Brawn must hit back after three weak races (European Grand Prix preview)

Button and Brawn have struggled since Silverstone

Button and Brawn have struggled since Silverstone

Since the teams last did battle at the Hungaroring they’ve all had two week’s compulsory down-time.

Before the break Jenson Button pointed out that the rules can’t prevent them from thinking about F1 – and his team is the one with the deepest thinking to do. Can they mount a resurgence and get his championship challenge back on track?

It’s difficult to read who will have the upper hand at Valencia. Red Bull are clearly the form team, but the street layout lacks the kind of high-speeds bends where the RB5 is super-effective.

The stop-start nature of the Circuit Urbano Valencia could well play into McLaren’s hands – certainly there is enough of a run to the first corner for KERS to play a starring role.

The one thing we can say with certainty about the second running of the European Grand Prix at Valencia is that it will have a different winner, as 2008 victor Felipe Massa remains in recuperation.

In his place comes Luca Badoer, in his first F1 race for almost ten years. It’s fair to say expectations of the 38-year-old are not very high, but whether he sinks or swims it will still be a story.

Pretty much the only remarkable thing about last year’s race (aside from Massa’s controversial pit stop) was how the new venue produced such a dull race – in fact, F1 Fanatic readers voted it the worst of 2008.

I’m not prepared to write off the track on the strength of just one race. Part of the problem last year was how dusty the area was, making it difficult for drivers to go off-line in an attempt to pass. I hope we’ll see a better show this year.

Drivers to watch in Valencia

Luca Badoer – Will he do enough to justify a second outing as Massa’s stand-in?

Romain Grosjean – Assuming (a) Renault are allowed to race and (b) Grosjean takes Nelson Piquet Jnr’s vacant seat as is widely expected, how will the rookie fare alongside such an experienced team mate? Really this is a test of whether Piquet’s accusations about Briatore are true – if Grosjean can put up a better showing against Alonso the Piquet camp will have egg on their faces.

Lewis Hamilton – Second here last year, can he win two in a row on a track where the MP4-24 should be strong?

Mark Webber – Needs to keep chipping away at Jenson Button’s lead while not letting Sebastian Vettel get the better of him. As always, keep a close eye on the Red Bulls in qualifying.

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51 comments on Brawn must hit back after three weak races (European Grand Prix preview)

  1. i really hope to see romain in the race, and if renault race i think that alonso deserves to win here.

  2. David said on 17th August 2009, 13:03

    I see McLaren and Ferrari strong again.
    Brawn did some wrong modification during the season and they’re not able to let tyres work correctly as at the beginning…this is the bad face of not being able to test during the season. But in the last month they had time to analyze the situation and I expect them to be strong again.
    I think Valencia will be a tight fight, because I think there are at least four teams able to catch the podium.

  3. mp4-19b said on 17th August 2009, 13:06

    Brawn must up their game for the remainder of the season. maybe even sacrifice their 2010 development. This is a once in a life time opportunity for button & brawn to clinch both championships. I don’t see them being front runners anywhere in the near future, at least for the next 3 years. Brawn must go overboard to develop their current car. Anyway there isn’t much of a change for 2010 except re-fueling ban. The fundamentals of the cars will remain the same though. even Though my understanding of aerodynamics is very minimal, i would attribute Brawn’s sensational lack of frontal grip to the new upgrade of the front wing they brought to silverstone, previously until istanbul brawn had been using endplates divided into two sections. a horizontal splitter was used to create a kind of venturi effect under the chassis, while the steering arm had been located level with the lower wishbone to lower the centre of gravity.

    front wing used for 1st 6 races

    http://forums.f1weekly.com/printthread.php?tid=2896

    from turkey onwards brawn replaced the twin solution with a single flap

    http://www.formula1.com/photos/ta_article/full/ta_article_631.jpg

    They seem to have copied this from ferrari, who use a similar single flap solution. Even though the current configuration wing allows drivers to move the whole flap, my guess is that it compromises for downforce. and at silverstone, they modified the end plate of the new front wing ,with a wider flat area on the outside of the end plate and two little plates. which ross Brawn himself is not sure of its performance. I think Brawn must revert to the old front wing, cuz it was developed by honda, clearly the brawn improvisation of the front wing seems to have failed miserably.

    • John H said on 17th August 2009, 13:27

      I think Brawn must revert to the old front wing, cuz it was developed by honda, clearly the brawn improvisation of the front wing seems to have failed miserably.

      It’s still the same aero team, whether they’re called honda or brawn.

