Monday, 17 September 2012

Why Toyota won at Interlagos

After my rather feeble effort to forecast what was going to happen at the Six Hours of Sao Paulo at Interlagos, I thought I should try to explain what happened - and why I was wrong!

I have to admit that I was both surprised and pleased at Toyota's victory: to win against an adversary such as Audi in only its third race was indeed a worthy achievement, and I heartily congratulate the Japanese manufacturer.

The tables below should be familiar, as they are in the same format as my analysis following the Silverstone race. I think they show quite clearly how Toyota raised its game between Great Britain and Brazil. I suggest you look back at the Silverstone tables and compare them side-by-side to these.

Since it won the race, I show the driving stints for the Toyota first:

Stint Driver From time To time Laps Notes
1 Lapierre 12:00:00 12:46:27 33 Plus lap to grid and FL
2 Lapierre 12:47:19 13:36:03 34
3 Wurz 13:37:22 14:27:15 35
4 Wurz 14:28:07 15:22:12 36 Incl 4 laps behind SC
5 Lapierre 15:23:30 16:13:07 35
6 Lapierre 16:13:58 17:03:38 35
7 Wurz 17:04:59 17:54:34 35
8 Wurz 17:55:10 18:01:08 4 To finish

As you'll see, practically the only thing I got right was that the Toyota would have to make one more stop than the Audis, but - and this was important - it was able to go an additional seven and a half minutes on its first tank of fuel, compared to Silverstone, and was able to continue at this consumption rate, while continuing to extend its lead.

Now here are the details for each pit stop:

Pit Stop Activity Time in pit lane Fuel added
1 Fuel only 52.2s 68.47 litres
2 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 19.3s 71.22 litres
3 Fuel only 51.4s 69.29 litres
4 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 18.0s 69.90 litres
5 Fuel only 51.8s 71.17 litres
6 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 21.0s 72.26 litres
7 Fuel only 36.3s 24.69 litres

The total time in the pits - add it up - was just 7m 10s, compared to over 9 minutes at Silverstone - although with different pit in and pit out points, comparisons may be misleading.

What is worth comparing, is the Toyota's performance in Brazil against the two Audis, of course. Here are the equivalent tables for the no. 1 car, which came second, just a minute behind the Toyota:

Stint Driver From time To time Laps Notes
1 Tréluyer 12:00:00 12:52:21 37 Plus lap to grid and FL
2 Tréluyer 12:53:12 13:33:39 28
3 Fässler 13:34:50 14:29:03 38
4 Fässler 14:29:53 15:30:37 40 Incl 4 laps behind SC
5 Lotterer 15:31:56 16:24:23 37
6 Lotterer 16:25:13 17:16:44 36
7 Lotterer 17:17:59 18:02:09 31 To finish

Pit Stop Activity Time in pit lane Fuel added
1 Fuel only 51.0s 55.33 litres
2 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 10.7s 39.93 litres
3 Fuel only 49.9s 55.44 litres
4 Fuel and tyres, driver change 1m 18.2s 55.32 litres
5 Fuel only 50.3s 54.23 litres
6 Fuel and tyres, no driver change 1m 15.1s 50.49 litres

Now you'll have to look back at the Silverstone analysis here, but you'll notice that the pit stop times between Toyota and Audi are quite comparable here. At Silverstone, Toyota was losing out by at least 5 seconds on each stop.

Clearly, the two areas in which Audi had the upper hand at Silverstone - fuel economy on the track and time to refuel in the pits - have both been addressed by Toyota in the intervening three weeks. If steps of that magnitude can be taken (to say nothing of the four thousand-odd mile transport question) in that timeframe, one wonders what will happen at Sakhir.

You can be sure that minds immeasurably superior to mine are at work at Ingolstadt. If there are bags of sand to be removed, now would be a good time to remove them. On the other hand, is Le Mans so important, that Audi would be prepared to sacrifice a few races? After all, the WEC crown is still beyond Toyota's reach.


  1. Paul, interesting as ever, one query. The final stop for the Toyota indicates over 55litres, but only 4 subsequent laps.. so clearly happy to finish with fuel on board, I would love to know how much and get a view on the derived dry weight ? above minimum surely !? Keep up the good work, are you attending these fly aways in person ?

  2. Further reflection, they may have used a better pump for the last stop, or the figures could be in error 35.88 feels right..

    1. Nick - absolutely right - it was a typo on my part... indeed there were errors in the last three tankfuls. Now corrected. That'll teach me to copy & paste and not check.

      To answer your other question - I wasn't in Brazil and have no plan (at the moment) to attend any of the other three WEC races (although I can make myself available should the opportunity arise).

      Thanks for the comments!