Who can stop a Red Bull rout in Istanbul? (Turkish Grand Prix preview)

Sebastian Vettel took pole position last year but was beaten by Button and Webber

Sebastian Vettel took pole position last year but was beaten by Button and Webber

Red Bull head to the Turkish Grand Prix as the team to beat. Does the Istanbul circuit offer their rivals any hope of catching the RB6s?

Red Bull dominated at the Circuit de Catalunya, so they should have an easy run to victory at Istanbul, a track which makes similar demands on F1 cars.

That’s the theory, but remember that at Catalunya – where the RB6s were almost a second quicker than the opposition in qualifying – they didn’t have the same performance advantage in the race. In fact, Lewis Hamilton was able to stay close enough to split the two RB6s at the first round of pit stops.

And all the teams will have to get a handle on one of the most punishing tests of tyre wear we’ll see this year.

In the first stint of the race, on high fuel loads and almost certainly running on the soft tyres, the front-right tyres will take a terrific pounding around turn eight, at speeds of up to 270kph and lateral forces exceeding 5G.

As we saw in Spain the RB6 is able to generate greater downforce than any other car – but can they do that without hurting their tyres too much?

Ferrari, on the other hand, have been able to manage their tyre wear very well – witness Fernando Alonso’s 77-lap stint on one set of tyres at Monaco.

Although they’ve not performed as well on the harder rubber being used this weekend, the team believe they’ve made progress in understanding how to get the most out of those tyres.

With much speculation surrounding Felipe Massa’s future with the team, this could be an important weekend for him.

He’s been over three tenths of a second slower than Alonso on average in qualifying this year – can he shrink that gap or, better yet, beat Alonso in a straight fight for the first time since Bahrain, at a track where he’s won three times in the past?

The inter-team battle at Red Bull is equally interesting, with Sebastian Vettel eager to hit back after Mark Webber’s domination of the last two races. Vettel’s hopes are pinned on a new chassis which, as was the case with Michael Schumacher two races ago, he hopes will help him cut the gap to Webber.

It remains to be seen whether Red Bull will be bringing their version of the F-duct to Istanbul, as Christian Horner said they might a few weeks ago.

Another driver getting a new car this weekend is Lucas di Grassi, who finally gets his hands on the revised Virgin VR-01 with a larger fuel tank capacity. Timo Glock has had the car since Spain.

Mercedes are also using their revised, longer W01 in Istanbul, having temporarily switched back to the short car in Monaco. How well it goes will determine whether they are competing with the three front-running teams, or left to fight a rearguard action against Renault and Force India.

Drivers to watch

Four driver to keep an eye on this weekend. Name your top picks in the comments.

Sebastian Vettel – Previously thought to have the upper hand on Mark Webber, but has been beaten by his team mate in the last two races. He lost out to Webber here in 2009 as well – can he turn the tables this year?

Lewis Hamilton – Can he take the fight to Red Bull? Or might he succumb to the tyre trouble that plagued him here in 2007 and 2008?

Adrian Sutil – The Force India was more of a match for the Renault at Catalunya, so Sutil may give Robert Kubica a run for ‘best of the rest’ here.

Heikki Kovalainen – Revelled in the updated Lotus T127 at Monaco, he may now be the high watermark for the new teams’ progress.

The Turkish Grand Prix on F1 Fanatic

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83 comments on Who can stop a Red Bull rout in Istanbul? (Turkish Grand Prix preview)

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  1. OEL said on 26th May 2010, 13:00

    Felipe Massa, king of Istanbul Park? If the Ferrari will be quick enough, which I guess it won’t.

    • alex said on 26th May 2010, 16:30

      button should have this race because hes good on tyres and has an F-Duct car which will prove key on this track.