      I agree that they should revert to the old front wing just to see if it can increase downforce (and hence tyre temp), at the very least on Friday.

      • NDINYO said on 17th August 2009, 13:57

        people if it was just the front wing, that is an 18 second job – Brawn would already have changed it if it was the solution. Something more complicated is wrong with that car.

  4. Keep an eye out for Alonso, as I think that the ban will be lifted. The R29′s sheer speed has been proven over the last couple of races (Alonso was leading in Hungary until the pit-stop wheel incident) so don’t discount Renault if Alonso can get ahead in qualifying and the race.

    • Patrickl said on 17th August 2009, 13:27

      Alonso was leading the race because they didn’t fuel his car in Q3. Alonso was in P10 behind Trulli after his pitstop and would have had his race ruined from there on no matter what.

      Still, Alonso should have been good for P6 or P7 if he had adopted a better strategy.

      • Chris said on 17th August 2009, 13:43

        Totally Agreed

        Alonso was always going to messed up after the first set of pit stops what ever happened.

      • TommyB said on 17th August 2009, 15:38

        Alonso was in P10 behind Trulli after his pitstop and would have had his race ruined from there on no matter what.

        Trulli train :P

        • Tom L said on 18th August 2009, 16:40

          People do like to criticise/laugh at the Trulli train, but few people realise/are willing to admit that it’s the result of 1) Trulli outqualifiying what the machinery should be capable of, and thus placing himself ahead of faster cars, and 2) Trulli being an excellent defensive driver! After all, a Trulli train is far more impressive than a series-of-faster-cars-all-passing-him-without-difficulty!

          • Mark Hitchcock said on 18th August 2009, 23:24

            Good point Tom.
            Regarding point 2, I suspect it may have more to do with how difficult it is to overtake anyone rather than how well Trulli is able to defend.

            And the Trulli train often gives us more chance of action behind him as the cars are all bunched up and fighting each other.
            So we should celebrate it, not mock it!

  5. Damon said on 17th August 2009, 13:07

    Drivers to watch in Valencia:
    Sebastian Vettel – he can’t play second fiddle to Webber if he wants to win the WDC

  6. David said on 17th August 2009, 13:11

    I don’t see that strong pace from Alonso. Remember that at Budapest he was lighter than Hamilton and was losing the gap on the second, when he stopped for refueling…
    Anyway, of course he is always someone to keep an eye on, even if I don’t think he will be able to win (if he’ll be allowed, as I hope, to run).

    • bwells said on 18th August 2009, 2:14

      Hamilton was catching him up because before the tyre incident Fernando was having fuel pump issues… :) So ultimately his race was ruined before the tyre fell off…

  7. TommyB said on 17th August 2009, 14:20

    Just need one more awful race from Brawn to sort the Championship out. Hope they aren’t too strong this weekend. A double DNF would make me very happy :)

    • Patrickl said on 17th August 2009, 14:47

      Lol, I finally recognise your avatar. I always thought it was that gay singer (with the curls) with a parasol.

      Anyway, I doubt the Red Bulls will get two cars on the podium.

    • mp4-19b said on 17th August 2009, 14:48

      your wishes are sinister tommy :)

    • mp4-19b said on 17th August 2009, 14:49

      aren’t you using vettel’s photo in ur avatar??

      • ajokay said on 17th August 2009, 15:32

        I do believe that TommyB’s avatar is a photo of himself. He just happens to look like Sebby-Vee.

        • TommyB said on 17th August 2009, 15:40

          When did my avatar become such a talking point. Yes its me not Vettel.

          I think Mclaren will be strong again. Just hope Red Bull can get some points from Brawn again

          • StrFerrari4Ever said on 17th August 2009, 15:51

            Your quite the hotshot on here Vettel I mean TommyB :) and mp4-19 his wishes aren’t sinister I wish that both Brawns get a DNF aswell :D Red Bull have to get down to work and keep their eyes on the game get their strategy right and just give it a 100% I believe that if they just focus on doing the maximum this weekend they can get a 1-2 Brawn & Button are on the backfoot and I doubt they’ll be a major threat this weekend the main threat for RBR are the Mclaren’s & Kimi possibly Alonso with his crazy strategy calls. Here’s to a race with a RBR 1-2 Kimi 3rd Rosberg 4th Hammy 5th Kovi 6th Alonso 7th Badoer 8th Lol :)

          • Patrickl said on 17th August 2009, 16:21

            It’s more like that because you are making such bizarre (not very sportsmanship like) wishes, I realized it wasn’t a pink umbrella, but in fact a Red Bull logo in the back.

          • TommyB said on 17th August 2009, 16:41

            “Not very sportsmanship like”

            I’m only wanting my favourite team to catch up in the Championship. I don’t want to wish bad on the Brawns but if Button retires and Webber and Vettel catch up it would make a really exciting finish to the season whoever ends up winning it

          • Patrickl said on 17th August 2009, 18:15

            Wishing the opponent DNF’s is not very sportsmanship like though is it?

            The Red Bulls were beaten in a fair fight even though they had the fastest car. Why should they win that back by luck?

  8. With no development on the car over the summer break why would Brawn improve results this weekend? Even if new developments were allowed, I don’t think Brawn has the cash to pour into the car.

    Remember all those sponsors that were allegedly beating down Brawn’s door? None have materialized to date. I expect them to continue to loose points to Vettel or Webber for the title runs.

    • Patrickl said on 17th August 2009, 15:41

      Didn’t Brawn recently receive quite a large sum of money? I thought something like 35 million.

      • TommyB said on 17th August 2009, 17:03

        I heard Brawn weren’t getting sponsors because there was no garuntee that they would be racing next year. I don’t think its anything to do with them now coming low points finishes

  9. Steph90 said on 17th August 2009, 15:08

    Bernie has been saying how if his medal system were introduced it would be better as Vettel’s chances are now over as the ”gap’s to big”. I think Vettel to win that many might be a dream and both Red Bull’s chances are at shaving off Button’s point lead. I hope Bernie’s system never gets introduced.
    Mclaren seem confident of back to back wins now.

    • Patrickl said on 17th August 2009, 15:50

      Yeah I thought that was a rather odd thing to say for Bernie. It should be a lot easier to overcome a 23 point deficit over 7 races rather than having to actually win 4 races out of those 7.

      Why Vettel anyway? Webber seems to be doing better than Vettel lately. He scored 24 points out of the last 4 races. Vettel 18 and Button 9. If they keep scoring at that rate, Webber would gain over 30 points against Button. Enough to become WDC. Vettel would gain less than 20 so that wouldn’t nearly be enough.

      Imagine though if Button wins another race or Vettel doesn’t win in the next 3 races. Wonder if he comes back then to say that medals would have been a disaster.

  10. Brawn’s best hope of titles will be McLaren. If they and/or Ferrari can keep Vettel and Webber off the top step of the podium, or off it entirely, Brawn and Jenson may be able to limp into the championships. McLaren and Ferrari are too far behind, but can play effective spoilers.

    Not how I’d like to see them win it, but I’ll take it as it comes, no questions asked.

  11. sato113 said on 17th August 2009, 15:51

    i’m with tommyb on this one, i just want the button to mess up and webber to do well to tighten the championship further. but ‘anything can happen in formula one, and it usually does!’ (murray walker)

  12. DRIVER TO WATCH: Sebastian Vettel

    I´m very curious to see how Vettel will perform driving a top car in a track with no run off areas and with kilos of pressure above his head. He doesn´t seems very accurate when he needs to drive in a circuit like that — vide Monaco!

    Once again this track will be another good shot in Vettel´s driving skills that seems very limited so far.

    I will not be surprised if Mark would have the edge over him again…

  13. I don’t know what brainstorm Brawn have had, but I see Hungaroring again. I don’t think this track suits Brawns resume now. Tire temp will kill Brawn here especially in qualifying, due to the lack of high speed corners and slippery surface. In fact, it’s tailor made for McLaren now.

    But the analysis that McLaren and Ferrari out front get Button to the WCC is wishful thinking. In fact, this race could be the eventual Waterloo for both championships for beige: Even if Red Bull finishes 3&4 behind the Silver cars, Button could quite likely find himself in the caboose of a Trulli or Rosberg (or Nakajima) train trailing well behind the podium, i.e, out of the points completely.

    In fact, if Webber scores 6 here, and Button lays an egg, Webber can be content to let any of Hamilton, Raikkonen or his teammate take the top two steps from here out. If Webber or Vettel win in Valencia, Button will be on the ropes.

  14. Bernie is just spouting off to create press. If he believes he can sell that medal *#$t to the teams he is mistaken. The medals idea is stupid. It’s a championship based on COSISTENCY! As it should be. CVC should remove him. Besides, if Webber, Vettel and Hamilton come on strong for the rest of the season and Brawn continues to falter then this is all a moot point isn’t it?

  15. err..that consistency. Got a little swept up in it.

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