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

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

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

  1. Oliver said on 30th August 2010, 18:41

    People may say that red bulls from wing is flexing less than in hungary and it probably is. This would be because all of the cars would be running a much shallower from wing angle (due to the need for less downforce). The shallower angle means that there is a smaller surface area for the air to hit and therefore not pushing the wing down as much. This means that the would be less flex in the wing thanks to not as much loading

    • matt90 said on 31st August 2010, 0:31

      The moment he loses it the wing is flexing so that it seems to twist, with the left hand side lower than the right. This could maybe have been a contribution to the crash as there would have been increased downforce on the left, steering the car that way. It may have also been influenced by the moment before when the wing was twisted the other way- the car steered slightly one way and then Vettel over-compensated and lost it.

      It’d be interesting to see how the Red Bull reacts behing other cars as it tries to overtake. Perhaps moving about in the turbulence, cutting from one side of the car to the other, destabilises the car.

  2. This voice from the video is Galvao Bueno, the very same who became famous on Twitter a while ago (during the World Cup) with the “CALA BOCA GALVAO” (Shut up Galvao).
    I’m glad I don’t have to listen to him anymore!

    • David BR said on 30th August 2010, 19:23

      A pity because you missed a classic Galvão ‘senior moment’ from the race! During the last safety car incident, he was mumbling on, ‘Button’s out, Vettel’s out of the running, Alonso… where’s Alonso?!’ [pause to see if he catches up, but no] ‘He’s out to Galvão…’

      Not to mention his sightings of a new driver, Petkovic, racing for Renault. Ninguem merece!

  3. Uncle Bob said on 30th August 2010, 18:51

    Vettel – World Championship quality?? LOL, that’s the funniest thing I’ll ever hear.

    • Marvin said on 31st August 2010, 5:41

      Vettel is undoubtedly the fastest man for 1-lap in F1 today. What he lacks is maturity as he is driven by youth. But he is a fast learner who learns from his mistakes. Owing to the fact that he has been unable to beat his more mature and highly talented team mate is a cause for frustration and it is showing. You can not put a damper on his natural talent. The same thing happend to Lewis in his first year. Vettel will become world champion and probably next year. Hopefully, Red Bull will have the sense to allow Vettel to grow up and tell him to support Webber so that they can have the chance to win both championships. Vettle knows the highs and lows of motor racing. This is but another step on a long journey to stardom for the kid. Webber’s time is now if it is to be. Vettle will have numerous chances to win a championship and he will become world champion in the near future.

      • bosyber said on 31st August 2010, 15:01

        I don’t know if he really is the fastest. His car surely has been the fastest at all but maybe one track this year, which skews the results, and makes it harder to judge relative pace to anyone but his teammate.

        It is true that when he gets it right, and he tends to be good at that, but does need confidence for it, he can squeeze out a great lap, much like Button often did earlier last year.

        Hamilton has also shown similar wonder laps, even this year, and even with a not quite perfect car though. And Alonso did it several times in the mediocre ’08 and ’09 Renaults – sure, low fuel aided, but fantastic laps nonetheless. I am not going back further than saying that Schumacher also did that in his early Ferrari time, but it seems with this years car he can’t.

        Now, Vettel also has shown impressive speed already in his Torro Rosso time, so I think he might be up with those three, but it is hard to judge right now.

      • jackal said on 4th September 2010, 15:42

        But he is a fast learner who learns from his mistakes. [citation needed] Really? After loosing control and taking Button out, you still claim he’s a fast learner. Gee, how many cars has Vettal hit this year?

  4. Uber Fish said on 30th August 2010, 18:54

    Never mind flexible wings, from the replays of the crash, it looks like the Red Bull has a harpoon on the front of their car!

  5. US_Peter said on 30th August 2010, 19:35

    From what they were saying on SPEED, after the Red Bulls passed the new front wing tests, everyone starting suspecting that the tea tray at the front of the floor is contributing to the flex, and that now that part will be tested at Monza. They also mentioned that because McLaren complained and called for the test, they tested Webber’s Red Bull, and Hamilton’s McLaren. Both passed the test. Neither Ferrari was tested, which seems odd to me.

  6. Alexf1man said on 30th August 2010, 19:56

    Should Vettel have received a penalty (or DQ) for the following?

    1) Cutting the pitlane entry, i.e. going over the white line

    2) Cutting the Les Combes Chicane after his tyre started to fall off the rim (Alguersuari lost his point, and Hamilton lost his 2008 win for cutting a chicane).

    • Peter said on 30th August 2010, 20:05

      Driver’s are never penalised for crossing white line on pit entry and cutting a corner once is never penalised either.

      • DaveW said on 30th August 2010, 20:34

        Not never, as to 1. It happened to Alonso at Valencia a while back. I believe its a race by race determination of whether it will apply.

    • Dipak T said on 30th August 2010, 20:22

      1 is never penalised in F1, and cutting a chicane in order to avoid an accident wouldnt be penalised, clearly Vettel wasnt confident of making the chicane, no way he could have been penalised for that.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th August 2010, 20:43

      In the examples you give the drivers were deemed to have cut the chicane and gained an advantage. Vettel clearly didn’t gain an advantage, and under the circumstances he did the sensible thing by keeping his slow car off the racing line.

  7. mnarcin said on 30th August 2010, 20:24

    Look at this, front wing of Vettel var is to flexible: http://www.f1talks.pl/?p=2657

  8. RB really need to do something about their clutch system. I can’t remember any of the two drivers having a decent start this season.

