Red Bull: Vettel says he had the pace to win

2011 Hungarian GP team review

Posted on

| Written by

Vettel lost out to Button’s McLaren but says winning was “not impossible” in Hungary.

Sebastian VettelMark Webber
Qualifying position16
Qualifying time comparison (Q3)1’19.815 (-0.659)1’20.474
Race position25
Pit stops35

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

Sebastian Vettel114.653109.861107.784105.011106.781102.934102.598101.325100.538100.11399.983101.502117.60494.2990.25589.37489.18790.16188.49988.48488.26788.23688.32387.8188.23788.21788.7691.895104.74587.04985.74186.07187.36586.48286.71986.39887.03387.08387.28887.71289.85102.17185.26484.70884.98285.2791.30889.89887.60793.556105.61594.9689.06287.38187.66885.10185.54385.31385.03385.14285.48284.73885.40185.60885.84284.84684.80184.9284.61283.875
Mark Webber120.268110.669108.843105.926104.262103.829103.647103.606102.04104.198120.55596.11395.40691.83491.52489.73588.66888.79590.77187.88787.41387.90688.1688.27490.866105.52186.71787.12187.71186.85687.10187.02887.19288.05587.40286.94387.73788.39291.08103.84485.31485.49585.35385.87185.90286.16492.83588.27886.93293.289104.418112.07796.061107.0685.27784.34385.91684.49483.99284.32283.71884.0038985.21484.5784.81884.14184.06984.18485.074
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2011

Sebastian Vettel

Friday practice gave an indication that the Hungaroring might see a continuation of Vettel’s below-par performance at the Nurburgring.

He took steps to address that, demanding wholesale changes to the car which kept the team working late into the night, breaking the curfew for the first time this year. Among the changes were a move away from the new suspension configuration to the previous design.

It paid off on Saturday: Vettel was fastest in final practice and claimed his eighth pole position of the year. But there was no doubt the McLarens were pushing him hard.

The pressure continued in the damp conditions on race day. Lewis Hamilton hounded him relentlessly in the opening laps until Vettel ran wide at turn two on the fifth lap, surrendering the lead.

Now Vettel began to feel the heat from Jenson Button. The McLaren driver made his move after they changed to slick tyres, gaining far better traction out of turn one and claiming second place.

Webber edged closer to Vettel at this phase of the race, and gained more time through their second pit stops, reducing Vettel’s margin to 2.5 seconds. A pair of rapid times from Vettel on laps 31 and 32 doubled that lead, and left Webber to worry about Fernando Alonso behind him.

After his third pit stop Vettel briefly fell behind Alonso, who was on super-soft tyres and nearing the end of his fourth stint. Vettel lost no time passing the Ferrari, slipstreaming past on the main straight using his DRS.

Though he could do nothing about Button ahead, Hamilton’s problems elevated the world champion back to second place.

But Vettel felt he’d missed out on a chance to win: “Today I’m not 100 percent happy because I started from pole. I had the feeling we could have won the race, but pace-wise it was not impossible.

“It was a difficult one, especially with the conditions as Jenson said, with the rain, very, very slippery at some stages, many drivers making small mistakes here and there.

“I saw Jenson nearly lose it two corners from the end. It always depends, obviously but yeah, as I said, not 100 percent happy.”

The 18 points increases his championship lead to 85 points with eight rounds remaining. It’s increasingly hard to see anyone rivalling him for this year’s title.

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

Mark Webber

“Third row is not where I want to be,” said Webber after qualifying, “I didn’t get the best out of the car and out of the tyres.”

“KERS was up and down a bit, I didn’t have it in Q2, I had it on the last lap in Q3, but in the end I wasn’t quick enough and couldn’t get the lap time.”

Starting on the damp side of the track, Webber lost out to the two Mercedes on lap one.

But he was soon past Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa’s spin promoted him to sixth.

Webber was the very first driver into the pits to switch to slicks and he made the most out of the change. His first lap on slick tyres was particularly impressive – three-and-a-half seconds quicker than Massa and almost the same as Button managed one lap later when the track was drier.

He seized the opportunity to pass Alonso, taking fourth place as the Ferrari driver came out of the pits on lap 14. Webber ran wide at turn one on the next lap but had already built enough of a gap over Alonso to keep his position.

But it cost him over a second to Vettel. Although he reduced the laps over the following laps, Vettel pulled away during the third stint.

By now Webber was preoccupied with keeping Alonso behind, and then lost the place when Alonso pitted very early on lap 36.

Unlike his team mate, Webber took on intermediate tyres when the rain came – which proved to be the wrong decision.

“I thought it was going to be heavier – so I went for the intermediate tyres, but it didn’t come,” he said.

“The team didn’t say too much about the rain, so I thought it was a bit of a surprise shower, but I made the decision to go for the intermediates.

“It didn’t work out for Lewis and I with this gamble – and it looks stupid in hindsight when the track dries out, but if it had rained strong enough for another few minutes, then it would have been the right tyre.”

The delay cost him any hope of getting his place back from Alonso and dropped him behind Massa again. Webber picked off the Ferrari easily on lap 57, but now he had Hamilton’s McLaren pushing him.

On lap 63 they hit a string of lapped cars and Hamilton pounced, taking fourth place off Webber at turn four. Over the final laps Webber continued to chase the McLaren but he had to settle for fifth.

Mark Webber 2011 form guide

2011 Hungarian Grand Prix

    Browse all 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix articles

    Image © Red Bull/Getty images

    Author information

    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...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    37 comments on “Red Bull: Vettel says he had the pace to win”

    1. It is also not impossible that HRT could have won the race. Had Lewis not screwed up seb would have been third

      1. Vettel didn’t have the fastest car, it was clear, but his pace wasn’t so off that he couldn’t have won. Smart strategy considering the weather helped a lot.

        1. Olivier, Vettel said he had the pace…

      2. Hewis Lamilton
        1st August 2011, 18:24

        Vettel could have won had he not gone wide and gave up the lead. Just as possible as Lewis winning….

        1. Vettel could have won but he blew it, as simple as that. I don’t buy the thing that McLaren suddenly became significantly faster than RB. There are 3 teams more or less equal, so the drivers and strategies decide who’s going to win.

          1. streetfightingman
            2nd August 2011, 14:29

            Not suddenly. They have been gaining since day 1 this year. People change their opinions all the time regardless of what actually happens. It’s been said all year that Mclaren and Ferrari have loads better race pace than Red Bull. Sometimes this has been true. Sometimes not.
            Vettel has been nailing qualifying this year and making very few mistakes during races. Consistency is his main strength. Just look at live timing during the races. That is also true in qualifying. He gets out and gets the job done on the spot.

          2. He didn’t blow anything- the Mclarens in Hungary race trim simply were the fastest car. Faster than Ferrari and Red Bull.

    2. He could have won, sure. He could have finished 4th or 5th. He won the tires/weather lottery, jointly with Button. So he had every opportunity and the good fortune needed to win. Problem is, Button whipped him on the track in a straight fight. So he lost.

      1. Yeah, shows more he feels self confident than saying anything about realistically having been in a position to win it for Vettel.

    3. Keith, I think you meant turn twelve in the last paragraph

    4. Vettel: “I could have won if I hadn’t been overtaken by the winner.”

      1. Always an unfortunate position to be in.

    5. I noticed on the timers (mid-race with hamilton first; in front of button) that Vettel was slower than both in the middle sector. Then suddenly he went 1 second faster than both in the middle sector (and 1.4s over the lap). He did something similar the next lap but suddenly slowed down again
      IIRC, it was around the time Vettel went off at the quick bend; with the question brought up if he’d be penalised for using it to gain momentum. It was noted by Brundle but was off-screen.
      Any info about issues with this or how he was able to go so fast?

      1. I remember I heard similar commentary during live. It seems like shortcut.

    6. I love these comments from the drivers. If he had the pace to win then why didn’t he???? Stupid!!

    7. I just can’t be impressed with Vettel.

      Yes, he can clearly can drive a car incredibly quickly, but his racing is not up to scratch when under pressure, or in a less than ideal car.

      He certainly could have won, in fact leading from pole, he should have won, but he didn’t. Again he cracked under pressure, and again he needed the teams strategy to bring him home in a good position.

      1. Again he cracked under pressure? In Canada he needed to push or Button would have passed without no problem on the straight. He didn’t make any mistakes when under pressure from Lewis in Catalunya, did he?

        He ran wide in turn 2, because it was slippery. Jenson passed him, because his tyres where heated up. I remember seeing Lewis slipping and sliding in Silverstone and under pressure in Hungary. So everyone makes mistakes and misjudgements when racing.

        And honestly the strategy card? I think you don’t know f1 well or racing in general.

        1. He did a good drive. Could have won for sure. But he could have dropped a few places if things didn’t go his way.

          He did a good race. Not a spectacular one. But he outraced his team mate by a mile, and bringing it home in second is more than he needs to win the championship.

      2. Poor race by vettel indeed (by vettel standards). So second place… And this is why he’s heading towards his second World Championship.

      3. Vettel cracked under pressure where? Spinning his Ferrari? Spinning his Mclaren while being caught by Button?

        He took pole when he shouldn’t have, maximised his points haul (considering his car) again and believe it or not, overtook. If you can’t be impressed with Vettel this year, you can’t be impressed by anyone on the grid.

        1. David A – You are so right!

          1. David A is very balanced in his comments about Vettel and is absolutely right here.

            Vettel also praised Button “Well, I think that Jenson was a bit unlucky at the last two races and his win today was well deserved. He has demonstrated that under difficult conditions he’s bloody fast, so congratulations on a well-deserved win.”

