Red Bull: Newey relieved after “scariest race ever”

2011 Belgian GP team review

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Red Bull had grave tyre worries but Pirelli said the blistering was caused by their set-up.

Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber
Qualifying position 1 3
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’48.298 (-1.078) 1’49.376
Race position 1 2
Laps 44/44 44/44
Pit stops 3 2

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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
Sebastian Vettel 120.172 117.207 115.708 116.102 119 127.467 114.733 113.924 114.594 116.335 114.916 114.389 125.285 178.399 173.482 169.576 114.737 112.281 111.974 112.332 112.447 112.586 112.66 113.052 112.945 112.873 112.936 113.022 113.614 116.642 124.205 111.015 111.357 111.552 112.239 110.451 111.283 111.122 110.681 110.829 111.275 111.404 111.362 110.728
Mark Webber 124.253 117.646 121.062 126.665 114.957 116.277 116.306 114.215 116.039 116.147 117.384 113.876 125.572 166.828 173.734 170.15 115.69 114.217 113.388 113.139 113.51 113.325 113.421 113.044 113.44 113.108 113.387 113.671 114.06 113.773 117.468 123.128 109.883 110.402 110.51 111.43 110.264 110.427 109.995 110.531 110.758 110.934 110.407 110.213

Red Bull were not the only team concerned about how worn their tyres – which they had to start the race on – were after qualifying. McLaren and Toro Rosso had also seen blistering on their tyres.

But Vettel’s public remonstration with one of Pirelli’s technicians in the paddock before the start of the race highlighted how concerned they were about the situation.

After the race Adrian Newey explained their worries: “Pirelli came to us and said that having looked at our tyres from qualifying they were very concerned about the safety of the tyres, they were suffering structural damage in the junction between the sidewall and the tread, and felt that failure of the tyre could be imminent on both cars.

“It was very concerning. We then entered into a lot of debate with Pirelli as to what we should do. They recommended that higher front [air] pressure would make the tyre safer, as would reduced camber.

“Without permission from the FIA, reducing front camber would be in breach of parc ferme regulations, therefore we would have to start from the pit lane. Equally, the FIA weren’t willing to consider our tyres damaged, and therefore weren’t willing to allow us to start on a different set from that we qualified on.

“So our choice was to do what we could to make the tyre safer, which was to go to a much higher front pressure, particularly on that first set, that potentially were damaged after qualifying. Not using DRS helps, because the damage is a function of speed and load. With DRS of course, [there’s] similar load at the front, it’s only the rear wing that loses load, and you’re going a lot faster.”

Newey added: “It was one of the scariest races I’ve been involved in, ever.

“Obviously, first and foremost our duty of care is to the drivers’ safety. And you’re trying to make that call of making sure the car is safe while not excessively handicapping yourselves from a performance point of view. I found it quite a difficult judgement to make.

“Frankly, at the end of the race, I was just very relieved that both our drivers were safe.”

However Pirelli refuted Red Bull’s claim of structural damage and insisted the problem was related to their set-up. Motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “There was an issue with the front tyre blistering but we are confident that a similar scenario will not arise again, provided that our usage recommendations are followed.

“Of course, if any team had been concerned about their situation, they had the option to change their set-up and start from the pit lane. However, the majority of teams felt that no change was necessary.

“The problem was seemingly a consequence of some cars placing an excessive load on the inner shoulder of the front tyre due to their set-up and so overheating the compound, but it did not at all affect the structural integrity of the tyre.

“As there was no safety issue and because it would have been unfair to the teams that were unaffected, the decision was taken to start with the qualifying tyres as per the usual regulations.”

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel claimed pole position for the ninth time this year with a fine late effort in qualifying: “I didn’t feel comfortable at the beginning of qualifying, but for Q2 I think we made a big step forward and I rediscovered Spa in a way!

“In the last session, I used the first two laps of Q3 to get temperature into the tyres and then for the last two I tried to push as hard as I could.”

Vettel discarded his first set of tyres after just five laps. But using the higher pressures he was able to spend 17 laps on his third set of soft tyres during the race.

He had made his way back to the front by lap lap 11, passing Nico Rosberg with a brave move around the outside of Blanchimont.

Vettel was handed a boost by the arrival of the safety car, allowing him to make his second pit stop while losing less time to his rivals.

At the restart he quickly passed Mark Webber and then took Fernando Alonso for the lead. He accomplished the latter without using DRS, presumably to spare his tyres as Newey described.

He made his final stop for mediums on lap 30, passing Button and taking the lead back on the next lap.

His seventh win increased his championship lead to 92 points with 175 left to be won. Worryingly for the opposition, Vettel feels the RB7 is now better equipped to be competitive on high speed tracks like Spa where the team have not been as strong in the past.

He said after the race: “I think in the past we were always quick here in sector two where there are no straights and a lot of corners. The thing that stands out this year is that we were quite competitive in sector one and sector three, where we have more straights.”

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Mark Webber

Webber celebrated his 35th birthday on Saturday and formally announced his deal to continue with Red Bull in 2012.

He was quick in practice and led the way late in Q3 to begin with before Vettel and Lewis Hamilton pipped him at the end. “I think I went a bit too hard on the slicks initially in Q3,” said Webber.

Webber made a dreadful start, the anti-stall activating as he slipped from third to eighth on the first lap.

On lap three he pitted to change his tyres which had even worse blistering than Vettel’s did. Unlike Vettel, he switched to the medium compound.

Fernando Alonso came out of the pits in front of him on lap nine and Webber snatched the place with an astoundingly brave and committed move at Eau Rouge:

“It’s more rewarding when you can do it with someone like Fernando because he’s a world-class driver and he knows when enough is enough,” said Webber afterwards. “Obviously my attitude might have been a bit different with someone else.”

“I was breathing in at the bottom, I got in and I looked in the mirror at the top and I saw he was still in?? well, he had no choice, obviously in the end he had to… one of us had to lift and I had a slightly better line and it was he who had to lift.”

But he missed the opportunity to make an extra pit-stop during the safety car period: “We had a bit of a stuff-up on the radio.

“I was supposed to pit when Seb did with the safety car but we had a completely blocked radio. I was asking three times in the Bus Stop, ‘do you want me to stop, do you want me to stop’ and gave them the radio back but I heard nothing.”

That left him to do a 28-lap stint – more than half the race – on the medium tyres: “It was a long stint given the misunderstanding with the pit-stop around the safety car, so we had to commit to going very, very long on that set of tyres.

“I had a very, very big vibration on them, which is not unusual but that cleared up when I put the fresh set on.”

Webber stayed on medium tyres for his final, 13-lap stint despite Vettel having done 17 laps on a set of softs earlier in the race, suggesting the team still had some concerns over tyre life late in the race.

He picked off Alonso for second place with eight laps to go but wasn’t quick enough to close the gap to Vettel. The soft tyres would surely have given him the performance edge he needed, but it’s not certain they would have gone the distance.

Mark Webber 2011 form guide

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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    Image © Pirelli, Red Bull/Getty images

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    Keith Collantine
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    66 comments on “Red Bull: Newey relieved after “scariest race ever””

    1. Webber was my driver of the day, and i stand firmly by my belief that if he didn’t stuff up the start, then he would’ve won..

      as for Vettel.. didn’t seem to quite have the pace that Webber had.. but drove solidly, and deserved the win

      1. So he was the driver of the day because he could win, but he botched it at the start like usual. How does that make sense?
        Also i don’t believe that he had much pace over Vettel. Vettel was coasting it home and made sure that he didn’t ruin the tyres.
        When Webber really started to pick seconds of his lead in the last stint he responded by going even quicker and then after a few laps he settled in a rhythm that made sure that Webber wouldn’t catch him, but neither did he risk throwing it away.

        1. So he was the driver of the day because he could win, but he botched it at the start like usual. How does that make sense?

          To be fair at no point does he suggest a causal relationship between Webber being DotD and his stuffing up of his start – he said he was DotD in spite of his start.

          1. Sure, but i still don’t see how it makes sense.
            If he is driver of the day making a rubbish start has to be taken into account. Fact is, Vettel was both better in qualifying and in the race, because he got a higher position.
            Webber hit trouble yes, but that was his own fault. Had he been hit by someone else or something, that is out of his hands it makes sense, but i don’t see how it makes sense when it is his own fault.

            1. Trenthamfolk (@)
              29th August 2011, 17:09

              @mads, it is an opinion, and an opinion is just that. It can’t be ‘wrong’ by definition. I respect that, even though I don’t agree with iamsa8! Button for me, so there!

            2. yep as ^^ said.. my opinion..

              i forgot about Button! he drove awesomely to get to where he finished

      2. It’s funny most of the times, he recovers from his dreadful starts.

        He needs to get off the line slightly better and he’ll win a couple of races.

      3. I think Button deserves a lot of praise as well, but for the rest I agree with you.

      4. I think he would have won if he’d have put softs on for the last stint. Barmy, perhaps even deliberate decision from the pitwall.

