Red Bull ahead but tyre failures are the main concern

2013 Belgian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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The relative performance of the cars in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix was of secondary importance to the worrying recurrence of the tyre failures problem.

When Sebastian Vettel limped back into the pits just 11 laps into his race simulation run it immediately brought back memories of the series of alarming and dangerous failures that occurred during the British Grand Prix.

While Fernando Alonso, who also suffered a puncture, does not think F1 is heading towards a repeat of Silverstone, the failures will be examined as a matter of urgency.

Pirelli had already given the teams strict limits for camber angle within which the tyres should be used. It remains to be seen whether the failures were isolated incidents or a symptom of a wider problem.

The latter may need further steps may to be taken to ensure driver safety is not compromised on one of the fastest circuits on the calendar.

The Red Bulls were by far the fastest cars on the track but the two cars were strong in different parts of the circuit as they evaluated different parts.

Mark Webber was over seven-tenths of a second faster than Vettel in the middle sector, but the world champion more than made up for it elsewhere on the lap. Significantly, both featured among the top four cars through the speed trap, despite straight-line speed normally being a weakness of theirs.

Lotus were the closest team to Red Bull on one-lap pace and their race pace looks at least a match for the Red Bulls.

Mercedes were a long way off the pace but we’ve seen this from them on Fridays before this year – having consistently had the quickest car over a single lap they can afford to spend Friday concentrating on their high-fuel runs. They were at the bottom of the speed trap chart.

Here’s all the data from Friday practice for the Belgian Grand Prix:

Longest stint comparison

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

Sebastian Vettel115.663115.472115.576116.038115.586115.65115.804115.909116.132116.113
Mark Webber116.16116.137119.027116.039115.852116.616116.177116.743116.605116.666
Fernando Alonso112.538120.035110.51
Felipe Massa117.01115.953116.278119.693115.644116.13115.955116.674
Jenson Button119.51118.819117.213116.837118.673117.99121.66116.675117.063118.349
Sergio Perez117.428117.228117.012117.455117.616117.747118.077118.198117.941117.903122.249117.471118.141117.628
Kimi Raikkonen116.773117.567115.98117.685116.075120.591121.055119.671
Romain Grosjean115.96116.103115.48115.237115.369120.477115.056115.286
Nico Rosberg116.786116.419116.316116.28117.788116.355116.518116.809116.685116.385116.892117.069
Lewis Hamilton117.812117.243124.867116.437121.244117.249125.382117.355
Nico Hulkenberg117.365117.07119.095126.806117.003117.586118.135117.365117.076117.445118.062
Esteban Gutierrez117.95116.906116.903116.928117.037
Paul di Resta117.129118.399120.151121.218127.583117.225
Adrian Sutil117.732119.131117.113116.972116.588117.034
Pastor Maldonado118.84119.202118.407122.032120.163120.462119.916122.117119.301121.353
Valtteri Bottas119.057119.029117.692117.562122.642120.203120.067118.322119.074
Jean-Eric Vergne117.205116.806117.944117.042116.773121.871117.161119.645116.473116.319116.708116.821116.866
Daniel Ricciardo116.252116.392116.079116.244
Charles Pic122.815121.419119.742120.993120.33119.079119.569
Giedo van der Garde119.604119.093119.186119.631119.372119.795119.578119.967
Jules Bianchi119.804119.692120.546121.118119.328119.39124.007124.762121.896
Max Chilton114.701118.155114.418

