Drivers expect tyres to create “demanding” race

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Friday practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix showed drivers will have a lot of work on their hands to keep life in their tyres.

Several drivers remarked on the difficulty of managing the tyres over a race stint in the second practice session.

Heikki Kovalainen said: “This morning the track wasn’t as dusty as we’d feared, so the grip levels were ok.

“That meant we could take a proper look at the degradation levels on the prime tyres in FP1 and it was immediately clear that the heat and the nature of this track will mean managing wear rates is going to be crucial on Sunday.

“Rear grip is an area we’ll have to pay particular attention to and we tried a few setup changes to try and manage that, but I think it’ll be the same for everyone.”

Longest stint comparison

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:

Sebastian Vettel100.536100.417100.903102.514100.811101.069105.04101.12
Mark Webber100.866100.724100.525100.745101.332101.339101.053102.521102.151
Jenson Button108.298100.959101.308100.898101.052101.353101.897102.098102.704103.495
Lewis Hamilton101.014100.318100.595100.664101.118101.555106.982
Fernando Alonso104.271101.384101.238101.595101.768103.701101.853104.437
Felipe Massa100.202101.25100.488100.434100.982100.943101.022
Michael Schumacher101.162101.343100.901101.421101.423101.62102.058102.015101.971102.296102.909
Nico Rosberg101.083101.381101.41101.403113.243101.347101.719102.058102.359102.74102.988103.522
Kimi Raikkonen100.438100.70999.989100.322102.034100.934100.722101.711
Romain Grosjean100.09199.821101.309100.298100.365100.764100.696100.836105.237101.48102.113102.445103.133
Kamui Kobayashi100.724101.417101.072101.534102.141102.079102.553103.125102.858
Sergio Perez101.172100.925100.677101.668101.266102.216102.358102.701103.429104.133
Daniel Ricciardo102.147101.444101.491101.656101.865101.789103.069102.854102.432103.068103.517105.921
Jean-Eric Vergne102.839102.036101.915102.229102.33102.78102.857102.807103.111104.175
Pastor Maldonado101.982101.486101.701101.37101.579101.77102.062101.644101.825102.069102.113102.347103.894103.07
Bruno Senna100.794101.132101.136101.057100.875101.082100.847101.237101.384
Heikki Kovalainen101.781102.066107.3101.613102.6104.853103.093104.476106.174104.902
Vitaly Petrov101.243105.813100.789103.818101.377102.221102.46104.014103.633104.707
Pedro de la Rosa102.9102.777102.95103.046103.492104.902104.572105.011106.054108.146109.01
Narain Karthikeyan105.226105.212105.495106.289106.213107.237108.705
Timo Glock100.948100.988101.103101.29101.465102.621102.812102.7102.675102.984103.335
Charles Pic103.15102.803103.131104.259102.803103.025104.113104.286104.419104.713

As the chart shows, high tyre temperatures made life difficult for the drivers on race stints. Look at how much more quickly the lap times rise here than they did for the Chinese Grand prix last weekend.

Remember they’re using the same tyre compounds here as in China – medium and soft – the difference is the track configuration and temperature. Lewis Hamilton said: “Looking after the tyres here is going to be a real challenge.

“The track surface is extremely hot, and the amount of energy that goes through the tyres under braking is incredible: the temperatures keep on rising until it feels just like driving on an ice-rink.

“Tyre degradation will be a big issue for everyone around here and the weekend will be all about who can look after the tyres the best.”

Nico Rosberg added: “The most important thing still is to improve our race pace. For the moment, it looks reasonable but we need to analyse where we are on high fuel levels compared to our competitors and draw our conclusions.

“The conditions are really tough out there, so the race will be quite demanding from the tyre perspective.”