    2. soundscape (@)
      29th August 2011, 12:17

      I love and appreciate the work you do Keith.

      Having said that, this article could do with some tidying up! :)

      1. In what way? This comment doesn’t tell Keith anything!

    3. Europe 2010 2nd to 9th
      Belgium 2010 1st to 6th
      Italy 2010 4th to 9th
      Malaysia 2011 3rd to 10th
      Belgium 2011 3rd to 8th

      Five occasions that Mark has lost at least 5 places.

      1. True enough, Webber is a terrible starter! Being a huge Webber fan, it is painful to watch every race start.

        However, in Europe 2010, he took a shunt in the rear at the end of sector 1 that wasn’t his fault, I dont think he lost all those places purely off the grid did he?

        1. Funny thing is, I can’t remember him being so bad at starts before he got in at Red Bull. Strange.

          1. He did it in the Jaguar days..usually making one of the 3 row only to fall back

    4. “Frankly, at the end of the race, I was just very relieved that both our drivers were safe.”

      …said Adrian. And I’ll say: Pirelli is not an adequate tyre supplier for F1 standards. If Spa was heavy on the tyre structure what will happen at Monza? I’m worried guys…

      1. If Pirelli state that you should only run a maximum of 3deg camber but then the teams elect to run 4deg (or something like that as I believe was the case) then that is the fault of the team and not Pirelli.

        My cars states that I should run with tyre pressure of 36 psi. No doubt I could run them a little higher than that and still be safe, but if I then put them up to (say) 50psi and then had an accident where the tyre was a contributing factor I wouldn’t be saying it was the fault of that particular tyre manufacture and that their tyres weren’t suitable for road use

        1. Trenthamfolk (@)
          29th August 2011, 17:12

          Jim, excellent points you make… RB knew what they were doing, and if they were made to sweat because they took a design risk, so be it!

      2. Well, if last year is anything to go by, Monza won’t be a problem for tyres. Remember Vettel did the entire race on Softs (except of course the final lap as required by regulations). I’d be more worried about Suzuka where there is constant fast changes of direction rather than straights.

    5. Unfortunately you probably haven’t read the autosport articles on the Pirelli blisters. A reporter asked Horner if they ran within Pirelli specs only to have Horner completely dodge the question. The Pirelli guy, Hembrey, mentioned that one team (ehem) really pushed the limits of camber. Guess which team that was…

      Read the articles yourself. If you still feel like pushing that anti-pirellli agenda, go ahead

      1. I read everything I could get my hands on and I’m not “pushing an anti-Pirelli agenda”.

        I’ve included quotes from both sides and Pirelli’s point of view that Red Bull were to blame for their problems is perfectly clear.

        1. I think Ryna is referring to other comments made.

          1. Yup, I meant to add it to Boomerang’s post. That’s what I get for not specifying who I was talking to. I’m not used to using the mobile site to post comments.

        2. Sorry Keith, I meant to put that on Boomerang’s post. Sorry for the confusion.

          1. Once more. Thanks Ryna for the additional info I wasn’t aware of.
            However, if the RB was exceeding Tyre setup specifications the Car should be declared as dangerous construction. I have no time to go trough Tech regulations but I’m sure there is an Article about debarring dangerous Design from participating.
            Consequently, not only RB is unscrupulous in their approach so is FIA as well.

    6. Maybe the team didn’t out Webber on the softs because he might have caught vettel?? Also, can anyone explain why he was so much faster than both vettel and Alonso on the same tyres? As a fan of Webber its annoying to see him be faster than vettel and not come out on top once this year. He’s rarely faster than vettel, but tracks where he usually is- Monaco, silverstone and spa its frustrating to see him hurt by his bad starts, second-string srategies and vettels good luck.

    7. Thanks for the info, but blisters where developing on other cars as well, even Ferrari, which is very gentle on tyres.

    8. I think Red Bull were a little undignified on Sunday, it’s not like they had run relatively conservatively and the tyres still had an issue. They didn’t exceed any maximum but they did go beyond the recommended camber. I like to think safety really was a proper concern for them, but I guess they wouldn’t be a championship F1 team if there weren’t trying to find an advantage (or lessen a disadvantage) when they could. Don’t like it though.

      1. Agreed. In the end, it’s their own fault that the tyres got to be in that condition. If the FIA started handing out fresh tyres, everyone would go mad in qualifying and then do donuts on the way to back to the pits to blister their tyres. If they were genuinely concerned, they would have either started from the pit lane or pitted on the first lap. I think this sounds like Newey having a go at the FIA if I’m honest.

