F1 Winter Break
Which F1 car is quickest now? Leading drivers try to work it out
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Jul 2011   |  8:02 am GMT  |  119 comments

The German Grand Prix seems to have been a real crowd pleaser because it gave us three of the top F1 drivers all in closely matched cars and it came down to a straight fight on the track. It was driver versus driver and that’s what F1 fans want to see.

As with all the best F1 races it is the details that make the difference; for example the tyre warm up up issue on the Ferrari meant that even though Alonso managed to jump Hamilton for the lead at the second stop, he couldn’t resist him in Turn 2 when the McLaren driver on his second lap on new tyres, attacked.

All three drivers made fascinating comments after the race, trying to work out what the race means in terms of the relative competitiveness of the cars. So which is the quickest car in F1 now?

It’s a curious season in many ways because on the one hand Red Bull has dominated qualifying and hasn’t been beaten to pole in 10 Grands Prix, while Sebastian Vettel has six wins and a huge lead in the championship, which indicates Red Bull dominance.

But on the other hand most of the ten race days have been competitively fought out with Hamilton winning China and Germany, Vettel under intense pressure at the end of the race in Barcelona, Monaco and Canada (where he lost the win to Button) and then in the last two races, Red Bull has been beaten on race pace by Ferrari and now McLaren. As Mark Webber said, “Sunday’s are more of a handful for us at the moment. I think we were more dominant last year than we are this year. It’s just that we always put things together and we’ve always been there at the end. Seb had a good run, but close victories, not winning by twenty seconds.”

This is undoubtedly true; Red Bull had a bigger race day advantage last season. This year Vettel has used their undoubted qualifying advantage as a platform for his six wins and three second places and he’s managed it very well. But the performance gap from Saturday to Sunday, where they lose the edge they get from engine mapping and the DRS wing is becoming more pronounced relative to McLaren and Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton was bemused by his car’s competitiveness this weekend. There were a few updates on the car and a lot of work was done on braking by McLaren with new brake ducts and changes of brake disc material to give Hamilton what he needed to nail the key braking zones of the Nurburgring. The three changes of engine map rules from Canada to Valencia to Silverstone and then Germany has also complicated their life more than the others, it seems. But the new standard clearly suits them,

“We didn’t really think we would be so fast and I’m not quite sure what we’ve done, because we’ve not really brought much here. I don’t know if it’s the conditions. I think we were competitive in Montreal and in Monaco and in Valencia, in hot temperatures, we are less competitive. We obviously went to Silverstone with the rule changes which was a big problem for us, and then we come back here to where we were, really, in cool conditions. I think we’re there or thereabouts but I do still feel that the overall performance of the two guys here, particularly the Red Bulls, is slightly better than ours.”

How much of Sunday’s win was about the McLaren and how much was Hamilton? There does seem to have been an element here of Hamilton being inspired. He outperformed team mate Button comprehensively and seemed afterwards to suggest that he had been on a mission to put right some of the things which had been said and done in recent months, “My Dad always told me when I was growing up to do my talking on the track and it is very difficult to stick with that because sometimes you want to let off steam off the track, which I have. But today I did all my talking on the track.”

As well as soaking up criticism of his aggressive driving, he has also been publicly critical of the team’s tactics and lack of development, “letting off steam” in a different way. And then there was his meeting with Christian Horner which didn’t help team morale. He described this win as “payback” and clearly means that on a number of levels, including perhaps paying back the team as a kind of apology.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh has taken all this in his stride and was quick to praise his driver on both Saturday and Sunday nights for performances which exceeded anyone’s expectations, “What can I say? Lewis was perfect in qualifying and perfect in the race, and the result was perfect too,” Whitmarsh added.

Mark Webber took pole position for the second race in a row, but again lost out to a rival both at the start and at the chequered flag. The starts are becoming a real problem for him, he’s lost 13 places on aggregate now over 10 races, but the race pace wasn’t there and neither was the tyre life,
“We weren’t quick enough today,” he said. “I did everything I could. I was happy with how I drove. I think these guys just had that little extra margin when they needed to do it, especially at the back part of the stints. A little bit more range and that made us a little bit exposed on strategy.”

Webber stopped two laps before Hamilton and Alonso first time around and at the second stop he came in a lap before Hamilton and two before Alonso. Red Bull has tended to anticipate stops this season, but lately they have appeared to be taking a little more out of the tyres than the other two teams on Sundays.

Red Bull is the more consistent car across the different kinds of tracks and different weather conditions, whereas the McLaren works better than the Ferrari in chilly conditions and vice versa. Part of this is getting the front tyres warmed up quickly in qualifying and straight after a pit stop, something which the Ferrari doesn’t do as well. This was decisive yesterday in Hamilton’s battle with Alonso, as the Spaniard admitted,
“One thing that we maybe missed this weekend,” said Alonso, “In the pit stops, when we were very close to overtaking them, especially the second pit stop when I was first in the first corner and I lost the position in the second and in one lap I think I lost two seconds so the warm-up on the out lap was very, very bad, so that’s something that we need to keep working on.”

Alonso is deligthted that the Ferrari has now been competitive on three totally different types of track; Valencia, Silverstone and Nurburgring and he has a win and two second places to show for it.

He’s clear what is required for him to have any chance of fighting for the title and that is a continuation of what we saw yesterday, with two strong teams taking points off Red Bull, “If we have a small chance to recover the gap in the championship, if we do races like today, we are on the podium and he (Vettel) isn’t,” said Alonso.

