The stopwatch is the most decisive measure of performance in motorsport. That comes with a condition, however, because in isolation a single lap time means little. There needs to be context - a comparison to a simulator run or a theoretical perfect lap.
These are strong reference points for a team, but the indicator transfixing everybody else is whether or not a driver can beat their nearest rival, the one running in equal machinery. Have they have gone faster than their team-mate?
It becomes a more thankless task when you're driving alongside Lewis Hamilton, statistically the best qualifier of all time with 88 pole positions. That's been the challenge presented to Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and then Valtteri Bottas since Hamilton joined the team in 2013.