    9. ” therefore ewe would have to start from the pit lane. ”

      I wasn’t aware sheep were allowed to start the race at all. I guess the pit lane is better than nothing.

    10. At the restart he quickly passed Mark Webber and then took Fernando Alonso for the lead. He accomplished the latter without using DRS, presumably to spare his tyres as Newey described.

      Wasn’t it because the Safety Car had just come in and the DRS wasn’t activated? I’m unsure if you have to wait a few laps for DRS to be activated, like you do at the start of the Grand Prix.

      1. Yes, I think that was indeed the reason Vettel did not use DRS in that pass.

        1. That was what I thought too.

      2. You have to wait 2 laps before you can use it. SC was in on lap 17, overtake was on lap 18 if I recall correctly.

    11. I would say that Red Bull and their drivers have balls of steel, but I didn’t like the way they — mainly Newey — treated Pirelli on this issue. For the first time I can see hypocrisy coming from Adrian’s camp, a guy that I respect so much — he crying after the race was pathetic…

      I have seen teams winning at any cost, mostly going beyond the sport’s ethical, but no putting their own drivers in jeopardy and, after that, put responsability in else where.

      Shame on you Red Bull!

    12. As far as I’m concerned if Newey/RBR really cared for their driver’s safety they would have started from the pit-lane rather than these crocodile tears from Newey…

      1. Newey can’t design cars, let’s face it. If after three laps the tyres are severely damaged on a cool track, he should change job.

        1. Wait, there was supposed to be a “sarcasm” at the end.

        2. I agree, Newey’s hopeless. Name one good car he has designed? Yeh, i thought so.

          1. Tommy – if it’s a reply to me, I said nothing about the speed etc. of his cars, my issue was with the safety compromise.
            If it’s a reply to Fixy, there was deliberate sarcasm….

    13. I don’t agree with all the Newey Bashing here, and not just because we have a similar first name.

      “Pirelli came to us and said that having looked at our tyres from qualifying they were very concerned about the safety of the tyres, they were suffering structural damage in the junction between the sidewall and the tread, and felt that failure of the tyre could be imminent on both cars

      I think there obviously was a concern about safety, but saying that you have to start from the pit lane if you are “really” concerned about driver safety is just too black and white for me; you could easily extend that line of argument to “if they were really concerned about driver safety, they would not allow them to enter a motor race”.

      Finally, I don’t like the way in which Paul Hembrey defends the quality of his product. It was his people that came to RBR with the concerns about safety, but Hembrey simply turns it around: no teams elected to start from the pit lane, ergo the tyres were safe.

      1. I don’t agree with all the Newey Bashing here

        McLaren had a similar problem with Lewis in Turkey 2008. The huge loads caused by turn 8 affected Lewis’s tyres — mainly because of his driving style.

        Bridgestone advised the team to do three stops in the race, and the team did that.

        In McLaren’s case the team didn’t broke parameters recommended by the supplier, and indeed, the team chose to protect the driver.

        Why Red Bull didn’t do that?

        Sorry to say but, this time, they deserve all the bashing!

        1. Because RB did what Pirelli advised them to. Pit early and go for a higher tyre pressure to keep the tyre alive and keep the driver safe.

          1. Bigbadderboom
            29th August 2011, 16:50

            Pirelli also gave a maximum camber angle of 4 degrees which Red Bull chose to ignore, the higher pressure and early stop was an alternate fix, an offering from Pirelli to assist Red Bull as they knew Red Bull would not start both cars from the pits. Massive respect for Newey, but I thought safety compromises would be beyond a man of that calibre and stature in the sport. What amazes me is that it’s hardly going to change the outcome of the season, disappointing from Red Bull.

      2. Trenthamfolk (@)
        29th August 2011, 17:39

        Can I refer you back to Jim’s comment above…

        RB ignored the manufacturers guidance on safe working tolerances and, shock of the century (not), discovered they had a problem! They then used the safety card to try and afford special dispensation from the rules. That sounds like one of those dirty Ferrari tricks of old, and I’m pleased the FIA told them where to go. It was Newie’s own fault, and he knew it!

    14. Newey is being a little bit dramatic. Ferrari and McLaren were in the same boat tires-wise. Everyone managed. There are no reports that any of those few dozen soft tires used Sunday by top teams were structurally compromised. And it’s not like Vettel and Webber came in on lap one to get ride of their time-bomb tires.

      Newey should be relieved. Because according to all the pre-race hype, Ferrari and McLaren were about to add to their race pace superiority over RBR new qualifying speed. They had neither. It seems like RBR overreacted to McLaren’s updates-hype and went for extreme camber to heat the tires for Saturday.

