Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2011

Red Bull look quick but McLaren aren’t far behind

2011 Japanese GP FP2 analysis

Posted on

| Written by

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2011
Vettel looked quick with high fuel

Red Bull showed eye-catching pace in the second practice session at Suzuka.

But McLaren’s performance over longer stints suggests they aren’t far behind and they were quickest through the twisty first sector.

Here’s all the data from the second practice session.

Longest stint comparison

  • Lewis Hamilton said he wasn’t concerned about Red Bull appearing to be quicker over long runs as he believed they run with less fuel in practice.
  • As we don’t know what fuel loads the cars run, we can compare how their lap times change over a stint to get an idea of their performance over a stint. By this measure, Jenson Button seemed to do better than Hamilton. The Red Bull pair were evenly matched, but Button’s pace indicates the McLarens may be able to race with them. However, set-up changes and track evolution will alter the picture between now and Sunday.
  • Ross Brawn acknowledged this could be another race where tyre degradation is significant: “It’s clear that tyres will be a major factor in the race on Sunday.”

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:

Sebastian Vettel97.99197.81397.55697.69598.1997.823108.78198.61598.184139.533
Mark Webber98.19497.88100.72497.972102.80597.85797.769101.05698.30898.798103.156
Lewis Hamilton100.25899.893102.59199.954101.232104.448116.567
Jenson Button99.759100.99599.427100.2799.66499.39498.97699.882
Fernando Alonso99.64999.22699.22499.05100.38799.595103.354100.562101.34126.089
Felipe Massa101.031100.77100.436100.858100.459101.415100.841101.925107.264102.398
Michael Schumacher99.57199.387107.05199.68299.81799.914120.898
Nico Rosberg100.498101.331101.041100.56100.599101.01130.191
Bruno Senna105.133102.655100.978100.535101.155101.404102.075103.521103.818103.835
Vitaly Petrov102.046101.272104.492101.981101.883101.134101.361100.959138.178
Rubens Barrichello110.14798.255106.298106.49997.123
Pastor Maldonado129.796100.59599.933100.40399.31798.62298.387
Adrian Sutil100.974100.557100.506105.524100.139100.715102.843101.422102.416127.757
Paul di Resta101.564101.141102.467101.289101.168101.588102.187
Kamui Kobayashi97.384108.59897.012109.26196.445106.76696.787
Sergio Perez100.381100.483101.314101.029104.234
Sebastien Buemi102.152101.958101.97101.785101.4103.314102.137103.145104.151104.461136.568
Jaime Alguersuari100.399100.337100.788101.102
Heikki Kovalainen102.64101.461101.513101.58101.522101.928101.733102.535103.716104.99
Jarno Trulli101.969101.008100.994100.475107.365104.02105.096100.365100.81299.94100.026104.113100.91
Daniel Ricciardo104.454103.808108.512108.098105.585108.725103.409106.152103.713103.221104.129116.292
Vitantonio Liuzzi102.888102.48
Timo Glock102.404102.405101.915101.963101.957102.278102.391102.788120.273
Jerome dAmbrosio103.177103.09102.939103.078103.744105.718103.82103.358103.789105.554103.468119.778

Ultimate lap times

An ultimate lap is a driver’s fastest three sector times combined.

  • Hamilton was among the drivers who did not get a clear lap in on soft tyres. He was the fastest driver through the first sector, a mere two-thousandths of a second up on his team mate.
  • Button was fastest in sector two and Fernando Alonso was quickest through the short final sector.
CarDriverCarUltimate lapGapDeficit to best
14Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’31.9010.000
25Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’32.0750.1740.000
31Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’32.0950.1940.000
42Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’32.1470.2460.000
56Felipe MassaFerrari1’32.4480.5470.000
68Nico RosbergMercedes1’32.6990.7980.283
77Michael SchumacherMercedes1’32.7100.8090.000
83Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.1571.2560.088
910Vitaly PetrovRenault1’33.4461.5450.000
1019Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’33.6261.7250.079
1114Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’33.6741.7730.116
1218Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’33.6811.7800.000
1316Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’34.1502.2491.888
149Bruno SennaRenault1’34.1852.2840.372
1517Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’34.2262.3250.167
1615Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’34.6012.7000.000
1711Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’36.1244.2230.999
1820Heikki KovalainenLotus-Renault1’36.2254.3240.000
1924Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’37.4185.5170.022
2025Jerome D’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’38.0936.1920.000
2112Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Cosworth1’38.2786.3770.109
2222Daniel RicciardoHRT-Cosworth1’38.7146.8130.049
2321Jarno TrulliLotus-Renault1’39.7027.8010.098
2423Vitantonio LiuzziHRT-Cosworth1’42.07510.1740.405

Complete practice times

  • Paul di Resta gave some insight into Force India;s set-up approach: “Both cars ran with different programmes and looking at the feedback it seems like the route taken with Adrian?s car is probably the better way forward for the rest of the weekend. Also, I spent a lot of the day fighting the rear and that was partly due to the tyres going away quite quickly ?ǣ which was the case for both the medium and soft tyres.”
  • Sebastien Buemi is encouraged by Toro Rosso’s pace which was noted here earlier: “It?s a bit early to talk about car performance, but if you compare today to Singapore, where we were at the back of our group, today we seem to be ahead of all of them with the exception of Petrov. The car is better suited to this type of track, but we still need to wait and see how qualifying goes tomorrow, as it will be a tight fight.”
CarDriverCarBest lapGapStint lapAt timeLaps
14Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’31.9011/16132
25Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’32.0750.1741/45433
31Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’32.0950.1944/46735
42Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’32.1470.2461/15728
56Felipe MassaFerrari1’32.4480.5471/44534
67Michael SchumacherMercedes1’32.7100.8091/17226
78Nico RosbergMercedes1’32.9821.0813/37327
83Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.2451.3442/26626
910Vitaly PetrovRenault1’33.4461.5451/24536
1018Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’33.6811.7801/35533
1119Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’33.7051.8043/34625
1214Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’33.7901.8891/36336
1317Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’34.3932.4923/55135
149Bruno SennaRenault1’34.5572.6561/34627
1515Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’34.6012.7002/35933
1616Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’36.0384.1375/54133
1720Heikki KovalainenLotus-Renault1’36.2254.3241/15535
1811Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’37.1235.2225/51413
1924Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’37.4405.5394/46730
2025Jerome D’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’38.0936.1921/25930
2112Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Cosworth1’38.3876.4867/71715
2222Daniel RicciardoHRT-Cosworth1’38.7636.8622/45636
2321Jarno TrulliLotus-Renault1’39.8007.8995/51324
2423Vitantonio LiuzziHRT-Cosworth1’42.48010.5792/283

Speed trap

  • Red Bull appear to be running less downforce than their rivals and this is reflected in the speed trap.
#DriverCarEngineMax speedGap
12Mark WebberRed BullRenault309.8
219Jaime AlguersuariToro RossoFerrari309.70.1
31Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault309.70.1
45Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari309.10.7
518Sebastien BuemiToro RossoFerrari307.32.5
66Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari306.73.1
710Vitaly PetrovRenaultRenault306.13.7
89Bruno SennaRenaultRenault305.64.2
97Michael SchumacherMercedesMercedes305.14.7
108Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes304.75.1
114Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes303.66.2
1212Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsCosworth302.67.2
133Lewis HamiltonMcLarenMercedes301.88
1417Sergio PerezSauberFerrari301.78.1
1524Timo GlockVirginCosworth301.48.4
1615Paul di RestaForce IndiaMercedes300.49.4
1725Jerome D’AmbrosioVirginCosworth300.29.6
1814Adrian SutilForce IndiaMercedes3009.8
1916Kamui KobayashiSauberFerrari299.810
2011Rubens BarrichelloWilliamsCosworth298.411.4
2120Heikki KovalainenLotusRenault294.715.1
2222Daniel RicciardoHRTCosworth287.622.2
2321Jarno TrulliLotusRenault285.124.7
2423Vitantonio LiuzziHRTCosworth271.838

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2011 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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.

39 comments on “Red Bull look quick but McLaren aren’t far behind”

  1. I get the impression Renault were right with their estimates they are not completely lost at the higher speed Suzuka. Mercedes will suffer from tyre wear again.

    Good to hear Di Resta talk about the different approaches, it shows how the individual results of drivers in FP sessions are often more to do with setup routes then their speeds compared to their team mates.

  2. Also, does anyone believe Vettel has got a real fight on his hands here for pole?

    1. I sure hope so. That is if McLaren are right about the fuel loads being less than theirs.

      Also, a lot of the other teams seem to be saying tracks like this suit their cars – track where the RB6 was typically dominant last year. Seems people have tried to follow their lead and Red Bull have simply evened our their advantage over all track types.

    2. Sigh, once upon a time I might have but now, even though Button and Alonso look able to challenge, I cannot really believe it will happen.

  3. Hi Keith. Is there still an easy link to the TV times that I’m missing?

  4. Is it me or are the Lotus (green and yellow) doing quite well?

    1. They, and Maldonado’s Williams seem to have good pace there to me too. If Williams can keep the car working for the race, that is.

    2. To me it looks like they are still probably 1,5s behind the midfield, just that the Williams appears to be very poor. I wouldn’t mind if they were closer though.

  5. I hope Hamilton is right.

    1. We’ve been fooled with this picture many times this season, when the RedBulls are shy in FP and then Vettel pulls a half-second margin pole position. Vettel goes quick only when it matters.

  6. Good to see Mercedes aren’t topping the speedtrap list.
    Still a slightly higher speed for Schumacher than Rosberg, but not a really big gap.

    I’ve wondered this year if Schumacher compromised downforce to get a lighter rear, so the car feels more like he wants to. While at t he same time compromising his speed against Rosberg.

