Posts Tagged ‘spain’

Barcelona lap time comparison

May 15th, 2009 3 comments

Robert Kubica, Spain, 2009Back in March, Oliver White at BlogF1 posted an interesting comparison of pre-season testing times from 2008 versus those of 2009.

In those numbers was a hint of the dominance to come from Brawn GP and the relatively poor performance of McLaren’s MP4-24.  But they were also a bit misleading in that the second best improved team was BMW followed by Ferrari, neither of which have impressed much this year.  Red Bull, currently second in the Constructors’ Championship, did only marginally better in the comparison table.

Last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix marked the start of the European F1 season which is traditionally the time when teams introduce upgrades to their cars.  In fact, in previous years, many teams would only release their new car when they got to Europe, choosing to run the previous season’s car for the opening flyaway races.

So with most of the teams bringing updated cars to Spain there was a lot of talk of improvements in lap times.  BMW’s upgrade was the most radical, attaching a new rear wing, front wing and a completely redesigned nose.  BMW team boss, Mario Theissen, said they were hoping for a half second per lap improvement.

But are the cars significantly faster now than they were at the beginning of the year?  As the teams all tested at the Circuit de Catalunya in the winter we can compare their times set in testing with their times set during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

Below is a table comparing the fastest time set by each team at the Barcelona test in February to their fastest time set during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

Team Driver (Test) Best Time (Test) Driver (GP) Best Time (GP) Difference
Williams Rosberg 01:19.744 Rosberg 01:21.588 +00:01.844
Brawn Barrichello 01:18.926 Button 01:20.527 +00:01.601
Toyota Glock 01:20.091 Glock 01:21.247 +00:01.156
BMW Kubica 01:20.214 Kubica 01:21.239 +00:01.025
Renault Alonso 01:20.664 Alonso 01:21.392 +00:00.728
Force India Fisichella 01:21.045 Sutil 01:21.742 +00:00.697
Ferrari Massa 01:20.168 Massa 01:20.553 +00:00.385
Red Bull Vettel 01:20.576 Vettel 01:20.660 +00:00.084
Toro Rosso Buemi 01:21.013 Buemi 01:21.067 +00:00.054
McLaren Hamilton 01:20.869 Hamilton 01:20.805 -00:00.064

Barcelona lap time comparison, 2009

To be honest, I’m a bit confused by the results.  It shows that all the teams except McLaren posted slower lap times at the Spanish Grand Prix than they did in testing.  In fact Brawn GP were the second biggest losers in the comparison despite dominating the race last weekend.

Perhaps this kind of comparison is not really valid but if BMW claim their car is now half a second a lap faster shouldn’t they have been able to at least match the time they set in testing?

If anyone has any ideas about how to interpret these results, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Image: BMW AG

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , , ,

Prediction game: Round 5 results

May 11th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Spain, 2009The Spanish Grand Prix has a reputation for being a bit processional.  Although the Circuit de Catalunya is one of the most technical circuits on the calendar, all the teams test there so the drivers know it inside out and the race engineers know just how to set their car up.

This year, however, was anything but processional.  Thanks to a big incident on the first lap, the safety-car was deployed for only the fifth time in the race’s eighteen year history and the combination of KERS and new aerodynamics allowed for a bit more overtaking.

In the f1buzz prediction game, most people correctly picked Button to win or at least a Brawn GP podium but Correa’s last-minute change of heart netted him a huge 23 points to jump up to third place in the standings.

To make things a bit more interesting, I’ve decided to award prizes to the first three places in the prediction game (my scores won’t be included.)  First prize is a 1:43 scale Minichamps replica of the winning car/driver.  Second and third will each receive a copy of the 2009 Formula One Season Review DVD.

The next Grand Prix is Monaco in two weeks time, and I’ll be there!

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: Prediction Game Tags:

Brawn GP domination continues in Spain

May 10th, 2009 No comments

Mark Webber, Spain, 2009In an unusually eventful Spanish Grand Prix, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello continued the domination of Brawn GP with another 1-2 finish.

Despite starting from the second row of the grid, Barrichello had a great start and passed both Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button to take the lead into the first corner.  Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg squeezed Jarno Trulli off the track causing the Italian to lose control and plough into the Force India of Adrian Sutil.  As carbon fibre scattered across the track, the two Toro Rossos had a coming together and by the end of the first lap the safety-car was out and all four drivers had retired.

When the safety-car came in, Fernando Alonso performed a spectular KERS-powered overtaking move on Mark Webber, only for the Australian to take the place back with an equally spectacular lunge up the inside.  Webber went on to finish third, ahead of team mate Sebastien Vettel who for most of the race couldn’t get past the KERS-powered Ferrari of Felipe Massa.


