Hi everybody!

Here we are again with the latest race analysis for this year, as after ELMS now also WEC 2017 season came to the end with a very interesting race in Bahrain.

Although the LMP1 title was already assigned in China, the race was anyway very interesting.

Toyota showed again a top form, above all with car n.8, who really dominated the event. Anyway, as we will see, the situation was a bit less biased on their side than in China in terms of performance, with Porsche who wanted to fare well the championship in the best way possible and who was not lucky in more than a situation.

Again, tyre degradation and strategy played a central role, both in LMP1 and LMP2.

Particularly exciting was anyway the battle in the LMP2 class, with the race victory deciding also the title winner. Both the crews fighting for the championship victory (Rebellion car n.31, who won in the end and DC Racing – Jota Sport car n.38) had some issues during the race, with the final stints of Bruno Senna slowed down by the power steering not working anymore and with car n.38 race in part defined by a refueling problem, not allowing them to complete the same number of laps per stint as their direct competitors and forcing them to stop once more than Rebellion.

The track itself is probably not as fascinating as other facilities around the world, but offers anyway some tricky points, like corner 9 and 10, where the cars have to brake while cornering and a couple of relatively fast sections (turns 6 and 7 and turn 12).

**LMP1**

As we mentioned, Toyota n.8 dominated the event in Bahrain, leaving all the other contenders at least one lap down. This was Toyota’s third win in a row and fifth victory this year, meaning car n.8 won more races than anyone else in 2017.

Toyota’s car was extremely competitive at the beginning of the year and seemed to work extremely well again after the race in Texas, where Toyota was anyway not too far off from Porsche.

At the light of this strike of victories, it is really a pity that Le Mans proved to be so bitter for the Japanese Team, since that race not only is the most prestigious and well known of the WEC season, but also assigned double points.

**In Bahrain, the crew of car n.8 did again everything right, with the car showing the best pace in the field and the team working the strategy perfectly.**

**Car n.8 was the only one who didn’t experience any issue or accident during the race** and hence the only one doing only 6 pit stops, spending some 50 seconds less in the pit lane than car n.2, who finished second.

**In terms of performance, car n.8 was clearly the fastest car throughout the race.** Although they didn’t sign the overall best lap (that went to car n.1), the following table (relative to the best laps and best 20, 50 and 100 lap times averages) clearly show their advantage on all the other competitors.

Although car n.1 obtained the best lap in the race, the average of the best 20 lap times sees car n.8 already at the top, with the gap to all the other crews increasing as we look at more and more laps (average of the best 20, 50, 100 and “all clean laps” lap times).

Interestingly, car n.7 didn’t show the same pace and was faster than Porsche n.2, but slower than Porsche n.1 (who had an accident during the race, costing them time and a penalty). Although car n.8 could probably have been anyway faster than car n.7, it is worth to mention that Kobayashi had an accident about half way through the race; this produced a not well defined damage to the car that could have led a pace deterioration for car n.7, despite the reparation done in the garage.

The trends we just described are also easy to recognize if we take a look to the plots relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 lap times.

It is interesting to notice how, despite car n.1 being able to produce the best 10-11 lap times of the race, it completely falls behind car n.8 on the long run, with a pretty significant performance drop after the 12 mark.

Still, beside car n.8 being clearly the fastest one on the long distance, we cannot notice how car n.1 was still the one getting closer to car n.8 pace, with much better lap times than car n.7. Different story for car n.2, which was constantly out of pace.

If we look at how the lap times evolved during the race, we pretty much see the same trends in terms of relative performance of each car with respect to the others.

The plot below compares car n.8 to car n.1 and gives maybe also an indication about what could be a tendency in car n.8 to better preserve the tires than the Porsche.

Beside noticing that car n.8 line is nearly always slightly below car n.2 one, we can also identify a slightly bigger performance drop for the Porsche in certain stints, like for example the third one. It is anyway very hard to come to any clear conclusion, since there wasn’t apparently any dramatic performance degradation for any of the two cars.

The following two plots, referring to car n.2 and car n.7 performances compared to car n.8, also confirms how much quicker car n.8 was during the whole race and during some stints in particular.

