Ferrari make progress and Lotus look quick in Spain

2012 Spanish Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Ferrari appear to have made a step forward with their car and Fernando Alonso said his first impression of the changes was “positive”.

As usual Lotus kept a low profile but they appear to have a quick car this weekend.

McLaren and Red Bull were at the top of the times in the second practice session and are likely to be in contention for pole position on Saturday.

Longest stint comparison

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

Sebastian Vettel91.65493.7391.40991.76192.08191.39891.70291.77391.53991.74691.25791.588101.09191.271
Mark Webber90.90791.1890.93591.11591.028126.29191.06390.57791.67891.44191.24491.405
Jenson Button90.3990.23194.64690.12590.20491.4890.66291.69690.4990.77390.761
Lewis Hamilton90.42490.0690.31290.12496.42990.51390.17990.25990.14889.894
Fernando Alonso90.26489.76190.17791.26690.4690.8590.98691.576
Felipe Massa91.16390.95391.09891.42291.79492.19592.092
Michael Schumacher91.33891.06991.10991.12692.25693.82691.56194.29191.9591.88292.23492.791
Nico Rosberg91.14791.4291.34891.84692.53191.5791.82592.4692.48492.42993.234
Kimi Raikkonen90.14590.14190.30789.63289.68790.14690.83190.81290.89994.88490.78991.93391.69191.57292.64492.164
Romain Grosjean90.6689.5890.2990.01789.88289.87990.23293.790.30490.73990.62290.86991.37792.15592.865
Paul di Resta90.84290.95390.86691.4596.76794.92490.93
Nico Hulkenberg90.38790.23690.95990.24790.65890.73990.89292.14692.14294.408
Kamui Kobayashi91.61190.59291.04893.91390.52190.48390.19590.35990.26290.61390.75295.1690.97291.14191.056
Sergio Perez91.10591.54692.32291.88692.06291.41992.55494.27393.817
Daniel Ricciardo92.29891.84791.84891.69192.33992.28592.63392.07693.87394.8496.49292.99793.52793.149
Jean-Eric Vergne91.42891.43591.291.16891.38391.6992.19492.35793.44893.677
Pastor Maldonado90.82390.13389.74489.96790.47990.64894.65389.97390.61391.00390.91791.00997.57692.001
Bruno Senna89.4290.85989.93589.96690.05590.3390.77591.09692.80293.163
Heikki Kovalainen90.15691.10490.70591.20492.0996.84391.47999.307
Vitaly Petrov93.59693.66291.20390.91590.89891.53791.10792.35692.81192.345
Pedro de la Rosa92.82892.57392.75592.87493.1493.32494.054103.42195.767101.46698.905
Narain Karthikeyan
Timo Glock91.96792.27192.38393.62193.919104.022
Charles Pic94.77694.29494.25494.17394.09794.28194.235104.67293.88794.13393.84994.26296.108

In second practice several teams seemed to made examining their cars’ race stint a higher priority than usual, getting their soft-tyre runs out of the way early on.

Kimi Raikkonen ran a 16-lap stint on the soft tyres and looked able to get at least a dozen laps out of them. Team mate Grosjean said: “The balance felt strong on both tyres and we were able to complete long runs to give us valuable tyre data for Sunday.”

The harder tyres performed much as expected, being considerably slower – by over a second per lap – but much more consistent.

However some drivers struggled to get the best out of the harder tyre, such as Jenson Button: “The [soft] seems to be a bit easier for everyone as it’s softer and therefore more receptive to generating temperature. In P2, we also started to find a way to get the [hard] to work, but then, later in the session, we couldn’t quite get back to that sweet-spot.”

Ferrari had the opposite problem as technical director Pat Fry explained: “The car balance seems to be better on the hards than the softs and that partly explains the fact that we did not manage to significantly improve our times moving from one compound to another, without however forgetting that Fernando was always in traffic when he was on a set of new softs.”

As Lotus demonstrated in Bahrain, saving fresh sets of tyres in qualifying can pay off handsomely in the race. If the soft tyres are durable to do race stints on – and it looks like they are for Lotus – expect to see them reduce their running in qualifying to keep some fresh sets in reserve.

The large performance gap between the two tyres could make Q1 especially interesting. As the slower cars switch to the soft tyres at the end of the session, it may force more of the front-runners than usual to do likewise. Particularly as the gaps between the teams on hard tyres are so small – the top 14 were covered by 1.1s in first practice.

