Fast-starting Ferraris a threat to Red Bull

2011 British GP pre-race analysis

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.


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.

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60 comments on Fast-starting Ferraris a threat to Red Bull

  1. Noelinho (@noelinho) said on 9th July 2011, 22:56

    I do think the start will be very interesting tomorrow. It’s a long way down to village and if the Ferraris get a good start, they have a great shout getting through, as long as they don’t get double-teamed through Abbey and forced to back off – which could happen. I doubt Vettel and Webber would cooperate on that though!

    If one does get in front, it’ll then be interesting to see how Vettel and Webber respond.

    • Doance (@doance) said on 10th July 2011, 6:05

      The same thing as Spain will probably happen. Alonso leads at the start. Vettel passes him and wins. Webber’s race is ruined because he pits at the same time as Alonso, who is much slower. Maybe Webber might be able to get past Alonso because it is actually possible to overtake here, isn’t it?
      That’s my prediction.

      • bosyber said on 10th July 2011, 9:57

        LOL. I fear you might be right. So much turmoil over the weekend, it is bound to be a disappointing race with Vettel once again extending his lead!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th July 2011, 10:39

      I must say I am looking forward to a bit of an exiting start! Best would be if both Ferraris get in front of Vettel, leaving him to either pass or get creative with strategy.

      It might even enable Button to push him a bit.

      Also wouldn’t mind a bit of rain later on to see some mixes between staying out on slicks and going on inters. Sorry for all those sitting out there in Silverstone, but a short splash will be fine :-D

  2. Faraz said on 9th July 2011, 22:56

    Either Webber or Ferrari. As long as Vettel doesn’t cruise away with this one.

  3. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 9th July 2011, 23:02

    Alonso claiming 2nd or 1st would be a great spicing up of the race. Can’t wait. As for McLaren, they have nothing to lose, hopefully we will see something from them.

  4. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 9th July 2011, 23:02

    I’d expect Alonso to be challenging Vettel into Abbey but its not a long way down there and its a fair turn so it may be single file through there.
    I’m hoping Vettel at least maintains position and is able to get Webber on strategy or with an overtaking move at some point.
    Ideal result for me is Vet/Alo/Web
    but head says Web/Vet/Alo

  5. guido (@guidof1) said on 9th July 2011, 23:10

    I would really love to see vettel down to 3rd or 4th right away from the start to see how he handles it. though he doesnt really need to risk much does he?

    • Adrian Morse said on 10th July 2011, 7:04

      I would be very happy to see something like WEB, MAS, BUT, ALO, VET after the first lap. Not likely, but might provide an interesting race.

  6. Tom said on 9th July 2011, 23:10

    Didn’t Hamilton just use an old set of the option tyre for Q3? He might be a surprise contender for the podium.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 9th July 2011, 23:25

      definitely would be a surprise.

    • George (@george) said on 10th July 2011, 0:10

      Yes, I expect him to go on a contrary strategy, he should leap frog Maldonado and di Resta at least, I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes in 4th behind the Red Bulls and Alonso (maybe Massa too, if he can continue the impressive form so far this weekend).

    • Noelinho (@noelinho) said on 10th July 2011, 0:28

      Yes, and that means he starts on an older set than everyone else too…

      • ivz (@ivz) said on 10th July 2011, 1:44

        Hamilton would have been better off doing his quali run on hards. That way he could start the race on them and get them out of the way, then charge through the field late in the race like Webber did in China.

        • Sam said on 10th July 2011, 3:04

          Of course McLaren isnt known for smarts are they?!

        • zecks said on 10th July 2011, 10:28

          its great to say things with the benefit of hindsight. I seriously doubt Hamilton was aiming for 10th since Button achieved 5th on similar tires.

    • TdM said on 10th July 2011, 9:58

      Don’t think he’ll get anywhere near it unless they can quickly sort out his car (don’t think they can change the setup before the race unless it rains though – can they?)

      Most likely result in the dry is that he’ll pick up a couple of places and struggle with his rears going off throughout the race. There was so much aggressive on power oversteer on that car it was unbelievable. I noticed the same thing in practice that car was wiggling around a lot.

      Jenson seems to be getting the power down better, probably because he feeds the power more gently but even his car is moving around, which isn’t like Jenson.

  7. guido (@guidof1) said on 9th July 2011, 23:20

    i think the mclarens will need a lot more than a couple of fresh sets of soft tyres order to make a decent race, let alone a podium…

  8. HoHum (@hohum) said on 9th July 2011, 23:31

    My greatest hope is that Vettel does not do his dammdest to run Webber of the road at the start if he gets off the line faster, he can afford to keep the racing on the track and should just worry about finishing ahead of Alonso and Button.

  9. Tiomkin said on 9th July 2011, 23:39

    Keith, for the second time mate. Why are you displaying the Euro-GP logo on the main page? The GP is at Silverstone in England, not Valencia

  10. Larcem said on 10th July 2011, 0:03

    I hope Vettel wins. There I said it.

  11. DaveW said on 10th July 2011, 1:04

    There are just too many ways for Alonso to get by before Woodcote. Especially as the RBRs are going to be at it tooth and nail off the line and paying him no mind. Alonso to P1 by Copse. Then it will be Barcelona again for him.

  12. Gabriel said on 10th July 2011, 1:08

    Webber will have kers problems on startup, blocking Alonso and letting Vettel go on first place. Hamilton plays monaco snooker with is cars and put a mess on the pack ;) Button changes its tires just before a heavy rain and fly like a hurricane to the victory.

  13. Lord Ha Ha said on 10th July 2011, 1:56

    Fabrice and his start mapping job…. at least with the off throttle mapping gone Helmut will have less instructions to bark at him.

  14. Eggry (@eggry) said on 10th July 2011, 2:03

    Not-so-long main straight makes start show difficult but it would be amazing both Ferraris pass both Red Bull at the start.

  15. Mahir C said on 10th July 2011, 2:08

    If it rains the teams dont have to run both types of tires, right? What if it rains slightly so that some teams switch to inters while some stay on slicks. Do they also have to run both tires?

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