Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Weather makes DRS decision tough for teams

2011 Belgian GP FP2 analysis

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

The weather continued to vex the teams at Spa-Francorchamps.

But the gaps between rain showers at least gave enough time for most of them to run the soft and medium slick tyres during the second practice.

Friday’s rain is particular headache for the teams as race day is expected to be dry. That means they have little data with which to make critical decisions about rear wing angles and gear ratios.

Sacrificing downforce for straight-line speed will make a car hard to pass in the race, but could compromise qualifying performance.

Spa was always going to be a track where optimising the Drag Reduction System and getting the best trade-off between qualifying and race performance was going to be difficult. The limited running has only exacerbated that problem.

Longest stint comparison

  • The rain meant we didn’t see the high-fuel runs teams usually try at the end of second practice.

This chart shows the lap times (in seconds) each driver set during their longest stints.

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv

123456789101112
Sebastian Vettel116.03113.261111.794
Mark Webber131.652130.524135.7129.094128.351
Lewis Hamilton116.053112.8112.066117.5
Jenson Button110.77117.593
Fernando Alonso110.461126.751112.333
Felipe Massa119.322121.376115.674
Michael Schumacher115.186112.102112.236118.123111.922
Nico Rosberg117.185111.967119.088121.149111.962111.242116.077112.197
Bruno Senna130.901129.558128.293132.041126.186
Vitaly Petrov129.839128.889
Rubens Barrichello116.642130.282114.853113.43129.465113.156
Pastor Maldonado137.192135.402144.924134.426151.799129.444
Nico Hulkenberg128.139125.365123.852
Paul di Resta113.211111.751115.691111.95
Kamui Kobayashi136.279139.917134.532133.987132.251139.265136.661126.432
Sergio Perez112.929126.49112.059112.199121.412111.655125.818
Sebastien Buemi137.325135.742135.105134.925131.346130.043129.421125.719124.151
Jaime Alguersuari136.59137.821134.063133.54130.901130.233127.806126.064135.316123.741
Heikki Kovalainen131.361126.419126.163
Jarno Trulli139.957138.443138.029136.514144.237131.512130.592138.007127.519126.667142.226125.429
Daniel Ricciardo144.063143.328143.37141.705142.6139.119135.999134.644134.069132.554134.45
Vitantonio Liuzzi142.425141.813140.486156.608137133.045131.748150.773128.432
Timo Glock117.885116.631115.687115.494
Jerome d’Ambrosio150.336141.571141.487139.952139.293136.207

Ultimate lap times

An ultimate lap is a driver’s fastest three sector times combined.

  • Vettel was unable to get a lap in on soft tyres, but the combination of his best sector times indicates his real pace.
  • All the drivers were able to lap within 107% of Webber’s theoretical best time, indicating they should all be able to qualify.
CarDriverCarUltimate lapGapDeficit to best
12Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’50.1450.176
25Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’50.2010.0560.260
34Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’50.5290.3840.241
43Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’50.8380.6930.000
51Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’51.0280.8830.762
68Nico RosbergMercedes1’51.1220.9770.120
76Felipe MassaFerrari1’51.2181.0730.000
814Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’51.3511.2060.374
915Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’51.5101.3650.241
1017Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’51.5681.4230.087
117Michael SchumacherMercedes1’51.6061.4610.316
1212Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Cosworth1’52.3952.2500.355
1318Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’52.4572.3120.552
1419Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’52.6672.5220.244
1516Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’52.7802.6350.000
1611Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’53.0472.9020.109
179Bruno SennaRenault1’53.7943.6490.041
1821Jarno TrulliLotus-Renault1’54.8444.6990.207
1924Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’55.4365.2910.058
2020Heikki KovalainenLotus-Renault1’55.5845.4390.618
2110Vitaly PetrovRenault1’55.9725.8276.262
2225Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’56.7516.6060.065
2323Vitantonio LiuzziHRT-Cosworth1’57.2357.0900.215
2422Daniel RicciardoHRT-Cosworth1’57.5737.4280.039

Complete practice times

  • All the drivers set their fastest time on soft tyres, with the exception of Vettel, Alguersuari, Buemi, Kovalainen (all medium) and Petrov (intermediate)
  • A steering problem kept Petrov from setting a time on slicks
  • Pirelli expect the soft tyre to be around 1.2 seconds per lap faster than the medium tyre
CarDriverCarBest lapGapStint lapAt timeLaps
12Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’50.3212/25322
25Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’50.4610.1401/35019
34Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’50.7700.4491/2529
43Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’50.8380.5171/1549
56Felipe MassaFerrari1’51.2180.8971/15315
68Nico RosbergMercedes1’51.2420.9216/84923
717Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’51.6551.3346/75221
814Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’51.7251.4041/25018
915Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’51.7511.4302/4509
101Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’51.7901.4691/15113
117Michael SchumacherMercedes1’51.9221.6015/54623
1212Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Cosworth1’52.7502.4291/15420
1316Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’52.7802.4591/15426
1419Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’52.9112.5906/75025
1518Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’53.0092.6888/85325
1611Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’53.1562.8356/65117
179Bruno SennaRenault1’53.8353.5143/35320
1821Jarno TrulliLotus-Renault1’55.0514.7304/45120
1924Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’55.4945.1734/45123
2020Heikki KovalainenLotus-Renault1’56.2025.8812/24715
2125Jerome D’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’56.8166.4955/55220
2223Vitantonio LiuzziHRT-Cosworth1’57.4507.1292/64519
2322Daniel RicciardoHRT-Cosworth1’57.6127.2915/65124
2410Vitaly PetrovRenault2’02.23411.9131/13612

