Ferrari were the closest team to Brawn at Monaco – but can they repeat their form at Turkey this weekend?
Felipe Massa has won the last three Turkish Grands Prix. If his F60 is on the pace he looks a strong bet to become the second driver to beat Jenson Button to victory this year.
Jenson Button is playing down his chances of winning the world championship. But the reality of the situation heading into round seven of the 2009 world championship is that anyone who reckons they can beat him to the title needs to start taking serious points off him:
1. Jenson Button 51
2. Rubens Barrichello 35 (-16)
3. Sebastian Vettel 23 (-28)
4. Mark Webber 19.5 (-31.5)
5. Jarno Trulli 14.5 (-36.5)
The Brawn-Mercedes BGP001 doesn’t have any serious flaws. It’s only significant performance deficit is in the wet, or when going wheel-to-wheel with a KERS-equipped rival.
This weekend its closest challengers are likely to be the Red Bull RB5 and Ferrari F60.
Red Bull’s car struggled for performance at Monte-Carlo: they couldn’t get the super-soft tyre to work, and it’s possible that their problems were aggravated by their efforts to get their new double diffuser working.
But the RB5 showed excellent pace at Catalunya which, like Istanbul, rewards aerodynamics efficiency. Expect them to be up with the Brawns this weekend.
Another team that impressed at Catalunya were Ferrari. Massa took fourth on the grid despite being at least three kilos heavier than all the cars in front of him.
If there’s any track where Massa can get the most out of the F60, it’s Istanbul – he’s won the last three races from pole position and led 151 of 174 laps.
Should Ferrari find themselves between the Brawns and Red Bulls, they could play a decisive role in the championship. At Spain, Massa kept Vettel behind almost all race, allowing Button to stretch his lead in the race and the championship.
But if Vettel gets away in the lead and Button finds himself bottled up behind a KERS-powered F60, it could be the result we need to inject some life into the championship battle.
Drivers to watch at Istanbul
Felipe Massa – Ferrari’s form is on an upward trajectory, KERS could be especially useful here, and Massa has always been strong at Istanbul. Could it add up to the Scuderia’s first win of 2009?
Rubens Barrichello – Can he do anything to stop his team mate riot once again?
Lewis Hamilton – Has had tyre woes at both the Turkish Grands Prix he’s contested. He’ll be looking at those warm track temperatures and the soft Bridgestone tyre with concern.
Mark Webber – Has beaten Vettel in the last two races, can he keep it up?