“To have that combination in our case, we need the best possible performance from our teammates, as I said yesterday, in my case, we need the best McLaren performance as well, to see the McLarens very, very strong and taking points from Red Bull.”

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Depends entirely on the circuit doesn't it?


RBR's dominance will not be dismissed in my mind by one less than perfect weekend By Vettel. He will be back in spades next week!


I'd love to hear your opinion on which car is the quickest, James. It's still the RBR generally speaking isn't it? I expect them to have 3 tenths in hand in qualy in Hungry - it's an RBR circuit I think. For me the McLaren was flattered by the conditions and its driver in Germany. No arguing with Alonso's string of results in the last 3 GP in all kinds of conditions though.


I would expect them to be faster in Budapest. If not we've got a turnaround on our hands. Drivers will count for a lot there too.


Great, if drivers count for a lot Hamilton and Alonso may just be able to bring it to RBR....


I just wanted to add that I was thrilled, amazed and humbled to watch Alonso, Hamilton and Webber drive the German GP. I have not felt that way about a GP for quite a long time – I’ve enjoyed most but on Sunday I felt a bolt of electricity shoot through me thinking that we could be watching Hamilton and Alonso battle each other for 5 plus years –

If Mclaren and Ferrari can keep with RBR this year and into next year I believe the much hyped golden age of F1 is really about to begin. If you thought it began two or three years ago then think again because ‘you aint seen nothing yet’!

Let's just hope the BBC holds onto the sport so we can have coverage that befits the greatest show on earth.


Or perhaps more on the types of tyre are being used on a given weekend? We've seen in past races that Ferrari struggles to generate heat on the harder tyre for example - I presume this and any other car/tyre preference still exists...


But the problem is, both Alonso and Hamilton are taking points off each other. Clearly, Alonso cannot win all of the next 9 races and McLaren is bound to struggle in the hot conditions of Hungary, Interlagos, Abu Dhabi, Monza and Suzuka. So that move of Hamilton on Alonso in the second corner which won him the race, might just play into the hands of a certain Vettel whose off key performances seem to be good ones for most other drivers.


This is funny. When Hamilton won in China they said it was because of the hotter conditions that led Redbull to open up cooling flaps. Now cooler conditions suit McLaren.

Things keep changing. Teams keep bringing developments. Before Alonso win, it was believed that Silverstone would be a Redbull walkover.

All is open for the rest of the season. RB haven't won for 2 races in a row. Button has had 2 DNF in a row. The same could happen to Vettel.


Couldn't agree more. Two DNF's for Vettel and all of sudden my trip to the Singapore GP will be exponentially more exciting!


Hamilton won in China because Redbull made a meal of their strategy and it was not because of any weather conditions suiting the McLaren.


I certainly wouldn't discount McLaren setting the pace at Monza, whatever the weather.


If there is to be any chance of stopping Vettel taking his second WDC then as Alonso says, both and the McLarens have to do well in order to push Vettel down the points. Ironically, if they succeed, that's likely to provide an opportunity for Webber to come through and take the title.

I guess -- bar him suffering an injury and consequent multiple DNS's -- Vettel has got the championship. But the end of the season looks like being fun for spectators.


That's right, what James failed to mention was after Alonso said that he also said something like "we need a strong McLaren, but of course we need to be ahead of them ourselves"


Looking at the Vettel-Webber squabble at Redbull, I have noticed one thing. That Vettel seems to be the smoother of the two on the tyres and on cold conditions, struggles to warm up the tyres as fast as Mark does. Is this the reason why he struggled so much in the race compared to Mark? In Hungary though, the true picture will return as it's set to be a dry summer weekend and tyres on a set of fast and sweeping corners 😛


I think "true" picture is a bit of an odd statement, given the rest of your post.

Surely the implication is that one set of conditions favours one driver over the other? In this case it's hardly a true picture - it's just the one we have seen on more occasions this year.


true picture means the general picture. Except Spa, Germany and Canada, most of the races are run in hot conditions


James, I am not sure I understand your post. I get that Mclaren is see-saw, RB fights "hard" for the wins, and Ferrari "has tire warm up issues". Do you have an opinion on which car is quickest?

From my point of view, the Mclaren has the best braking & stability, the Red Bull the best overall downforce, and the Ferrari something in between - or is it? If the temperatures were 10 degrees warmer, would the Ferrari have been the quickest car on track?


10C more is not enough but if the track temperatures were something like 40C, then surely Ferrari would be the car to beat because in Nurburgring, you don't have high speed corners and hence Redbull pace would be kept under check and they are not so good coming out from corners and on straight lines, one of the reasons why Seb was stuck behind Felipe.


Well, I have nothing more to add, just say this has been an excellent post James. Just the type of analysis that is informative and gives you the entire (complicated) picture.

It is clear that the championship is very much RedBulls to lose. I guess Vettel would be far less dominant on the second half of the season, so hopefully races are going to be even more interesting !


Seems like Mclaren are good in lower speed tracks which require more mechanical grip, plus they seem to be able to switch on the tyres sooner hence why i think they did well in these 2 cooler races .... but on the flip side on hotter tracks they might be over-cooking the tyres.... RedBull is clearly dominant in high-speed cornering due to their diffuser and Adrians abilities but are gentle on tyres and therefore struggled in colder climes?.... Ferrari seem to be in the middle, less dependent on blown-diffuser it seems but with similar good low-speed grip but they seem less able to get heat into tyres.


Mclaren have not done well "in the last 2 cooler races". They clearly struggled at Silverstone and also in qualifying in Canada, not to mention Button qualifying 7th last weekend so I am not sure it's 100% true that they can switch on their tyres quicker than the others, maybe that was true before but not anymore.

Domenicalli has said that the conditions last weekend were the worst possible for Ferrari. I think that's an exageration because if it is true, then Mclaren and Red Bull can surely expect to be lapped the next time we have warmer conditions.

Also, Barcelona proved that Mclaren are no mugs anymore on high downforce tracks, and clearly neither are Ferrari as shown at Silverstone. My personal view is that Valencia and Silverstone were one-offs for Mclaren (for different reasons) and now they are back to the performace level they had (relative to Red Bull at least) before Valencia.

Hungary will tell us more for sure though. I think if Lewis or Fernando can win two of the next three races (Hungary, Spar and Monza), it's game on for the championship (especially if Vettel finishes off the podium on at least two of those races). Both Mclaren and Ferrari should have a good chance at Spar and Monza. Fingers crossed!


Red Bull isn't gentle on the tires. That is why Webber had to stop 2 laps before Hamilton and Alonso in the first stint.


Having 3 brands being quicker in different sectors on the weekend is awesome, it's something that is making F1 more interesting. I hope this is the trend for the rest of the season!!

To answer the question, I think RB might still have some edge (IMHO) and next weekend would have to be a RB 1&2. But they seem to be slipping, even their pits stops and strategy has had a few misfires. What I really hope to see is someone close the gap to Vetel, and with Spa and Monza coming up this will hopefully happen... this we do need 🙂


Not only that, but the team-mates within the 3 brands all seem to have significantly different styles, making it F1 at it's unpredictable best!


Well it's like this;

Redbull are the quickest in qualifying because of they can use their DRS mid-corner (Of course this is about to change in Hungary with Hamilton's first pole position)

Mclaren are the fastest car on the hard tyre as shown by Lewis' pace in Barcelona + he pulled away from Alonso & set the fastest lap at Nurburgring while on the hards.

Ferrari is the kindest to it's softs so when they come up to temperature, the Ferrari in Alonso's hands becomes the fastest car and that's why Alonso was competitive at Valencia, Canada & Silverstone because only the softs were used.

Red Bull and Vettel are the fastest car when he's out front and doesn't have anybody to fight hence his tyres aren't punished as much.

Now the move on Alonso yesterday wasn't all about tyre temperature. Alonso was caught napping and even though he was slow, he left the outside completely open for he didn't expect Lewis to pull another Interlagos 2007 move on the outside.

Lewis too was struggling coming out the pits but unlike Alonso, he didn't play around with Webber & shut him off at once.


Yes a great tactic employed by Alonso and Ferrari this year has been to simply sit back, resist panic and let the race come to them.


And usually this tactic works well for Ferrari/Alonso. Aggressive McLaren/Hamilton tactic sometimes fails miserably: Hamilton in Canada, Hamilton in Monaco, McLaren in Silverstone (fuel)


I don't think Hamilton could've gotten more from Monaco after Perez had crashed and Massa blocked his earlier fast lap.


For sure.


The current situation requires Ferrari and Mclaren, Hamilton and Alonso to co-operate on the track in order to close the gap. I can't see them being able to do it without one of them holding up the other etc.

It would be interesting to see the drivers using common sense though to fight for the common goal of the title.


Actually having Ferrari and Mclaren both coming on in the 2nd half of the season plays right into Red Bulls hands.

If only one or the other of the pursuers was on the up they would have a chance to bite into RBR's lead in both championships. However with both of them coming on they'll take points of each other as well as RBR.

With Lewis, and Alonso trading wins and Seb scoring good points, i.e. 4th or better, with another win or two thrown in the drivers title is his.

And with both Red Bulls, but only the top driver from each Ferrari, and Mclaren showing in the top four most of the time. There goes the constructors title.


I don't agree. Lewis and Fernando need each other if either of them is to catch Vettel. Put it this way, the only way Hamilton has a chance to catch Vettel is if Alonso (and Webber) also has a chance to catch him and vis-versa. If only one of those drivers was quick enough to beat Vettel, it will not be enough because of Vettel's huge lead.

If Vettel is to be caught, he has to be kept off the podium regularly and that will take at least two drivers (plus Webber) beating him. Since the two drivers capable of doing that are driving for two different teams (Mclaren and Ferrari), both teams will need to perform otherwise Vettel will take it.


I see your point.I think it's a combination of both really.

While all of his rivals need to be ahead of Vettel in order to close the gap to him, and ensure the smallest possible points haul for him. Unless one of them is also consistently outscoring the others the points gap will close down much more slowly.


What was good about yesterday was the fact that we didn't know who the winner was going to be until the last few laps of the race after the final pit stop. I had a feeling that Fernando would do it, then maybe Webber whilst hoping that Lewis kept it together. Different drivers, cars and engines. Also noted that it was similar to Spa 2010. Webber pole, poor start, Lewis win and Webber third. Lets hope for the WDC that Seb suffers from the equivalent of the golfing 'yips' a little like JB did in 2009.


Spa 2010 Webber was second, and should have won, but "the hand of God" saved Hamilton from that gravel trap. Webbers best race for sure.


I think its very hard to call, but personally I still think Redbull have a slight advantage.

