Hamilton eyes Ferrari threat as Manor chase 107%

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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While there was doom and gloom after the Australian Grand Prix that Mercedes had pulled out an even greater margin over their rivals, practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix indicated Ferrari have made gains on the silver cars.

Stifling heat at the Sepang International Circuit made for slippery track conditions which caught several drivers out during today’s second practice session.

Pirelli expected to see a performance swing of up to a second a lap between its two tyre compounds and some drivers saw that. But the red flag caused by Roberto Merhi meant the Ferrari drivers had to abort their first run on the softer medium compound tyres and Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg made mistakes.

Even Lewis Hamilton, who set the day’s fastest time, was hampered by a fault on his power unit inlet system which meant he was in a rush to catch up during second practice.

“In terms of set-up I didn’t have time to make any changes,” he said afterwards, “I just went with what we brought over from the last race. It’s probably quite a bit off where I’ll eventually want it so there’s definitely improvements to be made”.

“We’ll need to work hard too as Ferrari looked great out there,” he added. Ferrari’s late runs at the end of first practice brought them within a few tenths of Mercedes in that session, and they seemed to treat their tyres better in the fierce afternoon heat.

The medium and hard compound tyres Pirelli has brought to this race appear to be performing as usual. For the race, the hard compound is likely to be the preferred tyre, while the limited durability of the medium means it is likely to only be used for a short stint at the end of the race.

Here too Ferrari’s long-run pace looks respectable even compared to the Mercedes. The degree of drop-off in their lap times was comparable even in the punishing heat of the late afternoon.

As for the progress of those at the back of the field, Jenson Button is optimistic McLaren will have a better race than he initially expected.

“I may have been wrong yesterday when I said that we might not be racing other cars on Sunday,” he said. “It would be a massive step forward for us if tomorrow we’re able to get in among some of the runners currently ahead of us in the pecking order.”

The are at least comfortably ahead of Manor, whose cars managed little more than half a race distance between them on Friday. In order to qualify they need to set a time within 107% of the fastest lap in Q1.

Will Stevens’ best effort was 105.93% off and Merhi was 107.45% away. Given the team are likely to find more time tomorrow, and that the front runners are unlikely to use the softer tyres or reach their full potential in Q1, the signs are good that Manor will make it onto the grid for the first race of the season.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

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


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Lewis Hamilton 104.799 104.88 105.366 104.638 105.029 105.705
Nico Rosberg 104.482 104.968 104.751 105.431 105.56 113.55 106.127 105.871
Daniel Ricciardo 101.799
Daniil Kvyat 105.138 106.057 105.813 107.759 105.829
Felipe Massa 104.767 105.524 105.141 105.55 106.015 106.132 106.425 106.887 107.744
Valtteri Bottas 106.591 107.017 107.428 107.495 108.493 108.779 109.486
Sebastian Vettel 105.115 104.754 106.362 105.457 105.023 105.138 105.646 107.287 105.516 120.037 105.7 106.325 105.799
Kimi Raikkonen 104.921 104.597 105.086 105.253 104.956 105.048 105.152 105.282 105.424
Fernando Alonso 107.91 108.691 108.393 108.828 108.915 109.149
Jenson Button 106.963 107.737 108.097 108.286 108.243 108.569 108.574
Nico Hulkenberg 106.296 106.306 106.753 107.499 107.461 108.411 107.838 107.703 108.727
Sergio Perez 107.087 106.669 107.437 107.819 107.935 107.973 108.184 108.166 108.526 108.943 109.168 110.124
Max Verstappen 105.201 105.712 106.441 106.394 106.877 107.193 107 107.308 108.091 108.35 108.553 109.338 109.114 110.452
Carlos Sainz Jnr 105.844 106.765 106.745 107.062 107.033 107.152 107.306 107.396
Romain Grosjean 103.663 109.174 109.424 102.948
Pastor Maldonado 105.972 105.89 106.279 107.297 106.354 106.019
Marcus Ericsson 105.726 106.8 110.854 106.19 106.452 107.017 107.401
Felipe Nasr 105.048 103.594 117.263 103.153 117.714 103.338 116.679 103.642
Will Stevens 106.705 112.85 108.132 113.22 106.724
Roberto Merhi 118.382 114.849 115.85 107.229

