Raining and graining are the concerns in China

2014 Chinese Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Posted on

| Written by

Start with a low-grip track surface. Add the coolest track temperatures of a dry session so far this year.

And throw in a circuit where the cars pass through two medium to high-speed turns of more than 270 degrees.

These conditions are a recipe for tyre graining, where small pieces of rubber form on the surface of the carcass, ruining the performance of the compound.

Judging by the radio messages during the second practice session, every driver struggled with this on their race-preparation runs. They tweaked the settings on their steering wheels to try to cure it and cranked up their front wing angles when they switched to the harder tyres.

Some drivers, like Kevin Magnussen, were having their first experience of the Shanghai International Circuit, where this is a common problem.

“The first corner here is very tricky, and that’s where you do the damage to the front tyres,” he said.

“I don’t know why we’re not as competitive as we’ve been in the previous races, but we have a lot of front tyre degradation – and we need to investigate why. In fact, I’ve never had this much front tyre graining – it’s very difficult to deal with, so we’ll adjust the set-up and my driving style to compensate. It’s a new track for me, too, so I need to adapt to that.

“We’ll try to solve things overnight – but, if it rains tomorrow, at least we won’t have any front tyre graining.”

The local weather forecast still calls for rain tomorrow, and if we do get our third wet qualifying session in four races drivers won’t be worrying about graining. At least not until Sunday, when the weather is expected to be dry again, and the loss of Friday’s rubber build-up due to the rain will put the track right back to square one.

Ferrari are also in the spotlight but they are subject to even greater attention this weekend after their poor race in Bahrain was followed by the shock resignation of Stefano Domenicali on Monday. Today they were ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes on pure lap time.

But rather than being a sign that they have suddenly found some performance in the F14 T this appears to be a reversion to the form we saw before Bahrain, where they were the second-fastest team on Friday in Australia and Malaysia as well.

The one-second-plus performance advantage Mercedes had in the first three races is no doubt hiding behind a hefty slug of fuel in the tanks of the two W05s today. Lewis Hamilton may have ended the day quickest but he was clearly unhappy with the balance of his car and has some progress to make overnight.

Nico Rosberg was third fastest but was advised to back off by two-tenths of a second in the final sector due to the yellow flag caused by Pastor Maldonado. It looks like he eased off a little more than necessary as he lost almost all his time to Hamilton in that sector.

Note also both W05s enjoyed a 3kph straight-line speed advantage, indicating they can afford to add more wing to improve their tyre management.

Red Bull, who surely enjoy the best car in the field in terms of sheer downforce, seemed the least troubled by graining. At the end of his race stint Daniel Ricciardo’s race engineer Simon Rennie complimented him on his long run on soft tyres during which he went further than anyone else.

Longest stint comparison

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


Sebastian Vettel103.94103.499103.972104.108104.373104.512105.95105.736106.011106.684
Daniel Ricciardo103.525103.532104.168103.921104.085104.603104.243104.343104.472104.741104.815104.677105.531104.873104.377104.374104.643
Lewis Hamilton103.081102.837107.96104.039103.993109.552106.542
Nico Rosberg102.697111.538102.694103.263103.701104.446104.489104.371104.466104.584
Fernando Alonso103.922103.031103.276103.854103.785104.456106.179106.829106.212108.632105.516105.749
Kimi Raikkonen104.321104.938105.08105.276105.584
Romain Grosjean105.897105.819105.196105.975105.871105.779106.235105.836106.145106.252
Pastor Maldonado100.455111.569110.06101.022
Jenson Button104.69104.694105.034105.455106.215106.441107.442106.098106.085106.311
Kevin Magnussen105.39105.454105.96107.375107.05107.454107.27106.854107.14107.434107.133107.472107.583108.364
Nico Hulkenberg104.04103.858104.382104.329107.378104.858104.982104.93105.231106.121
Sergio Perez104.088103.614104.06104.623104.814104.705104.825105.271105.468105.289
Adrian Sutil106.784106.549106.976107.078107.373107.971107.561
Esteban Gutierrez105.567105.292105.318106.19106.282106.47106.422106.995107.119106.989107.456107.234
Jean-Eric Vergne105.468104.923105.291111.511105.416105.845105.349105.598105.727
Daniil Kvyat105.114105.687105.937105.35104.633104.596104.705104.854105.1105.48105.438105.353105.938106.798
Felipe Massa103.349103.567105.355105.82104.266104.546104.597104.663104.854104.72105.046105.554
Valtteri Bottas105.879105.337105.435104.861104.956105.429107.226104.773104.476105.259105.371105.293104.664
Jules Bianchi107.484107.136107.301110.121107.79107.141108.418
Max Chilton107.859107.678107.928107.87110.359109.008108.881110.468125.471108.4108.047108.14
Marcus Ericsson108.541109.008109.479110.527107.842107.87107.919112.129108.441109.585
Kamui Kobayashi106.29106.209105.801107.28106.43106.738108.879107.971107.704108.544110.568

