Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2014

Heat and fuel sensors the talking points in Malaysia

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2014The Friday practice times in Malaysia suggested we could have as many as four teams separated by a little over two tenths of a second.

That would be a welcome departure from Melbourne where Mercedes had up to a full second in hand over their rivals. But in all likelihood this is only partly a case of their rivals closing the gap and mainly down to Mercedes not wishing to over-exert their engines on practice day.

Fuel consumption was expected to be less critical at Sepang than Melbourne. But with the mercury soaring well above 30C, tyre conservation has emerged as one of the major challenges of the weekend.

According to Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery the medium tyre offers a lap time gain of 1-1.2 seconds. But over a race stint drivers found they lost pace over a stint much more quickly than they did in Melbourne, as the graph below demonstrates.

Another notable development during qualifying was the number of driving errors. One major consequences of cars with less downforce and much more torque is that corners which were once ‘easy flat’ now require a feather of the throttle – a considerably more challenging act given the power delivery of the new engines.

That’s why we saw Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa heading off backwards at turn eight and Lewis Hamilton slewing wide in turn ten. These were much less challenging corners in the downforce-smothered cars of years past. Here’s hoping the rebalancing of power versus grip in the new F1 cars is here to stay.

The other major talking point of the weekend is likely to be fuel sensors. Already Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has acknowledged his team have had another faulty sensor and indicated Toro Rosso had two more. Almost every driver’s fuel flow rate was checked during second practice.

Red Bull are standing their ground on the issue as they prepare to take their appeal to the FIA. But would they disobey the FIA’s instructions again if they continue to have fuel sensor trouble tomorrow? We should know around six hours after the chequered flag falls on Sunday…

Longest stint comparison

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

Sebastian Vettel104.28104.454104.744104.674104.848106.058107.095105.131107.545105.252105.185105.396106.091
Daniel Ricciardo106.738105.863106.162105.857109.699106.361106.18106.959107.354107.906109.537
Lewis Hamilton103.756106.479103.529104.624104.529105.094105.539105.124108.81106.142
Nico Rosberg104.121104.353104.438104.647114.394104.8104.651105.17108.328105.879
Fernando Alonso105.065104.562105.201105.089105.276107.066106.813107.228
Kimi Raikkonen105.845105.554105.046104.964105.47105.492107.938106.585106.719106.673106.5
Romain Grosjean104.005106.693104.464104.447111.733107.969104.37
Pastor Maldonado
Jenson Button107.634107.557106.506106.341110.121107.053107.118107.292108.606108.913
Kevin Magnussen106.89106.785109.747106.751107.154107.922110.224109.009110.056
Nico Hulkenberg104.106104.495105.052106.128105.373105.87106.448106.777107.468
Sergio Perez105.45105.779105.909105.884105.961106.241108.233106.806107.463107.851
Adrian Sutil108.639105.314105.582107.139107.556107.7106.598
Esteban Gutierrez106.256107.053106.602107.187107.355107.682107.788107.337108.332108.022108.96108.933
Jean-Eric Vergne105.23104.878105.28105.526106.104106.551106.639106.63107.114108.93
Daniil Kvyat105.443104.079104.632105.821105.589106.358109.255117.274
Felipe Massa104.094104.672105.231106.299105.889105.284106.532106.387106.205107.544107.419109.004108.566
Valtteri Bottas110.311104.406104.71105.974105.449105.317106.448108.011106.686111.162
Jules Bianchi107.505110.15108.61108.794112.402109.173108.861108.919108.476108.736109.441
Max Chilton109.09108.596108.79109.12109.182109.375110.723
Marcus Ericsson116.21112.285109.29109.11113.1110.232110.426108.876109.418112.06110.887110.457111.669113.072113.306

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Sepang International Circuit, 2014Ferrari look much more competitive following their disappointing Australian Grand Prix weekend. Kimi Raikkonen in particular enjoyed possibly his best day in the F14 T so far this year.

“This was definitely a positive day and I had a better feeling compared to Friday in Melbourne,” he said afterwards.

Raikkonen said he was “more comfortable” in the car and had “no problems whatsoever”.

The handling seemed to be good even if, as we found on the race simulation, we will have to pay very close attention to degradation, which is particularly high here.”

