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Vettel puts daylight between himself and Webber in Hungary
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Vettel puts daylight between himself and Webber in Hungary
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Jul 2010   |  2:48 pm GMT  |  132 comments

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix by four tenths of a second over team mate Mark Webber, one of the larger margins we have seen between them this season.

It was Vettel’s sixth pole of the season, the 12th of his career.

Red Bull Team principal Christian Horner hailed the team’s 11th pole in 12 races as “our most dominant qualifying of the year” and it’s easy to see why; the margin back to Fernando Alonso in third place was 1.2 seconds, with 7/10ths of that coming in the middle sector alone. This is all about downforce and balance and the Red Bull is more or less perfect, something you cannot often say about a racing car.

Vettel needs a good start tomorrow, after some difficult getaways recently. Budapest has the third longest run down to Turn 1 of all the circuits on the calendar, so there will be some concerns for him and it represents probably the only chance for his competitors.

Alonso, who outqualified Felipe Massa by 4/10ths of a second, said that “the start, the first corner, the first lap will be 60% of the race” given how difficult it is to overtake. But he promised to try to “make life more difficult for the Red Bulls” than he has been able to do so far this weekend.

Russia’s Vitaly Petrov did an outstanding job in the Renault to outqualify Robert Kubica for the first time this season. But Lewis Hamilton defied predictions that he would be behind the Renaults, hoisting his car to fifth place.

“Red Bull is impossible to beat,” said Hamilton. “I pulled every inch out of the car and I’m happy with the job I did. ”

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh has been making references this weekend to his car being “the fastest of the fixed wing cars”, but Horner has invited him to formally protest the Red Bull if he felt he wanted to make his point

In the first part of qualifying Kamui Kobayashi was eliminated along with the new teams, after losing time behind one of the Hispania cars. He aborted the lap and on his way into the pits missed a compulsory weight check. He was punished with a five place grid drop.

But it was noticeable that Virgin was able to carry through on its promise from practice, where the team was ahead of Lotus.

In qualifying Timo Glock was 1/10th ahead of of Heikki Kovalainen. Virgin brought a significant upgrade in Silverstone and two smaller ones since then, including a rear wing update this weekend.

In Q2 there were some big names eliminated and some outstanding performances from others. Rosberg did a fantastic job to get the Mercedes up to 5th, while team mate Michael Schumacher was down in 14th place. It was a very graphic illustration of the problems he is having on his comeback. But Rosberg’s performance argues against the car being the problem.

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was fourth in Q2, ahead of Robert Kubica, while Nico Hulkenberg made the top ten, outqualifying his team mate Rubens Barrichello. Jenson Button missed the cut in 11th place, unable to find the grip. Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa again pulled out a strong lap to get into the top ten.

” I couldn’t find a balance on the car,” said Button. “I was happy with the car this morning, but this afternoon I couldn’t find the grip. Not a great session, but I’m on the clean side and I have a new set of tyres, so hopefully I can fight from there.”


Q3 was a relatively straight forward affair; as in Germany, Vettel had the edge and Webber couldn’t get it together to challenge him, In the first runs in Q3, Vettel was four tenths ahead of Webber, with Alonso 1.2 seconds adrift.

Webber’s second lap was 3/10ths slower than his first lap and although Vettel didn’t improve either, both of his Q3 laps were easily good enough to take pole position.

“It was a very good day for us, ” said Vettel. “Mark and myself were pushing hard to finish 1st and 2nd. I said to the mechanics ‘This is your moment, you built this wonderful car,’ because it really is a pleasure to drive. Traditionally this is a difficult circuit the cars are nervous, but the track suits our car.”

Renault’s drivers did only one run in Q3, Kubica made a mistake on his first lap and didn’t recover, allowing Petrov through to outqualify him.

Although Vettel cannot take the championship lead tomorrow, he can take a big bite out of Hamilton’s lead. If Vettel wins and Hamilton finishes best of the rest behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris, then the lead will be down to single figures, with Red Bull clearly well ahead on performance of McLaren as the summer shut down starts.

With eight races to go, what it will take now is for one of the Red Bull drivers to put a run together if they are to win the championship. After coming through the dramas of Istanbul and Silverstone, Vettel now looks the most likely to do this and a win tomorrow could prove to be the start of a championship charge. But if Webber gets him off the start line again, as he did in Silverstone….

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING, Hungaroring

1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:20.417 1:19.573 1:18.773
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:21.132 1:19.531 1:19.184
3. Alonso Ferrari 1:21.278 1:20.237 1:19.987
4. Massa Ferrari 1:21.299 1:20.857 1:20.331
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.455 1:20.877 1:20.499
6. Rosberg Mercedes 1:21.212 1:20.811 1:21.082
7. Petrov Renault 1:21.558 1:20.797 1:21.229
8. Kubica Renault 1:21.159 1:20.867 1:21.328
9. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:21.891 1:21.273 1:21.411
10. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:21.598 1:21.275 1:21.710
11. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.422 1:21.292
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:21.478 1:21.331
13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:22.080 1:21.517
14. Schumacher Mercedes 1:21.840 1:21.630
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.982 1:21.897
16. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:21.789 1:21.927
17. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.978 1:21.998
18. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.222
19. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:24.050
20. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:24.120
21. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:24.199
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.118
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:26.391
24. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:26.453

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132 Comments
  1. Jeb says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if Vettel & Webber take each other out again. Is McLaren the only organization in the top echelon right now that doesn’t have drivers either at loggerheads over racing politics or fighting to keep their seats?

    1. JimmiC says:

      Not in public, certainly..

      1. drums says:

        How was it that of “… you said me he was in saving fuel mode” or else alike?

  2. Michael says:

    Is it me or did i see the Ferraris not using their “F-duct”? Maybe it is because this track needs tons of downforce.

