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Posted on July 16, 2009
The state of play for Button, Webber and Vettel | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

On my way back from the airport on Sunday night my taxi driver was talking about Mosley this and Ecclestone that and I asked him if he was interested in other sports. He was. So then I asked him if he could name the regulatory and commercial bosses of any of those sports. He could not. These larger than life characters have actually taken over the limelight from the drivers this season, which is extraordinary but it looks like that is about to end and the focus for the final eight races will be on who is going to win the world championship.

There are four contenders, if you include Rubens Barrichello, but he seems to think that the Brawn team doesn’t want him to win the championship. In all probability, either Jenson Button, Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel will be world champion. Any of the them would make a great ambassador for the sport; they are all engaging, articulate positive people. Two of them are in the autumn of their careers (well maybe late Summer) and are finding success late on, like Nigel Mansell and Mika Hakkinen. The other is following in Lewis Hamilton’s footsteps and getting it done right from the start of his career.

Mark Webber’s win on Sunday was quite Mansell-esque. He was charging hard, particularly after the drive through penalty, which handed the initiative to Rubens Barrichello. I reviewed the live twitter feed I do during the race and there were several points when the pendulum swung Rubens’ way, like the start and  following the drive through, and then swung Mark’s way, like when Rubens was being held up by Massa in the second stint and when the fuel rig failed. It was a terrific race and despite appearances, it was not an easy win for Webber.

David Coulthard  in the Telegraph described it as the best dry weather performance of the season. It was in his Red Bull branded driver column, so a notch down from fully impartial, but nevertheless a valid observation.

Webber is on cloud nine now and I wonder whether he will get that kick of confidence from the win, as Mansell did in 1985 when he finally got the first win after seven years of trying.

“I’ve crossed the unchartered waters of pole position and victory, so that can only help, it can’t be a hindrance, ” said Webber. “To lead and not be the chaser was a first for me. I hope that the momentum can continue. Getting this win means that when it’s close the races might seem more straightforward for me.”

This last line I find very interesting. It’s like Webber feels he has unlocked some secret by crossing the line first on Sunday. The picture is clearer, it will make things mentally more straightforward for him in other situations, the clouds of doubt and uncertainty have cleared.

Button sounds worried and I’m slightly surprised to hear him say the things he was saying  after the race because they give too much away. Asked if he was worried he said,

“Wouldn’t you be? I’ve had a sixth and a fifth the last two races.  I expected more here but it was just the race didn’t go our way. I expected to be on the podium, I didn’t expect to beat the Red Bulls so yeah you have to worry, but I don’t think it’s ‘Oh sh*t we’re going to lose the championship’. It’s ‘Come on let’s make the difference’. We’ve got some new parts for Hungary and I’m looking forward to that. I think our car will be strong there. We don’t know how strong. We’ll have to wait and see.

“These are the two circuits that have been frustrating for us because of the temperatures. If we’re not quick on a hot track then we’ve got to really worry.”

You’ve got to admire his honesty, but Red Bull will sense weakness. Brawn has an upgrade due for Budapest and should go well there and in Valencia, but I see no reason why they should move ahead of Red Bull unless it is a massive upgrade, like the one Red Bull brought in Silverstone. Red Bull have a very aggressive development plan themselves. It will be a fight and it will be critical to get qualifying and the race right to come out in front.

Button has also had luck on his side so far, with no retirements. He will do well to keep that going to the end of the season. On the other side he does have a 21 point cushion.

Another complicating factor is the increase in performance of the Ferrari and McLaren. McLaren can qualify behind the Brawn and Red Bulls and then mess up their race by getting ahead at the start using KERS , while the Ferrari is a poor qualifying car but it can gain places with KERS, as Massa showed on Sunday. He cost Vettel any chance of a win. Button’s race was wrecked by falling behind Kovalainen in the opening stint.

