Mark Webber, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2011

First race indicates Red Bull have increased lead

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Mark Webber, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2011
Mark Webber, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2011

Red Bull’s performance advantage in the first race of 2011 was comparable to their strongest performances of 2010.

The RB7s were almost 1% faster around Albert Park than any other car, and 2% faster than anything other than a McLaren or a Ferrari.

This chart shows the percentage difference between the quickest laps set by all the cars in race weekends this year and last year.

At the far right of the chart it’s clear to see how Red Bull pulled ahead in the first race of the year:

Bahrain 2010 Australia 2010 Malaysia 2010 China 2010 Spain 2010 Monaco 2010 Turkey 2010 Canada 2010 Europe 2010 Britain 2010 Germany 2010 Hungary 2010 Belgium 2010 Italy 2010 Singapore 2010 Japan 2010 Korea 2010 Brazil 2010 Abu Dhabi 2010 Australia 2011
Red Bull 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.36 0 0 0 0 0 0.57 0.06 0 0 0 0 0.00
McLaren 0.79 0.9 0.02 0.45 1.08 0.82 0.16 0 0.39 1.05 0.86 2.19 0.08 0.15 0.17 0.42 0.5 0.96 0.03 0.92
Ferrari 0 0.23 0.22 0.38 1.07 0.62 0.91 0.44 0.5 0.9 0 1.54 0.51 0 0 0.62 0.19 0.5 0.4 1.7
Mercedes 0.24 1.15 0.48 0.39 0.99 0.97 0.65 1.29 1.07 1.13 1.67 2.93 1.81 1.2 1 0.78 0.99 1.9 1.13 2.21
Renault 1.08 1.73 1.08 0.85 1.55 0.4 0.86 0.81 0.56 1.59 1.75 2.91 0.3 1.31 1.14 0.49 1.3 1.27 1.39 2.02
Williams 1.08 1.55 1.07 1.26 2.71 1.46 2.43 1.77 0.86 1.74 1.79 3.25 0.78 1.31 0.8 0.83 1.48 2.16 0.81 3.73
Force India 1.17 1.91 1.16 1.49 1.94 1.82 1.43 0.72 0.94 1.99 2.27 3.48 0.83 1.51 3.33 2.06 2.3 2.46 1.53 3.7
Sauber 1.72 2.18 2.07 1.97 2.13 2.53 1.84 3.03 1.72 1.85 1.75 3.35 1.44 2.07 2.37 1.54 2.15 1.74 1.4 2.45
Toro Rosso 1.9 2.05 1.21 1.57 2.77 2.15 2.29 2.43 1.02 2.67 2.44 3.97 2.01 2.09 2.16 2.52 2.37 3.25 2.36 2.74
Lotus 4.99 5.81 4.09 5.12 5.31 4.43 4.57 4.17 3.15 5.27 5.14 6.79 4.56 4.37 5.24 5.02 5.16 4.19 4.15 6.41
HRT 8.01 7.87 6.76 6.09 7.51 6.34 5.76 5.83 5.14 7.44 6.51 9.67 5.06 5.96 7.17 7.14 7.18 5.7 5.73 10.16
Virgin 4.45 6.76 4.02 4.99 6.38 4.81 5.16 5.11 4.48 5.76 5.99 6.7 5.43 4.85 5.06 6.04 5.4 4.81 4.73 7.04

As we saw during the race weekend, Red Bull were finding much of their extra speed in the final two sectors of the lap. They seemed to be finding much of it through the quick turns 11 and 12, carrying extra speed onto the straight down to turn 13.

This is consistent with what we saw from them last year: like the RB6, the RB7 appears to be best in medium-to-high speed corners. Pictures showing the car’s front wing dipping low and generating extra downforce – in spite of the increased load tests placed upon them this year – offer a clue to how they are doing this.

But, as we also saw last year, the extra downforce carries a drag penalty, and they were only quicker through the speed traps than Lotus, Virgin and HRT.

This particular problem will have been exacerbated by them not being able to run KERS due to reliability concerns.