We are however seeing the same pattern as last year, where Ferrari come back from being nowhere at pre season, and start to finally sort out issues by mid season.

McLaren too have been coming on strong this year, since they changed the exhaust pre season.

The thing which bemuses me as a McLaren fan, and a long time watcher of the sport is that McL and Ferrari rarely produce a good car at the start of the season, then develop aggresively. Redbull on the other hand seem to be quickest first, then progressively (and slightly) lose ground to the others.

If either one of them gets their act together over the off season, and builds a good one out of the box, it will be game over.


Red Bull appear to lose ground because their car has less potential for development than the others. Ferrari and McLaren catch up because they have loads of room for improvement.


And Money!!!


Very much agreed.

Since the major rule changes came to force in 2009, Ferrari and McLaren have always started on the back foot. Each year they've demonstrated they both have the resources and expertise to close gaps by mid-season.

The 2009 McLaren was fundamentally a bad car, but it still won two races on merit, after halfway.


That 09 car was so bad to begin with though, that the upturn was always going to be big. Especially once they maximised their KERS advantage.


I think the reason that RB have come flying out of the blocks the last 2 seasons with McLaren and Ferrari playing catch up is pretty simple.

The RB6 and RB7 are evolutions of design stemming from the RB5 developed over the 2009 season, whereas Ferrari and McLaren both start with clean sheets in an effort to overtake Red Bull.

I think given the rule changes that come in next season, RB may have to also start with a blank sheet of paper and that could make quite a differebce.


Understand and agree on some of the elements of carryover from the RB5.

Ferrari start most years by putting some tracing paper over last years car and drawing it the same again. That is something Pat Fry is working on I understand, to get more innovation into their new car design process.


And the temperature.


And on the weather


Quickest? Hard question to answer with any finality. Red Bull are obviously the quickest qualifiers. That goes without saying. Every pole this year? Red Bull are also streaks ahead in the manufacturers championship. That has to mean something. McLaren and Ferrari are obviously closing the gap down to RBR but still a little patchy with regards to both team cars finishing well. Based on pure results alone it would be hard to claim anyone is quicker than the RBR 'team' as it now stands.


The results are history though, the question is being asked about the present and future.

Remember in the 2009 season the Brawn GP cars streaked ahead but second half of the season it was the Red Bull RB5 that was the quickest car.

I would say in Hungary Red Bull will be strong again unless one of the Ferrari's or Mclarens can split them in qualifying.

By having both RB's on the front row it effectively kills most of the chance of anyone else winning, with Webber effectively blocking while Vettel screams off into a decent lead.

If Alonso or Hamilton can get right behind or even in front of Vettel at the start then they will probably have the race pace to bring the victory home. The Red Bull car does seem to have a weakness in straightline speed and when following other cars but thats only an advantage if someone can get close.


The Red Bull is a very strong qualifying car but is weak in the races compared to the McLaren. When it comes to racing it is harder on its tyres, has an inferior engine which makes it difficult for them to overtake, in addition to KERS system which only has the power of around 70%in comparison to the McLaren and Ferrari. Vettel has done very well to be so far ahead in the points, this largely down to his qualifying pace, and mistakes made by the McLaren drivers this season when they have had faster cars on race days.


"...but I do still feel that the overall performance of the two guys here, particularly the Red Bulls, is slightly better than ours."

Hamilton can't help but suggest how important he was to that victory hinting that his car was slightly slower and his brilliance closed that gap. Since the start of the year McLaren was generally faster than Ferrari and yet he finds a way to suggest that it was him more than the car.


I guess Jo Torrent can do better!!!!

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

So you expect each vehicle to be driven autonomously by a robot all with the same level of skill.


Once again Jo, you make a negative comment about Hamilton on an article that has nothign to do with him. We get it, you don't like him.

In the press conference and in his interview with the BBC afterwards he was keen to point out that it was a team win, perfect pitstops, strategy and that the car felt great. You can't seriously begrudge him for acknowledging that he drove an excellent race can you?

You say Mclaren has been generally faster than Ferrari this season, that was definately true earlier on but there was no evidence of that in Valencia or Silverstone. Ferrari's recent updates have brought them into play at the front.



The RedBull package is still the fastest on the track IMO. I can see how the cooler conditions kept Lewis' tyres alive for longer which undoubtedly played into his hands but in pure chassis terms there is still a gap between the RedBulls and the rest.

So in fact, actually yes, Lewis was 'important' to that victory.


Perhaps you should also criticize Button, since after Saturday's qualifying Button said the same thing. Ergo, he couldn't explain why he was 1 second slower than Hamilton in qualifying. Objectively, it's not that hard to say Hamilton was important to the victory. He was afterall the one driving the car. He was the one who passed both Alonso and Webber at crucial stages. Without the passes, he likely doesn't win the race.

So, really, what's the issue with what he said?


One thing that I enjoyed about the race afterwards was that the top three all managed to talk sensibly about each other, and Whitmarsh and Domenico chatting with each other was great to see. Good to see Alonso beaten and not in a sulk!

To now have a championship where teams are talking about temporary alliances gives it the tactical intrigue of the Tour de France (which I finally understood for the first time this year).

So not only have we seen good racing on the track this year, a bit of controversy but not too much, but we are seeing great sportsmanship.


