Third time lucky for Vettel?

2011 Turkish GP pre-race analysis

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Vettel has missed out on chances at victory in the last two Turkish Grands Prix.

Can he put an end to his losing streak on Sunday?

With a pole position start he is the red-hot favourite to win.

Vettel started from pole position here in 2009. But within half a lap he’d run wide and lost the lead to Jenson Button, who went on to win.

Last year a broken anti-roll bar in qualifying cost him pole position. He was on the verge of passing team mate Mark Webber to lead when he inexplicably drifted towards his team mate, triggering a crash that ended his race.

But this time the odds are clearly stacked in his favour.

The start

After qualifying Lewis Hamilton lamented missing out on starting from the clean side of the grid, as has happened to him more often than not at Istanbul.

Starting on the even-numbered side of the grid is a distinct disadvantage. Hamilton started second here last year and was easily passed by third-place Vettel at the start – though he was able to re-pass him later on in the lap.

Sam Bird, who started second in today’s GP2 feature race, had exactly the same problem (see here for a video of it, and also Fabio Leimer’s frightening crash from which he happily emerged unscathed).

Starting off-line is especially disadvantageous at Istanbul because the racing line does not cut across the straight, and the track does not get used much between F1 races.

At 120m the run to the first corner is one of the shortest of the year but that’s still enough for a driver who makes a slow start to be punished. Mark Webber (second), Hamilton (fourth) and those directly behind them could find themselves having to defend as they start.


The rain that hit first practice on Friday is not expected to return during the race, though temperature should be slightly cooler.

Tyre degradation has proved to be less severe than expected so most cars should be three-stopping instead of four. As we saw in China, teams are likely to approach the race trying to get away with as few stops as possible, and only commit to a higher number of stops if they really need to.

Mark Webber may be starting 16 places closer to his team mate than he did in China but taking that one last place necessary to beat him will be a tall order.

Dirty side of the grid aside, Webber has usually been a few tenths off his team mate’s pace and has needed an extra pit stop in every race so far.

In many ways, Nico Rosberg could be the bigger threat to Vettel than Webber.

Felipe Massa, tenth on the grid, will have a free choice of tyre having not set a time in Q3. The same goes for the 14 drivers behind him, including Kamui Kobayashi, who will be allowed to start despite not having set a time in qualifying and therefore not beaten the 107% target time.

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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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    48 comments on “Third time lucky for Vettel?”

    1. I hope not.

      1. I think not. Red Bull is mighty in qualy, with Vettel being at his fastest on saturday, the car being great at one-lap runs and gaining more from the DRS than others.

        And still, Rosberg and Hamilton were 4 tenths slower, which isn’t that much. Vettel also has low straight-line speed compared to others, and it’s likely to get even worse tomorrow.

        He is the favourite for tomorrow’s race, but he won’t walk the race. In Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso and perhaps Button he has great competition, and even Webber might beat him on strategy. The race is far from decided.

        1. I also think he won’t. Their KERS is still playing buggers at times. Rosberg might jump Webber and maybe Vettel as well and it will be a tough fight for the race.

          Drop in a bit of rain and it might be a smasher. I would love someone like Rosberg to win it, or why not Alonso, Massa or Webber.

      2. I think yes. Vettel has improved and probably won’t make mistakes.

        1. My sentiments. He has matured an awful lot since last year alone.

          It’s hard to see anyone but Vettel taking this one. It all depends on his start.

        2. Apart from putting his car in the wall in practice while pushing hard under aquaplaning conditions?

          1. That’s not really got that much to do with anything I said. Every driver makes silly mistakes, it holds no bearing on their maturity.

            1. I’d say pushing hard in wet conditions (he called in aquaplaning problems on the radio) is pretty much a “silly mistake”

              Even Vettel called it that.

            2. Well it was a bit stupid, he almost lost it one lap, but wanted to continue and then binned it the next lap.

              But it seems that new exhaust was not all that great anyhow, as Vettel solidly beat Webber who still has it on the car.

    2. Electrolite
      7th May 2011, 21:46

      I speak on behalf of a lot us and wish Nico all the best for tomorrow. I can’t wait for the start either…the Merc in quick in a straight line, and with the Bulls fighting and wavering for position, a good start for him would be brilliant.

      1. my bet is rosberg

      2. As Ferrari have no chance, I wish Rosberg the best.

        1. I’d put money on Alonso, clean side and he is due some luck. Shout for a podium I think, in his improved F150^.

          1. I’ve put £10 on MSC for podium at 35/1 ;)

      3. I’m a little torn actually. I want to see Mercedes’s first win in 56 years.

        But this was the first time that I hadn’t picked a Mercedes driver for the top 5 in the predictions championship! I guess I’ll have to take the hit and hope Nico gets his maiden win tomorrow.

