Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2015

Ferrari quick enough to ‘do a Williams’ in Austria

2015 Austrian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2015Ferrari ended the first day of practice in Austria with reasons to be cheerful even though it hadn’t been completely trouble-free.

Most of the team’s problems were located on Sebastian Vettel’s side of the garage, as his car stopped during each of the two practice sessions. However according to the team’s power unit director Mattia Binotto, the stoppages had different causes.

“The two problems are different,” Binotto confirmed. “This morning it was not engine-related, it was a problem related to the transmission on the back of the car. It is something that we have seen, we have analysed, we are confident to sort it out for the rest of the weekend.”

“While in the afternoon, it just happened, we analysed, apparently it’s on the gearbox but again we’ll try to analyse and fix it for the rest of the weekend.”

However there were two pieces of good news for Ferrari. This first was that they ended the day quickest of all – Vettel’s best lap on the super-soft tyres was 11-thousandths better than Nico Rosberg managed in the Mercedes.

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The second, perhaps more significantly, was the speed Kimi Raikkonen demonstrated on his long run at the end of second practice. Ferrari’s pre-race preparation was far from ideal: Vettel had to park due to his gearbox problem and Raikkonen trashed his super-soft sets before he got to see how they would hold up.

Mercedes tried to push the pace beyond what Raikkonen was doing, but Hamilton didn’t feel it was possible. “Target 12.3 if possible,” race engineering Peter Bonnington told him at one stage. “I know I can’t get to that pace,” he replied.

Hamilton had a scruffy second session, ending up over half a second off the pace after several errors. “If you’re not making mistakes you’re not trying hard enough,” he said.

The Mercedes drivers did not seem as comfortable as usual. Hamilton responded to one radio request for a ‘strat mode’ adjustment by asking, “How many changes you guys want me to do? Can I just focus on driving?” Meanwhile Rosberg was once again asking for information his team couldn’t give him – this time regarding his target brake balance level for the first corner.

“Ferrari looked quick,” Hamilton admitted afterwards, “it’s definitely closer here than at other circuits.”

In pure lap time terms Austria always seems a tighter affair than at other venues simply because the track is so short. Today’s quickest time was under 70 seconds, and based on the lap time improvement seen in the first session there’s a slim chance Michael Schumacher’s 2003 track record of 1’07.908 could fall in qualifying.

But the shorter track also diminishes the importance of the performance gap between cars and punishes drivers harder for any mistakes. That’s how Hamilton’s slip-ups in qualifying 12 months ago paved the way for Williams to lock out the front row of the grid.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2015The heavily upgraded FW37s were, as usual, not on the pace on Friday. Tomorrow should reveal whether they as well as Ferrari might be in a position to exploit any problems Mercedes might experience.

Off the back of their most competitive showing of the season so far in Canada, Lotus look set for another competitive weekend at a track which has also favours cars with top-end grunt. Force India have changed their power units this weekend and thus have access to the latest version of the Mercedes, and also look quick.

It’s not impossible we could see all eight Mercedes-powered cars in Q3. Red Bull are struggling again at their home track – Daniil Kvyat branded his car “undriveable” at one stage while Daniel Ricciardo’s ten-place grid penalty for a power unit change has now been confirmed.

Meanwhile at McLaren Fernando Alonso will take a twenty-place drop and Jenson Button also expects more penalties The pair were frustrated by myriad glitches throughout practice including a faulty electrical connection, gear selection problem and an ignition failure. McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said Alonso’s final stoppage in practice was merely a precaution: “there was no reported problem on his car”.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:

Lewis Hamilton73.17973.18772.46372.47873.31372.98777.81472.64772.79672.72972.90276.47876.69273.83574.494
Nico Rosberg73.74173.53873.23473.10172.46472.88572.84973.92773.38673.0273.06373.42573.13872.97174.29773.2373.15674.65373.045
Daniel Ricciardo73.29873.62873.42973.62973.62173.3573.44373.97674.69173.96173.94574.18974.51276.13974.7975.48674.89274.0467574.20373.6173.73277.72573.882
Daniil Kvyat73.70973.95774.05574.81973.83773.72773.65273.45873.81373.56973.63273.50173.7573.72176.118
Felipe Massa74.36273.35573.05272.82472.95274.4473.44673.63472.60972.58772.42572.28572.99772.65373.34973.43673.13373.34673.08373.16473.1373.13773.04673.0473.174100.388
Valtteri Bottas73.33572.89372.58972.48173.23773.15373.85977.595
Sebastian Vettel73.58471.93572.08471.33570.94470.711
Kimi Raikkonen72.95972.90772.8373.26672.50673.74472.69374.12572.48772.91472.95573.84675.10973.18173.16472.76972.95173.15572.84273.7173.76473.10572.824
Fernando Alonso74.45276.22572.55772.11683.49976.50571.517
Jenson Button73.21972.30379.34775.24172.257
Nico Hulkenberg74.02973.60773.58273.43377.60273.50973.73574.1674.22173.64573.55373.69373.57473.84173.81374.272
Sergio Perez73.80473.51473.52173.27474.95373.64974.51375.83774.43475.67373.84773.68473.93174.10374.39374.137
Max Verstappen74.32473.46873.83174.11173.55873.78974.01573.82173.98774.02774.56174.26674.40474.63374.556
Carlos Sainz Jnr73.86673.59973.17373.93273.63173.54873.84773.57674.10274.26375.92273.99974.17173.70673.57874.59973.98873.78274.2174.537
Romain Grosjean81.51873.75973.19873.04173.34273.43175.00374.4273.48673.40674.095
Pastor Maldonado74.33673.40773.68473.7674.50173.85673.64874.14174.18773.91173.73873.76373.90773.9574.64174.44174.36174.38474.534
Marcus Ericsson73.95874.35874.89173.70473.86873.78373.69273.32873.81873.55
Felipe Nasr74.68473.81373.76973.9274.37973.86676.44673.62373.70873.93473.54273.72973.7774.977
Will Stevens78.43277.45977.8777.09676.58577.62276.62977.84878.00176.90277.67377.89676.69476.46776.3176.071
Roberto Merhi79.90675.09975.03885.44174.59474.05273.924

