Friday, 1 March 2013

Catalunya (Test 2, Day 1) - Rainy conditions force novel approach

On a day like this, where conditions are so variable, it's impossible to compare headline times to get an accurate picture of performance. For this reason I've decided to break the day down into 12 periods of 10 to 25 minutes where activity on the track was highest.

On the left is the average position of each driver across all 12 stints. All drivers weren't on the track for all stints though (Webber, Hamilton and Bottas were on the track for 9 whereas Vergne was on track for 4 - which may explain the unusually high postion - and Grosjean for 5). 

The other problem is the different testing programmes ran by teams. Massa and Hamilton had very long runs, for part of the day, so a huge part of their day was focused on consistency, not raw speed. Opposingly Webber and Vergne focused on short stints of less than 10 laps (usually about 4-5) so the average positions will be reflective of those circumstances.

Interestingly we can, to some extent, compare the long runs of the Mercedes and the Ferrari.

Hamilton's 54 lap sim looked slightly better than the 72 lap sim from Massa. They posted similar times throughout (similar fuel loads presumably) but the Mercedes often had the edge on the Ferrari throughout the stints.They both performed 16-laps within minutes of each other when they had 14/15 laps left on their race sim. Massa completed the stint in 24 minutes 46 seconds and Hamilton in 24 minutes 34 seconds. This and other reasons give credence to the idea that the Mercedes is much stronger than the second half of 2012.

There were several interesting short runs throughout the day. Gutierrez, Di Resta and Bottas ran 3-5 lap stints towards the end of the day. They were all testing the principle of fast laps followed by a slow lap and then going for it again. This seems to be a tactic that has continued since the test last week. This worked with varying successes.

Gutierrez (1:27.021, 1:26.574, 1:41.001, 1:32.002)
Di Resta (1:29.62, 1:27.806, 1:27.107, 1:35.96, 1:29.473)
Bottas (1:26.458, 1:40.683, 1:27.146) 

Only Bottas was able to get anywhere near his original time on his last lap. However it's not conclusive to look at the short runs as varying fuel levels and tyre compounds have a huge effect. 

Most of the impressive laps throughout the day were posted by Mark Webber with three of the four fastest. That looks omnious for the rest of the field although bear in mind today was not typical and a number of teams did not show their full hands. For example the Ferrari or Lotus who both did not go for a quick last run at the end of the day.

Looking at the times throughout the day it's clear that the Red Bull handled the conditions very well and were almost always in the top 3. The other standout performers were Ferrari, Mercedes and Williams. However there was not such good news for Perez and Gutierrez who struggled for most of the day and the Marussia and Caterham who looked on another planet to the other teams.

Key themes

  • Red Bull begin to look stronger building on the promise of last week
  • McLaren are still a long way off the frontrunners, the consistency and speed absent today. Perez is concerned (
  • Mercedes and Williams both continue their good work and may spring a few surprises come Melbourne
  • The Lotus did not look as quick today, as in dry conditions, although there were positive signs in the early afternoon

What were your thoughts on today? Do you feel Red Bull is the team to beat?

Some of the busiest times on the circuit were as follows:

Hamilton fastest in the morning by a fair margin
Close at the front in this stint!

Webber emphasising his dominance
The Marussia and Caterham still a long way off


All data has been taken from and all pictures from Autosport (no copyright violation intended) so thank you!

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