      • newdecade said on 26th May 2010, 19:09

        To be honest i think the whole issue about who does or doesnt destroy their tyres is overblown… In monaco fernando essentially ran the whole race on one set of tyres, and overall this year Jenson has yet to prove he can turn his tyre-kindness into a genuine advantage in the dry. As many people are saying, the tyres are too good…

        • MouseNightshirt said on 27th May 2010, 0:35

          The tyres simply are too hardy for Button’s tyre finesse to do anything other than slow him down.

        • nik said on 27th May 2010, 17:55

          yes it is overblown with button. it comes from last year where he happen to have a car that was well balanced and hence treated the tyres well.

      • polishboy808 said on 27th May 2010, 0:01

        Wait wait wait. Hamilton is good on his tires? Since when? He destroys he tires and then complains about it. He must be the WORST on tires out of the whole field!

        • Aussie Fan said on 27th May 2010, 7:47

          Where is Hamilton mentioned? OP said Button, not Hamilton.

        • Lee said on 27th May 2010, 8:29

          @Polishboy808

          Hamilton is not as hard on hard on tyres as most state. This is a myth made up by people that do not know what they are talking about. Maclaren have stated that there is virtually no difference between Buttons tyre wear and Hamiltons. Most of his tyre problems stem from poor team decisions, mechanical failiures or car design (remember the last two years Hamilton has had a team mate that was lapping considerably slower and therefore putting a lot less strain on the tyres).

        • LOL @ above Hamilton hater!

      • Aussie Fan said on 27th May 2010, 7:45

        But the Redbulls, Ferrari & Mercedes will all be running some version of the stalled rear wing….

    • Jhonnie Siggie said on 27th May 2010, 4:18

      Red Bull can stop Red Bull by doing some bull…. dbl failure me think

  2. Steezy said on 26th May 2010, 13:03

    Speaking of predictions championship, I think I’ve found a way to stop Red Bull’s dominance, all I need to do is predict a Red Bull one-two and they’ll crash out in the first lap or something. Easy.

    • OEL said on 26th May 2010, 13:06

      Or they’ll finish in the opposite positions ;)

    • Herbie said on 26th May 2010, 18:08

      Brilliant idea just genious! i’m a fan of reverse psychology myself…..Infact maybe even bet money on a one-two then they will surely lose!

  3. Bleu said on 26th May 2010, 13:09

    I think Massa should be listed in drivers to watch due to his good history on the circuit.

    • OEL said on 26th May 2010, 13:11

      I agree! But he was listed in Monaco, so perhaps it would be wrong to list one driver twice in a row.

      • Adam Tate said on 26th May 2010, 19:27

        I admit I am a Massa fan, but making him a driver to watch twice in a row is acceptable under these circumstances. In the past 3 years at Monaco, he has a pole position, a podium, a fastest lap and 2 fourth places. Excluding last year and the terrible F60, it deserves mentioning how he won at Turkey 3 years in a row. The first driver since Schumacher to win 3 in a row at the same circuit. Hopefully he will fly this weekend and silence his critics.

  4. This is an important race for Massa, and I think we will see him go well here. This race will hopefully allow us to gauge his speed against Alonso who I suspect, along with Hamilton in the early stages, will be up their snapping at Red Bull.

    However I suspect, mechanical failures aside, a one-two for Red Bull… and let’s see if a new chassis will show that Vettel was hampered in Spain and Monaco, I hope not and 3 on the trot for Webber would be awesome.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe Red Bull have shown any tyre wear issues and that with their speed is ominous.

    • OEL said on 26th May 2010, 13:35

      It’s indeed an important race for Felipe, if he can’t beat Alonso in Turkey, it will be very dark.

      As for Red Bull’s tyre wear, I think Webber struggled in the end of Bahrain, but that might be because of dirty air.

      • Macca said on 26th May 2010, 14:35

        I think it’s an important race for Webber. If he beats Vettel again that will almost drive the nail in his coffin. Webber is a confidence driver and if he beats Vettel 3 times in a row I don’t think there will be any stopping him.

  5. Scribe said on 26th May 2010, 13:12

    Love this track, it’s all that Catalunya should be, aerodynamically testing, but passing possible, an quick, this track reminds me that it’s all possible with Mr Tilke, you just have to hope he does it like this for Austin.