Can we just start the season from Canada and claim everything before was just testing. How boring and mundane was the start when it was "Oh look, Vettel's on pole, and he's got to the first corner first, and hang on he's won by a country mile..." Everyone I talk to has said how boring F1 was and hoe sports like Moto-GP are better, and then suddenly, BANG! We have a race in Canada and everyone is back on board.

Now we are being treated to proper racing, where cars overtake cars, not relying on false aerodynaminc gizmos. Yesterday was great, three different cars within a handful of seconds and each one competitive. I'm not a Lewis Hamilton fan, but I was seriously bored of the Sebastial Vettel love-in that was engorging F1 and I think we can all look at it now and say it was the engine mapping that was getting him to the front at Q3 and then he could win the races without any pressure and clean air.

I know F1 is about the technological boundaries being pushed, and every car is a prototype, but I think it was Trulli who said a few weeks ago that F1 is getting dull becasue reliability is too high - and I'd go along with that. Lets see engineering (not computers and DRS) being pushed and putting great drivers in the cars. Surely thats what F1 is about. No-one wants to watch a race and by lap 4 the leader is 20s ahead, racing is about battling and we have being treated since Canada to great racing.


depending on layout, SPA perhaps best matches to Mclaren, whereas Suzuka to RBR, and Hungary as well to RBR. for Ferrari - some of hot places, but overall RBR is the quickest.


Monza and Singapore are Fernando's Land.


Martin Brundle made an interesting point about Pirelli drifting towards more conservative, more-"Bridgestone" tyres as the season has progressed and I wonder if that can also be a factor in explaining both Webber closing the gap to Vettel and Mclaren/Ferrari closing the gap to Red Bull, in relative terms.


Towards the end of the race, Martin Brundle also said that Pirelli have confirmed that the soft tyres have been the same all year.

So it looks like the tyres are more durable, but they haven't changed them.

My guess is that the teams understand more the tyres and so the drivers. Also, the cooler conditions also helped towards the view of a more durable soft tyre.



Actually it was Eddie Jordan who reported that.


"Towards the end of the race, Martin Brundle also said that Pirelli have confirmed that the soft tyres have been the same all year.

So it looks like the tyres are more durable, but they haven’t changed them."

Ah, fair enough, stand corrected!

Perhaps they need to just use the medium and hard for a bit then to mix things up again if they know the soft so well 😀


I posted on this months ago, saying that every time they go out the teams learn to get more and more life out of the tyres. They know the soft really well now as it has been the race tyre of choice since Day 1


More durable tyres do seem to be helping Lewis maintain his pace, that's for sure, but saying that, Lewis still won in the tyre lottery of China, so go figure.


"It was driver versus driver and that’s what F1 fans want to see."

Precisely the point!

No more Vettel domination due to car superiority please.


The car was and still is superior, but so was Vettel, don't doubt that


And how do you back that up? May be it is the car, may be it's him, may be it's a bit of both. But one thing for sure is that car advantage is not as great as last season where

Mark won a few races. If anything, the car is dominant on qualifying. He used it as a platform to dominate. But that's it. There were a few races where Mclaren had the pace to win. Mark hasn't won a race yet. So probably it's not just the car. I think one of the reasons why he was so dominant is because he adapted the tires better than others. He had very little experience with bridgestone so he had less to unlearn as opposed to the rest


"Mark won a few races. If anything, the car is dominant on qualifying. He used it as a platform to dominate."

You just backed up my point, thank you.


Ferrari appear to be the more consistent challenger atthis stage with the McLaren being abit hit and miss - very fast in the right conditions, otherwise not quite there.

It's great to see such evenly matched cars so we can see the drivers making a real difference.


One of the most, if not the most overlooked factor is the physical conditioning. When machines are pushed to the limit, they break sometimes. The chances of these athletes perform at 100% at all level is very rare. I dont think anyone of them would come out and say "Look my training didn't go too well, my cardio wasn't there so I ran out of gas before my car does".

If those three cars are within 3 or 4 tenths, then it could very well be down to the driver who trains better and drives better.

In this case, it's Lewis of course.


I think Red Bull have actually undone themselves this year. They have supreme downforce, yes, and that allows them to go super quick in the fast corners especially. But it seems that with these new Pirellis, this is just stretching them under load and chewing them up, overloading the Pirellis. Hence why their race pace in tracks such as Silverstone & Spain, ironically, have been lackluster.

What do you think James?


RB need to play to their strengths. There are many different paths to a quick lap time. The RB lacks a bit of engine power and a KERS unit that is reputedly less powerful and definitely less reliable. Vettel couldn't get passed Massa despite DRS and KERS.

RB lose time on the straights and gain time in the corners. On a single lap the RB7 is the quickest car but in the races other factors mitigate against that speed advantage.


One thing everyone has failed to take into account is the track condition at the end of the race, teams were surprised at the speed of the harder of the two tyres at the end of the race when the track was rubbered in and fuel levels were low.


In Spanish TV living race commentaries, Pedro de la Rosa and Marc Gené were anticipating that some cars would perform better than others with the intermediate tires on a rubbered track at the end of the race. In particular, they remarked that McLaren performance always improves in rubbered tracks.


What would Pedro De La Rosa know about how the McLaren would perform.... oh wait 😉


The Red Bull is the best but is hampered by drivers.

Hamilton and Alonso are showing their skill, and I say tihs even as a Webber supporter.

Button has been nowhere, the only reason he won in Canada was because he and Hamilton used a setup with more aero. As noted by the commentators. Massa has been no where as well.

