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FIA WEC: Silverstone, Race Analysis

Paul Truswell’s Statistics Don’t Provide All The Answers

As you will have read in the dsc ed’s race review, the Silverstone six hours was greatly enlivened by the battle at the front between the two works Audi R18 e-tron quattros. Allan McNish’s comeback drive in the no.2 car to take the lead of the race just three laps from the end, was inspirational and entertaining. However, it did tend to overshadow the fact that the two Toyota TS030 Hybrids were both a lap behind, and more fundamentally, were slower both on the track and in the pits, as we shall see.

The entire race was run without the need for the intervention of safety cars, but on two occasions, race director Eduardo Freitas called for a “full course yellow”, with drivers around the circuit being asked to “slow down, be prepared to stop, no overtaking”. Inevitably, this closed the gaps between some cars and opened up gaps between others, but generally caused less controversy than a more conventional safety car period.

Let’s look first of all at the stints of the two Audis:

#1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Stint
Driver
Laps
Average Lap Time
Comments
1
Tréluyer
22
1m 45.497s
Green flag
2
Tréluyer
24
1m 45.442s
Used tyres
3
Fässler
24
1m 45.536s
Fresh tyres
4
Fässler
25
1m 54.444s
Used tyres, rain, full course caution
5
Lotterer
24
1m 46.602s
Fresh tyres, full course caution
6
Lotterer
23
1m 45.462s
Used tyres
7
Tréluyer
23
1m 44.771s
Fresh tyres
8
Tréluyer
10
1m 44.432s
Used tyres
9
Tréluyer
22
1m 46.007s
Used tyres
#2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Stint Driver Laps Average Lap Time Comments
1 McNish 22 1m 45.036s Green flag
2 McNish 23 1m 45.481s Used tyres
3 Duval 24 1m 45.708s Fresh tyres
4 Duval 25 1m 54.901s Used tyres, rain, full course caution
5 Kristensen 24 1m 47.085s Fresh tyres, full course caution
6 Kristensen 23 1m 45.189s Used tyres
7 McNish 23 1m 44.423s Fresh tyres
8 McNish 12 1m 45.879s Used tyres, spin and recovery
9 McNish 21 1m 44.263s Fresh tyres

[sws_divider_small_padding]Note that, in these tables, the average lap time is calculated by taking the time from Pit Out at the start of the stint, to Pit In at the end of the stint, and dividing by the number of laps completed in the stint. This (as regular readers will know) is my preferred way to include the in and out laps, although I recognise it gives a slightly faster reading than reality.

Readers can draw their own conclusions, but here are mine, augmented by looking at some of the individual lap times.

McNish’s early pace gained him an advantage of more than 10 seconds; an advantage that was lost under the first full course yellow. Tom Kristensen lost ground to André Lotterer at the start of their stints, and was slow getting going again when the full course yellow ended, but was better at looking after his tyres and regained the lost time towards the end of the second stint.

McNish lost at least fifteen seconds recovering from his spin after his encounter with the Aston Martin, but the data shows his meteoric drive (albeit on fresh tyres) to snatch back a victory that otherwise would have been in the bag.

Toyota knew they would be at a disadvantage with their old car – the question was: how much behind would they be?

#7 Toyota TS030 HYBRID
Stint Driver Laps Average Lap Time Comments
1 Wurz 23 1m 47.434s Green flag
2 Wurz 25 1m 46.143s Fresh tyres
3 Lapierre 25 1m 45.937s Fresh tyres
4 Lapierre 3 2m 35.803s Used tyres, rain, full course caution
5 Lapierre 4 1m 50.252s Intermediate tyres, rain
6 Lapierre 24 1m 45.275s Dry tyres, damp track
7 Lapierre 18 1m 47.506s Used tyres
8 Wurz 25 1m 45.536s Fresh tyres
9 Wurz 25 1m 45.437s Fresh tyres
10 Wurz 24 1m 46.367s Used tyres
#8 Toyota TS030 HYBRID
Stint Driver Laps Average Lap Time Comments
1 Davidson 24 1m 46.592s Green flag
2 Davidson 25 1m 45.649s Fresh tyres
3 Sarrazin 26 1m 50.100s Fresh tyres
4 Sarrazin 26 1m 50.012s Used tyres, rain, full course caution
5 Buemi 25 1m 47.424s Intermediate tyres, rain
6 Buemi 25 1m 45.862s Dry tyres, damp track
7 Davidson 25 1m 45.014s Used tyres
8 Davidson 20 1m 45.664s Fresh tyres

[sws_divider_small_padding]The method of calculating average lap time is particularly useful in the case of short stints, such as those completed by Lapierre when he briefly tried Michelin’s intermediate compound. Time was obviously lost in the pit changing the wheels, but just as much (if not more) was lost as the Frenchman struggled round the track.

The other Toyota had a better race of it, closing on the Audis when the rain came, but was still consistently slower, although in fairness, the difference in average lap times was less than a second during some stints.

To get a better picture of the difference in outright pace, it makes sense to take the average of the best 50 laps from each car.

AVERAGE OF BEST 50 LAPS
Number Car Time
1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro 1m 44.355s
2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro 1m 44.021s
7 Toyota TS030 HYBRID 1m 44.733s
8 Toyota TS030 HYBRID 1m 44.651s

[sws_divider_small_padding]This seems to suggest that, in terms of potential lap time, the Audis were just over half-a-second quicker than the Toyotas.

Speed on the track is no use if you’re spending time in the pits, though, so how long was spent in the pits by each car?

TOTAL TIME SPENT IN PITS
Car Number Car No of Stops No of Tyre Changes Time in Pits
1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro 8 3 9m 49.387s
2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro 8 4 10m 04.136s
7 Toyota TS030 HYBRID 9 7 10m 43.135s
8 Toyota TS030 HYBRID 7 5 10m 25.410s

[sws_divider_small_padding]The Rebellion team should be pleased with a good afternoon’s work – although I have focussed, for the purpose of this analysis, on the manufacturer teams, it is interesting to note that the average of the best 50 laps for the number 12 Lola-Toyota of Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani was just two seconds slower than the works Toyotas (less than 2%). Bart Hayden and his crew also managed to spend just 9m 51.954s in the pits – a fine effort, considering that the hybrid engine uses less fuel than the non-hybrid.

At the end of the day, I found the Silverstone race somewhat inconclusive. There is more going on at Audi Sport Team Joest than meets the eye. Sebring failed to show that the 2013 car was any quicker than the 2012 version. Silverstone showed that if Toyota can find a second a lap with its new car – one of which we are told will be at Spa – then it will be ahead, by as much as it was behind at Silverstone. It may be that simple, but I rather doubt it.

These are just the first skirmishes in the war that will break out at Le Mans – the only thing about which is clear right now is that Audi will start with a superiority in numbers. And that is often (but not always) the difference in a war.

Paul Truswell