Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2011

Fast-starting Ferraris a threat to Red Bull

2011 British GP pre-race analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2011
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2011

Whatever the British Grand Prix has to offer, the opening seconds of the race should provide drama.

Red Bull have annexed the front row of the grid for the fourth time this year.

But the Ferrari have made excellent starts in recent races and are poised to attack the RB7s through Silverstone’s new opening sequence of corners.

The start

Fernando Alonso, third on the grid, has gained a total of six places in the last four standing starts. Having captured the lead from fourth on the grid in Spain, he must fancy his chances of doing so again.

Sebastian Vettel may try some of his usual hard moves at the start to keep Alonso behind. But such has been the speed of the Ferraris off the line he may find himself powerless to resist.

The drivers are heading into unknown territory as the start line has been moved at Silverstone. Abbey and Farm will surely be taken flat-out on the first lap. The braking zone at Village is a likely scene of drama on the opening lap.

And don’t discount the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa, who hasn’t lost a single position at the start this year and has often picked off his team mate.

Paul di Resta, sixth on the grid, and Pastor Maldonado, seventh, each have excellent opportunities to score points, Maldonado it yet to do so this year and di Resta, for all his impressive performances, hasn’t done so since Malaysia.

Further back, tenth-placed Lewis Hamilton desperately needs to make up places at the start. That’s not the kind of circumstances that have brought out the best in his driving this year.

Strategy

The damp weather at Silverstone has made getting a read on tyre performance and likely strategies even more difficult than usual.

Assuming the race is dry (more on that below), expect teams to follow the usual policy of running the soft tyre as long as they can before switching to the hard. The latter will prove the acid test of Ferrari’s gradual rise in form, for the 150??? Italias were hopeless on Pirelli’s revised hard rubber in Barcelona.

We’ve become accustomed to seeing Red Bull’s performance advantage on Saturday shrink on Sunday – or even turn into a slight deficit. But the change in the diffuser rules may later that picture tomorrow.

Among the more dramatic effects of the change appear to be a significant loss in performance for the McLarens and a similar, but less acute, decline at Renault .

The row over the rules will continue tomorrow with the teams set to debate whether they can agree to restore the rules to their Valencia state. But there will be no overnight rules change.

The weather

Today’s GP2 and GP3 races were heavily affected by rain. The skies have kept the teams guessing all weekend long and that could well continue tomorrow.

Although the forecast is for slightly warmed weather on the whole, the threat of showers will remain on Sunday.

An occasional shower looks more likely at present than sustained rainfall. The forecast is in all likelihood not concrete enough for teams to consider going for compromise set-ups in case of wet weather.

What do you expect will happen in the British Grand Prix?

Can Ferrari score their first win of the year? What can McLaren salvage from the race?

Have your say in the comments.

2011 British Grand Prix

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Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo