Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2013

Rosberg believes Mercedes can “annoy” Red Bull

2013 Japanese Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2013Red Bull hold the upper hand in Japan but Nico Rosberg is hopeful that Mercedes can keep them honest this weekend.

“I hope we can annoy the Red Bulls a little bit,” said Rosberg after Friday’s two practice sessions.

But the day’s running didn’t go entirely to plan for Mercedes as Ross Brawn explained: “Both drivers suffered flat spots with the tyres, which forced us to adapt our programme, but they were still able to complete enough running to get a good feel for each compound and how it’s working at this circuit.”

Lewis Hamilton was given a lap time target of mid-1’40s when he began his longest stint on the hard tyres. Then after being told he was three tenths off Fernando Alonso’s pace he lowered his times into the 1’39s.

Alonso, who was following him on the track and also on the hard tyres, couldn’t match that pace. He reported his tyres were “zero” and stayed out until he’d hit the ‘cliff’ of tyre performance and his lap times had risen above 1’44.

Team mate Felipe Massa also felt the cliff coming but stayed out for one more lap in the 1’41s before pitting. Ferrari, it seems, have a weakness on race pace comparable to what we saw in Korea last week.

But there is some cause for optimism. Rob Smedley told Massa during the session his pace was good “for the cars that we’ll be with on Sunday”.

Alonso also believes there is more time in the car. “We definitely lost a few extra tenths from the first lap,” he said. “We hope to get a clean lap tomorrow and to be ahead of those cars, such as the Toro Rossos and the McLarens that we cannot have in front of us, as happened today.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Suzuka, 2013Lotus’s preparations were compromised by Kimi Raikkonen going off the track for the second Friday in a row. “We lost a reasonable amount of long run data collection as a result of Kimi?s spin,” said trackside operations director Alan Permane, “meaning Romain?s programme was modified slightly and we might look at doing some race simulation work during tomorrow?s practice”.

McLaren were in a similar position because of Sergio Perez’s crash. Jenson Button’s race engineer Dave Robson told him his pace was “strong compared to our competitors” before telling him to target laps around 1’40.5, which he fell short of by around a tenth.

Button, however, is wary of the change in weather conditions which is expected. “I believe there?s a cooler weather front coming in for tomorrow,” he said, “so we need to be careful about the direction we take with the set-up to best cope with it”.

“We found a good balance on the [hard] tyre,” added Button, “but still need to do some work with the [medium], because we didn?t gain too much going from the harder tyre to the softer one”.

Pirelli believe the medium tyre to be around half a second faster than the hard. Red Bull did most of their race fuel running on the softer tyre, indicating they may feel confident enough to run it for longer in the race. Recent evidence suggests that Lotus should also be able to go down this root if today’s setbacks haven’t compromised them too badly.

Sauber appear to have picked up where they left off in Korea. Nico Hulkenberg is confident of getting into Q3 again but it will be a stern test for Esteban Gutierrez to be close to his team mate in his first qualifying session at Suzuka.

Here’s all the data for the Japanese Grand Prix:

