The biggest threat to Red Bull is themselves (British GP pre-race analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2010

Red Bull have been fastest in every session so far this weekend. But they’ve thrown away scores of points this year through driver errors and unreliability in the races.

Can they banish those demons to score a second consecutive one-two at Silverstone? Or will the fragile RB6s and its warring drivers allow the likes of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton by on race day?

The start

As far as Mark Webber is concerned, he’d be better off starting from third instead of second:

I would rather be third on the grid, probably. Fernando is on the clean side. As usual we know that second on the grid at most tracks this year is ****, so that’s why pole is a big… If Fernando wants to change, I don’t know if we can. But it is a long race, so let’s see what happens.
Mark Webber

The left-hand side of the grid is the cleaner side, and it’s a very short run to the first corner, so Sebastian Vettel can expect to preserve his lead if he gets away cleanly at the start.

But the difference between the clean and dirty side of the grid is usually not so pronounced at Silverstone as the track is in regular use. Webber started third last year and wasn’t able to pass second-placed Rubens Barrichello at the start.

After that, the high-speed Maggots/Beckets sequence usually forces the field to go single file, though there is usually some slipstreaming to be done on the run down Hangar Straight to Stowe.

This is where Jenson Button, starting down in 14th, will need to make some progress on the first lap if he’s going to salvage some points this weekend.


After the controversial circumstances of qualifying Webber will be desperate to pounce on any mistake by his team mate to stop him from claiming a second Silverstone win in a row.

Behind them Alonso and Lewis Hamilton will be equally keen for a chance to capitalise on more in-fighting between the Red Bulls. The prospect of Alonso and Hamilton fighting it out for ‘best of the rest’ is an enticing one, especially given their thrilling duel here last year.

As ever the timing of the pit stops will be crucial and it could be a headache for Red Bull if their drivers are running first and second.

Whichever of their drivers is leading will probably get the advantage of pitting first (unless the second placed driver is a long way behind) but that could leave the driver in second vulnerable to beign leap-frogged. And both their drivers have lost places due to slow pit stops on occasions this year (Webber in Valencia, Vettel in Spain).

We haven’t had a ‘normal’ strategy race since Turkey – the pit stops at Valencia were hastened by the arrival of the safety car and in Canada the teams ran unusual strategies to cope with unusually high tyre degradation. At Silverstone things are more likely to run according to plan.

As usual the trigger for the domino effect of pit stops will be when the new teams have fallen far enough away from the midfield for the midfield drivers to make their pit stops. Expect this to happen more quickly than usual, as the midfield runners have been over two seconds off the pace this weekend.

Then there is the question of whether any drivers will choose to start on the hard compound tyres. This may be a route for Button to take, running a long first stint in the hope of gaining some places after his pit stop. But with that come the usual caveats that it would leave him vulnerable to a late safety car deployment and make it harder for him to gain places at the start.

However with tyre degradation expected to be higher due to the changes to the circuit, we could see some surprises in the strategies. In Button’s position, it’s much easier to make the case for ‘rolling the dice’.

What do you expect to happen in the British Grand Prix? Should they just give Red Bull the trophies already? Have your say in the comments.

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60 comments on “The biggest threat to Red Bull is themselves (British GP pre-race analysis)”

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  1. If the red bulls have a clean start i think its a 90% certain a RBR 1-2. Like the article mentions, its going to be very exciting watching FA vs LH fight from the start with all the drama at Valencia.

    1. sorry about the typo.

    2. not a clean start it was – VETTEL TRIED TO PUSH WEBBER INTO THE WALL then caught a puncture on the left side (Lewis didnt cause it – he was on the right)…

      Fantastic McLaren… Great job WEBBER! Aussies are rock n roll

  2. pit stops will be paramount and might have a say in the end result

  3. Sadly, given there actions over the front wing, if the they lead at the end of lap one barring failures or accidents it will be a RBR 1-2.

    Hope Webber wins.

    1. go LEWIS!!!! go LEWIS! go LEWIS!

  4. Will the Abbey bump be more of an obstacle on lap 1, now they’ve all got full tanks? I’m thinking that might create some opportunities.