Vettel has been quite quiet since Sunday. He made his usual thoughtful analysis after the race and admitted  that Webber had been ‘unbeatable’ all weekend. But it will have been quite a sobering afternoon for him. Vettel had the upper hand in that team earlier in the season, but now Webber has come back at him strongly.

The team is giving them both an equal chance, which some people have criticised. They feel that Vettel is the faster of the two and letting Webber win on Sunday will give him a surge of confidence which might knock Vettel back. But that is racing. Vettel has already shown he’s got a tough mentality and if he loses out to Webber now then he will only come back stronger next year. He has made three mistakes in races on days when Button won, he’s a young charger who’s right on the edge, so that’s why Red Bull have hedged their bets and continue to do so.

Button, Webber, Vettel – which one will it be?

The state of play for Button, Webber and Vettel
42 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: martin_tf
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 8:32 am 

    I think (perhaps hope) that when they get to warmer conditions again the Brawn will get some of its performance advantage back. I still reckon Button will wrap up the title with at least 1 race to spare.

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  2.   2. Posted By: Monktonnik
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 8:40 am 

    An interesting piece James. I think that Button has always tried to play down their success this year to a certain extent, and at times he has made some frank and honest statements that probably didn’t paint their chances in the best light; with Rubens’ “honesty” after the race, you have to wonder if this all needs to be addressed by the PR people.

    As far as Webber unlocking some kind of extra performance, I would be slightly dubious. What he has done is beaten his team mate, and that will have shaken Vettel’s confidence but I don’t think it will make him unbeatable.

    I feel (hope) that the Brawn will show some better performance with the right weather. Everyone said that Silverstone would favour the Red Bulls, and the colder weather did hurt the brawns. We have seen these issues before with how cars look after their tyres, and I think that it is unlikely that Brawn will be at a disadvantage for the rest of the season.

    What I do know is that Brawn ought to forget next year for the time being and plough their resources into this year. You never know when you will get another chance to win a championship. Just ask BMW.

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  3.   3. Posted By: Peter
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 8:53 am 

    My heart says Webber but my head says Button.

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  4.   4. Posted By: Anthony C
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 9:20 am 

    It will be interesting to see how Vettel copes psychologically given his challengers and their respective experience. As an Aussie, and a parochial one at that, I think a little playful sledging from across the garage may do his head in.

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  5.   5. Posted By: Just
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 9:23 am 

    Hi James,

    Interesting write-up, as always. I only wish I had discovered your site earlier in the season!

    Sorry to keep harping on the same point, but any idea what’s the deal with the ballast situation over at Red Bull? We know that at the beginning of the German Grand Prix, Vettel’s and Webber’s cars had identical weights of 661 kg. We also now know that Vettel was able to run 2 laps longer than Webber in the opening stint (Webber pitted on lap 20, Vettel on lap 22). This agrees with Horner’s comments after qualifying where he stated, “Sebastian is on a slightly heavier fuel load.”

    Vettel was in traffic for his first stint, so perhaps we was able to save some fuel relative to Webber. But given there was a full 2 laps difference, and given Horner’s comments, this doesn’t seem to explain the full story.

    So the only other explanation I know of is that Webber’s car is not able to meet the 605kg limit, without ballast. This strikes me as very unlikely – I thought non-KERS cars were very comfortably under the weight limit? (I had thought that F1 cars were generally under the limit by even 50kg or more, which explains the FIA plans a few years ago to drop the minimum weight to 550 kg for improved safety!)

    Perhaps another explanation is that Webber intentionally uses more ballast than is required, deliberately taking him marginally over the 605kg mark in order to better balance the car. But this again seems very unlikely – surely the penalty of carrying unnecessary weight could never make this worthwhile? Clearly I’m missing something.

    Or perhaps that titanium rod in Webber’s leg weighs a lot more than we think! ;)

    If you have any insight into this, I’d appreciate it. It’s been bugging me a lot more than it should! Regardless, we seem to be in for a very exciting conclusion to the season. Thanks again for your excellent site.

