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Red Bull in a class of their own in Hungary GP practice
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Red Bull in a class of their own in Hungary GP practice
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jul 2010   |  6:37 pm GMT  |  55 comments

Today’s practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix was a real wake up call for Red Bull’s main rivals Ferrari and McLaren.

Sebastian Vettel topped the times in both sessions, with a 1m 20.0 lap in the afternoon, but it was the margin of his fastest time over the next car which caught the attention. Fernando Alonso was half a second slower than Vettel in the afternoon, with Felipe Massa another three tenths behind.

Photo: Mark Thompson, Getty


Red Bull were going for it from the outset with both Vettel and Webber pumping in fast times, but the underlying trend of pace is there for all to see in the long runs, with Red Bull able to lap in the 1m24s range, while Ferrari is in the low 1m 25s and McLaren in the high 1m 25s.

Alonso said that he is suffering from understeer and is hopeful that if he can dial it out he can compete with the Red Bulls, but it’s quite a mountain to climb. Alonso has always been very strong on the Hungaroring and he will need to dig deep to make the difference in qualifying and the race.

Renault looked the third fastest car today, ahead of the McLaren, both in headline lap times and in long run times. Vitaly Petrov was fifth fastest and able to lap steadily in the mid 1m 25s showing strong race pace and when he is up there it means that the car must be quick, as Kubica sometimes outperforms the car to gain high positions, for example in Monaco this year.

McLaren were 0.6s behind in Germany in both qualifying and the race, but this weekend it looks more like a second at the moment. The team is still working to optimise its exhaust blown diffuser, in which it is a month behind Ferrari and over six months behind Red Bull, both of whom are producing a lot of downforce and balancing it front and rear successfully.

The sheer brilliance of the work Red Bull and Ferrari have done is shown by a comment from Lewis Hamilton after practice,

“The car is the best I’ve ever had it around this track, and that’s still not good enough,” Hamilton said. “It feels great around the corners, and then you start to push more to try and close the gap to these guys, and then the car starts to be really on the ragged edge. But I think it’s just downforce.”

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, Free Practice 2
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:20.087 33
2. Alonso Ferrari 1:20.584 + 0.497 34
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:20.597 + 0.510 36
4. Massa Ferrari 1:20.986 + 0.899 33
5. Petrov Renault 1:21.195 + 1.108 33
6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.308 + 1.221 30
7. Kubica Renault 1:21.375 + 1.288 37
8. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:21.623 + 1.536 41
9. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.730 + 1.643 33
10. Schumacher Mercedes 1:21.773 + 1.686 31
11. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:21.809 + 1.722 38
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:21.844 + 1.757 36
13. Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.039 + 1.952 28
14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.212 + 2.125 37
15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.469 + 2.382 43
16. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:22.507 + 2.420 22
17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.602 + 2.515 38
18. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:23.138 + 3.051 36
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:24.553 + 4.466 37
20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.376 + 5.289 35
21. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.669 + 5.582 32
22. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:26.745 + 6.658 33
23. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:26.798 + 6.711 32
24. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:27.705 + 7.618 5

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55 Comments
  1. Ricardo Perez Pandelo says:

    Hi, James and fans, clearly aero isthe advantage..remember P. Dupasquier, formerly Michelin man, once quote:”aerodynamycs and not tyres makes cars goess fast”..but up to what point is aero more important than a compound grip..I know..aero produce the force to obtain grip..but we need car balance too..so lets waite till Lewis, Jenson,Fernando, Felipe etc get into their balance..this weekend..Alonso will be the man.

    1. JohnBt says:

      It’s nice to know Alonso don’t receive as much trouncing in James’s site. Majority of the comments posted here I find are from matured F1 fans.

      In fact I’ve learnt so much from this site.

      Many thanks to James for this website.

      1. James Allen says:

        Thanks for that

      2. Galapago555 says:

        Maybe a few of us followers EVEN support Nano!!!

      3. panya says:

        I do and have been since 2004. I think he is one of the greatest on and off the track.

  2. Spenny says:

    Just spotted something else on the Red Bull. Take a look at the still on the footage at the bottom of the BBC page here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8872830.stm

    The rear floor in front of the rear wheels is also very near the ground, and it looks to me like RB have used flexibility there to re-introduce ground effect.

    1. John Pugh says:

      I see what you mean Spenny. Looking at the front of the Red Bull, though, the endplates are much closer to the ground on one side than the other.

