Just interested here. In the cars this year we've seen great discrepancies (well, relatively great) between the cars' relative qualifying and race pace. Red Bull and McLaren stick up to mind as polar opposites, with McLaren having a great racecar while Red Bull is the one-lap king.
What are the factors that make a car have different race/qualy pace, especially this year? Last year, and in the past, the quali and race pace didn't seem too far away... it was almost just like 50-60 laps of qualifying, in a way.
Sure there's the McLaren whose mammoth diffuser works better at a low ride height, and they have to spring the McLaren very stiffly to keep a low ride height during qualifying, and the Red Bull alleged time-retarded misfire during Q3, but what other factors affect things? (aside from the obvious 160kg of fuel of course
Also, about this year's McLaren. If it's true their qualifying pace is down to their inability to feed the diffuser at tall ride heights, then shouldn't the McLarens, at the ending laps of a race, be similarly unable to feed their diffuser? But yet it seems they still have good race pace then, no? And I wonder if their blown diffuser setup will help alleviate their starving diffuser problems in quali.
Also, we see them in the race usually some 7/8 seconds off their quali pace in the opening laps, and even at the end we see them a few seconds off the pace. But we hear drivers say they're just push-push-push, and just going flat, and just going through their qualifying lap each time. But is there still a sense that they are driving WITHIN the limits, to help manage tyres? Their pace looks hardly "pushing flat out" to me in race configuration.
Any and all help will be appreciated.