Longest stint comparison

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


Sebastian Vettel99.25399.33299.41106.55499.70599.7100.15899.889100.054100.426107.183101.729
Mark Webber99.46299.47199.66599.61102.87299.58199.948100.288122.92199.657100.237100.739
Fernando Alonso100.439100.382100.651100.449100.108104.22100.207100.421100.61100.674100.979101.553102.063
Felipe Massa100.05199.95104.535100.35100.821100.32100.781101.924100.638101.052101.387
Jenson Button101.08100.934101.036101.756100.692100.996100.937101.078101.231
Sergio Perez96.157113.73795.709121.882105.502104.516
Kimi Raikkonen109.275110.6795.80995.988
Romain Grosjean100.788101.05100.779103.168100.946101.146101.623101.421101.936101.811
Nico Rosberg100.20699.38199.24899.46599.09498.94103.536108.24298.53198.415100.40898.67198.774
Lewis Hamilton101.035100.734101.477100.22399.933103.7899.649101.33899.40399.4399.484103.11999.858101.205102.289101.246102.517
Nico Hulkenberg101.048104.468100.291100.046100.077100.831100.236
Esteban Gutierrez100.832100.553100.611100.481102.933101.136100.914100.683100.735101.211101.688
Paul di Resta101.159101.214101.155100.881111.456100.834100.613100.486
Adrian Sutil101.55101.236100.904100.698101.22101.979
Pastor Maldonado96.722113.914106.113107.359
Valtteri Bottas101.725101.845101.676101.853101.809101.214101.915101.825105.423105.823103.269102.322102.128
Jean-Eric Vergne101.892102.901101.819101.627101.284101.099102.593101.474
Daniel Ricciardo100.304102.597100.386100.419100.288100.414100.433100.523100.573101.662101.834101.868109.567102.963
Charles Pic104.834107.08104.511104.218104.582103.867103.414103.786103.316
Giedo van der Garde106.16105.886104.535104.021103.885104.373104.134105.978104.384104.056104.117104.254104.028103.78103.695104.647104.391104.305104.628
Jules Bianchi
Max Chilton102.38102.168101.87101.857102.006102.356103.953103.363

Sector times and ultimate lap times

PosNo.DriverCarS1S2S3UltimateGapDeficit to best
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault33.452 (1)42.142 (2)18.240 (2)1’33.8340.018
22Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault33.503 (3)42.182 (3)18.298 (3)1’33.9830.1490.037
39Nico RosbergMercedes33.459 (2)42.252 (5)18.403 (6)1’34.1140.2800.000
47Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault33.707 (7)42.062 (1)18.433 (8)1’34.2020.3680.000
58Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault33.567 (5)42.197 (4)18.532 (14)1’34.2960.4620.115
610Lewis HamiltonMercedes33.547 (4)42.418 (7)18.426 (7)1’34.3910.5570.051
719Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari33.928 (10)42.332 (6)18.213 (1)1’34.4730.6390.000
84Felipe MassaFerrari33.686 (6)42.473 (9)18.436 (9)1’34.5950.7610.103
95Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes33.827 (8)42.496 (11)18.445 (10)1’34.7680.9340.144
103Fernando AlonsoFerrari33.829 (9)42.486 (10)18.489 (12)1’34.8040.9700.283
1112Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari34.222 (16)42.465 (8)18.386 (5)1’35.0731.2390.016
1218Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari34.112 (13)42.602 (15)18.362 (4)1’35.0761.2420.033
1311Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari34.106 (12)42.572 (14)18.504 (13)1’35.1821.3480.000
1414Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes34.186 (14)42.534 (12)18.555 (15)1’35.2751.4410.000
1515Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes34.215 (15)42.536 (13)18.579 (16)1’35.3301.4960.011
166Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes33.987 (11)42.962 (16)18.639 (17)1’35.5881.7540.121
1717Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault34.657 (18)42.999 (17)18.480 (11)1’36.1362.3020.000
1816Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault34.644 (17)43.226 (18)18.851 (18)1’36.7212.8870.001
1920Charles PicCaterham-Renault35.077 (19)43.510 (19)19.043 (21)1’37.6303.7960.000
2021Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault35.172 (21)43.686 (20)18.940 (20)1’37.7983.9640.107
2123Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth35.165 (20)43.792 (21)18.909 (19)1’37.8664.0320.255

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’34.7681’33.85259
2Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’34.7871’34.02055
3Nico RosbergMercedes1’34.4871’34.11455
4Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’34.1571’34.44255
5Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’35.3641’34.20234
6Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’35.1791’34.41145
7Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’35.6351’34.47349
8Felipe MassaFerrari1’35.1261’34.69849
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’35.8681’34.91256
10Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’35.1541’35.08748
11Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’36.7601’35.08958
12Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’36.0661’35.10954
13Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari1’35.9001’35.18252
14Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’36.3991’35.27553
15Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’36.1651’35.34144
16Sergio PerezMcLaren1’35.4501’35.70935
17Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’36.3401’36.13664
18Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’36.1781’36.72218
19Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’37.59522
20Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth1’37.6298
21Charles PicCaterham-Renault1’37.63031
22Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault1’38.0251’37.90551
23Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth1’38.7631’38.12151