      The BBC footage from the Williams on board camera (I wish Red Bull had one there!) showed much more suspension travel that I expected in an F1 car – which may just be due to the nature of the Hungaroring.

      Could what you have seen of the rear floor just be extreme (in F1 terms) body roll due to soft Hungaroring suspension settings?

      1. Spenny says:

        Yes, there are some funny effects on that picture with the background light and I haven’t seen any other pictures that look like that, so I think you are right. That really would be pushing the boundaries for a part of the car that is supposed to be rigid.

  3. Galapago555 says:

    James, do you know if there is any difference between Mark and Seb’s cars? I think that .5 sec is a huge gap… Regarding the McLarens, they have not made any update to the cars since Silverstone, have they?

    1. dufus101 says:

      A big difference, actually.

      Seb’s fastest time set on the softer compound, Mark’s on the harder.

      When both were running on soft compound and high(er) fuel at the end of P2 they were consistently within 0.1sec of each other.

    2. six speed says:

      I think mark is in Lucious Liz isn’t he? this is the chasis that Seb handed back due to a problem in Monaco i think it was. Funny that when Seb had this chasis he was slower and now mark has it and he is slower. I bet mark can’t wait until his other chasis is repaired.

    3. Scott says:

      Webber didn’t do a short run on the soft tyres, only a race sim. He was generally a couple of tenths up on Vettel in the first sector but it was pretty even over the rest of the lap.

    4. Nadeem Zreikat says:

      I believe Webber was doing more long runs. Him and Seb were on the same pace until I think Seb did some quali runs, I don’t think Webber did any of these he was working on the soft tyre for the race. This is what I heard James say during the iphone app commentary

    5. David Turnedge says:

      It’s practice… and besides, I think it’s unlikely the cars are identical. But more’s to do with setup rather than anything else.

    6. gallino says:

      RB, in all fairness, gave 2005 Trulli’s car to Mark Webber.
      In that way they will not need team orders.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        It is very suspicious that, all of a sudden. Seb has started to outqualify his mate in the last races… just after the crash in Turkey… and no team orders have been given, of course!!

  4. rfs says:

    The MP4-25 is looking pretty slow, but we have the best driver pairing on the grid so I think we can still get some decent points this weekend. And if it rains then maybe we can even pilfer a podium.

    I really hope this slump is only temporary and ends after this weekend though, otherwise we won’t win either championship.

  5. Steven says:

    Could it be that Hami and Button still have to get used to the new bits, the extra downforce? I hope thats what it is, if not, things dont look good for the WDC and WCC leaders.

    Go McLaren!!

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      No, they’re just sandbagging and will unleash their hidden speed in Q3…

  6. Flintster says:

    I dont think Ferrari have anymore in reserve either yet you get the impression Vettel and Red Bull can still step up another gear if needed.

    Still we can hope Vettel’s wing falls off during the race eh!

    1. gallino says:

      Or, that he has another one of his great starts.

  7. JR says:

    Is any of the talk on-line and in the press about the RB wing deflection going to influence the FIA to reconsider the rule and/or the deflection test, James?

    I suggest that the wording in rule 3.15 (Aerodynamic Influence)that says, “Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the
    ground is prohibited under all circumstances”, is enough to make the amount of deflection of the RB wing illegal especially considering that in practice it could be clearly seen rubbing on the road surface on high speed corners.

    Also, given that this year’s rules were designed to reduce down force, it certainly seems to break the spirit of the rules.

    1. Stephen Williams says:

      Unless the wing is actually touching the ground then it has not bridged the gap, as such that part of 3.15 is irrelevant. That part of the rule is there to stop anything other than the wheels being in contact with the ground.

      The part you need to be reading is “any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.” where the sprung part of the car is essentially the chasis. It’s very clear from the onboard shots of the RB that the front wing is flexing downwards as the car accelerates down the straights relative to the rest of the chasis. Clearly it is _not_ remaining immobile.

      Quite simply the wing does not comply with 3.15. I will find it very strange if RB are allowed to use this wing again after the summer break.

      1. JR says:

        That’s my point — it is trying to bridge the gap and it is succeeding at certain times; like in high speed corners when the extra down force is very useful. The proof of the pudding would be very easy to check out: I’ll bet there are signs of rubbing on the undersides of the wing tips.

    2. A.K. says:

      Yeah just like the f-duct.

  8. Malcom says:

    James, what do you say to this :http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8872761.stm

    “Whitmarsh said McLaren believed the wings contravened a rule that says the front wing has to stay 85mm above the lowest part of the body of the car, the underbody ‘plank’.”

