The biggest threat to Red Bull is themselves (British GP pre-race analysis)

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Red Bull have been fastest in every session so far this weekend. But they’ve thrown away scores of points this year through driver errors and unreliability in the races.

Can they banish those demons to score a second consecutive one-two at Silverstone? Or will the fragile RB6s and its warring drivers allow the likes of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton by on race day?

The start

As far as Mark Webber is concerned, he’d be better off starting from third instead of second:

I would rather be third on the grid, probably. Fernando is on the clean side. As usual we know that second on the grid at most tracks this year is ****, so that’s why pole is a big… If Fernando wants to change, I don’t know if we can. But it is a long race, so let’s see what happens.
Mark Webber

The left-hand side of the grid is the cleaner side, and it’s a very short run to the first corner, so Sebastian Vettel can expect to preserve his lead if he gets away cleanly at the start.

But the difference between the clean and dirty side of the grid is usually not so pronounced at Silverstone as the track is in regular use. Webber started third last year and wasn’t able to pass second-placed Rubens Barrichello at the start.

After that, the high-speed Maggots/Beckets sequence usually forces the field to go single file, though there is usually some slipstreaming to be done on the run down Hangar Straight to Stowe.

This is where Jenson Button, starting down in 14th, will need to make some progress on the first lap if he’s going to salvage some points this weekend.


After the controversial circumstances of qualifying Webber will be desperate to pounce on any mistake by his team mate to stop him from claiming a second Silverstone win in a row.

Behind them Alonso and Lewis Hamilton will be equally keen for a chance to capitalise on more in-fighting between the Red Bulls. The prospect of Alonso and Hamilton fighting it out for ‘best of the rest’ is an enticing one, especially given their thrilling duel here last year.

As ever the timing of the pit stops will be crucial and it could be a headache for Red Bull if their drivers are running first and second.

Whichever of their drivers is leading will probably get the advantage of pitting first (unless the second placed driver is a long way behind) but that could leave the driver in second vulnerable to beign leap-frogged. And both their drivers have lost places due to slow pit stops on occasions this year (Webber in Valencia, Vettel in Spain).

We haven’t had a ‘normal’ strategy race since Turkey – the pit stops at Valencia were hastened by the arrival of the safety car and in Canada the teams ran unusual strategies to cope with unusually high tyre degradation. At Silverstone things are more likely to run according to plan.

As usual the trigger for the domino effect of pit stops will be when the new teams have fallen far enough away from the midfield for the midfield drivers to make their pit stops. Expect this to happen more quickly than usual, as the midfield runners have been over two seconds off the pace this weekend.

Then there is the question of whether any drivers will choose to start on the hard compound tyres. This may be a route for Button to take, running a long first stint in the hope of gaining some places after his pit stop. But with that come the usual caveats that it would leave him vulnerable to a late safety car deployment and make it harder for him to gain places at the start.

However with tyre degradation expected to be higher due to the changes to the circuit, we could see some surprises in the strategies. In Button’s position, it’s much easier to make the case for ‘rolling the dice’.

What do you expect to happen in the British Grand Prix? Should they just give Red Bull the trophies already? Have your say in the comments.

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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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    60 comments on “The biggest threat to Red Bull is themselves (British GP pre-race analysis)”

    1. If the red bulls have a clean start i think its a 90% certain a RBR 1-2. Like the article mentions, its going to be very exciting watching FA vs LH fight from the start with all the drama at Valencia.

      1. sorry about the typo.

      2. not a clean start it was – VETTEL TRIED TO PUSH WEBBER INTO THE WALL then caught a puncture on the left side (Lewis didnt cause it – he was on the right)…

        Fantastic McLaren… Great job WEBBER! Aussies are rock n roll

    2. pit stops will be paramount and might have a say in the end result

    3. Sadly, given there actions over the front wing, if the they lead at the end of lap one barring failures or accidents it will be a RBR 1-2.

      Hope Webber wins.

      1. go LEWIS!!!! go LEWIS! go LEWIS!

    4. Will the Abbey bump be more of an obstacle on lap 1, now they’ve all got full tanks? I’m thinking that might create some opportunities.

    5. I shouldn’t voice it but I hope Webber outdoes Vettel too. That whole front wing deal was a screwy, just like ordering Webber to follow Vettel home at Canada and the other team inspired favoritism of Vettel.

