Who can stop a Red Bull rout in Istanbul? (Turkish Grand Prix preview)

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel took pole position last year but was beaten by Button and Webber
Sebastian Vettel took pole position last year but was beaten by Button and Webber

Red Bull head to the Turkish Grand Prix as the team to beat. Does the Istanbul circuit offer their rivals any hope of catching the RB6s?

Red Bull dominated at the Circuit de Catalunya, so they should have an easy run to victory at Istanbul, a track which makes similar demands on F1 cars.

That’s the theory, but remember that at Catalunya – where the RB6s were almost a second quicker than the opposition in qualifying – they didn’t have the same performance advantage in the race. In fact, Lewis Hamilton was able to stay close enough to split the two RB6s at the first round of pit stops.

And all the teams will have to get a handle on one of the most punishing tests of tyre wear we’ll see this year.

In the first stint of the race, on high fuel loads and almost certainly running on the soft tyres, the front-right tyres will take a terrific pounding around turn eight, at speeds of up to 270kph and lateral forces exceeding 5G.

As we saw in Spain the RB6 is able to generate greater downforce than any other car – but can they do that without hurting their tyres too much?

Ferrari, on the other hand, have been able to manage their tyre wear very well – witness Fernando Alonso’s 77-lap stint on one set of tyres at Monaco.

Although they’ve not performed as well on the harder rubber being used this weekend, the team believe they’ve made progress in understanding how to get the most out of those tyres.

With much speculation surrounding Felipe Massa’s future with the team, this could be an important weekend for him.

He’s been over three tenths of a second slower than Alonso on average in qualifying this year – can he shrink that gap or, better yet, beat Alonso in a straight fight for the first time since Bahrain, at a track where he’s won three times in the past?

The inter-team battle at Red Bull is equally interesting, with Sebastian Vettel eager to hit back after Mark Webber’s domination of the last two races. Vettel’s hopes are pinned on a new chassis which, as was the case with Michael Schumacher two races ago, he hopes will help him cut the gap to Webber.

It remains to be seen whether Red Bull will be bringing their version of the F-duct to Istanbul, as Christian Horner said they might a few weeks ago.

Another driver getting a new car this weekend is Lucas di Grassi, who finally gets his hands on the revised Virgin VR-01 with a larger fuel tank capacity. Timo Glock has had the car since Spain.

Mercedes are also using their revised, longer W01 in Istanbul, having temporarily switched back to the short car in Monaco. How well it goes will determine whether they are competing with the three front-running teams, or left to fight a rearguard action against Renault and Force India.

Drivers to watch

Four driver to keep an eye on this weekend. Name your top picks in the comments.

Sebastian Vettel – Previously thought to have the upper hand on Mark Webber, but has been beaten by his team mate in the last two races. He lost out to Webber here in 2009 as well – can he turn the tables this year?

Lewis Hamilton – Can he take the fight to Red Bull? Or might he succumb to the tyre trouble that plagued him here in 2007 and 2008?

Adrian Sutil – The Force India was more of a match for the Renault at Catalunya, so Sutil may give Robert Kubica a run for ‘best of the rest’ here.

Heikki Kovalainen – Revelled in the updated Lotus T127 at Monaco, he may now be the high watermark for the new teams’ progress.

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83 comments on “Who can stop a Red Bull rout in Istanbul? (Turkish Grand Prix preview)”

  1. Felipe Massa, king of Istanbul Park? If the Ferrari will be quick enough, which I guess it won’t.

    1. button should have this race because hes good on tyres and has an F-Duct car which will prove key on this track.

      1. To be honest i think the whole issue about who does or doesnt destroy their tyres is overblown… In monaco fernando essentially ran the whole race on one set of tyres, and overall this year Jenson has yet to prove he can turn his tyre-kindness into a genuine advantage in the dry. As many people are saying, the tyres are too good…

        1. MouseNightshirt
          27th May 2010, 0:35

          The tyres simply are too hardy for Button’s tyre finesse to do anything other than slow him down.

        2. yes it is overblown with button. it comes from last year where he happen to have a car that was well balanced and hence treated the tyres well.

