Red Bull: Vettel soaks up pressure for fourth win

2011 Spanish GP team review

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Sebastian Vettel withstood everything Lewis Hamilton could throw at him to win his fourth race of the year.

Sebastian VettelMark Webber
Qualifying position21
Qualifying time comparison (Q3)1’21.181 (+0.2)1’20.981
Race position14
Pit stops44

Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

Sebastian Vettel95.27490.63390.54990.34690.1290.02390.06290.32692.911107.7890.31189.67389.49789.94489.72389.94990.1793.001104.11588.06187.39488.07888.57188.78288.51188.54488.44788.39488.82489.70488.99889.16190.24792.572106.53388.56388.68988.56288.86588.95388.80288.19387.93388.98788.00788.08788.17791.072104.90587.77487.45687.83987.21587.63988.20787.87187.55787.43587.47487.16287.205
Mark Webber96.32990.82790.08290.19790.19690.2890.05590.49790.56894.633108.3889.52689.31489.45389.66489.45389.71690.19293.22104.61588.25988.51189.02989.70989.30689.72889.47889.80692.309108.17490.34690.4191.4891.25290.65591.21590.55690.47590.42688.65789.78989.36388.8389.79589.72490.07192.31104.45387.46187.18787.51987.18788.38688.10487.70387.6788.16288.43887.45287.55488.46
Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Barcelona, 2011
Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Barcelona, 2011

Sebastian Vettel

Friday didn’t go according to plan for Vettel in Istanbul. In Barcelona he hit trouble on Saturday, missing almost all of final practice with a KERS problem.

He made it out in time for one run, which was good enough for him to top the times sheets.

But the KERS problem recurred in Q2 and Q3, and consequently Vettel missed out on pole position for the first time since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Despite starting off-line he got away well enough to pass his team mate. But he was astonished to see Fernando Alonso fly past the pair of them down the inside at the first corner.

He was the first of the leaders to pit on lap eight, but dropped back into traffic. Although he was able to pass Jenson Button and Felipe Massa easily with his new tyres, Alonso managed to get in and out of the pits and keep the lead.

Next time around was a different matter – Vettel came in on lap 18 and took the lead off Alonso when the Ferrari pitted on the following lap.

But now he had the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton to worry about. Vettel spent much of the final third of his race watching his mirrors as Hamilton reeled him in on the start/finish straight, only to drop back as the RB7 stretched its legs through the high-speed turn three and Campsa.

Significantly, Vettel did not run into the same trouble on his hard tyres that Webber did at the end of the race, which would have made keeping Hamilton behind much more difficult.

Vettel said: “I don?t think we were massively down but when the guy puts some pressure on and then especially gets close enough to get into the zone with the rear wing it helps as it gives you three-tenths per lap.

“Arguably he is close in the first sector and he cannot stay that close around the high speed corners but he was pushing a lot. I was hoping to always get enough into the last sector as that is where we seemed to struggle a bit to maintain the gap on the straight.”

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

Mark Webber

Webber looked on course to repeat his 2010 victory after topping both sessions on Friday and taking pole position.

But his race went downhill quickly as Alonso and Vettel beat him to turn one, and Hamilton jumped him at the first round of pit stops.

Webber spent his third and fourth stints stuck behind Alonso – “we were frustrated by Fernando who seemed to pit every time I did”, he said.

He passed the Ferrari at one point, only to lose the place again immediately.

Alonso handed him fourth by pitting early on lap 39. Webber went off in chase of Jenson Button – who had breezed past them both earlier – but as his tyres went off later in the race he had to settle for fourth place.

Mark Webber 2011 form guide

2011 Spanish Grand Prix

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    32 comments on “Red Bull: Vettel soaks up pressure for fourth win”

    1. I was two thousands (1:20.983) out on my prediction for Webbers quali time. Sorry to mention it again but it is the only silver lining in my predictions so far.