Sector times and ultimate lap times

PosNo.DriverCarS1S2S2UltimateGapDeficit to best
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault31.621 (1)48.143 (8)29.567 (1)1’49.3310.000
22Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault32.073 (5)47.390 (1)29.916 (7)1’49.3790.0480.011
38Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault32.280 (10)47.760 (3)29.882 (6)1’49.9220.5910.227
43Fernando AlonsoFerrari31.976 (2)48.195 (9)29.944 (8)1’50.1150.7840.395
54Felipe MassaFerrari32.101 (8)48.029 (6)30.001 (9)1’50.1310.8000.033
67Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault32.406 (15)47.574 (2)30.187 (16)1’50.1670.8360.151
710Lewis HamiltonMercedes32.333 (11)47.801 (4)30.068 (11)1’50.2020.8710.549
818Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari32.407 (16)48.002 (5)29.844 (5)1’50.2530.9220.000
96Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes32.023 (3)48.239 (10)30.116 (13)1’50.3781.0470.158
1015Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes32.079 (6)48.691 (15)29.720 (2)1’50.4901.1590.139
1114Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes32.200 (9)48.646 (14)29.728 (3)1’50.5741.2430.037
129Nico RosbergMercedes32.348 (13)48.064 (7)30.189 (17)1’50.6011.2700.000
1316Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault32.091 (7)48.748 (17)29.803 (4)1’50.6421.3110.349
1411Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari32.340 (12)48.431 (12)30.077 (12)1’50.8481.5170.124
155Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes32.362 (14)48.335 (11)30.162 (14)1’50.8591.5280.336
1617Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault32.068 (4)49.031 (18)30.032 (10)1’51.1311.8000.437
1719Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari32.523 (19)48.586 (13)30.164 (15)1’51.2731.9420.174
1812Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari32.485 (17)48.716 (16)30.254 (19)1’51.4552.1240.189
1920Charles PicCaterham-Renault32.510 (18)50.218 (20)30.218 (18)1’52.9463.6150.305
2021Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault32.648 (20)50.167 (19)30.280 (20)1’53.0953.7640.062
2122Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth32.728 (21)50.247 (21)30.446 (21)1’53.4214.0900.061
2223Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth32.816 (22)50.670 (22)30.804 (22)1’54.2904.9590.128

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’55.6361’49.33136
2Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’58.9291’49.39046
3Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault2’03.1761’50.14949
4Felipe MassaFerrari1’56.8631’50.16437
5Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’57.0841’50.25345
6Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’59.4411’50.31844
7Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’55.1981’50.51032
8Sergio PerezMcLaren1’55.5181’50.53641
9Nico RosbergMercedes1’55.6141’50.60143
10Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’55.2241’50.61137
11Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’55.3731’50.62941
12Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’57.3581’50.75137
13Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari1’56.1101’50.97244
14Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’57.0811’50.99142
15Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’57.2811’51.19542
16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’56.7701’51.44740
17Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’56.8581’51.56846
18Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’55.9541’51.64444
19Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault1’57.8871’53.15737
20Charles PicCaterham-Renault1’53.25129
21Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth1’59.2091’53.48240
22Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth1’58.6001’54.41826
23Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’57.82116

Speed trap

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
11Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault305.6
217Valtteri BottasWilliamsRenault301.93.7
316Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsRenault301.93.7
42Mark WebberRed BullRenault301.54.1
520Charles PicCaterhamRenault299.26.4
63Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari298.67
714Paul di RestaForce IndiaMercedes296.39.3
818Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoFerrari296.29.4
94Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari296.29.4
1015Adrian SutilForce IndiaMercedes295.510.1
115Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes295.510.1
1222Jules BianchiMarussiaCosworth295.410.2
1319Daniel RicciardoToro RossoFerrari29510.6
146Sergio PerezMcLarenMercedes29411.6
1511Nico HulkenbergSauberFerrari293.811.8
167Kimi RaikkonenLotusRenault293.711.9
178Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault293.711.9
1812Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari293.512.1
1921Giedo van der GardeCaterhamRenault292.213.4
2023Max ChiltonMarussiaCosworth290.814.8
2110Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes289.316.3
229Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes288.517.1

2013 Belgian Grand Prix

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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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35 comments on “Red Bull ahead but tyre failures are the main concern”

  1. It’s strange to see Hamilton so low as he looked very on it (in real life).
    He looked to take a lot of speed into the corners and was on the accelerator as one of if not the fastest.
    The red bull looked very planted and stable.

    Could the drainage on the start finish line be hurting the tires?

    1. I spent some time watching his in-car camera on sky’s ipad app during FP2 & Hamilton’s car looked horrible.

      It looked to understeer on entry & then switch to oversteer on exit, He had a couple fairly big saves.
      He was also downshifting to 6th through Eau Rouge although was remaining flat out on the throttle.

      Although I wasn’t able to see as much in-car stuff from Nico, His Mercedes looked just as bad in pretty much the same places as Lewis.

