Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2014

Mercedes’ speed has its drawbacks for Rosberg

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2014With the world championship hanging in the balance this weekend every aspect of the competition will be interpreted in terms of how it could affect the title fight.

The flying speed demonstrated by Mercedes in today’s practice session in Abu Dhabi is one more factor which could come into play.

Nico Rosberg’s championship chances rest on him winning the race and at least one other car finishing between him and team mate Lewis Hamilton. But having headed the field by over three-quarters of a second on Friday, the Mercedes look at least as quick as they have all year.

Hamilton was satisfied with his day’s work. “We’ve run the same programme as we run every race weekend but this time we had the whole of both sessions to work with the tyres, look at long runs, analyse set-up and the countless other things you need to assess in practice which was great,” he said.

“We made good steps forward with the setup but, as always, there is still more time to be found. We’ll keep chipping away at it and look to improve in every area possible but the car feels great – the best I’ve ever driven here without doubt.”

Even so Rosberg was less than a tenth of a second, and we’ve seen several times already this year that he is quite capable of regaining the initiative when Hamilton leads the way on Friday. That especially goes at races like this where drivers have the super-soft tyre – Rosberg headed Hamilton at four of the previous five races where the red-walled tyre was used.

While the super-soft will inevitably be the preferred tyre for qualifying, several drivers found it started to grain quickly over a longer run, and Pirelli suspect the soft will be favoured in the race.

Jenson Button, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2014The closest team to Mercedes on Friday was McLaren, thanks to Kevin Magnussen who was using a new front wing which seemed to owe a lot to Red Bull’s design. Magnussen’s performance didn’t escape Sebastian Vettel’s attention. “McLaren has made a step forward the last couple of races and the nature of the track here maybe suits them a bit better than other tracks,” he said, adding, “but it’s Friday so I guess we will find out tomorrow.”

McLaren team principal Eric Boullier explained it was Magnussen’s turn to test the new update first. That turned out to be good fortune for them, as Button’s running was beset by technical problems.

“This afternoon we had an issue with the rear suspension, then a hydraulic problem ahead of FP2,” he explained. “I also had a problem with something inside the cockpit, which meant I had to climb out then climb in again, so I suppose you’d have to say it’s been quite a busy day.”

Button bounced back from similar problems in practice at Interlagos, and if McLaren’s upgrade provides effective then with double points they have a slim chance of pipping Ferrari to fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

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

Sebastian Vettel107.418107.519107.418107.503124.747136.008
Daniel Ricciardo107.774107.556108.34113.495107.776108.092112.979107.541108.917129.775134.955
Lewis Hamilton107.35107.538119.361107.053107.066107.083130.27134.895
Nico Rosberg108.543108.001108.57112.982109.542107.269110.478107.215127.342145.06
Fernando Alonso
Kimi Raikkonen108.829108.402108.779116.042108.674108.728108.758108.91132.391126.232
Romain Grosjean110.006109.729109.599109.695109.415110.339116.039109.971110.079110.011110.318110.309110.899131.92136.91
Pastor Maldonado109.352109.104108.855109.323109.239109.041109.292110.871109.604109.794110.01141.995148.964
Jenson Button109.561109.374109.301109.682109.624109.289109.438110.594125.543136.682
Kevin Magnussen108.832109.424109.425109.432109.446109.387109.155109.253109.241109.394108.931109.326140.744158.32
Nico Hulkenberg108.664109.579108.876111.767109.274113.223109.024109.262109.479109.436110.831125.031127.573
Sergio Perez108.127114.789108.406108.538108.987111.148108.87108.805109.518109.324109.324109.266109.606109.427109.315137.892135.949
Adrian Sutil110.507110.192111.253111.267109.798110.262110.388110.504110.43110.373110.17130.875140.171
Esteban Gutierrez110.359109.947109.574110.341109.978109.858109.915110.074109.996110.053
Jean-Eric Vergne108.606108.429108.976109.095108.598108.834109.135108.861108.614108.883108.507109.522109.197
Daniil Kvyat107.318107.379107.895108.938109.416109.722111.502110.629110.092111.158
Felipe Massa108.896108.815108.392108.425108.815108.643109.545109.047108.934109.182109.225
Valtteri Bottas108.345108.57107.943108.922109.291109.372109.232109.417109.625109.549109.879
Kamui Kobayashi109.061109.586109.755109.655109.599109.933109.81110.046109.969110.007126.477135.028
Will Stevens112.501111.558113.722112.12112.514113.077114.947113.022112.981113.09

Sector times and ultimate lap times – second practice

PosNo.DriverCarS1S2S3UltimateGapDeficit to best
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes17.845 (2)42.855 (3)41.346 (1)1’42.0460.067
26Nico RosbergMercedes17.819 (1)42.817 (1)41.463 (2)1’42.0990.0530.097
320Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes18.113 (3)42.835 (2)41.765 (4)1’42.7130.6670.182
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault18.267 (10)43.011 (5)41.681 (3)1’42.9590.9130.000
577Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes18.151 (6)43.016 (6)41.903 (6)1’43.0701.0240.000
63Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault18.149 (5)43.206 (11)41.818 (5)1’43.1731.1270.010
719Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes18.189 (7)42.974 (4)42.133 (9)1’43.2961.2500.262
87Kimi RaikkonenFerrari18.275 (11)43.176 (10)42.038 (8)1’43.4891.4430.000
922Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes18.135 (4)43.138 (7)42.230 (11)1’43.5031.4570.000
1026Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault18.210 (9)43.155 (9)42.176 (10)1’43.5411.4950.005
1111Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes18.324 (13)43.143 (8)42.263 (14)1’43.7301.6840.016
1213Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault18.208 (8)43.825 (18)41.947 (7)1’43.9801.9340.025
1327Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes18.459 (15)43.313 (13)42.260 (13)1’44.0321.9860.036
1425Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault18.343 (14)43.568 (15)42.246 (12)1’44.1572.1110.000
1521Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari18.624 (16)43.226 (12)42.436 (15)1’44.2862.2400.030
168Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault18.316 (12)43.736 (17)42.680 (16)1’44.7322.6860.254
1799Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari18.697 (17)43.366 (14)42.700 (17)1’44.7632.7170.000
1810Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault18.729 (18)43.735 (16)43.010 (18)1’45.4743.4280.031
1946Will StevensCaterham-Renault19.045 (19)44.449 (19)43.563 (19)1’47.0575.0110.000
2014Fernando AlonsoFerrari19.467 (20)47.813 (20)48.924 (20)1’56.20414.158

