Red Bull even further ahead than it looks

2013 Indian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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“The Red Bulls are unfortunately looking incredibly quick,” said Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane following today’s practice sessions, “but we’re leading the charge behind them”.

Just how far behind Red Bull’s rivals are at the Buddh International Circuit? The gap on the time sheets at the end of second practice was half a second. But it seems likely Sebastian Vettel left some of the RB9’s potential unexploited on his fastest lap on Saturday.

Several drivers found they got a better time out of the soft tyres on their second flying lap. Romain Grosjean, who was ‘best of the rest’ behind the Red Bulls, improved his time by two tenths of a second.

Vettel was also on course to improve on his second lap but dived into the pits before completing it. As the data below shows he set the quickest times in all three sectors and Grosjean was an ominous three-quarters of a second off his pace.

No doubt the picture will change on Saturday as we have often seen in the past. But realistically, whatever kind of fuel load Red Bull were running today, it’s hard to envisage any of their rivals threatening them tomorrow.

So Sunday’s race is likely to be a Red Bull benefit, much as the previous two races at the Buddh International Circuit were. But expect the tyre strategies to mark a departure from the previous races.

Pirelli have brought significantly softer tyres to this weekend’s race which should prevent it from being a one-stop race for most drivers as it has been before. The hard/soft combination has been replaced with medium/soft. But to really appreciate how big a departure this is, consider that the 2013 medium tyre compound is approximate to last year’s soft.

Given that, it’s no surprise the teams are finding this year’s soft tyre very fragile. Pirelli expect two or three pit stops per driver on Sunday. The front-left especially takes a pounding around the long turn ten and eleven right-hander.

In practice drivers found the tyre only lasted around half-a-dozen laps or so. Nico Hulkenberg exclaimed “Jesus that looks bad” when he saw the state of the blistering on his front-left when he came into the pits.

Most drivers did their longest runs on the medium tyres compounds. Fernando Alonso persevered with the soft for several laps and the rate of drop-off in his lap times on the chart below was much quicker than for those on the mediums.

“The [medium] tyre seems to last forever, while the [soft] tyre doesn’t” Button commented Button after practice. “There’s a very big difference between the two tyre compounds so I think we’ll see some very interesting strategies this weekend.”

Whether that happens depends on how many of the teams can make the soft tyre last long enough to only need one further pit stop after getting rid of them. The size of the performance gap between the two will likely lead drivers to run the soft for the first stint then switch to the medium for the rest of the race.

But however the strategies play out the battle for victory is surely going to be a Red Bull-only affair.

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

Longest stint comparison

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

Sebastian Vettel90.89290.6692.31593.36596.04491.39294.9489.99790.4891.35890.78190.56790.24889.98789.9890.184106.66889.785
Mark Webber91.62691.55491.29591.67692.45896.46891.43194.84490.85490.62791.11791.07992.49691.6189.90989.88489.94694.65990.097
Fernando Alonso92.02292.35992.96394.36794.32493.97693.60893.1493.39693.685
Felipe Massa92.65892.42292.47592.38492.12993.34994.57293.40795.12891.88294.86691.69392.48491.71492.32591.59191.27891.17191.19291.06
Jenson Button92.55291.92191.85191.90691.95591.90196.46591.73398.63591.57891.24391.676
Sergio Perez92.6292.67192.33792.62592.70296.96592.00592.93292.98292.3892.22592.20292.96392.53595.157103.36491.46991.06591.29291.13891.06691.327
Kimi Raikkonen93.82493.2697.17392.75193.34393.08293.649
Romain Grosjean91.70991.42690.79891.08990.86591.917100.11390.59690.43190.46494.46890.666
Nico Rosberg92.21691.46794.23391.61595.77991.08790.82490.9597.61291.73590.637
Lewis Hamilton92.87495.13792.73792.71892.88692.61793.283
Nico Hulkenberg93.5992.81692.35993.21396.27392.42592.86193.26491.92191.97499.59492.59991.45291.381
Esteban Gutierrez95.43692.80793.00992.87792.78
Paul di Resta92.20393.06997.33192.0691.91391.76191.90191.9492.02
Adrian Sutil94.43793.36392.78193.1894.16193.47293.0293.55198.40392.13492.288
Pastor Maldonado94.26494.95194.98794.99694.222
Valtteri Bottas111.30895.55294.07895.12394.74194.64594.52294.29994.794
Jean-Eric Vergne93.21193.08693.40793.57109.75192.992.52492.64992.492.22592.121
Daniel Ricciardo89.015104.80796.49888.021105.66488.029
Charles Pic95.89995.11695.16995.20895.07495.55995.82599.19595.69995.2894.28694.294.63193.83793.72394.31293.64293.371
Giedo van der Garde98.26796.05395.61694.97295.11696.21395.27694.91994.29994.33394.23293.93693.73493.45793.72193.48793.40793.323
Jules Bianchi93.71494.46294.23793.88693.393.29893.46593.1392.5
Max Chilton95.92595.24195.31698.26794.37894.31494.28495.47794.4

Sector times and ultimate lap times

PosNo.DriverCarS1S2S3UltimateGapDeficit to best
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault41.885 (1)22.279 (1)21.202 (1)1’25.3660.356
22Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault42.130 (3)22.444 (2)21.225 (2)1’25.7990.4330.212
38Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault42.063 (2)22.617 (4)21.460 (7)1’26.1400.7740.080
410Lewis HamiltonMercedes42.445 (12)22.576 (3)21.281 (3)1’26.3020.9360.097
59Nico RosbergMercedes42.164 (4)22.773 (8)21.449 (4)1’26.3861.0200.196
63Fernando AlonsoFerrari42.314 (7)22.664 (6)21.452 (6)1’26.4301.0640.000
77Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault42.323 (8)22.623 (5)21.613 (10)1’26.5591.1930.073
84Felipe MassaFerrari42.171 (5)22.979 (12)21.451 (5)1’26.6011.2350.000
96Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes42.254 (6)22.801 (9)21.692 (11)1’26.7471.3810.110
105Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes42.402 (10)23.059 (13)21.511 (9)1’26.9721.6060.000
1115Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes42.398 (9)23.078 (14)21.762 (13)1’27.2381.8720.137
1219Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari42.649 (13)22.731 (7)21.875 (16)1’27.2551.8890.049
1317Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault42.780 (16)22.927 (11)21.722 (12)1’27.4292.0630.000
1411Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari42.438 (11)23.089 (15)21.964 (17)1’27.4912.1250.000
1516Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault42.817 (17)22.910 (10)21.778 (14)1’27.5052.1390.215
1614Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes42.752 (15)23.292 (16)21.498 (8)1’27.5422.1760.066
1712Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari42.690 (14)23.477 (18)21.782 (15)1’27.9492.5830.000
1818Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari42.979 (21)23.399 (17)22.009 (19)1’28.3873.0210.044
1921Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault42.894 (18)23.657 (20)21.974 (18)1’28.5253.1590.167
2022Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth42.970 (20)23.564 (19)22.020 (20)1’28.5543.1880.245
2120Charles PicCaterham-Renault42.949 (19)23.734 (21)22.123 (21)1’28.8063.4400.560
2223Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth43.387 (22)23.973 (22)22.720 (22)1’30.0804.7140.084

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’26.6831’25.72259
2Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’26.8711’26.01155
3Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’26.9901’26.22056
4Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’27.2271’26.39957
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’28.2141’26.43045
6Nico RosbergMercedes1’26.8991’26.58263
7Felipe MassaFerrari1’27.6921’26.60162
8Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’28.7301’26.63250
9Sergio PerezMcLaren1’27.4161’26.85763
10Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’27.3351’26.97262
11Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’28.3361’27.30435
12Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’28.4681’27.37556
13Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’27.8001’27.42954
14Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari1’27.7701’27.49159
15Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’27.60838
16Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’28.3421’27.72044
17Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’28.5381’27.94962
18Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’28.0351’28.43155
19Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault1’29.4131’28.69263
20Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth1’29.5601’28.79952
21James CaladoForce India-Mercedes1’29.19722
22Charles PicCaterham-Renault1’30.0261’29.36660
23Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth1’30.4711’30.16444

