2019 Chinese GP: FP2 race simulation pace (Rest of the teams)

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 analysis, however some laps are not shown in the graph for aesthetic purposes.
  4. The horizontal line represents the median.
  5. The box represent the interquartile range, from 25% to 75%.

FP2 race simulation by median

Important note: Some teams did more than one long stint. For this analysis, I took their longest stint and made the chart. In some cases, the first or second stint was faster than the one shown here, but my reasoning behind taking the longest stint was that it was more representative of actual race pace. Just a little reminder that without all the information that the teams have, the analysis is not perfect and is meant to be informative and not necessarily predictive. Having said that, let’s start with the analysis.

Daniil Kvyat from Toro Rosso only managed to do 20 laps during FP2 and was one of the drivers with the least amount of track time. However, his longest stint of 12 laps with the hard compound yielded a median time of 1:39.189. While it is true that most likely they were running with less fuel or a slightly higher engine mode than other teams, his times must be encouraging for the Russian. If we also take into consideration that Alex Albon had a good FP2 session as well, managing a median of 1:40.140 and showing some very consistent laps with the soft compound, we must believe that Toro Rosso are feeling confident right now.

Renault once again showed good race pace as well, with both Ricciardo and Hulkenberg showing that they will be looking to finish in the top 8. They were very consistent with both the soft and medium compound, and most likely the determining factor for them will be their reliability.

Shanghai seems to be a good place for Racing Point to start getting back on track. The team based in Silverstone has always been good in tracks with long straights, and Shanghai has one of the longest straights of the calendar. Both Checo Pérez and Lance Stroll used the hard tires, which makes me believe that they will be looking to play the long game in China. They showed good race pace and it will be interesting to see if they are able to get into Q3 since it will be a determinant factor for their strategy.

Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris are right in the mix again, with just a few thousands of a seconds separating them from the Racing Point drivers. McLaren seems to have fixed many of the problems that hurt them during the last few seasons, but must take advantage of their strong race pace right now if they want to finish as the 4th best team of the season. We all know that development during the season plays a major role in the final standings, and McLaren have not been the best in that department lately.

The rest of the teams seem to be slightly behind the rest in race pace, however we must understand that the midfield battle is extremely tight. In fact, I would dare to say that this is the closest battle of the midfield that we have seen in recent years. Any team (well, maybe not Williams), can score points on any given day and things can change very quickly.

Kimi Raikonnen showed good consistency, but his lap times were not particularly fast. He has the experience to play the patient game and try to capitalize by the end of the race.

George Russell makes a surprising appearance with a median time of 1:40.970. Why surprising? Because he was not last or 19th place. He was actually faster than both Haas cars and that Antonio Giovinazzi. The Britishman was very consistent, and while the chances of him battling for points are slim, this is definitely an encouraging sign for him and his team.

Haas once again showed that they are inconsistent. Sometimes they have great quali pace, but poor race pace. Sometimes it is the other way around. Sometimes they have everything. Sometimes they have nothing. It is hard to know what to expect from them during the race. In FP2 they were slow in both one lap pace and race pace, but they are a strong team and it is hard to count them out just by looking at the preliminary data.

Finally we have Robert Kubica. Once again, he is the slowest driver in terms of race pace, with a median time of 1:41.933. He was more than half a second away from KMag, and around 1 second away from his teammate. He is showing, however, signs of encouragement, with many laps around his median, telling us that perhaps he is getting more consistent by the day. The speed is not there yet, and the popular Pole must still work hard in order to leave the last place of the grid.

Conclusion

Once again, it seems we have a great battle in our hands. Renault seems to be slightly ahead of the rest in race pace, but their problems with reliability makes them unpredictable. There seems to be very little separating Toro Rosso, Racing Point and McLaren, with Alfa Romeo and Haas slightly behind.

I would like to give a special mention to George Russell. He had a fantastic FP2 session for Williams and showed that he wants to escape the back of the grid. He was faster than Grosjean, Magnussen and Giovinazzi, which is impressive if we consider that the FW42 is clearly a worse car. We have to wait to see what he can do during the race, but the signs are very encouraging.

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

10 Comments

  1. Lowest lap

    Whow, what a great stuff ! Thanks a lot and keep going.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you for your nice comment, I really appreciate it. Have a nice day.

      Reply
  2. Cezary

    Do you think you could at least mark on what tires stints where made? This is key factor to judge stints. Do you think it is possible to estimate amount of fuel on stints based on both tire type and time progress?

    Reply
    • admin

      Hello Cezary. The background of the labels (red, yellow or white) represents the tire used during that stint. Red means soft, yellow means medium, and white means hard. Regarding the amount of fuel, that would be really hard to do since there are other factors involved including engine modes and the ERS configuration.

      Reply
      • Arthur

        Kubica and Russell were on two different tires types. Accoring to Pirelli there is around 0.7 sec difference between medium and hard ones on Chinese GP. So, the difference between them is more like 0.2 seconds. When we take that into account Kubica’s stint is better than those made by Grosjean, Giovinazzi’s and Magnussen. Not trying to make Kubica look like best driver but we must keep in mind what Marh Hughes said – there is a difference in torsional stiffness between the chassis and on top of that there is around 8% difference in aero balance front/rear under braking despite the same settings.

        Reply
        • admin

          Hello Arthur

          I do understand that they were both on different tires, however their effect is not as easy to measure as Pirelli says. Sometimes harder compounds are faster than the softer ones just because they are easier to keep in their optimal temperature band. Just subtracting the amount of time that Pirelli says would be unrealistic. Having said that, the problems with aero mentioned by Mr. Hughes do play a bigger role here, especially if the car becomes inconsistent. Robert himself said that the car was feeling good for FP1 and FP2, and that it felt terrible during Q1.
          I hope that Williams manages to fix their problems, and with more races coming soon, we should be able to get a better picture of what is Robert capable of.

          Reply
          • Cezary

            I agree that it is hard to judge. Anyway Pirelli stats are IMO broken. They somehow fail to compare with amount of fuel. This is no-brainer that softer are used with less fuel. Looks like Pirelli doesn’ take this into consideration. Look at Q2 and Q3 in China and Medium vs Soft in top teams…

  3. grreso

    That’s a great work of yours. I have to admit Russel’s pace looks good, but why even compare him to Kubica when they are on different tires and probably fuel level too, which we don’t know for sure, yet you make hard conclusions of it and even you say Kubica is around 1 second away from his teammate in race pace, yeah like he will start the race on hards and drive on it whole race? You need to rethink your thinking 😀

    Reply
    • admin

      I have to make conclusions based on the limited information that we all have, otherwise all the conclusions would be “we do not know”. While the tire difference certainly plays a role here, the fuel level should be similar since teams are trying to get some race pace estimations. There is no point for a team to run very low or very high fuel levels if it will not be representative for their data.
      Regarding the tire selection, you could argue that Kvyat, Perez and Stroll, as well as Bottas, showed that the hard tire is perhaps faster than what Pirelli was expecting it to be. Both Russell and Kubica have a new set of hard tires, and would definitely be interesting to see how long can they take them. There is no point to use the soft tires or even the medium compound at the beginning of the race, since they will most likely be overtaken by other teams very soon. They just do not have the pace right now to win in a battle. The only way they can get a decent result is with good strategy and consistency from their drivers.

      Reply
      • Cezary

        You assume amount of fuel is same but you know tires difference. In conclusions you skip what you know about tires with taking fuel amounts as granted. Data is great, conclusions are not. Anyway great job!

        Reply

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