Formula 1 has now run the first two Grand Prix weekends. Where Bahrain kicked off the year on a fairly diverse circuit, they left a week later for power-intensive Saudi Arabia. The teams have been dealing with fast and medium-fast sectors over these two weekends. After analyzing these two sector types, one thing becomes clear: Ferrari will be on top in 2022, but Red Bull Racing is only leaving one hundredths on average, not tenths. F1Maximaal.nl shines light on the matter.
In 2022, the drivers have so far mastered six sectors, including three high-speed sectors and three medium-speed sectors. Due to the layouts of Bahrain International Circuit and Jeddah Corniche Circuit, there has been no real slow sector yet. Therefore, after two Grands Prix, it is only up to us to look at the two types of sectors that we have had so far.
In order to arrive at a time for a team in the different types of sectors, we look at the average fastest sector time of both drivers in the race (with some exceptions; Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda did not participate in the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia, so that average is provided by only one driver). We then add up the total times of the drivers and divide by the number of sectors of the relevant type that have already been covered. This way we list which team seems to excel in which corners so far.
Three thousandths between Red Bull and Ferrari
By the high-speed sectors we mean all three sectors of the second circuit that will be visited in 2022. Jeddah has many straights and hardly any heavy braking points. Only after the last corner and at the start-finish do drivers have to hold back to make the corner, but the sector that would most qualify for a classification as medium-speed (sector 1) has 5 turns in seventh gear. Because of the many straights and the many corners to be completed in sixth, seventh and eighth gears, all sectors of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit belong to the high-speed sectors.
|Team||Average over all high-speed sectors|
In these high-speed sectors, Ferrari scores the fastest average lap time over both drivers, but the difference between the Italians and Red Bull is nil. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc managed to cover a sector in Saudi Arabia in an average of 30.533 seconds, Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez did this in an average of 30.536 seconds. The final laps of the Saudi Grand Prix were blood-curdlingly exciting, and that is clearly reflected in the data.
It is also striking that it is not Mercedes, which is currently second in the constructors’ championship, that on average clocked the lowest sector times of the rest of the grid. No, the Ferrari-powered Haas was very fast on power-intensive Jeddah, averaging half a tenth faster than Mercedes. That is a good example of how good the Ferrari engine is, because on aerodynamic power you might expect that the American racing stable will lose out against the reigning world champions.
There is almost no doubt that Mercedes is lacking in engine power after analyzing Saudi Arabia’s high-speed sectors. The three teams that performed the least on the street circuit all used a Mercedes engine. The difference with Alpine and AlphaTauri is not big, but in the Grands Prix where power is important, such as the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, these stables will have a hard time if little changes in the ranking in the meantime.
Where is Red Bull fast?
In two of the three high-speed sectors, it was Verstappen who set the fastest sector time in the race in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. It concerns sectors 2 and 3. These are sectors that have a lot of bends that have to be taken in high gears. For example, sector 2 has four turns in eighth gear, while in sector 3 there are two, combined with two turns in seventh gear. In other words: in extremely fast corners, Red Bull just has the upper hand.
Ferrari pulls a hole, aerodynamic differences small
By medium speed sectors we mean all sectors of Bahrain International Circuit. Yes, the Sakhir track has some long straights, but is also regularly interrupted by heavy braking zones, as happens twice in sector 3, and after the start-finish in sector 1. All sectors have at least two big braking points, which is the high average speed achieved on the straights pulls down. Although sector 1 and sector 3 are close to high-speed sectors, we still classify them as medium-speed sectors because of these aforementioned braking points.
|Team||Average of all medium speed sectors|
In these three power-intensive but twisty sections, it is again Ferrari that comes out on top of the test. An average of 31,700 justifies the Italian team’s victory in the season opener. The gap to number two, Red Bull, is slightly bigger than in the sectors where it comes more to power, but the Austrian team is still within a tenth. So nothing seems to separate the two teams in 2022. Of course it is important to take into account that the teams are going for different setups, but the above figures do give a good indication of the potential of the Formula 1 cars.
When aerodynamic efficiency matters, and porposing occurs less quickly, Mercedes can tie in nicely with the two other top teams. The gap to Red Bull and Ferrari is about two tenths in medium sectors. That’s not too bad. The more McLaren can adapt to the corners, the easier it seems to fare, suggesting that the British racing stable is suffering a lot from the apparent backlog Mercedes has incurred with its engines. The two other Mercedes customers, Aston Martin and Williams, are also not doing well in aerodynamics.
Leclerc lord and master in various sectors
Sectors that have a diverse series of bends and straights are a piece of cake for Leclerc. F1-75 gave him the fastest time in all sectors in Bahrain and sector 1 in Saudi Arabia. Characteristic of all these sectors are straights and several bends that have to be taken in third gear. In low-speed corners, the Ferrari seems supreme for the time being. This is also reflected in the words of team boss Mattia Binotto, who indicated that he was very satisfied with the traction of the Ferrari. When Leclerc and Sainz come out of a corner, they can therefore use their gas relatively quickly and effectively.
What does this data say?
What does this say about the teams? Very primitively it indicates the strengths and weaknesses of the teams in the first two Grands Prix of 2022. Ferrari has an insane all-rounder put on the track, just like Red Bull with the RB18. In addition, Mercedes seems to be particularly short on high speed, which is in line with the porpoising problems they still experience on the straight, but also in high-speed corners. In this regard, the industry average times thus provide a realistic reflection of the 2022 season start.
It also says that Haas, for example, is reaping the benefits of the strong Ferrari engine, but remains a mid-range engine in aerodynamics, just like fellow Ferrari customer team Alfa Romeo. Two teams seem to have put a solid car on the tarmac that doesn’t really excel in either way: AlphaTauri and Alpine. AlphaTauri seems to be gaining slightly on engine power, while Alpine seems to be stronger on aerodynamic efficiency.
Can we already conclude how the fork is for the rest of the year? It may be a bit too early for that. As more races are held, we naturally receive more data and we can also treat sectors with a low average speed separately. For example, follow-up analyzes will probably have more and more predictive value and can also be used to analyze which circuits will be exciting and where teams will dominate.
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By: Christian Moerman | Twitter: @ChristianMoerm1