E it's only Friday. A lot can be read out there, but not everything. Especially since the weather is supposed to get better on Saturday and Sunday. Ferrari had the fastest cars on one lap. The lead over Red Bull is 0.134 seconds, that of Mercedes 0.156 seconds.
But Mercedes had even more up their sleeves. Lewis Hamilton was stopped by Bottas on his fastest lap. The soft tire only offered optimal grip on the first flying lap. At least two tenths were lost.
Of course, the Ferrari's lap times were precisely dissected. They won on the straights and lost on the corners. The time savings on all straights were massive, as in the best days. Red Bull calculated a delta of seven tenths, Mercedes even a tenth more.
Was it again one of those power outbursts that the competition had questioned or just less downforce? That has not yet been clarified. On the long runs, the Ferrari were not only slower than the competition in the overall lap. Then their advantage on the straights shrank.
Mercedes mastered the endurance runs. While Max Verstappen was on the same level as Lewis Hamilton on the medium tire, he got two tenths per lap with the soft rubbers. Ferrari lost more. If you look at the profile of the racing simulation, Sebastian Vettel could only keep up with Hamilton on the first four laps. Then the lap times increased sharply. The reason for the higher tire wear is possibly that the red cars are trimmed for less downforce.
In the midfield, Ferrari customers Haas and Alfa Romeo made their mark on one lap. Racing Point cut the best figure in the long runs. McLaren was still lagging behind. The fourth place in the World Championship was obviously concentrating on driving for as long as possible to find out why other teams were more careful with the tires in the race. Renault gave a balanced performance. Seventh in a round, seventh in the soft long run.
Six things you need to know:
How fast is Ferrari on the straights?
Everyone was looking forward to Ferrari. Has anything changed after the FIA sent out two technical directives on possible engine tricks? In Austin you could definitely get the impression, even if Ferrari narrowly missed pole position there. But according to GPS measurements from Mercedes and Red Bull, the advantage of the red cars on the straights had been reduced by half. Ferrari justified this in the USA with a vehicle set-up with more downforce.
After the first day of training for the Brazilian GP, one thing is certain: Ferrari will also fight for pole position in Interlagos. Sebastian Vettel was 0.134 seconds faster than Max Verstappen and 0.156 seconds than Valtteri Bottas. The greatest danger, however, threatened Lewis Hamilton.
The world champion had to abandon his fastest lap because Valtteri Bottas of all people was standing in his way. Hamilton set his fastest time on the seventh flying lap. So you have to subtract at least two tenths, and then it would have been in the area of Vettel. “I didn't have an optimal lap either. There was still air in there, ”replied Vettel.
But the much more crucial question was how much time the Ferrari won on the straight ahead of the competition. Adding up all full throttle passages, that was seven tenths for Red Bull and eight tenths for Mercedes. Charles Leclerc benefited from his fresh engine in an internal team comparison.
If you superimpose the laps of Vettel and Bottas, the Ferrari driver made up six tenths of a second on the Silver Arrow on the straights. In return, Vettel lost two tenths to the Mercedes and the Red Bull in the medium-fast and slow corners. Therefore, Mercedes assumes that Ferrari was on the road with reduced downforce.
The grip helped them over one lap fresh tires over the deficit. In the long runs, Vettel and Leclerc paid with the heavier tire wear. Then the advantage on the straights shrank dramatically. Possibly because Ferrari also reduced the power over the distance.
Red Bull assumes that Ferrari has turned up the power for the fast laps. “If I were Ferrari, I would do anything to outrun the others on the straights. Otherwise everyone will believe that they are cheating, ”said Red Bull sports director Helmut Marko. At theFriday, according to the Grazer, can be done safely. Nobody will protest. 'So what we see on Saturday will be interesting.'
Is Ferrari fast in the long run too?
You have to go on a lap Ferrari not to fear Mercedes and Red Bull. Yes, in longrun. In the racing simulations, Vettel concentrated on soft tires, Leclerc on medium rubber. No one was on Pirelli's medium mix anywhere near as long as Leclerc. That is why the long runs are difficult to compare with each other.
Hamilton was on average seven tenths faster, but he also only covered four laps. At Leclerc it was 15. You get a better picture in the endurance runs on the soft tires. Hamilton and Vettel were each 12 laps on the track. Ferrari lost almost three tenths on average.