Sector times and ultimate lap times – second practice

CarDriverCarSector 1Sector 2Sector 3Ultimate lapGap
18Nico RosbergMercedes29.610 (2)40.384 (1)22.822 (1)1’32.816
22Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault29.727 (4)40.442 (2)23.093 (2)1’33.2620.446
37Michael SchumacherMercedes29.430 (1)40.796 (5)23.238 (4)1’33.4640.648
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault29.752 (5)40.523 (3)23.206 (3)1’33.4810.665
54Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes29.617 (3)40.888 (7)23.242 (5)1’33.7470.931
63Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes29.815 (6)41.008 (8)23.392 (7)1’34.2151.399
714Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari30.098 (9)40.877 (6)23.436 (10)1’34.4111.595
85Fernando AlonsoFerrari30.260 (12)40.767 (4)23.422 (9)1’34.4491.633
910Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault29.959 (8)41.191 (11)23.465 (12)1’34.6151.799
109Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault29.940 (7)41.112 (10)23.592 (15)1’34.6441.828
1115Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari30.285 (13)41.105 (9)23.406 (8)1’34.7961.980
1216Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari30.199 (11)41.372 (14)23.268 (6)1’34.8392.023
136Felipe MassaFerrari30.124 (10)41.372 (14)23.445 (11)1’34.9412.125
1417Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari30.446 (18)41.255 (12)23.528 (14)1’35.2292.413
1518Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault30.439 (17)41.265 (13)23.746 (17)1’35.4502.634
1619Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault30.354 (14)41.777 (17)23.498 (13)1’35.6292.813
1720Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault30.386 (16)41.794 (18)23.717 (16)1’35.8973.081
1821Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault30.375 (15)41.747 (16)23.791 (18)1’35.9133.097
1924Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth30.644 (19)41.803 (19)24.140 (19)1’36.5873.771
2025Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth30.879 (20)42.620 (21)24.304 (21)1’37.8034.987
2122Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth31.006 (21)42.580 (20)24.226 (20)1’37.8124.996
2223Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth31.129 (22)43.706 (22)24.503 (22)1’39.3386.522

All three of the fastest sector times were set by Mercedes. Rosberg was comfortably the quickest driver in the second session but Hamilton said changing conditions were partly to blame: “Wind direction also played a huge role today.

“On one lap, there’d be a headwind going into turn four, the next lap, it’d be a tailwind, then a crosswind. And that makes a big difference around the circuit. I think my fastest lap was set half an hour after Nico set the fastest time of the session, and the wind was very different.”

Lotus did not look too competitive based on their times in second practice. But that was also the case in China, where they took fourthon the grid.

Technical director James Allison said: “There’s a pattern emerging over the first four races where it seems that the programme we run on a Friday is different from that run by other teams, so you can’t draw too many conclusions merely from looking at our position on the timing monitors.”

Complete practice times

1Nico RosbergMercedes1’34.2491’32.816
2Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’34.5521’33.262
3Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’33.8771’33.525
4Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.5721’33.747
5Michael SchumacherMercedes1’34.4831’33.862
6Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’34.150
7Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’34.2771’34.246
8Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’34.344
9Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’35.9291’34.411
10Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’35.4361’34.449
11Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’34.6091’35.183
12Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’34.8471’34.615
13Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’35.0241’34.893
14Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’36.5911’34.895
15Felipe MassaFerrari1’35.7191’34.941
16Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’36.1951’35.229
17Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’35.2681’35.459
18Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’35.497
19Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’36.4841’35.913
20Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’36.3301’35.968
21Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’36.169
22Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’38.0061’36.587
23Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’37.4671’37.803
24Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’38.8771’37.812
25Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’39.9961’39.649

Force India ran both tyre compounds in first practice as they anticipated not running in the second session.

Despite missing the better track conditions in second practice, di Resta was the sixth-quickest driver on Friday.

Speed trap

Red Bull’s poor straight-line speed is much in evidence again – Mark Webber was only faster than the two Marussias through the speed trap.

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
114Kamui KobayashiSauberFerrari320.1
29Kimi RaikkonenLotusRenault318.12
310Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault318.12
44Lewis HamiltonMcLarenMercedes317.42.7
53Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes317.22.9
68Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes316.83.3
77Michael SchumacherMercedesMercedes316.63.5
815Sergio PerezSauberFerrari315.64.5
921Vitaly PetrovCaterhamRenault315.54.6
1020Heikki KovalainenCaterhamRenault315.44.7
1117Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoFerrari314.45.7
1216Daniel RicciardoToro RossoFerrari313.56.6
1319Bruno SennaWilliamsRenault311.58.6
1418Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsRenault311.38.8
156Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari309.310.8
165Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari308.211.9
171Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault307.312.8
1823Narain KarthikeyanHRTCosworth307.212.9
1922Pedro de la RosaHRTCosworth307.212.9
202Mark WebberRed BullRenault307.212.9
2124Timo GlockMarussiaCosworth304.215.9
2225Charles PicMarussiaCosworth30020.1

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    41 comments on “Drivers expect tyres to create “demanding” race”

    1. “Protestors expect regime to create ‘deadly’ environment”
      That would be more accurate, wouldn’t it?

      1. Unless they’re planting mines on the circuit, no.

      2. I nearly misread that as Pastor’s regime to create deadly environment :P

    2. Red Bull and Ferrari are so slow.

      1. Red Bulls race pace looks good hopefully the will have found a few tenths and Mclaren and Mercedes will be where they were in China and that would make for a BRILLIANT battle at the front, With Kimi joining in

        Best of the rest Force India’s times were very impressive but what were they up to with cramming two sessions into one was that something to do with it?

    3. The Money (@pamphlett31220)
      21st April 2012, 0:15

      A mclaren 1-2.Not sure which way round though..but i think they will stamp their authority on this race..Webber taking third place.

    4. Surely RBR have too much wing on the car?! They are 10-13kph slower than their main rivals on the main straight. I can’t help but think that is just asking for trouble, not far off Vettel saying “I’m nowhere on the straights” as he did in China.

      It’s going to close between Mercedes and Mclaren, too close to call even. If Mercedes can manage their tyres on Sunday they might be serious title contenders; i.e. got the tyres working in cool conditions (China) and very hot conditions (Bahrain).

      1. I think their car is naturally draggy, rather than them just having more wing. Of course these speeds are with DRS enabled (I think?), so it might just be theirs isn’t efficient and in race trim their car performs relatively better.

        1. @george, and @ Bleeps_and_tweaks, come qualifying I think you will find Mercedes will not be so fast through the trap but will be on pole. It may be counterintuitive but more downforce will help tyre endurance and as Webber is showing can still be fast around the track, I think the beauty of Mercs DDRS is that it allows more wing to be applied without destroying the balance of the car rather than just allowing faster trap times, now that Merc can match RBR for downforce they are going to be very competitive. I do wish of course that Webber had an extra 15kph to play with, as SV has found out it’s one thing to be slow on the straights and fast in the twisties when you are leading but totally different when you are racing in the pack.

      2. It’s not the aero it’s the gear ratios, they are hitting the limiter. RBR have opted for acceleration over top speed that’s all.

    5. so another tyre conservation race where nobody can actually push the car & race hard.

      this is so far away from the f1 i fell in love with back in 1974 that i wonder why i keep watching.

      you cant race anymore because its nothing but ‘save your tyres’, its as bad as the fuel saving stupidity that goes on in indycar where you spend the 1st half the race watching them all save fuel waiting for them to actually start racing towards the end. however in f1 now you never actually get the racing part.

      heard nico rosberg say on thursday that in the race at china he was never driving hard as he was constantly having to drive slow to look after these silly tyres.

      i hope pirelli pull out of f1 soon or we get another supplier come in to start a tyre war, then at least we stand a chance at getting proper tyres that drivers can push & actually race on.

      1. Well said

      2. did you not watch the race last weekend?

      3. I dont entirely disagree, but saying there was no racing in China is rediculous. Racing doesn’t have to be about going flat out all the time, look at distance running, horse racing, rowing, etc. There were tons of overtakes for position in China too, Rosberg could manage his tyres because he was miles out in the lead.

        We tend to think of F1 as a sprint series, but 2hr races are actually pretty long. As people have said before, F1 has from the beginning been about looking after the car as well as driving fast.

      4. The tyres were designed that way, the teams and drivers asked for it.

        This is a formula series, not a spec series, it is sold on a vast amount of variables where the team and driver who can best manage them are rewarded.

    6. Here we go again…

      Tires that are purposely made to fail are impacting the capabilities of the cars and the focal point is now when will the limits of the tires become the tipping point on whether a team suceeds or fails.

      When the performance of the tire is so short lived that it becomes a problem to compete with, then I feel the manufacturer of the tire has failed to meet the expectation of the fans. 10 laps is all they are worth unless your technique is to drive gramma style and simply try to hold on for a single change.

      Don’t we follow the sport because it is about testing the limits of the man and the machine?
      Having this type of tire program approved by the FIA is very unappealing. At most races the cars barely have a chance to develope a race strategy in pursuit of victory before facing another round of pitstops for new tires.