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  6.   6. Posted By: jude asante
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 9:27 am 

    Very good article again. I share yout thoughts completely. I also think you should factor in Alonso, he was very quick in Germany, so factor in the Ferraris, Mclarens, Alonso and the odd Glock or Rosberg and Button could be in some deep trouble. I also think Button has been lucky not only in having no DNFs but with the positions he has finished in the last two races. Any swing of luck and he could’ve finished one or two places further back.

    One last point, Barrichello is not very happy, bitter even. If he feels he is not going to be allowed to win, he would not be so keen on perfecting his set-up and then of course Button can’t copy.

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  7.   7. Posted By: PaulL
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 9:40 am 

    I’m an Australian and proud of Mark Webber, but I wonder still, can Webber beat Vettel when Vettel makes no mistakes or isn’t compromised on strategy?
    Eg – Vettel’s poorer Q3 lap last weekend left him stuck behind slower cars in the race, his first lap mistake at Turkey and the questionable 3-stop strategy, being disadvantaged on strategy in Spain after being stuck behind Massa.

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  8.   8. Posted By: Adrian
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 9:44 am 

    Hi James,

    Loving the new site since the old one was blocked by the web filters on my work PC and the new one isn’t!!

    I still think Button will just edge the championship, but I do think it could go right down to the wire with him needing a scrape a couple of points in the final race as was the case for Hamilton last year.

    As for the Red Bull Drivers, I was delighted to see Webber finally reach the top step of the podium and I really hope it marks the beginning of the next chapter in his career. I think RBR is spot on to let their 2 drivers race each other and treat them equally. I could see a situation fairly soon where Brawn will ask Rubens to support Jenson’s tital challenge and I fully expect that Rubens will do so, for all his outbursts he is still a team player and will realise that his WDC chances are now getting slim and I’m sure he would like to help the team fight for the WCC.

    So my prediction for the final WDC positions after Abu Dabi are JB, MW, SV with Button winning it by only a point or 2.

    So we’ll have another season finale where 3 drivers are in with a shot and the points-math gets nice and complicated (are we certain that Bernie doesn’t rig these things??).

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  9.   9. Posted By: artorwar
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 9:56 am 

    Really is a very interesting showdown. So much for F1 being a boring procession, we have had fireworks, drama, politics, the whole 9 yards this year. I honestly expect one of the Red Bulls to seize the title, and to be honest I really hope its Webber. The guy has worked like a trojan for such a long time now and he really is due some good luck for a change, you wouldn’t want to cross the road with him, lets put it that way (unless you were Johnny Herbert haha)
    I think Vettel has years to take the title and I have no doubt he will do so at least once. He’s a committed and mature young man with bags of skill and he will go far.
    That just leaves Button. His chin dips so easily, he seems to let the negative get to him and there really isn’t room for that. Having said that, he is in the pound seat and it’s his to win or lose at the moment. I love this sport!

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  10.   10. Posted By: Gavin Brown (RubberGoat)
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 9:57 am 

    Great post James!

    I am working on a blog post now that compares the two red Bull drivers and I must say, they come out mighty close to each other.

    I must admit I would prefer Webber to gain the upper hand – which says a lot for his character as I’m a Kiwi and we never support the Aussies!

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  11.   11. Posted By: Yo
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 9:58 am 

    Sorry to disagree, I am bit confused about why people believed Rubens could have won the race. Even after the start, Mark was keeping up with him (with a heavier load), and since Rubens was on a 3-stop strategy it seemed impossible he could win. Even after the penalty it looked easy for Mark. He would have won even if he had made a full pit stop instead of a drive through. He was more than a half a second faster per lap!

    Fortunately for me people were a bit confused during the race and I managed to win quite a big amount of money by betting on Webber 5/1 (during the race!). I love when there are different strategies, that’s when we can get the best out of betting!

    Thanks for your posts James!

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  12.   12. Posted By: Robert
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 10:24 am 

    I am going to be blindly patriotic and vote for Webber for champion. Bring on the next 8 races!

