Wrong kind of wet weather makes for a useless Friday

2015 Russian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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The disruption to the two practice sessions at the Sochi Autodrom on Friday has left the teams – and us – with precious little data to work on.

The rain which spoiled the second practice session was widely expected, and teams may have planned to conduct some of that running during the first session.

However the unexpected disruption of a major diesel spillage on the circuit before practice again put paid to that. It was over half an hour before anyone could venture onto the track, and only in the final minutes did it begin to get quick enough for representative lap times to be set.

With Saturday and Sunday both forecast to be dry, teams had little incentive to send their cars out in the second practice session and risk damaging them. Those who did were mostly those who have installed new power unit for this weekend, such as Fernando Alonso, who used Honda’s ‘spec-four’ engine, though he has now accumulated a 35-place grid penalty for Sunday.

And even those who wanted to run in the rain, such as Williams who have not performed well in wet conditions recently, found the nature of the conditions unhelpful.

“We had planned to run in the wet,” said the team’s head of performance engineering Rob Smedley, “but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.”

“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress.”

Making progress was exactly what most teams failed to do all day on Friday in Russia. At least it’s a familiar problem – much the same thing happened at the last race weekend in Japan, and once again we can expect to see teams run a condensed programme including a race stint simulation and qualifying run during the remaining one hour practice session on Saturday.

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’44.35514
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’44.40721
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’44.9862’00.65923
4Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’45.14614
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’45.23311
6Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’45.4882’02.80520
7Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’45.69113
8Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’45.7462’00.68821
9Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’46.2032’00.80620
10Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’46.21516
11Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’46.2312’02.84520
12Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’46.3332’00.45818
13Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’46.74713
14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’47.4432’01.07728
15Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’48.0069
16Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’48.0962’01.41815
17Jolyon PalmerLotus-Mercedes1’49.0949
18Roberto MerhiManor-Ferrari1’52.99412
19Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’54.27215
20Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’58.2546

2015 Russian 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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13 comments on “Wrong kind of wet weather makes for a useless Friday”

  1. I practised not watching it. I’m fully prepared for ignoring it on Sunday.

    1. Hamilton will win, Rosberg will finish second and Vettel third. Nevertheless I will again dutifully watch the race with the mildest hope that this time, things might be different.

      1. Hamilton will get pole but the long run down to turn 2 will allow rosberg to slipstream him and take the lead. Then a great race unfolds between the mercs!

      2. My thoughts exactly.

    2. hahaha yes

  2. I don’t know about everyone else, but I thoroughly enjoyed the chat on Sky that took place while there was no running, and there was something rather entertaining about the mad soap-opera style end to FP1 regarding the Red Bull engine fiasco.

    And while today was a bit of a write-off, hopefully it’ll make for an exciting and busy FP3 & Qualifying, and in turn, a slightly less dull race!

    1. Exactly my thoughts. Excelent commentarors on sky made it great

  3. It’s wet two times in a row on two weekends and all of a sudden everyone is writing about cuting Friday practice out of the weekend. That’s F1 in a nutshell…

    1. I’m surprised no-one commented about how McLaren are back on form, what with Alonso spending an hour at the top of the time sheet.

    2. @xtwl Agreed, just finished reading Ben Anderson’s article on Autosport, calling for it to be scrapped altogether. Yet he only offered up one poorly explained solution.

      Obviously wet running when the race is projected to be dry is meaningless, but there are also some slightly bigger issues at hand here. Grosjean, in an article on Motorsport.com that also called for changes (http://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/grosjean-calls-for-motogp-style-friday-action/), said the following:

      [A day like today] is not great for the fans, but on the other hand if we go out today we crash and we don’t have any spares – what do we do?

      Lotus doesn’t have the money at the moment to have a sufficient amount of spare parts to even risk go running in the wet today.

  4. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    9th October 2015, 20:52

    Hulkenburg going to dominate this week. I hope we get these conditions all weekend.

  5. Mark my words. These stoppages will make no difference whatsoever to the teams. They will still be able to complete all their setups, long runs and practice starts and other programs in the 90 mins of Q3. Qualifying and race once again will be boring and predictable.

    In today’s world with advanced simulation software and hardware available to all teams, on-track driving adds precious little to the data already available to the teams. Free practice is no longer about ‘finding out’ how tyres will behave or how fuel consumption will be. It is merely about ‘validating’ what the simulator said about tyres and fuel consumption and making minor tweaks to the car setup to adjust for that.

    I full agree with Hulkenberg that free practice should be reduced to just 1 session before qualifying. This way, tickets at the track could become cheaper as spectators don’t have to buy Friday tickets. Triple headers (as proposed for next year) may become slightly more realistic if each race weekend is shorter.

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