Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2019

Vettel breaks track record as Ferrari make biggest gain this season

Lap time watch: 2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel calls Suzuka his favourite circuit and it isn’t hard to see why. His pole position for today’s race is the fifth he’s taken in his career so far.

It was also a record-breaking effort. Vettel lowered the previous record, held by Lewis Hamilton, by a quarter of a second with his lap of 1’27.064. His run through the circuit’s famed Esses was particularly impressive: aided by a strong headwind, Vettel said he hardly touched the brakes at all.

But the performance was also down to a Ferrari which is improving rapidly in the latter stages of 2019. They improved their lap time by 1.2 seconds compared to last year.

This isn’t their biggest lap time gain of the season so far: They were 1.4 seconds quicker at Paul Ricard where, due to track and tyre changes, almost every team was over a second faster than in 2018.

However relative to the rest of their rivals, this was Ferrari’s biggest year-on-year gain of 2019. They are the second most-improved team this weekend, the best they’ve managed all year.
Only McLaren improved their lap time by more compared to last year.

Williams, however, have gone backwards again. Of the 17 races so far this year, this is the 11th where they’ve failed to lap quicker than they did in 2018.

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2019 Japanese 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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4 comments on “Vettel breaks track record as Ferrari make biggest gain this season”

  1. Finally for a change.

  2. Amazing. I need to watch replay.

  3. All for nothing. Too prone to errors this team.

  4. Interesting that RP has barely improved too, though the fact Haas did better (in quali!) does make sense, as they usually have the biggest issue in race pace. Looks like it’s harder to come back from a lack of money/development in the previous year than a seasons’ worth of racing, which, again doesn’t bode well for either Haas or Williams in next season.

    And Mercedes quite clearly need to be working on their 2020 car to keep it level with Ferrari, because it isn’t reasonable to count on Ferrari and its drivers giving away enough to grant them a seventh consecutive championship! I do suppose it helps Red Bull hasn’t really been doing better in development, with the almost a second here equal to that of STR making clear it might well be the engine improving. Will be interesting to see whether McLaren can make another such step, as they came from a relatively low bar last year; if they can, that might widen the sub top to be RBR and McLaren.

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