      2. polishboy808
        27th May 2010, 0:01

        Wait wait wait. Hamilton is good on his tires? Since when? He destroys he tires and then complains about it. He must be the WORST on tires out of the whole field!

        1. Aussie Fan
          27th May 2010, 7:47

          Where is Hamilton mentioned? OP said Button, not Hamilton.

        2. @Polishboy808

          Hamilton is not as hard on hard on tyres as most state. This is a myth made up by people that do not know what they are talking about. Maclaren have stated that there is virtually no difference between Buttons tyre wear and Hamiltons. Most of his tyre problems stem from poor team decisions, mechanical failiures or car design (remember the last two years Hamilton has had a team mate that was lapping considerably slower and therefore putting a lot less strain on the tyres).

        3. LOL @ above Hamilton hater!

      3. Aussie Fan
        27th May 2010, 7:45

        But the Redbulls, Ferrari & Mercedes will all be running some version of the stalled rear wing….

    2. Jhonnie Siggie
      27th May 2010, 4:18

      Red Bull can stop Red Bull by doing some bull…. dbl failure me think

  2. Speaking of predictions championship, I think I’ve found a way to stop Red Bull’s dominance, all I need to do is predict a Red Bull one-two and they’ll crash out in the first lap or something. Easy.

    1. Or they’ll finish in the opposite positions ;)

    2. Brilliant idea just genious! i’m a fan of reverse psychology myself…..Infact maybe even bet money on a one-two then they will surely lose!

  3. I think Massa should be listed in drivers to watch due to his good history on the circuit.

    1. I agree! But he was listed in Monaco, so perhaps it would be wrong to list one driver twice in a row.

      1. I admit I am a Massa fan, but making him a driver to watch twice in a row is acceptable under these circumstances. In the past 3 years at Monaco, he has a pole position, a podium, a fastest lap and 2 fourth places. Excluding last year and the terrible F60, it deserves mentioning how he won at Turkey 3 years in a row. The first driver since Schumacher to win 3 in a row at the same circuit. Hopefully he will fly this weekend and silence his critics.

        1. I hope so :)
          Massa deserves

  4. This is an important race for Massa, and I think we will see him go well here. This race will hopefully allow us to gauge his speed against Alonso who I suspect, along with Hamilton in the early stages, will be up their snapping at Red Bull.

    However I suspect, mechanical failures aside, a one-two for Red Bull… and let’s see if a new chassis will show that Vettel was hampered in Spain and Monaco, I hope not and 3 on the trot for Webber would be awesome.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe Red Bull have shown any tyre wear issues and that with their speed is ominous.

    1. It’s indeed an important race for Felipe, if he can’t beat Alonso in Turkey, it will be very dark.

      As for Red Bull’s tyre wear, I think Webber struggled in the end of Bahrain, but that might be because of dirty air.

      1. I think it’s an important race for Webber. If he beats Vettel again that will almost drive the nail in his coffin. Webber is a confidence driver and if he beats Vettel 3 times in a row I don’t think there will be any stopping him.

  5. Love this track, it’s all that Catalunya should be, aerodynamically testing, but passing possible, an quick, this track reminds me that it’s all possible with Mr Tilke, you just have to hope he does it like this for Austin.

    Anyway, I get the feeling that once Redbull have an F-Duct the rest of the field is done for, they probably won’t be fastest on the straights but my god, fastest round the corners an that 6mph deficit eaten up? They’ll be invincible, it may even help with the one true remaining chink in their armour, being excessive tyre degredation. God I hope this doesn’t turn into a period of Redbull dominance for the next few years.

    Still we still have that race pace difference to look forward too. Come On YOU MACCAs

    1. Who knows, F-Duct might cause Red Bull problems just like it did to Ferrari in Barcelona. I can think of one scenario that will cause them real problem this weekend: They’ll run F-Duct on Friday but find it destroying the balance, remove it for Saturday but not finding a good set-up in Saturday practice and therefore struggle to get pole, and wear out the tyres in the race. Unlikely, but you never know!

  6. “Adrian Sutil – The Force India was more of a match for the Renault at Catalunya, so Sutil may give Robert Kubica a run for ‘best of the rest’ here.”

    i doubt it. but we will see:)

    1. I assume Felipe Massa will also be praying for Sutil to do well.

      Kubica’s form must be giving sleepless nights to Felipe.

      A good result for him and a bad one for Kubica would give atleast 2 weeks of relief for Massa.

  7. Wil the race still be a one stopper with the might turn 8 or will we see another round of pit stops and maybe some more action?

  8. Gremlins!

    Not sure it will be done without a self destruct button or two being pressed.

  9. Apart from Brazil I think this should be Massa’s best chance at beating Alonso, but I can’t see anyone other team other than Red Bull getting pole and the win, but which driver?

    1. That’s the main point of interest for me this weekend – which Red Bull driver will be quickest, and which will win. Vettel has his new chassis so it would be interesting if he beats Webber comfortably.

      1. i agree. And let’s not forget there are three drivers that need a victory more than air to breath. Vettel, hamilton and alonso. Let’s see who gets a breath of fresh air at istambul park.

  10. Vettel-how he responds to Webber.
    Massa- I don’t agree that it will be a disaster if he is beaten by Alonso here. He should do well given his history but looking at the choice in tyre compounds I expect Alonso to be ahead at the end of the weekend. I just want to see his pace.
    Hulkenberg-his first two arces were iffy but we’re getting into the season now so I want to see how he can do against Rubens.
    Button-because he won here last year.
    Sutil-because of what Keith said

    1. I understand what you mean about Massa and the tyres, but Ferrari are saying they have worked on it and also, the circuit is hard on the tyres so it should be easier to ge the temperature up. It’s not a disaster if Alonso will be a tenth or two faster in qualifying, but Felipe has to become confident soon, otherwise it might be too late to retain his seat, Kubica, Webber or even Bianchi are possible replacements. Oh I hope Alonso will be beaten in a fair fight.

      1. Yeah the set up to work the tyres should be ok. I don’t think he will be anywhere near as far off the pace as he was in Aus Quali. He seems fired up too, this result will be important but if it goes wrong then it’ll be bad but not the end of the world.

        I’m not sure Bianchi would be put straight into a Ferrari seat. It generally takes a couple of seasons of GP2 -bar Hamilton and Hulk- to get to speed. Ferrari seem patient with their drivers, Massa is a case point, so I think he’s a star of the future potentially.

        1. “this result will be important but if it goes wrong then it’ll be bad but not the end of the world” Being a second off Alonso would almost be the end of the world! But really I don’t expect that to happen, I think it will be very tight actually.

          “I’m not sure Bianchi would be put straight into a Ferrari seat” Well, as you said Hamilton got into McLaren immediately after winning GP2 and nearly won the title, but of coure nowadays with very little testing someone like Hulkenberg is struggeling. That’s why I agree, it’s not likely to happen. He’s more likely to drive for Sauber I think, if he’ll get inte F1 next year. An with Kubica likely to stay with Renault and Webber in Red Bull (Why would he want to move?), all Felipe has to do to stay with Ferrari is to be close to Alonso.

          But I want him to beat Alonso!

      2. I hope he will too, I honestly think people have exaggerated the gap in talent between Massa and Alonso, it would be nice to see Massa put Alonso in his place like he’s done in the past.

        1. like he’s done in the past.

          I’m struggling to think of many examples of that…

        2. You are kidding of course. Alonso is a double world champion who beat Michael twice on equal terms. Massa is a driver who can only drive in the dry, can **occasionally** win at certain tracks (Bahrain, Turkey), has not won anything ever and is horrible on the wet. And you say the gap between the two of them is overblown ?

          1. Massa hasn’t ever (until now) been up against Alonso on equal terms. The last time was really 07 but different car, different circumstances. Alonso has had the measure of him so far this year but things can change.

            I have to disagrre with F1Fan though who I think is being unduly harsh. Massa can drive in the wet; he led much of Nurburgring in 07, China 09 was a fine drive, Monaco 08 he made one error but set the flap and did pretty well, Japan 07 he recovered pretty well and one of his msot impressive drives was getting his Sauber to 4th in the damp Montreal track in 2005. Him not being able to drive in the wet is a myth, he isn’t the best but he isn’t as bad as it is often made out.

          2. 2005 was “equal terms”? Then by that definition 2003 and 2004 between Michael and Fernando were “equal terms”.

            Also, were you sleeping through 2008’s season finale? Are you basing your opinions of a driver **solely** on Silverstone 2008? By my reckoning, Massa and Alonso have actually won the same number of wet races.

        3. lol maybe the incident a couple years back, with the Spaniard and the Brazilian yelling and swearing at each other in Italian…not a clear “victor”, though, as I recall…

  11. I can only really see Hamilton challenging the Red Bulls, and much will depend on starting well and covering off their pit stops. If by some miracle he leads after Turn 1, he could have a chance at upsetting the predictions.

    I agree that this is a big test for Massa. He has to beat Alonso here, at one of his prime circuits.

  12. The chassis itself won’t make a difference.

    What will make a difference is his ability to get a good setup for his driving style and sorting out his head.

  13. “Who can stop a Red Bull rout in Istanbul? (Turkish Grand Prix preview)”

    2 words. Lewis. Hamilton.

    1. One Word. Nando!

    2. Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari.Imagine if Ross and Michael return to Ferrari?????????????????????????????????

      1. There is nothing much to imagine. We saw it from 1996-2004. 2000-2004 were pretty much the most boring years of F1, so i wouldnt really look forward to it.

        1. Well, “boring” is a sujective phrase, so it’s merely opinion. People can agree with you, but it’ll never be factually correct.

    3. one word- themselves…

    4. One word: Renault!

      Are we still blaming them this season?

  14. Lotus can beat them 1 day =D

  15. Do they change the the type supplier every year?

    1. No, Bridgestone has been in F1 since 1997 and was the sole supplier in 1999 and 2000, then again from 2007 onwards. It’s only since 2008 that there has been a rule mandating a single tyre supplier; before that it was just a case of however many manufacturers wanted to enter (in Bridgestone’s time it has been a maximum of two).

      Bridgestone are pulling out of the sport at the end of 2010 on cost grounds. Unfortunately as long as F1 sticks with this silly “single tyre supplier” rule we will be stuck with daft tyre regulations like the ones we have at present.

  16. Button claims McLaren have finally modified the car to suit his style—other than by adding 10 lbs of tungsten to Hamilton’s car. He’s only a hair off Hamilton in qualifying now so he may be a threat too. McLaren have been talking much trash about how the track will suit them. But they were talking big before Monaco too. So let’s see.

    Also, Lucious Liz pulled up lame in Monaco and has been put down. That may be the worst news for the field. RB with two proper cars may be even scarier than in the last two races.

  17. Jenson’s smooth driving style will help him through the sweeping turns as he adjusts his steering wheel little This will give him the pace he needs. Hamilton will just edge him i think though just because of his overall driving style. Jenson will preserve his tyres well me thinks.

  18. I think the key to the weekend is how fast the Red Bull’s are coming out of turn 8 compared to the rest of the field. If they have a tremendous advantage (6-10 KPH faster) then they will carry that advantage through the long straights for the back part of the track. If Ferrari, Mclaren are close in speed then it will be close. Seeing as how they will have a working functional F-duct and Red Bull’s still being untested.

    Also who will be able to close the gap to Red Bull in their low speed corners. With similar slow chicanes to that of Barcelona, the last couple of corners of Istanbul may hold the key to who can set the pace in S3.

  19. To answer your Question Keith, about anybody.
    Maccas and Ferraris because they could proove fast.
    Lotus, Virgin and HRT’s because they could collide while being overtaken.
    Others because they could bring Safety cars in and ruin 30 laps of full dominance and allow a top 8 driver agressiv restart.

    But if I should put my money on the car that will be in P1 comes the checkered flag: Red Bull, obviously.

  20. so, what do u think?
    who will win first practice? ;)

  21. Well, to be honest I hope Mclaren will lead the race especially Hamilton who hasn’t got what he deserves yet. But I believe Red Bull will still dominate the race as the other 6 races and their record of 6 consecutive pole positions! I want other top teams to have sth like a revival at Turkey, sth that makes races more interesting.

