Williams is the only team which has not managed to lap Albert Park quicker this year than it managed 12 months ago.Lance Stroll set a best time of 1’24.230 in the FW41. George Russell came closest to that time but wasn’t able to beat it, lapping 0.13 seconds slower.
The rest of the field made a mockery of the early estimates that the new front wings and other aerodynamic changes for the 2019 F1 season would increase lap times by one to one-and-a-half seconds. Alfa Romeo, who were the most improved team on average of last season (as Sauber), led the way again, lopping 2.2 seconds off their 2018 mark.
They may not be able to sustain that kind of improvement over the rest of the season. Sauber were not particularly quick at this race last year – both its drivers went out in Q1 – and it wasn’t until after a few races that the team got into its stride.
[mpuzweeler01]To Ferrari’s dismay, Mercedes have made a slightly larger improvement at this track than they have. The potential good news for Ferrari is that if these two teams make the same gains at every other round this year, there will be plenty of races where Ferrari has the quicker car.
Toto Wolff and the Mercedes team have played the game of managing expectations very well. But he has a point when he says the result of one qualifying session at a track where Mercedes (and Lewis Hamilton especially) have tended to be very strong does not mean they’re heading for a championship walkover.
Red Bull should also take quiet encouragement from the fact they’ve almost kept pace with their rivals over the winter despite the disruption of changing engine suppliers. As Max Verstappen noted they are still working on optimising the Honda power unit to get the best from it, so expect more to come from them in the near future.
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27 comments on “Williams is the only team lapping slower in Melbourne than last year”
Luke S (@joeypropane)
16th March 2019, 13:29
I think we need more articles talking about how slow Williams are – I just don’t think it’s been highlighted enough yet.
16th March 2019, 13:44
@joeypropane – wait, what? When did this happen? Weren’t Mercedes behind them?
16th March 2019, 14:39
If you look at the graph, everyone is in the negative! Williams is the only team making positive progress.
On @joeypropane point, it’s just a slow news day everyday with Williams, it seems ;)
16th March 2019, 15:38
Double LOL at that :)
17th March 2019, 3:19
Man, even news day is slow with Williams. What the hell Paddy did there, Claire?
16th March 2019, 15:44
Mercedes will be behind them after about 30 laps
14th May 2019, 22:19
I was at the Spanish GT and around 10 laps the mercs were already behind. Crazy
16th March 2019, 16:22
I heard that Merc were behind RedBull ;-)
16th March 2019, 14:21
… Does that make them slower than the 2017 car?
16th March 2019, 14:45
No, they are a tiny bit faster than in 2017.
Back then Massa managed to qualify in 7th place with 1:24.443 (today Russell did 1:24.360 to qualify 19th).
On the other hand such result might be considered good – they didn’t have to spend too much money for 2 years, and largely kept the same level of performance…
16th March 2019, 14:49
2018 car was faster than 2017 by -0.213 sec, so no, they’re still faster by -0.083 than two years ago.
16th March 2019, 15:01
I’ve been worried about Racing Point, but it turn out they had decent improvement even when the development had been stalled by administration issue. With secure fund, I think they could start beating Haas and McLaren before mid-season.
16th March 2019, 16:25
Maybe there will be a new team on the grid next year, bur still only have 20 cars. Williams is a great name, and survived a long time, hate to see them change names. But maybe it is time to move forward.
16th March 2019, 16:53
Seven-tenths faster than last season’s pole time despite the aero changes. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s going to be on the other circuits since each track is different from each other.
16th March 2019, 18:45
I have heard so many comments in commentary that suggest the new rules were suppose to slow the cars down compared to 2018 and because the lap times are faster in Albert Park this year compared to last year they suggest it hasn’t. I look it slightly different. If you took the 2018 Dhabi spec to Melbourne this year and run it against a 2019 Melbourne spec car I think the 2018 car would win. They have not considered the development lap time made over the 2018 season.
16th March 2019, 18:52
16th March 2019, 19:17
@ming-mong – there’s a small mistaken impression in your statement. The rule changes for the front wings were not meant to slow down the cars, they were meant to reduce the outwash effect, to improve the ability of cars to follow one another.
It was believed that by this rule change, there would be a reduction in downforce, which could slow down the cars. However, as you say, it appears that teams have been able to still claw back that downforce by clever designs, ensuring they didn’t lose speed.
