Few chinks in Red Bull’s armour in India

2012 Indian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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The first day of practice for the Indian Grand Prix offered few crumbs of comfort for Red Bull’s rivals.

Here’s all the data from practice.

Longest stint comparison

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


Sebastian Vettel93.07192.87393.08398.31892.72192.77692.3492.3499.09591.607101.1991.212
Mark Webber93.9193.44493.38893.74493.70492.52292.57592.56592.78692.50592.41192.0491.587
Jenson Button94.7389.59596.44588.548
Lewis Hamilton93.38292.9296.26892.35192.69292.67198.56891.91192.02899.16191.91492.264
Fernando Alonso92.64492.82992.0992.28892.33192.34991.99795.31391.95491.559
Felipe Massa88.96494.41792.28895.39592.22188.296
Michael Schumacher94.19194.0793.93694.67593.83593.70599.95893.83793.36393.365100.9793.31293.22193.343
Nico Rosberg94.29693.762102.85294.38594.38794.03894.23994.11898.76393.42694.13693.26693.5493.33595.06292.37792.77592.258
Kimi Raikkonen93.96994.2692.56793.47393.37292.91993.00993.62393.1793.08592.76392.6089392.54392.43592.48392.14392.13591.73191.81796.067
Romain Grosjean94.58493.69893.28993.59792.91794.0793.05493.107103.07992.67392.57792.6393.31492.80492.65393.82892.592.02392.506
Paul di Resta95.9694.62494.10699.37693.87793.75193.664
Nico Hulkenberg94.2594.02593.69793.77793.5693.02192.97492.63692.95896.76792.73392.47992.12792.095
Kamui Kobayashi95.26694.37593.90994.30994.14793.56593.05192.95393.05892.71892.83792.48793.58892.21693.68191.87592.106
Sergio Perez93.50293.2893.6194.11992.81593.1792.73592.9592.90692.90692.519
Daniel Ricciardo95.10495.09494.09494.26294.51394.34393.74694.04596.06293.43794.26393.86493.59994.01293.221
Jean-Eric Vergne95.42495.05694.66894.5294.63894.76194.56994.41394.92195.08693.72893.82993.80993.634
Pastor Maldonado95.16693.8893.73293.853100.00593.41493.23493.393.05193.42799.27892.8892.26892.15191.904
Bruno Senna95.68294.68393.53294.02393.52894.42293.1893.42993.20693.65892.96192.88
Heikki Kovalainen95.39594.72294.51896.26994.75794.1694.6298.62393.97194.015
Vitaly Petrov90.3698.3789.79595.21789.60689.865
Pedro de la Rosa95.014101.57394.73894.95395.18194.62594.4894.372
Narain Karthikeyan94.04296.51893.08792.05397.69792.73298.427
Timo Glock95.62495.68296.49495.44194.86196.32595.02798.93694.85994.811
Charles Pic97.264102.896.54296.42397.127

Sunday’s race is for 60 laps and some drivers were able to run 20-lap stints with little difficulty during the second practice session.

That raises the prospect of drivers being able to make one fewer stop than they did in 2011. “Last year the winning strategy consisted of two stops,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery, “but this year one pit stop might even be possible for some drivers from what we can see so far.”

Curiously, Kamui Kobayashi chose to do his race simulation run at the beginning of the session. He did 17 timed laps and set his quickest time on the 16th.

Jenson Button’s progress was halted by yet more technical problems for McLaren: “I had a gearshift problem during my long run in the afternoon. The team is currently looking into it – hopefully, we’ll have it sorted by tomorrow.”