Vettel can't do anything if it involves overtaking and Webber can't get a clean start to save his life... last good one was probably Spain 2010.


Yeah, seeing Vettel languish behind Massa was very revealing. If that was Lewis of Fernando in the Red Bull, they surely would've had a go and probably would've got past.


Last time I checked, Vettel has a significant lead in the WDC, and while the kids would probably love to see him go "Lewis Monaco" and wind up in the fences when he has a reasonable chance of passing Massa in the pits or taking solid points in 5th if he doesn't is a very mature, championship minded move. The difference between him (77 point championship lead) and lewis or alonso who are teetering on 100point deficits is that if they bin it, really they are no worse off compares to what they can gain, so they are much likely to have a go, whereas Vettel has a lot to lose trying the same move. When you're at the top the only way to go is down. As fans we can whine that he isn't going 100% all the time but it speaks a lot to his maturity that he can keep his eye on the prize without going bumper cars when he isn't at the front. I imagine if we see Vettel start a race out of the points we will see more than enough fire from him as there is more reward for the risk of a DNF. For now though, comparing Lewis in his current position to Vettel in his current position is pointless and mere speculation at best. If they were on equal championship footing then you could better analyze how they are driving compared to each other. Admittedly it is much easier to just write Vettel off.


I think we are seeing Vettel play it safe. You are right, Hamilton would have gotten by, but then again he has no choice but to be aggressive at this point. Vettel trying to pass Massa was tricky because Massa has NOTHING to lose so he would at all cost not let Vettel by even if it means wrecking in the process.

I had no problem with Vettel being cautious... 6 1st, 3 2nds and 1 4th is nothing to mess with and get a ZERO for no reason


Please, keep for yourself comments like these.

Vettel and Massa are professional drivers and to imply that Massa has nothing to lose and would've crashed into Vettel is stupid.

Yes, stupid! When was the last time Massa took anyone out of the race? Get real. Just because Turkey last year when Vettel messed up rly bad, doesn't mean that other drivers don't know how to avoid each other.

Just look at Massa with Button. That was rly good racing and both drivers were fair.

Just because you are a Vettel fan and he couldn't pass Massa, doesn't mean you have to make this look like Massa is a bad guy.



Should have added to my original post. The extra aero at the Canadian GP meant they had greater speed during the wet (i.e. a wet setup) which was shown by Button lapping 5 seconds a lap faster at one stage.

I highly doubt every single one of the other drivers simply forgot how to drive. That is car.


The stat is Vettel has only one GP (spain 2011) where he didn't go into the first corner on the first lap first.

Admittadely Vettel had a small brake issue I believe with heat due to being so close behihnd Massa for ages, that he had to switch bias. But he couldn't overtake before it and once resolved he still couldn't.

Webber, I want to win but he keeps losing it at the most oportune moments. He failed to make a lead at the start of the year and the same last year. Lost it in Korea, couldn't lap Abu Dhabi in 2010 despite a decent performance in 2009. And then mix in a whole lot of bad luck and you see the problem.

Interestingly, Newey has worked with many drivers yet the only driver to win a championship in one of his cars as well as any other is Prost.

Hill, Villneuve, Vettel?... Not saying Villneuve = Vettel at all, Villneuve had balls of steel and crashed ALOT through being an idiot. Wait.. actually this is getting irily similiar.

But I think Vettel is a bit faster than Villneuve, but the point still remains, for a designer as great aws Newey he really hasn't worked the best drivers...

Prost exlucded, and probably Raikkonen and maybe Mansell too. Rest over 20 years... hmmm


Button was that many seconds faster because of a good car, being confident enough under those conditions (as he always is) plus DRS. Almost every lap he was able to use DRS because he was overtaking people, but to use DRS you have to catch the guy in front first so you need a good car, be able to drive on the edge in dring conditions where others are perhaps more conservative plus DRS helps.


Setup HAS to have made much of the difference.

It is said that a great driver can add a couple of tenths in quali over a good driver and someone like Senna could find close to a second according to Brundle

I highly doubt that Button could somehow find 5 seconds others just couldn't on pace.

And the overtaking showed that. He had the grip when he could get the speed up and he could use the still wet track to overtake rather than sticking to the dry racing line.

In non of the other races that Butotn has won, he has ever been anywhere near 5 seconds a lap faster.

Setup is key mostly. Then add some great driving and you can get success. I think it was Alguersari who qualied low, changed to a wet setup started in the pit lane and ended up in a torro rosso starting from the back IN THE POINTS! 8th from memory.


"the only reason he won in Canada was because he and Hamilton used a Setup with more Aero"

I think you will find Button was 5 seconds a Lap quicker when the track was almost dry not wet and hence if it was pure setup the Mclarens would have been quickest in the full wet conditions. Add to that the 15+ cars he overtook. In wet going to dry conditions he's hard to beat as shown in Australia last year and in his first win for Honda in Hungary when catching Alonso when Alonso was in the champion winning Renault. Wet conditions can make different drivers do remarkable things, think of Hamilton in Britain in 2008 3 seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field.


The last most dominant car on the field was MP4/20 of 2005, but reliability issues have impacted KR's real chances for WDC. Actually it was quickest at any track, layout and temperature, perhaps thank to A. Newey's design. Although today's RBR is fastest, it doesn't have such advantage.


I think there are 2 causes of the result:

1 Lewis' brilliance

2 Cold conditions

Thank goodness, because it was getting boring with Vettel winning most of the time. However most of the remaing races will be hot, so I hope MaClaren and Ferrari have some good mods coming!