      1. interesting. Maybe not the track for the Mercedes, or they were already running more fuel?

        1. Maybe trying out some wet set-ups ?

      2. autosport is saying they are probably saving their practice engines.
        I was standing in bruxelles (the long hairpin) and Hamilton seem to take good speed into it. He was also very good in the next unnamed corner.
        He did have 2 slides.
        I’m still expecting him at the top of the time sheets come qualy.

  2. Interesting to see the Red Bulls so far up in the speed trap. Vettel is 4kph quicker than the next person down. Could this be a defensive tactic to make it difficult for the other to pass them on the long straights?

    1. Speed trap is located right on the exit of Eau Rouge. The cars carrying the most speed through Eau Rouge will show faster trap speeds. I bet the bulls are a good 10 km/h down on top speed compared to -say- the Mercs.

      1. Mercedes werent lowers revs to protect their engines

      2. you’ve seen their rear wing yet? tiny! possible for rbr to have a nice topspeed, atleast they will not be last in top speeds this race.

    2. Obviously now the Renault is the most powerful engine ;-))

  3. just look how flat Vettels line is

    1. It’s very impressive consistency, although I’m fairly sure that was the run that ended in the puncture @latvian

      1. I’m guessing it’s Webbers set-up if it looks like a wet race and Vettels set-up if it looks like a dry race, or maybe they will use both set-ups if the forcast is mixed.

  4. Two years ago, Red Bull brought a very effective low-downforce configuration to Spa and Monza, and the early signs are that this year they have done it again. Vettel’s long run looks pretty solid too (for as long as it lasted, of course), so at the moment it looks like Red Bull are in the best shape.

    Mercedes’ form is a little worrying for those hoping they would challenge Red Bull for the second part of the season, and equally worrying is the fact that they are so much slower in the speed trap than anyone else, particularly Red Bull. It would be ironic if Mercedes are blown away on the straights by Red Bull. Rosberg’s long run looks good, though.

    I also find it surprising that Mercedes, and Hamilton in particular are currently opting for the high downforce approach. In both of the past two events in Spa Hamilton complained about being too slow on the straights, culminating in last year’s infamous telemetry tweet. If they keep their current setup, Mercedes will struggle to overtake anyone on the straight, and they will be sitting ducks if anyone manages to get within 1s of them.

    1. Yep, I remember in 2011 in Monza the Red Bulls with the DRS on had literally no angle on the rear wing, it was the magic of the blown diffuser because in 2012 the wing was more conventional and they were quite uncompetitive.

  5. strange how mercedes is now the slowest and red bull the fastest in the speed trap

    1. Speed trap is located right on the exit of Eau Rouge. The cars carrying the most speed through Eau Rouge will show faster trap speeds. I bet the bulls are a good 10 km/h down on top speed compared to -say- the Mercs.

      1. In addition to this, I saw HAM downshifting through Eau Rouge which is not what most do… I seriously doubt they’re running a high-downforce configuration like someone mentioned above.

        1. Yes i do think they re running a low df setup as well. In addition to that, someone on sky broadcast (Ant iirc) mentioned the engine situation. They had a used(very) engine on the car and Ant said the gears were too long and that the team can’t get it so wrong regarding the gear ratios. So what he thought was that they weren’t pushing the engine and blow it up because they would like to use it in another fp session elsewhere.

          1. Or they might have just used an old engine today and will use a brand new one for the rest of the weekend.

  6. The speed trap is just after Eau Rouge, at the beginning of Kemmel straight – the highest top speed probably belongs to the Force India and Willams drivers as had the highest speed at the end of S1 which is at the end of Kemmel. We know Vettel used a very low downforce setup (or at least rear wing), but I didn’t expect him to be that much faster than anyone else on top of the hill, and it means he doesn’t even have to worry about anyone overtaking him there because he’ll get a big advantage by this. The weird thing is that on a whole lap the RB9 has the same pace with even more downforce as it is shown by Webber’s lap time – so far it looks like whichever way they will go, nobody will have a chance against them.