    I’m curious how this inter team battle will end. I think Schumacher is finally giving Rosberg a real fight for his money.

  7. Anybody know what the ultimate lap for the session was? (ie: add up all the purple sectors)

    1. 1’31.786. JB was just over a tenth off in sector 3 and 2 hundreths in sector 1.

  8. I guess I misunderstood something but why Renault are going to stick with the version of the car Bruno Senna is running? The times seems to indicate that the Petrov’s car is faster. I don’t think that they have diffirent fuel loads, otherwise what is the point in comparing them?

    1. That would be odd. It looked like the upgraded car was a bit of a handful in comparison. Maybe they’ll sort out a good set up that will fix those issues though.

  9. Whats the news on Ferrari’s pace ?

    1. @Gill they look the 3rd fastest again I think but Massa seems fairly upbeat so maybe they’ll be closer than I think.

    2. Fernando spent a lot of time at the top of the placings, could be a very close race between the top 5.

  10. Nice analysis as always.
    However, may I suggest to change the scale of the lap time chart to 110 to exclude the outliers? This would make it much easier to separate the individual drivers. The inlap times are not really interesting, and only clouds the important information.

  11. Anyone have a list of who kept DRS active through 130R?
    That would probably separate the top-6 from the rest; though I guess its SFM/RB/VMM anyway.

    RB’s pace looks well clear – perhaps JB can keep in touch with good tyre use.
    I suspect a RB will just keep to the minimum required gap strategy we have seen most of this year.

    1. @Richard, how do you see RB clear, with Button and Alonso both being faster than Vettel & Webber? Are you relying on RB keeping a half second in hand for qualifying,ie sandbagging, or do you think McL and SF are able to reach their ultimate set-up earlier than RB? To me it seems like the cars are more equal than they have been for years.

      1. Hi, I am using the graph data; just FA & SV for an example.

        Both are long runs & the Red Bull is quicker.
        This could be fuel load differences of course.

        I think Red Bull know there car’s very well as there has been no radical re-design since 2009 unlike McL so they just test new parts & do long run race setups in FP1/FP2 before thrashing the other teams in FP3/Qually.

        1. Thanks for the explanation, I tend to put to much reliance on fastest lap times.

  12. Wonder why RBR decided to run low on downforce, as noted there… it seems to be a completely different approach to what we’re used to see from them. Or maybe they’ll raise the wings and storm to pole as always tomorrow, miles ahead of the rest.

    1. Hmm Split Strategies if im right,McLaren are going for a slightly Higher Downforce Setup while RB go vice versa.Interested to see how that pans out in Quali & the Race if they decide to go along with their respective setups.

    2. @Fer-no.65 They also did well in the ultimate lap time so this has kinda carried on from their performances in Spa and Monza.

      1. But they never got anywhere near the top of the speed traps in Monza (I don’t remember at Spa…)

  13. McLaren’s pace through the esses suggest that the have higher baseline downforce, they are back to their high-chord flap, or both. Slow trap figures confirm this. RBR is at the top. Either way, that will redound in the race, when DRS will be restricted. But somehow I have a feeling that RBR will crank up the downforce and just do their normal disappearing act.

  14. With RB running lower downforce they seemed to be quicker in heavy fuel mode – about 1sec+ faster than Jenson on a similar fuel load. This could be encouraging for RB as they will aim to sprint ahead at the beginning of the race and build a lead (sounds familiar doesn’t it?), meanwhile the others are fighting in the back of the pack and may run out of tyres to be able to hunt them down. But the catch is how they will fare during qualifying given that Jenson and Alonso are ahead of them and whether they can keep the lead during the first few laps of the race. If they stay the same (if not similiar positions) we will have a good show on our hands – and see whether Vettel can pull off another Monza-like overtaking move.

  15. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    7th October 2011, 17:36

    LOOKS AS IF THERE’S A MISTAKE WITH THE PRACTICE TIMES. Both Ultimate lap times and Practice times are the same. Also the title mentions RB as the fastest but I see Button on top in both charts

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      7th October 2011, 17:38

      Oops, I got it. But was Button the fastest? The title confuses me

      1. Jenson was the fastest on light fuel loads, but what we aren’t too sure about McLaren is the speeds at heavy fuel loads. I heard the RBs were 1sec+ faster than the fastest McLaren on heavy fuel load – which will mean that the RBs will build a big gap in the beginning of the race.

        1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
          7th October 2011, 18:23

          thanks so much @vho , let’s wait for the quali to see if that is clarified by big time gaps.

  16. Ferrari look average as they have all season. However i think Alonso will take 2nd here and Schumacher will be in the top 5.

  17. Alonso have a Chan’s for challenge the RedBull
    Go Ferrari

  18. Bad day for the Williams team. :-(

  19. I expect to see Vettel on pole, win the race with Webber second, The two McLaren cars third and fourth, and Alonso in fifth place with Massa fighting Schumacher for sixth.

Comments are closed.