    1. Nando says:

      Is this another rule just based on a scrutineering measurement? Couldn’t find the relevant regulation after a quick check.

  9. Luke A says:

    James, seriously. The McLaren blown diffuser has taken them backwards, you only have to look at everyone’s comparative performance at Hockenheim to see that McLaren had actually gone backwards and I believe they would have been closer to the front at Hockenheim with their old floor. I also think they would be a little closer here. The car now, just doesn’t look right and the drivers try to say it feels right, but you can tell that they don’t mean it.

    My biggest concern for McLaren is that they used to always make a big jump from qualifying – race, not just against Red Bull, but against everyone and at Hockenheim that was not there. For the first time in the season, in the race they looked no different really to their performance in qualifying. The practice long run lap times in Hungary also suggest something similar.

    I cannot believe that McLaren have not even tried to test old and new floors back to back, with and without the blown diffuser, just to see this magic performance it is supposedly giving, that no one else can see!!!

    1. Stephen Williams says:

      Your relative comparisons are based on the assumption that the rest of the field stood still performance-wise between Silverstone and Hockenheim.

      I think McLaren did make a step forward but they have yet to optimise the potential of the new concepts, the problem is that most of their competitors also took a large step forward.

    2. Liam says:

      I think you’re underestimating the other teams – McLaren know from their data that the blown diffuser is adding performance, it’s just that the other teams have jumped ahead.

    3. rfs says:

      “I cannot believe that McLaren have not even tried to test old and new floors back to back, with and without the blown diffuser, just to see this magic performance it is supposedly giving, that no one else can see!!!”

      Didn’t McLaren spend an entire night removing the floor at Silverstone when they found that it wasn’t worth running? I don’t think you can take off and stick back on the diffusers (and exhausts) willy-nilly like that.

      Also I don’t think they’ve gone backwards (literally anyway). Rather they’ve stagnated a bit and Ferrari and Red Bull have gone forwards.

      1. monktonnik says:

        I agree. Ferrari actually stood still for a few races and then came back strong. The same is true of Red Bull maybe, except that they are so fast anyway that it really doesn’t seem like it has happened!

        I am sure Mclaren will get it back into shape and then we will be in for a titanic battle at the end of the season.

  10. smellyden says:

    Its amazing how many steps Ferrari have made in their development. Considering they have developed the F Duct, blown diffiuser & flexi front wing, this seems quite a achievement!

    1. Heffalump says:

      You mean they copied everything the others had developed before them? Oh yes, that seems quite an achievement.

      1. Smellyden says:

        But everyone copies everyone in F1, thats not new is it?

      2. panya says:

        i so agree with your comments – i think we have a new spectator here !!

      3. Galapago555 says:

        Not like other teams… I’m thinking of MacLaren in 2007, when they were caught spying Ferrari, or was this invented by the Italian media???

    2. Ted the Mechanic says:

      So it’s not all bad news about Ferrari then? I agree, the engineers are developing nicely.

    3. Nesto says:

      Its funny how they had a regular plane jane front wing for the longest time while Renault was pumping out all kinds of iterations. Looks like they’ve been developing it for awhile and its really paid off. After developing the f-duct sapped their resources, they’ve really made a resurgence!

    4. Damian Johnson says:

      Not forgetting that Ferrari have poached some high quality engineers from other teams such as Pat Fry from McLaren which is “purchasing” the technical secrets of other teams.

  11. Steve W says:

    Development pace this year is amazing,and yet teams which appeared to have an edge are wringing the neck from their cars,we mostly thought the title race was between Red Bull and McLaren, when suddenly Ferrari are showing some true colours and who would have thought that a few races back? Written off,can,t develop,yet they have made the EBD work along with the blown rear wing,they are playing catch up but you cannot deny this team are on a mission to show how good they are,of course it remains to be seen if and when they can challenge McLaren for the championship title for points,i have a feeling it will happen sooner rather than later.

  12. Harvey Yates says:

    The timings are remarkable. 1:221 off the pace! What is going on? What odds on a McLaren not being on the podium? And for the second race in succession.

    I know it is only FP but still. For a McLaren fan this is really worrying.

    I know you can’t put too much faith in it but the forcast for Budapest on Sunday is for heavy rain showers. And showers for tomorrow as well. How will that affect the race?

    So who keeps most temperature in their tyres? We’ll soon find out. Mind you, the answer for the first corner on the first lap will be no one so that might be the race decider.