    1. JR says:

      True, they are not using it.

    2. mo kahn says:

      They were not using it since friday

  3. Matt W says:

    I think it is far too early to say that Vettel looks the most likely to put a run together. If anything it looks like he has squandered more points than Webber over the last few races due to mistakes. I think in this case the points table sums up perfectly that you couldn’t put a cigarette paper between them and both look equally likely to take the charge to the title.

    Mclaren and Ferrari certainly look like they have a lot of work to do if they are to close the gap.

    Just out of interest James, why wouldn’t Mclaren formally protest the Red Bulls? Surely they would have nothing to lose in protesting and it would at worst just give confirmation that Mclaren should design their own flexi wing?

    1. Steven says:

      If they protest they waste time, this way they use the time desinging and building their flexiwins, if the FIA deemed them legal, they might as well copy it. Look at all the time the teams wasted last year protesting the double diffusers.

      If you cant beat them, join them.

    2. monktonnik says:

      Doesn’t it cost money to lodge a protest?

      1. James Allen says:

        They can afford it

  4. DRY says:

    THE REASON THE RED BULL CARS ARE SO MUCH FASTER IS THAT THEY ARE MAKING THE MOST OF THEY PACKAGE AND THE OTHER TEAMS ARENT SIMPLE AS THAT

    1. Red5 says:

      F1 is a little more complicated than fastest laps.

      It will be interesting to see if Red Bull can maintain their one lap advantage over the race distance.

      I suspect both the Ferraris and McLarens will be closer during tomorrow’s race than the qualifying times suggest.

    2. tharris19 says:

      Adrian Newey designed this car to be efficient at all tracks. He didn’t design the car around the blown deffuser or the from wing. He said he designed it around a concept and the diffuser and I presume, the front wing, are integrated parts to the concept.
      In other words, if you don’t know the concept you won’t be able to fully exploit the potential of the parts. The man is exceptionally brilliant.

  5. Peter says:

    Great job by Vettel, we still forget how young this guy is. Also, I am getting bord of Mclaren whinig when they are beaten.

    1. JR says:

      That’s not whining; that’s sarcasm, Peter (Whitmarsh: “we’re the fastest of the fixed-wing cars”).

      We all know where this is going to end — all the teams will spend a fortune designing flex-wing variations that meet the current test; then the FIA will come up with a new test that effectively outlaws flex wings and we’ll be back to square one.

      1. dimitris says:

        It’s like saying: we are the fastest car without a double diffuser. True, but irrelavent. The flex-wing has been used since April, and it was tested and was given the green light by FIA, just like the double diffuser was last year. It helps to understand the rules and regulations rather than complaining afterwards. You are right about your last point though. FIA will come up with a test that will outlaw flexi-wings.

    2. Lionel says:

      Credit where Credit is due.. Vettel may not be able to beat his fellow drivers..but he sure as hell has mastered beating the clock… maybe because the clock does not fight back!!!

      1. Jez Playense says:

        Or to quote James
        “”One interesting observation is that Red Bull has a setting on the engine, whereby the ignition is retarded on the over run, which maintains exhaust gas pressure even when the driver lifts off the throttle. This maintains the performance of the blown diffuser and keeps the downforce up when it’s most needed. It’s not something you can do for more than a lap or two as it damages the engine, but it gives that vital fraction of a second which keeps Red Bull ahead of the rest in qualifying.”

        I hope he wins tomorrow!

      2. Amritraj says:

        Ferrari has also deployed the same system. That is why they were so close to Red Bull’s pace in Germany.

        Red Bull has a very dominant car excluding the engine-ignition system.

      3. James Allen says:

        Yes, we were on to that before anyone else

  6. Baktru says:

    From how fast the RBs were compared to the rest, dry weather and Hungaroring being a procession track anyway, I predict a race that will be a complete bore, with a Vettel – Webber – Alonso podium.

    1. Flintster says:

      agreed…..

    2. tharris19 says:

      Lap speed is seldom the only variable in a race and I suspect it won’t be in this race. Looking at the drivers in the first two rows and Hamilton in row three, recent history points to a probable first corner incident.

      1. Baktru says:

        We both got it wrong, but the race was definitely a lot more interesting than I had expected.

        The safety car made all the difference of course.

  7. david z says:

    I’d like to know exactly how it is that Ferrari have managed to acquire the Red Bull technology while no one else has??

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      Maybe Red Bull sold it to them?

    2. Hans says:

      Can you be more specific about what you’re asking / questioning / suggesting ?

    3. SKWD says:

      Presumably because they went to a bookshop and bought a book on the design of composite beams. Speaking as a mechanical engineer with a specialism in composite structures, it is relatively trivial to do what RB have done with their front wing.

      The “clever” part appears to be the interaction between the bending wing, the bending nose, and the tuning of the (relatively soft) front suspension so as to deliver a complete package.

      1. tank says:

        Is nonlinear deflection possible in composites? I’m no expert, but with a good design I suspect it might be possible. It would be clever if they deflected further than perhaps a linear version under load… obviously keeping more downforce for a given speed. The clever part may be that they may not have that negative feedback of needing to back off the throttle because the downforce is dropping.

    4. Flintster says:

      To be fair Ferrari’s front wing doesn’t flex as much as Red Bulls so I would argue they haven’t managed to acquire all the Red Bull Technology plus both teams must have been developing it at the same time as it was bolted to the cars at the same time.

      Ferrari’s wing is between Red Bull and McLaren.

    5. Lionel says:

      Ever heard of Cuckoo in the nest… Red Bull Hirarchy should be worried.

  8. Malcom says:

    What has “the drifter” in store for us tomorrow? He’s got warning lights flashing all around him; Is he gonna race and let race or drift again?

  9. irish con says:

    james do u think this could be a big race for alonso tomarrow. i mean it in the sense that if he wins from 3rd on the grid a race he should not be winning could it help back up ferraris decision last week and the decision made to bring him to the team. i know its not likely but how many races did schumi win for ferrari that he shouldnt have won and it would lift the media pressure off himself aswell

  10. Nick4 says:

    The Red Bull dominance is reminiscent of Mansell in the FW14B in 1992! We all know Newey was the designer in both cases, but what has he achieved in this design that is giving the drivers such a clear margin?

    I wonder if Vettel can convert his dominant advantage tomorrow? Or will he lose the plot again like he did last weekend trying to squeeze Alonso out of the frame that he allowed Massa to nip past?

    1. mo kahn says:

      When Shuey fought it out with Mika I often said… its Shuey v/s. Adrian and now its Alonso v/s. Adrian, phew that man is brilliant.

      Its possible we can witness the repeat of Germany with Vetel focusing on defending Alonso, but now he has Webber beside him. If Redbulls work as a unit they will be able to jointly fend off both the Ferrari by setting up a squeeze.

      And yes Alonso is right when he says start is 70% I’d like to raise to a 85%-90% margin for the cars are extremely reliable. Ofcourse not equating the weather.

    2. Lester says:

      There was oil on Vettel’s clutch at the start, which made it slide and lose traction, Horner confirmed.

      But nobody wants to mention this fact for some reason. It doesn”t fit with the ‘let’s all bash Vettel’ agenda everyone is pushing, eh?

      1. drums says:

        So then, was it the oil in the clutch which made Vettel to squeeze Alonso to the wall while opening the door to Massa? How thick was the oil. Err… I meant, how clever Vettel/Horner duet was.

      2. monktonnik says:

        To be fair he has been quite aggressive with his last couple of starts. Although Webber got penalised in Germany last year for similar didn’t he?

        Either way, he isn’t doing anything illegal and it has spiced the races up.

        What amazes me is that Newey does all his design work with pencil and paper. It is obviously made up onto a CAD programme, but the concept and design comes entirely form within.

    3. John Player says:

      Yeah, me too. But I would say that the situation is more like 1991. Williams was fast, but fragile. So is Red Bull. Even the liveries are quite similar.

    4. Red5 says:

      Sir Frank recently stated that the all conquering, active everything, FW14 cost only £32.5m.

      That kind of dominance would cost a hell of a lot more in today’s money. And if Alonso is worth half a second then I suggest Mansell was at that time worth a full second. Even more at Silverstone in front of his home crowd.

      Sadly, it looks very much like Vettel has taken pole by such a large margin that his race strategy will be compromised. It is true that pole at hungry is important but the gap to me looks exaggerated.

      1. Martin says:

        I’d suggest your 1 second doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny. Patrese couldn’t feel comfortable in an active suspension car in fast corners. His qualifying performances were similar to Mansell in 1991 (he took four poles to Mansell’s two), but in 1992 and 1993, anytime the tracks featured many quick corners the gaps grew. You could argue that Riccardo was winding down to retirement, but Schumacher was on average even further in front of Patrese in 1993 than Mansell was in 1992.

        Mansell had the edge on Prost in terms of pole positions, but Prost was ahead on the supergrid for 1990. Mentioning Prost brings us to Senna…

        Besides, Alonso’s reference was to bringing race engineering to McLaren, not driver speed. He was in effect saying that Hamilton was doing well because Alonso made the car better.

    5. andyb says:

      A couple of years ago a fired up Massa drove around the outside of someone (Hamilton?) at turn 1.

      Hope he does that move to the Red Bulls. Go Massa!

      1. monktonnik says:

        He’d have to get an amazing start, but it worked last week so who knows.

  11. Steven says:

    RB boys need to take eachother out again to keep Hamis WC hope alive! Or better yet, maybe those wings will fall of!

  12. JohnBt says:

    “But if Webber gets him off the start line again, as he did in Silverstone….”

    Deja Vu! Quite unlikely.

    1. JimmiC says:

      After Horner’s pious proclamations after Germany, I wonder what would happen if Webber was ahead of Vettel with ten laps to go (especially if Vettel is faster..) All it takes is one slow pit stop to throw everything up in the air.

      1. A.K. says:

        They wouldn’t do that now that they’ve publicly stated that the driver with most points gets preferential treatment and they’re both equal in that regard.

      2. Lionel says:

        it is going to go something like this:
        1) Scenario 1 — Mark Webber is leading
        Call comes in over the radio, “Mark Vettel is faster than you”, Webber replies..”So What?”.

        2) The 2 redbulls are scampering into the distance, 10 laps to go, Alonso is running a distant 3rd. he comes in to take on a new set of rubber. A call comes in for Massa, “Filipe, you are hitting the appexes too hard, do you understand?”. Next corner filipe spins, hits the wall safety car.. redbulls are scrambling to the pits.. Alonso takes the lead.

        3) The redbull take themselves out first corner.. Alonso is leading.. Hamilton running third under pressure from Massa. Call comes in for Massa.. “Filipe, you are faster than Hamilton, Do you understand?”. Next corner Massa Colides with Hamilton.. Both Out. No points for the Redbull Matadors, No points for Hamilton, Alonso gets 25. Sorry about that Filipe.. Better try next time, the voice to Massa finishes.

        Martin Whitmash rushes to Ferrari Garage to confront Dominicali… who says he does not understand what the fuss is about.. These things happen in Racing!!! Bernie Ecclestone takes the Ferrari line.. Di Montezomol says he does not understand what the Polemics are all about.. Jean Todt has taken to the hill re-iterating its a stewards decision and nothing to do with the FIA, Michael Schumacher supports Ferrai and says these things happen..

      3. John Pugh says:

        Thanks Lionel. Had a great laugh at that. F1′s hypocracy factory undoubtedly deserves it at the moment!

        Re your first scenario Webber’s reply would indeed be two words. Perhaps not exactly the two you have set out! (I am sure you know this and are just being polite for James’ sake as am I!)

        Re Scenarios 2 and 3, fun apart, Felipe Massa is no Nelsonho Piquet. I think his behaviour in Germany was a tangible expression of gratitude to a team which has believed in him. He could have ignored them and made the Brazilian press crow. Instead he put his teams interest ahead of his own. He took the flak for it manfully. It does not diminish him in my eyes one little bit. I believe he is one of the most respected drivers and people in F1.

      4. D. says:

        One of the better posts ever on this site !

      5. Adriano says:

        LOL

      6. Martin says:

        I like scenario three.

        Scenario two has some problems. It is difficult to crash and be certain a safety would be needed at Hungary. If would also require careful timing with the location of the pit entry and the Red Bull cars. Late in the race the mandatory stops would have been made, so it is unlikely that Red Bull would stop both cars. They may feel that as per Australia, that the tyre difference isn’t enough to allow passing, unlike Kobayashi in Valencia. Based on the grid and the dirt, Vettel would be leading. Would he want to give up track position to Webber and stop, or would he want Webber, second and right behind him with fresh tyres? For fairness, Red Bull might determine that not stopping is the best idea.

      7. Amritraj says:

        Nice one.

      8. mo kahn says:

        naaice !!!! you’ve turned F1 into a latin soap opera :))

    2. Brace says:

      Why not?
      Alonso did it in Germany too.

  13. type056 says:

    worst ever qualyfing i see.

    1. VV says:

      Can you not appreciate just how extraordinary Red Bull’s performance was today? It was staggering and utterly mind-blowing. It was an absolute pleasure to watch, man and machine on the absolute limit.

      Hamilton said that he and Button watched the on-board footage and just laughed at the sheer speed of the Red Bulls. Martin Brundle couldn’t believe that Webber’s car changed *up* a gear in the middle of turn eleven.

    2. JimmiC says:

      Kobayashi fan..?

  14. PaulL says:

    Thinking ahead – isn’t the next race at Spa also a circuit with medium to fast corners that could suit Red Bull just as much?

    With factory shutdown in operation, in between, a couple of solid results for Red Bull could be what they need to wrestle the lead from McLaren.

    1. rfs says:

      The only tracks remaining that wouldn’t suit the Red Bulls are Monza and Abu Dhabi.

    2. Brandon says:

      Yes but spa is low downforce. Remember Kimi winning last year in the shitbox Ferrari ahead of a FI

      1. mo kahn says:

        Oh that drive of Kimi was beautiful.. its drive kinda those that are rare to come by and when they, they make F1 worthy of following for a decade more… BRING BACK KIMI

    3. Lionel says:

      A factory shutdown is just that.. factory shutdown, does not mean you shouls stop working on your Car. Take your work away from the factory.. It is all about intepreting the rules creatively.

    4. Red5 says:

      Ferrari and McLaren, in particular are in catch-up, bringing new developments to each race.

      Red Bull are unlikely to carry their advantage through to the end of the season.

  15. William McCone says:

    Simply awesome qualifying by The Bulls, only hope Alonso can stick with them in the race or it’s a fight for 3rd, although as it’s Massa it shouldn’t be too much of a fight! ;)

    Is it not a bit unfair to punish a driver with a grid penalty when his offence was more admin related? Seems harsh to drop Koby 5 places.

    1. Baktru says:

      I can understand that Kobayashi was irritated at missing out on the next round due to being hindered in his last flying lap, and hence didn’t pay enough attention to see he was being waved down for a weighing. But the rules are the rules and a 5 place drop on the grid is the right penalty. I felt sorry for him though.

      1. James Allen says:

        I’m not sure how badly he was baulked, when you watch the replays closely

  16. Danny says:

    With regards to Mercedes and Schumacher, Schumacher gambled on different set up to that of Rosberg, which explains the difference between them. I don’t think the issue is Schumacher as James implied, he is still getting to grips with tyres, this pain is worth it eager Schumi fans, Schumacher will not tolerate mediocrity.

    1. Dave says:

      “Still getting to grips with the tyres” 7 times WC – he’s had ages to get sorted. He’s past it!

      1. Jey says:

        Whilst watching the races,also watch out for http://www.formula1.com Live timing screen.You will be in for a surprise \ shock based on which side of the camp(For\Against Michael)you are on

        I pretty much do this always and let me tell you,on the raceday there is nothing to differentiate between Michael and Nico.Its the single lap pace that Michael is not able to set this season

        With 2011 car going to be developed with the great man’s inputs,if I am Nico,I will be damn worried.Look at it this way “I am 25 years old;Supposed to be peaking in my career now;But here I have a 41 year old,returning to a much changed sport after 3 years and still matching my times;Now what will he do when the car is built for him the next year”

        Yes,there has been huge points deficit between Nico and Michael.But much of it has to do with Nico ending on the podium for 2 races where Michael had a DNF.

    2. For Sure says:

      First of all, I am a big fan of him and James wrote a book about him so that tells a lot.
      Rosberg was over a second faster and we don’t know for sure, if it was a gamble or him.
      But I have come to accept that there is a reason why most of the great drivers retired before the age of 40. I don’t understand what makes them slower if fitness isn’t an issue but I think Schumi has lost it. He really has. It was painful to see an old lion taken down by hyenas.
      I mean Michael has done incredible things in much worse cars and if someone thinks it’s the car then he is insane.
      But I still support his decision in a way. The man has achieved everything every driver could dreamed of. Let’s save the words like “legend”, “legacy” for the comic books. His greatest opponent is time and if he chosed to try to beat it, I respect that just like if an 80 years old man tries to compete Marathon, I would support it.
      But the fact is that he is only human and no one can be no 1 forever. Having said that, I don’t think it’s going to change anything. St the end of the day, all he has to say is “Ohh I was bored so I wanted a challenge so I tried and it didn’t work out. The score is still SEVEN by the way, thank you”.
      That’s it. It is still a privilege to watch one of those men who come along once in a life time tho.

