Teams face first test for F1’s new tyre and radio rules

2016 Australian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Formula One’s new qualifying system was put to the test on Saturday in Melbourne and was found wanting. On Sunday the revamped tyre regulations and tighter radio restrictions will come under scrutiny.

The decision to grant drivers more freedom when selecting their tyre choices has already had a discernible effect. With plenty of super-softs in their tyre stacks, drivers overwhelmingly opted for the softest available rubber in qualifying.

The upshot of this is the top eight are all locked in to starting the race on their used super-softs from qualifying. The rest of the field has a free choice.

How long can teams make the super-softs last?
One point which remains the same from last year is that every driver must use two different types of tyre compounds during the race. At least one of them must be one of Pirelli’s two nominated compounds, which this weekend are the soft and medium.

The temptation for the teams at the front of the field will be to try to stretch their opening stint on super-soft tyres long enough that they can complete the rest of the race with two further stops for for soft rubber. But it’s not clear how straightforward that might be.

Rain on Friday scuppered their attempts to run race simulations. A dry final practice session offered some opportunity for running during which two teams – Williams and Sauber – managed to eke out 15-lap runs on the super-soft tyre, while the Toro Rosso pair did 17 on the softs.

That would be insufficient for a two-stop race run and particularly challenging for those who have to start the race on used tyres. that could lead to teams hedging their bets at the second stop: risk going to the end on super-softs, accept the possibility of needing another set, or play it safe on mediums?

This will all play out within the context of much more limited radio communications with their drivers. Although teams can still advise their drivers to ‘push’ or ‘take it easy’ as needed, the kind of detailed coaching on lap times and strategy we used to see will be a thing of the past. Keeping their drivers on course for the optimum strategy is going to be harder for the strategists which will hopefully mean we see more improvisation.

But while there are lots unknowns for those of us watching, the armies of strategists and massive arsenals of computing power will have already eliminated many of the variables. Albert Park, however, is a venue which is quite capable of supplying a few more to keep the teams guesssing.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’25.3511’24.605 (-0.746)1’23.837 (-0.768)
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’26.9341’24.796 (-2.138)1’24.197 (-0.599)
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’26.9451’25.257 (-1.688)1’24.675 (-0.582)
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’26.5791’25.615 (-0.964)1’25.033 (-0.582)
5Max VerstappenToro Rosso1’26.9341’25.615 (-1.319)1’25.434 (-0.181)
6Felipe MassaWilliams1’25.9181’25.644 (-0.274)1’25.458 (-0.186)
7Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’27.0571’25.384 (-1.673)1’25.582 (+0.198)
8Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’26.9451’25.599 (-1.346)1’25.589 (-0.010)
9Sergio PerezForce India1’26.6071’25.753 (-0.854)
10Nico HulkenbergForce India1’26.5501’25.865 (-0.685)
11Valtteri BottasWilliams1’27.1351’25.961 (-1.174)
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’26.5371’26.125 (-0.412)
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’26.7401’26.304 (-0.436)
14Jolyon PalmerRenault1’27.2411’27.601 (+0.360)
15Kevin MagnussenRenault1’27.2971’27.742 (+0.445)
16Marcus EricssonSauber1’27.435
17Felipe NasrSauber1’27.958
18Daniil KvyatRed Bull1’28.006
19Romain GrosjeanHaas1’28.322
20Esteban GutierrezHaas1’26.645
21Rio HaryantoManor1’29.627
22Pascal WehrleinManor1’29.642

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton27.779 (1)22.380 (1)33.678 (2)
Nico Rosberg28.018 (2)22.526 (2)33.653 (1)
Sebastian Vettel28.093 (3)22.603 (3)33.979 (3)
Kimi Raikkonen28.199 (4)22.743 (4)34.091 (4)
Max Verstappen28.316 (6)22.930 (11)34.133 (7)
Felipe Massa28.254 (5)22.835 (5)34.369 (8)
Carlos Sainz Jnr28.358 (8)22.913 (7)34.105 (5)
Daniel Ricciardo28.456 (10)22.918 (8)34.108 (6)
Sergio Perez28.375 (9)22.871 (6)34.466 (11)
Nico Hulkenberg28.335 (7)22.921 (9)34.486 (12)
Valtteri Bottas28.525 (11)22.923 (10)34.442 (9)
Fernando Alonso28.634 (13)23.037 (12)34.454 (10)
Jenson Button28.620 (12)23.117 (13)34.567 (13)
Jolyon Palmer28.929 (17)23.324 (16)34.940 (16)
Kevin Magnussen29.038 (18)23.296 (15)34.894 (15)
Marcus Ericsson28.789 (16)23.430 (19)35.089 (17)
Felipe Nasr29.288 (20)23.344 (17)35.326 (20)
Daniil Kvyat29.228 (19)23.516 (20)35.164 (19)
Romain Grosjean28.732 (14)23.352 (18)35.099 (18)
Esteban Gutierrez28.758 (15)23.213 (14)34.674 (14)
Rio Haryanto30.132 (22)23.771 (22)35.724 (21)
Pascal Wehrlein30.049 (21)23.633 (21)35.960 (22)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes330.3 (205.2)
2Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes329.8 (204.9)-0.5
3Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes328.7 (204.2)-1.6
4Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes328.4 (204.1)-1.9
5Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes328.1 (203.9)-2.2
6Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari325.9 (202.5)-4.4
7Pascal WehrleinManorMercedes325.8 (202.4)-4.5
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari325.8 (202.4)-4.5
9Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes325.3 (202.1)-5.0
10Esteban GutierrezHaasFerrari325.3 (202.1)-5.0
11Rio HaryantoManorMercedes324.8 (201.8)-5.5
12Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari324.2 (201.4)-6.1
13Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari322.7 (200.5)-7.6
14Felipe NasrSauberFerrari322.1 (200.1)-8.2
15Kevin MagnussenRenaultRenault321.4 (199.7)-8.9
16Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoFerrari320.9 (199.4)-9.4
17Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer320.8 (199.3)-9.5
18Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault320.6 (199.2)-9.7
19Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda320.4 (199.1)-9.9
20Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda320.2 (199.0)-10.1
21Daniil KvyatRed BullTAG Heuer319.6 (198.6)-10.7
22Max VerstappenToro RossoFerrari319.6 (198.6)-10.7