Sector times and ultimate lap times

PosNo.DriverCarS1S2S3UltimateGapDeficit to best
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes25.265 (3)34.289 (9)40.340 (1)1’39.8940.157
26Nico RosbergMercedes25.311 (5)33.903 (4)40.695 (7)1’39.9090.0150.000
37Kimi RaikkonenFerrari25.394 (6)34.036 (5)40.514 (3)1’39.9440.0500.000
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault25.737 (13)33.658 (1)40.575 (5)1’39.9700.0760.000
514Fernando AlonsoFerrari25.574 (10)33.801 (2)40.596 (6)1’39.9710.0770.132
619Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes25.265 (3)34.115 (6)40.732 (9)1’40.1120.2180.000
777Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes25.249 (1)34.197 (7)40.742 (10)1’40.1880.2940.450
83Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault25.885 (16)33.884 (3)40.419 (2)1’40.1880.2940.088
922Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes25.439 (7)34.577 (12)40.531 (4)1’40.5470.6530.081
1025Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault25.623 (11)34.220 (8)40.721 (8)1’40.5640.6700.213
1127Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes25.258 (2)34.590 (13)40.843 (12)1’40.6910.7970.000
1220Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes25.467 (8)34.734 (16)40.811 (11)1’41.0121.1180.002
1326Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault25.692 (12)34.635 (15)40.896 (13)1’41.2231.3290.102
1499Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari25.788 (15)34.363 (10)41.089 (15)1’41.2401.3460.017
1521Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari25.759 (14)34.531 (11)41.060 (14)1’41.3501.4560.057
1611Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes25.479 (9)34.896 (17)41.296 (16)1’41.6711.7770.000
178Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault26.194 (19)34.597 (14)41.552 (17)1’42.3432.4490.188
184Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari25.991 (17)35.505 (19)41.885 (18)1’43.3813.4870.257
1917Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari25.993 (18)35.440 (18)42.319 (19)1’43.7523.8580.000
209Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault26.512 (20)36.013 (20)43.096 (20)1’45.6215.7270.082

Comparing the sector times of the two Mercedes drivers gives a clear indication how much pace the W05s have in hand. Lewis Hamilton gave away three-tenths of a second to Nico Rosberg in the middle sector and vice-versa in the last. Even taking into consideration the possibility of differing set-ups, there’s clearly plenty of pace in the W05 we didn’t see today.

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’41.0281’39.90949
2Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’40.8431’39.94450
3Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’41.5231’39.97039
4Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’40.6911’40.05151
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’41.9231’40.10343
6Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’41.6861’40.11257
7Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’42.1171’40.27649
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’41.1111’40.62848
9Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’41.8301’40.63857
10Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’41.6421’40.69153
11Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault1’41.4021’40.77748
12Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1’41.2741’41.01438
13Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1’42.3651’41.25749
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’42.8691’41.32553
15Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’42.9041’41.40757
16Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’41.67127
17Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’42.53118
18Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1’46.9111’43.63830
19Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari1’43.8251’43.75247
20Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1’45.7751’45.70355
21Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1’51.18010
17Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault2

It was another day to forget for Lotus whose drivers completed just 20 laps between them on Friday.

“Both cars were delayed in the morning with mapping issues,” explained technical director Nick Chester.

Pastor [Maldonado] then suffered from a turbo-related problem with his car. This meant we needed to remove the engine and subsequently he was unable to run in the afternoon.

Romain [Grosjean] was able to get some more laps in the afternoon, however a wiring issue caused difficulties with his gearbox. More lessons learnt, and we’ll be focusing on getting as much mileage as possible tomorrow.”

Speed trap

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
177Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes320.4
220Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes320.20.2
327Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes3200.4
419Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes3200.4
522Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes319.60.8
626Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault319.11.3
711Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes317.82.6
86Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes315.15.3
925Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault312.77.7
107Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari312.57.9
1144Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes312.38.1
121Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault310.99.5
1314Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari310.79.7
1417Jules BianchiMarussiaFerrari309.610.8
154Max ChiltonMarussiaFerrari308.212.2
163Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault307.612.8
1721Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari306.713.7
1899Adrian SutilSauberFerrari305.415
199Marcus EricssonCaterhamRenault302.517.9
208Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault298.721.7

As in Australia it’s almost all Mercedes-powered cars at the top, with the fastest Ferrari giving away 8kph at the speed trap, a deficit they acknowledged before the race weekend began.

