With the world championship hanging in the balance this weekend every aspect of the competition will be interpreted in terms of how it could affect the title fight.
The flying speed demonstrated by Mercedes in today’s practice session in Abu Dhabi is one more factor which could come into play.
Nico Rosberg’s championship chances rest on him winning the race and at least one other car finishing between him and team mate Lewis Hamilton. But having headed the field by over three-quarters of a second on Friday, the Mercedes look at least as quick as they have all year.
Hamilton was satisfied with his day’s work. “We’ve run the same programme as we run every race weekend but this time we had the whole of both sessions to work with the tyres, look at long runs, analyse set-up and the countless other things you need to assess in practice which was great,” he said.
“We made good steps forward with the setup but, as always, there is still more time to be found. We’ll keep chipping away at it and look to improve in every area possible but the car feels great – the best I’ve ever driven here without doubt.”
Even so Rosberg was less than a tenth of a second, and we’ve seen several times already this year that he is quite capable of regaining the initiative when Hamilton leads the way on Friday. That especially goes at races like this where drivers have the super-soft tyre – Rosberg headed Hamilton at four of the previous five races where the red-walled tyre was used.
While the super-soft will inevitably be the preferred tyre for qualifying, several drivers found it started to grain quickly over a longer run, and Pirelli suspect the soft will be favoured in the race.
The closest team to Mercedes on Friday was McLaren, thanks to Kevin Magnussen who was using a new front wing which seemed to owe a lot to Red Bull’s design. Magnussen’s performance didn’t escape Sebastian Vettel’s attention. “McLaren has made a step forward the last couple of races and the nature of the track here maybe suits them a bit better than other tracks,” he said, adding, “but it’s Friday so I guess we will find out tomorrow.”
McLaren team principal Eric Boullier explained it was Magnussen’s turn to test the new update first. That turned out to be good fortune for them, as Button’s running was beset by technical problems.
“This afternoon we had an issue with the rear suspension, then a hydraulic problem ahead of FP2,” he explained. “I also had a problem with something inside the cockpit, which meant I had to climb out then climb in again, so I suppose you’d have to say it’s been quite a busy day.”
Button bounced back from similar problems in practice at Interlagos, and if McLaren’s upgrade provides effective then with double points they have a slim chance of pipping Ferrari to fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Longest stint comparison – second practice
This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:
Sector times and ultimate lap times – second practice
|Pos||No.||Driver||Car||S1||S2||S3||Ultimate||Gap||Deficit to best|
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||17.845 (2)||42.855 (3)||41.346 (1)||1’42.046||0.067|
|2||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||17.819 (1)||42.817 (1)||41.463 (2)||1’42.099||0.053||0.097|
|3||20||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren-Mercedes||18.113 (3)||42.835 (2)||41.765 (4)||1’42.713||0.667||0.182|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||18.267 (10)||43.011 (5)||41.681 (3)||1’42.959||0.913||0.000|
|5||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Mercedes||18.151 (6)||43.016 (6)||41.903 (6)||1’43.070||1.024||0.000|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||18.149 (5)||43.206 (11)||41.818 (5)||1’43.173||1.127||0.010|
|7||19||Felipe Massa||Williams-Mercedes||18.189 (7)||42.974 (4)||42.133 (9)||1’43.296||1.250||0.262|
|8||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||18.275 (11)||43.176 (10)||42.038 (8)||1’43.489||1.443||0.000|
|9||22||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||18.135 (4)||43.138 (7)||42.230 (11)||1’43.503||1.457||0.000|
|10||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso-Renault||18.210 (9)||43.155 (9)||42.176 (10)||1’43.541||1.495||0.005|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||18.324 (13)||43.143 (8)||42.263 (14)||1’43.730||1.684||0.016|
|12||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||18.208 (8)||43.825 (18)||41.947 (7)||1’43.980||1.934||0.025|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||18.459 (15)||43.313 (13)||42.260 (13)||1’44.032||1.986||0.036|
|14||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Renault||18.343 (14)||43.568 (15)||42.246 (12)||1’44.157||2.111||0.000|
|15||21||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||18.624 (16)||43.226 (12)||42.436 (15)||1’44.286||2.240||0.030|
|16||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||18.316 (12)||43.736 (17)||42.680 (16)||1’44.732||2.686||0.254|
|17||99||Adrian Sutil||Sauber-Ferrari||18.697 (17)||43.366 (14)||42.700 (17)||1’44.763||2.717||0.000|
|18||10||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham-Renault||18.729 (18)||43.735 (16)||43.010 (18)||1’45.474||3.428||0.031|
|19||46||Will Stevens||Caterham-Renault||19.045 (19)||44.449 (19)||43.563 (19)||1’47.057||5.011||0.000|
|20||14||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||19.467 (20)||47.813 (20)||48.924 (20)||1’56.204||14.158|
Speed trap – second practice
|#||Driver||Car||Engine||Max speed (kph)||Gap|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||330||2.5|
|6||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||Mercedes||329.9||2.6|
|7||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Renault||329.2||3.3|
|10||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||Renault||327.6||4.9|
|13||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||Renault||326.2||6.3|
|19||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||Renault||323.4||9.1|
Complete practice times
|4||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’45.334||1’42.959||63|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1’45.361||1’43.183||54|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’45.835||1’43.546||70|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’45.983||1’43.746||59|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’46.030||1’44.068||56|
|14||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’45.718||1’44.157||55|
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22 comments on “Mercedes’ speed has its drawbacks for Rosberg”
21st November 2014, 19:04
Your lap chart doesn’t seem to be showing.
