F1 “already very close to 2013 performance” – Pirelli

2014 F1 season

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Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2014Formula One teams are not far off achieving the levels of performance seen with last year’s cars, according to Pirelli.

Motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “As the lap times in Bahrain have shown, we’re already very close to 2013 levels of performance, despite much smaller capacity engines and a completely fresh set of technical challenges.”

The fastest time of last week’s test, set by Nico Rosberg, was less than a second off the pole position time he set last year.

Hembery said Pirelli’s tyres for the new season will not degrade as severely as last year’s rubber did: “The contact patch is greater, to help put down the extra torque, and the working ranges are wider to reduce degradation.”

“It’s still early days, but so far we’ve seen both performance and durability from our latest P Zero tyres, which all feature new compounds and structures to maximise the unique power characteristics of the latest-generation cars,” he added.

Hembery expects teams to concentrate more on tyre work in the final four-day test which begins tomorrow: “We saw more work on tyres at the recent Bahrain test than there had been at the very first test in Jerez, and with teams likely to be attempting more qualifying and race simulations this week in preparation for the opening grand prix, we would expect this upward curve of tyre work to continue over the final four days in Bahrain.”

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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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47 comments on “F1 “already very close to 2013 performance” – Pirelli”

  1. Meanwhile at Caterham… Kobayashi’s car is slower than GP2. Autch!

    1. Yeah, well, it really was almost half a second slower than the best ever GP2 pole set there. But then again, that was set by the current GP2 champion when he was on a run, in a car that was going all out, low fuel with everything to play for.

      Kobayashi has been doing these laps with an engine that is not using about a 3rd of its power, with far more fuel and with nothing to gain from chasing lap times so far. The engine is going to work a bit better in the coming test already, its going to be better yet in Australia and by the time they get to Bahrain again, and the guys will be chasing a sharp time, even Kobayashi will be able to go at least 2-3 seconds faster than he did during that test.

      1. What will be interesting to see is once they are having to race in anger, how will power unit temps be, and how will fuel usage be. I agree that through the next test and into the next race everyone will have everything far more cranked up and lap times should fall, which means that’s when we’ll REALLY start to know if teams have enough cooling going on, and how thirsty their cars are. A fast lap in testing and quali may have little to do with sustainable lap times at hot venue races.

      2. @bascb – That is exactly what I said in the round-up; Kamui is being an utter drama queen. I suppose his nose it out of joint because the CT05 isn’t quite as good as the fabulous C31 he raced in 2012, although he’s just spent 2013 racing a Ferrari 458 GTC, so he should be used to waywardness by now…

        1. @bascb – I should probably explain that last remark just in case you’re not a GT racing expert. In essence, the super fast steering rack on the 458 road car was lovely, but in the lightened race car it made it massively twitchy and recalcitrant compared to the Vantage GT3, or the 911 GT3 RSR, or the Nismo GT-R GT3 or especially the R8 LMS.

          1. Thanks for that part explaining @william-brierty, I haven’t been following GT racing too intensively, interesting.

            I guess its his way of pushing the team on to improve, wasn’t that why Fernandes stated he wanted to give him a shot? Not sure its the best way to motivate the guys, but there you go. A car that is apparently worse feeling to drive than a GP2 car and a team owner saying he will sell shop if they don’t get some results on the table (I do admire the way Fernandes has been going but …)!

        2. he wasn’t being a drama queen. he wants caterham to get better, so is speaking the truth about its performance. he has moved from a rich team in Ferrari so has high expectations. what has he to lose saying what he says? caterham want to be a midfield team, but everyone just compliments them that they are an extra team in f1. maybe they need this kick up the but reality check, and the people in management might rework the team. I found nothing wrong in kobayashis words.

          1. I’m not sure it’s good for the team to be saying them in public. Maybe good for Kobay to cover his booty a bit, but not so much for the team.

  2. Good to hear that so far everyone (apart from Sutil, I guess) is satisfied that the tyres will hold up better than last year.

    1. I have been pretty confident all along that the Pirelli’s would not be the story this year, because they said last year that their mandate would not be to make them as much of the story of F1 as previous years, and of course they were going to have to be more beefy in the rear, and because they MUST avoid the same catastrophe that occurred last year. Also the new regs should provide a shakeup in the usual order of things so the tires wouldn’t have to do that.

      That said, last year, even after testing was completed, they didn’t know until they actually raced, how bad the tires were. I’m not suggesting they will be delaminating and exploding this year, but I do think tires will be a slight bit more of a concern than the teams think right now, but that they will be manageable.

  3. Important is if the current engines have the same amount of power with the previous ones, and not the engine configuration.