      As for going with hard tires on the start, I think it a bad move. Here the softs take 2 laps to get happy, and the hards are of course longer. That’s a very good chance to lose positions when the field is all packed up. Once hot they don’t have much speed difference (maybe 2-3 tenths to the softs) but getting the hards up to speed quickly will be difficult.

    6. STRFerrari4Ever
      10th July 2010, 20:54

      I’ve got a feeling that Webber will be pushing Vettel for all he’s worth during the first 10 laps, with the hope of pushing Sebastian into a mistake. Red Bull fearing what happened in Turkey might tell him to ease off a bit which will definitely pee off Webber. After that I expect RBR to cruise to a dominant 1-2.

      As for Ferrari, McLaren, Renault & Mercedes I think there could be some very fierce battles. Firstly Alonso will want to finish on the podium to try to get back into the title picture whilst Hamilton will give his all in his home race to get a result to stay near the top of the drivers championship. Personally I have a feeling that Kubica & Rosberg could spring a surprise, I know it doesn’t seem likely after all the sessions that have taken part this weekend but don’t count them out.

      Further back Jenson will have it all to do I doubt he’ll be able to make much headway so I’m guessing he’ll end up with low points or no points at all. Strategy if there is a safety car or surprise, surprise some rain will be fascinating, seeing what teams & which drivers decide to take gambles will be very interesting.

      Lastly one thing that could destroy a variety of driver’s races, is the Abbey corner that bump on full tanks & in a racing environment will cause many drivers to make some mistakes. Even the slightest mistake will leave a driver exposed going into the last sector particularly allowing the driver behind a run down the Wellington Straight. All these things being considered I feel this could be a very good British Grand Prix I sure hope it doesn’t disappoint!

    7. “The prospect of Alonso and Hamilton fighting it out for ‘best of the rest’ is an enticing one, especially given their thrilling duel here last year.”

      I agree last years battle between the two was a belter and was one of the highlights of the year, but I can’t see McLaren having the race pace of the Ferrari. I think the combination of Alonso being blocked on his last lap and Hamilton’s skill in quali masks the true gap between the two cars’ ultimate pace this weekend.

    8. I just hope Mark wins it.

      But if he cannot overtake Sebastien at the start, then it’ll be almost impossible.

      1. I agree. I think it’ll be first corner/first lap or nothing. After that, Vettel will probably just constantly pull away. I hope Webber can give him a run for his money though!

    9. Charles Carroll
      10th July 2010, 21:39

      I have a feeling that at the start, Mark will slip back down the order, similar to the way he did in Valencia. Vettel will get away clean and probably stay out front for the balance of the race. Alonso and Hamilton may have a battle early, which will wane as the race develops. Perhaps McLaren’s problems will multiply, and Lewis will have a problem, forcing both he and Jensen out of the race.

      I also expect Kubica to get past Rosberg and for Michael to fall back out of the points. Massa will have a boring race and De La Rosa will not finish. Kobayashi may slip into the points, and the Force Indias will get past Hulkenberg and fight with Toro Rosso for non-points places.

      HRT will be a disaster, with neither driver finishing, and most likely with Yamamoto being rear-ended by someone lapping him. Probably Kobayashi or Hulkenberg. Lotus will beat the Virgins, who will either have mechanical problems or crash out.

      So, Vettel wins, Fernando is second, and Kubica is third. That is my story and I’m sticking to it, unless a flaming and flying Yamamoto crashes out Seb.

    10. Webber will be lucky to keep Alonso behind him at the start; if he does get nipped for second he’ll be under pressure from Hamilton for the rest of the race. I look for him to come to grief in a tangle with a backmarker again, though not as spectacularly as in Valencia.

    11. Does anyone want to take bets on whether Webber will get fired if he drives into Vettel at the start trying to overtake into the first corner? ;)

    12. Fun fact: A Red Bull 1-2 on the grid has NEVER resulted in the race. They have had four qualifying 1-2s in the past: Australia, China, Spain and Valencia this year, and none of those races finished with a Red Bull 1-2. Gives us some hope for a bit of drama…

      1. As a 1-2 in the race that should be.

      2. Didn’t they have a 1-2 in Malaysia but qualify 1st and 2nd too? Albeit they swapped places in the race

        1. No, at Malaysia they had a 1-3 in qualifying, with Rosberg 2nd on the grid, then Vettel passed both Rosberg and Webber at the start.

