(Motorsport-Total.com) – Max Verstappen’s record-breaking season continues happily: his 53rd career victory in Las Vegas moved him level with Sebastian Vettel on the all-time winners list, but he had to fight harder than usual for victory in Nevada.
In Las Vegas, Max Verstappen overtook Charles Leclerc not only at the start
How good was the pace of each car? What do the data for the 2023 season tell us? Who is good in qualifying and who is good in the race? Who has the best top speed? Who has the best tire wear and how much does it cost? How quickly do teammates grow closer to each other?
Thanks to the data provided by our technology partner “PACETEQ”, it is possible to gain insight into the otherwise hidden data of Formula 1 teams and we can use it to answer all these questions!
Race pace: Ferrari narrowly fails, McLaren retreats
Judging by the data, Max Verstappen was the fastest driver on the grid at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, but he was only about a tenth a lap ahead of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc. While the Monegasse was slightly more impressive on medium tires, the Red Bulls performed better on hard tires.
The surprise was that McLaren took third place (+0.43), which was not expected at all for Oscar Piastri’s tenth place. However, the hard-hard-medium strategy, without stopping under the safety car, ruined Piastri’s race. Mercedes (+0.58) was also unable to fulfill its potential, finishing seventh and eighth.
Alpine (+0.77) and Aston Martin (+0.93) benefited more from the problems of the leading teams, although Alpine’s pace is still surprising considering that Renault has the lowest power engine. However, Esteban Ocon made sure the tires worked perfectly during the race.
Williams (+1.42), Haas (+1.59), AlphaTauri (+1.88) and Alfa Romeo (+2.0) all struggled with tire temperature and grain during the race. Valtteri Bottas probably had the best pace, but after a collision at the start that damaged the diffuser and chassis, his race was over.
If you look at the best times in qualifying, the dominant force was Ferrari and Charles Leclerc. Due to several corners, the competition was close together, with only AlphaTauri and McLaren disappointing as they simply failed to get the right tire temperature.
Tire wear is not a problem for Ferrari and Haas
Leclerc deprived of safe race victory by safety car!
With his 53rd career victory in Las Vegas, Max Verstappen moved level with Sebastian Vettel on the list of all-time Formula 1 winners.
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During the Brazilian Grand Prix, teams mainly made two stops, although this was due to safety car phases. If tire data from the race were extrapolated, a medium-hard strategy without safety cars would be around four seconds faster than a medium-hard two-stop strategy. In any case, it was more about getting the tires up to temperature and avoiding granulation than protecting them.
Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari showed the best tire management in Las Vegas. Charles Leclerc’s first run on medium tires was particularly impressive. There were no major differences between the teams at the back of the pack.
The seasonal average paints a mixed picture. The Red Bull RB19 is still the car with the least tire wear, and the consistent laps also point to controlling the pace. Nevertheless, theoretically the team should have an advantage, especially on tracks with aggressive asphalt. Mercedes and Aston Martin also score points when it comes to tire wear.
Ferrari and its customer teams, Haas and Alfa Romeo, are slightly further behind and wear their tires faster and more intensively. This costs the American Haas team particularly valuable race time and makes it almost impossible to score points on race Sunday.
This is the balance of power throughout the season!
If you look at the averages for the first 21 races, it seems that the chasers are slowly catching up with Red Bull. Especially in qualifying, the Bulls are increasingly at risk of not finishing in the top spot.
If an average of the first 21 races is taken into account, Red Bull is almost two-tenths ahead of Ferrari in qualifying, followed by Mercedes (+0.38) and McLaren (+0.64). Williams is a problematic child in qualifying: the team from Grove is in last place, 1.21 seconds behind.
There are bigger gaps in the race. Ferrari is now six tenths behind, as is Mercedes. The differences in the defensive midfield have also widened significantly. While in qualifying his gap was 1.21 seconds, in the race it is now 1.71.
The differences between qualifying and the race are sometimes stark. If we take Red Bull as a benchmark, Aston Martin lags behind in the race by approximately 0.082 seconds per lap and is therefore still the team that comes closest to catching Red Bull in qualifying, albeit in the wrong direction.
The biggest loser is Ferrari: Scuderia is four tenths of a second behind Red Bull in the race compared to the day before in qualifying. Alfa Romeo and Haas also seem to be doing much better on the same lap, losing another three tenths of a second to Red Bull in the race.
Team fight: Perez and Stroll with applause
A similar difference between qualifying and the race can also be seen in the distances in team duels. The clearest team duel in qualifying takes place at Aston Martin with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, where the Canadian gains an average of almost eight-tenths. Also noteworthy are the duels on the Wiliiams, Haas and Red Bull tracks, with Ferrari being the closest.
The purest team duel in the race also takes place at Aston Martin, where Lance Stroll sees no duel with Fernando Alonso. Interestingly, one of the clearer qualifying duels is one of the tightest ones in the race, where Magnussen in Haas is on average even faster than Hülkenberg.
Apart from Haas, there were also other team duels. In the race, Tsunoda is now faster than Ricciardo and Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou is ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Looking at the data, Daniel Ricciardo is also the best teammate Yuki Tsunoda had at AlphaTauri in 2023.
Which car has the best top speed?
Of course, the big question is: where does Red Bull’s advantage come from? The car is, of course, perfectly balanced, but the RB19 can also show its strengths on straights. If you look at the top speed numbers in qualifying, no one is faster than Verstappen and Perez.
On the one hand, the RB19 is once again aerodynamically efficient and generates less drag than the competition, but even with DRS open, Red Bull clearly finds more time than the rest. With an average of 0.5 km/h, only Williams can remotely keep up, followed by Ferrari.
Mercedes is in the middle of the pack when it comes to top speed, while at the back of the pack are McLaren and AlphaTauri, who still need improvement, averaging 5 km/h behind Red Bull. These cars have too much air resistance.
Who bluffs the most in Q1?
Have you ever wondered which team can improve the most in the first and third quarters? We have the answer: Red Bull! The team finds more than a second in qualifying, which means that at the beginning of qualifying you often don’t have all the cards on the table, whether it’s fuel quantity or engine mode.
The smaller teams, who are obviously at risk of elimination in Q1, must give their all in the first qualifying segment and can therefore only continue to improve thanks to an overall improvement in track conditions.
Who makes the best pit stops?
An important criterion for a good racing strategy are, of course, pit stops. On average, Red Bull and McLaren drivers spend the least time changing tires. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez last an average of 2.62 seconds when changing tires, which is the best result in Formula 1.
Alfa Romeo and Haas have more problems changing tires when it takes more than three and a half seconds to stop! This does not include pit stops for front wing changes or similar. The unluckiest person in the pit lane is Guanyu Zhou. The Chinese changes tires in an average of 3.7 seconds.