Damage limitation for Webber – but not Vettel (Red Bull race review)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010

There may have been a four-week break between Hungary and Belgium but the result was much the same for the two Red Bull drivers. Mark Webber grabbed every point available while Sebastian Vettel threw them away.

But the team did not enjoy anything like the performance advantage they had in Hungary. That could have been down to the circuit suiting their car less well, the new front wing stiffness test introduced for this round, or both.

Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber
Qualifying position 4 1
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’46.127 (+0.349) 1’45.778
Race position 15 2
Average race lap 2’04.887 (+3.391) 2’01.496
Laps 43/44 44/44
Pit stops 5 2

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Sebastian Vettel

Vettel had a scare in final practice when his car came to a halt in the pit lane and he had to be pushed in by his mechanics. He took fourth on the grid and admitted his first run in qualifying “wasn?t good enough” before being caught out by the rain.

He moved up to third in the opening laps, taking advantage of a small mistake by Robert Kubica at the restart to pass the Renault.

That brought him up behind Jenson Button, who was struggling with a damaged front wing. Vettel attacked him at the chicane on lap 16, but lost control and hit the McLaren.

As F1 Novice pointed out in the comments elsewhere, the front wing on his RB6 was flexing considerably in the turbulent air behind Button’s car as Vettel went into a skid (at 0:50 in the video below):

If that contributed to Vettel’s loss of control, the team weren’t saying. Here’s Christian Horner’s explanation for the crash:

I think Jenson took him by surprise with how early he braked for the bus-stop and trying to avoid him Sebastian got into a bit of a moment and collected Jenson. He was then unlucky with Liuzzi, so not a great weekend for Sebastian.
Christian Horner

Whatever the cause, this the latest in a string of costly mistakes by Vettel. As well as the time lost in the pits the stewards hit him with a drive-through penalty for causing an avoidable accident.

Now behind Vitantonio Liuzzi, he managed to pass the Force India driver at the chicane. But Liuzzi clipped Vettel as he went by (much as he did to Fernando Alonso at Silverstone), causing a left-rear puncture and a long, slow drive to the pits for a replacement.

His race now ruined, Vettel gambled on full wet tyres when rain began to fall at the end. But even that backfired and he had to make a fifth visit to the pits for a second set of wet weather tyres.

Compare Sebastian Vettel’s form against his team mate in 2010

Mark Webber

Took his fifth pole position of the year by getting a good lap in before the worst of the rain hit the track in Q3.

Both RB6 drivers found their car especially strong in the middle sector, as was expected, the pair at least three tenths of a second faster than everyone else in the dry.

Webber made a bad start and fell to seventh behind Adrian Sutil, but the Force India driver went too deep into Les Combes on lap one, allowing to take the place back. Then he picked off Felipe Massa around the outside of Rivage – a highly unlikely passing place – on the second lap.

I had a big bog (down) on my formation lap and then we made a small adjustment to the clutch which I thought was hopefully going to get rid of that situation but then I had it even worse on the main start itself. Did my normal procedure but in the end you need to go through it to see what happened. Obviously I was pretty surprised and once you have a micro moment on the start in a Formula One race it is massively exaggerated with the performance of the other guys getting normal starts.
Mark Webber

Webber spent a long period of the race tucked up behind Robert Kubica. His team made a concerted effort to jump him ahead at the first round of pit stops – bringing him in a lap before Kubica and giving Webber the fastest pit stop of the race – but it wasn’t quite enough. Webber chased Kubica down the Kemmel straight on lap 24 but couldn’t quite make it pass.

Kubica finally slipped up when he made his second pit stop, allowing Webber into second. But he couldn’t do anything about Lewis Hamilton, who took the championship lead off him by three points.

Compare Mark Webber’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Belgian Grand Prix

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Image (C) Red Bull/Getty images