Sector times and ultimate lap times – second practice

CarDriverCarSector 1Sector 2Sector 3Ultimate lapGapDeficit to best
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes23.055 (2)31.564 (3)28.780 (1)1’23.3990.000
21Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault23.240 (7)31.499 (2)28.824 (2)1’23.5630.1640.000
38Nico RosbergMercedes23.207 (4)31.470 (1)29.094 (6)1’23.7710.3720.000
44Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes23.213 (6)31.686 (7)29.010 (4)1’23.9090.5100.000
59Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault23.118 (3)31.696 (8)29.104 (7)1’23.9180.5190.000
610Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault23.019 (1)31.573 (4)29.372 (16)1’23.9640.5650.000
77Michael SchumacherMercedes23.320 (11)31.812 (11)28.932 (3)1’24.0640.6650.016
82Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault23.209 (5)31.657 (6)29.199 (11)1’24.0650.6660.000
914Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari23.240 (7)31.634 (5)29.242 (13)1’24.1160.7170.098
1015Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari23.268 (9)31.719 (9)29.317 (15)1’24.3040.9050.118
116Felipe MassaFerrari23.351 (15)31.927 (15)29.063 (5)1’24.3410.9420.077
1212Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes23.333 (14)31.873 (12)29.159 (9)1’24.3650.9660.000
1318Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault23.329 (12)31.924 (14)29.137 (8)1’24.3900.9910.078
145Fernando AlonsoFerrari23.358 (16)31.898 (13)29.207 (12)1’24.4631.0640.137
1511Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes23.306 (10)31.961 (16)29.421 (18)1’24.6881.2890.000
1617Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari23.489 (17)32.066 (17)29.178 (10)1’24.7331.3340.000
1716Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari23.330 (13)32.156 (19)29.256 (14)1’24.7421.3430.027
1819Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault23.494 (18)32.109 (18)29.387 (17)1’24.9901.5910.057
1920Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault23.763 (19)32.462 (20)29.708 (19)1’25.9332.5340.363
2021Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault23.763 (19)32.844 (21)29.941 (20)1’26.5483.1490.192
2124Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth24.089 (21)32.976 (22)30.249 (21)1’27.3143.9150.000
2225Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth24.296 (22)33.081 (23)30.260 (22)1’27.6374.2380.027
2322Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth24.556 (23)33.314 (24)30.365 (23)1’28.2354.8360.000

The Lotus’s performance over a single lap was masked by Grosjean caught Felipe Massa and Charles Pic at the end of his lap.

As the sector times show, this may have cost him between three and six tenths of a second – having been quickest in the first sector he was 16th in sector three. The surprising thing is that Raikkonen, whose lap was not impeded, wasn’t much further ahead of him.

Complete practice times

1Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’24.9961’23.399
2Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’24.8081’23.563
3Nico RosbergMercedes1’25.6071’23.771
4Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’25.2521’23.909
5Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’25.2851’23.918
6Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’25.2171’23.964
7Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’25.5391’24.065
8Michael SchumacherMercedes1’25.1871’24.080
9Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’24.9121’24.214
10Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’25.3391’24.365
11Felipe MassaFerrari1’25.4331’24.418
12Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’25.9181’24.422
13Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’24.4301’24.600
14Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’26.2971’24.468
15Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’24.688
16Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’25.3671’24.733
17Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’26.2261’24.769
18Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’25.047
19Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’25.120
20Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’26.296
21Jules BianchiForce India-Mercedes1’26.630
22Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’27.4751’26.740
23Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’28.2671’27.314
24Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’28.6331’27.664
25Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’29.1071’28.235
26Alexander RossiCaterham-Renault1’28.448
27Dani ClosHRT-Cosworth1’31.618

Having been fastest in the first session Alonso did not do a clear lap on soft tyres in the second session, so it’s hard to get a read on exactly how competitive the Ferrari is.

It’s worth pointing out that prior to today the closest a Ferrari had been to the pace in first practice this year was eight tenths of a second. In first practice they were fastest by almost four-tenths of a second – a huge swing.

Even if only part of that is a genuine gain in performance it points to a considerable improvement in the F2012, though we await tomorrow’s running for solid evidence of their progress.

Alonso said: “First impressions are positive: some parts worked as we expected, others less so, but broadly speaking, it confirms the tendency we had already seen in Mugello last week, which is that the data emerging form the wind tunnel has been been confirmed on track.”

A problem with Pastor Maldonado’s DRS cost him some time in the morning session.

Speed trap – second practice

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
110Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault321.6
29Kimi RaikkonenLotusRenault321.30.3
315Sergio PerezSauberFerrari320.61
411Paul di RestaForce IndiaMercedes317.34.3
58Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes3174.6
67Michael SchumacherMercedesMercedes316.55.1
720Heikki KovalainenCaterhamRenault316.35.3
85Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari315.66
921Vitaly PetrovCaterhamRenault315.66
104Lewis HamiltonMcLarenMercedes313.48.2
116Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari313.48.2
1212Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes313.28.4
133Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes313.18.5
1417Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoFerrari312.59.1
1516Daniel RicciardoToro RossoFerrari312.39.3
1618Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsRenault312.19.5
1719Bruno SennaWilliamsRenault311.510.1
182Mark WebberRed BullRenault311.510.1
191Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault311.210.4
2014Kamui KobayashiSauberFerrari309.512.1
2122Pedro de la RosaHRTCosworth308.213.4
2224Timo GlockMarussiaCosworth307.514.1
2325Charles PicMarussiaCosworth307.414.2
2423Narain KarthikeyanHRTCosworth305.416.2

While much attention has been focused on Mercedes’ straight-line speed courtesy of the Double DRS, Lotus have consistently been among the quickest through the speed traps this year, which remains the case here.