Sector times and ultimate lap times

CarDriverCarSector 1Sector 2Sector 3Ultimate lapGapDeficit to best
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault41.893 (2)22.881 (1)21.447 (1)1’26.2210.000
22Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault41.915 (3)22.936 (2)21.474 (3)1’26.3250.1040.014
35Fernando AlonsoFerrari41.973 (4)23.098 (4)21.724 (9)1’26.7950.5740.025
48Nico RosbergMercedes42.061 (5)23.363 (7)21.598 (5)1’27.0220.8010.000
59Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault42.379 (9)23.067 (3)21.584 (4)1’27.0300.8090.000
64Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes42.169 (7)23.300 (5)21.662 (7)1’27.1310.9100.000
73Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes42.156 (6)23.323 (6)21.703 (8)1’27.1820.9610.000
812Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes41.875 (1)23.566 (14)21.792 (11)1’27.2331.0120.000
910Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault42.461 (12)23.429 (8)21.470 (2)1’27.3601.1390.037
1019Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault42.436 (10)23.435 (9)21.661 (6)1’27.5321.3110.206
117Michael SchumacherMercedes42.297 (8)23.599 (16)21.960 (14)1’27.8561.6350.366
1211Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes42.486 (14)23.665 (17)21.791 (10)1’27.9421.7210.062
136Felipe MassaFerrari42.455 (11)23.566 (14)22.008 (15)1’28.0291.8080.267
1415Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari42.476 (13)23.564 (13)22.046 (16)1’28.0861.8650.092
1514Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari42.809 (16)23.546 (12)21.850 (13)1’28.2051.9840.250
1616Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari42.739 (15)23.446 (10)22.054 (17)1’28.2392.0180.000
1718Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault43.133 (20)23.538 (11)21.802 (12)1’28.4732.2520.123
1817Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari42.901 (17)23.933 (18)22.181 (19)1’29.0152.7940.152
1920Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault42.939 (18)24.156 (20)22.171 (18)1’29.2663.0450.054
2021Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault43.115 (19)24.065 (19)22.221 (20)1’29.4013.1800.205
2124Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth43.742 (22)24.597 (21)22.537 (21)1’30.8764.6550.237
2222Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth43.575 (21)24.606 (22)22.740 (22)1’30.9214.7000.029
2323Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth43.743 (23)24.663 (24)22.777 (24)1’31.1834.9620.189
2425Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth43.880 (24)24.627 (23)22.756 (23)1’31.2635.0420.230

McLaren were only the fifth-quickest team but Lewis Hamilton is confident they’ll perform better on Saturday: “I think we’re probably quick enough to qualify third or fourth fastest at the moment, but, to go for pole, we’re going to really need to push hard in our development work tonight”

Their real one-lap speed deficit to Red Bull is probably closer to the four-tenths we saw in first practice than the nine-tenths gap in the second session.

But in race trim the car looked like a match for anything, as Hamilton was told during the session.

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’27.6191’26.22157
2Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’28.1751’26.33955
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’28.0441’26.82058
4Nico RosbergMercedes1’28.4471’27.02263
5Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’29.2911’27.03064
6Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’28.0461’27.13163
7Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’27.9291’27.18246
8Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’29.8501’27.23356
9Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’29.8951’27.39755
10Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’27.73836
11Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’29.7601’28.00455
12Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’28.17839
13Michael SchumacherMercedes1’28.9931’28.22260
14Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’29.2041’28.23961
15Felipe MassaFerrari1’28.5421’28.29647
16Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’29.8021’28.45558
17Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’30.0411’28.59664
18Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’30.4011’29.16758
19Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’29.32043
20Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’30.6301’29.60646
21Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’29.69126
22Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault1’30.89620
23Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’32.8591’30.95050
24Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’32.3691’31.11354
25Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’32.1251’31.37244
26Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’31.9031’31.49353

Despite topping both practice sessions on Friday Vettel was characteristically cautious about Red Bull’s potential. “We’ve had worse Fridays, so I am happy,” he said.

But with no obvious weakness in their race pace he will be eyeing a shot a pole position which should set him up for a crack at victory. A fourth consecutive victory is a distinct possibility.

Ferrari technical director Pat Fry explained Felipe Massa’s troubles in second practice:

“One of the settings on his car was incorrect and that compromised the balance of the car and prevented him from getting the most out of the set of softs and also led to him spinning, which damaged one of the tyres, pretty much ending his session.”

