’s probably more to come from the VJM03.

As expected, the Red Bulls are strongest in the first sector, where no other car is within 0.3s of them. Both drivers were also top in sector two, with a slightly smaller advantage.

For the moment at least, their rivals aren’t able to claw much of that back in the final sector with its long straights. Mark Webber was quicker through the speed trap than both the McLarens.

According to Mike Gascoyne, Lotus tried a lower downforce set-up on Heikki Kovalainen’s car but decided it was “not the way to go”.

Given Kovalainen ended the session quicker than his team mate it seems this was tried in his first stint, when he was slower, as you can see in the interactive data above.

The next session should provide some clues as to whether Red Bull’s rivals can reduce their advantage – and just how quick those Ferraris are.

CarDriverCarBest lapGapLapAt timeLaps
15Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’32.585147123
26Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’32.6330.048146323
311Robert KubicaRenault1’33.1290.544147223
414Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’33.6391.05494213
52Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.6431.0586678
69Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’33.6771.092143521
710Nico HulkenbergWilliams-Cosworth1’33.7071.122169124
83Michael SchumacherMercedes1’33.7391.15497020
922Nick HeidfeldSauber-Ferrari1’33.7911.206106423
104Nico RosbergMercedes1’33.8311.2468919
117Felipe MassaFerrari1’33.9291.344154125
121Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’34.0421.457127019
138Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’34.1691.584127623
1423Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’34.2711.68645619
1512Vitaly PetrovRenault1’34.3731.788136624
1615Vitantonio LiuzziForce India-Mercedes1’34.3791.794127021
1716Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.9912.406246226
1817Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’35.6843.099197022
1919Heikki KovalainenLotus-Cosworth1’36.9494.364155525
2024Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’37.3294.744106617
2118Jarno TrulliLotus-Cosworth1’37.3884.80366623
2225Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’37.7785.193156823
2321Bruno SennaHRT-Cosworth1’38.8146.229196928
2420Sakon YamamotoHRT-Cosworth1’39.4436.858177526

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best time in each of the three sectors that make up a lap added together.

CarDriverCarUltimate lapGapDeficit to best
15Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’32.5360.049
26Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’32.5830.0470.050
311Robert KubicaRenault1’32.8000.2640.329
42Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.3790.8430.264
54Nico RosbergMercedes1’33.6141.0780.217
63Michael SchumacherMercedes1’33.6281.0920.111
79Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’33.6381.1020.039
814Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’33.6391.1030.000
910Nico HulkenbergWilliams-Cosworth1’33.6751.1390.032
1022Nick HeidfeldSauber-Ferrari1’33.7381.2020.053
117Felipe MassaFerrari1’33.8091.2730.120
121Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’34.0241.4880.018
138Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’34.1691.6330.000
1423Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’34.1941.6580.077
1515Vitantonio LiuzziForce India-Mercedes1’34.3301.7940.049
1612Vitaly PetrovRenault1’34.3731.8370.000
1716Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.9332.3970.058
1817Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’35.4162.8800.268
1919Heikki KovalainenLotus-Cosworth1’36.9094.3730.040
2018Jarno TrulliLotus-Cosworth1’37.1404.6040.248
2124Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’37.2994.7630.030
2225Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’37.6095.0730.169
2321Bruno SennaHRT-Cosworth1’38.6626.1260.152
2420Sakon YamamotoHRT-Cosworth1’39.1556.6190.288

2010 Japanese Grand Prix

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    Image © Force India F1 Team

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    22 comments on “Red Bull dominate first two sectors but Ferrari’s pace is unknown (FP1 analysis)”

    1. I Love Suzuka…Its gonna Be so Tight…. Excited about Next Session….

      1. vodka and orange
        8th October 2010, 12:59

        whoooooa mate, slow down a bit!! Lets get this brilliant season over with first eh? I dont know how you can be thinking about next year just yet with things looking so hot at the moment!!#:)

        1. “Next session”, not “next season”.

    2. Its a seen trend this year where Ferrari goes heavier in the FP1.
      They cant be 1.5 secs of the pace and slower than Renault, Meecedes, Force India and Williams.

    3. Yeah, Ferrari seem to run heavy at the start. Finally a race i will be able to watch in the afternoon here in Australia. Its better than 10pm on a sunday night :)

      1. I take 10pm any time over my “normal” race time of 7am. Quali and race shown midnight Fri/Sat.

        1. My normal time is 4am, and admittedly, I don’t watch those live. I catch ’em on the DVR once I’m awake and jacked up on caffeine. That way I can skip the atrocious ads too.

      2. trulli dead09
        8th October 2010, 6:14

        Yea but because of these useless Commonwealth Games we don’t get a pre-race show by One, so that puts a dampener on things. Surely it couldn’t hurt Channel 10 to put in a 50 minute show in place of a bunch of athletes running around in circles.

    4. You know, I could settle for a Red Bull victory with Ferrari pointless …

      1. Sounds great to me. ;)

    5. Its good that Ham collided and destrroyed his car.
      I hope he doesnt run in FP2 and crashes out in the race.
      PS: I am not anti Ham . He is tremendous driver but I dont like Mclaren.

      1. Its good that Ham collided and destrroyed his car.
        I hope he doesnt run in FP2 and crashes out in the race.
        PS: I am not anti Ham . He is tremendous driver but I dont like Mclaren.

        Wow… I hope everybody feels much better now after you let us know that… ;)

        1. Any day Becken.
          Just keep looking and reading at my comments. You will say WOW everytime. :)

          1. Haters gotta hate :(

      2. Agree with you Gill. He Should hit the wall again during qualifying. lol

    6. I have a feeling HAM may get pole… don’t forget, he actually got the fastest 1st sector at that time of the crash… 1st Sector is supposed to be RBR…

      Ferrari really have not shown their true colours… last few races especially italy and Singapore…. Ferrar was no where near the top for FP1….

    7. McLaren say Hamilton will be out in FP2 but not right at the start.

      1. ham is still out. Its 11 m ins left in FP2 to end

    8. Really hard to judge, the RBR went fast early, Ferrari held back and the only McLaren running in the end was doing longer runs as well.

      Lewis will be in a fighting mode after this, i am curious to learn what that brings out in him this weekend.

    9. “Meanwhile Suzuka specialist Sutil flattered his Force India with the fourth-fastest time. ”

      Aliteration aside… :)

    10. looks like Kubica this time

    Comments are closed.