Will Red Bull close on Mercedes at downforce track?

2014 Spanish Grand Prix preview

Start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013The possibility that one team might win all the races in a season isn’t an appealing one for those who value healthy competition in Formula One. But Mercedes’ impressively strong start to the season, for which they deserve full credit, has given them a realistic chance of doing just that.

One of the teams most likely to stand in their way is Red Bull. That might have seemed unlikely before the season began, as the RB10 endured a difficult gestation in testing, but they have gained ground at a rapid rate since then.

The next two races – Spain this weekend at Monaco two weeks after – are at tracks where downforce matters more than engine grunt. That should play to Red Bull’s traditional strength – certainly more so than the following two races on the long straights of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and, ironically, the Red Bull Ring.

Red Bull have come close to wresting pole position from Mercedes twice already – Daniel Ricciardo pushed Lewis Hamilton hard in Australia, and Sebastian Vettel was less than a tenth of a second behind in Malaysia.

And there has been some needle between the two teams this year, particularly after Mercedes showed up at Red Bull’s FIA appeal to lobby for a stronger penalty following their Australian Grand Prix disqualification.

As usual Spain plays host to the beginning of the ‘European season’. With teams now operating closer to their bases, and having taken advantage of the opportunity to accelerate development on their cars in the three-week break since the last race, expect to see a lot of upgrades this weekend.

Circuit de Catalunya circuit information

Lap length 4.655km (2.892 miles)
Distance 66 laps (307.1km/190.8 miles)
Lap record* 1’21.670 (Kimi Raikkonen, 2008)
Fastest lap 1’19.954 (Rubens Barrichello, 2009)
Tyres Hard and Medium

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Circuit de Catalunya track data in full

The speed of Red Bull’s in-season development has been a cornerstone of their competitiveness in recent seasons. That fact will have Mercedes casting a rearward glance in the direction of their rivals.

And while the biggest weakness of the RB10 has been its Renault Energy F1 power unit, further updates for it are expected this weekend.

Unusually, teams arrive at the Circuit de Catalunya having not previously tested their current cars at the venue. The track was not part of the pre-season testing schedule, though there will be two days’ testing at the circuit following Sunday’s grand prix.

Last year Fernando Alonso pitted four times on his way to victory but Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery doesn’t expect a repeat of that kind of strategy. “With the changes we have made to the tyres this year, we would now hope to see no more than three for the majority of drivers,” he said.

Spanish Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Curiously, Vettel has never started the Spanish Grand Prix from pole position. And Red Bull have only had two pole positions at a track which, on paper, you would expect to suit them.

They haven’t won or set pole at the track in the last two years: at the beginning of 2012 they were still getting to grips with the restrictions on exhaust-blowing, and this time 12 months ago they were unable to make Pirelli’s very soft tyre compounds last as well as their rivals could.

Mercedes

Last year Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix, but slumped to sixth and twelfth at the chequered flag. Expect to see a similar first half of the story this year but a different conclusion.

However executive director (technical) Paddy Lowe is wary of the threat from the likes of Red Bull. “There has been no sense of complacency or backing off just because our car has shown strong performance in the opening few races,” he said.

“The objective is to not only match, but to better the development rate of our rivals and to build on our lead in both championships.”

Ferrari

This race weekend marks 12 months since Ferrari’s last race win. But the Chinese Grand Prix showed the team are on the right track, and that Alonso can be counted on to wring a podium out of the car if one is possible in front of his home crowd.

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Bahrain International Circuit, 2014Lotus only improve following their dismal start to the season, but the rate of progress they have made since then has been impressive. Had Romain Grosjean’s car got to the chequered flag in China he would surely have been in a points-paying position.

“On paper we made a big relative improvement in China but it wasn’t just one thing,” he said. “We took the Renault updates and our own updates as well and moved forward.”

“Altogether we made a big step, even though there were no massive changes on the car – we’re just trying to make everything work together better. There is more to come for Barcelona.”

McLaren

McLaren are another team who promise to have some “interesting” (in Eric Boullier’s words) updates for their car this weekend. But Jenson Button says they also have plenty to gain by making better use of what they’ve already got.

“It’s not simply about bringing new parts to the circuit: it’s about understanding and unlocking the car’s secrets, and using that understanding to take bigger steps with performance,” he said.