    3. Lester says:

      Button mentioned this week the 2010 Mercedes car was made for him, he loves understeer. Schumacher hates understeer. Rosberg doesn’t love understeer, but doesn’t mind it too.

      It is an easy calculation really, for the unbiased (I am neither for or against Schumacher).

      Next years car will be built around Schumacher. Then we will see what he is worth.

    4. David Turnedge says:

      The in car shots with Schumi in qualifying seemed to show a frustrated Schumi battling with a car not suited… no doubt down to setup… what is Schumi and his engineer playing at?

    5. Alias J says:

      I am a Schumacher supporter, ever since his Senna days. Regarding his performances this year, I simply can’t explain it too, and its a bit confusing, amusing and stressful at the same time.

      On one hand, there were the majority of races where he was extremely slower than Rosberg, 4 tenths, 6 tenths or 8 tenths – consistently slower! Naturally, at first everyone assumed it due to him being rusty (Lauda, Prost), then perhaps that he simply wasn’t used to the tires (Sutil, Hamashima), perhaps that the car totally opposes his driving style (Button, Herbert) and everything he tries to set-up around it simply makes it extremely worse (Schumacher), or perhaps he’s simply lost the fire and the determination he had before (Hamilton), and so on. However, then eventually as the races pile up and the bad results pile up, people start to give up and concede, – yeah, perhaps he’s simply ‘lost’ it (Stewart, Irvine, Moss, Webber, et al).

      But then, what about the races when he’s equally quick or even quicker than Rosberg? Australia, Spain, Turkey, Monaco, Germany, where either he was faster, or else the difference was simply 0.00XX of seconds between them? I mean, – what happened here? What went right here that went so wrong in the other races? Did the car transform itself? Did Rosberg have a poor day? Did Schumacher have a good day? Did he catch up with the tires situation? Was it a fluke? Considering that Australia was only just the second race of the year, and only Schumacher’s second race in four years, and he was only 0.014 seconds slower – which is almost a hair’s width. How quick is that?

      Now there are also a group of people who think that Schumacher is actually doing a pretty good job, hasn’t lost it yet and just don’t write him out (Vettel, Hakkinen, Haug, Hill, Alonso, etc) and that the true gap is actually much closer that it seems (Rosberg) and soon it will become more and more difficult to beat him.

      Therefore I can’t explain the logic and actual causes behind all this. But given all my experience with him, from reading all about his biographies (Hilton, James, etc), and trying to study the man in detail, the only conclusions I can give at the moment is that..

      1) In terms of the driver – Schumacher hasn’t lost it. He’s pretty close to what level he was before (Brawn). F1 is highest level of motor racing in the world, and to quantify it in numbers, considering before he even turned a wheel in the Mercedes, in his retired, dormant form, lets assume his driving ability dropped down to 80% (of maximum), then it took him fifty laps (in March) to reach 85%, another hundred laps (in April) to reach 90%, (which I think is his present level), it would probably take him another thousand laps to reach 95% and another five thousand laps to reach 99%.

      2) In terms of the car – I’m pretty certain that it is like some kind of ‘cultural shock’ to Schumacher. He never drove such a car like this in his life before. It is not perfect for Rosberg either but I think suits him more than it suits Schumacher. Moreover, I believe Rosberg’s engineering team are doing a better job of setting-up the car for Rosberg (Jock Clear), and that Schumacher’s team are still unable to set things up for him (Andrew Shovlin), or else I won’t blame his engineering team, but it is Schumacher himself who is trying out extreme set-up settings which often just makes the car worse for himself (Gary Anderson). And I think Schumacher doesn’t mind it himself too, he simply wants to experiment, try out things he never tried before, enjoy, have fun, and take his time to ease into his return.

      Although it is true, that Schumacher drove brilliantly in the under-performing 1996, 97 Ferraris (Eric Bernard), but at that time he was at his peak driving ability. I don’t believe that Irvine wasn’t good, because Irvine drove with Barrichello at Jordan and they were equal, and Barrichello then drove with Button and they were equal too. Therefore in summary, to conclude things ..

      This is a 41-year old, 90% ability Schumacher, less ruthless and lesser ambitious, driving in an under-performing car, without the benefits of testing, and he’s still ABLE to match Rosberg – 5 out of 10 races, (50% of the time).

      It is a scary thought, – but just think how good he must have been, and how good he CAN still become.

    6. monktonnik says:

      Funnily enough I thought he looked angry in the car, like the MSC of old. After last week’s qulifying I think the fire is starting to return.

  17. JimmiC says:

    Impressive as usual from RB, but Hamilton, Rosberg and Petrov really had outstanding afternoons today.

    1. Ikertzeke says:

      What about De la Rosa? Fantastic!!!

    2. Red5 says:

      Perhaps James can give us more insight but I see the Renault a more consistent car thus giving the drivers more confidence.

      Quickest over one lap it may not be but both Kubica and Petrov seem able to find and stretch the cars limits more easily than other teams.

      Ferrari has made significant advances in this area whereas the McLaren appears fast but nevertheless more difficult to extract the maximum.

      Thankfully Lewis has the skill and Jenson the experience to mask some of the cars shortcomings.

      1. James Allen says:

        Yes but the car didn’t perform well on soft tyres in Q3 today. Petrov and Kubica should have been P5 and 6 today, really

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        I think it was because they had run out fresh rubber going into Q3. I remember thinking Lewis is guaranteed a 5th if he out runs Nico at the time because of that. Its a shame for Renault really because this is not an overtaking track so all that performance will be behind the hot gases off the cars ahead. But as everybody is hoping, the start could change everything.

