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The LMP2 class offered a very exciting race, with a lot of drama and wheel to wheel fights, involving also the main championship players, like DC Racing car n.38.
As all the teams use the same car (Oreca 07 – Gibson), there are less major performance differences compared to what we have seen for the LMP1 class (and in some previous LMP2 races), but we can still find some interesting points.
If we start considering the overall lap performance of the first four classified cars and of car n.28 (which came to sixth place, but was much faster than car n.25 who finished fifth), the following table immediately shows us that car n.31, who finished first, actually won on merit, not only because of a perfect strategy and because they avoided any mistake, but also because they had a very strong pace:
Car n.31 was in each metrics in our table either the fastest car or very close to the fastest times. Beside signing the best overall lap time in the race, they are also on top if we consider the average of the best 20 laps and remain extremely close to the best performances also if we look at the average of the best 50 and 100 laps. They are again the quickest if we consider the “all clean laps” metrics.
Another interesting point, anyway, is car n.38 pace. Jota Sport’s crew was indeed extremely fast and, in terms of pure performance, could be beaten only by car n.31. Their race was anyway affected by a couple of mistakes/accidents that compromised completely their final result.
The plots relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 laps help us even more to understand how each team performed:
The first thing to notice, looking at the plots above, is how close all the cars we are analyzing were to each other, in terms of lap performance potential.
Car n.31 was indeed the fastest if we only look at the best 20 lap times plot. Above all their best 10 laps were sensibly faster than the ones of all the other cars.
Anyway, if we move our focus on the best 50 and 100 laps, we clearly see that the line seating below all the other was actually the one of car n.38, who clearly becomes the fastest car past the 10 mark.
It is also interesting to notice how close to each other were car n.31 and car n.36 (who finished second), in terms of performance, past the 25 mark.
Another interesting point is also that all the lines in our plot seem to show a very similar gradient from left to right (from fastest to slowest laps).
With this regard, it is very revealing to look also at how the performance of each car evolved during the race, also comparing each crew to the winning n.31.
If we first put car n.31 and car n.36 together, we see that the Rebellion crew was significantly faster than the Signatech one mainly during the second and the last stint, but also that the two cars were pretty close to each other (in terms of lap times) during the rest of the race. We could even go so far and say that car n.31 seemed to manage the tyres better, as they normally showed a slower increase of the average lap times during two stints (also in LMP2 each team had to double stint the tyres). But this could also be dependent on other factors, like traffic management.
A comparison between car n.31 and car n.38 also offers some interesting discussion points.
Car n.31 was again untouchable during the second stint, with Bruno Senna at the wheel, while Jota had his silver driver in the cockpit (Laurent), although Laurent is surely one of the biggest sensation of 2017 Season and is really fast.
Anyway, car n.38 produced in several stints a better performance than car n.31 and was sensibly slower only in the closing phases of the race.
This confirms their performance potential and that their race was actually ruined by unfortunate track action situations, but not because of bad pace.
Rebellion second car, n.13, was a step behind the sister crew in terms of performance and indeed one of the slower cars in our analysis (but we mentioned already how close these five cars were to each other in terms of performance), but still managed to close third, overtaking car n.38 in the final phases.
And indeed, if we compare the pace of car n.38 and car n.13 during the whole race, the first thing that catch our eyes is the dramatic performance drop that Jota’s crew had in the final two stints, while car n.13 was able to keep running with a much better performance.
Let’s now try to break down each car performance by looking at the sector times.
In sector 1 car n.31 and car n.38 performance are very close, with all the other crews remaining anyway not too far, above all Signatech.
Car n.31 and car n.38 metrics are always very similar, with the gap only slightly increasing as we consider more and more laps. Car n.36 follows very close behind.
A look at the best 20, 50 and 100 sector 1 times plots helps to get a better feeling about each team’s pace.
Car n.31 seems indeed to have a small edge on the competition in this sector, with car n.38 being very close if we look at the 20 best sector 1 times plot, but losing a bit of ground on the long run. Car n.13 is constantly slower than the other crews in this first part of the track.
Again, excluding maybe only car n.13, all the cars we consider are incredibly close to each other up to at least the 70 mark; this underlines not only the consequences of using the same chassis but also, most importantly, how good these teams work and how close they constantly are to the limit, after one season of development of their cars, setups and approaches.
Sector 2 offers a slightly different scenario, with car n.38 being constantly very fast and car n.31 not seating on top here, although remaining always among the fastest ones.
As we mentioned already, sector 2 is at least partially downforce dominated, but we better not jump to quick on conclusions and look first to the data of this sector and sector 3 afterward.
The table above seems to confirm, without any doubt, that car n.38 was extremely competitive in this section of the track, although again the gaps between the cars in each metrics are extremely small.
This sector seems also to suite car n.13 pretty well, on the contrary of sector 1. Is this also what the best 20, 50 and 100 laps plots tell us?
Car n.38 and car n.13 look very strong, both if we look at the 20 laps plots or we concentrate on the long run. Again, all the cars are pack extremely closed together and car n.31 is not far, although not shining as they did in sector 1 and in terms of overall performance. Did they indeed run less downforce than car n.38?
This doesn’t seem what sector 3 data tell us. In a sector where top speed (and hence low drag) play an important role, car n.38 and car n.31 are very close to each other in terms of performance and indeed have a slightly bigger gap to the other crews we consider, compared to what happened in sector 1 and 2.
This is what the table relative to the best sector 3 times and to the average of the best 20, 50, 100 and “all clean laps” sector 3 times tell us.
Anyway, the plots relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 sector 3 times give in my opinion a better feeling about the performance situation in this section of the circuit.
In all three plots it is crystal clear how car n.31 and car n.38 lines constantly lie below all the others, with car n.38 having maybe a small edge up to the 50 mark.
Car n.36, that had a very good overall pace during the whole lap, was indeed a step behind Jota’s and Rebellion’s crews in this sector, as was Rebellion second car n.13.
The top speeds data seemed to confirm that car n.31 and car n.38 were running similar drag levels:
Car n.31 and car n.38 have pretty much always the best top speed and this is indeed no surprise, following the analysis of sector 3 times.
Car n.36 is, on the other hand, constantly the slowest one in terms of top speed, which seems to give a reason for their slightly slower times in sector 3 and their pretty good performances in sector 2.
All of this seems anyway to leave open the reasoning behind car n.38 being slightly faster than car n.31 in sector 2: this doesn’t seem to lie on different aerodynamic configurations.
Maybe the two teams were running different mechanical setups, which could also partially explain the differences in tyre management that we discussed before; but the reason of these differences could also simply “depends” on the driving styles of the drivers composing each crew or on the different race situations in which each team found itself during the race.
In general, car n.31 seemed to be a bit more consistent than the other crews (in particular car n.38, that was the closest in terms of performance), but they also had the (well deserved) advantage of being constantly in front, this giving a chance to manage the race instead of having to chase it, as it was the case for car n.38 during many phases; they most probably could not run in “save mode” and maybe had to stress its tyres much more (see for example the accident and relative spin that car n.38 had during the confrontation with G-Drive car, which surely didn’t do any good to the set of tyres they were using during that stint).