22/07/2012

Sunday (Sahara Force India) Analysis

The results are still provisional (at the time of writing anyway) however there should be no changes to the Sahara Force India positions:

Nico Hulkenberg 9th & Paul di Resta 11th.

Two points is not what we wanted from this race - it is very disappointing.

The first thing i want to talk about is the drivers. I've been reading alot of comments from fans online, and many have been criticising the drivers. It is very easy to do this after a bad result but it is also very wrong. Both drivers were FAULTLESS today. NO driver on the grid will have done a better job, be it Adrian Sutil or Fernando Alonso. Quite simply both drivers achieved the maximum performance that the car had.

So what went wrong? Well this is where it gets a little complicated.

Before i go into specifics, i want to explain what the difference between pace and speed are.

Speed (also known as race pace) is how fast the car goes. Over a race distance the speed is the time taken to complete the total number of laps.

Pace (also known as outright pace or baseline pace) is how fast the car actually is. What is important to note here is that this should exclude external factors such as temperature and tyre wear. Essentially this is the baseline performance of the car.

The pace of the VJM05 is very good, infact the data indicates at the moment that we're on par with Sauber and ahead of Mercedes! So why did they outscore us today? That's because of speed - today our speed was slow in the race. The reason for this is that our car is hard on its tyres, causing quick degradation. Meanwhile, Sauber have superb tyre wear rates. As for Mercedes, they have okay tyre wear rates in comparison with the rest of the field, but in comparison with Force India - they are better.

As for strategy, the team have come into some flack this season, there have been a few mistakes however today it was almost spot on.

At the beginning of the race, when the race pace (see above) started to drop off for everyone, due to the tyre wear - the Sahara Force India's decided to pit early to get the undercut (where you put on new tyres, do some fast laps on new rubber & overtake your rivals, when they pit, as a result of the time gained) on other drivers. It did work at the time, so it was a good idea in theory! However the early stop meant that the second stop also had to be early. This meant that the third stint (the stint after the second stop) was too long for the rapidly-degrading Pirelli tyres to handle. As the performance was falling away, the team had two decisions: stay out on the slower tyres or pit again for new tyres. Paul stayed out, Nico pitted.

Analysis shows that a two-stopper was the best option this weekend. A one-stopper would have been way too slow and a three stopper (which Nico was forced onto) was slower than a two stopper by seven seconds. Sure he finished ahead of Paul, but he was ahead of Paul before he pitted. The time taken for the pit stop (including time taken to travel down the pit lane) was seven seconds longer than the time he gained on the new tyres.

So, the strategy was right, two-stops was the ideal - and that was the plan (although Nico was forced onto a three-stopper as mentioned above).

It's sad from our point of view that our rivals (well, Sauber) did so well. Here are the updated constructors standings:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (105 pts) (+7)
6) Sauber (78) (+20)
7) Williams (47) (+0)
8) Force India (46) (+2)
Note: numbers in green represent the points scored this weekend.

In the next race i would expect a similar level of performance as we experienced here, unfortunately. The Hungaroring circuit has generally experiences even hotter temperatures than we saw at Hockenheim which means even worse tyre degradation. However it's that close this season in terms of baseline pace that if the team manages to get the setup bang on, then a good result is possible. It is more likely that we'll struggle though.

Despite this, i am still hopeful of achieving the target of 5th place in the constructors championship. I've been saying since the start of the season that post-summer break (Belgian GP onwards) we'll be very strong. It's strange but all the circuits from then onwards suit our car better. Additionally, the summer break always mixes things up - and it's only just after the halfway point in the season. If Mercedes score say 120 points (105 current + a random guess of 15 at Hungary) in one half of the season, why can't we do the same in the next half of the season? Keep the faith - we are Force India!

1 comment:

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.