  18. Banjo says:

    The Gap between the top five drivers in this quali isn’t much different to what the gap across the whole field was at some races last year! Crazy.

  19. tank says:

    Desperately disappointed in (and for) Schumacher. As a fan of his for the better part of two decades, I haven’t seen him struggle this clearly and so consistently before.

    I only support one driver in a championship, and my favorite rarely changes for any reason other than retirement or death… (It was Senna first, then Schumacher, and when he retired it became Raikkonen. When he left it became Vettel.) But I made the switch from supporting Vettel to Schumacher when he announced his return last year. But what is the point of supporting a mid-fielder?

    There are no signs of him turning this around. I am on my way to Spa in 3 weeks to watch the only 7 times champion (traveling halfway round the world, and the first GP I am attending, I never thought I would have the opportunity), but there is already a tinge of disappointment – Shumi has been thrashed all ends up by his teammate this year, and as a most loyal fan, it is sooo painful to watch.

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      Maybe you should finally accept that he was not so great afterall and the fact that 1. Ferrari had a secret veto deal with FIA and 2. that Barichello was a contracted no.2 played a big part in making appear legendary when it apparently now emerges he was just an ordinary driver with the establishment on his side

      1. For Sure says:

        I thought f1 fans are supposed to be more intelligent. What about incredible things he did in 90s crappy Ferrari? Is it because of Rubens, or FIA or the car?

      2. tank says:

        Those are interesting “facts”.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFMWJMZfNig
        - 2:30.

        Thank you James for your message below, I hope to take as much out of the weekend as I can, going all three days.

    2. James Allen says:

      Thanks for sharing this. I hope you enjoy Spa nevertheless – it’s a fabulous place and a very authentic atmosphere

  20. Robert says:

    Any idea James why we never hear of the Hungarian race being under threat? It has to be the worst GP.The circuit is just about fit for go-carts.

    1. James Allen says:

      THere were some wobbles a few years ago, but they came up with the money to renew

      1. Thomas in Australia says:

        That money would have been better spent altering the track layout.

        Maybe they could add some jumps or a dirt section?

    2. michael grievson says:

      I agree. Dull dull race.

    3. Baktru says:

      I was wondering the same yesterday. People tend to complain vocally about the Tilke tracks but I’d rather watch Sepang, Turkey or even Abu Dhabi than Hungaroring again.

    4. tank says:

      it reminds me a bit of france… corner after corner with no overtaking. Perhaps it will share a similar fate.

      “Jumps and a dirt section” – Classic.

  21. mo kahn says:

    A sub 1:19 by Vettel was awesome, with the highlight of that lap: Countering the understeer comming out of the final corner. Simply Brilliant. Webber was rather direct in acceptance and gracious in defeat, atleast in Qualifying. Having said that Webber has a superior racecraft then Vettel. Vettel on the other hand has to harness this element in his weaponary, the sooner he harness this the sooner he will be a world champion. Lewis harnessed it immediately he came into F1 and his results reflects that. So, I suppose Vettel needs to work on this element with immediate effect for the car is beckoning to deliver a world champion.

    Alonso on the other hand will be quick a podium is on the cards. I think Massa needs to be more vary of Alonso then the Redbulls when and if he finds himself besides any of them, for Alonso have not uttered a word in press, but I’m certain he has made his intentions very clear with the team behind close doors, he did so in the past to Ron Dennis, so we know he what he is all about. That is the only cause of concern about the Ferraris.

    Ferraris do have the raw race pace, but can any of them find a way around the Redbulls? and the best chance they have is into the first corner at start. If they don’t then they might as well settle for podium positions.

    Its sad to see Mclarens lagging behind, for I feel the car is failing both their drivers.

    As far as Alonso-Massa controversy?

    Alonso 1:19.987
    Massa 1:20.331

    As far as Massa sayin he is not the number two?

    Well Massa its rather evident who is number one through the payscale mechanism.

    Enjoy The Race :)

    1. Mr Squiggle says:

      I agree with your comments on Webber in the press conference. It looks to me like the right Mark Webber has turned up to Hungary, (unlike Valencia) MW today looks like a racer who will make the best of the position he is in.

      James, I note your comments on Vettel’s starts over the last two races. Hockenheim’s start confirmed to me that Vettel’s problem isn’t Mark Webber. Vettel’s problem is that he beleives cutting off P2 is a good tactic from pole. He’s wrong. Its dangerous, and he’s been shown how wrong he is by two very hard men in grand prix, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso in consecutive races.

  22. Flintster says:

    I wanted to see a Ferrari on pole as much as the next fan – however credit it where its due – that Red Bull is QUICK!!!!!!!

  23. Phil says:

    James, I think technically your statement that vettel cannot overtake lewis in the wdc this race is incorrect. If I remember correctly P1 gets 25 points. With Lewis being less than 25 pts ahead, if he fails to finish vettel could overtake him this race.

  24. Rob Ford says:

    Perhaps it will be an interesting race in Hungary, perhaps not, maybe i will fall asleep. Red Bull seem a class act but do fail to deliver all that they promise. The formula one conundrum is that whilst i guess most people support a particular driver whichever team he may drive for, some may follow a team, however, i do not think the majority of enthusiasts really put any support for a team before their support for their favorite driver.Team orders still apply and for that reason i am still jaded by F1.

  25. Michael S says:

    I think that was Vettel’s 7th pole James not his 6th

  26. sav says:

    the red bull is a great car, but lets not forget the ferrari’s…they will catch up and with alonso on board, its got to be a winner… i’d like to see the underfloor of the red bulls!!!!!