I was stuck behind him [Massa] for almost all of the race.  He was impossible to pass, he did a very good job with no mistakes.  It’s obviously disappointing as my car was quick today, but I couldn’t finish on the podium.

Massa eventually slipped back to 6th after a refuelling problem left him with one lap less fuel than he needed to finish the race, forcing him to slow down to conserve fuel:

We had a problem with the [refuelling] machine.  But I don’t know if the problem was human or the machine.  We need to analyse what was the problem.

It was very frustrating. You fight the whole race and then you have to back off.  I was already saving fuel in the last run, but it was not enough, so I had to really back off and let Vettel go.  I lost a position to Fernando and almost to Nick, so it was quite frustrating.

Jenson Button has now won four out of five Grands Prix and both Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa seem to have written off challenging for the Championship this year.  Massa said:

We need to be realistic. After five races they won four. Even if we improve massively and we are three or four tenths in front of them they will still score points. So forget it.

Hamilton was clearly not happy with his car, telling the BBC after the race:

It’s just a shame they haven’t given me a car to defend the championship with.  The car is that bad.  I’m driving the socks off it.  There’s just no hope.

2009 Spanish Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1 1:37:19.202 10
2 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 3 1:37:32.258 8
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 5 1:37:33.126 6
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2 1:37:38.143 5
5 Fernando Alonso Renault 7 1:38:02.368 4
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 4 1:38:10.029 3
7 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 13 1:38:11.514 2
8 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 7 1:38:24.413 1
9 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 14 lapped 0
10 Timo Glock Toyota 6 lapped 0
11 Robert Kubica BMW 10 lapped 0
12 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 12 lapped 0
13 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 11 lapped 0
14 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 20 lapped 0
RET Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 16 retired, 17 laps 0
RET Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 18 retired, 7 laps 0
17 Jarno Trulli Toyota 7 crash, 0 laps 0
18 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 15 crash, 0 laps 0
19 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 17 crash, 0 laps 0
RET Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 19 crash, 0 laps 0

Image: Getty

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: ,

Spain: Fuel adjusted qualifying times

May 9th, 2009 No comments

Sebastian Vettel, Spain, 2009The proposed 2010 F1 Sporting Regulations will ban refuelling during the race.  This means that next year we will see a return to ‘proper’ qualifying where all cars run as light as possible to go as fast as possible.

As it stands now, those cars that make it through to the final qualifying session must use the fuel they qualified with while the rest of the field may refuel before the race.

In previous years this meant you could never be sure if a fast qualifying time was genuine or whether they were showboating with a light fuel load.  However, since the FIA started publishing the car weights after qualifying we can determine the relative performance of the top ten grid slots.

Below is a graph showing the actual top ten qualifying times as well as those times adjusted for the weight of fuel each car is carrying.  The graph assumes a standard lap time cost of 0.3 seconds per 10kg of fuel.

The graph shows that while Jenson Button is quick, Vettel was even quicker and Massa’s adjusted time is almost identical to Barrichello’s.

It’s going to be a battle between the Brazillians on the second row into the first corner!

2009 Spanish GP Q3 (weight-adjusted)

2009 Spanish Grand Prix car weights

Image: Getty

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

Prediction game: Round 5 – Spain

May 7th, 2009 13 comments

Heikki Kovalainen, Spain, 2008After a two week break Formula One returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.

Jenson Button has dominated the opening races but most teams will be heading to Barcelona with significant upgrades so expect Toyota and Red Bull to be nipping at Brawn’s heels.

While McLaren, Renault and Force India have already run interim double-decker diffusers, Spain will see Ferrari deploying their version and we will find out if Adrian Newey has managed to wrap a new diffuser around the Red Bull’s fancy rear suspension.

BMW have abandoned KERS for now and are hoping a significant aero update (although without a double-diffuser) can salvage their terrible start to the season.  BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen is optimistic:

The aerodynamic package we will line up with in Barcelona is extensive and affects practically every part of the car.  That is why I am convinced that we will take the first step in Barcelona.  We are expecting to be more than half a second quicker per lap.

Heikki Kovalainen still can’t remember anything about the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix after parking his car in the wall but the high-downforce Circuit de Catalunya probably won’t suit the McLaren.  Lewis Hamilton will be hard pressed to equal his fourth place in Bahrain but having the best KERS on the grid might help.

To make your predictions in round 5 of the f1buzz prediction game, just leave a comment on this post with your driver predictions for the race in the following format:

Fastest lap:

The deadline is start of qualifying on Saturday.  Good luck!

Categories: Prediction Game Tags: