F1 in 2016: Analysing Mercedes & Ferrari's race simulations in testing
Tracking the race trials of Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel and Raikkonen
By William Esler in Barcelona
Last Updated: 06/03/16 7:52am
As Mercedes and Ferrari carried out race simulations in the final test at Barcelona, we tracked the laps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to see how the fight at the front could look in 2016.
All four drivers carried out three-stop strategies at the Circuit de Catalunya and only Raikkonen diverged from a soft-medium-medium-medium strategy by taking a hard tyre for his final stint.
So what did the numbers tell us?
Rosberg had the edge in the first stint as all four drivers started on the softs.
Across an eight-lap stint Nico's average lap time was 1:29.5 seconds. Hamilton averaged 1:30.5 during his first stint over the same distance.
Notably, the Mercedes drivers went one lap longer than the Ferrari pair on the soft tyre. Vettel's average lap time over seven laps was 1:30.0 with Raikkonen's 1:30.2.
Who was on top in the second stint?
Here the numbers become rather more complicated.
All four drivers switched to mediums for their second stint, with Raikkonen the quickest over the stint with an average of 1:29.6.
However, Raikkonen was only on the tyres for 16 laps, whereas Hamilton had a 24-lap second stint and was just a tenth slower on average lap time.
Rosberg averaged 1:30.3 over an 18-lap stint, with Vettel the slowest with a lap time average of 1:30.6 over 22 laps.
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Ferrari come on strong
In the third stint of the race Ferrari were incredibly strong. Not only were they faster than Mercedes, but they ran for much longer too.
Raikkonen averaged 1:29.2 across a 25-lap stint, with Vettel averaging the same time over 21 laps. Rosberg was a tenth slower on average over 20 laps, with Hamilton also averaging 1:29.3 over 15 laps.
Hamilton dominated the final stint of the race simulations with an average lap time of 1:27.2. That was around a second per lap quicker than Rosberg (1:28.0) and Vettel (1:28.3). All three were on the medium tyres, with Rosberg and Hamilton's running their stints for 19 laps, while Vettel's final stint was 16 laps.
Raikkonen lost time dramatically in the final stint by using the hard tyre, averaging 1:28.9 over 17 laps.
The final scores
The race simulations of the Ferrari-Mercedes quartet were carried out at different times and across different days. We also recorded them running slightly different lap distances - 66 for Hamilton, 65 for Rosberg, 69 for Vettel and 65 for Raikkonen. The Finn was also running a significantly different race configuration by finishing on the hards.
But on average, these were their lap-time averages
Lewis Hamilton - 1:28.98
Nico Rosberg - 1:29.22
Kimi Raikkonen - 1:29.32
Sebastian Vettel - 1:29.47
2016 could be tight. Very tight.
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