“We’re still at the early stages with our car, and, for us, it’s less about the components that we fit to it, and more about the bigger picture – finding a useful direction, gaining trust in our measurements and pushing ahead.”

Force India

Sergio Perez, Force India, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014A new sponsor will appear on Force India’s sidepods this weekend as they look to build on their best-ever start to a Formula One season.

Consistent points scores have helped Nico Hulkenberg to fourth in the drivers’ championship.

Team mate Sergio Perez is hoping to improve on his one-off high from two races ago: Perez: “Bahrain has been the only weekend where everything has worked out perfectly. If we can have more weekends like that I think we can get some more great results.”

Sauber

A lighter version of the C33 will appear this weekend with several other improvements as the team try to finish in the points for the first time this year. Giedo van der Garde will drive during practice again.

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso have been picking up what they can in the lower reaches of the points but are going to find themselves under greater pressure as the likes of Lotus make more rapid inroads on the frontrunners.

However Daniil Kvyat has some confidence about their performance this weekend: “I have no idea how the track will suit the STR9, except that so far this year, we have been okay in the high speed corners.”

Williams

Felipe Massa, Williams, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Under-performance has been the theme of Williams’ season so far, whether due to driver errors, mistakes by the team or the FW35’s shortcomings in wet conditions.

Felipe Massa made terrific starts in Bahrain and China and will be one to watch on the long run to turn one on Sunday – he could spring a surprise if he qualifies anywhere near the front.

Marussia

The competition at the front of the field may not be close but it’s fierce between F1’s two smallest teams – more so than last year, when Marussia and Caterham were separated by a lap.

Caterham

Caterham were classified behind Marussia in China but only because Kamui Kobayashi’s last-lap pass was discounted due to a mistake by the race organisers. It wouldn’t have been enough to move Caterham ahead in the championship, but they may get the chance to do that this weekend.

2014 driver form

Driver G avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 6.75 4.67 3 6 3/4 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 5.50 4.00 4 4 2/4 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 1.25 1.00 1 1 3/4 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 2.75 1.75 1 2 4/4 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 5.75 5.00 3 9 4/4 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 8.25 9.25 7 12 4/4 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 15.25 11.50 11 12 2/4 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 19.00 14.00 14 14 2/4 Form guide
Jenson Button 9.50 9.25 3 17 4/4 Form guide
Kevin Magnussen 8.75 8.00 2 13 3/4 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 8.25 5.50 5 6 4/4 Form guide
Sergio Perez 12.50 7.33 3 10 3/3 Form guide
Adrian Sutil 16.50 11.00 11 11 1/4 Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez 16.50 14.00 12 16 2/4 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 9.50 10.00 8 12 2/4 Form guide
Daniil Kvyat 11.00 10.00 9 11 4/4 Form guide
Felipe Massa 8.75 9.67 7 15 3/4 Form guide
Valtteri Bottas 10.75 7.00 5 8 4/4 Form guide
Jules Bianchi 18.75 16.50 16 17 2/4 Form guide
Max Chilton 20.00 15.00 13 19 4/4 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 17.50 15.33 13 18 3/4 Form guide
Marcus Ericsson 20.25 17.00 14 20 2/4 Form guide

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2014 Spanish Grand Prix

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Images © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Red Bull/Getty, Force India, Lotus/LAT, Williams/LAT

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60 comments on Will Red Bull close on Mercedes at downforce track?

  1. Boomerang said on 7th May 2014, 12:03

    Definitely!

  2. soundscape (@soundscape) said on 7th May 2014, 12:03

    Can someone please explain that driver form table to me? I’m having a hard time understanding it.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 7th May 2014, 12:11

      Left to Right…

      Driver Name, Grid – Average Position (sum of Grid Positions / Races) , Race – Average Position (sum of Finishing Positions / Races), Race – Best Finish, Race – Worst Finish (excl. DNF), Classified Finishes (>90% race distance covered).

  3. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 7th May 2014, 12:20

    The high speed corners of the first sector and blind T9 Campsa, may neatly play into the RB10’s hands in the car’s high speed form at Sepang is anything to go by. That said, looking at Mercedes’ speed trap figures this year they are yet to adopt a higher downforce setup, with it being utterly logical for such a dominant team to sacrifice a bit of performance just to make passing lapped and out of sequence cars that bit easier. It is a great donkey in the W05, but it’s great chassis too, have no doubt, just look at the gap the W05 has over the other Mercedes engined cars.