  5. BreezyRacer
    10th July 2010, 20:48

    I shouldn’t voice it but I hope Webber outdoes Vettel too. That whole front wing deal was a screwy, just like ordering Webber to follow Vettel home at Canada and the other team inspired favoritism of Vettel.

    As for going with hard tires on the start, I think it a bad move. Here the softs take 2 laps to get happy, and the hards are of course longer. That’s a very good chance to lose positions when the field is all packed up. Once hot they don’t have much speed difference (maybe 2-3 tenths to the softs) but getting the hards up to speed quickly will be difficult.

  6. STRFerrari4Ever
    10th July 2010, 20:54

    I’ve got a feeling that Webber will be pushing Vettel for all he’s worth during the first 10 laps, with the hope of pushing Sebastian into a mistake. Red Bull fearing what happened in Turkey might tell him to ease off a bit which will definitely pee off Webber. After that I expect RBR to cruise to a dominant 1-2.

    As for Ferrari, McLaren, Renault & Mercedes I think there could be some very fierce battles. Firstly Alonso will want to finish on the podium to try to get back into the title picture whilst Hamilton will give his all in his home race to get a result to stay near the top of the drivers championship. Personally I have a feeling that Kubica & Rosberg could spring a surprise, I know it doesn’t seem likely after all the sessions that have taken part this weekend but don’t count them out.

    Further back Jenson will have it all to do I doubt he’ll be able to make much headway so I’m guessing he’ll end up with low points or no points at all. Strategy if there is a safety car or surprise, surprise some rain will be fascinating, seeing what teams & which drivers decide to take gambles will be very interesting.

    Lastly one thing that could destroy a variety of driver’s races, is the Abbey corner that bump on full tanks & in a racing environment will cause many drivers to make some mistakes. Even the slightest mistake will leave a driver exposed going into the last sector particularly allowing the driver behind a run down the Wellington Straight. All these things being considered I feel this could be a very good British Grand Prix I sure hope it doesn’t disappoint!

  7. “The prospect of Alonso and Hamilton fighting it out for ‘best of the rest’ is an enticing one, especially given their thrilling duel here last year.”

    I agree last years battle between the two was a belter and was one of the highlights of the year, but I can’t see McLaren having the race pace of the Ferrari. I think the combination of Alonso being blocked on his last lap and Hamilton’s skill in quali masks the true gap between the two cars’ ultimate pace this weekend.

  8. I just hope Mark wins it.

    But if he cannot overtake Sebastien at the start, then it’ll be almost impossible.

    1. I agree. I think it’ll be first corner/first lap or nothing. After that, Vettel will probably just constantly pull away. I hope Webber can give him a run for his money though!

  9. Charles Carroll
    10th July 2010, 21:39

    I have a feeling that at the start, Mark will slip back down the order, similar to the way he did in Valencia. Vettel will get away clean and probably stay out front for the balance of the race. Alonso and Hamilton may have a battle early, which will wane as the race develops. Perhaps McLaren’s problems will multiply, and Lewis will have a problem, forcing both he and Jensen out of the race.

    I also expect Kubica to get past Rosberg and for Michael to fall back out of the points. Massa will have a boring race and De La Rosa will not finish. Kobayashi may slip into the points, and the Force Indias will get past Hulkenberg and fight with Toro Rosso for non-points places.

    HRT will be a disaster, with neither driver finishing, and most likely with Yamamoto being rear-ended by someone lapping him. Probably Kobayashi or Hulkenberg. Lotus will beat the Virgins, who will either have mechanical problems or crash out.

    So, Vettel wins, Fernando is second, and Kubica is third. That is my story and I’m sticking to it, unless a flaming and flying Yamamoto crashes out Seb.

  10. Webber will be lucky to keep Alonso behind him at the start; if he does get nipped for second he’ll be under pressure from Hamilton for the rest of the race. I look for him to come to grief in a tangle with a backmarker again, though not as spectacularly as in Valencia.

