Long run analysis: Lewis Hamilton behind the pace in race simulations

30-04-2021 17:25 | Updated: 30-04-2021 17:28
F1 News
Long run analysis: Lewis Hamilton behind the pace in race simulations

The Grand Prix weekend in Portugal is underway and Mercedes have topped the timesheets in both FP1 and FP2. With the sessions reduced this season, practice is far more hectic and the race simulations are slightly shorter. Lewis Hamilton might've topped his first practice session of the season, but his long-run pace was slower than his nearest rivals.  

Max Verstappen complained of a brake by wire issue on the radio. The Red Bull team pitted the Dutchman, who was able to return to the track almost straight away. His long runs were not hampered by this issue, unlike last weekend. Sergio Perez however found himself down in P10 at the end of FP2. 

Extremely tight midfield 

Just 0.207 seconds separated Fernando Alonso in fifth and Lance Stroll in ninth. The top 12 were separated by less than a second, whereas this time separated the top nine in Imola two weeks ago. 

The order of the midfield is almost impossible to predict. The Alpine car was far stronger compared to Bahrain and Imola, but perhaps they have worked on a successful upgrade package. Of course, fuel loads and engine modes are unknown.

Alpine have jumped McLaren in the timesheets today whilst Ferrari remain closest to the front two teams. McLaren totalled 59 laps, a few down on their rivals Ferrari [66 laps] and Alpine [63 laps], but not a significant loss of track time. 

Long-run data, "number two" drivers ahead

On the medium compound tyre, Bottas had the fastest average lap time during the long-run stint compared with the big four drivers. Bottas averaged 1:23.242. Perez was closest with a 1:23.455, and Verstappen slightly further back with an average of 1:23.481.

Meanwhile, Hamilton was well behind the pace with an average lap time of 1:24.075. The British driver had two lap times deleted at turn one. This all suggests Hamilton had a tough time with the balance of his Mercedes car. 

Yet the fastest average lap pace went to Charles Leclerc. He averaged 1:23.192. The midfield teams are perhaps closer to the top two teams compared to what we've seen during the turbo-hybrid era. Sebastian Vettel averaged just over 1.1 seconds slower than the two Red Bulls. 

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