  27. Luke A says:

    James,

    Do you know why the second half of the top 10 was much slower in Q3 than they were in Q2.

    Drivers in position 6 – 10 all went slower in Q3 than Q2 and the Renault’s and Hulkenburg especially were about half a second slower.

    I think they possibly did not have a fresh set of soft tyres left, but I did not realise that a slightly used set would give half a second deficit. Or maybe it is because McLaren, Ferarri and RB are using the Q3 blown diffuser ignition switch on their engine?

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      You are right about them running out of fresh tyres

  28. Dr Prozac says:

    Kubica has a broken differential, which he will probably have to race tomorrow ;(

    The strategy wasn’t good really, the first lap was to prepare the tires and feel the grip, so he had only one flying lap on which he encountered some traffic. Worked in Silverstone, did not here. Why only one run, I don’t know.
    But generally he said he had big problems with grip and balance, also some bottoming out.
    Probably he could have made a bit better lap though.

    Anyway it’s great to see Petrov being fast and more consistent. I hope Renault will score as much points as possible and that Vitaly will stay in F1 – if not in Renault than in some other team.

    RBR is in their own league.

  29. Luke A says:

    Also James,

    Any news on the latest FIA investigation into the “flexi front wings”.

    I saw on Autosport that Ross Brawn has now joined Martin Whitmarsh and asked for clarification.

    Interestingly, their have been reports that the floor is now under suspicion as being the device that enables the front wing end plates to flex:-

    “Attention is now shifting to a cleverly designed floor area that could help allow the wing to lower at high speed – rather than the key to the matter being simply flexible endplates.”

    In parallel, Jonathan Legard has reported via twitter that:-

    “Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren cars inspected by FIA re flexi front wing. No clarification yet. Paddock reeling from Red Bull advantage..”

    This has been followed by tweets on his page stating:-

    “# FIA verdict should be announced officially some time this weekend

    # FIA doing comparison between wings on different cars”

    It sounds like they may be comparing the RB and Ferarri with the unquestionable legitimate McLaren.

    Any further news?

    1. James Allen says:

      Clever devices in the floor is something Ferrari were always very strong on. Rules say the wing must be 85mm above the ground, which RBR clearly isn’t at speed so it’s one of those situations like the wide front Michelins, which were legal at the outset but were able to beat the rules when out on the track. Brabham skirts were like that in the early 1980s. Brabham chief mechanic in those days? Charlie Whiting.

      1. Nando says:

        Did anything come about the ferrari floor earlier in the season? JA posted the darren heath picture after Alonso crashed at Monaco and there some suggestions it may have movable parts.

      2. Robert says:

        What goes around comes around. Good luck making this decision Charlie !

        Well done RB, now time for others to follow (copy).

      3. monktonnik says:

        Didn’t they ban the front tyres and the skirts because they weren’t legal on the track?

        Personally I think the wing is a clever exploitation of the rules. It gives speed without burning more fuel and therefore they should stay.

    2. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      You follow Legard? Mmmmm….I would rather go with a more weighty source light James.

      Speaking of Legard, I have to say that I am so fed up with the BBC commentary and feel that Martin Brundle is losing his shine because of a very lacklustre co-commentator.

      I am permanently fixed into Radio 5 live commentary from now on.

      1. monktonnik says:

        I still listen to the Brundle commentary but have learnt to screen out the Legard comments. Fortunately my wife and son talk over most of the race so it is quite easy. Also, what it is with his pronounciation of “yesterday”. That is annoying.

  30. R.B. says:

    Redbull had the fastest car all season. They have wasted their lead already in points standing. Why fixing this right now? Redbull are strongly on the way of losing the championship with the fastest car. That is quite a feat.

  31. Rafael L says:

    I am sick and tired of Whitmarsh’s passive aggressive remarks regarding the flexible front wings.

    Last weekend he mentioned how he was intrigued/surprised but said that instead of complaining, he’d just make his own.

    Good for him!

    But what instead happened was McLaren failing to understand how it was done (see article on ITV website) and so here we are again and Whitmarsh is making more crude comments about the wings.

    Dear Martin Whitmarsh,
    Either file a formal complaint, or shut up and make your own flexible wing. Enough with the useless remarks.

  32. Rafael L says:

    Completely off topic James, but do you think it’s possible for Thursday Press Conferences to ever be broadcasted/downloadable?

    I always read about them and wish I was able to see the drivers speak. Body language, jokes between them etc.

    Wasn’t able to find anything online regarding them.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well there is an FOM camera filming it all. I think it’s additional content on the pay TV options like Sky Italia or Sky Germany, but this is the kind of thing BE should be offering on subscription behind a pay-wall on F1.com in my opinion.

      1. Kieran says:

        Hi James

        Could you suggest it? I’m sure all the fans on here, myself included, would love to watch those.

        Personally, I’d like to see more interviews with the lesser known drivers – Luc Di Grassi, Petrov, drivers who don’t get as much screen time as the championship contenders.

      2. monktonnik says:

        I think you should get the rights and do that on JAonF1.com. I’d pay for it.

  33. Steve C says:

    Half way through the season and once again Jenson making out the car ain’t right…same old excuses as this time last year. I find it amazing that the Renault’s have beat a Mclaren into the top ten.

    Why is it that with a good or bad set up car Lewis can still thrash the arse off it and do a far better job. Jensen needs to get his act together

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      I think that’s a little harsh. I am not a huge admirer of Jenson Button, but there is no denying that he is doing a very good job for the team…and on points at least, he’s still in the running for the WDC.

      There’s no denying Hamilton’s brilliance though. Great qualifying performance. I wonder how long he will stay at McLaren. He must surely be a candidate for Ferrari after they ditch Alonso some day (or he hangs up his helmet).

      Alonso is way too scared to face Hamilton in the same car. Hamilton would make “carne molida” of him.