Complete Friday practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’39.790 20
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’40.124 1’40.218 46
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’40.497 1’40.163 46
4 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault 1’42.055 1’40.346 35
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’41.882 1’40.450 54
6 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’42.103 1’40.560 50
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’40.985 1’40.652 42
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault 1’41.803 1’41.220 53
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.064 1’41.261 46
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes 1’41.543 1’42.948 21
11 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’41.596 1’42.291 57
12 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’41.787 1’41.799 23
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 1’42.567 1’41.877 34
14 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.988 30
15 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’43.054 1’42.242 39
16 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’42.893 1’42.330 41
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’42.885 1’42.506 45
18 Raffaele Marciello Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.621 13
19 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’43.100 1’42.637 43
20 Will Stevens Manor-Ferrari 1’46.686 1’45.704 20
21 Roberto Merhi Manor-Ferrari 1’47.683 1’47.229 14

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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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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73 comments on “Hamilton eyes Ferrari threat as Manor chase 107%”

  1. They may not be able to challenge the Mercs on pure race pace, but Ferrari will be there to pounce if the Mercs make any mistakes. A sudden rain shower could provide a window of opportunity for Ferrari as well. Should be an interesting race!

    1. They might be in a prime position if there are reliability issues as well

    2. Hmmm. Mercs are sand bagging.

      I’ll bet they don’t want to attract too much attention to their cars pace in case they get investigated and rules start changing to close the gap.

      1. Yeh, because at the moment nobody suspects Merc are quick….

      2. Yep. They´re only managing the expectation of viewers, Red Bull and other teams, trying to make the race a bit more interesting.

    3. I doubt rain will help Ferrari as they’re running less downforce. If they get ahead of the Mercs at the start though, they could prove a real challenge to get BOTH Mercs by.

      1. Wishful thinking mate. Ferrari has improved, but so as the Mercs and I seriously doubt that they have erased last years deficit

        1. Agreed. And even though Vettel is the best in the wet, there’s nothing you can do to defend on back-to-back straightaways with DRS and the Mercedes engine somehow behind you

          1. Vettel best in the wet? Hamilton and Raikkonen will have something to say about that.

          2. @chaddy Vettel the best in wet? Okay…Only 2 of his 39 race wins have been in the wet, not to mention that his last 37 weren’t.

          3. Believe it or not, Vettel has no control over the proportion of races that are wet.

          4. @Chad True, but the point is he’s struggled to convert any wet races into wins since China ’09.

            Remember, his strength during the RB years was hammering the car out of corners, relying on stability and downforce to succeed. Not much stability in the wet…

          5. @chaddy I would argue that Button is the best driver in the wet. 7 of his 15 wins have been in the wet (47% of them!). So 8 dry wins from his 179 dry starts (4.5%), while 7 wet wins from his 33 wet starts (21.2% win rate, an amazing win rate considering how long he spent in uncompetitive cars).

            If you compare each driver’s wet vs dry winning probability, then Vettel is half as likely to win a wet race than a dry race (ratio of 0.5), he’s only won 3 wet races (arguably 2 as Malaysia 2013 wasn’t really a wet race). Alonso has a ratio of 0.75, so he’s also less likely to win a race in the wet.
            Hamilton, on the other hand, has a positive ratio, 1.19 (remember Fuji 2007, Silverstone 2008 – where he won by over a minute from 2nd place – or more recently Japan 2014 where he beat Rosberg by around 10 seconds).
            Button has a staggering ratio of 4.75 (his first win in F1 came in the wet, same with his first win for McLaren, and he also put in a great performance at Japan last year (Forza Jules)), so he’s much more likely to win a race if it’s wet.

            Between 2010-2013, Vettel won 35 of the 77 races (45.5% of all races). But in the wet other drivers had more of a chance: between 2010-2013, there were 12 wet races. Button won 5, Hamilton won 3, Alonso won 3. Vettel only won 1 wet race in that period (Malaysia 2013, and it wasn’t much of a wet race anyway – it was damp for a handful of laps but then Vettel made an early pitstop for slicks anyway).

          6. Don’t suppose any of you guys caught qualifying….

            No that wasn’t a race win, or even a pole, but if you actually watch the wet racing, instead of crunching numbers, it’s pretty clear that Vettel isn’t bested by anyone when it’s raining.

      2. I agree in terms of pace. But a well timed switch to the right tire at the right moment could be all Ferrari needs.

    4. Lewis Hamilton:

      Unfortunately, we will not be able to overtake Ferraris by one lap. That is a huge disappointment.

      I believe, rain will only help Hamilton to “seal the deal”, while in dry conditions the Mercedes guys will drive away nice and easy. They are obviously hiding their real pace.

    5. @clustr1 Forgetting the Bulls. The RBs had problems but the cars look much more balanced on track than say Williams, the extreme heat made most cars look to be running on gummy bears. Those who manage the tyres should be way off the competition and at the moment I would point out Merc Ferrari and RBR.

