F1 Testing: Day 2 Analysis
Day two of the final test before the season curtain raiser in Melbourne saw Lotus’ Romain Grosjean top the timesheets for the second day running. Once again, the Frenchman set his best lap on Pirelli’s soft compound and it should be noted that Sebastian Vettel’s best time was on the medium compound. More interestingly, however, Grosjean ran a full race simulation alongside Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
The lap times for the Lotus and Ferrari race simulations are shown below as they ran the full 66 lap race distance. Grosjean employed a three-stop strategy, using three sets of soft tyres before switching to the hard compound for a long final stint. Alonso, however, made four stops in the pattern medium-soft-soft-medium-medium, although I question whether the first compound has been misreported – the soft tyre would fit typical race strategy and, I’d suggest, the rate of degradation that was experienced as the Spaniard made his first stop after just ten laps. That said, it may well have been a used set of the medium tyres.
Assuming similar fuel loads, as it makes little sense to run a race simulation on anything but realistic fuel loads, the first thing to note is that the Lotus E20 appeared to look after the soft compounds much better that the F2012. Lap times were much more consistent early in the stint whereas Alonso’s times rapidly climbed by over two seconds over the course of his earlier runs on the yellow-marked tyres.
Strategies for the end of the simulation differed, however, making a complete comparison uncertain. With the tyre allocation for the Spanish Grand Prix yet to be announced, Ferrari tested with a medium and soft allocation – the same combination that will be provided for the Chinese Grand Prix. Lotus, on the other hand, went for a mix of hard and soft which allowed them to finish off the race on a long run on the “prime” tyre, saving themselves a fourth stop although it has to be noted that Grosjean went much deeper into “the race” than Alonso, anyway.
So who, in theory, “won”? On average, Alonso went around three tenths of a second quicker per lap than Grosjean, thanks mainly to his last stint on the medium rubber when the car was presumably running light. At this point, Grosjean was giving away approximately a second a lap on the slower, hard compounds. However, having made one less stop, theoretically the Lotus driver should have pipped his rival to the chequered flag. Still, that obviously neglects the different tyre “allocations” and so I wouldn’t read too much into it.
All the same, Ferrari do seem to be struggling to preserve the softer tyres at the moment – although that may reap benefits in terms of heating up the tyres in qualifying. Still, the need to four-stop suggests that Ferrari still have come way to go when it comes to understanding this year’s tyres.
F1 Testing: Day 1 Analysis
F1 Testing: Day 3 Analysis
F1 Testing: Day 4 Analysis
Credit: Lotus F1/Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic