Today in Australia we saw Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton top the two Friday Practice sessions. However, one of these was heavily hampered by rain, which makes the data more difficult to read. Here is what we have learned from today.
Mercedes vs McLaren
Mercedes vs McLaren - Friday Practice 1
In Friday Practice 1, apart from two slips from Hamilton, both drivers from both teams had the same pattern of pace. All of these drivers started with lower fuel, filled up, then burned up the fuel as the session went on. Rosberg’s and Schumacher’s times do appear quicker than the McLaren’s on the first graph. Also, Jenson Button has hinted that they were running quite low on fuel, which may distort this chart, as we don’t know how much fuel the Mercedes cars were carrying.
Mercedes vs McLaren - Friday Practice 2
In FP2, the rain obviously slowed the cars down considerably, especiallyin the middle of people’s stints. The fastest laps set in this session were much closer, so it can be assumed that the Mercedes drivers were running slightly heavier.
The 3 new teams
Lotus, Virgin and HRT - FP1
The Fp1 chart is a good indicator of how the cars get faster along the weekend, as the track rubbers in. Lotus appear to have got ahead of their rivals, as Kovalainen’s and Trulli’s stints were consistently faster than the drivers for Virgin and HRT. Timo Glock was out often in FP1, but only set one proper fast lap, so the analysis for Virgin was left to Lucas di Grassi, who was consistently slower than Senna or Chandhok throughout the session. From this, we can see that Lotus are clearly ahead, while HRT are beginning to catch up with Virgin.
Lotus, Virgin and HRT - FP2
Unfortunately, not as much can be learned in FP2. This is because Chandok, Senna and Di Grassi all failed to get a fast lap in. Also, the changeable conditions affected the runnings as well. Still, throughout this session, the Lotus drivers of Trulli and Kovalainen were quite a bit quicker than Timo Glock.
The Lotus is certainly ahead, but the main question is when will HRT catch up with and overtake Virgin. It is much easier to do in these practice sessions, but HRT need to transform these improvements into better race pace to have a chance of catching up to Virgin. Reliability will be key in the next few races.
More graphs and analysis will be added soon.