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  13.   13. Posted By: Baart
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 11:27 am 

    It`s simple – Button :)

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  14.   14. Posted By: Casino Square
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 11:49 am 

    Sebastian Vettel has been great this season, and yet he could have been even better. Remember those 8/6 points he could have scored in Australia… but he crashed. This incident probably cost him yet more points in Malaysia as his grid penalty compromised his race. He’s then dropped at least a couple of points in Monaco, Spain and Turkey. If he was older, and more consistent, he could be going into the final 8 races near enough to level on points. I’d love him to win the championship this year, even though he is German!

    ‘Mark Webber, potential World Champion’ seems far more credible now that he has finally won a race, but it will be interesting to see if he can outpace Sebastian Vettel consistently.

    I suppose, as a Brit, I ought to be supporting Jenson Button. But for me he’s been a victim of his own success, in that I got so bored of him winning every race earlier in the season that I started hoping he would lose, if only to make the title battle more interesting. Even now that the Brawn is no longer the class of the field, my allegiances are firmly with Red Bull and Vettel in particular. But the reality is I’d be happy to see any of them as champion.

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  15.   15. Posted By: Jon
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 12:17 pm 

    Good writeup James. I know you are a big Button fan, and it was very impartial and balanced.

    You would have to think Button is still in the box seat, but what is great is that we actually have a fight to talk about and that there is some doubt and excitement into the future races. Even if Vettel or Webber had a DNF, the other would still be in the running. Being a RBR supporter, having a close fight into the last 2 races would be a dream come true for me, win or lose.

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  16.   16. Posted By: Oliver Drew
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 12:19 pm 

    Which one will it be – Button for me. I think that the gap between Brawn and Red Bull has been exaggerated by cooler temperatures over the last couple of races, and whilst Red Bull are ahead, it is not by 4 tenths per lap (as it was in Silverstone and at the Nurburgring).

    I think that, like the McLaren and Ferrari battles of the last 2 years, certain tracks will suit the Brawn and some the Red Bull. I think whilst the gap at the end of the season will be less than 21 points, Button will still win 2 or 3 more races – I think he’ll win in Hungary and Valencia, then perhaps Abu Dhabi where it will be scorching I would’ve thought.

    Will it be a 3-way fight – yes, I think Rubens has alienated himself somewhat now and has shown his frustrations and let them get to him. Having said that, if he wins the next 2 races he’s right back in it.

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  17.   17. Posted By: niceguyrichy
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 12:21 pm 

    “which one will it be?”

    well I’m still confident Button can take it.
    Brawn is far too canny to not have a decent upgrade ready for the car at this point in the season, I can see the Brawngp cars coming back at red bull the next couple races.
    having said that, the point you made about the Ferrari and Maclaren is very valid, they can totally screw a race for any of the ‘proper’ front runners atm..

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  18.   18. Posted By: jose
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 12:32 pm 

    It should be button. With the nice cushion, and the godd reliability, it is very hard to to lose the championship. It is also helping in the driver’s title, that brown has a n-1 driver, and at red bull are taking points away from each other. The constructors championship should go to red bull, who should have taken both titles, if the regulation would have been made more clear.

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  19.   19. Posted By: George
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 1:12 pm 

    I dont think Red Bull really gain anything from Jenson’s comments, everything he said can be learned from data or just from watching the guys in the pits. In any case it’s better than a script we would have gotten from McLaren.

    You have to say Red Bull are looking good for the constructors right now, I think the driver’s is too close to call but I would like to see Jenson win, simply because I feel that this might be Brawn’s only chance for a championship, unlike Red Bull.

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  20.   20. Posted By: TinyJim
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 1:38 pm 

    hehe Webber unlocked a secret? It’s rather quite simple – If you have the best car on the grid on a given day, and your team mate has a bad race you might just win. It isn’t rocket science :)

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  21.   21. Posted By: Simon of Melbourne
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 2:31 pm 

    I am honestly chuffed that Webber is in the midst of title discussions, and I truly believe we are about to witness something special towards the back end of the season. Come on Aussie!!!

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  22.   22. Posted By: Dave Walker
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 3:07 pm 

    The season has just taken a new twist in my opinion.

    Just as you say James, McLaren and Ferrari have the oppurtunity to scupper plans for Brawn and Red Bull with their recent updates and KERS power. Plus, Rosberg feels Williams can get a podium or 2 very soon.

    I still think overall that Button’s consistency and earlier wins stand him in good stead for the championship.

    I think Webber will carry his momentum into Hungaroring but we’ll have to see if RBR can maintain their advantage over Brawn.

    It will be interesting to see if Brawn’s problems aren’t just track/temperature related and that Red Bull truly have overtaken them in the development arm’s race.

    By the way, how the hell did Kubica manage to come close to winning the opening race, and since then the BMWs have been poor in qualifying and the race. Kubica qualified in 5th without KERS and powered up to 3rd before his squabble with Vettel. Was that drive purely because of the tyres he had on his BMW?

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  23.   23. Posted By: Tom
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 3:09 pm 

    James:
    I think the big advantage for Button is that he has established himself as the number 1 within Brawn. Whether Rubens likes it or not Button is getting more out of the car, is making fewer mistakes and has the points in the bank. Michael Schumacher showed the way to win a championship is to back one driver and Ross Brawn was obviously a big part of the thinking in that strategy.

    He’s also still got a big points lead, which without one or two retirements is going to be very hard for the Red Bulls to overhaul. I think for these 2 reasons he is my tip for the WDC.

    That said Red Bull do seem to have the best car on the grid at the moment. I really do think Webber will come out on top of Vettel through the second half of the season. The confidence, and release of pressure he will have got from that breakthrough win cannot be overstated. That coupled with his body healing bodes extremely well. The other thing not in question is that he is ferociously hungry for success.

    It will be interesting to see how Vettel responds to his teammate’s fightback. We thought Webber had the ascendancy prior to Silverstone, then Webber had to win to save his season in Germany. He’s done that, and now the pressure is back on Vettel. He most certainly has the pace, but whether he can keep it all together to maintain that championship challenge remains to be seen.

    I agree that any of the 3 would make a great ambassador for the sport, and we could really do with that now. I just hope that a dodgy stewards decision or something like that doesn’t settle it. Let’s all hope for hard, fair, and close racing.

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  24.   24. Posted By: Rick J
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 3:31 pm 

    My money is on Jenson. I think he always interviews with openness and candour, I do not see it as a sign of weakness. It is amazing how quickly the media push the pendulum back in the opposite direction as soon as a driver or team experience a momentary hiccup. Jenson’s driving extremely well and the onboard footage of his start showed the skill with which he handled the opening laps. His early pass on Massa showed both great skill and measured aggression. He will be a very worthy champion I believe. Having said that I have become a much bigger Webber supporter this season and would be delighted to see him take the initiative away from Vettel who as you indicate has lots of time. Mark was very lucky at the start escaping from two incidents with no significant damage. It was too bad for Lewis Hamilton that Mark hit him because from Lewis’ onboard camera, it was pretty clear that without the tap from Webber he was in a position to get the car stopped and negotiate the first corner quite possibly in the lead. That would really have made for a great race and I hope he has a chance to shine in Hungary.

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  25.   25. Posted By: Mark
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 3:57 pm 

    I don’t think Webber’s drive was the best of the season considering he got a well deserved drive through and then only managed to win because Rubens had problems.

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  26.   26. Posted By: Nic Maennling
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 5:16 pm 

    Webber’s win was marvellous but let’s not compare him to Mansell – he’s no whiner and I can’t see him switching the engine off yards from the chequered flag. While we’re at it could we please drop the …esque-ing every driver. They are not like each other. One more “esque” out of Jake Humphrey and I’ll throw up.