          1. Ah right thanks! Apparently I have memory loss

    13. BBC suggest that there will be a light rain shower tomorrow morning around 10am. This might help Mark’s cause as it’ll wash just a little bit of rubber off the track. Probably not a lot, but it wont do him any harm.

      I’ve got a feeling Fernando is one to watch tomorrow, as well as Lewis (as they always are when qualifying side-by-side!). Fernando will want to drive away from Lewis to get revenge for the Valencia debacle and to mark his authority on the grid once more.

    14. I don’t see this as an easy 1-2 for Redbull. I haven’t witnessed a race yet this year where the Redbulls have been able to translate their Qualy pace to race pace. They’ve always been closely followed by either Mclaren (Turkey) or Ferrari (Bahrain). I expect it will be close between the top four.

      1. yeah it seems only Malaysia and Monaco were straight forward 1-2s for the team.

    15. Well i for one certainly hope Webber gets past Vettel during the first lap. And maybe Alonso and Hamilton can catch him.

      I would think Button might try a different tyre strategy. It might just work out like alonso at Monaco or Kobayashi in Valencia. And we have not seen many SC here at Silverstone in the dry.

      Rosberg might spring some suprises, as the Merceds also runs better in the race than in Qualli.

      But maybe Vettel will drive away at the start, then i expect RBR to make a mess of Webbers pitstop timing again. But hey, Vettel might be in risk, as Joe Saward said “The risk, of course, is that the new wing might fall off Vettel’s car tomorrow… in which case the team will have even more egg on its face.”

    16. Andrew White
      10th July 2010, 22:55

      Is this the third year in a row that Webber has started from second at Silverstone?

      1. No, Webber started 3rd at Silverstone last year, Barrichello was 2nd.

    17. ‘Should they just give Red Bull the trophies already?’
      lol keith!

      I’m looking forward to the prospect of 24 cars scrambling through the abbey corner on lap one with heavy fuel loads. if a car were to bottom out too much on the bump they’d just spin off! and vettel will be the first person to test this theory!

    18. ferrari will have the pace to give red bull somthing to think of in the race massa will finish fourth tomorrow.
      and a good race from Micheal Shumacher.

    19. MacademiaNut
      11th July 2010, 0:08

      I’ve put redbull 1 and 2 as my prediction. So, I am positive, redbulls will not be 1 and 2. :)

      1. Thank you for being that generous!

    20. Ferrari have not shown their supposed race pace since testing. It’s a myth. Hamilton is driving the normal car and his race pace has been strong, even vis a vis RedBull. Will get be able to get by Alsono without some problem? Maybe not. As ‘ pointed out, things are never straightforward when RBR starts up front. If you have to go on history, it is a virtual certainty that some combination of strategic screw ups, pit lane errors, and driver brain-fades will let Alonso and/or Hamilton on to the podium.

      This race also produces some interesting WDC arithmetic—which I’m sure Horner had in mind when shuffling around wings:
      For Hamilton, it must be in his mind that getting onto the podium is essential to him staying atop the WDC, and Vettel will be dam*ed if he will let Webber keep him out of that position; Webber likewise would rather eat a plate of nails than see Vettel lead the WDC right now. (At one of these Saturday pressers will Webber actually try to strangle Vettel? The tension is terrible at these things.) Alonso, if he were to win, could, amazingly, move to tie Button in points, as the latter looks to score zero tomorrow. Further, if Hamilton does not demote Alonso, RBR may take the WCC lead. But this, of course, would be the fault of Jenson Button.

    21. I think ALO somehow gets past WEB in lap 1 and stays close enough to VET until the pitstops. This will be much closer than the 8/10s quali difference indicates. I think RBR is fragile and the F10 is faster on the harder tyre. VET should still win it, but he will have to give it all he has. I think WEB makes another blunder and stays off the podium.

    22. Depends on who makes a good start – and who doesn’t. We could see Webber steal it away from Vettel, or Alonso pick off the squabbling pair and keep them behind on straight-line speed. Or Hamilton could repeat 2008.