Sector times and ultimate lap times

PosNo.DriverCarS1S2S3UltimateGapDeficit to best
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes25.875 (2)29.669 (3)42.771 (1)1’38.3150.000
214Fernando AlonsoFerrari25.922 (3)29.580 (1)42.954 (2)1’38.4560.1410.000
36Nico RosbergMercedes25.866 (1)29.692 (5)43.168 (4)1’38.7260.4110.000
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault26.052 (5)29.683 (4)43.076 (3)1’38.8110.4960.000
51Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault26.101 (7)29.645 (2)43.269 (5)1’39.0150.7000.000
619Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes25.966 (4)29.857 (7)43.295 (7)1’39.1180.8030.000
77Kimi RaikkonenFerrari26.130 (8)29.849 (6)43.304 (8)1’39.2830.9680.000
822Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes26.148 (9)30.052 (12)43.291 (6)1’39.4911.1760.000
98Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault26.076 (6)29.875 (8)43.586 (13)1’39.5371.2220.000
1026Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault26.183 (11)29.876 (9)43.589 (14)1’39.6481.3330.000
1127Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes26.201 (12)30.106 (14)43.429 (10)1’39.7361.4210.000
1220Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes26.297 (13)30.068 (13)43.379 (9)1’39.7441.4290.000
1325Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault26.180 (10)29.998 (10)43.581 (12)1’39.7591.4440.000
1477Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes26.383 (16)30.004 (11)43.443 (11)1’39.8301.5150.000
1511Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes26.306 (14)30.142 (15)43.676 (15)1’40.1241.8090.000
1621Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari26.358 (15)30.248 (16)43.753 (18)1’40.3592.0440.000
1799Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari26.385 (17)30.290 (18)43.720 (16)1’40.3952.0800.000
1813Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault26.439 (18)30.273 (17)43.743 (17)1’40.4552.1400.000
1917Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari27.040 (21)30.882 (20)44.395 (19)1’42.3174.0020.010
204Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari26.914 (19)30.876 (19)45.012 (20)1’42.8024.4870.671
2110Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault26.915 (20)31.108 (22)45.118 (21)1’43.1414.8260.389
229Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault27.162 (22)31.084 (21)45.207 (22)1’43.4535.1380.226

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’41.5601’38.31534
2Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’39.7831’38.45648
3Nico RosbergMercedes1’40.1811’38.72646
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’40.7721’38.81153
5Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’41.6291’39.01550
6Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’41.6991’39.11839
7Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’39.28326
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’40.9701’39.49152
9Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’42.0901’39.53760
10Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’41.9771’39.64849
11Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’41.1751’39.73646
12Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1’41.3661’39.74449
13Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault1’41.5051’39.75954
14Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’39.83025
15Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’42.7331’40.12445
16Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’44.1621’40.35949
17Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1’40.39530
18Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1’43.7311’40.45534
19Felipe NasrWilliams-Mercedes1’42.26513
20Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari1’44.2701’42.32734
21Giedo van der GardeSauber-Ferrari1’42.61516
22Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1’44.7821’43.47350
23Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1’44.0381’43.53048
24Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1’44.8351’43.67954

Speed trap

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
144Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes331.1
26Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes3310.1
311Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes328.13
425Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault327.73.4
57Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari327.23.9
620Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes326.84.3
726Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault326.24.9
814Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari325.85.3
919Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes325.35.8
1077Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes324.86.3
1199Adrian SutilSauberFerrari324.26.9
1222Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes323.77.4
1327Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes323.47.7
1421Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari323.27.9
1510Kamui KobayashiCaterhamRenault322.38.8
1617Jules BianchiMarussiaFerrari3229.1
178Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault321.39.8
1813Pastor MaldonadoLotusRenault320.910.2
193Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault320.310.8
209Marcus EricssonCaterhamRenault319.112
211Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault317.513.6
224Max ChiltonMarussiaFerrari317.313.8

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

Browse all 2014 Chinese Grand Prix articles

Images © McLaren/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

22 comments on “Raining and graining are the concerns in China”

  1. Ricciardo’s long run really was something special. If we can get him, and a couple other drivers to manage the graining and stretch out their soft stints, then we could have an exciting race with varying strategies.

    A rain hit qualy would further add to the spectacle since teams will have to wait until Sunday to see how their setup can cope with the circuit demands in the dry. I’m expecting to see a slightly shaken up order, with some teams gearing up for the best start position following qualy, while others opt for a more racey setup for the dry race. Should be a good weekend

  2. I hope that if it rains, it’s going to rain on both Saturday and Sunday. On 3 previous occasions, we had wet quali and dry race. As much as it is quite exciting to have rain on Saturday, it’s the race that matters the most and we still didn’t have a proper, wet race. This is very interesting track if it’s wet that’s why it would be good if we could see quite consistent weather on both days. and see some skill in the wet.

  3. Ferrari seems to have solved some of the top speed issues, only 3.9 and 5.3 kmph slower than Hamilton.

    1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      18th April 2014, 17:09

      @austus – It was Domenicali’s fault…

      In Bahrain testing we got pre-race predictions from McLaren that we might see 210mph on the back straight at China, so I would suggest we’re yet to see Mercedes do anything approaching meaningful running.