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Images © Red Bull/Getty, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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Keith Collantine
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27 comments on “Heat and fuel sensors the talking points in Malaysia”

  1. It might be nice to start showing an ultimate lap for each car.

  2. Hm, as far as fuel sensors etc go, this is a very informative piece from AMuS (German), a lot from the FIA press conference earlier, some bits from what Horner said erlier, but also some interesting details like:

    Der erste Verdacht, dass es wegen Problemen auch bei Lotus und Caterham am Sprit von Total liegt, bestätigte sich nicht. Toro Rosso fährt Kraftstoff von Cepsa.
    Doch dann sickerte durch, dass drei Teams offenbar ihre Sensoren modifiziert hatten. Und zwar an den beiden Benzin-Zuleitungen und den Kupplungen zum Sensor. Nicht in böser Absicht, sondern aus konstruktiven Notwendigkeiten. Darunter ist auch Red Bull.

    My quick translation from German of that paragraph:
    The first thought, that because Caterham and Lotus are having trouble, there is some issue having to do with the Total fuel was not confirmed. STR uses Cepsa fuel.
    But then it came to light that three teams apparently modified their Sensors. These changes are made at the fuel supply and their connections to the sensors. Not with malicious intent, but for assembly/construction needs. One of those teams is Red Bull

    1. That’s something I was wondering all along, but there was no information on this.

      I thought that the way the sensor is “connected” makes a difference to the readings. If it was me, I wouldn’t have mandated just the sensor but the mounting and some other things.

    2. @bascb Interesting! But I imagine they haven’t modified the device itself, doing so could doom their chances to win their appeal.

    3. A genuine question, is it confirmed info. that STR use Cepsa fuel? Because I heard before despite the fact that they are often sponsored by various oil companies, in practice teams powered by the same engine manufacturer are supplied with fuel from a single company which would be a factory team have a contract with.

      1. I would think they properly researched it @shena, AMuS articles mostly are solid on that kind of things.

  3. If Red Bull do stand their ground, could they be black flagged? Their points from Melbourne could be reinstated, but if they’re not allowed to finish the race what comeback would they have?

    1. @jimg Interesting question. I don’t know if you could be black flagged for breaching the technical regulations during a race, or if it is something that can only be punished by post-race exclusion. I suppose you could be black flagged for disobeying the instructions of the race director, though. Or there is always the black flag with orange spot (your car has a technical problem, sort it out) to fall back on.l

  4. In “Sector times and ultimate lap times” how is the “Deficit to best” calculated? I would have assumed it was the fastest time from each sector added together to create their best possible lap time. This makes no sense when in six out of seven cases of drivers actual fastest laps being equal to their ultimate lap their quickest sector times were all set on different laps. If the deficit to best is 0.000 you would expect the sector times to be from the same lap.

    1. That is how they are calculated @jimbo. Since we don’t have sector times from each lap for every driver I’m assuming the drivers with deficit of 0.000, did indeed set their fastest time with 3 sector PBs.

      I may be wrong, but unless there is a spreadsheet with every sector time for every lap for each driver, I’m taking it as described above.

  5. Ferrari seems to be confirmed as 3rd engine on the speed trap. I think it became quite clear after melbourne that the engine with less peak power is Ferrari but they did manage to be the most reliable in Melbourne which is definitely even more critical in Malaysia that combined with the fact that there’s less demand on both fuel and power in malaysia perhaps Ferrari teams will do as the practice suggest. Marussia, and Sauber in particular seemed to be more in place, that said Ferrari tends to run light in practice so in the end Ferrari fans shouldn’t get ahead of themselves.

    1. I hope the analysis is right and we see close competition, besides shower threats and downpours, malaysia isn’t good in producing good dry races so fingers crossed.

    2. @peartree if there’s one strength Ferrari has had in recent years it’s been reliability, which has been second to none. Part of that has been down to the reliability of their engines, and so far it looks like they’ve managed to retain that trait in the new engines. That could certainly help them in the early races this year, but so far we haven’t seen anywhere near the kind of failure rates that many were predicting, so maybe it won’t be such a huge advantage after all. Seems it’s easier to work towards reliability with a blindingly quick car than to coax speed out of a slow car built like a tank.

  6. Thought I would do this….
    Ultimate S1 = Williams, S2 = Red Bull, S3 = Mercedes
    Cars are best sector from either driver.