    Just a few more interesting stuff from these data:
    – Pic was the fifth fastest after Eau Rouge – which means he got through there very quickly and helping him by a lot for the long straight – and still only had the 18th fastest S1
    – Williams and Force India going for low downforce, high top speed, which is great for overtaking in the race but pretty bad in qualifying and no chance of going after someone who is fast in the slower middle sector
    – Rosberg’s and Hamilton’s top speed are very slow, that is pretty unusual by Mercedes as usually they are the ones with the higher top speed, tho it might work out for them because they seem pretty quick in S2, and if I remember right, they haven’t really used DRS in either FPs so far, maybe they are hiding their real pace – but they still have to work on stability as Hamilton looked very uncomfortable in the car today

    1. I forgot one thing – as well as they didn’t use DRS, Merc drivers always lifted in Eau Rouge and changed back to 6th gear, are they just playing with us and have they got it in them again?

  7. Can anyone find me a diagram showing where the DRS is?

  8. If Red Bull choose to run the low downforce set-up that Vettel was running (and I assume they will) then it looks to be they’ll have a strong set-up in race – not too much energy through the tyres in S2 and they won’t be sitting ducks on the straights – and they look very quick over one lap, but then we said the same in Hungary!

    Since it’s highly probable there’ll be at least some rain though, I’m just looking forward to a good race! That also may tend them towards a slightly higher downforce set-up however.

  9. Its now suspected that Van Der Garde’s accident was also caused by a tyre failure.

    Pirelli have told teams/Drivers they believe tyres are been damaged by a kurb (As I understand it the Kurbs have not been changed for this year), However earlier Pirelli insisted the damage was caused by a piece of debris.

    The teams/Drivers are not buying Pirelli’s explanation & have asked Charlie Whiting to investigate the matter.

    As I said in an earlier article, There were ‘damaged’ tyres which hadn’t actually failed on other cars & there were no problems at all on the GP2/GP3 cars.

    1. @gt-racer I’m surprised more didn’t immediately jump to that conclusion – having just witnessed Vettel’s failure in around the same area I believe (one in which you never usually see cars going off, especially in the dry) I immediately suspected it’d been another tyre failure.

      If this is going to be a genuine problem during the race I hope Charlie just red flags it this time for intergity’s sake but I’m remaining hopeful that it’s just coincidental and that there are no problems so we can have a problem-free weekend and Pirelli can retain some dignity :)

  10. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    23rd August 2013, 21:55

    I know statistics experts will kill me for this, because especially in F1 things are not so easy to predict, but if you observe Vettel’s season so far, he has.
    Race 1: 3rd
    Race 2: 1st
    Race 3: 4th
    Race 4: 1st
    Race 5: 4th
    Race 6 : 2nd (a first would have make my logic perfect!)
    Race 7: 1st
    Race 8: DNF (without the problem probably 4th or 5th, well, just an “if”)
    Race 9: 1st
    Race 10: 3rd

    My point is, that almost perfectly, this year Vettel has won every 2 races. Guess which race comes? The second after his last victory in Germany. Cheers on Vettel!!! (But my bet on the Predictions Championship goes for Kimi for some historic reason)

    1. Yea it’s just a fairly nice pattern and nothing more that that really! Vettel wouldn’t be looking a bad bet for a win though, mind you we also said that in Hungary…

  11. I would be shocked if Red Bull kept Vettel on the low-downforce setup. As Webber has proven, the high-downforce can be just as quick in the dry, and it’ll no doubt be more ideal in the wet. I know there’s a long way to go in terms of how the weather develops, but surely Red Bull will put Vettel on the safer option.

  12. Mercedes didn’t reveal how fast they are – but it seems they lost confidence in their engines.

  13. It´s going to be another tough weekend…

  14. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    24th August 2013, 1:01

    The speed trap positioning is a bit misleading, as its at the top of Eau Rouge.
    It really suggests that Redbull are the quickest there. Not rip necessarily that they have the fastest car in a straight line.

    1. Fastest at eau rouge means RBR gonna be fastest in most corners.

    2. What it suggests was what Brundle pointed out that they get an incredible exit from La Source and can nail it through Eau Rouge easily. That would suggest that they’ve got good stability and traction, which is usually achieved by a good set-up and a bit of downforce.

Comments are closed.