21st November 2014, 19:30
Yes, I thought it might be blocked on my browser; but same result on a different PC and browser.
21st November 2014, 19:30
and now it has appeared!
21st November 2014, 19:17
“Kevin Magnussen, who was using a new front wing which seemed to owe a lot to Red Bull’s design”
I guess Peter Prodromou played a part in that :P
21st November 2014, 19:39
I guess we now have proof that it wasn’t all due to magician Newey.
21st November 2014, 19:42
Prodromou was the second most important man and he was in charge of the aerodynamics. Newey was a technical director, so he had a responsibility over a whole car in general and not perhaps that much hands-on approach as Prodromou.
Tomas Andersson (@celebmir)
22nd November 2014, 0:18
According to BBC the time was done on the old front wing. Would be nice to know which one they used.
21st November 2014, 19:40
Don’t underestimate Hamilton’s ability to snatch the defeat from the jaws of victory.
21st November 2014, 21:13
He just doesn’t do that! Dont be a naysayer. Reliability has played the biggest part in his career.
21st November 2014, 19:43
If McLaren is able to make this front wing work (as it obviously does), that means they have a good downforce on the rear too, since you can’t just pile a downforce on the front, if you don’t have it on the rear to balance it.
21st November 2014, 20:09
if pole was so important,nico would have alot more wins than he currently does.and how many times has danny won when nico started on pole.so merc speed isnt nicos problem.him not being good enough in too many races this season is.
Max Jacobson (@vettel1)
21st November 2014, 23:41
Ricciardo’s wins owed more to fortune than a pace advantage. He was actually behind Vettel in qualifying for all three races where he won.
22nd November 2014, 10:37
There is a difference between race pace and qualifying pace.
Setting the car up for a good qualifying result can actually lead to worse race pace and vice versa.
21st November 2014, 20:55
LH might have the same issue he had last race by looking at the sector times. He is leading in only 1 sector compared to 2 for NR although he has the overall fastest lap. He could end up in a situation if NR starts on pole LH will see the gap to NR increase most of the lap until that 1 section where he is quicker, but not fast enough to get close and pass. Then it starts all over again the next lap where NR leaves him then he has to claw it back.
22nd November 2014, 3:37
That’s a good call out, and it worries me, too. One sector is not enough to catch up and pass if LH gets behind Nico.
22nd November 2014, 6:03
You’re using the simulated qualifying times. Lewis was over a second a lap faster than Nico on the long run, while using his tires less.
If they took today’s pace into the race, Lewis wouldn’t need to overtake Nico. He would easily pass him in the pit stops.
This is only Friday though of course.
21st November 2014, 22:06
Mercs are untouchable. Vettel seems quick, and Williams still probably has some time to find. Should be a good battle for 3rd, and probably a boring battle for 1/2/WDC.
21st November 2014, 22:35
Perhaps interestingly, I suspect that Merc’s dominance has probably assisted Rosberg over the course of the season relative to Hamilton. Were Merc to have a 0.05-0.1 advantage over the closest competitor, rather than whatever silly margin it is, I could imagine a few of those second places Rosberg has becoming thirds or fourths, whereas I could imagine Lewis still retaining most of his wins.
22nd November 2014, 6:05
That’s a good call.
Aled Davies (@aledinho)
22nd November 2014, 9:34
Good shout @paul
all Hamilton needs to do is keep his head! easier said than done and he doesn’t tned to things the easy way!
22nd November 2014, 9:36
But in qualifying Hamilton would have been 3rd or 4th. And it’s not always easy to pass in races, despite having superior pace to Rosberg
21st November 2014, 22:52
Vergne looks pretty strong. Could be a dark horse for the podium.
As for Rosberg, he should maybe look to an SC period caused by Williams’ failure to pack helicopter tape for the trip.
Comments are closed.