First practice saw the debut appearance of Esteban Gutierrez in an official F1 session. Journalists expressed scepticism over Sauber’s reasons for outgoing driver Sergio Perez’s absence from the first session.

After having his first run Gutierrez said: “It is obviously different to testing and it is challenging to stay focused. I think the circuit here is amazing, especially with the chain of fast corners. However, my target was to progress during that session and make sure I brought the car home in one piece.”

Speed trap

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
117Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoFerrari320
215Sergio PerezSauberFerrari319.90.1
316Daniel RicciardoToro RossoFerrari319.80.2
411Paul di RestaForce IndiaMercedes318.51.5
512Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes318.41.6
614Kamui KobayashiSauberFerrari317.82.2
77Michael SchumacherMercedesMercedes317.32.7
88Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes317.12.9
95Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari316.33.7
1025Charles PicMarussiaCosworth316.13.9
116Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari315.94.1
1224Timo GlockMarussiaCosworth315.44.6
139Kimi RaikkonenLotusRenault315.14.9
1418Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsRenault315.14.9
1510Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault3155
1619Bruno SennaWilliamsRenault314.75.3
1723Narain KarthikeyanHRTCosworth314.45.6
183Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes314.25.8
194Lewis HamiltonMcLarenMercedes314.15.9
2022Pedro de la RosaHRTCosworth314.15.9
2120Heikki KovalainenCaterhamRenault312.37.7
2221Vitaly PetrovCaterhamRenault312.17.9
231Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault3128
242Mark WebberRed BullRenault311.98.1

The Red Bull pair had been quicker in a straight line after the team introduced their Double DRS upgrade, but were at the foot of the speeds in India. Could this prove their only weakness?

2012 Indian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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31 comments on “Few chinks in Red Bull’s armour in India”

  1. Interestingly, despite their lack of straight line speed, Vettel is second fastest in S1, which I think contains that immense straight.

    1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
      26th October 2012, 17:36

      Yes it does, but Sector 1 also contains three slow corners – Turns 1, 3 and 4. This just happens to play into the Red Bull advantage of low-speed traction.

      1. Not just “traction out of the corners” but a higher speed through the corner means starting down the straight from a higher speed.

    2. Methinks that’s coz of their brilliant traction off the line. The main straight starts off with a very slow corner, and RBR must be shooting right out of it.

    3. It is hardly lack of top speed – RB used to be 20+ kmh down on the leader in this chart and now it’s just 8kmh behind. more impressively, RB is just 2 and 4 kmh behind Ferrari and McLaren.

      1. *4 km/h slower than Ferrari and 2 km/h slower than Mclaren*

        1. Redbull probably chooses acceleration over top speed, therefor lacking ultimate speed, but reaching it much earlier. Traction out of a slow corner helps too.

          1. Like at Monza?

    4. They can run huge amounts of downforce it seems now that the DDRS is on the car, so they enihilate the opposition through the corners.

  2. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
    26th October 2012, 17:33

    Alonso and Hamilton’s long stint lap times look very competitive, so I should expect them to be in contention for the podium places, while Vettel looks as strong as ever. It’s also disappointing to see even more mechanical issues at McLaren.

    As for tyre strategy, what are the chances we’ll see a repeat of Korea – drivers (in the case of Korea, Perez) going for a one-stop strategy, only to see it backfire due to higher than anticipated wear?

    1. @bobthevulcan no issues to what I gather – but they’ve erred too much on the side of race setup, and aren’t putting enough energy in their tyres for a single flyer

  3. Can anyone tell me what Lotus meant with this tweet? “Ferrari are laying a new road with their pit stop pullaways… An observation from an undisclosed team source”

    I wasn’t able to watch any of the sessions. Thanks!