    Something that might also detract from Red Bull’s chances is the Alonso factor. Not only is he probably the most handy driver around the Barcelona circuit, but it is also a track that appears to play perfectly to F14 T’s strengths. There are fewer demands on traction than most circuits, but a real emphasis on corner entry and apex stability; which, on the evidence of China, appears to be a strength of the Ferrari. Quite apart from closing the gap, Red Bull will do well to manage a podium.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 7th May 2014, 12:40

      I think that pretty much says it all for me. On the one hand RBR, coming from where they have been ie. lagging, should be the most improved since the last race, yet most seem to agree Mercedes have not even had to show all their cards yet…and if they have ‘only’ just improved equally to the likes of RBR, then everyone else is screwed.

      That said, it’s not impossible to imagine Mercedes’ improvement slowing if they have already found most of the cars capability, nor for Renault or Red Bull to find something big. But my instincts say that time is not yet here. It’s just too early with this highly complex new format to envision that Mercedes is already topped up.

      With any luck though, the whole field will be bunched closer together for the whole race.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 7th May 2014, 13:26

        Exactly. 4 races in seems like too soon to apply the law of diminishing returns. Mercedes haven’t had many dry qualifying sessions- the one place where they really will show their hand- and the leading Mercedes has almost always coasted in the race, Bahrain aside. So they have both more pace to show and probably even more pace to gain. Barring rain or a lightning start by a non-Merc and inability to find a way back past, Mercedes seem likely to be untroubled.

        • TribalTalker (@tribaltalker) said on 7th May 2014, 14:28

          @matt90 Remember the trouble Hamilton had getting his setup right in China – he was lucky that the blind change to the balance worked out, with no chance to try it in the dry. Also Rosberg had brake issues and telemetry problems.
          Anything could happen.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 7th May 2014, 16:07

            Brake and telemetry problems which still allowed to drop back from 4th at the start and comfortably take 2nd before the end of the race though.

        • JackJ said on 7th May 2014, 15:54

          That’s right. When you are able to pull 20s in 12 laps (while battling your teammate too), untroubled seems like an understatement.

      • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 7th May 2014, 14:23

        @robbie – As @matt90 says (a hearty +1 to that comment), these cars, despite their impressive reliability (particularly compared to their LMP1 counterparts in WEC), are still highly premature. If Newey can be consistently throwing upgrades at the RB9 at what was the end of an aerodynamic era, you can certainly expect huge steps from the cars this year. Theoretically a 2012 style development race would give Red Bull a chance, but the problem is that the W05 is already several substantial steps ahead. Based on Merc’s speed trap figures (which suggest that they are sacrificing speed for straight-line superiority) and the incredible manner in which the left the field for dead in the dying laps of the Bahrain GP suggests a W05 consistently winning at a canter. And based on the fact that Ricciardo managed a lap less than a second off pole at the Merc domination theatre that is Bahrain, are we looking at a scenario where Mercedes are looking after their engines even in qualifying? I was certainly expecting a lap faster than 33.1…

        • Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty) said on 7th May 2014, 18:17

          I think we’ll be seeing a repeat of history to some extent – this is 1988 right now, and in the next year or two Red Bull will come back strong, perhaps to challenge Mercedes (1991), before another phase of dominance (it’s inevitable..). Ferrari will be strong soon (1990) but probably fall away until everything is finally put together.

          • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 7th May 2014, 19:50

            @fastiesty – Possibly, but McLaren Honda are not in that equation; I would be surprised if Honda don’t make an impact on return. I would say that a lot of things can be predicted in F1, like the inevitable future Vettel-Hulkenberg pairing at Ferrari, but that said, every now and then a spanner gets thrown in the works to smash the predictions of armchair experts like us.

          • Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty) said on 7th May 2014, 22:37

            @william-brierty Indeed… but given what Taki Inoue said, I can’t imagine them coming in and trumping all existing engines. They can at least copy Mercedes’ innovation and should be strong/a contender at least. It’s said they will focus exclusively on McLaren (providing funding as well… they need it if they are paying off Whitmarsh and Button so much!), which could be good, but also negative, if they require more feedback from having multiple teams.