  2. Interesting how close VET and RAI were even though they used different compounds and how small the degradation seems to be even though their car balance was quite off in both FPs. Sure Merc has loads of performance in reserve and are well ahead, but with a good strategy they could really push ROS and HAM.

    1. Who was on hards when setting lonf stints in Ferrari?

        1. thanks @toiago :)

        2. where can i get that kind of info..??

          thanks beforehand

    2. @tmf42 @mjf1fan The results were close because it was a new hard vs used medium(Confirmed by Ellison). Otherwise, especially in this heat it couldn’t be that close

    3. Fuel, I think

  3. I am not surprised. I am worried that ForceIndia – McLaren fight will continue for a long time this season it seems.

    1. why? mclaren seem to have already have found 1 second from 2 weeks ago – that is with no testing, just data from melbourne. in a few races they might only be 1 second behind, and in second half of season with honda ugrades and downforce upgrades to what looks like a great chassis, mclaren could be top 3. they seem to have a great base, only limited testing will hamper them.

    2. I think when McLaren-Honda can finally running at maximum settings, they’ll be easily ahead of Force India. If anything, Perez inability to pass Jenson in Australia is serious warning for them.

  4. Looking at the Manor, I can’t help but feel pity for them.

    Sure it was such an effort from Manor to just show up here in Sepang. But their cars have no sponsor or anything on them. They are also most certainly be at the bottom of the table this season, meaning no prize money for them at all!

    I know most people want to see Manor back since the 15-car-start at Melbourne, but I doubt their attending made any difference at all. They lack 3s to the McLarens and 7s to the Mercs/Ferraris, I mean what’s the point of showing up at a race weekend without doing any racing at all? They’ll probably be 3 or 4 laps down tomorrow (if they even make the grid).

    I’d be surprised if Manor can finish this season, let alone participating in the next one!

    1. They will get some prize money if they complete the season. Prize money goes down to 10th place in the constructors standings. Given there are only 10 teams, any team that completes the season is guaranteed some money.

    2. I mean what’s the point of showing up at a race weekend without doing any racing at all?blockquote>Tell that to Enzo Coloni :P
      In all seriousness the team are actually looking good for getting within 107%. Who knows? We might even get another Monaco 2014 this season…

    3. I find this a very pessimistic viewpoint.

      Remember that this is just an updated version of last year’s chassis, which they threw together to get on the grid after coming out of administration. The other teams have all (apart from McLaren) made decent steps forward.

      This would not bode well, if not for the fact that they are working on a real 2015 chassis (I believe). This should at least narrow the gap.

      All in, I’d say that they are starting from a worse position from last year, but with more scope for improvement. The only thing to be worried about, really, is whether their finances will hold out.

      1. It’s a shame they weren’t saved in time to build their new car, with the new engine. It could have been pretty solid, given the progress they made last year.

        1. @jmc200 they are building that car (the team retained the IP – Haas only bought the 60% scale wind tunnel model) & will be taking Ferrari’s 2015 engine when it’s ready (assuming they meet their debt repayments).

      2. Remember that as the season progresses the other teams have improvements as well. Manor barely made it here, they don’t even have the proper car with a proper engine (word is they are using Ferrari’s 2014-spec engine, and we know how slow it is) . They also lack the resources to build a competitive car and I don’t believe that they have a driver that can get the best out of whatever they have to offer!

        At least last year we have the Caterham-Marussia battle at the back to keep us entertained. For this race (if they make it to the grid) and many more to come I’m afraid they’re just moving chicanes and not offer any entertainment at all.

        1. They’re still running last year’s engine. The Ferrari PU has improved dramatically since then. Remember, last year they were the only engine manufacturer to not get a win and Sauber couldn’t even score a point. This year, Felipe Nasr finished 5th in Australia on merit. That’s no coincidence. I think that we might be a bit surprised once their actual 2015 car comes.

          1. @repete86 – Unless Manor plans to use the 2015 Ferrari engine in their 2015 spec car, we won’t be surprised. I think it could be a coup if they can get the new unit, but I haven’t seen anything to suggest that they will get the new power unit at all this season and will make do with the 2014 unit. Have you seen otherwise?

          2. @hobo could they change their enging spec during the year? I wonder if this is allowed as well as if they technically can make it?