    15. Having heard these comments, I’m very surprised they didn’t put safety first and start them from the pitlane with the recommended camber.

      1. I was thinking the exact same thing John.
        Adrian says they had the option to adjust the Camber of the suspension which Pirelli recommended they do but they chose not to in order to avoid a start from the pit lane.

        “the driver safety was our number one concern – without handicapping ourselves from a performance point of view”.

        Would have been horrible if one of his drivers were injured or lost their lives due to this decision. At least he didn’t elect to install a marginal steering column.

        1. Trenthamfolk (@)
          29th August 2011, 19:40

          Newey should have designed the car properly! He knows what he’s doing, and his primary concern this weekend was that he’d pushed it too far, and was going to have another driver die in one of his cars.

          I suspect he’ll give a little more respect to manufacturers guidelines after this episode. He may be a brilliant designer, but they didn’t call him No-Brains-Newey at school for nothing (quote school mate, Jeremy Clarkson). Common sense people, common sense…

          1. I feel that the “have another driver die in one of his cars” comment is unnecessarily harsh.

            Designers always push the cars’ design to the limit, as they try to get more performance. I’m not sure it’s straightforward to define when you’ve pushed too far – unless of course something goes wrong. In this case, it was fine.

            Yes, they could have started from the pitlane, but that would have been a mistake as we know now. They did their calculations and found that tyres were safe for at least x number of laps. They then pitted their drivers within that window. That’s what Formula 1 is about – finding the balance between safety and speed. Otherwise, they would make the cars really slow just to be completely safe.

            As for the Clarkson quote, I assume you mention it as a joke…

            1. Trenthamfolk (@)
              8th October 2011, 18:30

              Yes, indeed a joke… The man is a genius, no doubt there… I think it’s ironic that they called him that at school… Kids eh? I Just think he took one risk too many, hence the public outpouring of stress and emotion. Thanks for your response.

              Anyway, I’m a bit out of date here, RB is about to clinch the championship… should be a good show in japan!

      2. I would imagine the drivers had a say in this too, given how animated Vettel was bring with the Pirelli guy, I don’t see how Newey & co could have not listened to them.

    16. Does any one know the size of F1 tires…I would like to workout the camber math.

    17. “It was one of the scariest races I’ve been involved in, ever”

      What about IMOLA 1994

      1. He said “one of”.

    18. Trenthamfolk (@)
      29th August 2011, 19:42

      haha… stick it to them @Ino

    19. The Last Pope
      30th August 2011, 0:06

      I would have thought Adrian would have been more scared in 2005 as he watched Kimi Raikkonen’s flat spotted tire over a number of laps develop into this.

    20. That move was awesome,thankfully it was between two drivers who have sense in them & know the world around them

    21. Why did this blistering problem happen at Spa and not anywhere else?

      1. the blistering problem had nothing to do with spa it’s due to the extreme set up that Newey put in the RB7 that’s why he was scared

    22. If Newey and the RBR team were that worried, they should have started from the pits. Safety is paramount. Pushing the boundaries is fine so long as it is safe to do so, but this was a clear recommendation from the tire supplier saying its not safe to go outside of this recommendation. Plain stupid by Newey and the team, in no way was this a clever thing to do.

    23. “I was supposed to pit when Seb did with the safety car but we had a completely blocked radio. I was asking three times in the Bus Stop, ‘do you want me to stop, do you want me to stop’ and gave them the radio back but I heard nothing.”

      That left him to do a 28-lap stint – more than half the race – on the medium tyres: “It was a long stint given the misunderstanding with the pit-stop around the safety car, so we had to commit to going very, very long on that set of tyres.

      “I had a very, very big vibration on them, which is not unusual but that cleared up when I put the fresh set on.”

      Wow, a very unlucky time to have your radio stop working.

      Very unlucky indeed…

    24. Webber got the fastest lap.

      This displays just how much Vettel conserves himself when he’s in the lead. Clearly his car is capable of the same, and Vettel himself more, given his qualifying pace. You could visibly see him coasting some of the final corners. This goes to show just how brilliant a driver he is.

      A thoroughly deserved victory for Vettel and it was good to see him over-take Alonso, albeit on fresher tyres.

    25. is there no way to post the webbber overtake on alonso? nothing seems to make it onto youtube these days. It was probably as brave an overtake as ive seen. Stefan Bellof (rip) died trying to overtake jackie Ickx in the same place and whilst im sure that wasnt on Webbers mind, ive never seen an overtake there, amazing. lets see it !

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