Speed trap – second practice

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
119Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes332.5
277Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes332.40.1
36Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes331.60.9
411Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes3302.5
520Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes329.92.6
627Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes329.92.6
726Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault329.23.3
822Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes329.13.4
944Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes328.83.7
101Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault327.64.9
118Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault327.35.2
1299Adrian SutilSauberFerrari327.35.2
1325Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault326.26.3
1421Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari3266.5
157Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari325.57
1610Kamui KobayashiCaterhamRenault324.48.1
1713Pastor MaldonadoLotusRenault324.18.4
1846Will StevensCaterhamRenault324.18.4
193Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault323.49.1
2014Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari304.128.4

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’43.4761’42.11366
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’43.6091’42.19667
3Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1’46.0491’42.89559
4Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’45.3341’42.95963
5Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’45.9131’43.07042
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’45.3611’43.18354
7Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’46.1311’43.48955
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’47.2351’43.50330
9Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’45.8351’43.54670
10Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’46.5491’43.55841
11Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’45.9831’43.74659
12Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1’46.7111’44.00568
13Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’46.0301’44.06856
14Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault1’45.7181’44.15755
15Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’46.5561’44.31665
16Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1’44.76336
17Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’44.98634
18Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’45.18424
19Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1’47.9711’45.50562
20Will StevensCaterham-Renault1’50.6841’47.05747
21Esteban OconLotus-Renault1’47.06629
22Adderly FongSauber-Ferrari1’48.26925

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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...

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22 comments on “Mercedes’ speed has its drawbacks for Rosberg”

  1. Your lap chart doesn’t seem to be showing.

    1. Yes, I thought it might be blocked on my browser; but same result on a different PC and browser.

      1. and now it has appeared!

  2. “Kevin Magnussen, who was using a new front wing which seemed to owe a lot to Red Bull’s design”
    I guess Peter Prodromou played a part in that :P

    1. I guess we now have proof that it wasn’t all due to magician Newey.

      1. Prodromou was the second most important man and he was in charge of the aerodynamics. Newey was a technical director, so he had a responsibility over a whole car in general and not perhaps that much hands-on approach as Prodromou.

    2. According to BBC the time was done on the old front wing. Would be nice to know which one they used.

  3. Don’t underestimate Hamilton’s ability to snatch the defeat from the jaws of victory.

    1. He just doesn’t do that! Dont be a naysayer. Reliability has played the biggest part in his career.

  4. If McLaren is able to make this front wing work (as it obviously does), that means they have a good downforce on the rear too, since you can’t just pile a downforce on the front, if you don’t have it on the rear to balance it.

  5. if pole was so important,nico would have alot more wins than he currently does.and how many times has danny won when nico started on merc speed isnt nicos problem.him not being good enough in too many races this season is.

    1. Ricciardo’s wins owed more to fortune than a pace advantage. He was actually behind Vettel in qualifying for all three races where he won.

      1. There is a difference between race pace and qualifying pace.

        Setting the car up for a good qualifying result can actually lead to worse race pace and vice versa.

  6. LH might have the same issue he had last race by looking at the sector times. He is leading in only 1 sector compared to 2 for NR although he has the overall fastest lap. He could end up in a situation if NR starts on pole LH will see the gap to NR increase most of the lap until that 1 section where he is quicker, but not fast enough to get close and pass. Then it starts all over again the next lap where NR leaves him then he has to claw it back.

    1. That’s a good call out, and it worries me, too. One sector is not enough to catch up and pass if LH gets behind Nico.

      1. You’re using the simulated qualifying times. Lewis was over a second a lap faster than Nico on the long run, while using his tires less.

        If they took today’s pace into the race, Lewis wouldn’t need to overtake Nico. He would easily pass him in the pit stops.

        This is only Friday though of course.

  7. Mercs are untouchable. Vettel seems quick, and Williams still probably has some time to find. Should be a good battle for 3rd, and probably a boring battle for 1/2/WDC.

  8. Perhaps interestingly, I suspect that Merc’s dominance has probably assisted Rosberg over the course of the season relative to Hamilton. Were Merc to have a 0.05-0.1 advantage over the closest competitor, rather than whatever silly margin it is, I could imagine a few of those second places Rosberg has becoming thirds or fourths, whereas I could imagine Lewis still retaining most of his wins.

    1. That’s a good call.

      1. Good shout @paul

        all Hamilton needs to do is keep his head! easier said than done and he doesn’t tned to things the easy way!

    2. But in qualifying Hamilton would have been 3rd or 4th. And it’s not always easy to pass in races, despite having superior pace to Rosberg

  9. Vergne looks pretty strong. Could be a dark horse for the podium.

    As for Rosberg, he should maybe look to an SC period caused by Williams’ failure to pack helicopter tape for the trip.

Comments are closed.