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Sebastian VettelFerrari1’15.6841’09.60028
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’10.4011’09.61150
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’11.0281’09.86041
4Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’12.0041’09.91444
5Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’10.7091’10.13749
6Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’12.0311’10.16049
7Romain GrosjeanLotus-Mercedes1’10.26738
8Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’11.8251’10.35648
9Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’11.6331’10.49539
10Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’11.9051’10.58546
11Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’11.9481’10.63150
12Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’11.6421’10.68648
13Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’12.1591’10.74440
14Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’11.4521’10.74634
15Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’11.8901’11.01142
16Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’13.2721’11.51717
17Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’11.7241’11.67638
18Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’12.9201’11.91917
19Jolyon PalmerLotus-Mercedes1’12.0500
20Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’13.9371’12.52234
21Roberto MerhiManor-Ferrari1’15.4591’13.09434

2015 Austrian 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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13 comments on “Ferrari quick enough to ‘do a Williams’ in Austria”

  1. Ferrari seems to be quicker than Mercedes. It looks great.
    But then i clicked to see Massa and Bottas and they too are “there”.

    Let’s see. I don’t expect surprises anymore.

    1. This is the first race in a very long time that Mercedes have not been clearly dominant in FP2.

      Felipe Massa’s long run pace was the most consistent and fastest of anyone in FP2 according to that data.

      Kimi Raikkonen looks very good too.

      It would be most excellent to see a closer race!

  2. I thought McLaren were making major updates to Alonso’s car for this race, including a new short nose? If so then going by the numbers here, the changes are definitely not working.

  3. Hello @keithcollantine
    I am sure you are using FP1’s long runs data here. A lot of drivers had 20+ laps in a single stint in the afternoon.

    1. Yes that graph was showing the wrong data! I’ve switched it now, thanks for letting me know.

  4. McLaren are all over the place. They don’t need to go back to Ron, they need a fresh outlook. Not Boullier, but someone with some energy and passion. The team don’t believe in themselves anymore. I might be wrong, but from the outside that’s what it feels like.

  5. Looking at McHonda’s performance I can’t help but wonder how Alonso must feel. What a disastrous season they are having. Having not won a championship in so many years, McLaren is obviously struggling to sign sponsors of the caliber Don Dennis believes they deserve. Curious to see how much development they will be able to afford if things don’t improve DRAMATICALLY soon.

    1. Apparently Honda have detuned the engines to “Melbourne levels” in order to protect the them against the kind of problems they had in Canada. Austria is the most power-dependant circuit on the calendar – given Honda’s huge engine deficit this was always going to be one of their very weakest tracks. McLaren haven’t fallen back in the development race, this track just doesn’t suit them. The chassis development actually seems to be coming along fairly well – allegedly, according to those who have estimated Honda’s horsepower deficit (supposedly around 100-110 horsepower) McLaren’s chassis is similar to, perhaps slightly below Ferrari’s.

      McLaren’s future performance will be very dependent on how well Honda develops their engine, but given the current regulations we shouldn’t expect miracles. This is essentially a “testing year” for them. 2016 will be the real year where we find out how much scope McLaren-Honda has for development given the token system, and whether it is realistic to expect them to fight at the front in the future.

      It’s worth remembering that Honda only started development on their engine two years ago, whereas the other engine manufacturers have been developing theirs for twice as long. Every weekend they will be on a much steeper learning curve than the other manufacturers, but they will also be catching up in the knowledge deficit. Will the token system even allow them to entirely close the gap though? Ferrari suggests it may be possible, but I feel like it will be 2017 at the earliest before McHonda can consistently challenge the front of the grid.

      1. 2016 will be the real year

        Just like 2014 was their real year after 2013 and 2015 was going to be their real year after 2014.

  6. There is more opportunities, than former races

  7. last year Massa did 1:08.759 to take pole.
    so they still have a Second up their sleeve some place.

  8. Lets hope Ferrari can be there and Williams as well. We could do with a bit of a tight race!

  9. that massa stint….

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