      4. Certainly speaking on my behalf there. Come on Nico, you can do it!

        1. Agree, I did not predict him to win, but it would be amazing if he could make it this time.

      5. If Hamilton can’t win then I’m hoping Nico can finally break his duck!

    3. Massa will start from the dirty side too, so he might end lap 1 with more than 9 cars in front of him and more overtakes to make.

      1. So there is hope for Alonso to actually stay in front of him then at the start!

    4. Gnarly Racing (@)
      7th May 2011, 22:15

      Yikes, nasty looking crash! Where can I watch the Sunday morning GP2 race online?

      Did Massa really sit out Q3, with a perfectly healthy car, at one of his best tracks, just to save a set of tyres? If so, the rules need looking at urgently. Qualifying should be about drivers giving it everything over one lap.

      1. He went out for a lap, but made an error and backed off. Schumacher and the Renault should be beatable tomorrow, so a 6th or a 7th looks realistic I think.

    5. easy peacy lemon squeezy :)

    6. I’d say a bit of luck is all he needs. He saved some tyres in Q, and we saw what Webber did in Shanghai with an abundant supply of options (18th to 3rd).

      If he gets a clean start (that bit of luck), he’ll be gone, gone gone.

    7. Anyone know the weather forecast for the race, One HD in Australia were saying possible rain? any updates?

    8. I really wish to see Vettel have to come through the pack for once, the pole stuff is getting boring. Go Nico!!! He deserves a chance to show his talent.

    9. Watch out for Kobayashi,if he don’t have any more mechanical issue as he have 3 fresh sets of soft & we all know he can overtake.He will have a stonker of a race.If Red Bull have KERS issue then it will badly effect them at the start & Roseberg will have a good chance to bump both of them. Will be a very exciting race on tyres.

      1. Kobayashi’s probably hoping for a safety car deployment to bring the cars ahead back within reach..

        1. What with the DRS and all sets of new tyres he will be able to have a look into doing some nice making up places in the race, with or without a SC.

    10. Toro Stevo
      8th May 2011, 4:02

      As Keith said, the dark horse for podium is Massa. He’s starting 10th, but in not qualifying in Q3 will probably emulate Webber in China and start on the hard tyres and come at everybody late with the softs. A safety car (we haven’t seen one yet this year) at the right time could put him well at truly in the mix.

      1. +1, late safety car – Massa wins.

      2. It’s not like Massa is much of an overtaker though.

        He tends to run into cars just like Vettel.

        Besides, he did use 2 sets of softs in qualifying, so it’s not like he has the same advantage as Webber did.

    11. Massa is slightly marginal on tires. He used one set of options in Q1 and scrubbed a set in Q3 without gaining anything from it. My bet is he will start on primes.

      So many to watch in this race, i simply can’t wait!..

      Red Bull KERS is still not perfect, Hamilton will drive the wheels of that McLaren, Alonso’s race pace is higher than in qualifying, Massa is likely to go opportunistic with tires (early safety car will be a huge bonus for him), Schumacher will do his best to retaliate from a poor qualifying and he should have the pace, Kobayashi may be storming through the field…


    12. Unless he has another brain fade moment I don’t see this going any other way than a Vettel Webber 1-2. The RB7 is mighty and both Vettel and Webber saved a set of options in qualifying. Mercedes will need more than that “magic paddle” to win this!

      Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso and Button are all fighting for 3rd.

      1. I hope you won’t be right. One thing against that scenario is, that Rosberg has a good chance to get ahead of Webber at the start at least, as the dirty side is a big disadvantage here.

    13. I hope not. I hope Nico will make a nice race (win).

    14. fans want rosberg to win soon, but i don’t see him doing it. I don’t see him to have the luck needed for that first win even if he has the speed. But without that first win, a driver doesn’t get that push that all get when they realize that they can do it. And he must be close to 100 gp’s by now, and that only makes it worse.

      1. What utter nonsense

      2. Adrian Morse
        8th May 2011, 10:47

        I agree with Patrickl. I think Rosberg is not only close to the front of the grid, he also – for the first time in his career – has a car capable of challenging for victory.

      1. no there will be by my prediction no rain maybe some drops of rain but rain clouds going North East.

        1. So it might be some drops falling to make it more slippery and have the tension of rain there, just like we had in Malaysia!

    15. box this lap
      8th May 2011, 9:27

      Will it be third time lucky for Vettel in Istanbul?

      Vettel wasn’t lucky at all everytime I recorded a Grand Prix because I wasn’t able to watch it live. Now I’m also watchig it tommorow so I shall see!

    16. I don’t think that luck will have much to do with it if he does or doesn’t win the race.

      First time he made a mistake that allowed Button through, and second time he made a mistake that didn’t allow Webber through. What could possibly happen today?

    17. All we can do is just hope.

      1. hope for what Eggry?

        1. sorry, hope No-Vettel-Cruising-Race.

    18. Im not expecting much from Massa. He doesn’t have the fastest car to repeat what Webber did.

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