      I don’t think I’ll ever get as close…ever again. :(

    2. Yet another solid performance from Vettel… and I’m getting sick of this already. I like Vettel, but I would like to see some 2010 style Vettel blunders to make this championship interesting.

      1. +1 Well, I say that, but I dont really like Vettel. However that has not stopped me being very much in awe of his pace. I still have reservations about his race-craft generally, but he has not put a foot wrong so far this year, which is hugely impressive.

        For the sake of the championship I would like either webber to get his act together, one of the other teams to find some real pace, or failing the above, I would not mind vettel to slide of the track (gently) a few times, as that is probably the only thing that will stop him.

        I think the biggest downsides of the drs and tyres is that since overtaking on track is now often easy, drivers wont try to make moves in really risky places and end up loosing it. Five races with no safety car – when did that last happen?! Dont get me wrong, I dont want crashed for entertainment, and I would never want a driver to be in danger. But for the sake of the racing, a safety car can be pretty good (so long as everyone stays healthy!).

        1. 2009 and 2010 were safetycar-years, but these seasons were exceptional. I’m glad there hasn’t been one safetycar-period this year, as it has nothing to do with pure racing.

      2. Indeed. This is starting to feel like Jenson Button’s start to the 2009 season (4 wins from the first 5 races). Fortunately that year Brawn GP didn’t have the cash and workforce depth to develop the car at the rate of Red Bull and they were caught half way through the season.

        Unfortunately this year Red Bull are dominating but they have the resources to equal the teams around them in the development race. Things could very well stay the same.

      3. I would like to see some 2010 style Vettel blunders to make this championship interesting.

        It’s a shame that we have that as our only hope, really. :(

    3. Icthyes…

      Vettel spent much of the final third of his race watching his mirrors as Hamilton reeled him in on the start/finish straight, only to drop back as the RB7 stretched its legs through the high-speed turn three and Campsa.

      Arguably he is close in the first sector and he cannot stay that close around the high speed corners but he was pushing a lot.

      That’s what I said: Vettel earned ground on Hamilton in the high-speed turns, and Lewis took that back on the straight.

      1. And I still don’t buy it. Hamilton could not have clawed all of the advantage back on one straight just because he had the DRS. It’s simply not that powerful.

        1. You know, thinking about it more, it makes sense, but only if Vettel’s speed advantage was only a 2 or 3 of tenths. It wasn’t just the DRS, but the slipstream too. Of course the dirty air would have accounted for some of Hamilton’s dropped pace too.

          I was reacting more against the idea that Vettel was faster and only the DRS kept Hamilton in play, because he closed up from 5 seconds behind in the first place.

      2. this was particularly evident in the final corner… vettel was able to use KERS going through it, whilst Lewis had to wait until he got onto the straight

      3. Corrections Dept
        24th May 2011, 10:09

        Both were matched thru sector 1, Vettel slightly faster in S2, anytime Hamilton made gains on Vettel, it was taking big chunks within S3, not the straight.

        source: Live Timing

    4. I know it’s unlikely to make much difference to anyone here, but I thought it might have been worth mentioning how Vettel’s KERS was working only intermittently throughout the race? (Not just during qualifying.)

      1. Well, as it seems to be a fixed feature of the Red Bull car, is it really worth mentioning? Webber also did not have KERS for the whole race.

        1. You don’t think that made it slightly more of an achievement for him to stay ahead of Hamilton all that time?

          1. a lot of the time Vettel was just ahead of Lewis he had KERS. He was using through the final turn, whereas Lewis had to wait till after the corner as unlike the RB he couldn’t take it flat out. It was the cars respective performance through this turn that in my opinion was the only thing that kept Lewis at bay. (that’s not saying Seb didn’t drive well)

          2. Not really. Its just a part of the characteristics of the car, isn’t it?

            Supertight and high downforce, making the KERS usable only intermittant to avoid it overheating.

            Certainly if it had worked without problems, Vettel would have been able to get a lot more air between them. But thats like saying, it would have been easier for Lewis with differently geared box or with a bit more downforce.