      It has nothing to do with the cars not being right, it is all about these miserable Pirelli Tires and their built in failure points. Some call it good racing with lots of passing now. Some believe this is improving Formula One. Some of us think it could be better.

      1. Couldn’t agree more. It’s quite pathetic, really

      2. By that reasoning, we shouldn’t have rules governing the cars outside of safety. No rules on flexible wings, f-ducts, ground effects, etc. Every car race imposes some limitation, that’s what makes it a Formula. This Formula just happens to currently include lower endurance tyres.

        Yes, the tyres lose grip faster, but that doesn’t mean car design and strategy don’t matter. Design and setup are clearly important, because aero is still crucial and with a badly designed car, you’re going to be sliding around ruining the tyres faster (or not getting into the right temperature range). Strategy is also obviously key, possibly even more complex with the new amount of pit stops and management scenarios.

        As far as I’m concerned, you can dislike the tyres all you want. But don’t say that cars and strategy development aren’t involved, because it’s simply ignoring the facts.

      3. Jack Flash (Aust)
        21st April 2012, 5:13

        “… unless your technique is to drive gramma(r) style… ”
        Is that driving with immaculate steering input syntax? Or braking with perfect punctuation of application pressure? ;-)
        “Grandma style” meant I’m sure!

        1. Yeah here in a America we call her “Gramma”…

    7. I’m sorry, but I’m getting sick of these Pirelli tires. F1 is now more about tip-toeing around a circuit, constantly worrying about tires than it is about actual racing.

    8. I have to work in my garden, so I Will only watch recordings. All controversies aside, I hope for a splendid race, with equally splendid coverage (which Has been lacking at this race before, last time >20 overtakes and we saw ?2?)

    9. I’m getting sick and tired of the people whining about the tyres. Nothing ever pleases them.

      Nice tyres? “The races are boring!”
      Nice races? “The tyres are horrible!”

      My dad sure doesn’t whine about it, and he’s been watching since the ’70s as well.

      1. Hear hear!

      2. I was perfectly pleased in 2010 with the Bridgestone tires. These tires are just a shame. We don’t really get to ever see the fastest driver. We get to watch a competition over who can make the tires last the longest. I mean, tires not lasting more than 10 laps is a joke. Why would I ever buy Pirelli tires if they can’t even make their racing tires last a reasonable distance? Formula 1 has sacrificed what it’s all about in the name of entertainment and cheap gimmicks to please the casual fan. Tires that purposefully degrade quickly, DRS, KERS- all of this takes away from the true spirit of racing, which is to see who can drive the fastest over a race distance. That’s the F1 that I miss.

        1. I disagree with you about KERS. Its too limited, bit it is something that is operated at the drivers personal discresion and as such I think its no different to turning up the wick in a turbo. Infact, if F1 to you is about going hell for leather from start to finish you should be loving it as there is no detrimental impact of using KERS as opposed to increasing turbo boost – as fuel needed to be conserved at times to compensate for that.

          Its way too restricted and weedy, but KERS is no DRS or push to pass.

          1. Yeah exactly right about KERS. It is crazy advanced technology which is what F1 is all about. KERS should be made even more forefront on the cars and racing, that way we have even less reason for DRS.

            I’m not inherently super-against DRS, but the point about it’s artificiality is a good one. However there tends to be a bit of hypocrisy among some of the tyre whingers (granted no-one here really, just overall), in that they are the same people who hate DRS and (completely rightly) say you don’t need it coz of the Pirellis.

            I do think you need EITHER the Pirelli style tyre or the DRS to promote overtaking. If I had my way it would be a more advanced manipulatable KERS system different between the teams, and these Pirelli tyres. Then we don’t need DRS, after all most of the passing comes from the difference between tyre life of two drivers on track than DRS anyway, by a huge margin.

            I do agree it is perhaps a bit extreme though. The drop-off should be less of a cliff-face and more gradual. Performance seems to stay fairly consistent for a while then BAM, they’re gone.

            In the current form, we get decent strategy variety, but not quite enough because everyone’s tyres are guaranteed to hit a cliff sooner or later. If there was more theoretical potential to keep them alive more people would try Perez runs, meanwhile if there was more immediate old-Qualfying tyre style drop-off new tyres would still be a huge advantage and promote really aggressive strategies.

