Red Bull fastest in the dry but rain expected tomorrow (FP2 analysis)

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Red Bull cars filled the top two places in both of today’s practice sessions at Japan, confirming pre-race expectations that the RB6 would be the car to beat around sinuous Suzuka.

Rain has already begun to fall at the track and much more is expected tomorrow. Will Red Bull retain their advantage in more challenging conditions?

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

Red Bull enjoyed a healthy performance margin over Ferrari today. Their qualifying pace, reflected in their best lap times in second practice, seems especially strong.

Reflecting the same pattern seen at other races this year, the two are closer on race pace. Zoom to the final 15 minutes on the interactive chart above to compare their lap times.

After his crash in first practice Lewis Hamilton managed only a few laps at the end of the second session and had to run with the old-specification rear wing. Jenson Button’s pace showed McLaren are in the mix with Ferrari but Red Bull are surely out of reach in dry conditions.

Robert Kubica cautioned against building up unrealistic hopes after finishing the second session third fastest, ahead of both Ferraris and McLarens. He’s not the only person in the paddock worried about what the weather will do:

We need to wait and see what the weather will bring us tomorrow and try to do our best in all conditions. The forecast is saying there will be quite a lot of rain, so it was important to do a lot of running today and complete all our evaluation ahead of the race, which looks like it might be dry. If it is wet tomorrow, then today will have been our only chance to drive on dry tyres before the race.
Robert Kubica

Rain began to fall at the track after second practice and is expected to stay throughout tomorrow.

Adrian Sutil was the only one of Force India’s driver to use the new floor on the car in first practice. By the second session both cars had the upgrade but Vitantonio Liuzzi still ended up 1.5 seconds off his team mate.

The gap between the two Williams drivers can be explained by the traffic Rubens Barrichello encountered. A look at the ultimate lap times before shows he was on team mate Nico Hulkenberg’s pace before a technical problem intervened.

Nico Rosberg had a gearbox problem in the first session and struggled with understeer in the second. He was 0.05s slower than Michael Schumacher – not much in terms of time but it left him three places behind.

Pos.CarDriverCarBest lapGapLapAt timeLaps
15Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’31.465206932
26Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’31.8600.395156029
311Robert KubicaRenault1’32.2000.735186332
48Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’32.3620.897216734
57Felipe MassaFerrari1’32.5191.054165535
61Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’32.5331.068156228
712Vitaly PetrovRenault1’32.7031.238124232
83Michael SchumacherMercedes1’32.8311.366135827
914Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’32.8421.377115126
1010Nico HulkenbergWilliams-Cosworth1’32.8511.386136726
114Nico RosbergMercedes1’32.8801.415116226
1223Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’33.4712.006196931
132Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.4812.0165918
149Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’33.5642.099103016
1522Nick HeidfeldSauber-Ferrari1’33.6972.232196533
1616Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.0052.540165332
1717Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.0552.590154737
1815Vitantonio LiuzziForce India-Mercedes1’34.3102.845195933
1919Heikki KovalainenLotus-Cosworth1’36.0954.630226337
2018Jarno TrulliLotus-Cosworth1’36.3334.868206833
2125Lucas di GrassiVirgin-Cosworth1’36.6305.165207728
2224Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’36.8345.36942428
2321Bruno SennaHRT-Cosworth1’37.3525.887185833
2420Sakon YamamotoHRT-Cosworth1’37.8316.366195934

Ultimate laps

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

Pos.CarDriverCarUltimate lapGapDeficit to best
15Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’31.4310.034
26Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’31.8600.4290.000
311Robert KubicaRenault1’32.1100.6790.090
48Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’32.1650.7340.197
57Felipe MassaFerrari1’32.5031.0720.016
61Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’32.5331.1020.000
712Vitaly PetrovRenault1’32.7031.2720.000
810Nico HulkenbergWilliams-Cosworth1’32.7681.3370.083
94Nico RosbergMercedes1’32.7971.3660.083
103Michael SchumacherMercedes1’32.8261.3950.005
1114Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’32.8421.4110.000
129Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’32.9951.5640.569
1323Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’33.4712.0400.000
142Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.4812.0500.000
1522Nick HeidfeldSauber-Ferrari1’33.5522.1210.145
1616Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.0052.5740.000
1717Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.0182.5870.037
1815Vitantonio LiuzziForce India-Mercedes1’34.0292.5980.281
1919Heikki KovalainenLotus-Cosworth1’36.0344.6030.061
2018Jarno TrulliLotus-Cosworth1’36.3334.9020.000
2125Lucas di GrassiVirgin-Cosworth1’36.6305.1990.000
2224Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’36.6645.2330.170
2321Bruno SennaHRT-Cosworth1’37.2415.8100.111
2420Sakon YamamotoHRT-Cosworth1’37.6686.2370.163

2010 Japanese Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    52 comments on “Red Bull fastest in the dry but rain expected tomorrow (FP2 analysis)”

    1. Rain could really mess up Red Bull’s party. McLaren are strong in the wet (though it will be difficult with the limited running with the upgrades) and Alonso isn’t exactly the world’s worst wet-weather driver (Spa notwithstanding).