            By the way, I did vote Vettel for Driver of the race weekend, as i think his defence was really great. Making no mistake for over 10 laps to give Hamilton no chance at overtaking. And getting there by making those crucial passes after his early pitstop. Quality racing.

            1. Is it to the point where Red Bull should start viewing their intermittently working KERS as a feature rather than a bug? ;-)

              I suppose I had been thinking that having part of the car working at some times and not others during the course of the race would create yet another thing to worry about and adapt to, making it even more impressive that he was able to go that long without making a single mistake. But maybe he and Webber are just getting used to it by now!

    5. I know Mark’s finally managed to outqualify Seb this year but so far he’s been one (if not the worst) drivers compared to his team mate. Perhaps I’m being ott because after last year I expected it to be closer but really his results have been very poor.

      1. In general Webber has been beaten, but he had problems with KERS at the beginning of the season. It’s a bit of the same with Schumacher, who also had some problems (DRS, KERS this weekend).

        Statistics never remember these problems. On the other hand: also when they didn’t have problems both Webber and Schumacher were beaten.

        When I take race pace and tyre-management into consideration, I think you’re right and Webber clearly is behind Vettel.

        1. I’m not gforgetting his kers trouble but his team mate has suffered with it too.

          1. Vettel didn’t have it fail on him at the start like Webber did in Malaysia though.

            Once the off-throttle fuel burning is banned I think Webber will be closer to Vettel. But yesterday was simply a poor race from him.

            1. Thanks Icthyes; there’s still hope! :)

          2. Vettel has suffered, but not to that extent.

      2. Webbers race pace was good when not behind Alonso, it can also be noted that not even Vettel managed to pass Alonso on track. His results have been poor, Im sure he’ll be the first to admit that, but he is still 3rd in the WDC…

    6. Great result for Vettel, he deserved it. He worked well with the team to ensure a good tyre strategy and even though the MP4-26 couldn’t technically keep up, he still had to keep Lewis Hamilton behind him for a long time without buckling under the pressure.

      He attacked well at the start.

      Shame for Webber. I am starting to think we’ve seen the best of him. The more this goes on the more it will compound the problem.

      1. Webber’s lap times when not stuck behind Alonso were on par or quicker then Vettel’s, a bad strategy and Alonso, once again we Marks undoings jsut like AbuDabi last year. Was a tough weekend for Web, but far from shocking. He put it on pole, had a good start, the only issue was that Alonso had a phenomenal start!

        Was good to see Hamilton hang on for second instead of crash himself and Vet both out of the race, he had so much more pace going into the first corner for the last 10laps, but resisted diving.

    7. I wonder whether it will be too late for Webber to make a charge for the WC.

      1. He needs to go on a good run like last year and have Vettel drop behind the Mclarens for a few races or pick up a DNF to have a chance, though that applies to the entire field now IMO.

        Schumacher trailed Hakkinen by 22 points after 6 races in the 1998 season but by round 14 was back level through 5 wins, a 3rd and a 5th + Hakkinen dropping out of the canadian GP with a gearbox faliure.

        Webber needs something similar.

        He has actually scored 14 points more than he had at the end of the spanish GP last year so I wouldn’t write him off yet.

        1. This year Red Bull seems to be a reliable car the only thing which can be the issue for them is the KERS, for Webber he need to make fewer mistakes.

    8. IMO when Pirelli go back to the normal hard it’s almost worthwhile for Webber to forgo running in Q3 and saving a set of softs. No point burning them up to get on the front row if you’re only going backwards. The exception to that being this weekend’s race, of course, where track position is vital regardless of regulations.

    9. Looking forward to the effects the ban on automatic off throttle fuel burning will be for all teams and drivers.

      All front runners will be affected by it, but who will be affected most? Couldn’t tell at this point.

    10. Had Alonso not had such a good start, Webber’s race would have worked out a lot better i reckon. He’s having a decent season, but his teammate is having a phenomenal one. What will be interesting is how he reacts. Monaco is a chance for everyone to make a statement.

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