Over to you

What are your expectations for the Australian Grand Prix? Can Nico Rosberg take the fight to Lewis Hamilton? Will Ferrari be able to take the fight to Mercedes?

Share your views on the Australian Grand Prix in the comments.

2016 Australian Grand Prix

Browse all 2016 Australian 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...

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25 comments on “Teams face first test for F1’s new tyre and radio rules”

  1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    19th March 2016, 19:41

    “Can Nico Rosberg take the fight to Lewis Hamilton? Will Ferrari be able to take the fight to Mercedes?”


    1. Exactly. That, the crap commentary (where’s DC?) & painful new rules means we’re in for another frustrating snooze-fest of a year.

  2. Hopefully rosberg keeps the pressure on Hamilton and that keeps the ferrari’s in contention. It will also be interesting to see if verstappen can hold fifth, there should be some good battles there.

    I’m predicting 16 finishers.

    1. Top 5 on the grid is my predictions championship prediction, so I hope he does hold on to it!

    2. Massa & Perez speed trap number are a clear danger for Verstappen & Sainz. But I hope both of them made a great start.

  3. The midfield battle, basically everyone from Kimi back to Hulk, will be epic, I think.

    1. As long as Max keeps his cool with Kimi on the first laps.

  4. So they must use 2 types of compounds in the race, at least one of them to be one of the 2 nominated tyres for the race. ?? What?

    How could a driver pick 2 compounds for the race and have neither of them be one of the 2 nominated tyres? Am I missing something? Or should I not be surprised that they didn’t really think this through?

    1. TheApexPreditor
      19th March 2016, 22:34

      Pirreli nominate two of the three tire types brought to each race as the nominated tires (in this case they have med, soft, super soft, Pirelli nominated the medium and the soft) so the drivers MUST use one of those two types, AND another type in the race if dry. And actually, reading that back I see what you’re saying. If they have to use two types and they’ve nominated two types out of three, how can they NOT use one of the nominated types? That has to be a typo–do they only nominate one of the three?

    2. @gitanes Pirreli only nominated 2 set of tires and they could be the same compound. So for example if the available compound is super soft, soft, and medium, and Pirelli nominated medium-medium, the driver can’t race with only soft and supersofts

  5. @keithcollantine with the new tyre rules, would it be possible to include, in the race preview, a table of how many sets of new and used of each compound, that each driver has for the race? Or are you aware of such information being published elsewhere?

  6. Keith published the driver tire choices over 10 days ago:

    Still…would be good to see in the pre-race thread for those us in F1 with short memories. ;-)

    1. They have to give tyres back throughout the weekend, and some of the remaining sets will be new, some used from practice and qualy. So what the divers start the weekend with is not the same as what they have available for the race, and affects their strategy options. If that could be published here, or if anyone can point me to this info, I’d be grateful!

  7. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    19th March 2016, 23:09

    I forgot about Exteban’s great time in the Haas. Another reason this qualfying failed. He prodcued a superb lap but got screwed over by dodgy rules.

  8. Only 8 drivers go through to Q3? that rule change passed me by!

    I think 6 should drop out in q1, 6 in q2, leaving a top 10 shootout for q3…

  9. Wow! 330km/h! On Albert park! That’s mind blowing.

    1. And only a 10 kph gap between first and last! Isn’t it usually like a 20-30kph gap?

  10. Wasn’t the track lap record set by Schumacher back in 2004 with a 1:24:125? Lewis had a faster time today, but I’ve heard no one talking about it. I assume I must be missing something?

    1. The outright lap record is held by Vettel at 1:23.529.

      Schumacher still holds the race record.

      1. Ok, that still makes no sense to me. If Vettel has the fastest lap, why is that not the lap record? Because it was in qualifying? Then why does Barrichello have the fastest lap at Monza, which was set in qualifying?

  11. Force India first to start on good rubber. No wonder they did not want to improve in Q2.

  12. I think Ferrari will try something different to Mercedes:
    Mercedes: Super-soft – Soft – Soft
    Ferrari: Super-soft – Medium – Super-soft
    So then Vettel will be on the faster tyre at the end and will be able to fight the Mercedes’ drivers.

    Force India (Perez) may try a one-stop
    Soft – Medium
    He might be able to finish 5th or who knows maybe even a podium??

    Race Predictions:
    1. Vettel
    2. Hamilton
    3. Perez
    4. Raikkonen
    5. Rosberg
    6. Verstappen
    7. Sainz
    8. Hulkenberg

  13. Gutierrez’s Q1 time can’t be right? @keithcollantine

    1. I think it was 1:29.06.

      1. Sorry, 1:29.606.

Comments are closed.