Pirelli data suggests Ferrari 0.5s ahead of rivals

Pirelli’s estimated differences between its 2019 Formula 1 tyres suggest Ferrari ended the first test with an advantage of half a second.

Pirelli data suggests Ferrari 0.5s ahead of rivals

The top three teams at the end of the opening week at Barcelona were Renault, Toro Rosso and Alfa Romeo, with Mercedes the best of the traditional benchmarks in fourth.

Ferrari was only fifth, 0.7s behind pacesetter Nico Hulkenberg, but Leclerc’s best time was set on the middle of Pirelli’s five compounds.

The top six drivers, including Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, used the softest of the five compounds – which Pirelli estimates is 1.2s faster than the C3 used by the Ferraris to set their best times.

Applying Pirelli’s estimates of the gaps to the C5 tyre reshuffles the top 10 laptimes from testing considerably.

Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel move to the head of the order as the only drivers with sub-1m17s laptimes.

Hulkenberg falls to sixth, behind Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, Mercedes’ world champion Lewis Hamilton and the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

There are more significant factors beyond the tyre compound that influence a laptime in testing, including engine modes and fuel levels.

Fuel is particularly tricky to account for, even though it is tempting to declare that, for example, Daniil Kvyat setting a 1m17.704s on one-lap outing must be a glory run on low fuel compared to Kimi Raikkonen setting an almost-identical 1m17.762s in a five-lap run.

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Correcting the best laptimes from the opening test as if everybody had used C5 tyres is simplistic, and does not produce a definitive picture of the competitive order.

However, it is theoretically the most reliable way to account for one of the variables at play.

It serves to highlight just how misleading this week’s headline times were, as just changing one element of testing can completely transform the leaderboard.

A tyre-‘corrected’ leaderboard also tallies with all the other available data and assessments that Ferrari holds an advantage.

The competitive picture will change in week two when teams begin to show more performance.

Leclerc said Ferrari was holding back this week and that its rivals were also sandbagging, while Red Bull evidently not chasing laptimes. That means the order will become clearer in week two.  

In the meantime, though, Pirelli’s data helps remove one of the many layers that make the picture so opaque – and further hints at Ferrari holding an advantage, whatever it may prove to be when it matters.  

Driver

Actual laptime (compound)

Driver

Laptime adjusted to C5 tyres

Nico Hulkenberg

01:17.393 (C5)

Charles Leclerc

01:16.846

Alexander Albon

01:17.637 (C5)

Sebastian Vettel

01:16.961

Daniil Kvyat

01:17.704 (C5)

Antonio Giovinazzi

01:17.311

Kimi Raikkonen

01:17.762 (C5)

Romain Grosjean

01:17.363

Daniel Ricciardo

01:17.785 (C5)

Lewis Hamilton

01:17.377

Valtteri Bottas

01:17.857 (C5)

Nico Hulkenberg

01:17.393

Lewis Hamilton

01:17.977 (C4)

Kevin Magnussen

01:17.520

Charles Leclerc

01:18.046 (C3)

Pierre Gasly

01:17.580

Sebastian Vettel

01:18.161 (C3)

Max Verstappen

01:17.587

Lando Norris

01:18.431 (C4)

Alexander Albon

01:17.637

Antonio Giovinazzi

01:18.511 (C3)

Daniil Kvyat

01:17.704

Carlos Sainz

01:18.558 (C4)

Kimi Raikkonen

01:17.762

Romain Grosjean

01:18.563 (C3)

Lance Stroll

01:17.764

Kevin Magnussen

01:18.720 (C3)

Daniel Ricciardo

01:17.785

Pierre Gasly

01:18.780 (C3)

Lando Norris

01:17.831

Max Verstappen

01:18.787 (C3)

Valtteri Bottas

01:17.857

Pietro Fittipaldi

01:19.249 (C4)

Carlos Sainz

01:17.958

Lance Stroll

01:19.664 (C2)

Pietro Fittipaldi

01:18.649

Sergio Perez

01:19.944 (C3)

Sergio Perez

01:18.744

George Russell

01:20.997 (C3)

Robert Kubica

01:19.642

Robert Kubica

01:21.542 (C2)

George Russell

01:19.797

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Barcelona February testing
Teams Ferrari
Author Scott Mitchell
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