            1. I am getting sick of this comment about vettel “cracked under pressure” I mean seriously.. its a joke!!!!, vettel is as good as anyone can get I shall say no more!!

        2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
          2nd August 2011, 14:48

          Agree with Bushi and David A. There are a lot of people on this page who only fous on Vettel mistakes, but cover their eyes when it’s Alonso or Lewis the mistaken… this is F1 and we ALL know how difficult a race become when it rains. Some people point their fingers but I’m sure the most of us (fans) couldn’t have the guts to drive on rainy road going ore than 120kph! They are F1 drivers but also human. This is not a PlayStation game. And if Button shows more consistency than the rest in rainy conditions, welcome it! as far as I know this is, not

          1. Rubbish.

            Mistakes are mistakes. Everybody makes them, and no-one holds them against a driver. Lord knows Senna screwed up many many many times, yet he is still fated. Same goes for Fangio, Moss, Ascari, Lauda, Stewart or anyone else.

            The difference is those drivers have also shown amazing skills in adverse circumstances. Be it Senna in the rain, or Moss decimating the competition in the Mile Milga.

            Vettel on the otherhand, has only won from the front. His ability to throw, and man handle a car around a lap in qualifying is supreme. HOWEVER he is not a GREAT racer. A GOOD one certainly, but not great. IMHO he is not up to the standards of Hamilton and Alonso.

            To reiterate, for those above, I am not questioning his skill as a pilot, simply his skill as a racer, but if you can come up with any extra evidence I am happy to be proven wrong…

            1. Even if passing isn’t supposed to be his strong point, overtaking is not the only facet for rating a driver- so he makes up any deficit to Alonso/Hamilton in other ways (as you mention).

              However, when he isn’t blitzing the field, can make decisive, efficient passes. On Massa in Malaysia, Hamilton in China (at the hairpin), Button in Spain, Alonso in Hungary. Plus he has has come through the field numerous times- China 07, Monaco 08, Canada 08, Brazil 09, Britain 10.

              He’s good enough as a racer, and great enough at qualifying, controlling races, being consistent, etc. to have earned his place amongst Hamilton and Alonso.

    8. Had the pace to win? I don’t think so…he simply couldn’t match Mclaren’s pace, even Alonso who had wrong tyre decision was quite close to him at the end of the race.

      1. This article doesn’t tell the full answer he said. He said he didn’t know if the tyres would last if he pushed harder. And he said he could have won, because many drivers made small mistakes

        1. Well, Button didn’t make any mistake also had the pace. either Vettel didn’t make mistake but he didn’t had the pace. That’s why he was 2nd.

          1. Alonso was terrible in this race full stop – pure luck and fortunate to be in a Ferrari got him 3rd.

    9. CarsVsChildren
      2nd August 2011, 9:41

      @DavidA: I quite clearly gave him credit for his one lap pace, but I really think he has yet to prove his racecraft.

      Show me one storming drive in adversity, one moment where he has out raced an opponent with a better car.

      My general feeling is that if he was in the Mclaren, which clearly isn’t as good as the red bull he would consistently qualify it well and bring it home safely for some good solid points.

      In other words he’s jarno trulli with a great car.

      1. one moment where he has out raced an opponent with a better car.

        USA 07, China 07, Monaco 08, Canada 08, Italy 08, Brazil 08, China 09. All a lot better than Jarno Trulli.

        The issues I have with these complaints about his racecraft is that A) he doesn’t get much practice, but because he’s qualifying so well, it nullifies the need to overtake often, and B) whenever he gets stuck behind someone “he can’t overtake” (as if Alonso “can’t overtake” because he gets stuck behind Petrov) but if he does pass someone like in Malaysia, China, Hungary, Spain, they are swept under the carpet.

    10. No WAY!! Vettel could win last weekend !! he didnt had the speed to race with Hamilton and Button.
      Vettel make the statemen he could win,just to fooled himself and try to made himself happy because Redbull has lost their speed in last 5 races.

    11. Was there any penalty for Red Bull for breaking the curfew while working on Vettel’s car?

      1. No, teams can do it up to four times without getting a penalty, and this was Red Bull’s first of the year:

        The 2011 F1 rules changes at-a-glance

    12. Bbcf1 forever
      2nd August 2011, 14:33

      Sebastian acquired brake and engine problems during the grand prix. Look it up on the official F1 website if you like.

      Sebastian maximized the car and got 2nd with problems, great drive from the future double WDC. This coming from a Lewis fan…

    13. He would have had Red Bull been faster than McLaren. Look at how rapidly Hamilton pulled away from him, as did Button. Third was the best he could manage if both Englishmen had done zero mistakes, but Lewis did two and Vettel finished 2nd.

    Comments are closed.