    So will it be a case of the great leveller? (Leveller jokes against Ferrari come to mind: Civil War and no Agreement Amongst the People. Not funny I suppose.)

    Kubica has impressed me this season. But if Petrov can get fifth, does that mean it is more the car? This is an odd year.

    1. Nando says:

      Wonder how the front wing will operate in standing water, bit like a rain scoop? Maybe it won’t drop so low because they’ll be less downforce in the wet?

  13. Anil says:

    Massa again is 3 tenths behind alonso.

    Seriously, I’ve always been a big massa fan but why is he always that much slower on the harder tyres? Obv we don’t know fuel loads but still…

    I guess us as viewers can never appreciate how difficult it is getting the most out of the tyres.

    1. Luca says:

      Or could it be he is just a No 2?

      1. panya says:

        I think it all boils down to his own performance – have u been watching since the first race this season?

    2. tharris19 says:

      Simple, the car is developed around Alonso and Felipe has to make adjustments. He has never been that far behind a teammate including the likes of Kimi and MS.

  14. Lalit says:

    James,

    I have been thinking back to howw much development has taken place in just half a season without any testing.

    now with all the budget restrictions, I am really curious to understand how certain teams are still able to be at the top of the development race, when everyone was supposed to be equally bogged down because of restricted budgets.

    Is the budget cap not fully enforced? Or is someone like Mercedes simply concentrating on next year’s car as compared to say Ferrari (the most impressively developed car so far – they got it all – flexi wings, blwon diffuser, F-duct)

    Maybe a thoughts from your side on how some of the teams have made this development possible would really be enlightening.

  15. PaulL says:

    I wonder if the blown diffuser is costing mclaren resources like the f-duct stifled ferrari’s development programme for a while.

    Not getting it right immediately appears to be costing them at the moment.

  16. D. says:

    I disagree w/ the assessment that RBR are in a different class here. James said the same last weekend after Friday practice (“I think this may be a Vettel weekend”), and we all saw who the fastest car-driver combination was (Alonso, by quite a bit).

    Vettel is surely faster than Webber, generally, but not by 6 tenths. It is clear to me that RBR had their drivers on different programs today. Webber was carrying more fuel (perhaps similar to Alonso’s car) and Vettel was lighter. And that’s what Alonso suggested post-practice, hinting that the real performance gap to the RBR is smaller than today’s times show.

    Vettel may still get pole, but I think it will be another sub-one-tenth thriller in Q. And I think Ferrari will again be very strong in race trim. And, Alonso is almost guaranteed to make up at least one position at the start, given RBR’s terrible starts lately.

  17. Bert says:

    There is a front wing thing they are doing (a few teams) however the main thing a comparison shot showed on Friday was that the Redbull was rolling alot more. The whole body, not just the front wing. The suspension. It was rolling fowards alot more visibly over the bumps, which was exaggerated the look of the front wing flexxing. It has the same net effect, but it’s not specifically the front wing so much, something that doesn’t come across in still images.

    It was visibly lower on the Redbull then any other car for this reason.

    It also seems to do it at the end of straights. Also I could only notice this properly from onboards which makes it hard because only a part of the front wing is visible.

    Finely tuned machine.

    I got a laugh out of using the word “ruse” in a previous article. “Ingenious innovation” for McLaren, “ruse” for Redbull. Haha. :P

    Another laugh is that the list of “illegal” parts that RB6 has had this year is growing into quite a shopping list. Alot of finger pointing going on, from both teams and journalists.

    Active ride height (up until China), suspension (Turkey), diffusers (Spain/Monaco/Canada? can’t remember). Special engine modes (Valencia) and now front wings (last 2 races).

  18. Tex says:

    James, could you explain us more about how Kubica is overperforming the car? Is it right to emphasize his skills over Renault’s decent-born and highly developed R30?

  19. Robert Powers says:

    Vebbull has a qualifying advantage again.

    Is he going to do the Gerhard Berger startline chop again?Besides not being exactly a sporting gesture(especially against a stablemate)-forward momentum is traded away;it hasn’t even worked!

    I am so aware that the polesitter may very well win this race.He doesn’t have to lead until the last lap.But if he throws away the start AGAIN it will be all red on Sunday.

  20. Robert Powers says:

    I do anticipate Vebbull on pole,and a chop at the start.

  21. David Turnedge says:

    Ferrari is all class… except how they treat their drivers… but wait until qualifying to see the gaps between Red Bull and the others…

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