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

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)

  1. Andrew White said on 10th July 2010, 22:55

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

  2. sato113 (@sato113) said on 10th July 2010, 23:03

    ‘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!

  3. Mohammed said on 10th July 2010, 23:30

    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.

  4. MacademiaNut said on 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. :)

  5. DaveW said on 11th July 2010, 0:41

    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.

  6. F1Fan said on 11th July 2010, 1:05

    I think ALO somehow gets past WEB in lap 1 and stays close enough to VET until the pitstops. This will be much closer than the 8/10s quali difference indicates. I think RBR is fragile and the F10 is faster on the harder tyre. VET should still win it, but he will have to give it all he has. I think WEB makes another blunder and stays off the podium.

  7. Icthyes said on 11th July 2010, 1:20

    Depends on who makes a good start – and who doesn’t. We could see Webber steal it away from Vettel, or Alonso pick off the squabbling pair and keep them behind on straight-line speed. Or Hamilton could repeat 2008.

  8. Sam Lambardo said on 11th July 2010, 1:59

    Sebatian Vettel will broke his win who not belong to him and DNF.
    Webber win the Race followed by Hami and Alo

  9. I want Webber to win cause what happened with him is injustice.

    But I think Red Bull 1-2 with the battle between Alonso & Hamilton ( as they had in Canada) for 3rd .Disappointing performance from Button & Sutil I expected them to be higher. Expect Sauber in the points will be a exciting race.

    • Schumi’s performance is getting deteriorating.He needs to clear De la Rosa & Barrichello in the first lap.

      The oldest GP track in the calender have 3 of the oldest & experience driver on the grid from 8-10 it will be interesting to see how the old bulls fight just as the young ones in the front.

  10. tharris19 said on 11th July 2010, 3:44

    Christian Horner ‘manipulated’ this race. To deny his own driver an opportunity to compete is sad. I feel sorry for MW, his fans and all the people who payed good money to see a fair race.
    Like Alonso said in Monza a few years ago ‘this is a business not a sport’. It discouraging to even watch a race when you know the end results have been manipulated by RBR to the advantage of Vettel over Weber.
    I hated the past drama in formula 1 but this takes the cake. And Horner says it all about the team. BS.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th July 2010, 8:01

      Christian Horner ‘manipulated’ this race. To deny his own driver an opportunity to compete is sad.

      To give the old front wing to Vettel would be to deny him the opportunity to compete.

      • Adam said on 11th July 2010, 8:27

        Don’t be deliberately foolish – as you’re well aware, they had 1 each.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th July 2010, 9:24

          I know they had one each. And Vettel’s broke. I didn’t see the incident, but it was through no fault of their own. Red Bull no doubt looked at the telemetry from across the weekend and decided that Vettel stood a better chance of success, however marginal that better chance might have been.

          Nowhere is it written that Red Bull are obligated to pay equal attention to both their drivers.

          • Adam said on 11th July 2010, 10:57

            Finally in your last sentence you accept the real situation – you’re quite right that there is no requirement for equal treatment, but don’t pretend equal treatment is occuring when it clearly isn’t.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th July 2010, 12:14

            Finally in your last sentence you accept the real situation – you’re quite right that there is no requirement for equal treatment, but don’t pretend equal treatment is occuring when it clearly isn’t.

            I’m not pretnding equal treatment, and nor have I ever said that it was present. All I’ve done is question whether what Red Bull is really so wrong. They obviously feel that Sebastian Vettel is stronger at Silverstone and that he is in a better postiion championship-wise (it might only be the tenth race and they might oly be separated by twelve points, but Red Bulls’ biggest problem in 2009 was the way their drivers were too busy taking points out of one another to have a run at Jenson Button). It’s everybody else who feels that some great injustice has been done, and the direct connotation of that is that Red Bull have intentionally disrupted harmony within the team that is born out of some nonexistant policy of driver equality within the sport. Red Bull are only doing what they have to do, and that is to allocate their resources in a way that they feel maximises their chances. If Mark Webber had been consistently faster than Vettel, then there’s probably a good chance they would have left him with the new front wing. After all, there’s only a tenth of a second between them on the grid, so the only way Vettel got an advantage out of it is if Webber drove a perfect lap. Just one slip one – one missed apex, one moment too early on the brakes or too late on the accelerator – could have cost Webber that tenth of a second. The real reason why Webber is upset is becaus he’s on the dirty side of the grid, and he hates being on the dirty side. Especially at Silverstone, where the racing line out of Woodcote through to Copse means that 99% of all rubber laid down over the weekend will be laid down on the outside of the circuit, meaning the effect is mangified in comparison to other circuits.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th July 2010, 9:04

        So instead they denied Webber the opportunity to compete? Sounds pretty much like Schumi years at Ferrari to me.

