Vettel certain Mercedes has more pace

2015 Singapore Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Posted on

| Written by

The first night of practice for the Singapore Grand Prix produced a surprise as neither of the Mercedes drivers appeared in the top three places at the end of running.

Both Red Bulls and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari demoted the silver cars which more often than not have place one-two in practice sessions this year.

Mercedes played a strong hand in practice at Monza two weeks ago but Sebastian Vettel is convinced they’re saving their true performance for Saturday.

Verstappen: “This is the toughest track so far this year”
“Obviously, we can expect the Mercedes to be quick tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t know what happened to them today, they looked a bit slow, but for sure they will change it for tomorrow.”

“We know that the Mercedes don’t show everything on Friday, and as expected the Red Bulls are fairly quick here as well.”

“I was not entirely happy with my short-runs,” added Vettel, who was three-tenths off Raikkonen in the second session, “so for qualifying we still have to improve a bit, but for the race it
looked OK.”

Vettel’s pace on his longest stint seemed quicker than Raikkonen’s (see below). However Daniel Ricciardo’s was the most convincing, lapping further and faster than the Mercedes drivers using the super-soft tyre, giving Toto Wolff cause for concern.

Even allowing for the possibility Mercedes was running a considerably heavier fuel load, Red Bull has clearly delivered on the expectation they would be competitive at Singapore.

Max Verstappen was quietly impressive on his first visit to the street track, as he was in Monaco. The Toro Rosso driver appeared in the top ten during both sessions.

“Physically this is the toughest track so far this year” said Verstappen, who is 12 days shy of his 18th birthday, “but I’m coping well as we trained very hard before getting here”.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

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

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault 1’51.188 1’46.142 41
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’48.785 1’46.181 54
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’48.331 1’46.256 49
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’48.314 1’46.479 57
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’48.494 1’46.487 57
6 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’50.125 1’46.659 52
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’47.995 1’46.781 61
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’50.123 1’46.959 46
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’49.854 1’47.294 55
10 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault 1’49.466 1’47.427 48
11 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’51.035 1’47.684 46
12 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’50.158 1’47.755 43
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’50.883 1’47.795 54
14 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’50.455 1’47.888 48
15 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’50.019 1’48.012 50
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes 1’50.341 1’48.096 55
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’49.380 1’48.118 47
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 1’50.068 1’50.094 50
19 Will Stevens Manor-Ferrari 1’53.903 1’59.932 23
20 Alexander Rossi Manor-Ferrari 1’53.918 1’56.739 26

2015 Singapore Grand Prix

    Browse all 2015 Singapore Grand Prix articles

    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.

    18 comments on “Vettel certain Mercedes has more pace”

    1. Last year Mercedes was only 0.170 s faster than Red Bull and 0.220 s faster than Ferrari. Maybe it’s just something about Singapore.

      1. It’s not just ‘something’. It has a low average speed, simple. No long straights and high speed corners to exploit good engine power and aerodynamics.

        1. That doesn’t seem to hamper them around Monaco.

          1. People have improved since Monaco

      2. @kingshark I think you are right. Watching Lewis 2014 pole, the handling doesn’t look right, missing apexes, suffering from understeer and riding poorly over the bumps. FP1 today was almost the same albeit no massive understeer. There must be a connection between Singapore and the weaknesses of the Mercedes team. Honestly Hamilton’s monza pole was far from a perfect lap, Kimi was still Mercedes had more pace. Also Lewis said spa lap was perfect unlike Monza’s. Maybe Merc hasn’t adapted to this change yet, maybe tomorrow.

    2. I agree. Mercedes didn’t show their true pace right away at Monza either, so most likely they were holding back. Maybe to make the competition feel like they have a chance for at least 1 day.

    3. Vettel’s new helmet is so cute (: :P

      1. What’s new? The colors of the German flag who are reflective now?

    4. The RedBull chassis is really light on its feet. The RedBull aerodynamics is also designed to work good near walls.

    5. I seem to recall that last year Mercedes’ dominance was reduced the softer the tires. I’m sure someone will disabuse me of this memory if it is false, but I recall Red Bull last year and Ferrari this year being closer especially on the supersofts. I feel like the Mercs can’t switch them on or burn them up or something.

      1. @hobo, you may be onto something, Bernie might be behind Pirellis sudden desire to use softer tyres, he always wants to reduce the leading teams dominance.

    6. Ricciardo’s long stint pace looks scary.

      1. Ric and RBR are starving for a stellar performance. So far, this season has been rude awakening for them.
        Let’s not forget, Ric had a plan to fight for WDC this year…

      2. Scary good or scary bad.

    7. Well, I heard RB was significantly lighter than Mercedes and Ferrari. To the point that all of their supposed advantage in FP2 would evaporate, but they would still be on par with them, give or take a couple of hundreds….

    8. Black 'n' Blue15
      18th September 2015, 22:27

      Mega consistency from Dan (at least comparatively speaking). The Car looks balanced from the onboard shots. Yes, I know we’ve seen it before where Mercedes keep a good chunk of time in their back-pocket until later in the weekend, but on a track as technically demanding as Singapore with a lot of corners, bumps and a track that tends to give the Front Right Tyre a bit of a battering in race trim, maybe there’s potential for an upset.

      The inevitable Safety Car intervention could put the pressure cooker Merc Strategists in their place again, and we know there’ll be someone there to pick up the pieces based on the lap time evidence already laid on the table by the Bulls. We know the Tyres haven’t always switched on for the Mercs, Traffic is tricky to negotiate and overtaking around Singapore is a tough gig. My fancy is that with that Senna record nonsense hanging in the air over Hammy and with haze quite literally and mentally hanging over Rosberg’s title bid, I think somehow we’ll get a non-Mercedes win. 08′ shows how mad of a result this place can throw up, it’s made to deliver the unexpected.

    9. Ferrari look so unhinged. As always… Congratulations to their drivers for keeping it out of the wall. Barely.

    10. Red Bull are probably just grandstanding on low fuel to show VW that they a worthy purchase… I suspect they’ll be the usual distance behind the Mercs and battling the Ferrari’s.

    Comments are closed.