    Anyway, I get the feeling that once Redbull have an F-Duct the rest of the field is done for, they probably won’t be fastest on the straights but my god, fastest round the corners an that 6mph deficit eaten up? They’ll be invincible, it may even help with the one true remaining chink in their armour, being excessive tyre degredation. God I hope this doesn’t turn into a period of Redbull dominance for the next few years.

    Still we still have that race pace difference to look forward too. Come On YOU MACCAs

    • OEL said on 26th May 2010, 13:32

      Who knows, F-Duct might cause Red Bull problems just like it did to Ferrari in Barcelona. I can think of one scenario that will cause them real problem this weekend: They’ll run F-Duct on Friday but find it destroying the balance, remove it for Saturday but not finding a good set-up in Saturday practice and therefore struggle to get pole, and wear out the tyres in the race. Unlikely, but you never know!

  6. statix said on 26th May 2010, 13:13

    “Adrian Sutil – The Force India was more of a match for the Renault at Catalunya, so Sutil may give Robert Kubica a run for ‘best of the rest’ here.”

    i doubt it. but we will see:)

    • sumedh said on 26th May 2010, 13:38

      I assume Felipe Massa will also be praying for Sutil to do well.

      Kubica’s form must be giving sleepless nights to Felipe.

      A good result for him and a bad one for Kubica would give atleast 2 weeks of relief for Massa.

  7. Oli said on 26th May 2010, 13:31

    Wil the race still be a one stopper with the might turn 8 or will we see another round of pit stops and maybe some more action?

  8. pgj said on 26th May 2010, 13:32

    Gremlins!

    Not sure it will be done without a self destruct button or two being pressed.

  9. PJA said on 26th May 2010, 13:34

    Apart from Brazil I think this should be Massa’s best chance at beating Alonso, but I can’t see anyone other team other than Red Bull getting pole and the win, but which driver?

    • JBolton said on 26th May 2010, 13:43

      That’s the main point of interest for me this weekend – which Red Bull driver will be quickest, and which will win. Vettel has his new chassis so it would be interesting if he beats Webber comfortably.

      • kowalsky said on 26th May 2010, 22:32

        i agree. And let’s not forget there are three drivers that need a victory more than air to breath. Vettel, hamilton and alonso. Let’s see who gets a breath of fresh air at istambul park.

  10. steph said on 26th May 2010, 13:53

    Vettel-how he responds to Webber.
    Massa- I don’t agree that it will be a disaster if he is beaten by Alonso here. He should do well given his history but looking at the choice in tyre compounds I expect Alonso to be ahead at the end of the weekend. I just want to see his pace.
    Hulkenberg-his first two arces were iffy but we’re getting into the season now so I want to see how he can do against Rubens.
    Button-because he won here last year.
    Sutil-because of what Keith said

    • OEL said on 26th May 2010, 14:10

      I understand what you mean about Massa and the tyres, but Ferrari are saying they have worked on it and also, the circuit is hard on the tyres so it should be easier to ge the temperature up. It’s not a disaster if Alonso will be a tenth or two faster in qualifying, but Felipe has to become confident soon, otherwise it might be too late to retain his seat, Kubica, Webber or even Bianchi are possible replacements. Oh I hope Alonso will be beaten in a fair fight.

      • steph said on 26th May 2010, 16:56

        Yeah the set up to work the tyres should be ok. I don’t think he will be anywhere near as far off the pace as he was in Aus Quali. He seems fired up too, this result will be important but if it goes wrong then it’ll be bad but not the end of the world.

        I’m not sure Bianchi would be put straight into a Ferrari seat. It generally takes a couple of seasons of GP2 -bar Hamilton and Hulk- to get to speed. Ferrari seem patient with their drivers, Massa is a case point, so I think he’s a star of the future potentially.

