Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Baku City Circuit, 2016

Friday gives few clues about true performance in Baku

2016 European Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

Posted on

| Written by

Friday practice sessions at new circuits usually offer very poor guides to the true competitive order.

This is because teams generally take a more experimental approach to their car set-ups, trying a wider range of approaches – note the significant drop in top speeds between the two sessions. Also the track conditions tend to be extremely ‘green’ – this explained the two-seconds-plus lap in lap times between the first and second sessions.

What we can say with confidence is that lap times will continue to fall tomorrow and probably at a substantial rate. As well as the ever-improving track, organisers are expected to remove some of the kerbs which have caused problems today, which will open up the racing line in places and make the layout faster.

On top of that the GP2 feature race is being held before final practice instead of after qualifying, which will further clean the track and lay rubber down.

Tomorrow’s weather is likely to help some teams as well. The anticipated warmer conditions will be good news for Ferrari, who were not able to get the best out of their tyres over a single lap today. Two seconds off the pace of the Mercedes is surely not an accurate reflection of how competitive they are.

However teams noticed how quickly track temperatures began to fall at the end of second practice, particularly in the shaded parts of the track. This could create exactly the kind of tricky qualifying conditions which have caught Ferrari out lately.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

Valtteri Bottas was consistently competitive throughout Friday running and he believes Williams “have the opportunity for another good result this weekend” following his podium in Canada. Felipe Massa, however, said he was “struggling massively” with his tyres.

Of the Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton seemed more instantly at ease with the demands of the circuit. Nico Rosberg felt his true pace was disguised by the fact it was his turn to run the harder tyre in practice, and that medium compound seems especially conservative here. Nor will his cause have been helped by missing the final 20 minutes of running after his car lost drive.

At this early stage the race looks likely to be straightforward from a strategy point of view. Bottas managed a healthy 14-lap stint on the super-soft tyres without any apparent sign of drop-off in pace, indicating a one-stop strategy should be the way to go for most.

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 HamiltonMercedes1’44.2231’44.22349
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’44.9131’44.91341
3Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’45.3361’45.33653
4Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’45.7641’45.76449
5Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’45.9201’45.92052
6Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’46.0271’46.02751
7Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’46.7771’46.06852
8Sebastian VettelFerrari1’46.2191’46.21955
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’46.2341’46.23445
10Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’47.7411’46.29348
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’46.8591’46.49837
12Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’46.6811’46.68143
13Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’46.6991’46.69450
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Ferrari1’46.7441’46.74453
15Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’46.8301’46.83041
16Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’47.0601’47.06042
17Kevin MagnussenRenault1’47.3291’47.32956
18Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’47.4871’47.48745
19Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’47.77225
20Jolyon PalmerRenault1’47.7941’47.79451
21Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’48.0181’48.01849
22Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’48.0811’48.08153

2016 European Grand Prix

Browse all 2016 European Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

7 comments on “Friday gives few clues about true performance in Baku”

  1. I wonder when was the last time so many drivers set the exact same time in FP1 and FP2, if it ever happened.

      1. Get some sleep Keith.

        Hehe joking of course !

  2. and don’t we usually have a top speeds table? (although the speed trap figures won’t help in this case as it’s not at the end of the straight)

  3. Ferrari is in the very bad position…

  4. I prefered the old chart because you could deselect all drivers. This one is harder to use.

    1. @david-beau Click on the ‘x’ in front of their names, this unselects them.

Comments are closed.