2019 Chinese GP: FP2 race simulation pace (Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull)

Key points about this graph:

  1. The graph shows all lap times done by a driver during a single stint.
  2. The label at the top shows the median time, with the background representing the tire used during that stint.
  3. No laps were removed from the graph.
  4. The horizontal line represents the median.
  5. The box represent the interquartile range, from 25% to 75%.

FP2 race simulation by median

A very interesting FP2 session we had. As we can see, the top teams seem to be looking for the right tire and strategy for the race. China is a place with high tire degradation, so teams must logically must be looking into using the medium and hard tires during the race in order to beat their rivals with strategy.

Important note: Leclerc did not do many laps during his FP2 session, therefore he is not included in this chart.

As usual, Verstappen did some very consistent laps, managing a median of 1:38.929. He keeps showing that perhaps his days of inconsistency are over. At the moment, he seems to be the most consistent driver of the grid.

Bottas was very close to Max, and it is very important to consider that his median of 1:39.020 was done with the hard compound. Perhaps we will see a very long stint from the Finnish driver during the race?

Gasly had a good season, although he ended up being around 3 tenths of a second slower than his teammate. He did the fastest lap during race simulation from the 5 teams showed here, a 1:38.489.

Hamilton and Vettel lag a bit behind the rest of the drivers. The Britishman did a 1:39.595, half a second behind Valtteri Bottas. Vettel on the other hand, did a very long stint of 13 laps with the soft compound. The soft compound started to lose pace quickly, and that is the main reason we see Vettel with some times that would be considered slow.

FP2 race simulation with linear model

If we see all the lap times done in a scatter plot, we can get more information about how the tires behaved during the simulation stints. The best example of why Vettel did some slow times is that after his 6th lap with the softs, his times went up and never came down.

Gasly came fast out of the pits, and was perhaps instructed to slow down by the team in order to get more accurate data. His 3th lap, when he posted a 1:40.012 shows that perhaps he slowed down a bit too much, and he regained pace during the next laps.

Verstappen shows that the medium compound seems to be durable and fast. His 8 laps actually show a downwards trend, meaning that he ended up being slightly faster at the end of his stint than at the beginning.

Bottas also did a very long stint of 12 laps, and unlike Vettel’s times, his stint shows that the hard compound is also fast and durable. His last two laps (11 and 12) were a 1:38.970 and a 1:39.121, which I would consider as still fast.

There is not much to take from Hamilton‘s data. He seemed to have problems with tire grip and may have had some problems with debris. Some of his lap times were very close to Botas’, however some other were clearly slower. It is hard to tell what Mercedes was trying to get from his data. 

Conclusion

It is always hard for us to understand what teams are exactly trying to do during their FP2 race simulation stints. We have no information about the engine modes that they are using, or how much fuel the cars are they carrying. What we can take however is consistency, and a sense of how the tires will behave during the race.

Vettel’s stint showed that perhaps the soft compound will not last for a long time. He only managed 4 laps with a time of less than 1:39.500, and all his remaining laps were with a time of 1:40.000 or more.

The medium and hard compound may be a better alternative than the soft tires during the race. Bottas‘ stint with the hard compound was very promising, and perhaps one of the big 3 teams will be willing to take a gamble on the white stripped tire and see if it holds better than the medium tire.

Verstappen as usual showed that even if Red Bull cannot challenge for pole at the moment, they will have very good race pace. The good race setup that has made Red Bull famous, combined with Max’s incredible consistancy, will make the Austrian team very dangerous during the race.

I hope that you have enjoyed this article, let me know what do you think in the comments below.

2 Comments

  1. GoMax

    I approve of your analysis. Since, Bahrain I have follow your blog with enthusiasm. Can I ask you which API you use?

    Kind regards,

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you for your nice comment. I do my graphs with R. Have a nice day.

      Reply

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