    Cheers,
    Nic

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  27.   27. Posted By: Racing Not Politics
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 5:24 pm 

    As a neutral (McLaren fan) I hope the next few races don’t go Jenson’s way so that we have a terrific end of season…
    As a Brit, I’d like to see Jenson win it by half a point from Weber.

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  28.   28. Posted By: Armando R
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 5:37 pm 

    In a slightly tangential comment, I am wondering about the current state of play of Brawn’s sponsorship arrangements. Earlier in the season, when their dominance was almost total, sponsors seemed to be lining up. Since then, notwithstanding the Branson/Virgin chirping, there has been almost total silence. Are you hearing anything James?

    Brawn must be stretched in terms of splitting resources between upgrades for this year’s car and developing next year’s car. It seems to me that, given their situation, Brawn really ought to focus on this year, on the assumption (perhaps naive) that a reigning world champion would attract funding. Red Bull, on the other hand, seems to have ample resources to do both.

    Over the last ten years, it seems that given the technical leaps one dominant team can make over the others, drivers have been less able to influence the outcome of qualifying and, ergo, races. However, it seems that today Brawn and Red Bull are roughtly at parity. Which brings us to Button and Webber – when was the last time that both leading contenders for the WC were “good guys”? (My omission of Vettel & Rubens was a conscious one; they’re OK, but I don’t think either of them is in with a chance.) Quite different from the Massa v. Hamilton scraps of last year.

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  29.   29. Posted By: Paige
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 8:06 pm 

    Red Bull’s upgrade at Silverstone seems to have put the car on top in terms of speed, but it is WAY too early to start anointing them as posing an imminent threat to Button. For one, Button still has a very sizable lead, and that’s going to be hard to overcome no matter how good the Red Bull is.

    But secondly, we still haven’t seen how the Red Bull will perform in hot races relative to the Brawn. Silverstone and Nurburgring were both very cool races by the standard of the races in Southern Europe and South Asia from earlier this season, and it’s well known now how much the Brawn struggles to put heat into the tires in cool conditions (Whereas the Red Bull does a nasty job of overcooking the tires in hot conditions). Assuming it doesn’t rain in Budapest or Valencia, we could see very different races unfold there with the Brawn once again having the advantage in hot conditions. Not only this, but the hot weather may end up testing the reliability of the Red Bull, which is a very aggressively designed car to be sure.

    Furthermore, the emergence of McLaren and Renault will also complicate matters. McLaren and Renault both seem to have made big steps in the pace of their cars, and it looks like Hamilton and Alonso will now both be qualifying at least in the bottom half of Q3 (if not higher). Both drivers are extremely good on starts (with Hamilton being boosted by KERS, which he really seems to have mastered, and Alonso having it sometimes) and could foul up races for whoever qualifies on the 2nd row out of Button, Vettel, and Webber. Both drivers have said they expect to start challenging for podiums and even victories soon, and this will take points off of the top-3 drivers.

    All in all, this season reminds me of 2005. Renault and Alonso came blazing out of the gate, with the Spaniard taking 3 of the first 4 Grands Prix and the team taking all of them. McLaren then upgraded the car after the first few races, and Raikkonen was unbeatable in pace for the rest of the season, but by that point Alonso was already up 29 points on him. Raikkonen had a bevy of reliability problems that held him back, while Alonso remained consistent and struck when Iceman faltered, resulting in a championship. Button may be behind in pace right now, but I’m thinking his consistency throughout the year will see him through.

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  30.   30. Posted By: David Hodge
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 8:30 pm 

    I think it will be Button in the end but I am glad to see him being pushed by the Red Bulls. I hope Rubens can lift his chin up a bit and take the fight to Jenson also – Rubens is still bloody quick and should be a good wing man. Full Marks (sorry about the pun) to Mr. Webber – he had a fine race and no doubt will have some more. Young Seb will be WDC one day – he has time on his side.