            I would have thought so, but you can’t deny Ferrari’s young driver program either – like RB, if they don’t pick from it, then it was pointless. Vettel/Hulkenberg would be two number one drivers.. I can see them pairing Bianchi with one, possibly Vettel, or Hulkenberg if he is unavailable. This latter line up would be notable for being the first time in a long time (1995?) that they didn’t have a WDC in their line up…

            Similarly, McLaren have picked Magnussen from it, and now Vandoorne looks like an equal competitor, if not adequate and cheaper replacement for Button. This means guys like Di Resta, Hulkenberg and Perez will find it hard to move further up the grid than Force India… even as the WDCs retire.

          • David Not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard) said on 8th May 2014, 6:07

            @fastiesty

            This latter line up would be notable for being the first time in a long time (1995?) that they didn’t have a WDC in their line up…

            2007, actually:)

          • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 8th May 2014, 12:27

            @fastiesty – I completely agree about Honda in 2015, they are not about to immediately challenge Mercedes, but the combination of a engine manufacturer with previous F1 success and McLaren’s chassis expertise is a lethal one, and something that must be factored in for the future. Although I think 2015 will be too soon to jump ship, if Ferrari hasn’t shown well by the end of 2016, and if McLaren show promise, Alonso may make the switch and should be factored in to McLaren’s longer term plans. Whilst a young talented Vandoorne-Magnussen line-up has a nice ring to it, I can’t see McLaren saying no to Alonso, so McLaren need decide which youngster they think is the best and quickly; it’s Vandoorne where I’m sat.

            You have misunderstood the Ferrari Driver Academy. It is not the highly structured programme like that of McLaren and particularly Red Bull who not only pay the series entry fees but have seats allotted for those who impress. Ferrari’s programme is almost exclusively financial support with very occasional test runs at Fiorano; only with Marciello have they helped with contractual negotiations, and have not aided Bianchi up the grid by paying Sauber for his drive. With this in mind, Ferrari aren’t obliged to justify their investment to such a degree, and therefore still retain freedom in their driver choices. If Raikkonen continues not to gel with the 2014 cars he will shortly retire, or get sacked, and Alonso may go to McLaren in 2016, so the door will be wide open to the Vettel-Hulkenberg dream team; with Ferrari demonstrating in 2014 that they are not adverse to having “two cockerels in one hen-house”.

          • Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty) said on 8th May 2014, 19:34

            @davidnotcoulthard I keep thinking now that Kimi won in 2005.. he was the highest paid driver after Schumacher though, or the ‘biggest chip’ they could get at the time..

            @william-brierty Fair enough.. it’s hard to know with Ferrari. They could quite easily scrap the whole thing and get Vettel-Hulk! McLaren are more likely to follow their own way, and if Honda are equal partners then perhaps they can have a say on the lead seat, and whether it is a WDC.. which could lead to a choosing situation as you describe.

            When do we see Alonso retiring? After 2016 with Ferrari? Kimi after this/next year? Same for Button, Massa? They’re all starting to approach 35..

            Also, whether it’s two cockerels, or one cockerel and one hen, we will soon see, if Kimi can get ahead of Alonso before a race end… half the salary of Alonso is hinting towards a comfortable number 2 driver and a retirement package so far, IMO.

    • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 7th May 2014, 14:01

      You summed it up very well. We always assume that Red Bull will cruise over the rest of the field in Spain because it is an aero-track. The history proved this isn’t actually the case, even when Red Bull is in a class of its own. Currently Mercedes is at the top and the full extent of its advantage hasn’t been shown yet. Frequent wet sessions cloud the performance differences and it well may be that Red Bull isn’t anywhere close to Mercedes in dry. What’s worse for the Milton Keynes outfit, is the fact that Ferrari seems to be genuinely closing the gap so there just might not be enough space on the podium for any of Red Bull drivers, especially if Ferrari manages to fix Raikkonen’s problems. And as @william-brierty pointed out, just look at the difference between Force India and MGP. It’s not the engine alone, MGP is an overall great package.

      • TribalTalker (@tribaltalker) said on 7th May 2014, 14:33

        Absolutely – but the other Merc-powered teams could close up a bit, now they have extensive data on cooling. They will be reducing their side-pod area and tightening the aero round the power unit. Mercedes GP already had all that info.