Now, that doesn’t mean that the rule change has failed, since the “slowing of cars” was an assumed side effect, not the primary goal. Tomorrow and the next few Sundays will tell us if the reduced outwash is actually allowing cars to tail one another better (giving them a better shot at overtaking).
Of course, it’s not that simple, because the other rule change was to make the rear wing’s DRS larger, which means that a following car gets a bigger DRS boost. So even if we see overtaking, it might end up hard to distinguish whether it was due to the front wing outwash changes, the DRS, or a combination of the two.
16th March 2019, 20:13
@phylyp – I know exactly what the rules were intended to do and I understand the logic behind it and what it’s primary intentions are. I am only mentioning a part of what has been said in commentary when it comes to rule changes and lap time comparisons.
“It was believed that by this rule change, there would be a reduction in downforce, which could slow down the cars. However, as you say, it appears that teams have been able to still claw back that downforce by clever designs, ensuring they didn’t lose speed.
I did not mention downforce. Have they really clawed back most of or managed to add more than the supposed loss of downforce because the only comparison being made are the lap times between Albert Park 2018 & 2019? This is not a fair comparison and downforce is only one component. Like I previously mentioned a fairer comparison would be a 2018 Dhabi spec vs 2019 Albert Park spec car. We would never really know however some people estimate an F1 car through season development cycle could be up to 2 seconds per lap quicker come round 21. Get my point?
16th March 2019, 20:16
Do you think I choose the name Coanda by accident or because I thought it sounded cool…
16th March 2019, 22:56
I have risen to bequeath upon thee this simple truth: Choosing a fancy alias does not equal having the properties generally associated with it.
16th March 2019, 22:52
@ming-mong – fair enough.
16th March 2019, 23:03
@phylyp – my bad, I’d misread your original comment! :)
16th March 2019, 23:04
@ming-mong – that was for you – my bad, I’d misread your original comment! :)
16th March 2019, 20:29
Has anyone noticed that they nearly missed 107% rule – they were 6.94% slower than pole. How many times they’ll be lapped tomorrow?
16th March 2019, 22:53
They didn’t, because that’s not how the 107% rule is applied. The relevant lap time for them was Leclerc’s 1’22.017, i.e. the 107% lap time for them was 1’27.758 – 3.4 seconds slower than Russell’s and 1.7 seconds slower than Kubica’s quali times.
And fyi, that’s not just me being right for the sake of being right, my point is that comparing the lap time of a Q1 dropout with the pole lap time is not a meaningful thing to do, as track evolution (particularly in Melbourne due to the track’s semi-permanent nature, among several factors) contributes a significant share of the lap times’ improvement. That’s why Kubica’s quali result looks so much worse than Russell’s, as the former had to abandon his final attempt, or why Gasly was eliminated despite having clocked two attempts at full beans. To a certain extent, going out later equals going faster.
Now, Leclerc’s lap time was obviously not that representative, either, as Ferrari had little reason to let him use the most aggressive engine settings and hurt the engine so early in the season. The question is whether Williams did crank up their engines, or whether they knew they were to far behind for that to make any sense. But it’s still reasonable to assume that they’re losing more than the 2.3 seconds Russell lost in Q1. But unless they lose over 3 seconds (or 3.1, to be more precise) per lap on average, they won’t be lapped more than once.
16th March 2019, 23:06
The chart says:
Red Bull have lost time compared to 7 of their competitors, the only exceptions being Williams and Renault (who more or less tripped over their own feet, at least in Hülkenberg’s case, to be eliminated in Q2). In other words: They’ve dropped even further back from Mercedes and Ferrari, and the midfield teams are starting to breathe down their neck (VER – GRO: 0.506 seconds.
The article says:
The baseline for me is probably that I should start saying ‘I almost kept pace with X’ whenever I’m found lacking.
17th March 2019, 0:58
If i were Kubica i would jump from that sinking ship ASAP. He complains a lot about the car (rightfully so) and still has to prove that he is able to race at competitive level (while the car does not allow it). To me its a difficulty situation he is in because he has a lot to prove and a lot to lose too.
He will try to Overdrive that thing which in turn will cause him to crash because the car is that bad. Its only a matter of time until Williams pull all the blame on him and his arm because of the crashes.
I dont think he will end the year with them.
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