    So a great second half of the season now and hopefully, hopefully, hopefully… the FIA will shut up and we will hear nothing until the Ari vs Jean vote in October. Let’s hope the stewards behave – there was a bit of a wobble Sunday when they took their time investigating MW.

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  31.   31. Posted By: onyx
        Date: July 16th, 2009 @ 10:38 pm 

    Webber’s still a journeyman in my book…..

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  32.   32. Posted By: Thyraeus
        Date: July 17th, 2009 @ 4:13 am 

    In Reply to ‘Just’ July 16th, 2009 @ 9:23 am

    605kg is the minimum weight for all cars including driver and KERS (if installed) excluding fuel – It is too easy for cars to be under that weight – so they add ballast to bring it up – No team would ever be in the situation where they were over the minimum weight – the speed penalty per kg is too great.

    KERS cars loose some ballast to the KERS unit. Heavy Drivers (Webber) loose some ballast to their bodyweight.

    The lighter the driver and Car (i.e. without KERS the Ballast can be weighted ‘up front’ where it counts) the better (more flexibility with placement) – it is likely that Seb V’s car is better ballanced than Mark’s because he can move 15kg of ballast to the nose (whereas Webber keeps it on his Bum!).

    Lets imagine that the RB5 actually weights 500kg without driver or fuel
    #14
    RB5 – 500kg
    Webber 70kg
    Ballast 35kg
    Total 605kg

    #15
    RB5 – 500kg
    Seb V 55kg
    Ballast 50kg
    Total 605kg

    Seb likely did have more fuel than Webber for Q3 because he had planned to do 2 final runs…but missed out. So Christian KNEW that at the start of Q3 Seb had more fuel (1 lap?).

    What we don’t know is how much fuel Seb saved vs Mark on the in-lap after Q3…it would seem that Mark saved more because after Q3 they both had the same amount of fuel – 56kg.

    We don’t know that Seb actually had 2 more laps ‘in the tank’ than Mark in the race – because both drivers spent time behind slower cars ‘saving gas’ + Mark’s drive-through would have altered his fuel consumption.

    Mark sitting for 20-odd laps behind RB would definitely have saved more than Seb V who was actually defending in the early stages.

    Cars don’t always pit based only on fuel – Strategy drives the Pit Stops – Perhaps the computer told RBR that Mark should pit on lap 20 because it would be advantageous (not stuck too close to Nico or Kubica for example) and he actually could have driven to lap 22 like Seb with 56kg of fuel – Maybe his ultra fast (quali-like) laps after the drive-through used more fuel so he had to pit before Seb…..lots of possibilities we will never really know….

    The only certainty is no serious F1 car would turn up weighing more than minimum weight + fuel …which is why they all pick up marbles on the slow-down lap after the rece…Every gram counts!

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Thanks for that. There is another 5kg or so of fluids, water, oil etc to account for, so 610kg is a more accurate figure before you put any fuel in the car.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Kieran Vella
        Date: July 17th, 2009 @ 5:53 am 

    I have to say that although the media coverage of F1 politics has been crazy huge, I was surprised that there was nary a mention of it in the BBC broadcast. Top marks to them for keeping the coverage focused where it should be!

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: Just
        Date: July 17th, 2009 @ 10:18 am 

    Thyraeus:

    Thanks for your post. I had considered that strategy (eg traffic) would have affected when the Red Bull drivers pitted, as well as being able to save fuel while in traffic, but that doesn’t explain Horner’s comments. It seems like the only explanation is that Horner was just plain wrong. Strikes me as a pretty unsatisfying explanation, but I guess it’ll have to do.

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: Steven
        Date: July 17th, 2009 @ 11:48 am 

    My heart says Jenson but I fear it will be Vettel. Lewis currently has the record for youngest champion. Vettel would break that record if he won it this year but if he wins it next year would he break that record? I hope not. I want Vettel to be a future champion as I really like …. just not yet!
    Jenson for champion next year and Lewis next year!