As we mentioned already, particularly interesting was the pace difference between the two Toyota. Anyway, we have to always keep in mind that car n.7 had an accident with a GT Porsche at the beginning of lap 96, that costed them a puncture, a long time in the pit and, most probably, a damage to the car that was not completely repaired. It is not a case that, despite car n.7 being already slower than car n.8 during the third stint (which could be related to the typical Toyota split tyre change strategy: car n.7 changed the tyres during the first pit stop and was indeed pretty fast during the second stint, while car n.8 did it during the second pit stop and was quicker than car n.7 in the third stint), a bigger performance gap between the two cars seems to build up after the 100th lap, so immediately after car n.7 accident.

Let’s now break down our performance analysis considering each track sector and the relative performance of each car.

As usual, the track was divided in three sectors, as shown in the image below.

The first sector is all about straight line speed and longitudinal acceleration, being composed by a big part of the main straight and three pretty slow corners, with two of them coming after intensive braking and followed by strong acceleration.

The second one contains a couple of relatively fast corners (turn 6 and 7) and the tricky corners 9 and 10, with the cars braking for turn 10 while negotiating turn 9. It also presents some intensive corner exit accelerations, above all the one after turn 10, which is followed by a pretty long straight. Here the hybrid deployment surely plays a role on the final performance.

The third and final sector has “only” three corners, but one of them is the fastest of the track (turn 12). Again, there are at least two corners exits where hybrid power deployment is very important, because leading to pretty long straight: turn n. 13 and turn n.14.

Sector one offers immediately the first interesting “talking point”, as car n.1 is clearly the fastest here, with car n.8 getting a bit closer only on the long distance.

This is indeed what the table below (relative to the average of sector 1 best 20, 50, 100 and “all clean laps” times) shows us, with car n.1 producing the best value for each one of the considered metrics.

As we mentioned, the gap between car n.1 and car n.8 gets a bit smaller as we analyze more and more laps. Car n.2 and car n.7 are relatively close to each other and both relatively far off the pace of their sister cars.

Looking to the plots relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 sector 1 times, we can get a better feeling about each car’s performance.

The plots give a better feeling not only about car n.1 performance advantage in sector 1, but also about car n.8 getting closer as we move toward the 100 mark. The gap between car n.8 and car n.1 reduces from about 0.2-0.3 seconds on the fastest lap of each car, to only about half of a tenth on the longer distance.

As we mentioned while describing the track, top speed and drag levels play surely a role in determining how fast a car can go through this first sector.

The trap speed data seems to confirm that having a better inline speed is important for sector 1 times, as car n.1 is constantly the one with the highest top speed.

Interestingly, car n.2 has very similar top speed to car n.8 but is significantly slower and this could indicate an advantage for Toyota during the acceleration phases (hybrid deployment).

The three top speed plots above (best 20, 50 and 100 top speeds achieved by each car), seems to confirm not only the advantage of Porsche n.1 on Toyota n.8 (the difference is about 4-5 km/h and we know this can also depends on how long each car coast at the end of the main straight), but also the difference between car n.1 and car n.2, which is pretty significant, while the two Toyota are closer together.

As we mentioned, interestingly car n.8 and car n.2 have pretty much the same top speeds.

As we saw already in other races, this seems to suggest, on one side, how the two cars of the same team may be running with different aerodynamic configurations and, on the other side, also how the Porsche seems to have less drag than the Toyota.

Sector 2 sees a completely different situation.

Toyota n.8 is definitely and constantly the fastest car, with a pretty significant margin on the closest competitor which is (no surprise) car n.7.

The table below, relative to the best laps and to the average of the best 20, best 50, best 100 and “all clean” sector 2 times gives already a pretty clear impression about the impressive pace of car n.8 compared to all the other crews.

Car n.8 is not only the fastest in sector 2, its advantage to the closest competitor (car n.7) also increases as we look at more and more laps, with more than 0.2 seconds gap on the “all clean” metrics.

It is also extremely interesting to see how far off Porsche’s pace was compared to Toyota’s one in this part of the circuit, with a gap between car n.8 and car n.1 that moves between about 0.2 seconds for the average of the best 20 times, and more than 0.3 seconds for the “all clean” metrics. Again, it is important to notice how the gap between car n.8 and the other crews increases on the long distance, while the gap between car n.1 and car n.8 in the first sector showed exactly the opposite trend.