Speed trap

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
11Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault295.3
219Daniel RicciardoToro RossoFerrari294.70.6
32Mark WebberRed BullRenault293.81.5
43Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari293.12.2
514Paul di RestaForce IndiaMercedes290.44.9
616Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsRenault2905.3
718Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoFerrari289.45.9
84Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari288.96.4
912Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari288.46.9
1017Valtteri BottasWilliamsRenault288.27.1
1115Adrian SutilForce IndiaMercedes288.17.2
1211Nico HulkenbergSauberFerrari2887.3
1323Max ChiltonMarussiaCosworth287.67.7
149Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes287.57.8
157Kimi RaikkonenLotusRenault28510.3
1610Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes284.510.8
178Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault284.410.9
186Sergio PerezMcLarenMercedes282.812.5
195Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes282.313
2020Charles PicCaterhamRenault280.315
2121Giedo van der GardeCaterhamRenault278.716.6

2013 Japanese Grand Prix

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Images ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei Lotus/LAT

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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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17 comments on “Rosberg believes Mercedes can “annoy” Red Bull”

  1. Damn those Red Bulls look fast. Mercedes will bother them in quali, but on race pace I really doubt there is anything touching the Bulls.

    Ferrari lack lustre as usual , and Lotus not looking much better than Ferrari

    1. On the contrary If I am a Ferrari fan or a mercedes fan ( I am one ) , I will be afraid of Lotus . I think they have shown some great performance on race day . I think they can upset the podium plans of anyone else apart from the purple blue cars .

    2. Todfod if Lotus can get both cars in the top 5 and have good starts, on race pace they will trouble Merc and Redbull.

    3. Since that unfortunate turn from Hungary onwards the championship was always going to be Red Bull’s way similar to what happened when Pirelli chose harder tyres for the second half of last season. Red Bull and Vettel only lost at Hungary due to some mistakes and a damaged front wing. I think the only chance for the others is in India where Red Bull may suffer with the fronts.

  2. “Annoy” is probably the perfect word choice in this situation.

  3. Vettel fastest in one lap. Vettel fastest in the Speed Trap. Even if Rosberg or Hamilton qualify better than Vettel, he will have a pretty nice time overtaking with DRS.

  4. Michael Brown (@)
    11th October 2013, 18:56

    Vettel, future teammate and current teammate top the speed trap

    1. Looking at those speed trap results must have struck fear and despondency into the heart of the other teams.

    2. speed trap is not at end of straight? or is it…

  5. Ferrari look to be slipping into a no man’s land behind Red Bull, Mercedes and surprisingly Lotus. Hopefully I’m wrong and Alonso can work his magic to fight for a podium spot. I think you can tell whatever minor developments the teams had are now drying up, as there appears to be very definite gaps between the teams that are now pretty much static until the end of the season.

    1. well Lotus, for a quarter of the 1st half of the season were ahead of Ferrari. but generally the E21 has been faster than the sickly prancing horse.

      1. I know that they started the season very well, and have been doing a great job. However I’m surprised to see them up there ahead of Ferrari and fighting Mercedes on race pace is because of their comparatively small budget. Usually that has a very telling effect on whether a team can remain competitive: Look at Brawn or Lotus in previous seasons (2011 particularly) or any midfield team. They really are working and using everything they’ve got very effectively, I can see why Ferrari have raided their staff!

        1. Good points. Then there is the antithesis of big spending equals big results, McLaren. Even Sauber is showing new signs of life with a much smaller budget than either Ferrari or McLaren.

      2. Prancing horse is the best car in first half of the season bar Hungary and best car since summer breaks bar Korea.

        Nice way to twist the fact

    2. It looks as though Ferrari is trying to follow RBR into the “more drag = more downforce = slower top speed but faster laptimes” equation but can’t get the last part right, meanwhile RBR have moved into another mode (and another world) of ” less drag, same downforce, higher speed, faster laps.
      It would appear that only exceptional circumstances can stop a RBR whitewash.

  6. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    12th October 2013, 1:20

    So now Ferrari are terrible in qualifying, and terrible in the race.
    Meanwhile at Red Bull…

Comments are closed.