      1. @william-brierty

        I doubt so. The Mercedes-powered teams already did significant engine saving in Bahrain as well before firing on all cylinders in quali and gained just 1-2kph per car.

        Ferrari does seem to have improved its engine mapping or ERS software somewhat.

        1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          18th April 2014, 18:33

          @atticus-2 – Mercedes are just 7kph faster, on one of the longest straights of any racetrack in the world, than they were at the end of the Bahrain straights: I think we can safely say the engine is turned down substantially. Regarding Ferrari, any improvements they have made on straights can be attributed to a) software updates and b) their larger DRS slot gap. That will not nullify the enormous straight line deficit we saw in Bahrain, although it is a step.

          1. @william-brierty

            …And that longest straight is just 80m longer than the longest straight in Bahrain. I think that 7kph is a more than reasonable improvement and does not necessarily mean the engine is turned down.

            I agree with the rest, basically that’s what I wanted to say as well. A step from Ferrari in the right direction.

  4. Will the sound of the rain solve the noise issues that some people think is present?

  5. so much for pirelli’s promise to reduce the number of marbles with these new tyres.

    if its like it was for practice in the race, there goes any chance of seeing some good overtaking attempts because as bruno said on sky as soon as you get onto that you lose all tyre temps as well as having less grip due to the actual pick-up.

    really is something pirelli need to work on as there tyres produce a massive amount more marbles than any other tyre thats been used in f1 over the 40 years i’ve been following it. they keep saying they want to do something about it yet every year its just as bad.

    1. Marbles haven’t been a big problem all year so far. The tyres have been ok, its track conditions that are causing serious marbles and . There is little Pirelli can do if the tyres are being shredded at the top unless they make their tyres with 2005 levels of hardness, or changing the track surface itself.

    2. It’s an absolute scandal, how on earth can F1 claim to be improving automotive technology, let alone being the pinnacle of motor-sport, when it continues to degrade the performance of the cars by running them with sub-standard tyres.?
      Further, how can we take seriously any suggestion that F1 is serious about reducing costs when it requires cars to use at least 2 and preferably 3 or 4 sets of tyres per car per race requiring a team of 16-20 crew to change them on top of the manufacturing and transport costs ?

  6. @keith : I appreciate the data available but is it possible to know the tires the longest stints were done.

  7. Mr win or lose
    18th April 2014, 15:53

    So this year there is a trade-off between tyre wear (more wing) and fuel consumption (less wing), so that could be interesting, especially because of the high tyre-wear levels and the fuel limit.
    One question: is a low-downforce setup more tyre-friendly as long as you avoid skidding around (less downforce = lower cornering speeds = less load on the tyres)?

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      18th April 2014, 16:02

      Low downforce is more tire friendly because it reduces cornering speed, as long as you don’t slide or spin the tires. While cornering speed is reduced, straight line speed is increased. High downforce makes the car more stable in fast corners but fast cornering places more stress on the tires.

      In the latter years of the V8 formula, Red Bull were ahead with low top speeds and high downforce. Now it appears Mercedes is on top with their straight line speed advantage (3 kph counts for a lot of time on long straights in Shanghai).

      1. But with more downforce, the loads on the tyre are increased, but there is significantly less lsiding

      2. With High Downforce the cars are less prone to sliding hence the less wear , But with Low Downforce the cars are more prone but obviously F1 is all about balance of having right wear and right downforce level enough to get ahead , Mercedes engines are always stronger in straight speeds all the time even at Tracks like Hungary last year as well

  8. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    18th April 2014, 17:14

    All it takes is a Mercedes team being cautious regarding engine mileage and all of a sudden we have a free-for-all according to Sky Sports, merely a fortnight since one of the most dominant team displays in recent years. Utter rubbish. Ferrari are looking for friendlier headlines and Mercedes are keeping their engine mileage down; nothing more to read into here.

    1. @william-brierty
      More or less, yeah. I think that the gap should be similar to what we saw in Malaysia, Bahrain was always a track that was going to play in Mercedes’ hands.

      It’s really incredible how easily everyone forgets that all the FP sessions have been like this in 2014 so far. After every friday there’s always someone saying that Ferrari looks competitive, that they are catching up. Maybe they are catching up a little bit, but there’s no way anyone can compete with the Mercedes on pure performance at the moment.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        18th April 2014, 19:45

        @yobo01 – So true. It was the case last year with Red Bull…

      2. As a Ferrari fan I can say that although the Friday single lap times have looked good the game was given away by the longer stints in fp2 when they were know where but here they look much much better but of course if dry in quali I would expect Merc to easily lock out the front row.

  9. Ricciardo’s top speed was again higher. I’m not quite sure why there is this constant disparity between Vettel and Ricciardo – perhaps it points to evaluation of different wing levels or fuel loads, though I’m not too sure the latter would affect that drastically.

    1. @vettel1, It may be purely personal preference, SV is a creature of max downforce so possibly prefers to have as much as is available, while DR is used to having less and probably feels comfortable sacrificing a little in search of balance and top speed.

Comments are closed.