A picture tells more than thousand words; a plot is even better. So let’s take a look to the plots relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 sector 2 times of each car:

Above all by looking at the 100 best laps plot, one can really appreciate how much quicker than the other crews car n.8 was, in particular on the long run.

This plots helps also to see the performance drop that car n.7 had, maybe also because of the consequences of the accident and, in general, how much faster car n.8 was than the two Porsche.

This is also particularly important because, as we will see shortly, the performances of car n.8 and car n.1 in sector 3 were much closer to each other.

Already by looking at the table relative to the best average sector 3 times, we can see how, in more than a metrics, the difference in terms of pace between the two cars can be measures in terms of hundredths of a second, with car n.1 remaining always on top.

It is pretty impressive to see how close car n.1 and car n.8 were, above all when looking at the average of the best 50, 100 and “all clean” sector 3 times, with the latest showing a difference of only 12 thousandths of a second!

This well recognizable also by looking to the best 20, 50 and 100 sector times plots.

The first plot, relative to the best 20 sector 3 times, shows at best that car n.1 has actually the best sector 3 times overall. Anyway, if we look to the third plot, relative to the best 100 sector 3 times, we can really appreciate how the lines relative to Porsche n.1 and Toyota n.8 lie one on the other.

Car n.7 is constantly slower than all the other crews in this sector and this doesn’t seem to be linked to the accident, since we cannot really identify any point of the plot where their line lies below the ones of the other cars.

Sector 3 is indeed a mix of high speed straight and strong accelerations out of slow corners, which seems to require a combination of the strong points of each car that we already identified: Porsche has probably a top speed advantage on the penultimate straight, while Toyota could have a small edge on accelerations because of the hybrid deployment.

Combining the tendency of the three sector plots, we can come pretty easily to the trends shown by the best laps plots, with Porsche n.1 being faster up to the 11 mark or so and with Toyota n.8 becoming significantly faster afterward.

Closing with LMP1, this latest race was clearly dominated by car n.8, but **it is always interesting to notice how each team interpret the rules and the car setup/configuration**, producing better performances in certain tracks or section of a track and being a bit penalized in others. This was again the case in this race, with **Toyota being so much stronger in sector 2 thus to allow them to compensate for a worse pace and sector 1 and a pretty much identical pace in sector 3, compared to the Porsche**.

Hopefully, the new generation of LMP1 cars coming next year will offer the same technological interest and the same tension from a performance perspective.

**LMP2**

The LMP2 class offered probably the most exciting show, with two of the cars contending the race victory also fighting for championship win. Rebellion’s car n.31 arrived in Bahrain with a tight advantage in the championship standings on DC Racing car n.38 and could, up to a point, managed the race. But the situation during the race changed many times, with both cars leading in different phases and with both the cars suffering some technical issues toward the end.

This had a direct impact on the pit stop strategy of car n.38, that was apparently not able to fill the tank completely in the last pit stops, this forcing them to progressively shorter stints and to a stop more than the direct competitors.

It must anyway be said that car n.38 also reacted very quickly to an announced FCY phase (because of a cat walking on the side of the track) that was then canceled and never started at all. The car anyway was already in the pit, with an early stop that could also have led to the one more pit stop at the end.

The table above tells us that **car n.38 spent about 35 seconds more in the pit lane than car n.31. If we consider that the gap between the two cars at the end of the race was about 10.7 seconds, we have something to think about!**

Of course, car n.31 also had problems and could not push too hard at the end of the race because of a powering steering issue, with Bruno Senna offering probably one of the best performance of his life.

It is also worth to mention how car n.36, who finished fourth, used a different strategy, trying to triple stint the tyres on one side of the car, by changing only two of them during one of their early pit stops. This lead them to the shortest time in the pit among the cars we consider, but, as we will see, they also dropped down by several position during the stint immediately after this “ambitious” decision.

We cannot know exactly how much each crew pushed during the race, but the data we collected seemed to show that **car n.38 had a small edge in terms of performance, although the difference between them and car n.31 was really small.**

Our analysis will include more cars than usual, since I could identify more or less two “performance groups”, a faster one and a slightly slower one.

The following table, relative to the best and average of the best 20, 50, 100 lap times and “all clean” lap times, gives already an idea about each car performance during the race:

Interestingly, the best lap overall has been obtained by car n.37, which was also very close to car n.31 up to the average of the best 20 laps metrics, but fell down on the long distance.

Beside the best lap overall, it is clear anyway that on the long run car n.38 had the best pace, with a gap on car n.31 (the closest contender) reducing a bit as we analyze more and more laps.

It is also worth to notice that car n.13 seemed closer to the sister Rebellion crew than in previous races, above all if we consider the average of the best 100 laps and the “all clean” laps.

Car n.26 was very competitive if we look at the best lap and to the average of the best 20 laps, but falls progressively down on the long distance.

Car n.36, despite its “alternative” strategy, had a good pace and was close to car n.31 in terms of performance up to the average of the best 50 laps metrics, but the gap beween the two cars performance increases a bit on the long distance.

The plots relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 lap times of each car help, as usual, to visualize better each crew’s pace relative to the others.

The first plot shows that car n.37 was indeed very fast if we only look at the best 3-4 laps and still pretty competitive if we consider the best 20 laps, but falls significantly down afterward.

Car n.38 is with no doubt the fastest on track, with car n.31 being close if we look at the best laps overall, falling a bit behind between the 5 and the 45-50 mark and then getting again very close on the long distance.

It is interesting to notice how, after the 50 mark, three cars (car n.31, car n.38 and car n.13) had pretty much the same pace, with only a small advantage for car n.38.

Car n.36 is a kind of special case in this race, partly because of the strategy the team adopted: they probably didn’t have the absolute pace of the best cars, as the first plot seems to suggest, but were anyway pretty close. Their line, in the second and third plots, lies pretty much on the car n.38 one between the 25 and 50 mark. After this, there is a significant performance drop and Signatech car finds itself between the bests in class and the “second group”, on the long run performance.

To better understand how the race evolved, let’s take a look at all the lap times of each car comparing them to car n.31 ones.

We start to the main contender, car n.38.

As we have seen, car n.38 was a bit faster than car n.31 and this is confirmed by the above plot. DC Racing’s crew is clearly faster than Rebellion’s one during the third, the fourth and the last two stints. We know anyway that Rebellion performance was compromised in the closing race phases by the power steering issue. We can also identify how **the two cars stopped pretty much simultaneously the first three times, but this trend was broken starting with the fourth stop. From that stop on, car n.38 started coming into the pit lane always before and performed always shorter stints. The results was car 38 stopping once more than car n.31**: this was probably one of the race’s deciding factors.

The comparison between car n.31 and car n.13 helps to confirm how close the two cars were in terms of pace, differently to what we have seen in other races.

More interesting is the comparison between car n.31 and car n.36, because it helps to highlight the impact of the strategy / tyres change decision that Signatech took, when they let Lapierre to triple stint the tires on one side of the car.

Although we all know the value of Lapierre as a driver, we cannot ignore the dramatic performance drop that the team experienced during the third stint, that also costed them many positions. This is particularly important considering that Signatech’s crew was in many phases as quick as Rebellion car n.31 if not quicker (like during the third, fifth and seventh stints). Of course, this strategy saved them some pit time, but the performance lost was too big to be compensated.

Let’s now break down also LMP2 teams performance, analyzing each track sector times.

Car n.38 was pretty much the fastest in sector 1, but the gap between DC Racing’s crew and Rebellion car n.31 is nearly nonexistent, above all if we consider more laps. The table relative to the best sector 1 time, the average of the best 20, 50 and 100 sector 1 times and of the “all clean” sector 1 times pretty much underlines how close to each others the performances of the two main contenders were.

Beside this, the most interesting note is how close car n.13 was to the the first two classified crews.

Car n.31, car n.13 and car n.38 form the fastest group, while all the other cars are a bit slower and pretty much close to each other.

A look at the plots relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 laps helps to better understand the relative pace of each car compared to the others.

As we may see, car n.38 line is constantly the lowest, if we only exclude the fastest sector 1 times of the race, up to about the 5 mark in the plots above.

Car n.13 and car n.31 are very close to each other, above all past the 19 mark.

Car n.36 is close, but still a small step behind the two Rebellion cars and DC Racing one, while the other three cars are pretty close together and a further step slower.

As we mentioned already during the LMP1 analysis, sector 1 includes the biggest part of the main straight, where top speed plays a very important role and two pretty hard brakings, leading to two slow corners that are followed by hard accelerations.

To have an indication about the reason why car n.38 is so fast in sector 1 and if there is any difference in the aerodynamic setup each team used, we can take a look to the top speeds data (the speed trap was placed at the end of the main straight).

As we would expect, car n.38 has the highest top speeds and this seems to (at least partially) explain why they were so quick in sector 1. They were probably running a setup with lower downforce/drag than other cars.

It is anyway interesting to notice that car n.31 has constantly lower top speeds than car n.38, still obtaining sector 1 times that are very close to car n.38 ones. It is also worth to notice that car n.13 and car n.31 seem to have similar performances in terms of top speed too.

This is not the case for car n.38 and car n.37, with the latter having significantly lower top speeds.

Car n.36, on the other hand, has slightly higher top speeds than car n.31, but is anyway a bit slower in the first sector, as we saw.

Sector 2 is more twisty and combines low and medium speed corners and a tricky braking point, where the cars brake while cornering.

By looking at the table relative to the best and average of the best times for this sector, we cannot really identify any dominant car, as nearly each metrics has a different crew signing the best result.

It doesn’t comes as a surprise that some of the cars that had a lower top speed are pretty fast in sector 2, above all if we consider only up to the best 50 times: car n.37 signs the best sector 1 time overall and remains on top also if we consider the average of the best 20 times. On the average of the best 50 sector 2 times car n.37 remains on the same performance level of car n.38 and car n.31 but is beaten by car n.36, which was also one of the crews with lower top speeds and was close to car n.37 performance also in the average of the best 50 sector 1 times.

On the long distance, car n.31 and car n.38 return on top, followed closely by car n.13.

The following plots, relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 sector 1 times help us to visulazize the situation we have just described.

Car n.37 is the fastest if we only look at the best 17 sector 2 times. Car n.36 took the lead afterward and remains the quickest up to the 44 mark. Past this point, car n.31, car n.13 and car n.38 come back on top and are clearly the fastest cars, all three with very similar sector times.

Sector 3 is again all about car n.38. Jota’s crew pretty much dominates in terms of performance in this track section, only missing the overall best sector time (anyway for less than 6 hundredths of a second) that was taken by the sister car n.37.

The table above gives a first feeling also about how much faster car n.38 was compared to the direct championship competitor, car n.31. In each of the metrics we consider, the gap between the two crews is always slightly bigger than 0.1 seconds.

Car n.37 has the best overall sector 3 time, as we mentioned already, but falls behind on the long distance.

Car n.36 is relatively fast and pretty close to car n.31 performances, at least up to the average of the best 100 sector times.

Since each car sector 3 times are pretty much similar, the plots relative to the best 20, 50 and 100 sector 3 times are a better mean to get a feel of each team’s relative performance.

These plots confirm that car n.38 is the only one really holding a gap on the rest of the crews, with its line lying constantly below all the others.

Car n.31 gets closer only on the very right part of the third plot, so namely if we consider the “slowest of the best 100 sector 3 times”.

The plot also helps, once again, to identify how extreme was car n.37 performance drop.

Interestingly, car n.26 is very close to car n.31 in this sector, if we consider the data relative to their best 45 sector 3 times.

Car n.36 seems to have potential but their performance also experience a significant deterioration past the 51 mark.

Closing, the analysis relative to the LMP2 class seems to show that, **looking only at the performance side, race end result could have been more favorable to car n.38**. Considering they stopped once more for refueling than the direct competitors, car n.31, we could ask ourselves how the race could have ended if they could run the same strategy.

On the other hand, we don’t have to forget that **also car n.31 experienced some problems, above all during the closing phases of the race**.

In any case it was an extremely tense battle, something really enjoyable for every fan. Rebellion succeeded in winning the first season of this new LMP2 era, which is even more remarkable if we think that they didn’t run in the (extremely competitive) LMP2 class last year and that they always showed extremely good performance, beside very very consistent race management.

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