  34. jeff h says:

    Found this on the official F1 website
    (this is just the last paragraph)
    ” 3.15 Aerodynamic influence :

    No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane.”

    How can that regulation be interpreted to mean you can have the front wing endplates touching the ground?

  35. Paul Mc says:

    The best thing that could happen tomorrow from a pure entertainment side, is if Alonso gets by both Red Bulls into turn 1, otherwise the Red Bulls should lap pretty much everyone tomorrow and be a boring race.

  36. Robert Powers says:

    I believe this race is the one where a driver needs to be up on the wheel,and the spectator needs to keep a sharp eye out.

    Midrace there should be a traffic jam of some sort,and the lucky driver who has kept close contact with a leader can take a victory away,maybe even from a polesitter hoping for a wire to wire victory.

    Insanity:Performing same action,hoping for a different result.

    If the polesitter chops Webbull has he lost his mind?Well,no.Lowers my estimation again,though.It’s wrong to start that way,it’s better to concentrate on your own getaway.

    Ferrari will make a good start and run a hard race.Ferrari loves Mogyorod.

  37. gallino says:

    Surely vettel has some credit on putting daylight, but I’m sure RB management had some influence on how both cars performs.
    Webber outburst after his last win with the lesser wing, may have provided him with Trulli car.

    This way, RB will not need team orders. ;-)

    1. Nando says:

      Webber is the heavier driver maybe the major updates since silverstone suit Vettel better, RBR have been at pains to point out the extra work they’ve made to make Webber’s car suit his heavier weight with such tight turn-a-rounds in season that’s not always possible.

  38. d.h. says:

    Vettel puts daylight between himself and Webber in Hungary – unlike the lack of daylight between his front wing and the tarmac!

  39. amit says:

    Hi James.

    Although yesterday’s qualifying could be termed as Red Bull fest, one cannot but admire Vettle, Alonso and perhaps Lewis for their blinding performances. I think it would not be out of place to say that at this moment these three are in a leauge of their own.

    Vettle is an amazing talent, one only needs to look at Mark Webber’s qualifying record (he has always been amongst the fastest drivers on a single lap) to know, just how good a job Vettle is doing. I think only Alonso is in the same class the moment.

    Case in point,Massa is no slouch but he’s being made to look quiet ordinary at the moment. And unless he can turn it around early next season(like he did with Kimi), i think he’s resigned to the no. 2 position for good.

    As for Vettle, I think, if Vettle wants to be counted amongst the best of his generation, he needs to display his mental toughness too. Like i’d commented earlier, he has been found wanting in this departmentquiet a few times this season. If he can make a good get away, and not be caught out like in the last few races, he’ll be a step closer to being a complete racer. Would like to know your thoughts on this.
    Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that. I agree with quite a bit of what you say

  40. Dale says:

    Let the designers design their cars as they want and remove all these stupid rules, let the engineers innovate and we’ll all this cheating by stealth which is what I believe Redbull and now Ferrari are doing.
    If the rule states that the end plates HAVE to be a certain distance from the ground and it is proved they are not how can anyone (any body who was independent and not the FIA) deem it to be legal?
    The restrictive rules in F1 in affect hold F1 back and as many F1 innovations work their way to the general automotive sector then it also hinders this, I say, I shout – let the designers design their cars as they see fit – Newey for one would love this as he’d still come up with the most amazing designs that others would probably follow.

  41. BMG says:

    It’s nice to see the 2 Redbull drivers looking relaxed together at the press conference.
    They have benefited from the Ferrari issue of last week.

  42. MartinWR says:

    The question is how flexing is implemented in such

  43. MartinWR says:

    Testing the legality of the front wing involves applying a load to determine the deflection. However the important thing is: where is the load to be applied, at the wing root, mid span, or at the tip?

    Have these flexy wings been designed to be less stiff towards the end plate in a way that wouldn’t show an illegal deflection under a load applied mid-span?

    1. James Allen says:

      There may be a rule clarification today on the front wings

  44. Ryan Eckford says:

    Great performance by Red Bull yet again, highlighting the greatness of Adrian Newey, the car is just unbelievably great. Barring any mishaps or tangles, they should secure an extremely easy 1-2 finish, possibly with most, if not all of the field lapped.

    Looking ahead to the following races, this is how I think the races will pan out:

    Belgium: I think it could be a bit like Turkey, with Red Bull and McLaren being the leaders, with little separating them, followed by Ferrari, and then the rest. It is going to be nip and tuck between Red Bull and McLaren.

    Italy: This should suit McLaren and Ferrari, with the layout similar to Canada, but Italy even more better suited. This weekend will probably be damage limitation for Red Bull, but they will be ahead of the rest though.

    Singapore: It is going to be a grand battle here at a circuit which in my opinion is a circuit where the best drivers rise closer to the top. Alonso and Hamilton have done well here before and Red Bull has the best car on the grid, so it is going to be close here.

    Japan: This should be a tour de force for Red Bull with McLaren and Ferrari following behind them, with the rest behind these three teams.

    Korea: Hard to judge since Formula 1 has not been here before. I get the feeling that it may suit Red Bull over McLaren and Ferrari, but it is a close call at this stage.

    Brazil: This should be a grand battle royale here with cars that should be well-suited around here in what could be a high pressure weekend.

    Abu Dhabi: The finale should a great one with cars that should be suited to this circuit. The perfect stage for the championship battle to finish. This should be a classic.

    This is my opinion at this stage, but I am sure my mind will change at some of these remaining races.

  45. Banjo says:

    Looking forward to seeing ‘driver of the day’ after Kobayashi’s brilliant drive, Petrov’s solid performance – Webbers sensational recovery drive and Alonso’s solid defense! (Which wasn’t quite as controversial as Schumi’s!)

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