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2012 Spanish Grand Prix

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Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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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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21 comments on “Ferrari make progress and Lotus look quick in Spain”

  1. Interesting to see the difference in Speed Traps times within teams… Force India and Sauber, especially, have large variations between drivers.

    1. I was looking at the Sauber times, it could be trying 2 different strategies ie. low downforce/high top speed-v-high downforce/low top speed or it could be matching the tyres (sorry) to the drivers, in the race where Perez shone he was mostly in clear air and appeared very smooth, his speed was deceptive, conversely where Kamui shines is in a dogfight driving crazy lines around other drivers so if Perez gets a break he may be able to run fast and long on the softs, whereas Kamui needs more downforce so as not to slide and overheat his tyres when driving to his strength.
      This should be the year of the smooth driver.

  2. Why are the Bottom teams so slow in a straight line? doesn’t less down force =higher top speeds? Is it the
    Cosworth engines?

    1. @kcampos12

      Its not so simple. There are essentially two types of air forces on the car; downforce and drag. While more downforce *usually* equates to more drag, the best cars are able to generate more downforce EFFICIENTLY by doing so with less drag.

      Therefore, where sometimes commentators last year for example would say that the Mercedes or the Renault was an “efficient” car aerodynamically, it would basically mean that the car produces great downforce without much drag. The worst cars not only dont produce much downforce, but even when they do – they dont do it efficiently; meaning there is lots of drag (slower in the speedtraps.)

      Factor in the weaker Cosworth engine – and there you have it.

      1. Corner exit speed would also have an effect on top speed wouldn’t it? Say for example a car with more downforce can carry more speed through the apex, get on the power much sooner, and exit the corner 10 or 20kph faster?

        1. @ivz Which would mean that Red Bull doesn’t carry speed through corners,and it’s slow out of the corners,when opposite is true.Like @d3v0 said it’s not so simple.

          1. Dejan, not necessarily so, it might be carrying much more downforce so it is fast(er) in the corners but cannot overcome the extra drag to achieve a high top speed.

  3. How come Kobayashi’s speed is 10+mph slower than Perez’s. Track time wise, he is however faster than Perez. Are they running different wings?

    1. It’s not mph (mph sucks) it’s kph… You know all the world use kph !

      1. Sorry about that. I prefer si unit too but no, not all the world use kph.

  4. That looks like Lotus, Mclaren, RBR is the order… interesting.

    1. Lotus will definitely win this if they be on pole but if they get stuck behind another car, they’ll lose their advantage because of dirty air…let’s not forget how hard it is to overtake in Barcelona.

      1. @snafu Could’t agree more.Lotus race pace is unquestionable,but they lack qualifying pace which might cost them dearly when they find themselves stuck behind a slower car,which in turn will shoot their tyres.I hope and pray that the DRS zone works well for Lotus on sunday,and they don’t put gears too short,otherwise it’s not looking good for them.Usually i’m in favor of race performance over the qualy position but this time i would go for highest grid position possible,even if it means one more set of soft’s are used.

  5. The large performance gap between the two tyres could make Q1 especially interesting.

    Perhaps the frontrunners will have to be a bit more aggressive this time. They normally seem to carry quite a lot of fuel, in order to be able to do 3 or 4 timed laps, interspersed with cooling-down laps. Perhaps tomorrow they will try only 2 flying laps with a cooling-down lap in between.

    I think the Lotus is looking pretty good, especially Grosjean. If I were a betting man, I may put a fiver on him for pole (and get pretty good odds?). As it is, I’ll put him at the top of my prediction.

  6. As much as I don’t like either of them, I’m happy to see Ferrari and Lotus step up. When was the last time we had a season where five teams were all within an equal shot of winning races?

  7. Webber is looking very consistent, looks like he has booked another p4. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

    Alonso is the Joker in the pack, p5 or p1 maybe.

    Lotus look to have the best weapon.

    Jenson is looking good if he can keep his wheels on.

    Vettel can’t be ruled out.

    Seriously, do we really need a tyre lottery to make the racing interesting?

    1. And I forgot, rain in forecast!

  8. Gap between tyres will make an interesting qualy season.Wonder which of the big guys will slip tomorrow.Hope it’s Seb,finger would be in full swing through the inlap,cucumbers all over the place.

    1. “More cucumbers than a pickle factory” : )

  9. Tom (@newdecade)
    12th May 2012, 5:08

    I predict people going from the top 5 to the drop-zone in the last minutes of Q2 due to the above mentioned compound choices – with only 1.1s of field spread its going to absolutely bonkers. At least one big name will definitely be scalped!

  10. Ferrari do look good but I fear that having the most to prove means that other teams may still have something hidden away still, Ferrari need to evaluate their car ASAP so it makes sense to approach practice all guns blazing.

    I’d love it if Lotus were competitive. Can’t help but think they have unfinished business from Bahrain.

Comments are closed.