          3. @spoutnik – I am not sure if it is allowed or not. I’ve never heard of a team doing so, but that means I’ve also never really seen the discussion about what the regs say. Regardless, my point was that I was under the impression that Manor will be running the Ferrari 2014 engine all year, whereas the prior comment by @repete86 seemed to imply that they would get the 2015-spec power unit. So, while I hope they can somehow get the new unit, I don’t think that was the plan and would be surprised if they pulled that off.

          4. @hobo exactly my thoughts. Does anyone has a clue?

        2. Maybe we will see a battle between Manor and McLaren, to avoid being last.

    4. i feel no pity for them, the new owner/investor comes across as a money grabbing investor in it for the short haul – he has said he has never even been to an f1 race before. they are running a 2014 car with 2014 engine, and no plans of ugrading anything. feel sorry for the workers, he are being led blindly by greed. this is not a sporting team unfortunanly.

      1. You clearly missed the bit where they are currently building their 2015 cars (finances dependent) based on the work done last year and are planning to take Ferrari’s new engines when the chassis is ready, assuming they’ve paid off their 2014 bills with the investment & prize money.

    5. Hating on last place will leave you with a two-car grid.

      They’ve been swimming upstream from the beginning, at least let them get their proper car on the track first.

    6. Getting last year’s prize money, as well as some for this year, is the only reason they’re showing up at this point. They’re not racing, they’re rolling roadblocks. There is zero chance of them ever consistently getting out of the back of the grid, and honestly, not much chance of them even fluking into a better finish.

      I know it’s an unpopular viewpoint here, but frankly, they need to go. They’re bringing nothing meaningful to the sport, nor will they ever do so. The only difference they’re making is padding the numbers for Bernie so he doesn’t have to start giving discounts to TV stations who paid for a certain grid size, and that’s not a reason to risk their drivers’ lives on the track, nor those of the other teams’ drivers who must navigate past these dangerously-slow mobile chicanes.

      If we had a meaningful 107% rule any more, there is zero chance they’d be on the grid. Hell, even McLaren would’ve only just made it, last time around — they were 6.6% off the Q3 time. But thankfully for Manor, the 107% rule is completely neutered by being compared not to the best their rivals can do, but to the casual bankers that their rivals put in during the first qualifying session.

      Which begs the question why we pretend to have a 107% rule any more? In what way is 107% of “we’re not actually trying to go fast” a useful benchmark? Hamilton’s Q3 time was a full 2.6% off his own Q1 time, or 2.259 seconds per lap slower than he was capable of going. That’s the definition of coasting — if he’d set that time in Q3, he’d have had eight cars ahead of him on the grid, even in the undefeatable Merc.

    7. @ducpham2708 It’s all good, they’re sandbagging. Merhi’s longest stint chart, it looks very impressive, everyone else was going slower as time goes on, Merhi’s time was dropping off.

      Mannor pulled him in after a handful of laps because they didn’t want to show their hand too early. Everyone thinks that they’re struggling, I reckon they’re going to come out blitzing everyone in Qualy and put it on pole and then lap the field.

  5. What is up with Felipe Nasr’s long run pace? He did a stint of 8 laps, alternating between 1.43’s (a quicker lap than anybody else on a long run) and 1.57’s. Bad traffic or practicing tyre management for Q1/Q2?

    1. It could be some practise at harvest/deploy on the ERS. One slow lap harvesting, a faster lap deploying. Doing so over a longer stint gives more time to practise it, and it may be something he was having a hard time over for qualifying.

      Pure speculation, of course.

    2. pastaman (@)
      27th March 2015, 16:08

      Pretty standard practice to alternate hot laps and slow laps. If you look at the graph again you will see several drivers with the same pattern

  6. Daniel (@mechanicalgrip22)
    27th March 2015, 14:19

    Kimi’s ice cream will melt in the intense heat of Malaysia, leaving him no choice but to focus on the back of the Mercs.

    1. @mechanicalgrip22 Unless there’s a monsoon, and the race is stopped so he can get a new one ;)

    2. Alternatively, he’ll have to finish the race faster to get to it before it melts.

  7. All of a sudden Merc lost 3 to 4 seconds per lap?? I´m not buying it. They are massively sandbagging just to make it seem close for the spectators. Nobody liked the Australian GP and so they must have been told to turn the wick down for the “show´s” sake. Come sunday, they will end up lapping McHonda and Manor.

    1. Stupidest comment of the year

      1. Why? Surely they’re not just 0.4 sec faster than the Ferraris all of a sudden.

        1. @nickf12013 @karter22 Yeah, but not 3-4 seconds either. And come raceday I think it was always fairly obvious they would lap McHonda and Manor. Heck, even Lotus probably will.