  11. wuzzie said on 11th July 2010, 6:41

    Webber will have a great start and will be in front of vettel near first corner and they both touch each other, seb front wing will make contact with mark rear wheel and sebeastian goes back to pit to put on his original wing with a crying face and finger around his head.

  12. silencer said on 11th July 2010, 7:37

    I’m more keen to see how sauber drivers will perform on this race.
    more banzai from kobayashi will surely liven up the race if he didn’t involve in any silly incident and hope C29 will not fail him again.

    as for RBR drivers, they will surely kill each other on the track.

  13. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th July 2010, 7:58

    Sometimes I just wish Mark Webber would shut up and race. That’s what they pay him to do. If he doesn’t like being in second place on the grid, the answer is simple: change his gearbox and drop back to seventh. I’m sure Fernando Alonso won’t go complaining about it.

    • silencer said on 11th July 2010, 8:58

      I personally think webber shouldn’t take that one year contract extension. He can always try to find other team; Renault perhaps.

      next year will be more volatile relationship between vettel and webber if the same situation like this wing row is not properly handle by Red Bull

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th July 2010, 9:25

        He’s already taken it.

        • silencer said on 11th July 2010, 9:36

          yeap I know that

          that’s why I said next year we will see more stone face from webber if this favouritism scenario is not properly handle by red bull

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th July 2010, 9:53

            Define “properly handled”. The number one reason why Red Bull’s title campaign fell apart last year was because they were too busy taking points out of each other to launch a run at Jenson Button, and given Button’s run of success, it became harder for them the later they left it. Mark Webber wasn’t out of the title race until Singapore, but the team should have made a decision to back one driver before Italy.

            Given the car’s reliability problems this year, there’s going to come a point where Red Bull have to decide which driver they’re going to favour if they want to stay in the title race. That decision may have to come sooner rather than later, and based on points, Vettel is the man to keep Red Bull in the game. Even if Webber wins at Silverstone and Hamilton retires from the race, Webber will still be behind – but Vettel can reclaim the championship lead. If Webber were in the lead on points, Red Bull would no doubt be backing him. But he’s not, so for now Vettel is getting a little extra help.

            People are acting as if it’s all one-way traffic in Vettel’s favour, but it’s not. Christian Horner has said that Webber has a different floor on his car, and that his chassis is lighter.

    • Aussie Fan said on 11th July 2010, 10:00

      I don’t think its that he is unhappy being 2nd, its that he wasn’t given an equal & above all FAIR chance to go for pole position.

      Besides, haven’t you seen Vettel sook when he gets beat by Webber? Nothing can top the type of sookiness he displays :-)

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th July 2010, 12:20

        Unless you can prove that Vettel’s lap was directly a result of his front wing, you’ve got no ground to stand on. And the only way to do that is to demonstrate that Webber drove a perfect lap. One missed apex, and it’s all over. Fairness doesn’t come into it, because if there is one thing Formula 1 is not, it is not fair. It is not equal. When was the last time it was? Drivers can go their entire careers without wins that, by rights, they should have had, so I think Webber missing out on the chance to make up a tenth of a second hardly qualifies as the injustice you make it out to be. Formula 1 will only be fair and equal when we have spec chassis and spec engines. So until then, don’t go preaching about how Mark Webber was robbed of his chance to take pole because of some conspiracy – because there are twenty-two drivers who will line up behind him who did not have an equal and fair chance to beat Vettel simply because they are not driving a Red Bull.

        And, if you’ll recall, Webber missed matching Vettel’s original pole time – and then Vettel went and set a better one. The direct implication of that is that Webber didn’t nail the lap.

  14. Ayrton said on 11th July 2010, 9:18

    I see two things happening possibly today…ok…so in all races thus far the McLaren pace has not been great in qauli (bar Canada where Ham was at his briliiant best) but in the race they have been extremely close…see Turkey where they were far off in quali but in the race had the RBRs not crashed it would have been even more of a thriller! So I think Ham will pass Alo and keep tight with Webber and Vettel and then we shall see the crowd support give Ham an extra push…

    Second scenario is Ham gets over excited in first lap and spins similar to GP2 in Istanbul and then he races a thriller to finish exactly where he started at 4th…passing his team-mate in the pits….

    I am hoping for first scenario with Ham passing both Red Bulls on track!

    Fingers crossed for a good british grand prix!

  15. BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th July 2010, 9:31

    I was just wondering, are there any supprises with the tyres fitted in Q3, anyone trying a set of primes?

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