Webber shows starts are still a Red Bull weakness (Belgian Grand Prix analysis)

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010

Red Bull aren’t just struggling to turn pole positions into wins – they’re finding it hard to keep their lead as far as the first corner.

It happened again in today’s race at Spa, with Mark Webber slipping to sixth place within a few hundred metres of the start.

Review the race in detail with the analysis and interactive data below.

Lap 1

Lap 1 position change

Lap 1 position change

Webber made a similarly poor getaway in Valencia, dropping seven places on that occasion. Team mate Sebastian Vettel has made a few bad starts too, notably at Silverstone and the Hockenheimring.

Oddly, Button’s great start is not reflected in the official FIA lap data, possibly because of the confusion at the end of lap one as several cars went off at the chicane.

Pit stops

Pit stops

Pit stops

Sebastian Vettel made the most visits to the pits – five – one of which was for a drive-through penalty.

The Mercedes drivers, Jarno Trulli and Lucas di Grassi were the only four drivers to get through with just one pit stop, starting on the hard tyres and only changing to wet-weather rubber at the end of the race.

Rubens Barrichello was probably planning on doing the same, but never got beyond the first lap in his 300th Grand Prix.

Race progress

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View interactive chart full screen

Tick/untick drivers?óÔéĽÔäó names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

It’s clear to see from the race progress chart how vital Hamilton’s 11-second gap over Kubica and Webber was. Had it been much less when he went off on lap 35 he could easily have lost the lead.

Massa seems to have had his usual disagreement with the hard compound tyres as he dropped away from Webber and Kubica after switching to them. He had a slow last lap, too, Adrian Sutil cutting his advantage by 1.3s to 0.8sas they approached the chequered flag.

Lap chart

Lap chart

Lap chart

Nico Rosberg made an excellent restart at the end of the race, picking off his team mate and Kamui Kobayashi to move up to sixth.

Vitaly Petrov steered clear of trouble at the start to move up from 23rd to 11th by the end of the second lap. He even managed to get ahead of Schumacher, but fell back behind him by the end of the race.

There might have been another point for Pedro de la Rosa who was running tenth near the end despite having started last. But he went off four laps from the end on worn wet tyres, losing two places.

NB. The charts above reflect the original timing and do not take post-race penalties into account.

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44 comments on Webber shows starts are still a Red Bull weakness (Belgian Grand Prix analysis)

  1. Calum said on 29th August 2010, 21:41

    That first one shows Vitally was on a mission! If he can nail qualy he will start bagging decent points.

  2. gwenouille said on 29th August 2010, 21:53

    “Oddly, Button’s great start is not reflected in the official FIA lap data, possibly because of the confusion at the end of lap one as several cars went off at the chicane.”

    From the back of my mind (I haven’t recorded the GP), Button gained 2 places in the first lap (the RBRs) but lost 2 places at the bus-stop (he was the only one really trying to come back to the track.) So I think he finished the lap in…5th place, but regained the 2 places very soon after the libe, at La source, after what he overtook Kubica due to a mistake by the Pole on Kemmel straight.

    But, I am not sure at all… This needs to be confirmed by someone who has the footage of the race.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 29th August 2010, 22:31

      Yeh, that’s why Vettel and Kubica were under investigation for a while but nothing came of it.

    • I think everyone in front of Button should of got a penalty for cutting that last corner at the beginning – So what if it was down to the rain – Button went out of his way to take the corner correctly after he went wide and arguably was at a disdvantage to the others by doing so – meaning the others gained an advantage – had they have done the correct thing and done what Button did some of them would have lost more time and Button may have been at the front – keeping him clear of the Kamikaze Vettel.

      Didn’t Hamilton get his penalty in 2008 at that corner for short circuiting it then re-taking Raikkonen ?

  3. HounslowBusGarage said on 29th August 2010, 21:55

    This is (allegedly) a transcript of WEB from the post-race press conference. If you read it one way, it looks innocent. But if you read it the other way it seems that the Red Bull team in the pit lane have the direct ability to influence start procedure.
    “It was pretty obvious the start didn’t go according to plan. I did the pretty normal procedure, we’ve got very good guys working very, very hard and you can’t always get them, so… Today’s run was fortunately one of the shortest to the first corner. The boxing gloves will be on if they do it again in Monza next weekend. ”
    Or am I merely paranoid?