    1. Not so. The reason that the power unit configuration is significant is that a substantial amount of the total system output comes from the electrical mechanisms, rather than the combustion process. Electric motors deliver maximum torque at all revs, down to zero, so the torque supplied to the rear wheels at low speed will be far greater than before – and it’s torque, not power, which will be trying to rip the treads off the tyre during acceleration out of slow corners.
      Power = top speed. Torque = the acceleration you need to get there.

      1. Power is also a function of torque x RPM – imagine the fun if these engines revved to 18k with no restrictions!

        1. don’t forget the boost :)

          the ERS is only providing about 2 MJ per lap, each KG of petrol has about 47 MJ before combustion/drive train loss. Those batteries are dead weight, if they let teams choose between them or fuel weight.

    2. I think you mean it is important lap times are similar. the engines do not need to have the same power to do that. but don’t forget, the downforce has been reduced too, so the lap times would be slower anyway even if they still had v8s.

      1. Exactly! The lap times are going to be down, possibly :-) , because they’ve lost their ability to use the exhaust blown diffusers beam wings, etc. The new power unit is trying to make up for all of that.

    3. No one knows how much peak power these new engines actually produce, if the petrol engine has 650hp, then you add 160hp for 30 seconds from the ERS-k plus whatever the ERS-h produces (which has no limit) then the cars are indeed more powerful, that’s why we have higher top speeds.

      But in reality the power cars now have is actually more AND less depending on which part of the circuit they are, the only way we can compare them is with laptimes and top speeds, in a way it’s a shame there is a 100kg limit because that way we could also compare the race time.

      1. @mantresx

        petrol engine has 650hp, then you add 160hp for 30 seconds from the ERS-k plus whatever the ERS-h produces (which has no limit)

        The old KERS energy store was limited to .4 megajoules maximum storage, the new ERS can store 4 megajoules maximum at any time – 10 times as much storage. The KERS MGU could deliver a maximum of 80 HP equal to 6 2/3 seconds max power per lap. The MGU-K can deliver a maximum of 160 HP, twice the power, which with 10 times the storage would equal 33 seconds max power per lap but the MGU-K is limited to replenishing the Energy Store at only 2 megajoules per lap equal to 16 1/2 seconds. The rest has to come from the MGU-H which as you say is unlimited as long as the Energy Store never exceeds 4 megajoules at any time. There is also an unlimited amount of energy that can be exchanged back and forth directly between the MGU-K and the MGU-H without going through the Energy Store.

        1. Yep, I already knew all that but I couldn’t have said it better myself, it’s really not complicated at all to understand, it’s just that all these engineering terms scare people lol.

          I’m sure most TV commentators and pundits don’t even know half of what you described here, such a shame.

      2. The large reduction in drag is the dominant factor in the high speeds we are seeing, not so much the engines. Some teams predicting 350km/h+ at Monza this year which I am very much looking forward to, considering that we were seeing almost 370km/h at Monza in 2005.

      3. considering their are motors back in the 90’s, about 1.8 liters that could push out more than 500 bhp with out too much investment, and they only rev’d to 8k rpm, I wouldn’t be too impressed with these motors. Especially if you look at how much they cost.

  4. I find it slightly annoying that they keep referring to 2013 lap times when talking about performance. 2013 levels of performance were not staggering. the course record at Bahrain is a 1:29 or something.

    besides, the biggest area for concern (for me) is the race performance. it would be interesting to see how fast the GP2 cars are in the first few laps of a race (when much of the action takes place) compared to 2013/2014 F1.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. On both points actually. Great comment!

      1. First: 2013 is the freshest comparison we have, to compare what we are going to have compared to where we just were. And comparing older lap times are increasingly meaningless, even slight kerb changes on one or two corners can change laptimes by seconds (mostly decrease, as the recent trend is more aggressive kerbs), asphalt aging, new asphalt, track usage… And when the differences of laptime we are talking are a couple of seconds or so it is a somewhat meaningless comparison.

        On the second point: Before we go any further, have you forgotten GP2 races are about 1,7 and 2,6 times shorter? F1 cars would also be vastly faster at the beginning of the race if they were 120 km long instead of 305 km.

        Any conclusion you draw from such useless comparisons are just unsubstantiated speculation, at best.

        1. on the first point, i think you are misreading his original argument. he’s saying the 2013 cars were slow compared to how fast an f1 car should be going around Bahrain. so saying 2014 are close to 2013 as a justification of their speed, is wrong.

          2014 cars being slighlty slower than 2013 cars which were already slow (compared with how fast f1 cars have been in the past) isn’t really that great…

    2. But a critical factor to consider is the reduction in downforce levels since that lap record was set. Last year already, teams were sacrificing peak engine power via the EBD to generate more downforce. All that is gone now coupled with the reduced wing dimensions.
      Some of the time lost going round corners can now be found on the straights, but then again not all of it and then it is also track dependent.
      Constant rule changes is making comparison of laptimes from previous seasons almost a futile exercise.

  5. Pirelli are probably right in this case. However Bahrain has always been a circuit with quite a few long straights (excluding that weird 2010 layout), which obviously suits this engine. On a circuit with little in terms of straights and more in terms of fast sweeping corners (like Melbourne) however, I’m not sure the cars will be as close at this stage. Maybe in a few months once the teams have found all the downforce they lost (like they did in 2009 then times will be closer to ’13 or maybe faster.

    1. I’m certainly not convinced they are going to find all the downforce they lost, in a few months. I don’t know where they would find it given the newness of the new regs and I think it will be a failure on F1’s part if indeed their downforce has been curtailed so little that they will that soon haul it back. Narrower front wings, no lower beam rear wing, no exhaust blown diffuser trickery, and only Mac’s fancy rear suspension being any hint of hauling something back at least in the rear end of their car, so I sure hope the badly needed curtailing of downforce will make a meaningful difference to closer racing for at least this season.

      1. @robbie

        I sure hope the badly needed curtailing of downforce will make a meaningful difference to closer racing for at least this season.

        That’s what I thought a few months ago but then they decided to make DRS more powerful :(

        1. Yeah I hear you but I’m talking about close racing in the non-DRS zones with a personal hope of mine that they get rid of DRS all together starting next year, if the reduction in dirty air effect because of a reduction in dependence on aero tightens the field up like we know it can.

          1. @robbie Current DRS rules are SO stupid. They might as well tell the drivers they can’t use 8th gear unless they were getting ready to pass another car and they’re within 1 second. Sounds stupid to even contemplate! Why would they do that with DRS?
            DRS is like 8th gear: They are both devices that help the performance of F1…so why do they give moveable aero devices a bad name with these ridiculous rules?

            I’m campaigning to get DRS fixed, not removed. Reducing drag to increase top speed and efficiency is a good thing. Silly rules telling the drivers when they can use it and ONLY using it for artificial passing is embarrassing.

          2. @daved Interesting take on DRS that is rarely heard. I’m not sure I can ever like this concept no matter where it is used or when, but what are you suggesting? Drivers should be able to use it whenever? And therefore in the same places as they do now? Or up against a driver in front who is also using it?

            I think if all drivers can use it all the time, not that they’d use it in most corners, then they’d all generally be using it in the same places at the same times and it won’t have any ultimate effect and therefore why have it at all? I’d rather see higher top speeds through smaller wings creating less drag and also taking away a good chunk of the negative effect of being in dirty air which would make for more confidence for the drivers to attempt passes going into, during, and out of corners. So to me opening the rear wing might have the same effect as smaller wings for the straights, but close the wing and you’re into dirty air again, taking confidence away from the driver in his car.

            I don’t know that I can ever see it as anything but a silly gadget that shouldn’t be necessary but I’m probably missing something from how you are thinking of it being ‘fixed’.

          3. @robbie Thanks for asking rather than writing it off immediately! First, let me add that I TOTALLY agree with you about eliminating or greatly reducing wings. I think they are creating too much dirty air and ruining the chance to pass. But nobody seems to be willing to have that discussion and DRS exist so maybe we “fix” it.
            Understandably, DRS has left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth so let’s rebrand a new system called Moveable AeroDynamics (MAD) Hey, they’re racing in “anger” after all LOL
            To best answer your questions:
            1) I assert they should be able to use MAD anytime they want, just like the turbo unit on the new V6 or 8th gear on the gearbox. Obviously, you don’t tell a driver they can only use those when trailing a driver by 1 second…blah blah blah. Just silly.
            2) Why? The drag on an F1 car is incredible. The latest numbers I could find were on 2011 cars and they had a frontal area of about 1.33 m^2 and a Cd of about .98 = CdA of about 1.30 meters.
            – Turning on DRS can reduce that drag by as much as 18% so now you have a CdA of 1.08m which would save you 4.1MJ per lap at Monza! That just happens to be ~ how much energy you can store in the new Energy Recovery System.

            As for top speed, you could increase your top speed for the Mercedes car by 10% from ~300kph to 330kph by increasing their HP from a reported 690bhp to 918bhp OR you could let them open up the DRS flap and save the fuel they’ll need to complete the race at Monza! :-)

            I’m with you about removing the wings, at the end of the day and making the body work provide downforce as needed to clean up air. But if they’re going to keep wings, they can still have the best of both worlds by using MAD to keep the top end performance up while meeting their new fuel load goals.
            But the passing in corners would definitely be better with no wings at all.

          4. @daved Fair comment, and lol on the MAD. One thing about wings is that they won’t get rid of them because they make the cars look better, and because they make for good advertising space. That’s why I didn’t mention actually removing the wings, but ultimately I think it would make for better seat of the pants racing.

            I instinctively would rather not have a gadget to fix racing, but I think what you suggest would be better than how they are using it now…I sure take your point on that….if we MUST have DRS.

            You’ve perhaps read me posting what JV’s opinion was on this going way back to when they brought in grooved tires and he called them a joke and got his wrist slapped for it. Give us back the big fat slicks of the 70’s that created so much drag you had no choice but to run less wing, thus killing two birds with one gadget free stone. Lots of mechanical grip from tires, small wings = less disturbance in dirty air and greater confidence to pass. I envision Monza style wings at all venues.

            Lol given JV’s opinion that goes back about 15 years ago on this topic, including his comments of recent weeks that have been generally agreed upon by most except for perhaps his excess negativity, can you imagine what his first thoughts were when he first learned about DRS being brought in? Omg no wonder he thinks what he does about F1’s direction.

          5. @robbie I can’t believe I got so geeky on the aero stuff that I lost sight of the advertising space provided by the wings!!! And they do actually look cooler with the wings LOL

  6. “Performance and Durability from Pirelli tyres”…. Finaly…..

    1. its a way to keep lap times up :)

      its all part of the show. They don’t want to discredit the show too much.

  7. well, the farce word used by many many (including Bernie) is for sure valid to describe the 2014 version of F1.
    I note some comments on the theme that the new cars is not too far off 2013…get real guy’s!
    … look at race pace with the new eco-drive-necessity to actually make it to the finish – compared to previous years it will be no fun at all
    …risk that many of the cars will break down during race
    …the silly looks (for you who watched the comments by JC at Top-gear the other week – spot on!)
    …some teams have not yet (with 2 weeks to race weekend) got their cars to run at all basically
    …we have drivers stating many comments on the actual pace of the cars and comparing to GP2 and others
    …likely we will see complete domination by some teams (or team) due to testing seen so far
    …cars not at all loud and powerful – ruins the show or “lost the magic” said by many many
    …complete silence by the people responsible for the new rules (read FIA heads). Seems stuck in their ivory towers.
    => to me, sooo embarrassing and not what F1 should be and have been. I am afraid that the effect (after some turbulent first races) of all this stupidness (yes!) will be lost interest by fans, many many of them…in front of the TV/pads and at the racetracks.
    Sad times. Sorry to say.

    1. Can I ask where you bought your crystal ball? I want one for myself!

      That’s a lot of claims you’re making, there… And a distinct lack of real, proper justification, outside of Jeremy freakin’ Clarkson.

      1. stupidity (by FIA) and add on taking all fans for granted – should be challenged and debated. to me, the pinnacle of motorsport is gone with the 2014 version. Of course, I am angry and disappointed but mostly sad

    2. A ‘turbulent’ first few races will lead to more interest from fans, not less.

      1. …for the wrong reasons. Many of us fans loves the coolest, the quickest, the loudest cars and drivers putting it to the edge. NOT slower cars, eco-drive, efficiency-crap and tyre mgmt. FIA seems desperate to create excitement with all these strange changes …can add double points & tyre-blanket-ban as more recent examples. Change is normally good but FIA is destroying the F1-values. Sad times as said.

    3. @joc_the_man, you’ve got it all wrong and I think you’re last point is the most telling – you’re embarrassed because your precious F1 teams are struggling to get up to speed.
      Well, my precious F1 teams are struggling too and I have never been more interested and neither have all the people I know that previously didn’t care less but now discuss F1 and the new power trains.
      See you in Melbourne. For sure.

      1. Nope – nothing related to any team at all. I have loved the F1 magic for 25+ years, preferably in the grandstands. To me, the magic is gone by 2014 version of F1. No interest to visit the races any longer. I will spend my time and money on other things. Enjoy Melbourne. Btw, do you drive a Prius?

    4. joc_the_man,
      You forgot your last point: “Hey! You kids get off of my lawn!!!”

      This year offers so much new and so many unknowns that we finally have some excitement and anticipation back in the sport. I’m not sure why you’re so bitter about it, but you’re entitled to your opinion. But you should read around the different forums and blogs and you’ll see that the vast majority of the fan base is very energized and ready for the new season.

  8. Is there actually a rule (I assume so) that states that teams can only run one car at a time in testing. Seems to me (especially this year with new formula) that it would be very beneficial for teams to be able to test more realistic in-race situations like following cars, overtaking, out-braking etc. I feel sure that this rule exists but I can’t recall ever hearing it mentioned.

    Supposing that this rule does exist, wouldn’t it make sense for teams to “team up” (eg Red Bull & Toro Rosso) to achieve these more realistic race situations?

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