    23. Sam Lambardo
      11th July 2010, 1:59

      Sebatian Vettel will broke his win who not belong to him and DNF.
      Webber win the Race followed by Hami and Alo

    24. I want Webber to win cause what happened with him is injustice.

      But I think Red Bull 1-2 with the battle between Alonso & Hamilton ( as they had in Canada) for 3rd .Disappointing performance from Button & Sutil I expected them to be higher. Expect Sauber in the points will be a exciting race.

      1. Schumi’s performance is getting deteriorating.He needs to clear De la Rosa & Barrichello in the first lap.

        The oldest GP track in the calender have 3 of the oldest & experience driver on the grid from 8-10 it will be interesting to see how the old bulls fight just as the young ones in the front.

    25. Christian Horner ‘manipulated’ this race. To deny his own driver an opportunity to compete is sad. I feel sorry for MW, his fans and all the people who payed good money to see a fair race.
      Like Alonso said in Monza a few years ago ‘this is a business not a sport’. It discouraging to even watch a race when you know the end results have been manipulated by RBR to the advantage of Vettel over Weber.
      I hated the past drama in formula 1 but this takes the cake. And Horner says it all about the team. BS.

      1. Christian Horner ‘manipulated’ this race. To deny his own driver an opportunity to compete is sad.

        To give the old front wing to Vettel would be to deny him the opportunity to compete.

        1. Don’t be deliberately foolish – as you’re well aware, they had 1 each.

          1. I know they had one each. And Vettel’s broke. I didn’t see the incident, but it was through no fault of their own. Red Bull no doubt looked at the telemetry from across the weekend and decided that Vettel stood a better chance of success, however marginal that better chance might have been.

            Nowhere is it written that Red Bull are obligated to pay equal attention to both their drivers.

            1. Finally in your last sentence you accept the real situation – you’re quite right that there is no requirement for equal treatment, but don’t pretend equal treatment is occuring when it clearly isn’t.

            2. Finally in your last sentence you accept the real situation – you’re quite right that there is no requirement for equal treatment, but don’t pretend equal treatment is occuring when it clearly isn’t.

              I’m not pretnding equal treatment, and nor have I ever said that it was present. All I’ve done is question whether what Red Bull is really so wrong. They obviously feel that Sebastian Vettel is stronger at Silverstone and that he is in a better postiion championship-wise (it might only be the tenth race and they might oly be separated by twelve points, but Red Bulls’ biggest problem in 2009 was the way their drivers were too busy taking points out of one another to have a run at Jenson Button). It’s everybody else who feels that some great injustice has been done, and the direct connotation of that is that Red Bull have intentionally disrupted harmony within the team that is born out of some nonexistant policy of driver equality within the sport. Red Bull are only doing what they have to do, and that is to allocate their resources in a way that they feel maximises their chances. If Mark Webber had been consistently faster than Vettel, then there’s probably a good chance they would have left him with the new front wing. After all, there’s only a tenth of a second between them on the grid, so the only way Vettel got an advantage out of it is if Webber drove a perfect lap. Just one slip one – one missed apex, one moment too early on the brakes or too late on the accelerator – could have cost Webber that tenth of a second. The real reason why Webber is upset is becaus he’s on the dirty side of the grid, and he hates being on the dirty side. Especially at Silverstone, where the racing line out of Woodcote through to Copse means that 99% of all rubber laid down over the weekend will be laid down on the outside of the circuit, meaning the effect is mangified in comparison to other circuits.

        2. So instead they denied Webber the opportunity to compete? Sounds pretty much like Schumi years at Ferrari to me.

    26. Webber will have a great start and will be in front of vettel near first corner and they both touch each other, seb front wing will make contact with mark rear wheel and sebeastian goes back to pit to put on his original wing with a crying face and finger around his head.

    27. I’m more keen to see how sauber drivers will perform on this race.
      more banzai from kobayashi will surely liven up the race if he didn’t involve in any silly incident and hope C29 will not fail him again.

      as for RBR drivers, they will surely kill each other on the track.

      1. Kobayashi was only able to pull those moves off in Valencia because of his tyres.

    28. Sometimes I just wish Mark Webber would shut up and race. That’s what they pay him to do. If he doesn’t like being in second place on the grid, the answer is simple: change his gearbox and drop back to seventh. I’m sure Fernando Alonso won’t go complaining about it.