    1. @omardelacruz
      I think they are talking about this:

  4. Quite interesting to see that Alonso is around a second per lap faster than Webber. It could well be that Red Bull are sandbagging a little, as per usual, but if Fernando can get into 3rd of 4th in quali, then I reckon he may be able to secure 2nd in the race.

    I can’t see anyone but Vettel winning though, the Red Bull is just too far ahead, and not much can stop the Bull charging, especially in Vettel’s hands. The only thing I can see stopping them now is mechanical problems, or some incident out on track, and neither seem likely. I think we’ve been spoilt by top retirements (Not that they’re necessarily good), and is unlikely to happen much more…although I wouldn’t be surprised if McLaren wanted to prove me wrong.

    1. Agree with that. RBR are ahead by a fair margin. Should be a formality. RBR sand bagging on the race stint almost certainly (enough to get race data), they have been stronger in this aspect all session, and there is no reason to believe otherwise this weekend. RBR 1-2 barring reliability or silly mistakes.

  5. Not much there to suggest RBR aren’t going to walk away with it.
    The most interesting thing is Ferrari are ahead (if not level at worst case) with Mclaren, but then we have known that for a race or two when it comes to race pace.

  6. Hamilton sounded pretty optimistic about his race pace, but from this graph there is nothing much to get excited about I think. Vettel’s long run is at least as good, if not better than Hamilton’s, and although Webber started out a little slower, he didn’t insert any slow-down laps like Hamilton, Vettel, and Alonso, and he did get down to those 1m31s later in his stint too.

    The season is not over yet, but more and more it feels like it’s turning into a huge anti-climax, first of all for the obvious reason of Vettel running away with the championship (and all of the races), but also because of the tyres. Pirelli made this year’s tyres softer, so how is it possible that degradation is so much less of an issue than throughout 2011 and also the start of 2012?

    1. @adrianmorse Well the teams have gotten used to the tyres and understand how to set up their cars for the tyres now, for one.

      For another there is a lot less downforce now, with less flexing in the front wing and no direct EBD effect. The primary issue with the 2012 Pirellis is degradation (which is a function of heat) and not wear (which is about the amount of rubber left on the tyre). With this less downforce, cars go through corners slower, and the tyre gets less heat in it, which helps degradation.

  7. I hope I don’t regret loosing hours of sleep this saturday and sunday morning.

  8. It is totally awesome that McLaren and Ferrari have good race pace. It will be of no moment once Vettel runs up a 6 second lead in the first few laps.

    I think McLaren should settle for a race where Hamilton’s suspension does not break. They will need it to regain P2 in the WCC, without which they will have to consider this season one of their most disappointing in a generation.

  9. Red Bull ominous over the single lap yet again, not so much in race pace though. Given Vettel’s ability to pull out a gap in clean air I think he’ll be pulling away however (if on pole).

    1. Which is only a formality I think.

  10. Remember Murray’s comically bad dictum… F1 is IF backwards! Mark my words, Vettel DNF this wknd.

  11. Run more wing Torro roso for Pete’s sake!!!

  12. It looks like Lotus are seriously considering a one stopper.

  13. There’s not much here to suggest this won’t be another of Vettel’s weekends. Even if McLaren can match Red Bull through the race, it’s going to be nigh on impossible to remain close to them in the last two sectors, and their top speed is nothing too advantageous in comparison. It’s also worth pointing out that both McLaren and Ferrari’s race pace looked faster than the Bulls’ during practice at Korea. It came to the actual race, and it just wasn’t the case. I imagine the same will happen here as well. If Vettel wins and Alonso is further back than second, I will begin to lose hope for anything but a dull conclusion to the title battle.

    Alonso or Lewis, please pull something out of the bag!

  14. I think I’ve finally crossed over into tape-and-decide mode. I’ll tape the qualy and if I see the result is interesting watch it back, otherwise I have better things to do than watch yet another roflstomp :(

  15. It looks pretty dire for McLaren. Low top speed and nowhere in the times. Looks like they’re trying to take a leaf out of Red Bull’s book and failing.

Comments are closed.