Lap time watch: Mercedes make biggest gain at Suzuka

2017 Japanese Grand Prix

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Suzuka was expected to be a strong track for Mercedes and so it has proved so far. Last year’s pace-setters have made a bigger step forwards at this track than any other team.

However rivals Ferrari are still in the fight and came closest to emulating Mercedes’ 3.3-second year-on-year gain. And they can reasonably expect to be more competitive to Mercedes in race trim.

Renault seem to have lost their way a bit. They were the most-improved team at Silverstone, a track which shares many characteristics with Suzuka, after introducing a major aerodynamic upgrade. But neither car made the cut for Q3 today.

Honda may be pleased to see the progress it’s made with McLaren in the last 12 months as only Mercedes and Ferrari have made a bigger step in this time. Of course it’s too late to save their partnership, but quite a few Japanese engineers will be pleased to see Fernando Alonso ahead of five of the six Renault-powered cars in the speed trap.

Since F1 reached its target of being five seconds a lap quicker at the Circuit de Catalunya compared to 2015, the same benchmark has been hit at four further circuits, of which Suzuka is the latest.

Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time was the fastest lap ever seen on this configuration of Suzuka. He beat Michael Schumacher’s 2006 record by 1.6 seconds.

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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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9 comments on “Lap time watch: Mercedes make biggest gain at Suzuka”

  1. Oh, come on Suzuka! Really! I was expecting more improvement on last season from you than 3.3 seconds, LOL.

  2. Yeh! Honda have really shown Renault…….as long as you ignore the 33 grid place penalty for…you know….replacing nearly every component in the engine…….that has shown them!

    1. You know palmers renault has a similar penalty?

    2. And even if you ignore that, not sure alonso should be happy, don’t you think? He’s leaving honda engine and getting renault, so renault better not be slower than honda!

  3. On post analysis with Rosberg, it was interesting to see that Hamilton was much better on the long turn 1 and 2 more confident more settled, pretty much he carried that gap, I’d say .2 .3 of the first 2 corners till the end of the lap, but as the esses go by Lewis loses a little little bit of time compared to Seb’s car.

    Sector 2, Lewis was stronger on the degnas, again much better on turn in, but Lewis lost a big chunk out of the hairpin, Lewis gained a bit on spoon entry but lost on the middle and exit, down the straight, Seb looked to be as far as after the first 2 corners, Lewis gained on the straight and chicane, had no wobbles on the exit. I’d say Lewis didn’t have much time left, he was pretty smooth and aggressive.
    As they say it must be tyre pressures, ambient and track temperatures.

    1. On the record. The track changed so the record is 06’s and because f1 went to Fuji the record wasn’t beaten until the cars became slower. These cars are not as spectacular as this I’m still really disappointed with FOM, the framing of the shots are still a problem, cars are too zoomed out, the camera is shaky but it was also a bit like that on the 2001 video I’m referring to, these cars look mega but they are not as enjoyable to watch as the old cars.

      1. What?!?!? Just look at the quali highlights. The footage of Hamilton’s pole lap looks stunning.

      2. +1, that camera work yet jerky at times transmits the speed and the thrill far better than the brand new videos, also the close ups should be easier now due to the widescreen use and the camera tech available

  4. During the interview post quali, funny how both Hamilton and Seb were checking out each other’s cars. What kind of detail would they look for? Lewis seemed interested in the Ferrari back end and Seb seemed interested in the Mercedes cockpit.

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