Vettel nevertheless drew a cautiously optimistic line: “The day was okay. We understand what the car needs. I hope we can do it overnight with the right changes to keep the balance a little better. I can feel that there's more to the car. We have to do our homework now and improve. We just lack grip, which is particularly damaging to us on the long run. It's not that easy because the route will be completely different when the sun comes out. ”
Better weather is forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Adding more downforce isn't really an option for Ferrari. Simulations have shown that too much time would be lost on the straights and the lap time increases.
Where do Mercedes and Red Bull have to catch up?
Ferrari opponents are well positioned in the long runs . With the soft tires, Lewis Hamilton was ahead of Max Verstappen with his average score over twelve laps with 1.13.334 to 1.13.538 minutes. On the medium tires, the long runs were more like short runs. Verstappen covered three laps, Hamilton four laps. “We can keep up with the Mercedes”, Marko is convinced.
A one-stop race shouldn't be a problembe. According to Pirelli, the wear of the soft tire is hardly greater than that of the medium soles. In the fastest lap, according to Red Bull, Verstappen was in the lead up to Turn 12. Then, despite a top speed of 335 km /h, he still lost one and a half tenths to the Ferrari. They took the time in the acceleration phase from the Red Bull Honda. Even Daniel Ricciardo's slipstream could no longer save Verstappen.
Valtteri Bottas was one of two drivers who dared to go into a long run on hard tires. “It was difficult on the green track with this mixture. Then I switched to the soft tires, which changed the driving behavior quite a bit. But we made good progress in terms of grip level. ”Max Verstappen praised it:“ I had a good feeling with the car from the start. We're into the music, regardless of whether it's dry or wet. '
What was going on with Toro Rosso?
For the Toro Rosso drivers, the training ended prematurely. Pierre Gasly was stranded with an engine failure. Since it was an ancient Friday engine, there's nothing to worry about. Daniil Kvyat lightly touched the board after a spin. The Russian had slipped off the track after a total electrical blackout. The incidents prevented Toro Rosso from being able to show the good Friday results that one is normally used to from Red Bull's B-Team.
Why are Haas and Alfa Romeo so strong?
Kevin Magnussen Sixth, Kimi Raikkonen eighth. Both also showed strong long runs. That calls for an explanation. As usual, Haas doesn't have any. “It was probably the low temperatures again. Magnussen felt comfortable right from the start, ”said team boss Guenther Steiner. Romain Grosjean, however, struggled with the vehicle balance. He also lost time testing the new front wing, which came back to the car to collect data.
Alfa Romeo sees its recent upward trend confirmed. The C38 would have been able to get into Q3 again in Austin. The pilots have it with youMistakes themselves messed up. A new front wing helped in Interlagos. That is already an anticipation of 2020. 'If it works, it could become the basis for the new car,' reveals team boss Frédéric Vasseur. Raikkonen confirmed: “The first impression is positive. If we can do everything perfectly, we'll be in the battle for the top ten. ”
Who is fourth in the field?
On one lap, Haas was just ahead of Renault and Alfa Romeo fourth force. With temperatures expected to rise, Renault will probably make the race out of this trio. McLaren lagged for a lap. Carlos Sainz was only 10th, Lando Norris 18th. The McLaren drivers clearly had different priorities in the second practice session. Sainz covered 16 laps on the soft tires, Norris 17. The team worked on the weak point of the last few races. The McLaren was clearly the fourth fastest car on one lap, but it lost to Renault in the race. They were more careful with their tires over the distance.
Renault again put good long runs on the track, even if Nico Hülkenberg was not entirely convinced. “The team told me that the longrun times were good. In terms of feeling, it felt rather out of round. The balance wasn't there on the soft tires. Maybe it was also because of the strong wind that blew us away. Or the long curves, which are not exactly our strength. ”
Neither a Renault nor McLaren driver showed the best long run to be taken seriously in midfield. Sergio Perez was almost as fast as Bottas over twelve laps on soft tires. “Our car is better on one lap in the long runs this year. Nevertheless, we should make it into the top ten in qualifying. Checo is not even two tenths missing, ”hopes Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer.