Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011

Rain may hinder Vettel’s path to victory

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

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011

Sebastian Vettel will start from his 15th pole position of the season.

And if the forecast rain doesn’t arrive, it’s hard to see him failing to convert it into his 12th win of the year.

The start

With team mate Mark Webber alongside him on the front row it’s hard to see anyone threatening Vettel on the short (190 metre) run to the first corner. As discussed in several recent pre-race articles, Webber’s starts have been less than great in 2011.

With the obvious exception of his disastrous first lap in Abu Dhabi, there’s been little to fault Vettel’s starts this year. He’s often pulled out enough of a margin in his first lap along to pull clear of those behind behind him.

It’s not unusual to see collisions on the first lap at Interlagos. The first lap in 2009 was particularly destructive, with Kimi Raikkonen hitting Mark Webber, then Adrian Sutil, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso all colliding.


Rain is by no means certain tomorrow, so it’s worth taking a quick look at the strategy situation.

Pirelli’s soft and medium compounds are the tyres of choice this weekend. The soft is a new compound introduced at this race.

There were some signs of blistering in practice which could present a problem on race day. But even if the rain doesn’t materialise, temperatures are expected to be cooler, which should help contain any such problems.

The usual policy of starting on the soft tyres and using those up until in a sufficient window to make the mandatory switch to harder tyres will apply for most drivers. But the above average potential for a safety car period, due to the limited run-off in places and comparatively short lap length, makes alternative strategies more appealing.

The weather

There is a good chance of rain showers on race day. As we’ve seen in the past, rain at Interlagos can mean anything between a light sprinkling and a thunderous downpour.

It would be an exaggeration to call wet conditions an Achilles’ Heel of the RB7. But it’s true that none of the three rain-affected races this year were won by Red Bull. Jenson Button triumphed in Canada and Hungary, and Fernando Alonso won in Britain.

Alonso has mixed feelings about the prospect of rain tomorrow: It?s true that for us, the problem of getting the tyres up to temperature are more acute in the wet, but then it?s equally true that when the track does dry, we are quicker than our rivals: the various stages of the race at Silverstone demonstrated this to be the case.”

Drainage has been a problem at Interlagos in the past – notably in 2003 when several drivers crashed after hitting a stream of water in the Senna S.

One of those drivers was Jenson Button, who says the track is now much improved in that respect: “I think what they?ve done with the drainage system, putting the little grooves in the track has helped a lot but it?s still a very tricky circuit, especially when it rains hard.”

But the man who has most to lose from unpredictable conditions is not put off by it. “It?s a good thing we cannot control the weather,” said Vettel. “We control too many things, I think.”

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