Qualifying: Red Bull

Race: Ferrari


I agree. Ferrari in cold weather came a close second. This is with blown diffusers allowed. I expect Ferrari to win many more times this year!

Lewis spoke about his engine mapping setup being the key to his success during the quail press conference. We also saw a small puff of blue smoke coming out of Lewis's car during the race. Lewis also ran out of fuel during Silverstone so they were probably experimenting then as well. If the pace was due to engine mappings, expect McLaren's to be right up there and more consistently as well.

In fact Newey bemoaned about the power of the Renault engine. I believe RBR have extracted as much as they can from the car, aerodynamicallye. The Renault engine is holding them back.

Thus my order would be Ferrari, then McLaren then RBR.



Do you think that this is the reason why Ferrari finally agreed to reverting to pre-Silverstone mapping rules? That they needed a strong McLaren for them to stand a chance in the championship as McLaren appeared to be the most hurt by the blown diffuser ban?


With Ferrari and McLaren winning 3 out of the last 4 races, I wonder wether Red Bull will be forced to sacrifice some of their qualifying pace to have a better race car (by reducing the effectiveness of their DRS)?

I'm sure that Mark Webber said something to this effect in a post-race interview but I can't remember exactly what he said.



You always seem to have a lot of stats on how many places drivers have won/lost on aggregate at the start.

Any chance of getting the stats on who has performed the most overtaking maneouvres this season? A lot was made out last season about Hamilton's compared to Button's at the start of the season.

It would be really interested to see how little overtaking Vettel has done, bearing in mind of course that he has started on the front row most of the time.

Tables for both places won/lost at start and overtaking throughout the race would give a really good picture of who the best racer's are...(Hamilton, Kobayashi...)


Tables about the start are coming up.


So, what can we expect for Hungary? Things have changed since Monaco, so we can't really use the experience from back then. First impression is that Red Bull is going to be very strong, especially Vettel, but will the tyre compounds and temperatures be enough for Ferrari to catch up? And will McLaren perform under the heat? I think the tyre/temperature situation kind of blurs the situation with the track types and what suits each car.


"Things have changed since Monaco, so we can’t really use the experience from back then. First impression is that Red Bull is going to be very strong, especially Vettel..."

Are you not contradicting yourself there mate? Since Monaco, Vettel has only won once, so if you we can't really "use the experince from back then", how do you reckon Red Bull and Vettel will be strong in Hungary?

Looking at the current weather prediction for the weekend (on formula1.com), it looks as if the expected hot conditions this weekend may not materialise. It may even be wet.


Yeah I mean Red Bull is supposed to be strong there because of the layout, but this is just what we can assume with what we know from last year and this year. As for Vettel, I believe Hungary suits his driving.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Isn't it really just a case of Vettel's lack of racecraft?

a) He can quilify on pole with little trouble

b) If he starts from the front and has to reel off 60 qualifying type laps then he is fine. If not, he is in trouble.

If i was forced to put money on it, I would still say that Red Bull has the fastest car.


Quite a "what ever it takes" statement by Alonso... encouraging his enemy McLaren to raise their game.

He's a real "I will chew it all" competitor.

Schumacher used to be good a playing psychological games, making statements in the press that would put the competition under pressure.

Alonso is the best among the current crop of drivers for making comments that put the pressure on his adversaries.


Great article James.
You must increase technical analyze on your blog.


This is why I have never respected Button as a WDC. It was 100% the car - which makes his WDC worthless.

F1 severely devalues driver skill, buts its the only thing that make it exciting and worth watching...

Get rid of the excess aero, and every race will become exciting to watch - it really dooesn't matter who wins, but the cream will put on a masterclass of driving skill...

Why doesn't F1 wake up and smell the ashes on this one?

And thank good that god aweful device DRS was not so relevant this race - that is pure garbage technology and pure cheating.


Sure, that's why Barrichelo with the SAME CAR ended up in 3rd position, almost 20 points behind Button!!!

Button's Achilles Heel is his Qualifying, otherwise, he's a top notch driver

Toast and Marmite

Despite being chuffed to bits with Hamilton winning, I have to say it has been an absolute pleasure in recent races to see Alonso wringing every last drop out of that Ferrari. Obviously, he wants to win, but we now seem to be seeing the guy who likes to go racing on a Sunday.

Certainly appears to be much more cheerful and, frankly, likeable than before. Let's hope we get more races like this one, and more outstanding battles between these guys.


One of the questions after Silverstone was how would Hamilton have done if he didn't have a fuel issue. The question I have that no one seems to know is, was Alonso forced to slow yesterday because he was low on fuel. He was told to shut the engine down after the finish line so that there was enough fuel for the FIA to take a sample, but was he told to save fuel before the end of the race?


Alonso said his pace wasn't affected with fuel issues, that issu was only brought up when the race ended


No one except for ferrari may know that for 100% sure but having to stop the car before returning to the pits... I presume they have managed his fuel consuption during the race thus compromising his race speed except maybe at crucial moments like just before and after a pitstop.


RBR undoubtedly have the fastest car on a Sat. Sun seems to be down to track and climate changes and is between RBR, Maclaren or Ferrari.

Can't help but wonder whether that would still be the case if DRS use was restricted on a Sat.


Sorry - that should have been 'McLaren'. Damn spell checker...