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Henri
        Date: July 17th, 2009 @ 1:08 pm 

    Hi James,

    What is the current engine situation of both RBR and Brawn. If I remember correctly, I think RBR have used more Renault engines that Brawn has used Merc engines.

    Isn’t there a chance that RBR might run out of new engines sooner than Brawn??

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: KB
        Date: July 17th, 2009 @ 9:50 pm 

    This season reminds me a lot of 2006, Alonso was dominating the first half of the season and it looked like he could even beat the most points in a season record. Schumacher had a slow start to the season with a few mistakes, but came back from around 25 points down at the half way point yet managed to get dead even with a couple of races to go, due to Renault being less competetive, team errors, reliability etc.
    I think we will see a repeat of that this season.. hopefully.. The only differnece is that Webber and Vettel will be taking points off each other, but if Button gets atleast one DNF or continues his current form then both Red Bull drivers could catch up. After Turkey I was sure that this championship was over, but Red Bull has amazed me.

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: Guy
        Date: July 18th, 2009 @ 7:45 am 

    Just:

    I too have seen internet conjecture with people suggesting that Webber’s car has a ‘dry’ weight in excess of 605kg. Personally I agree strongly with Thyraeus comment: “The only certainty is no serious F1 car would turn up weighing more than minimum weight + fuel”.

    One simple piece of ‘evidence’ I can give you to support this is to look at how competitive Webber has been in the first 2 sessions of qualifying Q1 and Q2. With all the cars running as close to their dry weight in these two sessions as possible, you would expect Webber to be at a definite disadvantage if he was running a higher dry weight than his competitors. Though the fact is these two sessions have been Mark’s most competitive relative to his rivals (notably Vettel), more so than Q3, where the penalty of running a heavier dry weight would be less of a disadvantage.

    With regard to Webber pitting before Vettel last round, I believe Webber’s pits stop was a lap early than he was fueled for. The reason RBR appear to have made this call was that Webber had significant rear tyre degradation (check the footage of his car whilst he served his drive through), and RBR decided to stop him early in order to ensure he maintained track position over Button after his pit stop, who was actually lapping quite fast at that stage. In support of this conjecture, note that although Webber stopped two laps before Vettel at the first stops and had a slighter shorter fill time, Webber ran a second stint that was a lap longer than Vettel’s, ie. Webber still had fuel in this car at the first stop.

    One final point that demonstrates that Webber doesn’t run a dry weight over 605kg is the Silverstone first stint, where Vettel had a car that weighed 666.5 kg, weighing 7kg more than Webber’s car with 659.5kg, yet Vettel only ran one lap longer. This means that if Webber was running his car over the dry weight even by as little as 5kg, he would’ve had to magically saved 4 laps worth over fuel over a 19 lap stint to achieve this result, obviously impossible.

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: Thyraeus
        Date: July 20th, 2009 @ 2:32 am 

    Your argument supports my point …. I don’t see a point of difference. 605 is the weight of both cars dry…

    Have I missed something?

    We seem to be agreeing.

    [Reply]

    Guy Reply:

    Yes, we are agreeing. Obviously my convoluted grasp of the English language has again failed me.

    [Reply]


  40.   40. Posted By: Peanut
        Date: July 23rd, 2009 @ 6:38 pm 

    Interesting that people say Vettel would be right up there if he didn’t make so many mistakes but apart from Kubica turning in on him it really is part and parcel of driving .. not binning it that is (the decision to try and stop Kubica from passing was his Vettel’smistake however).

    Webber on the other hand, was absolutely shafted by a brain EXPLOSION from Sutil in Bahrain, Kovalainen forgeting where to brake in Melbourne and the half points in Malaysia. I am not even including Kimi’s brain fart in qualy at Silverstone as I am not sure that cost Webber points.

    Even with just ‘solid’ finishes in melbourne, Bahrain and Malaysia and Mark is pretty much equal on points with Button.

    Food for thought.

    [Reply]

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