    Ultimate 25.249 33.658 40.34 1:39:247
    Mercedes 25.265 33.903 40.34 1:39:508
    Red Bull 25.737 33.658 40.419 1:39:814
    Ferrari 25.394 33.801 40.514 1:39:709
    Williams 25.249 34.115 40.732 1:40:096
    McLaren 25.439 34.577 40.531 1:40:547

    What surprises me in the speed trap data is the difference between the Toro Rosso.
    All the other teams cars are very close in top speed as you might expect with fixed gear ratio’s.
    But these two are quite far apart; are different cars allowed different gear ratio’s or is this all areo setup?

    1. Because I have nothing better to do at the moment here is what I mean in top-speed difference between team mates.

      Toro Rosso : 6.4
      Red Bull : 3.3
      Mercedes : 2.8
      Force India : 2.2
      Ferrari : 1.8
      Marussia : 1.4
      Sauber : 1.3
      McLaren : 0.6
      Williams : 0.4

    2. TorroRosso often runs low drag, high speed setups (relatively to other teams). I wonder if they have much choice on on this.

  7. Boy oh boy, the McLaren’s look painfully slow in the long runs! That, coupled with the embarrassingly bare team-clothing and car (in terms of sponsors)… and it looks to me as though McLaren are well and truly on their way to becoming a midfield team now

    1. Ever considered they had more fuel in both cars for their long runs?

      and it looks to me as though McLaren are well and truly on their way to becoming a midfield team now

      But at this moment they are leading the constructors championship…

      1. @gdewilde I did consider that, and the proof is in the pudding, so we won’t know until Sunday night. However, what’s the point of an analysis article if you neglect to read into it? I’m just going off the data, but yes, they could be 2s a lap faster than everyone on Sunday.

    2. You can’t use Button’s data for long-run comparison though. Only him and Ricciardo from the top 5 teams (MSC, McL, FER, RBR, WIL) was on Hard tyres first and then switched to Mediums. The rest were in reverse. They don’t refuel between the switch. Magnussen seemed to be dealing with some set-up or mechanical issues in the afternoon, so I wouldn’t read much into his.

    3. They’ve claimed that they will announce their sponsor a few rounds into the season.

      1. @matt90 As any good CEO would. Even with a new title sponsor, they’ll have a tonne less sponsors than their rivals, although that seems to be the McLaren way. It’s much nicer having a clean looking car, as opposed to one with 20-odd companies’ logos stuck on haha!

        One thing that piqued my interest when Ron Dennis claimed they’d have a title sponsor within a few rounds, was the fact that he said they’d had many offers, but none of them truly valued McLaren for what it’s worth (in his eyes). Ron is a tough nut to crack, and has been out of F1 for years now. The McLaren he left was right at the top and the very name probably struck fear into competitors’ hearts. This most-likely lead to massive valuation for sponsor deals. I just wonder if Ron is stuck back there, thinking McLaren are serious top dogs worth pre-08 cash. It’s unlikely because you don’t get to his level without being very business-savvy, but his stubbornness is playing on my mind..

  8. After the AGP I had dared to hope that we wouldn’t be hearing about tyre degradation again as a major factor in race performance, c’mon Pirelli we have more than enough random unreliability with the PUs, we don’t need manufactured frailty thrown in on top.

    1. I don’t mind a 3-stop personally. As long as the tires are consistent. There are so many variables to this race, i can’t wait for qualifying and the race. Should be good fun to watch.

  9. Looks like RBR, DR in particular are running a lot of wing for this race.

  10. After analyzing the lap charts, to me it seems like Sebastian Vettel might be a good bet for the race (provided the car holds on)

  11. I took the first 10 laps (used only 9 of the laps for each as one of the laps was a slowdown lap due to a breakdown) of Lewis’, Seb’s and Kimi’s and looked at the combined time it took to complete:
    Kimi: 952.33 secs
    Seb: 946.52 secs
    Lewis: 944.81 secs

    I also averaged these to a lap time:
    Kimi: 105.814 secs
    Seb: 105.169 secs
    Lewis: 104.979 secs

    You cannot draw a definitive conclusion from here (as Mercedes and Red Bull usually run heavier than Ferrari in practice and the idea of Mercedes sandbagging too). All you can suggest is that the Mercedes and Red Bull will be the two fighting for the podium places, whereas Ferrari are the best of the rest hoping their reliability will help them too a good haul of points.

Comments are closed.