2008 British Grand Prix preview: Toyota vs Red Bull vs Renault vs Williams

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Behind the top three of Ferrari, McLaren and BMW the battle among the midfield teams is just as excitingly close. Not least because it’s two factory teams versus their two customers:

4. Red Bull-Renault 24
5. Toyota 23
6. Williams-Toyota 15
7. Renault 12

Toyota made a major step forward in France, scoring their first podium in two years. With Silverstone similar in character to Magny-Cours, could they become the ‘best of the rest’ team this weekend?

In the last two races Toyota have scored more points than their three principal rivals combined. At Canada Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli were well placed to profit from the timing of a safety car period. In France Trulli qualified fourth and raced to an excellent third, profiting from McLaren’s problems and out-performing the BMWs on an off-day for the German team.

Can Toyota repeat that form at Silverstone? If Ferrari, McLaren and BMW run to their season-long form, and suffer no reliability problems, then Toyota and the other three will be looking for seventh in the race at best. But the top three cars have not yet filled the top six places this year, so there are likely to be more than just three points (for seventh and eighth) on offer for the midfield teams this weekend.

But the midfield leaders Red Bull are more wary of the threat from Renault than Toyota. Mark Webber said recently:

In terms of the opposition, Renault have definitely not performed to their maximum yet and we can expect strong opposition from them and from a few other drivers and teams that have maybe under performed so far.

Renault certainly haven’t delivered on their potential so far this year. Languishing in seventh in the championship, they at least managed their first double points score of the year at home two weeks ago.

But the championship table still makes painful reading for the French team. Two years ago after the first eight races they were leading the constructors’ championship with 106 points, 31 more than Ferrari. After eight races last year they had 28 points and were third. Today they are seventh with 12 points.

Williams can also be described as a team that haven’t delivered on their potential. Since the high of their podium at Melbourne their form has varied from race to race. Nico Rosberg has had a nightmarish last three races with a crash in Monaco and another in Canada, which of course landed him with the same ten-place grid penalty as Lewis Hamilton for France.

Which of these four teams will be on top this weekend?

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “2008 British Grand Prix preview: Toyota vs Red Bull vs Renault vs Williams”

  1. Alonso has been driving recklessly this season. He is clearly frustrated driving a slow car, but instead of bringing home the car for decent points for the last few races, he’s been crashing out. Renault is losing WCC points, places and money because of Alonso’s selfish behaviour. I wonder how long Renault will tolerate his reckless behaviour.

  2. Renault had two huge advantages in 2005 and 2006 , being the one tyre per race rule change for 2005 (Michelin had a massive advantage over Bridgestone that year , and Renault were the “French” team around whom Michelin supported first and foremost – in fact I would go as far as saying Michelin designed their tyres to perform optimally on the Renault F1 car !) and the mass-damper advantage for the first half of the season of 2006. Without that , it’s fair to say they would not have won the two WC’s they did. Sure they are not a bad team , as even with the above , many other things need to be done correctly to win a WC , but that said , I don’t believe they are or will become more of a threat than the other three teams mentioned above. Alonso is trying hard , and he is not to blame , I think he is delivering the maximum he can in what the car can do this year.

  3. I agree with Jean, and to add further from my own point of view I feel that the FIA did as much as they could to neutralise any threat from Renault by removing the mass damper on the basis of an “aerodynamically moving part”. Please tell me how that differs from the newly tagged J-damper?

  4. I’d class Red Bull as a “manufacturer” team as well tbh – they certainly are not a proper independent team that exists only to go racing, instead they try to promote their foul-tasting beverage.

  5. michael counsell
    2nd July 2008, 17:38

    I like the taste of Red Bull but not as much as some of the cheaper alternatives which spend a tiny fraction of their budget on advertising and sell a lot less.

    If it rains Honda, Toro Rosso and Force India could beat any or all of these teams and on their day in the dry Toro Rosso and Honda have scored points ahead of all of the teams mentioned in the article or at least some of them.

  6. michael counsell
    2nd July 2008, 18:11

    As far as I can work out, the J-damper is some kind of device that dampens the 4th derivative of displacement and is part of the suspension.

    I would guess Renault are refraining from calling it a J-damper because of the spy situation and demonstrating how it works to show that its different from the device McLaren call a J-damper which may be completely different but still performing the same type of function.

    The mass damper wasn’t allowed because it could be tuned to alter the pitch of the car and potentially give an aerodynamic advantage even if it wasn’t the main aim of the mass damper. Renault probably weren’t using it this way because it probably wouldn’t help the suspension but a future development of the mass damper could help the aerodynamics and maybe that is why it was made illegal.





    + links on these pages and other pages I’ve closed and forgotton about

  7. I’d class Red Bull as a “corporate” – a sort of halfway house between the independent and the manufacturer teams, combining the strengths and weaknesses of both.

  8. Thanks for that Michael – it’s hard getting your head around some of the technology they have these days. I still can’t understand the grounds for banning the mass damper and not the J-damper though.

  9. michael counsell
    3rd July 2008, 4:19

    Well basically the j-damper isn’t causing the car to alter its pitch whereas Renault’s orginal mass damper did, thereby affecting the aerodynamics of the car. The J damper rotates and doesn’t move up and down so its perfectly fine.


    From the sounds of it many teams have got their head round it, enough that Renault could argue that they gained no advantage from seeing McLaren documents which they misunderstood in the same way most people still do…. On the other hand there is the suggestion that some engineers would have understood the documents if they’d seen them and would have known about the J-Damper but were as yet unable to implement it.

  10. I think the bias of each team’s historical comparative advantage comes into play a bit too. Renault seem to have lost a bit since the detuned & development restricted engine regulation.

    It is a bit frustrating that teams have these expensive engines nobbled. I would prefer “push to pass” accessing full rpm rather than what we have now even if the dirty aero might limit the gains.

    Perhaps something will come of KERS for the good of the motoring public but otherwise give me fast any day.

  11. I think Webber and Trulli will battle it out again for the major points to be had. Alonso will trail them home with the rest hoping for some luck.

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