      1. I personally think webber shouldn’t take that one year contract extension. He can always try to find other team; Renault perhaps.

        next year will be more volatile relationship between vettel and webber if the same situation like this wing row is not properly handle by Red Bull

        1. He’s already taken it.

          1. yeap I know that

            that’s why I said next year we will see more stone face from webber if this favouritism scenario is not properly handle by red bull

            1. Define “properly handled”. The number one reason why Red Bull’s title campaign fell apart last year was because they were too busy taking points out of each other to launch a run at Jenson Button, and given Button’s run of success, it became harder for them the later they left it. Mark Webber wasn’t out of the title race until Singapore, but the team should have made a decision to back one driver before Italy.

              Given the car’s reliability problems this year, there’s going to come a point where Red Bull have to decide which driver they’re going to favour if they want to stay in the title race. That decision may have to come sooner rather than later, and based on points, Vettel is the man to keep Red Bull in the game. Even if Webber wins at Silverstone and Hamilton retires from the race, Webber will still be behind – but Vettel can reclaim the championship lead. If Webber were in the lead on points, Red Bull would no doubt be backing him. But he’s not, so for now Vettel is getting a little extra help.

              People are acting as if it’s all one-way traffic in Vettel’s favour, but it’s not. Christian Horner has said that Webber has a different floor on his car, and that his chassis is lighter.

      2. I don’t think its that he is unhappy being 2nd, its that he wasn’t given an equal & above all FAIR chance to go for pole position.

        Besides, haven’t you seen Vettel sook when he gets beat by Webber? Nothing can top the type of sookiness he displays :-)

        1. Unless you can prove that Vettel’s lap was directly a result of his front wing, you’ve got no ground to stand on. And the only way to do that is to demonstrate that Webber drove a perfect lap. One missed apex, and it’s all over. Fairness doesn’t come into it, because if there is one thing Formula 1 is not, it is not fair. It is not equal. When was the last time it was? Drivers can go their entire careers without wins that, by rights, they should have had, so I think Webber missing out on the chance to make up a tenth of a second hardly qualifies as the injustice you make it out to be. Formula 1 will only be fair and equal when we have spec chassis and spec engines. So until then, don’t go preaching about how Mark Webber was robbed of his chance to take pole because of some conspiracy – because there are twenty-two drivers who will line up behind him who did not have an equal and fair chance to beat Vettel simply because they are not driving a Red Bull.

          And, if you’ll recall, Webber missed matching Vettel’s original pole time – and then Vettel went and set a better one. The direct implication of that is that Webber didn’t nail the lap.

    29. I see two things happening possibly today…ok…so in all races thus far the McLaren pace has not been great in qauli (bar Canada where Ham was at his briliiant best) but in the race they have been extremely close…see Turkey where they were far off in quali but in the race had the RBRs not crashed it would have been even more of a thriller! So I think Ham will pass Alo and keep tight with Webber and Vettel and then we shall see the crowd support give Ham an extra push…

      Second scenario is Ham gets over excited in first lap and spins similar to GP2 in Istanbul and then he races a thriller to finish exactly where he started at 4th…passing his team-mate in the pits….

      I am hoping for first scenario with Ham passing both Red Bulls on track!

      Fingers crossed for a good british grand prix!

    30. I was just wondering, are there any supprises with the tyres fitted in Q3, anyone trying a set of primes?

    31. I won’t even pretend to be objective on this one – I will be hoping Webber pushes Vettel hard and into a mistake. But we should also keep an eye on FA-LH, with the possibility that a few sparks could be flying as early as the first corner.
      A feuding front grid ahead of a feuding second grid – I haven’t looked forward to a start this eagerly in ages. Bring it on!

    32. Is Red Bull running the F-Duct in this race?

      1. Yes.
        (comment too short)

    33. A nice insight into the work McLaren had to put in this weekend, keep pushing guys:

    34. Agreed. F1 is not fair, and has become ridiculously unfair. The stewards are way too obviously partial to certain drivers ( ahem, Hamilton)…
      It makes the whole thing pointless.
      I wish that certain drivers like Alonso would just quit after all of the injustices against them to call attention to how ridiculous things have become instead of participating in the madness.
      I can’t believe someone like Charlie Whiting can earn money off being such a conspicuously unfair ass.
      Someone should… (I’ll leave it at that… In case someone actually did kill his sorry ass… Wouldn’t want it coming back to me)

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