      2. @nickf12013
        I guess @adddd didn´t appreciate the part were I sugested they are sandbagging for the show´s sake. I just find it terribly coincidental and strange that the day after that the organizers of the Malaysian gp makes a public statement to FOM that they should try to improve the show, all of a sudden the first seven are within the same second and the Mercs have lost their advantage! Ferrari is a great team but heck, they couldn´t make up 1.5 seconds in 5 years while Alonso was with them and all of a sudden they do it with Vettel? I´m just not buying it.

    2. @karter22 I don’t believe Merc had a 3-4 sec advantage in Aus. They were 1.3 ahead of the Ferrari and Ferrari finished the race 34 secs behind them which in no way shows a 3-4 sec advantage for them.

      Australia is not a traditional circuit. I am not saying that Ferrari are only .4 off the Mercs, but Ferrari seem to have clawed back some advantage compared to last year.

      Also lapping slower than they normally can comes with some disadvantages. They will not have a buffer if some trouble hits the cars like Canada last year. Finally, Ferrari seem to be better at tire preservation and considering the heat, Mercs may not be able to go as fast as they can without ripping the tires.

      1. Agree. Hamilton’s lap was heavily compromised by imperfect set up and dodgy gear shifts. He has a lot more to offer. Not sure what happened to Rosberg. Maybe he was the sandbagger, not wanting to give Lewis too much high performance data to make sure he remained compromised.
        I predict the gap in quali to be 0.8 to the Ferraris.

      2. @evered7
        Fair enough, it just seemed to me that they were way quicker in AUS. I don´t really get the whole AUS not being a proper circuit. Malaysia was green(no rubber down yet), is a proper track and still, the advantage was gone, if anything, it should have been even greater than in australia! It just doesn´t add up.

        By that rationale, you believe Rosberg is better at setting the car than Lewis?? If I recall correctly, last year it was Rosberg taking peeks at Lewis´ settup work!

  8. If rain in Q Manor will be allowed to race anyway?

    1. Re: Rain and 107% rule, It’s not stated in the regs. I’ll bet my left nut that both are allowed to start regardless.

    2. Considering Manor’s lack of testing and missing the first race for the season, I am VERY impressed that they managed the amount of laps they did, and with reasonable pace. It shows that the car from last year was not that bad after all, and the Ferrari PU is quite easy to mess with compared to Renault…..

  9. I still think Williams can impress.

  10. Will Stevens’ best effort was 105.93% off and Merhi was 107.45% away.

    @keith-collantine although the meaning is clear, this reads as them being over twice as slow- if I’m 100% off something then I’m double the reference.

  11. I am literally horrified looking at the dangerous marshal’s have been exposed to in this Malaysian GP.

    From Reddit:

    1. Does marshal safety need more work? Check the rear marshal here carting Hamiltons car away in FP1.

    2. Roberto Merhi of Manor got a dink on the head from the crane today as well.

    3. Then there was this guy

    Have we all forgotten about Canada & Japan.

    1. All of them are ridiculous! Really poor standards.

  12. I think Ferrari was very intelligent in terms of planning the development of the car for this season! For the first time since a long time I see some good management and a clear direction were the team want to be in the end of the season. Let’s see how it goes during the season… But why am I saying this?!

    Well, if we look to the first 4 races of the season (with exception maybe of Australia) we have circuits with high-speed corners and long straights, so a good PU with strong speed can help in the beginning if you have a decent chassis. I don’t know if it was on purpose or not, but it really seems Ferrari decided to focus more on the PU unit than on the aerodynamics when you look at the car. And Malaysia until now is proving that! They are better on 1st and 3rd sector and worse in 2nd because they prefer to have low downforce to gain the advantage of the PU speed.
    The big aero parts are just planned to Europe for what I read, so maybe they really planned something good this time! It would be good for the “show”, but let’s see if they keep the good work.

    1. And nooo! I’m not saying they can beat Mercedes, but I really don’t think that was their plan for now. For me, they want to beat the rest and then after midseason, maybe try to put some pressure in Mercedes! But beat them, I think it will be difficult.

  13. All said and done it is a pleasure to watch a Fast Ferrari !!!!

    And oh that Superfast iceman in red is an icing on the cake !!!!

  14. Hopefully the leaders will stick to hard tyres in Q1, and keep their times as close as possible to 1:40 (100 seconds) – that will make 107% much easier to work out…

  15. ferrari threat lol ..dont thinks so..just get use to it there will be no challenge for mercedes this year

    1. Agreed! If Merc fails to win a race this year, it´ll be because of engine failure (doubtful).

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