  4. Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 7th May 2014, 12:31

    I think the Mercs will still be out of reach barring any major disasters. Dry qualifying will play more to their strengths making it hard to even split them, and even if the Mercs are outqualified there is 730m (i think) to the first corner where i expect them to outdrag the non-Merc cars.

    I still think RB will be more concerned with being best of the rest. I think they will be, but if they lose positions at the start then their only chance to make up places will be pit-stops (or maybe DRS on Ferrari cars).

  5. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 7th May 2014, 12:34

    So far, I think we have been a little unlucky with the way the races have panned out. Not only have Mercedes been too far ahead, but also their drivers have been only close on track for one race, even though I feel Hamilton and Rosberg have the potential to be in each other’s hairs at every Grand Prix (all it takes is for whoever is faster on the day, to fall behind the other at the start). If the rest of the field can catch up a little to Mercedes, we could have some close racing again.

    I also think the fuel situation this year has been an interesting strategic variable, rather than the all-consuming factor I feared it would be before the start of the season. And then we still have a number of interesting team mate battles on our hands. Alonso-Raikkonen may have been a bit one-sided, but Ricciardo-Vettel and Massa-Bottas have certainly been interesting so far.

    I think we are in for a good race this Sunday.

  6. Joshua Mesh (@joshua-mesh) said on 7th May 2014, 12:42

    Forza Ferrari :D

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 7th May 2014, 16:01

      I have a feeling Mr. Fernando Alonso Diaz will shine this weekend.

      • Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 8th May 2014, 2:34

        Fernando always does well in Spain. Even if he doesnt have a competitive car, he always gives the fans something to cheer about.

        Remember the pole on low fuel in 08? That was as good a lap as I’d ever seen. The lighting start in 2011, where he led the race for the first stint until the swap to the harder compound.

        Unless Ferrari have had a masterstorke, there is no way he will trouble the Mercs. The only hope is that he can beat the Bulls to the podium.

  7. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 7th May 2014, 12:52

    I expect that any gains Red Bull have made over the last few weeks will be cancelled out by (a) whatever upgrades Mercedes bring and (b) the extra pace that Mercedes have been largely holding back to date. The more interesting red Bull related story for me is how will Vettel respond to the form Ricciardo has shown over the last couple of races? I get the feeling that, for his own confidence if nothing else, he needs to start putting the Honey Badger in his place, fast.

  8. sumedh said on 7th May 2014, 13:47

    Ferrari have not won a single race for the last 18 races. This is now their longest win-less streak in the last 20 years.

    • MattDS said on 7th May 2014, 14:01

      Wait a few more races to say that. 20 years ago they were still going strong in their winless streak of 59 races :)

  9. gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 7th May 2014, 13:55

    Instinctively, I wouldn’t have said that Monaco was a high-downforce circuit. It seems to me that all the turns are taken at low/very low speed, making the aero less usefull.
    I’d have thought it was more a On/Off/On/Off/On/Off… type of circuit.

    • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 7th May 2014, 14:12

      There’s a lot of medium speed corners where downforce helps, it also helps with those pesky braking zones and to cope with the fact that you need quite a high ride height because Monaco is quite bumpy

    • SatchelCharge (@satchelcharge) said on 7th May 2014, 14:31

      @gwenouille “High downforce” refers to wing angles and aerodynamic set up on the car. Not the actual amount of downforce a car creates on the circuit.

    • Mashiat (@mashiat) said on 7th May 2014, 16:36

      It requires high-downforce because of the precision required to drive it. A car with plenty of downforce can give the driver confidence to take a corner at a higher speed and still stick. And a car with less downforce will slide around and thus a driver needs to drive at a more controlled pace to avoid hitting the barrier. And also, there aren’t a lot of straights, so teams mostly run with the highest downforce configurations on the calendar, just like Monza works the other way around.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th May 2014, 17:44

      @gwenouille @craig-o @satchelcharge @mashiat It’s an interesting one, this. Most circuits these days need a fairly high level of downforce because the trend in circuit design has been towards more corners and fewer straights.

