Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2016

Plenty more pace left in Hamilton’s Mercedes

2016 Canadian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Lewis Hamilton didn’t have to stretch himself to set the quickest practice time on Friday in Canada – the Mercedes driver seems to have more in hand.

After setting the fastest time of the day with his first effort on the ultra-soft tyres, Hamilton continued for five more laps before pitting, indicating he had a fair amount of extra fuel on board when he set his best time.

Meanwhile other drivers found the ultra-soft tyres gave more performance later in their stints. It all points towards Hamilton having quite a bit of extra pace in hand.

The state of play between the two Mercedes drivers is hard to read, however, as it seems likely the pair were using different wing levels. Nico Rosberg was easily the fastest driver through the speed trap while Hamilton didn’t figure in the top ten, over 10kph down on his team mate.

That suggests Mercedes were comparing different set-up approaches at a track which demands a high-speed, low-drag configuration. While Rosberg was half a second off Hamilton’s pace on Friday, expect that to change tomorrow as the pair converge on set-ups.

Mercedes, like their rivals, will have to keep a close eye on the expected conditions for Sunday when it comes to setting their cars up for qualifying. The threat of a wet race is receding according to the latest forecasts, with rain now expected much earlier in the day, perhaps even on Saturday night.

Before then qualifying is set to take place on a warmer track which will have had the chance to rubber in. This will reduce the performance gap between the ultra-softs and the super-softs, which was around six-tenths of a second today. That could present Mercedes with the opportunity to get their cars through Q2 on super-softs and therefore start the race on the harder and strategically advantageous rubber – the tactics used by Rosberg in China and Daniel Ricciardo in Monaco.

Jenson Button, McLaren, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2016
McLaren are in a very tight midfield scrap
The margins between those seeking a place in Q3 are very fine indeed. Fernando Alonso, whose McLaren team are in the thick of the battle, reckoned that not reaching the top ten and getting to start on harder rubber could be an advantage.

“I think that perhaps qualifying 11th will be the best starting position for the race as you’ll be the fastest runner free to choose your starting compound,” he said. “I reckon starting the race on the ultra-soft might not be ideal.”

Only two drivers from the top three teams did not use ultra-softs for their longest runs. They were Max Verstappen, who opted for the super-softs, and Kimi Raikkonen, who did a very long run on a set of softs at the beginning of the second session.

The other four used ultra-softs for their longest stints. Rosberg pushed his the furthest and they appear to have dropped off completely by around the 15th lap. That’s not far enough for a one-stop strategy to be feasible – which is exactly what Pirelli wanted after last year’s race.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’14.7551’14.21265
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’15.2431’14.46967
3Nico RosbergMercedes1’15.0861’14.73876
4Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’15.5531’15.15658
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’16.7341’15.16871
6Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’16.3011’15.21376
7Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’16.7881’15.21343
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’15.6181’15.23466
9Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’16.4641’15.32174
10Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’16.5431’15.41063
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’16.6631’15.45058
12Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’16.5771’15.49372
13Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’17.0651’15.51351
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Ferrari1’17.3101’15.55966
15Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’17.0081’16.09357
16Kevin MagnussenRenault1’18.4091’16.25552
17Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’17.8551’16.58261
18Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’17.3191’16.59156
19Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’18.1291’16.90259
20Jolyon PalmerRenault1’18.5831’17.00176
21Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’18.4531’17.02362
22Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’18.1031’17.42370

2016 Canadian 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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15 comments on “Plenty more pace left in Hamilton’s Mercedes”

  1. Qualifying is going to be exciting i think, with redbull expecting to turn up the wick too

    1. They will all turn up the engine, nobody would be running anything close to qually mode on their engine today. So it’s really if the Renault engine can be turned up more than the Mercedes. Plus if you looks at the sector split times, Red Bull were down a fair bit to Mercedes in sector one, which is all about grip and not so much about the engine. We will see though if all remains dry and nobodies car breaks wether or not Red Bull really are in the fight or it’s just another over hyped media story to pull in the viewing figures.

  2. “The state of play between the two Mercedes drivers is hard to read, however, as it seems likely the pair were using different wing levels. Nico Rosberg was easily the fastest driver through the speed trap while Hamilton didn’t figure in the top ten, over 10kph down on his team mate.

    That suggests Mercedes were comparing different set-up approaches at a track which demands a high-speed, low-drag configuration. While Rosberg was half a second off Hamilton’s pace on Friday, expect that to change tomorrow as the pair converge on set-ups.”

    I’m not sure I understand this. It seems to mean that the track demands a low drag configuration, so(?) when Rosberg changes his set-up (increasing drag, reducing speed) he will have a better performance. This doesn`t make sense, unless he went too far with the low drag configuration to test the limit.

    1. Although a track demands a particular type of set-up there will always be an element of fine-tuning involved. It’s not uncommon to see team mates differ particularly on downforce/drag levels early in testing as a team evaluates two different set-up directions, components or engine modes. But the point is the large difference in top speeds between the two drivers suggests the reason between the gap in lap time between them is not simply Rosberg having a bad lap.

    2. @daniel-chico Generally (relatively) higher downforce setting is producing quicker lap time even on high speed track like this one, Spa, or Monza thanks to the better cornering speed. However the trade-off is they will have harder time to passing other cars or defending if someone get close enough (which pretty hard to do since they do corners faster). In summary higher downforce setup is better in clean air, which Vettel and Red Bull used to perfection is their domination era, and whichever Mercedes leading at the end of lap 1.

    3. They dont have to run the same enginesettings either. Maybe one of the drivers is trying some new mapping for harvesting energy or one of the drivers have a new raceengine they dont wanna stress or something like that. Who knows.
      The F1 cars suffer from dirty air both in “low” and “high” downforce setup, its not any noticeable difference. Compared to any other car they are always running super high downforce.

  3. Both cars were running the same rear wing in FP2. Rosberg ran a different one in FP1 for about the first 30 minutes then changed. So I believe Keith is actually wrong

  4. I expect to see both Mercedes and Ferrari, even Red Bull, try to get through Q2 on the Super Softs.

    It would be a nightmare not being able to one-stop here, especially with the slow pitstop and Pirelli’s questionable tyre nomination that forces teams to use the Softs in the race.

    With such a small time difference between the teams on Friday, it might be the most interesting Q2 we have seen in a while.

    1. Why would they? The Super Softs don’t seem to be more durable than the Ultra Softs and are at least 0.6 sec slower.
      The Super Soft looks to be pretty useless this weekend.

      1. Didn’t Max set his time on Super Softs?

    2. Q2 tyres will be the race tyre that they will be starting on, so there is no reason for them to use Super Soft over Ultra Soft for the start anyways. There’s to say that they should all be running the fastest tyre available this weekend through Q2.

    3. None of this really matters as it is certain that come sunday 2pm, the track will be damp if not wet.

      Google ‘montreal weather’.

      1. With rain it will be very important to have pole position.

        1. Or not be behind Rosberg

  5. ColdFly F1 (@)
    11th June 2016, 10:54

    Rosberg pushed his the furthest and they appear to have dropped off completely by around the 15th lap.

    According to the graph he did a total in total of 18 timed laps, and even his 18th was respectable (1:19.7 vs 1:19.0 on laps 13-15). I would conclude that they can do at least 20 laps on that rubber – in and outlap are excluded from the graph. And noticing that Maldonado did 53 laps on the Softs last year, that now brings a 1-stopper back into play.
    Although starting on the SS (or S) is a safer option to achieve that.

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