            The excitement and challenge of the ‘deliberate wearing’ tyres remains, but with far more room to move. You could genuinely find someone like Perez able to drive at a reasonable pace and 1-stop, or even on low-wear tracks no-stop like the good old days!

            Meanwhile poor old Webber has to 3-4 stop coz he wears his tyres so badly. :P

            1. So yeah in short, I’m very happy with the state of F1. The constant change and evolution is in it’s very nature. I’m able to reminisce of my early races in the 90s and 00s and think ‘aah such better times, much more beautiful cars, more intense levels of constant high-performance, the iconic Schumacher-everyone else battles’ yet at the same time realise the racing was never as good in my life-time as it is now. A perfect balance has been found.

        2. Who’s equating the performance of F1 tyres with road tyres? If Toyota had been beating Ferrari during its F1 days, would anyone have thought they made the faster cars?

    10. Wait there’s a race? Forgot about that.

    11. There is a balance to be found – it’s NOT about just driving flat out, 100% of the time around the circuit. Racing is about understanding the limits of the car, the tyres, and pushing those limits while remaining consistant.
      Pirelli have tipped that balance just a little too far. There is that element of tiptoeing around the track – these days I hear more radio messages about looking after the tyres, instead of the great conversations we used to hear between team and driver – ‘we can win this, we’re racing for the podium, now push it’.
      This is not really a complaint. I still love watching the races – however this can be put down more to the sublime talent of the current field, who really are putting on a great display every race weekend.
      The biggest indication that its not quite right, to me, is we don’t even focus on the driver anymore, but rather what set of tyres he’s on and how many laps he’s done on them.

    12. on long runs, both lotus’ are looking good. as are Hamilton and Webber.

    13. Lewis went 2 tenths quicker on the harder tyres in P1, so there is definitely more pace in the car. Mclaren, Merc and Red Bull all looking good.

    14. Could these F1 tire problems be solved by taking a page out of the NASCAR rule book? In NASCAR (specifically the top 3 series) each track has their own unique combination of Right side & Left side (maybe in F1 it’d be Front & Rear) compounds. Some are rights or lefts are used for more then 1 track but it’s very rare that the exact same combination of compounds on all 4 tires is used on more then 1 or 2 tracks.

      For example in the Sprint Cup Series the right side tires are the same compound they ran at Fontana earlier this season but the left sides are a specific compound for Kansas (where they are this week) and is the same left side tire compound they ran last year at this track.

      Could F1 maybe do something like that to help alleviate the problem? Instead of 5 compounds for the entire season (which is how it works now correct?), they could have maybe 10 Right (or Front) & 10 Left (or Rear) compounds that the FIA could pick & choose from. They could still have the fan friendly “5 color” designations but the “Hard tire” wouldn’t be the same exact one for every race where the “Hard tire” is ran, etc.

      1. Different front and rear tires will never work with the sensitive Pirelli compounds. Different left and right tires is only of use on oval tracks, where two tires do more work the entire race.

      2. They could, but the current system is working EXACTLY as it was intended. In NASCAR I think they also like the tyres to be changed alot, otherwise if all tyres were the same the lefts would almost never get changed. On a side note, in Moto GP the tyres have 3 or more different compounds in EACH tyre, depending on circuit design!

    15. They use different lefts & rights on the road courses here too in all NASCAR series.

    16. Massa’s times in his stint seem very competitive. I’m surprised.

      1. I was just about to mention that, @pamphlet! Senna’s times looked pretty good, too. Who knows, this might be Massa’s first points-scoring finish, and it would be good to see him finishing ahead of Alonso, too.

        1. And Glock is right in the middle! Marussia to surprise?

    17. I took the longest stint chart and had a look at Button, Hamilton, Rosberg and Schumacher. Of course it is only practice but there is a pattern. The McLaren guys seem able to attack the circuit quicker but suffer more at the end of the stint. To some extent that’s a given, but their drop off rate is quite a bit higher than Mercedes.

      Mercedes seem better prepared to draw a straight line as far as the graph goes so perhaps this is a sign that they shouldn’t expect too many tyre related surprises?

    Comments are closed.