    • David BR said on 29th August 2010, 22:06

      Telekenesis?
      Sorry HBG, you’ve lost me!

      • HounslowBusGarage said on 29th August 2010, 22:27

        Well, it almost reads as though WEB blames the blokes in the pits for his poor start.
        And to my limited intelligence, that would indicate that they have the ability to influence the way the start occurs. Remote control launch program? I hope not.

        • John H said on 29th August 2010, 22:41

          Webber mentioned that they changed the clutch settings after driving to the grid. No dodgy remote release system I think… not sure the standard ECU would allow it.

          It does seem strange that after 2 days of practice, they need to alter these settings though.

          • bosyber said on 30th August 2010, 10:15

            But they don’t really do all that many practice starts, do they, during those two days? Those moments are really about the only times they stress the clutch that much. Maybe they need to do more work on making it reliable (did they make it too weak to save weight?).

        • MikeSRandall said on 29th August 2010, 22:46

          Hmm, not sure. I can see what you’re saying, but I think you’re reading an awfully long way between the lines to get there.

          What I think is more likely is that they knew about the problem before the race – we heard on the BBC that Webber was late to the grid because of a suspected ‘system glitch’, and he said after the race that he’d felt his practice start on the parade lap wasn’t good enough. So I would imagine that either there was a problem before the race that wasn’t fixed properly or that it was fixed but recurred and when Mark tried changing a few settings it just made it worse.

          Under that scenario the ‘guys in the pitlane’ refers to the people working on the car before the race, and the people telling him which knobs to twist during it. Inferring pit-to-car telemetry from the comments is, I’m afraid, just not really possible.

          Having said that, I bet teams would love to have it and I bet if Flavio was still around Renault would be researching how to get away with it!

          • HounslowBusGarage said on 29th August 2010, 23:02

            I really hope I am, Mike. But it just seemed an odd way of describing the cause/nature of the problem.
            I didn’t see the start of the race, so I wasn’t aware of the late arrival due to the system glitch, so maybe that would explain it. But I (probably like a lot of other F1 fans) am so suspicious of odd comments like WEBs that seem to allude to strange car practices. Probably, as you point out, due to strange fuel rig practices, plus reserve fuel tanks, rear flexi wings and so on over the past few years.

          • David BR said on 30th August 2010, 2:00

            Some of these rumours could be true, I’m sure, given half the stuff that goes on in F1, but this comment from Webber seems innocuous to me.

        • Webber “We had a big bog on the formation lap and then err we made a small adjustment to the clutch [...] actually worse”

          From the pitlane? Mapped settings from data on formation lap?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th August 2010, 23:03

      Just sounds like Webber making light of it to me.

      • HounslowBusGarage said on 29th August 2010, 23:15

        Hope so, Keith. But why would he threaten his pit crew if they do it again at Monza?

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 29th August 2010, 23:33

          Probably just as a joking, throwaway comment?

        • sato113 (@sato113) said on 30th August 2010, 0:57

          or maybe he’s talking about the other drivers.

        • Patrickl said on 30th August 2010, 17:46

          They set the car up so the driver can just drop the clutch without wheelspin and/or stalling the engine.

          If they get this wrong, obviously the car either stalls or has wheelspin.

          From what I understood from Barrichello having problems like this last year is that they test the grip levels and then set the RPM of the engine based on the grip levels.

          I would assume they do this for every car on the grid. Probably some teams have a better launch system than others. Red Bull seems to get this wrong quite often.

          • Ian H said on 31st August 2010, 10:38

            Patrickl – I think you’re completely correct there.
            I think it should be mentioned that all the setup work for the clutch bite point etc. had been done in the wet on Friday/Saturday. The start of the race on Sunday was dry hence needed different settings due to the change in grip level (the point in the engine map at which the car changes from being traction limited to being power limited).
            I would guess the control systems guys at RBR just got this point slightly wrong which is what Webber was referring to.
            The change would either have been made in the pits via laptop, or via Webber via the steering wheel. I’m pretty sure pit-to-car telemetry is banned these days.

  4. Marco said on 29th August 2010, 23:52

    Strange, that no mention about Alguersuari, who also climbed from 21st position after his first pitstop to 10th position at the end while driving some great laps… Oh, I almost forgot – not a favorite driver of Mr. Collantine…:)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th August 2010, 8:52

      Alguersuari was 13th after his penalty. And, obviously, I don’t pick which drivers to mention based on which ones I “like”. Plenty of drivers had interesting races at Spa.

      • Marco said on 30th August 2010, 10:10

        He was 13th after stewards decision, 10th on track, so back exactly where he was at the beginning of the race… He was half of a second faster then Liuzzi in average, who was horribly slow all the weekend and really off the pace of Adrian Sutil… So who deserved the point more? Btw. did you look at Alguersuari s laptimes and laptimes of as you wrote some time ago “better driver” Buemi? He was 1,2 slower in average then the Spaniard… His fastest lap was even more slower… I really can t remember when Buemi trasfered his good qualifying one lap pace into a similar strong race pace this year… Alguersuari did this in Belgium… 9 tenths on Saturday, 1,2 seconds on Sunday… I am following these two carefully from the beginning of the season and it is 5:4 for Alguersuari in terms of race pace this year…(4 races can t be count)… And I am pretty sure, there will come even more from Jaime… It is Sunday that counts, not Satuday…

        • bosyber said on 30th August 2010, 10:20

          Yes, Alguesuari seems to have developed into a reliable and quick racer this season, although, much like Liuzzi, he seems to have some work to do on nailing the Saturday qualifying. But at the start of the season, and on Saturday, Buemi just was doing better.

          Honestly, I think just about everyone in the top 17 this race had an interesting race, and quite a few did a good job with what they had, even if they weren’t all mentioned by name – you have the graps and comments to do so yourself :)

          • Marco said on 30th August 2010, 10:50

            Jaime had some problems in qualifying mainly because of a low level of track knowledge… Almost all were new for him.. Still he showed some very good race pace compared to Buemi on fast tracks like Istanbul Park, Barcelona or Silverstone and was a surprise also in Shakhir… On other hand Buemi was faster in Monte Carlo, Sepang, Valencia and Montreal, so mostly on slow tracks or so called stop and go tracks…
            Things changed to Alguersuari after signing a new deal with STR only few days after his strong Sunday showing in Silverstone… He was 4 tenths faster then Buemi in Hockenheim and only a tenth behind him on a slow Hungaroring, a track, which isn t really suited to his driving style… And he finally nailed good times with supersoft tyres, with which he struggled in three qualifyings before…(Sakhir, Monte Carlo, Valencia)… And lately in Belgium Alguersuari was all the weekend in another league then Buemi… 0,8 seconds ahead on Friday, 0,950 seconds ahead on Saturday and over a second ahead on Sunday… His worst moment this year was Valencia and he admitted that too… I am bit dissapointed, that he doesn t get so much attention, because he is doing a very solid job this year looking at his low level of experiences… His battles and overtakings this year was also something nice to watch…

        • Marco said on 30th August 2010, 10:32

          To be exact, in Canada was Buemi a little bit faster then in qualifying compared to teammate… Alguersuari lost 0,101s on Saturday and 0,118 in average on Sunday… Sepang was also good from Buemi, but Saturday was affected with rain and Sunday was sunshine again… But he was fast on Sunday, no doubt…

          But about what I am writing is that Buemi never transfered his BIG Saturday time advantage in Shakhir, Monte Carlo, Valencia and Silverstone on Sunday…

          Bahrain – 0,882s Saturday s advantage turned
          into a gap of 3 tenths on Sunday
          Monaco – 0,763s Saturday s advantage turned
          into a advantage about only
          0,250s on Sunday
          Valencia – 0,872s Saturday s advantage
          turned into an advantage about
          only 0,360s on Sunday (Jaime s
          worst showing this year)
          Silverstone – 0,529s Saturday s advantage
          turned into a gap of 0,330s on
          Sunday

          So, as you can see, Buemi is much better on Saturday, then on Sunday, mainly because Jaime s race laps are more consistent… Numbers can t lie…

        • BasCB said on 31st August 2010, 7:53

          Well maybe, but Buemi was hit in the diffusor at the start (he keeps getting hit, doesn’t he), he said the car was very unhandy after that so it perfectly explains the 1.2 secononds per lap.

  5. sato113 (@sato113) said on 30th August 2010, 0:55

    ‘Oddly, Button’s great start is not reflected in the official FIA lap data’

    yeah, it’s because although BUT was 2nd going into the bus stop chicane, he crossed the line 5th because he decided not to cut the last corner after going off.

    • Exactly they the others should have got a penalty!! – I guarantee you if their other car wasn’t leading and in front of Button McLaren would have protested that and called for a penalty for all those in front of Button.