Webbers race pace was there James. For at least half of the GP. So he was just as quick as Hamilton and Alonso. The question is what's happening with the starts. A few are asking if you could analyze Webbers starts ?

On the coverage you could see his engine revs drop suddenly before launch. The commentators said something about the clutch. Can you shed any light ?


I think that was down to a sound issue in the transmission, and Webber's start, altough not perfect, wasn't that bad. What happened was that Hamilton's start that was very good


It's clear that RBR is the best car on qualify thus their race pace is compromised. But I think that's because of their aero design which seems to be very sensitive especially when running behind other cars. They set their car for running in clear air and when they dont, the car is difficult to follow the car in front hence cant get close enough to make a move, even the DRS setup is effected by such setup so they cant really cut enough drag.

Macca on the other hand seem to be more sensitive to picth change, look at how their car behaved in Silverstone. The over heating of their rear tires killed their pace.

Ferrari seems to have only problem at this stage is the warm-up issue which has been the car's DNA for years.

Each car has its own design problem and at this stage where cars are more close to each other in term of pace I think it's RBR to loose and Macca and Ferrari have better chance to beat RBR than before.


based on season averages this is what i believe the current order is to date;

1. Ferrari. based on recent performance on all types of tracks Valencia, silverstone and nurburgring. Their development to date has been by far the best in field.

weakness is cold temps.

strength is good quali pace, downforce, and straight line speed and kers

2.Mclaren. based on all tracks except Silverstone and Valencia.

weakness is hot temps

strength is straight line speed, quali and kers.

3. RBR's overall pace is overestimated due to its 6 of 10 race wins.

weakness. straight line speed and high downforce

strength. high downforce

Their high downforce is their achiles heal, when in clear air they are able to pull gaps in high speed corners, and straight line speed is negated. However when behind other cars, they can not use high downforce to their advantage as their is generally 1 racing line in high speed corners, therefore it is very difficult to move off line at full throttle at 250 km/h.

They have played to their strength and maximised results, when other teams thought at the beginning of the year that 'qualifying is not important'.

This is the reason why their only real overtaking chances are on low speed corners and cannot make moves on straights or into turn 1 etc.

People underestimate the advantage straight line speed and kers gives to Ferrari and especially Mclaren over red bull. RBR is a very difficult car to overtake in.


Ferrari is driving me crazy with their pit stops!! They never take the initiative to stop first! They always wait to see what Red Bull and Mclaren are going to do! They should be using Massa differently but they're too Italian to think outside of the box!

I feel bad for Alonso because he has no chance of ever winning a championship with Ferrari without a major personel change in the team!

The Massa pit stop also proved how much slower they are than the red bulls.....in pit conditions!


The undercut doesn't work for Ferrari due to the tyre warming issues.


I agree totally. They have never used the undercut to their advantage. Always waiting on others to pit first.

In Germany, the undercut was a little unpredictable, as per Webber, but McLaren showed how to use the under cut to their advantage during the last pit stop. I think Abu Dhabi 2010 has made Ferrari nervous of taking too many risks.


I share your thought about their pit stops but in a different direction. I would not blame them for not being first to pit. They don't need to. Their car is maybe the softest on its tyres, so they still have life in them.

They do pit to cover others, due to the fact that on fresh rubber, the others will go much faster.

What annoys me at Ferrari, is that they keep messing up pit stops and never have a problem free race in terms of pitstops. They have been outmatched by Mercedes, RedBull and I'm pretty sure even by McLaren. Ferrari to me it looks that they are the slowest at pitstops.

I wish they could improve on that.


so i was looking into the weather at budapest and looks like it is going to be wet



Red Bull is by far, the best car in the field, but that doesn't mean it will be the faster to the rest of the season.

Although RB have good facilities, they don't compare with the likes of Ferrari or Mclaren, in size or money they have to spent in updates. That's the only reason why they are catching up, and it's also easier to copy something that exists, than to create something new.

The only disadvantage I see in RB, is the engine, that I don't think it's as good as the Mercedes

I'm a Mclaren fan, but for them, Ferrari and Mercedes to look at RB, a team with only 6 years in F1, as their prey to hunt, is the biggest compliment they could ever have


This is the 2nd race in a row that Webber has out polled Vettel. Is this because of the new rules for engine mapping?

Or is Webber just happier with the car at the momment.


Anyone backing anyone other other Vettel for the title is a fantasist, pure and simple. The Red Bull remains the fastest car in qualifying and I see no reason to believe this won't continue. This will mean Vettel continues to be near the front. As we all know if he gets on pole then he usually follows this through for the win. Given his large lead lets not forget he needs to finish out of the points three times at least for others to be snapping at his heals. Now that might not be so impossible but what is less likely is that the same driver will capitalise with the win on these three occasions.

Vettel has this in the bag a la Button in 2009. All he has to do is play it cool and be happy to bag points every race.


Personally I have no problem with paying Sky to watch F1, the only reason I dont have a sports subscription now is that I dont watch football. So as long as Sky can make their shows tasteful and not follow the Fox route of having 2 cretins in a studio massaging their own egos then fine. Certainly I would like to keep Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz; I have nothing against DC for that matter. It's clear from the BBC shows Jake Humphries lost insterest in F1 some time ago and will be off doing the Olympics anyway.

What really annoys me about this is the BBC's half coverage, what a joke, a decision clearly made by an accountant and not by someone who has any vague understanding of the audience they serve. I for one will not be watching the BBC's coverage.

BBC you should be ashamed of yourselves.

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