        • OEL said on 26th May 2010, 19:05

          “this result will be important but if it goes wrong then it’ll be bad but not the end of the world” Being a second off Alonso would almost be the end of the world! But really I don’t expect that to happen, I think it will be very tight actually.

          “I’m not sure Bianchi would be put straight into a Ferrari seat” Well, as you said Hamilton got into McLaren immediately after winning GP2 and nearly won the title, but of coure nowadays with very little testing someone like Hulkenberg is struggeling. That’s why I agree, it’s not likely to happen. He’s more likely to drive for Sauber I think, if he’ll get inte F1 next year. An with Kubica likely to stay with Renault and Webber in Red Bull (Why would he want to move?), all Felipe has to do to stay with Ferrari is to be close to Alonso.

          But I want him to beat Alonso!

      • Adam Tate said on 26th May 2010, 19:30

        I hope he will too, I honestly think people have exaggerated the gap in talent between Massa and Alonso, it would be nice to see Massa put Alonso in his place like he’s done in the past.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th May 2010, 11:02

          like he’s done in the past.

          I’m struggling to think of many examples of that…

        • F1Fan said on 27th May 2010, 17:38

          You are kidding of course. Alonso is a double world champion who beat Michael twice on equal terms. Massa is a driver who can only drive in the dry, can **occasionally** win at certain tracks (Bahrain, Turkey), has not won anything ever and is horrible on the wet. And you say the gap between the two of them is overblown ?

          • steph said on 27th May 2010, 17:45

            Massa hasn’t ever (until now) been up against Alonso on equal terms. The last time was really 07 but different car, different circumstances. Alonso has had the measure of him so far this year but things can change.

            I have to disagrre with F1Fan though who I think is being unduly harsh. Massa can drive in the wet; he led much of Nurburgring in 07, China 09 was a fine drive, Monaco 08 he made one error but set the flap and did pretty well, Japan 07 he recovered pretty well and one of his msot impressive drives was getting his Sauber to 4th in the damp Montreal track in 2005. Him not being able to drive in the wet is a myth, he isn’t the best but he isn’t as bad as it is often made out.

          • David A said on 27th May 2010, 21:52

            2005 was “equal terms”? Then by that definition 2003 and 2004 between Michael and Fernando were “equal terms”.

            Also, were you sleeping through 2008′s season finale? Are you basing your opinions of a driver **solely** on Silverstone 2008? By my reckoning, Massa and Alonso have actually won the same number of wet races.

        • Martin said on 28th May 2010, 16:50

          lol maybe the incident a couple years back, with the Spaniard and the Brazilian yelling and swearing at each other in Italian…not a clear “victor”, though, as I recall…

  11. Icthyes said on 26th May 2010, 14:07

    I can only really see Hamilton challenging the Red Bulls, and much will depend on starting well and covering off their pit stops. If by some miracle he leads after Turn 1, he could have a chance at upsetting the predictions.

    I agree that this is a big test for Massa. He has to beat Alonso here, at one of his prime circuits.

  12. Daniel said on 26th May 2010, 14:26

    The chassis itself won’t make a difference.

    What will make a difference is his ability to get a good setup for his driving style and sorting out his head.

  13. “Who can stop a Red Bull rout in Istanbul? (Turkish Grand Prix preview)”

    2 words. Lewis. Hamilton.

  14. Tom said on 26th May 2010, 14:50

    Lotus can beat them 1 day =D

  15. Tom said on 26th May 2010, 14:59

    Do they change the the type supplier every year?

    • No, Bridgestone has been in F1 since 1997 and was the sole supplier in 1999 and 2000, then again from 2007 onwards. It’s only since 2008 that there has been a rule mandating a single tyre supplier; before that it was just a case of however many manufacturers wanted to enter (in Bridgestone’s time it has been a maximum of two).

      Bridgestone are pulling out of the sport at the end of 2010 on cost grounds. Unfortunately as long as F1 sticks with this silly “single tyre supplier” rule we will be stuck with daft tyre regulations like the ones we have at present.

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