07/09/2012

Italian GP - Friday Analysis

Formula One
FP1 Results: Hulkenberg 12th (1:26.518), Bianchi 16th (1:27.192).
FP2 Results: di Resta 7th (1:25.546), Hulkenberg 8th (1:25.547), Karthikeyan 24th (1:28.779).

In FP1 we saw both Force India's focusing more on long runs, as were all teams actually. The pace wasn't bad; not great, but not bad either. After that session it was looking like we're firmly in the midfield battle. Nico Hulkenberg did a solid job, just 1.096s down on session leader Michael Schumacher. As for Jules Bianchi, he continued his development - he was some distance off Nico's pace, but it's not his job to chase laptimes - I am more than confident he could get closer to Nico if required.

There was a four-hour break between FP1 & FP2. During the time the team eat some lunch and go over the data from FP1. They must have found something interesting in the data as apparently they made "radical" changes to both cars before FP2. Boy, did those changes work well!!

From a on-board footage comparison of FP1 & FP2; it's pretty clear that one change is extending the gear ratios (at least for 7th gear). In FP1 the car was reaching the rev-limiter down the straights whereas in FP2 the top speed was higher and the car was not reaching the limit in 7th gear. This is supported by the top speed data:

Top speeds reached:
FP1: Hulkenberg 339.3 km/h, Bianchi 329.1 km/h.
FP2: di Resta 341.7 km/h, Hulkenberg 341.3 km/h.

This change, along with the other changes the pit crew made, completely changed the pace of the VJM05!

After FP2 there were some crucial bits of information that indicated the car was now in the leading pack:

  • Three teams use Mercedes engines; Mclaren, Mercedes & Sahara Force India. That's six cars in total. All six of those cars finished inside the top ten (1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, 8th & 10th).
  • Qualifying pace can be determined from the standings in FP2. The Sahara Force India's finished 7th & 8th. The gap between 1st & 8th was 0.257 seconds. The gap between 1st & 9th was 0.778 seconds. This means a gap of 0.521 seconds between 8th & 9th - that's huge. Clearly the leading pack are the top eight whereas 9th and lower are the midfield.
  • Race pace can be determined by the teams runs on the harder, slower tyre. It turned out to be a similar story to qualifying pace. McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus (excluding D'Ambrosio) & Force India were lapping similarly. The rest; Red Bull, Sauber etc. were quite far back.

The review quotes from today are here.

Although we don't know what fuel loads the car was carrying today, this weekend is looking pretty damn promising really! What makes it even better is that we seem quite a bit faster than close rivals Sauber & Williams which means this could be a crucial weekend in terms of the championship.

Keep up the good work guys and keep pushing. India is proud :-)

Let's not forget our other star, Narain Karthikeyan. He did a pretty good job in his one session today. He's definitely improved qualifying pace, only 0.2 seconds behind teammate de la Rosa, that's a great effort considering how much he has struggled this season in comparison.

His session was curtailed a little at the end with an exhaust issue, but it was more a "precautionary measure more than anything else and it will be fixed for tomorrow". We wish him the best of luck also!

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