  11. Does anyone want to take bets on whether Webber will get fired if he drives into Vettel at the start trying to overtake into the first corner? ;)

  12. Fun fact: A Red Bull 1-2 on the grid has NEVER resulted in the race. They have had four qualifying 1-2s in the past: Australia, China, Spain and Valencia this year, and none of those races finished with a Red Bull 1-2. Gives us some hope for a bit of drama…

    1. As a 1-2 in the race that should be.

    2. Didn’t they have a 1-2 in Malaysia but qualify 1st and 2nd too? Albeit they swapped places in the race

      1. No, at Malaysia they had a 1-3 in qualifying, with Rosberg 2nd on the grid, then Vettel passed both Rosberg and Webber at the start.

        1. Ah right thanks! Apparently I have memory loss

  13. BBC suggest that there will be a light rain shower tomorrow morning around 10am. This might help Mark’s cause as it’ll wash just a little bit of rubber off the track. Probably not a lot, but it wont do him any harm.

    I’ve got a feeling Fernando is one to watch tomorrow, as well as Lewis (as they always are when qualifying side-by-side!). Fernando will want to drive away from Lewis to get revenge for the Valencia debacle and to mark his authority on the grid once more.

  14. I don’t see this as an easy 1-2 for Redbull. I haven’t witnessed a race yet this year where the Redbulls have been able to translate their Qualy pace to race pace. They’ve always been closely followed by either Mclaren (Turkey) or Ferrari (Bahrain). I expect it will be close between the top four.

    1. yeah it seems only Malaysia and Monaco were straight forward 1-2s for the team.

  15. Well i for one certainly hope Webber gets past Vettel during the first lap. And maybe Alonso and Hamilton can catch him.

    I would think Button might try a different tyre strategy. It might just work out like alonso at Monaco or Kobayashi in Valencia. And we have not seen many SC here at Silverstone in the dry.

    Rosberg might spring some suprises, as the Merceds also runs better in the race than in Qualli.

    But maybe Vettel will drive away at the start, then i expect RBR to make a mess of Webbers pitstop timing again. But hey, Vettel might be in risk, as Joe Saward said “The risk, of course, is that the new wing might fall off Vettel’s car tomorrow… in which case the team will have even more egg on its face.”

  16. Andrew White
    10th July 2010, 22:55

    Is this the third year in a row that Webber has started from second at Silverstone?

    1. No, Webber started 3rd at Silverstone last year, Barrichello was 2nd.

  17. ‘Should they just give Red Bull the trophies already?’
    lol keith!

    I’m looking forward to the prospect of 24 cars scrambling through the abbey corner on lap one with heavy fuel loads. if a car were to bottom out too much on the bump they’d just spin off! and vettel will be the first person to test this theory!

  18. ferrari will have the pace to give red bull somthing to think of in the race massa will finish fourth tomorrow.
    and a good race from Micheal Shumacher.

  19. MacademiaNut
    11th July 2010, 0:08

    I’ve put redbull 1 and 2 as my prediction. So, I am positive, redbulls will not be 1 and 2. :)

    1. Thank you for being that generous!

  20. Ferrari have not shown their supposed race pace since testing. It’s a myth. Hamilton is driving the normal car and his race pace has been strong, even vis a vis RedBull. Will get be able to get by Alsono without some problem? Maybe not. As ‘ pointed out, things are never straightforward when RBR starts up front. If you have to go on history, it is a virtual certainty that some combination of strategic screw ups, pit lane errors, and driver brain-fades will let Alonso and/or Hamilton on to the podium.

    This race also produces some interesting WDC arithmetic—which I’m sure Horner had in mind when shuffling around wings:
    For Hamilton, it must be in his mind that getting onto the podium is essential to him staying atop the WDC, and Vettel will be dam*ed if he will let Webber keep him out of that position; Webber likewise would rather eat a plate of nails than see Vettel lead the WDC right now. (At one of these Saturday pressers will Webber actually try to strangle Vettel? The tension is terrible at these things.) Alonso, if he were to win, could, amazingly, move to tie Button in points, as the latter looks to score zero tomorrow. Further, if Hamilton does not demote Alonso, RBR may take the WCC lead. But this, of course, would be the fault of Jenson Button.

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