      But I don’t think their advantage in today’s dry will be the same as in a dry race. Alonso usually sandbags in practice and we have little idea of where Hamilton is.

      1. Hadn’t Hamilton just set the fastest time so far for Sector 1 before he went off?

        1. yes but it was early and RB hadn’t really been running much up to then.

        2. He finished fifth in the session, I think, and still ahead of Button. So that makes the plot thick.

          We saw the same scenario in Germany with the upgrades and in England. Hamilton and Button were going off trying to get a handle on EBD behavior. I suspect that the off-throttle behavior, which you would see as you come out of the first Degner and try to settle the car for the tight second part, gave the McLaren guys fits. You could hear Hamilton’s car moaning dramatically off-throttle again, while Button’s car sounded normal.

          Clearly Button is not comfortable or willing to run the overrun setting and probably the different floor package it is designed to apply to that Hamilton is. If Hamilton can come to terms with the new spec I think he might be very quick.

      2. Neither are Vettel who took pole and won in a Torro Rosso… Pretty strong achievement.

        1. That car was insanely good in the wet. I mean, Bourdais qualifying 4th?

          Vettel is good in the wet but I think the cars contributed a lot to the premature “new Regenmeister” tag.

          1. ridiculous. The TR was performing strongly before and after Monza as well, but not enough to warrant the kind of performances Vettel was putting in, the kid definitely was outdriving the car. If it was Hamilton in his place at STR, you’d be gushing about how much HE was outdriving the car.

      3. I am not too sure about that, i suppose that with really stable wet conditions Red Bull will be able to use their Downforce advantage.
        Only in the changable weather with a narrow balance between slicks and intermediates i see a weakness.

        1. That’s kind of what I was thinking, and it sounds indeed like it will be wet wet. Will Buxton was tweeting about 2″ of rain forecast.

      4. Alonso doesn’t sandbag in practice. He doesn’t have the engines to go full speed on friday.

    2. I am very surprised at the news that Liuzzi is to stay with Force India for 2011. Has he finished many sessions above Sutil? Maybe only when Sutil has parked it in the barrier early in the session perhaps?

      1. There’s no such news, just Liuzzi saying he has a contract… we’ve heard that sort of thing before. Doesn’t mean it’s a contract to race or a contract that Force India will honour. More likely FI are just hedging their bets in case Sutil jumps and they can’t get Heidfeld to partner Di Resta.

        1. FI’s Szafnauer in interview told
          “We never talk about contracts…”
          He also said, there is a seat available in FI for 2011.

          I really hope petrove do well in next 2 races, so that we can see Sutil and Heidfeld and in FI 2011.

          1. Gotta feel sorry for Liuzzi. Apparently a lot of his problems come from the F-Duct, which he hates. He seemed closer to Sutil at the beginning of the season and it will be a shame if he loses his drive off the back of something that wont be in the sport next year, but hey that’s racing and you’re only as good as your last race.

            1. It might be just that fact saved him from being dropped after being so far behind on Sutil at most races.

      2. What I find interesting, is that Liuzzi looked better than Klein in the old Red Bull days, and Klein comes back after years, jumps in a dog of a car and absolutely hammers Senna. Senna’s trading on a convenient name at the moment.

        Whatever, I’m looking forward to seeing Di Resta drive, I’m hoping Sutil gets the Renault (or Merc…) drive so we can see how good he is, and Nick returns somewhere – he’d be a better FI bet than Liuzzi I reckon.

        1. Sound_Of_Madness
          8th October 2010, 15:15

          There is a possible explanation to that. Maybe that Klien put his head down as a test driver in various teams and worked hard, and so knows really well to set-up a car. On the other hand, Liuzzi spent less years as tester (and these on the non-testing years and in a lower team) and knows better car setuping. Or maybe that Liuzzi is just more plain lazy.

          1. Sound_Of_Madness
            8th October 2010, 15:16

            Sorry, where “knows better car set-uping” I meant “doesn’t know better car set-uping”

        2. I seem to remember Klein doing quite well in 2005. In 2006, he was lacklustre.

    3. Spa/Suzuka + rain = fantastic race weekend.

      1. Why are you dividing Suzuka into Spa ;-)

        1. He’s not dividing. I think it’s just an OR.

          Otherwise I don’t understand. If he could show all the math demostrations we could study the formula deeply. ;)

          1. He needs to show the work on his proof. ;-)

            1. HounslowBusGarage
              8th October 2010, 21:46

              Spa/Suzuka = max x fun

              or maybe that should be

              (Spa + Suzuka + Montreal) – (Valencia + Bahrein + Abu Dhabi) = (fun)2

    4. I’ve before about but i’m still not clear….
      One thing i’m a bit surprised is this year…Red bull haven’t been that Great in the Wet as they were in Last year in Rain and in Cold Weather….
      Does anyone know why is that…..there’s no doubt Vettel and webber are pretty Good in Rain…..
      It wasn’t only the RB5…but the previous cars were strong too….including torro rosso….
      U Need more downforce in Wets…well they’ve got enough….so what else do they need….?