      Also the trade-off between downforce and drag isn’t as great as it used to be. In the eighties having a lot of downforce meant having a barn door rear wing (look at the pictures of turbo cars from 1984) which meant massive drag. But today teams can generate comparable levels of downforce much more efficiently – i.e. without so much drag. It’s another reason why downforce has come to dominate so much in terms of car design.

      And circuits have changed too – like this one. What used to be two quick corners at the end of the track is now three slow bends and one which has just become an acceleration zone.

      Incidentally in their preview notes for the race Williams describe this as a high downforce track. As they also did for Albert Park, Sepang and Shanghai. Last year they gave Monaco and Singapore a description of “maximum” downforce.

      • gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 7th May 2014, 18:30

        OK ! Thanks for all the explaining !

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 7th May 2014, 20:36

        @keithcollantine,

        because the trend in circuit design has been towards more corners and fewer straights.

        Why is that, anyway? With all the concern about increasing overtaking, why were none of the more recent circuits designed with Monza and old Hockenheim in mind? Surely, it can’t be just Tilke’s preference from designing the same type of circuit over and over again?

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 7th May 2014, 20:37

      @gwenouille
      Monaco is the circuit that demands the most downforce level of an F1 car, teams usually bring specific parts that are only used in Monaco (just like Monza but with the opposite effect). The particularity of Monaco is that aerodynamic efficiency which is the relationship between drag and downforce (downforce/drag ratio) doesn’t count there. BTW the aerodynamic efficiency has been the key factor when the 2014 regs were introduced, the cars that are producing downforce are penalized by the drag and as a consequence they are consuming more fuel, Mercedes is the benchmark in that aspect with their powerful and compact PU (the separation of the turbo/compressor). So if Red Bull or any other team want to beat Mercedes then Monaco could be a realistic shot.

  10. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 7th May 2014, 14:06

    I honestly think that Alonso and maybe Raikkonen (if Ferrari can work out his steering and setup problems) are bigger threat to Mercedes than Red Bull. Red Bull had quite a bit of luck with weather at the beginning of the season, which gave them more points than they are actually capable of bringing home based on pure performance alone.

    Also, Monaco always levels the field and doesn’t rely as much on aero than on mechanical grip and good suspension work.

  11. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 7th May 2014, 14:10

    Sorry to be picky, but aren’t the fastest laps for a different layout of the Circuit de Catalunya?

  12. Peter (@boylep6) said on 7th May 2014, 14:19

    Daniel Ricciardo pushed Lewis Hamilton hard in Australia, and Sebastian Vettel was less than a tenth of a second behind in Malaysia.

    Wasn’t hard as Lewis’ car wasn’t firing on all cylinders, and that only for all of two laps!

    • Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 7th May 2014, 14:52

      Red Bull have come close to wresting pole position from Mercedes twice already – Daniel Ricciardo pushed Lewis Hamilton hard in Australia, and Sebastian Vettel was less than a tenth of a second behind in Malaysia

      That’s the full quote – it was referring to qualifying only, where Lewis’ car was most definitely firing on all cylinders.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th May 2014, 17:48

      @boylep6 The car was fine in qualifying.

  13. Aqib (@aqibqadeer) said on 7th May 2014, 14:28

    I dont think so unless renault performs a miracle because i dont think aero wise red bull will be as good as before because of the rule changes their advantages has been taken away from specially the blown exhaust so it will take them time to catch like in 2012

  14. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 7th May 2014, 15:39

    Pole position is possible – provided the drivability upgrades from Renault are sufficient to allow smooth power delivery in the final sector, I expect both Vettel and Ricciardo to put up a stronger fight than they have previously. The high speed will certainly play to their strengths, as they were quick in S2 in Malaysia.

    So again it is really just a case of how much time they are losing on the straight, for despite the track being favourable to those with higher levels of downforce the straight is fairly long and one can lose a lot of time on it.

    As for the race though, well I doubt there will be much of a challenge on the basis of Mercedes winning with ease in the previous rounds. They have pace to spare over the long runs, as they displayed in Bahrain.

  15. JCost (@jcost) said on 7th May 2014, 16:06

    Will Mercedes win 19/19? They look capable of such feat… but who knows?

    Will Red Bull win a race this year? If so where’s more likely to be the venue of RBR’s first win in 2014? Montmelo and Monte Carlo come to my mind. If they win who’s gonna be the driver? Seb or Dan? (that’s the million dollars question!)

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