  9. I think guys are mistaken about the front wing flexing. Maybe it is flexing a little bit, but what shown here in all the videos is the suspension getting compressed upon lifting the throttle or braking. Try to listen to the engine sound to prove this fact. It is impossible to find the front wing flexing from the onboard video, given the fact that the suspension will travel and we always see front wing relative to the suspension. Maybe it is flexing, but the videos prove nothing.
    Wonder why Keith is supporting such comments. I am sure he also knows what i mentioned for sure.

    And for vettel listing the throttle caused the weight to transfer to the front thereby taking out the traction on back wheels.
    Also no point in blaming Vettel too much. Had Button stuck on to the racing line, it would have been a fantastic overtaking. Button blocked the last moment, by a quick yet small change in direction to inside and unluckily for vettel this was in the start of the braking zone where the weight shift is maximum and thus making the car more vulnerable.So Vettel could not be blamed like this. Just a racing incident.

    • That front wing IS flexing. No doubt about it. Look at the front wing on the old RB5 for comparison: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTHkmZJj96Q

    • Hallard said on 30th August 2010, 22:49

      If the footage of vettel’s wing is taken from a fixed point and angle (which it is in the onboard shots), then the wing flexing is not an illusion. It means that the wing is flexing in relation to the upper part of the chassis (where the camera is mounted) and the suspension doesnt cause the appearance of flexing because it is movable itself (whereas the wing and camera are both fixed rigidly to the car). Think about it.

    • bernification said on 31st August 2010, 9:02

      Also no point in blaming Vettel too much. Had Button stuck on to the racing line, it would have been a fantastic overtaking. Button blocked the last moment, by a quick yet small change in direction to inside and unluckily for vettel this was in the start of the braking zone where the weight shift is maximum and thus making the car more vulnerable.

      Don, this is a joke, right?

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 2nd September 2010, 15:43

      Button was merely minding his own business, trying to get through the corner, then a swerving bull chrages into the side of his car. Zero percent Jenson’s fault. One hundred percent Vettel’s fault.

  10. Calum said on 30th August 2010, 21:52

    If I was Mclaren I would have got button to pick up the broken off Redbull wing and take it back for R&D analysis. Although that might not be legal…

  11. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 30th August 2010, 22:53

    I’d just like to know why there’s a consensus that Liuzzi was to blame? I haven’t seen any camera angle that proves it either way.

    • dragon said on 31st August 2010, 1:49

      Vettel had the passing move done, but with the extra speed he was carrying from braking late, he was always going to be slightly wide in the first part of the bus stop…most drivers in Liuzzi’s position would have recognised this and lifted slightly, both to avoid contact and to take a better apex with the run down to La Source, but Liuzzi did none of that…
      Of course at the time I was inclined to blame Vettel again, because it was fun to do so

  12. Vettel’s front wing clearly flexing, we’ve always suspected the RB6 is incapable of running in dirty air, maybe this is why!

  13. dragon said on 31st August 2010, 1:45

    Of course when Mark pulled off a brilliant pass on Felipe, neither cameras nor commentators knew what was happening…
    The most bewildering moment was Legard’s excitement at Lewis exiting from his pitstop in first place, as if he didn’t already have a 12 second lead over Kubica

    • I noticed that too… Thing is with Legard, I’m not sure if he was trying to drum up some excitement as a commentator should, or if he honestly thought it was gonna be close.

      • Sparkyj23 said on 1st September 2010, 11:35

        Legard needs to stop winding himself up at the 1st lap fastest lap every Grand Prix, followed by the shock of the 2nd lap being even faster….

        I sometimes think he’s never seen F1 before, thank God for the guys on R5Live

  14. rubin said on 31st August 2010, 1:55

    Not completely on topic, but what do people think the outcome would have been if the RB6 was running a Mercedes powerplant as Mercedes have come out recently and mentioned they were willing to….? Would it have made a difference considering the downforce level of the RB6?

    • DaveW said on 31st August 2010, 17:32

      No. Horner keeps yammering about HP but the factory team seems to be pretty fast down the straight.

      The RB6 is designed to maximize downforce and cannot be trimmed out as much as other cars.

      I think Horner keeps going on about power because he wants to distract from their freakish downforce levels as the explanation for the speed differential, because some of it may not be by the book.

      If turns out that the FIA are correct in suspecting that they have a hinge-free flippy splitter, allowing extreme rake to bring the front wing down so low, then the Monza tests could be a major blow to them. We won’t see the effect at Monza, but it could put Suzuka and Korea well into play.

  15. cheers said on 31st August 2010, 2:59

    RBR directly behind Mclaren in the braking zone, gets unloaded and the RBR loses grip.

    Same as Webber-Hamilton crash.

    Difference is that Webber learned from it and Vettel didn’t.

    Is F1 Fanatic ever going to question teams? F1 is news by press release and their is little scutiny outside limited official conferences.

    What happened to Webber’s start launch-clutch on the grid formation lap and why?

    • Marvin said on 31st August 2010, 5:48

      Listen to the BBC podcast of the race. Anthony Davidson explains what happened and why.

      The clutch is set up electronically by the team via software and due to track dampeness, it went into anti-stall.

      Webber then did a great job to manage it and get away without losing the farm. Nothing to do with Mark failing to follow launch procedure.

      • Yes they made the change between the formation lap and the start but it made it worse according to Webber

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