  22. I hope Alonso stops the Bulls , but what we have seen so far suggests a Redbull 1-2. Hopefully we can watch a fight for 3th btw Alonso and Hamilton…

    What if Redbulls take each other out at turn1 :))

    Also GP2 races may be fun to watch, there were lots of overtakings at turn 1,3 and at the back straight in previous years.

  23. Interesting article that has gone under the radar. Apparently McLaren offered Massa a job for 2010. Also, unfortunately for Felipe, he was supposed to extend his deal with Ferrari at the Hungarian GP weekend, but his crash happened first.


  24. question: are car set ups symmetrical? I can imagine that with a corner like the legendary 8, in which you can gain a lot, you might want a slightly asymmetrical set up.

    On the race, I think that it will be a red bull fest at the front again. Wondering if Vettels new girl performs ok

    1. I believe the setups are absolutely symmetrical. The teams have special “flat panels” and lasers to make sure the geometry of the suspension is completely symetrical.
      On an oval track in IndyCar things are different because the car only turns in one direction so you can make a compromise.
      In the 1960’s Lotus raced in the Indy 500 with a car that had the left wheels much closer to the car than the right hand wheels – a clear example of asymmetrical setup! Search “Lotus 38 Indy Wheels” on Google Images for a picture

    2. The MP4/25 is actually not symmetrical around the exhausts


  25. Perhaps this the GP where Mercedes finally comes out to play for real?

  26. I hope no tyre trouble for Hamilton especially after seeing what happened to him in Catalunya. He was super here in 2008 but because of forced 3 stopper strategy he finished behind Massa. He is the one to watch for me other than the obvious Red Bulls.

  27. Zarathustra
    27th May 2010, 1:14

    “The Force India was more of a match for the Renault at Catalunya”
    True, but Force India don’t have Kubica.

    Actually I think Lewis will shine this time.

  28. Who will stop the Red Bull stampede? NO-BOD-EEE.

    Another Red Bull 1-2, only question in play is which RB driver wins. My money is on Vettel

  29. Lewis will win this weekend

    1. And the sun will rise from the west this weekend.

      1. That sounds like a betting man to me.

  30. Any other year I’d say Flippy, but he really doesn’t seem to have regained his mojo. Whether that is Hungary related or Alonso related, I can’t say for sure. Prolly a bit of both. So I’d still put my money on one of the RBR’s, but which one? I’d say Webber is the most on form atm, but I am known to be the kiss of death when it comes to tipping, so I’ll say Vettel ;)

  31. Jonathan Legard just posted on Twitter that Red Bull are bringing a “very different looking” RB6 this weekend.

    1. When do you think you’ll be able to post the first pictures??

    2. That’s all we need now … an RBR with a **two**-second advantage.

  32. Maciek, This has been on http://www.blogf1.it/ since yesterday showing the changes to the diffuser. I am completely biased on this topic but I do want to see a Ferrari victory on Sunday as it’s the 800th GP for the team.

  33. brazilianboy808
    27th May 2010, 18:40

    my money is on the king of istanbul…
    massa all the way

    1. You will be disappointed.

      1. You ought to stop telling people what to think.

  34. Funnily enough, I reckon that Hamilton will win. Not sure, but just a feeling

    1. What’s the matter with you guys ? People are picking Massa and Lewis. Neither will happen.

      1. What’s the matter with you? How do you know Massa or Hamilton won’t win? Can’t people have any beliefs anymore?

  35. I think it will a Red Bull again until & unless they have any trouble, at the moment it seems like the Ferrari’s of Alonso can challenge them as well as Hamilton.

    Mercedes will be interesting to watch this race as they bring their long wheel base car here it will be interesting to see whether they are quick here.

  36. With the World Cup so close it might be time to start with the patriotic jibes to get everyone nicely wound up, right about now aye?

    So being that I have lived in Australia most of my life I lay claim to and shout “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi Oi” for Mark Webber and our Socceroos on one hand.

    On the other I say “Deutschland über alles” as that’s where I was born. Hence I wish all the best for Schumi, Nico, Seb Vet, Sutil, The Hulk, Glockenspiel and the all conquering “Mannschaft”.

    As for the Lebanese side Tony Kanaan is all I’ve got behind the wheel. And for the football the Lebanese seem to transform into either Brazilian, French or Italian?!?!?!?

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