Horner names Alonso as biggest rival to Red Bull

2011 F1 season

Christian Horner, Red Bull, 2011

Christian Horner, Red Bull, 2011

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner expects Fernando Alonso to continue where he left off in 2010 as the main rival to his team.

Speaking to the BBC he said: “I think Alonso, at the moment, he looks pretty fired up, his testing has looked impressive so far. So I think he’s going to pose a threat.

“But the British guys I’m sure are going to be right up there as well.”

Horner said the team have “a lot to live up to” after winning both titles last year.

He said: “It’s going to be a fascinating season, you’ll have all the usual protagonists – Jenson and Lewis, Fernando Alonso’s looked very strong in pre-season testing.

“And obviously our drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel have both been looking pretty respectable as well.”

“So I think Formula 1 is set for another really exciting season.”

He said the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix didn’t present much in the way of an organisational problem: “Ironically, we were ready to go on time this year, which is quite unusual for us!

“But a two-week delay is welcome for some teams. Logistically there’s a slight challenge to it but nothing to tricky.”

He added that Vettel and Webber had both completed extensive fitness programmes during the winter to prepare for the new season:

“Both our drivers, when they’re not in the car, will be doing approximately four hours per day training. Sebastian was in Finland for the whole of January working on his fitness programme, Mark went off to the Canary Islands and was training quite hard there.

“So they’ve both got programmes, they’re athletes, they’ve got to be in tip-top condition, and now is the time to really work on that condition before heading off for the first Grand Prix.”

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173 comments on Horner names Alonso as biggest rival to Red Bull

  1. David said on 25th February 2011, 9:10

    What about Massa? He did pretty well in pre-testing.I really hope Massa win this year to shut all of them up. And i’m not a fan of Massa. Couldn’t he just say the Ferrari and McLaren boys will be up there? Disrespectful!

    • Toro Stevo said on 25th February 2011, 9:15

      Yeah I noticed Massa wasn’t mentioned either. I’ve never rated him, but he’s got a chance this year in what could be (I think) the fastest car on the grid. If he can’t do it this year I don’t think he ever will.

    • Valentino said on 25th February 2011, 9:20

      Let’s be realistic here, Massa sucks! But he is “not bad for a number 2 driver” in a smaller team as Renault or Torro Rosso,..
      And I am a Ferrari fan.

      • f1yankee said on 25th February 2011, 9:49

        no, he doesn’t suck. whoever is buying an HRT seat this week sucks. massa is a very good driver, but not a great driver.

      • Uh oh, I think someone is going to have to hold back Steph…

      • Andy C said on 25th February 2011, 13:25

        I’m sorry, I’m not a Massa fan, but saying he sucks is rubbish.

        He was within 1 corner of winning the WDC not too long ago.

        How about supporting your own drivers if you are a ferrari fan? If he wins some races I’m sure you wont be discrediting those wins from Ferrari.

        • Shimks said on 26th February 2011, 6:07

          Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if Valentino wants to be a Ferrari fan but only support Alonso, that’s up to him.

          Personally, I don’t think Massa is a bad little driver. But he ain’t magic either.

          But one things for sure. He’ll be fired up this season!

          • Andy C said on 26th February 2011, 10:43

            I’m not saying he is the best driver out there, but it is just factually incorrect to say he sucks, because he had 1 bad season (and some mitigating circumstances I might add, including recovering from a bad injury and being told to move out of the way of his teammate).

            I’m not saying he doesnt have a right to an opinion, I’m saying I think its wrong ;-)

          • @Andy C – Perfect comment. Everything is right.

        • Ru_BD said on 26th February 2011, 9:33

          Completely agree with, a Ferrari fan would never say bad things about Massa. caz he has done so many things for the team. Also he is not a sucker as he showed that in ’08 season. If it was not glock whose retirement made massa a championship runners up he was a winner. He also win most races in the ’08 season if u can remember. Also in ’09 everyone believed that if massa was present throughout the season he could have done better than Kimi. So Massa Rocks…. :-)

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th February 2011, 19:10

        And I am a Ferrari fan.

        Not much of one.

      • SeattleChris said on 25th February 2011, 20:19

        On what possible level does Massa “suck?” No sane person would believe such a thing. He ultimately lost out on a title because of one last corner pass by Hamilton.

        The gap between Alonso, Massa, Button, Hamilton, Kubica, Rosberg, Barrichelo, Vettel and Webber is nowhere near as far as is exaggerated in almost every opinion that I’ve read. These guys are all very very good. I’d bet in the same car they could all put down laps within a tenth of one another. Other differences depend primarily on driving style/current regulations and particular tracks suiting particular tastes.

        Enough with the crazy hog-wash blurts. Opinions are great, so long as they are tempered with logic and fact.

      • Butterfly said on 26th February 2011, 8:52

        You’re right on the money with that one.

      • JohnTheMan96 said on 26th February 2011, 19:21

        Did you forget 2008? Massa doesn’t suck. Appearantly he’s better then somebody named Kimi Raikkonen.

      • How someone can possibly say something like that is out of my knowledge. Felipe Massa entered F1 in 2002 and was an error-prone driver. In 2003 he became Ferrari’s test driver along Luca Badoer. There he became an excellent driver learning from the best drivers and team. In 2004 and 2005 he returned to Sauber and pulled off some great performances. In 2006 he was chosen to replace Barrichello. He wasn’t going too well until Smedley took the role of his engineer. He won with pole in Turkey and later in Brazil, the first Brazilian to do so since Ayrton Senna. In 2007 he remained in the title hunt for a long time, with 3 wins. In 2008 he was again behind Kimi Raikkonen, but as the Finn started to experience some troubles and lose faith in the season, he was incredibly able of fighting against Hamilton, with 6 wins. He would have won in Hungary had his engine not broken down and maybe in Singapore had the accident during the pits not happened. He lost by a mere 1 point. In 2009 as the F60 became good he started collecting podiums, but his season was cut short in Hungary. After a 7 month break he returned to F1 qualifying and ending 2nd in Bahrain. He later was first in the Championship, but some poor races made it clear Alonso was Ferrari’s strongest hope and his Germany win was sacrificed. He ended 6th the season, without wins.

    • Vettel himself has stated that one should not underestimate Massa, so it’s not like everyone thinks he is out of it.

      • Exactly. My biggest wish for this season is that Massa shut some people up.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th February 2011, 14:27

        A bit of putting pressure on Alonso, then?

        We’ll see weather a) Massa has recovered enough by now to be really on it where it counts and b) weather Ferrari will let him long enough to build up serious momentum.

        I fear it will be mainly Alonso at Ferrari though.

        • Shimks said on 26th February 2011, 6:12

          I wonder if I driver ever recovers from the psychological impact of accepting they are a number 2 driver for several seasons. I’m thinking Barrichello and Massa here.

          Maybe it makes them stronger because the many different emotions associated with playing second fiddle only increases their determination.

          • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 26th February 2011, 9:07

            I don’t think it will matter too much, because he never really has been a fully Number 1 driver due to the strong team-mates he’s had in his career.

            Frentzen, Heidfeld, Villeneuve, Schumacher, Raikkonen, Alonso.

    • The Edge said on 25th February 2011, 10:22

      There’s nothing wrong with massa however everybody knows Ferrari won’t let him win a race while alonso’s still on the track

      • Anthony said on 25th February 2011, 11:00

        No, Alonso just happens to be faster..

        • Alonso happens to be faster than anyone on the grid, not only Massa.

        • 100% Correct people said the same when massa let kimi win in brazil and take the title

          the funnily enough it was roles reversed the year later in china.

          ferrari will back who ever consistently is quicker. and right now that is fernando.

          But it would be wrong write massa off. when he gets the bit between his teeth he is awesome. hungary 08 springs to mind. his problem in fernando has the bit between his teeth at most races lol.

        • So?…. Massa was ahead plenty of times in the 1st half of the season which is the point

          • false. pleanty of times are you nuts? fernando in the second race was hit by schumacher and as a result of the hit he was last in the first lap, then in another race fernando jump the start and was penalized, then in another race he had the clucth problem and if I’m not mistaken was or started in the back, but even with that problem he caught massa and button before the engine exploted. in monaco he started last and if I’m not mistake he end up 1-2 places behind massa. so make sure you write facts and not biased comments just because you don’t like alonso. massa was ahead in a few races but for other reasons.not because he was faster than alonso.

          • So? Massa was ahead.

            All you’ve convinced me of is that Alonso has to stop starting from last…..

          • Not biased, as you pointed out.. ahead many times times: fact.

            Nobody mentioned the reasons.

        • mash26 said on 25th February 2011, 14:44

          agreed.

        • David BR said on 25th February 2011, 14:53

          No, Alonso just happens to be faster..

          Except when Alonso isn’t and Massa has to pull over and then he magically is again. I think it’s technically called a ‘no lose situation.’

    • Tiomkin said on 25th February 2011, 12:19

      Massa will not be allowed to win, if he is leading Alonso he will coincide his place. So no, Massa was not mentioned. Ferrai policy.

      • Ferrari’s policy isn’t just to let Fernando win. If Felipe was in a better position than Fernando mid season and was faster than they’d probably back him and not Alonso.

        • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 25th February 2011, 12:55

          I’m not so sure about that; we have seen what happens when Alonso doesn’t believe he is being ‘supported’ enough by his team in the past. I believe that if Massa was in a better position mid-season Alonso would expect Ferrari to help him come back rather than accept being asked to give way.

          This isn’t from an ‘anti-Alonso’ perspective, just that it seems Ferrari can rely on Massa to be a company man and take one for the team (or team-mate), while I can’t see Alonso even considering that role because I think his view would be that the team’s job is to help him win, rather than the other way round.

          • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 25th February 2011, 14:54

            Well it is possible that there is a feeling within Ferrari that they owe Alonso a championship after the stuff-up in Abu Dhabi.

            If they do think this though, they are very short sighted, because they’ve forgotten the team errors and mechanical failures that cost Massa in 2008.

          • Icemangrins said on 25th February 2011, 21:01

            You are absolutely right here. Part of the pressure will also come from Santander.

        • David BR said on 25th February 2011, 15:31

          If Felipe was in a better position than Fernando mid season and was faster than they’d probably back him and not Alonso.

          Only if Alonso had absolutely no chance and even then I wouldn’t bet against Ferrari already gearing much of their development towards the next season. It’s really up to Felipe to win back the respect, pressurize (beat) Alonso wherever possible and refuse to cede on track or off. When he’s at his best, he’s not so different from Vettel, capable of qualifying brilliantly and leading well from the front, not so good when he’s dropped down the grid. Thing is Alonso is never going to accept equal pairing with the ‘other driver’ in the team, just the way he’s evidently wired.

          • Adam Tate said on 25th February 2011, 18:17

            For the life of me, I can not understand how or why everyone writes of Massa so. He is by far the most underrated driver of this generation. He has 11 wins for Pete’s sake! That’s two more than Button, and unlike the majority of Button’s wins they did not come in a car with an overwhelming advantage over the rest of the field. Lewis is treated like he is already one of the all time greats, yet no one respects the man that came within a point of beating him in his championship year.

            Give it a rest everyone, and give Massa some credit.

          • David BR said on 25th February 2011, 19:31

            I agree Adam (not sure if you’re disagreeing with me or not). But anyhow, the fact Horner completely overlooked and discounted Massa is surely related to the way he gave up the Hockenhem win last year. That’s what I mean by winning back the respect he lost with that decision.

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th February 2011, 21:14

            He has 11 wins for Pete’s sake! That’s two more than Button, and unlike the majority of Button’s wins they did not come in a car with an overwhelming advantage over the rest of the field.

            6 came from one season. Okay that’s not any different to Button, but when you consider he hasn’t had one for 2 seasons…

            And I beg to differ. In Massa’s day Ferrari and McLaren were way ahead and if Ferrari had the set-up worked out all Massa had to worry about was Kimi, less and less so as their partnership went on.

            I think Massa is a very good driver, i just don’t buy the reasoning you used.

          • alonso not good when he starts behind? are you nuts. don’t you remember when he started last in monaco and finished 6 or so, don’t you rmember when he had the clutch problem and cuaght massa and button,or when he was last in the first lap in he australian race?
            go wath the races again, and stop making biased comment based on lies and not facts.

          • David BR said on 26th February 2011, 4:07

            nani: ermm, I was talking about Massa not Alonso. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 26th February 2011, 7:57

            Well Nani, that was overtaking a few backmarkers and taking advantage of the SC. Malaysia was pretty good though. But then for every Suzuka 2005 there’s a Hungary 2007, Turkey 2010, etc.

          • Sorry Icthyes I just couldn’t resist sticking up for Felipe so here goes :

            but when you consider he hasn’t had one for 2 seasons…

            Ok, last season he should have won at least one race I’ll give you that but in 09 the F60 only won at Spa and that’s when Massa was already on the sidelines but when he was racing he was Ferrari’s best performing driver.

          • I do give Massa credit, but Ferrari I’m afraid is biased. Only if Massa comes out from the start and continues to consistently beating Alonso will Ferrari not force him to let Alonso win. Team orders are back and you can bet that one team will use them and that’s Ferrari.

  2. Shock horror…

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th February 2011, 14:36

      lol. I wonder how Horner made that startling discovery?

    • Laranja Mecanica said on 25th February 2011, 19:37

      I agree with you 99%. The missing 1%: they say you’re as good as your last race, and Felipe’s few last races haven’t been exactly great.

      • Laranja Mecanica said on 25th February 2011, 19:39

        Sorry, misplaced it, this was a reply to Adam Tate

        • Adam Tate said on 25th February 2011, 22:34

          David, you are spot on about how he has to earn back that respect.

          Icthyes, I agree that the F2007 & F2008 were the class of the field in their years, but not to the extent the BGP-001 was. You and
          Laranja Mecanica bring up very good points about the time it has been since he has had a win and that his last few races have been anything but great.

        • David BR said on 26th February 2011, 1:12

          lol LM, your displaced comment reminded me of this short film!

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 25th February 2011, 9:17

    Given his uncanny knack for getting caught up in massive controversies on a regular basis – the Hungary 2007 incident, the Stepney affair, being the beneficiary of Piquet’s crash in Singapore, the open hostility towards Lewis Hamilton, and reigniting the team orders debate and so on and so forth – I’d say Fernando Alonso is a threat to more than just Red Bull …

    • David said on 25th February 2011, 9:23

      You might be right. Knowing Alonso ability to blackmail his boss when his teammate is fast, maybe that’s why Horner already know Massa won’t be fast. :-)

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 25th February 2011, 9:39

        Actually, I was thinking he’s more of a threat to himself. Particularly his own reputation. Martin Brundle called him “Teflonso” once, because nothing sticks to him – but have you ever tried cooking with anything covered in teflon? It might take a few years, but eventually the teflon wears off. And it’s impossible to get anything that stick out of it without doing more damage to the teflon …

        • Sangeen Khan said on 25th February 2011, 10:49

          uh what?what time dud you write this?

        • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th February 2011, 12:06

          Dude what are you on about? Just explain it in normal terms

          • Scribe (@scribe) said on 25th February 2011, 13:01

            lol, EVENTUALLY SOMETHINGS GOING TO TARNISH ALONSO!

            He’s a very talented driver obvs, but rarely have aI disliked a driver like I dislike Alonso personally. AN it’s a shame because he’s driving is absolutley stunning, controlled agression like nothing you’ll ever see. But the man is just such a completle **** ****** **** **** ***** ***** **** bag that I often focus on that.

        • Mike-e said on 25th February 2011, 12:47

          well i get what you mean. He means that nothing sticks to him, i.e. the spygate, the crashgate, he was involved in both but recieved no punishment. He is saying that eventually this slippery power will run out, then everything will stick to him, and his reputation will crash and burn.

          My only worry is that a lot of people still dont think schumacher is tainted with evil, and he had a very similar career (dick dastartly-esque).

          • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 25th February 2011, 13:21

            Once a teflon pan starts to lose its protection it is almost useless and ruins everything it comes into contact with.

          • Icemangrins said on 25th February 2011, 21:06

            except Michael didn’t threaten his team boss(es) to give him importance.

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th February 2011, 21:15

            My only worry is that a lot of people still dont think schumacher is tainted

            Um…what?

            with evil

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th February 2011, 22:07

            My only worry is that a lot of people still dont think schumacher is tainted with evil

            What planet are you on? Everyone mentions what taints Schumacher. If anything, it’s mentioned and used too often.

            I still remember comments ignoring all of Alonso’s incidents in round 2 of the champions of champions, while claiming Schumacher can’t even be rated because of his “evil”.

          • Well, I think Alonso’s reputation is very low. Everytime he does something wrong every body cames to point it out. Last year and 2007 he was the evil. I think it’s enough to pay. Maybe it didn’t happen in Spain but I think the rest of the world said what they needed to say in every case.
            On the other hand, he’s not made of teflon, in fact, in hungary 2007 he was fined and taken his pole, wich was at the end taking the championship. In 2010 hockenheim, FIA couldn’t fine him or the team because the law wasn’t prepared for that situation, but English/German media pushed to get him punished, and almost get it.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th February 2011, 10:27

            the law wasn’t prepared for that situation

            How do you mean?

          • I mean that everybody agreed that Hockenheim movement was bad but at the end Ferrari or Alonso weren’t punished because the law wasn’t clear or it hadn’t been applied well before… or what do you think was the reason??? They wanted to change it to stop living that situation again, didn’t they?

            There was a legal impediment, because if there wasn’t, he would have been punished. Everybody wanted it.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th February 2011, 11:10

            No, there was a rule forbidding team orders and Ferrari were given a punishment (the fine) but not a meaningful one.

          • ok, Keith

            And why didn’t they receive a meaningful punishment? Maybe Alonso’s magic power that controls everything? Maybe Santander Bank? FIA again next to Ferrari? Or it was just that the law was a parody because before nobody had obeyed it properly?

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th February 2011, 11:40

            ‘Why’ is besides the point. You said the law “wasn’t prepared” – I pointed out it was.

          • ‘why’ is the point. Everybody, even Todt, FIA, media, fans… wanted that to be punished, and they couldn’t ‘because’ of something in the law that is going to be changed… so that, the law/rule wasn’t enough to punish them further. I meant that with ‘the law wasn’t prepared’.

            What I wanted to point out is that Alonso get punished almost everytime, as everybody.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th February 2011, 11:58

            wanted that to be punished, and they couldn’t

            Yes they could, see earlier comment.

            You can carry on in this loop as long as you like but I’m done.

          • @Keith, I really don’t know what are you discussing with me. Team orders? that’s an old issue.

            @Mike-e: I meant that Alonso is punished many times. I don’t know why he’s not imprisoned, but maybe Keith knows…

    • Adam Tate said on 25th February 2011, 22:39

      COTD to PM. That was perfect.

    • kowalsky said on 26th February 2011, 6:41

      hamilton drives better in the first part of the season, and for some reason when the pressure builds up, he is not at his very best. Alonso on the other hand seems to enjoy the pressure at the end of the year.
      Massa at his best is as fast, or even faster than alonso, but he is weak in some areas, like in the wet,consistency over a season. So in the end, even if massa drives better than last year, alonso will prevail.

    • Patrickl said on 26th February 2011, 10:34

      Hamilton overtook Alonso more often than vice versa.

      So if anything, your premise shows that Hamilton is actually faster than Alonso.

  4. welshieF1 said on 25th February 2011, 9:18

    usual comments and pretty boring and typical of what gets trotted out these days by all team principles …..why doesnt he just say something like ” we have the best package & drivers so we will be hard to beat !”

    PS..who would be quickest around say Monza, Hamilton + Mclaren ( or any other top F1 combination ) or Franchitti + Indy car ( or any other) ??????????????

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th February 2011, 9:22

      why doesnt he just say something like ” we have the best package & drivers so we will be hard to beat !”

      Hubris comes before a fall.

      • Hubris? Sounds like a kitch aftershave.

        Hubris – by Simon Cowell. Because you’re incredible at everything!

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 25th February 2011, 10:11

          More like “Hubris, by Simon Cowell – because I’m better than you, and I won’t ever let you forget about it, you talentless hack. You call that a subtle fragrance? It’s about as subtle as being hit in the face with a skillet because your wife found out you were cheating on her. And before you say anything, let me tell you this: my wife is better at hitting my in the face with a skillet than yours ever will be. She really makes me feel it; all you make me feel is one part mildly amused to ten parts terminally bored!”

      • kowalsky said on 26th February 2011, 6:47

        i agree keith, but those commets are so good to hear once in a while. I remember when dennis had just received the 100 mill penalty. In the press conference after, he said, “we have the best drivers, we have the best car, and we intend to win the world championship”. At the end they didn’t, but the comment was very inspiring. A true leader.

    • f1yankee said on 25th February 2011, 9:29

      any mid-pack f1 car is miles ahead of the best indy car, even at monza where indy’s disadvantage is minimized. not to say one is better than the other, just different. what the big 4 f1 teams each spend in a year is worth more than an entire indy grid, as well as there being fundamental differences in what each league is trying to achieve.

      • Adam Tate said on 25th February 2011, 22:43

        Still I’d love to see a direct comparison of the 2. I am hoping that the US Grand Prix in Austin next year will get an Indy support race. And though the amounts of money and technology involved are massively different, I have a distinct feeling that Indycar’s new formula for 2012 will have a significant bearing for and slightly predict the style F1’s own rules shakeup will take in 2013.

        It was not too terribly long ago, the early 90’s, and with champcar, the mid 2000’s that F1 and American open-wheelers were not too different.

  5. “the british guys” ?
    pfft, its not like there’s any british drivers or teams on the grid.
    other than that, all pretty normal stuff.

  6. He totally ignored Britney and Schumi ….. I hope Ross surprises him with a very fast W02 as that will be 8) ….. :)

  7. The biggest rival to RedBull last year… was RedBull..
    The biggest threat to RedBull last year… was RedBull’s drivers..

  8. Troid91 (@troid91) said on 25th February 2011, 9:59

    Hope Massa and Schumacher always on top this year.

  9. wasiF1 said on 25th February 2011, 10:13

    Yeah I do agree with him, I will be looking at Alonso & Hamilton to fired up this season. Though I expect more from Schumacher.

  10. MW (@) said on 25th February 2011, 10:17

    It’s likely that Redbull could have a huge advantage over all rivals again this year, especially in qualifying. So for a team like Ferrari (who aren’t afraid to tell their drivers what to do) they might put Massa out on the Supersoft tyre (over 1s/lap faster) to take the pole and stay there long enough to push the redbulls back and into the clutches of Alonso on the harder tyre.

    That seem like a plausible strategy?

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th February 2011, 12:08

      Does sound pretty good.. but I expect the Red Bulls to qualify on super softs as well.

      • MW (@) said on 25th February 2011, 13:24

        Yes but qualifying on the supersofts this year puts you in a very precarious position.
        You’d probably have to drive like a bat out of hell to build up the gap you’re going to need because of pitting early and rejoining in traffic. And with only a handfull of laps to pull it off (judging by testing)you’re going to end up behind.

        What I think it means is that the route from Pole to victory won’t be as clear cut and other teams will have more to gain by using a cunning strategy rather than sheer pace..

        Good Times ahead!

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th February 2011, 22:25

          I’m not sure saving tyres is going to be as crucial as people suggest. The theory behind the no re-fueling rule was that the sooner you go onto new tyres, the better, as you’d be instantly faster.

          Now, imagine you’re Hamilton and need to make your first stop 5 laps before Button. So you do so and are a second a lap faster than Button for 5 laps. Then Button pits and he’s faster than you, but maybe by a tenth or two only because your tyres are still okay, if older. But the evidence from testing suggests that there is a “rock bottom” beyond which lap times stabilise, if being slow. So although Hamilton reaches it 5 laps sooner, the less extreme performance difference between older and newer sets of the harder compound (compared to the difference between two different compounds) plus that initial 5-second lead will be enough of a cushion. Then it happens again with the second stops, but in a less extreme fashion (because you’re going back onto the same harder compound) and although Button ends up with 10-15 laps of fresher rubber he’s too far behind. And if Hamilton just says “sod it” and maxes the tyres out, even with 30 seconds of extra time for the pit-stop over a race distance that could be made up for by having extra fresh rubber to play with (considering what Hamilton said about how slow you go saving the tyres).

          • Skett (@skett) said on 26th February 2011, 11:59

            But then the difference comes in when Button doesn’t need to make that second stop. If he can last 10-15 laps further then he may well manage one less stop that Hamilton

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th February 2011, 14:32

        That does seem to be the nack, how will they get Massa in front of superqualifier SebVet and great qualifier Webber?

        Maybe better to go for good starts to get in front of them.

        • Adam Tate said on 25th February 2011, 22:49

          Massa apart from last season is a pretty good qualifier as well, it won’t be so much about him being as good a qualifier as the RBR boys, but about Ferrari’s engineers finding those extra tenths needed to match the RB7’s qualifying pace.

    • Patrickl said on 26th February 2011, 10:37

      So far the supersofts have not been allocated to a track.

  11. welshieF1 said on 25th February 2011, 10:58

    So assuming that Horner is correct and Alonso / Hamilton are big threats what about a surprise package to nick a podium or two …Barrichello in a Williams.. it looks pretty good so far and Rubinho knows how to get a car around the track…if that happens on one of the many ocassions that RB shoot themselves in the foot ( reliability, driver error etc) then it could shake things up now and again ??

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th February 2011, 14:34

      I would rather bet on Quality Nick (reliable, exactly what you paid for without any suprises) getting the odd second place than Williams on the podium.

      But hey, we might even see Schumi get there this year.

      • Adam Tate said on 25th February 2011, 22:51

        I agree, if the Renault can deliver and it looks it can, I think Nick will definitely spice up the sharp end of the grid.

      • Skett (@skett) said on 26th February 2011, 12:01

        I dunno, the williams does seem pretty competitive. Barichello has already admitted though that it will definitely be a better qualifier than racer. Might see it qualify near the front of the grid though

    • I don’t see why not, Rubens along with Rosberg and Kubica where the guys most likely to cause an upset.

      Apart from Kamui.

  12. Rob Wilson said on 25th February 2011, 11:11

    I also hope Massa does well, maybe the Pirelli’s will suit him better? But i would love a Schumacher Vs Hamilton battle for the title although that’s unlikely..RedBull and Ferrari would have to just dissapear a guess..

  13. MP4-2000 said on 25th February 2011, 11:15

    I predict another 5 horse race for the title. But Button and Webber will be no where to be found this time. Schumacher and quick nick are bound to add some spice to the equation.. I am worried though that the Mp4-26 might be a dud in the first few races. :-(

    • Andy C said on 25th February 2011, 13:28

      Why will Webber and Button suddenly not be on the same pace as their team mates? I didnt see either being massively outpaced last year. Beaten, yes, but not by far in race pace.

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th February 2011, 14:27

        Please.. Hamilton was killing Jenson on quali and race pace last year. And Vettel was definitely beating Webber on quali pace and consistency.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 25th February 2011, 14:36

          Yes, Hamilton killed him so thoroughly that Button won two races before Hamilton got one.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th February 2011, 14:36

          But Button was new to the team. And his seating position was a bit compromised as well (being a bit to tall for the car). I don’t think he will be further away probably a bit more competative with the Pirelli tyres in qualifying.
          And no reason why Webber would not be as close to Vettel this year.

        • TheRacingCoconut said on 26th February 2011, 1:10

          I don’t know about race pace. I think they were pretty close. However you are correct about qualifying. Lewis hammered him in qualifying last year. That resulted in Jenson racing amongst cars far slower than himself. If Jenson can sort out qualifying then I think it will be a very interesting battle between the two.

          • Andy C said on 26th February 2011, 10:49

            +1.

            what you have is the classic scenario.

            Two drivers in vettel and hamilton who just have “it”, it qualifying. They have a natural ability to ring the cars neck over a lap.

            What JB and mark have is (IMHO), less natural pace, and more racecraft. The rabbit and the hare to some extent.

        • Andy C said on 26th February 2011, 10:46

          How many points to do you get for qualifying again?

          Its the races that matter. Fully agree they were quicker in quali. No debate there.

          But points come on a Sunday.

        • I thought on race pace JB was pretty close to Hamilton it’s just that his qwualifying was so dreadful. Take Brazil for instance; JB finished right behind Hamilton and looked quicker some of the time but he’d started quite far back.

      • If anything they should be closer

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th February 2011, 21:17

        If you take their relative positions at the time either retired from a race or developed problems, Hamilton beat Button 16-3. Crushing, if you ask me.

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th February 2011, 21:31

          Oh and just to back this up with another number, on aggregate Hamilton finished the season 1 minute, 52.177 seconds ahead of Button if you count only the races where they both finished without a problem (unless my memory forgets a race where button nursed home a problem). In the same car. Considering their relative positions in Spain and Belgium haven’t been counted either…

          • Wow! Nor does it count Hamilton backing off at the end with Button behind him. Nor Monaco when Button retired and he was miles down the road. Damning statistics.

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th February 2011, 22:13

          Of course, in the interests of fairness, the fact that doesn’t correspond neatly with the final points tally is a plus point in Button’s favour. But if we’re talking just pace, then it’s pretty conclusive. Hamilton needs to just learn a few strategy tricks and play the numbers game a bit more often.

          • Adam Tate said on 25th February 2011, 22:54

            Yes we can all nearly agree that Hamilton is a better driver than Button, but that does not make Button a bad driver.

            If preserving the tires is to be as important this season as many people are thinking, I expect it to fall right into Button’s hands. He will win by racing smarter not harder.

            Hamilton however, I hope will pull a race like Schumacher in Hungary 98, driving like a madman, making more stops to go on and win.

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 26th February 2011, 8:01

            Yes we can all nearly agree that Hamilton is a better driver than Button, but that does not make Button a bad driver.

            Of course not, it’s just a small glimpse into what “another level” means in F1. To be entirely honest if Button had partnered Vettel last year I think he would have been champion again because he wouldn’t have messed up the brilliance of the car.

  14. Darren said on 25th February 2011, 11:16

    Williams a threat? hmm maybe, but what I do like about modern F1 is how quickly a car can ‘improve’ in one or two races from development , mainly aero parts- also it’s interesting when a car can suit a certain track and have a great showing, then teams like Williams can get amongst it.

  15. Darren said on 25th February 2011, 11:19

    also seriously , hands up who thinks a season can go by without some issue between Webber and Vettel?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 25th February 2011, 14:34

      They managed it just fine in 2009.

    • *HAND UP!*
      I have the feeling that it will be all-right actually. They will fight, but i don’t think it will collapse as it did last year. The reason for that is that i think we will have a Vettel who is more relaxed going into this season, not that he will be slower, but i think he will have more confidence and drive more like he did from Monza and onwards last season. Instead of the erratic and mildly crazy one we saw in the early to mid season.
      Not that i don’t think Webber was a part of the problem, but i can’t really see his approach change after last season, but if Vettel is sorted out, the problem should be minimal at least.

      • Patrickl said on 26th February 2011, 10:41

        Vettel makes his mistakes and blunders when he is being pressured by another car. I seriously doubt this will have changed.

        Of course if the car is even further ahead of teh field as it was in 2010, he might not have to deal with that situation much.

        • But so did Mark. Valencia for instance. All drivers do that. I am just saying that to me it looks a lot like Vettel have matured though the season. He started out trying a little too hard, and then by the end he got him self together and did what he was good at. And i think that winning the WDC has taken a lot of weight of his shoulders, so i don’t think he will be as afraid of letting Mark beat him on a couple of occasions. Which i hope will reduce the friction between the two.

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