      • Patrickl said on 30th August 2010, 17:48

        The drivers who overtook Button quickly gave their place back. That way they prevent getting penalties.

  6. DaveW said on 30th August 2010, 1:27

    Webber’s inability or unwillingness to attack Hamilton at the end was a little bit disappointing. When you think of the pitched battle fought between Hamilton and Raikkonen in the exact situation two years ago, one wonders why Webber could not give Hamilton any trouble at all. Being the pursuer in these conditions has to be a massive advantage, as you can measure the grip based on the man just ahead, who must be more cautious than you.

    If Hamilton wins again in Monza, which is looking likely, and Webber has a bad race, he will again be on the back foot–after it looked like McLaren were about to be left for dead by RBR and Ferrari.

    The talk that RBR have such as sweet car that they will blow away McLaren at the remaining races sounds just like the talk just before Silverstone—and look who is leading the WDC again. I have a feeling that up until the checkers at Abu Dhabi we will be hearing that Hamilton can’t possibly win the title because the RedBull chassis is so perfect.

    • magnafw07 said on 30th August 2010, 2:17

      Because he realised that he was sitting pretty in the points, so long as he brought it home safely.

      He is now one of two drivers that sit at the very pointy end of the championship. He has a nice gap to Button/Vettel/Alonso and knows that the last 3 or 4 circuits will suit his car best.

    • dragon said on 30th August 2010, 2:25

      That’s ridiculously lolworthy. In those conditions, Mark would have had to have been at least half a second faster per lap to justify attacking Lewis, and the RBR didn’t HAVE that kind of pace. Well before the end of the race, he would have assessed the carnage around him, realised that his car was not quickest for once on race day, and settled in for third position. It was RBR who came to this track in damage limitation mode, and Mark’s level-headed drive was exactly what was needed.

      • lewie said on 30th August 2010, 3:26

        agree 100% with dragon and magnafw07. thought it was a great drive by mark. showed maturity and is the type of approach that will count come the end of the year.

        i think the result has webber better placed than if they’d fininshed as they qualed as now he has over a race win gap to vettel, so lewis is his main rival and he will have clear advantages at some tracks over him, where he will be closely aligned on performance with seb.

        still anything can happen but either lewis or mark should take the wdc, which suits me fine because as far as this season is concerned they are the two most deserving drivers.

      • yeyy I’d like to see marc win the championship.

      • DaveW said on 30th August 2010, 14:47

        Raikkonen was not massivley faster than Hamilton in 08, just more determined. And coming in in damage limitation mode—against a car that was almost two seconds down last time out, driving a car that has scored 11 poles? Don’t make me laugh out loud.

        Anyway, you don’t win the WDC by spotting your rival points and then banking on something happening in the future that has not happened in the past—more consistently scoring points than Hamilton.

  7. I prefer Mark to get the WDC title … Lewis already had it in 2008

  8. Darren said on 30th August 2010, 6:05

    The difference between Marks and Seb’s mindsets were really obvious today, Mark was a realist after his poor start and after passing a couple of cars just made sure he kept the car on track, Seb however knew Mark was behind and knew Button was slow and his impatience and lack of judgement let him down again. Have to feel for Button, first Monaco with the sidepod cover now an innocent victim of Sebs bad driving, thats 20+ points lost through no fault of his own.

    • Patrickl said on 30th August 2010, 17:54

      I doubt Button would have stayed ahead of Vettel though. Vettel looked like he was a lot faster.

      Besides, Hamilton lost P2 in Barcelona on the last lap when his rim broke off and he lost a lot of points in Hungary when his car stopped. Costing him probably 30+ points. He’s still in the lead for the WDC though.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th August 2010, 18:00

        You have to wonder if the law of averages is going to tap Mark Webber on the shoulder before the end of the season.

        He did have that grid penalty in Canada, though.

        • BasCB said on 31st August 2010, 7:56

          And the very bad pit stop strategy in Australia and it was not much better in one other race (china?).

          Seems to be quite evenly spread between these guys.

  9. Exactly they the others should have got a penalty!! – I guarantee you if their other car wasn’t leading and in front of Button McLaren would have protested that and called for a penalty for all those in front of Button

  10. Jonathan said on 30th August 2010, 12:31

    Webber must have overtaken Massa at some point. I missed that one.

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