The characteristics of the Sepang circuit are closer to those of most other tracks than Melbourne, so we should see a different picture next weekend. Will Red Bull be further ahead or will the other teams reduce their advantage? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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130 comments on “First race indicates Red Bull have increased lead”

  1. Sush Meerkat
    3rd April 2011, 8:45

    How does Adrian Newey do this with his cars?, its witchcraft I tell you!

    1. HAHAHA, He is really good. Hope Mercedez or Maclaren can catch up..

      1. Sush Meerkat
        3rd April 2011, 9:08

        If I was an engineer at the Brackley Merc HQ i’d feel dejected man.

        In 2009 they beat Red Bull by spending a Billion Dollars*, if Brawn never made it to the 2009 grid Red Bull would have romped to victory that year.

        Judging by how fast Red Bull Racings cars go through corners they must rock out at night around Milton Keynes’s boring endless roundabouts


        1. If the Double Diffuser loophole hadn’t been found, Red Bull would have stormed it on Newey’s experience and innovation. It was by some way, the most beautiful car on the grid. A work of art, and no less. The rear end on it, was astonishing.

    2. I think it is Vettel aswell. That boy is QUICK

      1. Sush Meerkat
        3rd April 2011, 9:18

        He’s quick when in front yes, boy has issue’s when behind a car though.

        1. where did u get that from ??? didn’t he finished 7th at silverstone after being last ?

          1. Vettel has issues when behind a car he is supposed to be racing. Crashing into Webber and button last season for example – no one has truble passing folks 3 secs a lap slower.

            Don’t forget the only reason we had a close season was because of mistakes by Red Bull all season long. Why was vettel last at Silverstone? Dropped too far behind Webber and the pace car and no one told him to move closer over the radio.

            But the boy is quick and barring disaster he should live on the front row this season and hence win more often than not.

          2. Sparky, I believe the pace car incident was at Hungary.

      2. And there are 2 guys undeniably better and quicker than him. 3 if you count that one in hospital. Additional 3 with better skills, yet slower if you think of raw speed.

        It’s just a kid in a hell good car.

        1. Sush Meerkat
          3rd April 2011, 9:37

          And there are 2 guys undeniably better and quicker than him. 3 if you count that one in hospital. Additional 3 with better skills, yet slower if you think of raw speed.
          It’s just a kid in a hell good car.

          ohhhh controversial!

          Thats fighting talk!

          1. It’s not really fighting talk, it’s idiot talk. He proved in an STR he’ll be a damn good driver, and now he’s just got a good car to go with his skills. I still can’t believe I defend someone I loathe so much, but the level of ignorance from some posts on this site needs to often be addressed.

        2. Easy to say…but prove it? You can’t. The combination of brilliant driver and car should never be over-looked. No one knows if Kubica would be any better in the RB7 or Vettel in the R31. This sport doesn’t run on hypothetical conclusions, just results.

          1. Vettel has only just beaten Webber 2 seasons in a row.. I haven’t heard people claiming Webber is with Alonso and Hamilton as the best.

            He has a couple of off weekends each of the two years, a bunch of mechanical faults and a team that clearly hate him, if Vettel is only just besating him then there better be a bloody massive reason why if Vettel is to be da vunderkid.

            And no 7 hundredths of a second in Australia last year and the best car by far to win from pole until a mech fault isn’t a reason. It’s an example of why vettel isn’t at the top.

            Regardless of your mech faults during the races and such, or how many poles you get etc…

            If you can only beat your teammate on average throughout the year by less half of 1 tenth and your teammate isn’t rated as top stuff then you aren’t.

            That is a fact. If Alonso was barely faster than Massa then either Massa is bloody fast driver and has fully recovered or Alonso isn’t that fast. Similiar with Hamilton and BUtton.

          2. I’m not debating how drivers should be compared. I see the point your making but the problem is that it’s subjective. We could go on about if’s and but’s all day both for and against Vettel…but you can’t categorically rank drivers on anything but results.