      1. i mean i’ve asked before

      2. Actually they are probably pretty good in heavy rain. Just nothing special in changing conditions and on intermediates (seems that is one area where McLaren are top notch this year).

      3. There was some talk at the beginning of the season that they’re not so good in rain because of the tyre wear EBD produces. But now McLaren and Ferrari both have EBD, so not sure how fast they will be. McLaren certainly seems the best at decisions in wet and the drivers can read the conditions very well.

        1. Although the tire wear with the EBD didn’t seem to hamper Vettel in the dry at Monza.

    5. Possible outcomes:

      Rain for Qual: hammy, vettel, Alonso.
      Wet but not raining for qual: Alonso (as shown in Singapore), Hammy, Vettel
      Dry for qual: Vettel, Webber, Alonso

    6. Rain might help Ferrari with their used engines. For Q in wet conditions I think I favor Alonso, Hamilton and Kubica if everything were consistent, but I don’t think that will happen. There are just too many variables to contemplate in the wet for me to have any confidence in my predictions.

      1. To me, I just hope it was not just a RBR 1-2 from start to finish…..

        1. Just another nerve racking Sat and Sun in the world of F1 :)

    7. Since Martin spoke about the crash boy: Hamilton´s Monza, Hamilton´s Singapur; Hamilton´s Suzaka!!!!!!!!!

      1. So Hamilton is crash boy?
        And Vettel is crash kid?

        It sounds just like two competing super hero side kicks…..

        1. So…..don’t put both of them in the same team. Unless said team is called internal implosion.

          I’m only messing, both good drivers – with a few ‘off days’ (no pun intended!)

          1. They could form their own team and call it “The Supercrashers.”

            1. and bring Sato back as reserver driver

            2. right, and nakajima could be their team principal

      2. Didn’t Alonso crash more often?

        What’s he called? Crash senior?

      3. You can add Germany to that list.

    8. Rain or Shine i hope its Vettel…

    9. If there’s any wet weather then Mclaren will 1-2. In Spa Button and Hamilton were the only ones who could improve their laptimes during qualy when the rain began to fall, they won at Aus and 1-2 at China. With a car as good as that in the wet and those two anyway then it’ll be a slice of cake for them. I imagine Scribe is doing the F1f cliche rain dance :P

      1. I’m rain dancing too!! Macca’s like it Wet.

      2. It’s annoying, McLaren being so good in the wet really ruins my enjoyment of wet races.

      3. Scribe is dancing a lot, I suppose:

        Emlyn Hughes via Twitter:

        Soggy #suzuka Saturday #f1: 06:45 JST, daylight breaking & finally starting to rain properly. Radar says we have hours of the stuff to come

    10. Viva la Vettel!!!

    11. I expected Ferrari to use Massa to run most of the tests, specialy due to engine limitation (and Massa used one extra last race). But Alonso is matching his lap count and moreover using all the power of it.

      1. maybe they used engines that have already been used twice for Alonso’s car in order to avoid unnecessary risks?

    12. Hamilton ran the old wing in FP2 because Button had the only other non-wrecked new design. And McLaren have some guy schlepping from England to bring Hamilton a new wing. Even if that guy got very brisk ride to Heathrow (MP4-12C taxi?)and got the first non-stop to Narita, making it to Suzuka for Q1 seems pretty dicey.

      If there is only one upgraded wing for qualifying, will Jenson Button be asked to give up that wing for qualifying?

      1. 24 hrs is a long time in the Air Freight business. I am sure they should not have any problems moving the piece from two of the busiest airports in the word.

        If it does happen though, Id say it would end up being a call, Especially when the qualifying will be in the wet. And possibly some showers in the Wet. Which wing is better for the wet conditions?

      2. Younger Hamilton
        8th October 2010, 21:36

        Team Radio: Jenson we’re giving up the new wing to Lewis
        JB:Why?? what happenned to his
        Team Radio:He broke his,im sorry Jenson but you’re now out of this title hunt we were going to tell you eariler
        JB:How can you do this to me i thought you guys were much better than this.You embarassed me in front of my Girlfriend and my Dad I HATE YOU ALL!!!

        P.S. Just a Parody and a Joke!!

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