2019 Monaco 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. Calculations were performed with all the laps from the stint.
  4. The horizontal line represents the median.
  5. The box represent the interquartile range, from 25% to 75%.

FP2 race simulation by median

Right away you can see why my normal way of visualizing the data will not work for the Monaco free practice 2 session. The numbers are not representative. The drivers did normal representative laps and took some laps off in the middle of that stint. This is what happens in Monaco. The track is so narrow and it is very easy to encounter traffic that it becomes almost impossible to do 10 laps in a row without having to slow down. Because of this, I will show you a couple of different graphs that may be more representative of what can we expect from the race.

FP2 race simulation by mean (best 6 laps)

I normally do not like to analyze the data like this because it may be misleading, but in this case it is one of the only possible options to visualize the actual pace of the drivers.

Here you see the best 6 laps done by each driver during the stint shown in the last graph. Clearly Verstappen‘s data is not representative as he had technical problems, but for the rest of the drivers this may portray better their race pace.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas keep dominating F1. Both Lewis and Valtteri have a mean time that is over a second faster than Charles Leclerc’s time. Clearly in Monaco the race pace is not as important as the quali pace, however this keeps showing how strong Mercedes is right now. In fact, let’s take a look at the next plot to see how strong they seem to be right now.

FP2 race simulation by mean (best 7 laps)

This graph shows the mean pace by taking the best 7 laps from the race simulation stint. As you can see, this means that both Mercedes drivers now have an extra lap that looks like an outlier (1:19.704 for Hamilton and 1:22.377 for Bottas). For Leclerc, this adds a lap of 1:17.921, which is still slower than his 6th fastest lap (1:17.921), but the delta is not as drastic as it is for the Mercedes drivers.

Even with that extra lap added, which affects massively the mean time, even more so for Lewis and Valtteri, both Mercedes drivers are still faster than Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. At the moment, the numbers do not look good for the Italian team.

Regarding Red Bull, specifically Pierre Gasly, his numbers are interesting. If we only take his 6 best laps, it seems like he may be challenging the Ferraris as long as he can get ahead of them in the quali or if Red Bull gets the strategy right during the race. However, if we take the best 7 laps, if looks like he may not be as fast as the Scuderia drivers.

Conclusion

Monaco is a very special race. A short and narrow track, where traffic plays a big role and where the quali session takes major importance. Because of its characteristics, the way we usually analyze this data may not be the best.

So, what can we actually take from this statistics? Well, for me it basically shows that right now it appears that this is Mercedes‘ race to lose. They seem to be the fastest in one lap pace, as well as the fastest in race pace. Unless Ferrari can do something dramatic, it is hard to see them challenging for the win in a couple of days.

It is important to understand that the statistics can be misleading due to the removal of the slow laps. What if Lewis and Bottas were taking laps off intentionally due to overheating of tires or brakes? Then everything would change. That is the risk we take from analyzing the numbers this way.

Regarding Red Bull, unfortunately Max had mechanical issues and was not able to do a representative stint. Gasly showed decent pace if we only take his fastest 6 laps from a single stint into consideration, but the number of data points is not enough to predict how strong the Austrian team will be during the race. They seem to be in the mix for the podium though, so we can not count them out so easily.

I hope you enjoyed the article, have a great day everyone.

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