Speed trap

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
15Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes321.7
212Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari319.62.1
314Paul di RestaForce IndiaMercedes319.42.3
415Adrian SutilForce IndiaMercedes319.32.4
518Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoFerrari319.22.5
66Sergio PerezMcLarenMercedes318.92.8
719Daniel RicciardoToro RossoFerrari317.34.4
811Nico HulkenbergSauberFerrari316.25.5
910Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes315.46.3
109Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes315.26.5
113Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari314.96.8
124Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari313.28.5
1323Max ChiltonMarussiaCosworth313.18.6
1420Charles PicCaterhamRenault312.49.3
1521Giedo van der GardeCaterhamRenault312.29.5
161Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault312.29.5
1722Jules BianchiMarussiaCosworth312.19.6
182Mark WebberRed BullRenault311.99.8
1917Valtteri BottasWilliamsRenault310.711
207Kimi RaikkonenLotusRenault310.311.4
218Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault310.211.5
2216Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsRenault310.111.6

2013 Indian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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18 comments on “Red Bull even further ahead than it looks”

  1. @KeithCollantine Correct me if I am wrong, I think if Pirelli had chosen the tire compounds which were close to each other like Japan the race might turn out interesting with different strategies. How about Soft and Super-soft Instead of the medium ?

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      25th October 2013, 15:22

      Nah I think Medium was a good choice.

      The soft tyre was only getting like 9-12 laps before they really dropped off in performance.
      If they brought the super-soft then it would end up being like a 5-6 stop race lol.

      Personally I think they should’ve gone with the medium and hard… Let em race flat out.

      1. @tophercheese21 We will see them racing flat out at the American GP, we’ll see which of the American or Indian GP is the most interesting to watch ^^

      2. 6-stop race unlikely with only 6 sets of tyres available!


      3. Any change that stops this cursed tyre management would be an improvement.

    2. I still think there should be 3 compounds available at all events, with tyre choice free to everyone. If you want to try the whole race on a hard tyre, go for it. Or if you want 3 stops on a soft tyre, why not?
      A bit more like the 80s in that respect, although the hard tyre would probably still need to be more durable than the current one, but you get my point.

  2. Another Vettel snooze fest. We should just spend our time betting on the gap for the win. 20 seconds? 25? 30?

    1. I’m thinking of missing India and picking it back up after the Vettel celebrations are all over. From a sponsor point of view the The Red Bull of Vettel giet very little air time.

      1. Yea, and hardly anybody ever talks about them. It’s a real sponsor’s nightmare! :p

  3. Are we getting used to Grosjean as main challenger?

    1. So it seems… Nice!

  4. Vettel did left something eh.. I was live timing and after his second flying lap on the OPTION TYRE, he set two purple sectors, 41.8 and 22.2 respectively, only for then to pit at the end of his lap.

  5. Its frankly pathetic that the option tyres are once again falling to bits after only 2-5 laps, Whats the point in spending a fortune transporting hundreds of tyres across the world if there so bad drivers can’t wait to get off them.

    That & the amount drivers are having to nurse the tyres this season is simply a joke.

    I do not watch F1 & racing in general to see them all tootling around a couple seconds off the pace not really racing one another purely because there nursing race tyres that are as fragile as these.

    And listening to the sky commentators all talking about how brillant tyres blistering after 3 laps is is equally disturbing. F1 seriously needs to look at itself & get back to allowing drivers to race before more of the top guys get bored of ‘Formula maintain the gap & hit your Lap Delta’ like Mark Webber has.

    Depending on how things are next year I may be 1 fan that moves my viewership to another category because I hate how things are right now & am pessimistic about the future with the prospect of tyre & fuel saving next year :(

    1. You forgot to add the lovely DRS passes!

  6. Should be very interesting battle for second place between Lotus Mercedes and Ferrari.
    This is what I’m looking for this weekend.

  7. I think Webber should at the least lengthen his gear ratios, or even take some downforce off to be quick on the straights. It’s highly unlikely he will qualify on pole with the form Sebastian Vettel is currently in, so it looks like he will be battling with Lotus, Mercedes, and Ferrari for P2.

    How often have we not seen him go down the same setup route as Sebastian Vettel only to complain that he couldn’t overtake anyone because his gears were too short? The setup works for Vettel because a) his is leading the race, and b) he can usually make passes even with a low top speed (Belgium 2012 springs to mind).

    1. @adrianmorse he showed that in Suzuka too. Coincidentally, both areas in which he overtaked in those two races were after very high speed left handers in the middle of straights approaching chicanes which bend left-right and follow onto another straight!

  8. “As the data below shows he set the quickest times in all three seconds”

    I know he’s fast, but that takes the biscuit! lol.

Comments are closed.