October 12, 2013

Speed vs Traction: What does 3/4 of a second look like?



With Formula 1 is a game of tenths. In qualifying for the Japanese GP at Suzuka all the top ten drivers were in the same second.   Sometimes it's hard to visualize how that happens and what it actually means on track.



Once again we found the onboards from Webber's pole lap and Alonso's eight place run and put them side by side.  I encourage you to stop the clip in various places around the lap and compare the two.

Some things stand out immediately:

- Alonso is set up for a higher DRS speed, 323 km/h vs 315 km/h for Webber.

- Webber brakes later into turn 1 and is slightly faster out of turn 2

- Alonso carried more speed into the first left of the "esses"  but had to give it up on the subsequent right.  By the second right of the complex, Turn 6, the Red Bull is a Massive 16 km/h faster at the apex.

- Alonso has lost about a car length as they come out of Dunlop and continues to lose ground on the run down to Dengner 1.  At the braking point he is 6 km/h faster than Webber and makes up ground braking later.  Not sure how he managed to keep it on the road at the Hairpin where he is late but manages to keep momentum.

- Out of the Hairpin, Red Bull's traction advantage is most obvious but on the run to Spoon, the lower downforce setup on the Ferrari revealed, Alonso is  faster.

- In Spoon, Alonso is really risking, braking late into the apex but he pays for that lower aero load on exit where he's forced to make a big correction and can't get a good run to 130 R.

Crucially he has used all his KERS while Webber has saved a little extra squirt which he uses after the chicane.   Alonso is faster into that Chicane but lacking some grip is a little late in the second part, again penalizing his exit.

By the end of the lap Webber is four painted starting grid spots ahead but at the start, Alonso will have six cars between him and the Red Bull.  He will need to take some big risks when the lights go out.








Pos Driver                Team                 Time            Gap    
 1. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m30.915s                  
 2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m31.089s  +0.174s         
 3. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m31.253s  +0.338s         
 4. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m31.365s  +0.450s         
 5. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m31.378s  +0.463s         
 6. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m31.397s  +0.482s         
 7. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m31.644s  +0.729s         
 8. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m31.665s  +0.750s         
 9. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m31.684s  +0.769s         
10. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m31.827s  +0.912s         
Q2 cut-off time: 1m31.848s                                   Gap **       
11. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m31.989s  +0.699s         
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m31.992s  +0.702s         
13. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m32.013s  +0.723s         
14. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m32.063s  +0.773s         
15. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m32.093s  +0.803s         
16. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m32.485s  +1.195s         
Q1 cut-off time: 1m32.875s                                    Gap *
17. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m32.890s  +1.066s         
18. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m33.357s  +1.533s         
19. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m34.320s  +2.496s         
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m34.556s  +2.732s         
21. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m34.879s  +3.055s         
22. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m34.958s  +3.134s         
                                                                          
107% time: 1m38.251s                                                      
* Gap to quickest in Q1                                                   
** Gap to quickest in Q2 

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