Speed trap

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011
  • This is an area to keep an eye on as teams are evaluating different approaches with their Drag Reduction Systems.
  • Red Bull were running less rear wing than their rivals and Sebastian Vettel was just a fraction off the highest straight-line speed seen in the session.
  • Meanwhile McLaren were testing different versions of their rear wing including some that were much steeper.
#DriverCarEngineMax speedGap
117Sergio PerezSauberFerrari298.8
21Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault298.70.1
37Michael SchumacherMercedesMercedes2980.8
415Paul di RestaForce IndiaMercedes297.51.3
58Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes295.83
616Kamui KobayashiSauberFerrari295.83
75Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari2953.8
818Sebastien BuemiToro RossoFerrari292.95.9
919Jaime AlguersuariToro RossoFerrari292.56.3
102Mark WebberRed BullRenault292.46.4
116Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari291.57.3
124Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes288.810
1314Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes288.310.5
1411Rubens BarrichelloWilliamsCosworth287.511.3
153Lewis HamiltonMcLarenMercedes287.311.5
1612Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsCosworth286.412.4
1723Vitantonio LiuzziHRTCosworth286.312.5
1824Timo GlockVirginCosworth285.413.4
1925Jerome D’AmbrosioVirginCosworth283.315.5
209Bruno SennaRenaultRenault282.316.5
2120Heikki KovalainenLotusRenault280.518.3
2221Jarno TrulliLotusRenault27523.8
2322Daniel RicciardoHRTCosworth270.828
2410Vitaly PetrovRenaultRenault26830.8

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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Images ?? Pirelli, Red Bull/Getty images

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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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15 comments on “Weather makes DRS decision tough for teams”

  1. Speaking as a layman, might it not be best to try and get away with some extra downforce and have long gear ratios, with 7th as a DRS “over-run”? Or would this lose too much time on the straights, I wonder?

    Whitmarsh was saying about wanting them to run as low as possible, but he didn’t have to drive it through Eau Rouge so he would leave it up to the drivers! I think that will be the essence of the McLaren philosophy tomorrow though.

    1. But its interesting to see Red Bull go defensive (optimize for the straights). It might indicate that McLaren and Ferrari are really faster in race pace so they are likely to pass the RBR cars.

      1. I think last year too we saw the Red Bulls really cut the downforce because of how draggy their cars were. This year the Red Bull doesn’t seem as draggy and more efficient, but I think the trend will be the same this year.

  2. It all comes down to whether one trusts the weather forecast. If race day is indeed dry then I’d go with Whitmarsh and run less angle. However, if we accept that this is Spa and it might snow on Sunday I’d take downforce over straight line speed – not only would one be able to qualify higher, but if it does drizzle one is better off.

    Having said that, on balance I’d go for less angle. Spa is a track where overtaking is hardly a problem, especially so with a a car set up for top speed.

    1. Being Spa I’d be surprised if Hurricane Irene doesn’t turn up!

  3. Looking at Red Bull it would appear that Vettel is setting up to win the predicted DRY race and Webber is on plan B to ensure points for the team if it rains during the race.

    1. And also, I guess, to keep a Red Bull on the front row in wet qualifying.

      1. Would be nice to see Webber make a good start from pole on Sunday. We live in hope.

    2. If there are two potential strategies for the race you can bet Button has chosen the opposite one to Hamilton too.

  4. Could Mercedes have a small advantage then, given they managed to put in a half decent time in the first session then? It’s probably a very tiny advantage, but helpful none-the-less.

    I know that given the sifistication of the simulators nowadays teams will have a rough idea on what to do anyway, but nothing beats raw track data.

    1. I doubt Mercedes would have got what they needed from the dry part of the sessions, they would have barely got the installation laps out of the way.

  5. please don’t forget everyone that the SPEED TRAP is located on the exit of eau rogue, not at the end of the kemmel straight. therefore it is useful as a guidline to see who is coming out of eauu rogue fastest, not who has the highest top speed…

    1. So do we invert the results ie. Vettel is 6k faster than Webber so must have more downforce through Eau Rouge?

    2. I never knew that, why do they put it there? The car won’t be at its fastest through that point. Not far off, but not fastest.

  6. Well we will all know who is quick and who is not in just a few hours, the video recorder is set just in case I sleep in but also to allow me to speed through the commercials. May I wish good luck to all your favourite drivers, and especially mine.

Comments are closed.