Red Bull ready to run and hide in race (Hungarian Grand Prix pre-race analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2010

Red Bull have locked out the front row of the grid yet again at the Hungaroring.

We all know how bad they’ve been at converting that advantage into one-two finishes on race day.

But with the performance advantage the RB6 boasts this weekend, surely no-one can stop from running away with the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Red Bull’s speed

At some races this year we’ve seen Red Bull’s performance advantage in qualifying turn into a deficit on race day.

Even at the Circuit de Catalunya and Silverstone, where they locked out the front row of the grid with an eight-tenths advantage, they weren’t able to get away from the chasing pack at anything like that rate during the Grand Prix.

But Sunday’s race could well be a different story. For one thing, the size of their advantage here is the greatest it’s been all year – over a second per lap.

On top of that, at all stages in practice they have been much quicker than their rivals – whether they’ve been on the medium or super-soft tyres.

On the face of it, they seem more likely to be hobbled by their persistent reliability problems – which struck Mark Webber again last weekend – than face a serious threat from the cars behind them.

Then there’s the question of how their drivers will conduct themselves should they end up disputing the same piece of track. Sebastian Vettel was usually quicker when the pair ran the super-softs in practice but the pair were very closely matched on the medium tyre.

If Webber finds himself within close range of Vettel the heavy traffic we’ve already seen at the Hungaroring could provide an opportunity for him to pass.

The start

Red Bull will undoubtedly be at their most vulnerable at the start of the race. We’ve seen them make some poor getaways at recent events, particularly Vettel.

Vettel will have the benefit of starting from the clean side of the grid while Webber’s grid slot is on the dusty side of the track. The difference between the two isn’t as bad as it used to be (at the end of lap one in 2003 the drivers in first, second, third and fourth had started first, third, fifth and seventh) but it still has an effect.

It’s also a long run to the first corner, which could help Fernando Alonso in his bid to split the two Red Bulls. A dream scenario for him would be if he could pick them both off – just like Felipe Massa did to the two McLarens here two years ago.

Likewise Lewis Hamilton will be teed up for a crack at Massa, though they would be advised to tread carefully – both have made contact with other cars on the first lap in recent races.

The start

Once again, everyone in the top ten is starting on super-soft tyres.

In practice the super-soft tyre did not degrade very quickly. That could change if the temperature increases significantly tomorrow.

The medium tyre, though durable, is quite a bit slower than the super-soft tyre. So drivers who’ve qualified badly, like Jenson Button, are more likely to try to make up places by starting on the super-soft tyre and delaying their first pit stop. We saw several drivers do this at Hockenheim, including Button.

It also raises the possibility that some drivers might try making a second pit stop to switch back to the faster super-soft tyre. They’re only likely to do this if they’re stuck behind another car and have a big enough gap behind them to come out of the pits without losing a place.

They should be able to do that once they have an advantage of around 21 seconds (losing about 17-18 seconds making the pit stop and three to four for the tyre change).

Join us tomorrow to see how the Hungarian Grand Prix unfolds in the live blog which starts around one hour before the race.

Until then, share your thoughts on what you think will happen during the race below.

2010 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Image (C) Red Bull/Getty images