            Points make prizes! ;)

          3. Cluffy_Wedge
            3rd April 2011, 12:50

            If you exclude all his mechanical failures of last year he would have won the WDC 2 or 3 races before the end of the season, Schumacher style.

          4. The mechanical failures are leveled out by his car being faster by, on average, half to a whole second a lap.

            The blunders he made himself. He lost about just as much points due to all those.

        3. From where do you know they are quicker? Have you seen their telemetry? It is purely speculations and very subjective when we haven’t seen them in equal equipment.

          1. ‘zactly my point mads.

        4. Heh. I was thinking you meant Hamilton, Alonso and.. hospital.. who’s in the hospital atm… Stewart? Why would he drag Stewart into this comparison?


          1. Ok, so let’s start from Monza win in a STR. First of all, try co recall the quali and who was where. Having Hamilton and Raikonnen out of the top 10 really helps. Second thing – try to recall what kind of STR was it. No, not today’s purely Toro Rosso car, but a customer Red Bull. My conclusion: respectable but not epic win, without signs of genius and with a load of luck.

            Now, of course I speak of Alonso and Hamilton. Those guys won titles with cars which weren’t so superior throughout the whole season. RB6 was probably the most dominant car since Schu’s F2002 and F2004. Remember what he’s done with those to the rest of the field? And what Vettel did? Almost lost the tile to Alonso or Webber, won only half of races in which he started from PP. IMO Hamilton or Alonso would have made a commanding WDC victory out of it. Vettel has top-tier speed, but the rest of hist racecraft is not as good which makes him as a whole a worse driver, not a bad driver but worse than few others. Of course it is my entirely subjective opinion and of course you have right to disagree. Although I honestly advise you against calling someone an idiot, just because you disagree.

          2. I agree with you Cyclops, but I think for us to truly know Vettel’s true pace we would have to see him in the same equipment as the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and kubica.
            But my guess is he’d be pretty close!

          3. Hm, was Sush Meerkat’s reply moderated out? No offense to whoever is doing the moderating, but I would just like to state for the record I wasn’t offended by it at all. Definitely came across to me as a banter-type response, not genuine name-calling.

          4. Cyclops, if the other manufacturers don’t pick up their game, then all the RB7 has to do is prove to be slightly more reliable than the 2010 iteration of the car and Vettel will sew up this championship Brawn-style. I think his racecraft in midfield battles is horrible, and everyone at Milton Keynes probably realise it’s his biggest weakness – but I doubt they care too much as long as he keeps pulling out pole positions. And I find it difficult to believe either Hamilton or Alonso would qualify quicker in that thing than Seb is at the moment, brilliant drivers though they are.

    3. car perormance? ur missing an f in the url

  2. After speaking a guy from the factory in a pub at the weekend, it appears McLaren have their own flexi front wing in production and should be taking it to Istanbul!

    1. How on earth do they flex? What’s the max weight the FIA apply in teh test, and what’s the max of the force at high speed?

      1. I think it is made with some kind of liquid crystal technology, dont quote me on that!

      2. Sush Meerkat
        3rd April 2011, 9:03

        How on earth do they flex? What’s the max weight the FIA apply in teh test, and what’s the max of the force at high speed?

        Apparently its to do with how the carbon fibre is lacquered, it makes it strong on single points which is good for load test, but the entire piece can flex without breaking.

        even standard Carbon Fibre weave is weird like that too, its durable in one direction but turns to dust when hit in the wrong spot.

        You could probably punch through a Ferrari’s body kit if hit in from the inside, although I wouldn’t recommend it, carbon splinter drive themselves into muscle.

        Speaking of which I saw a French girl shatter a graphite arrow with her hand at an archery competition when I was a kid, it made me treat them with respect because holy hell it looked and sounded painful.

        1. i think none of you have a clue. If the top dogs cant figure it out then no one here can!

          1. hah yeh I think only Newey really knows, but you should have a look at the F1 Technical forum on the page about the red bull flexi wing, the have some pretty good ideas:

      3. If I remember correctly its 100kgs on each side of the wing (so 200kgs in total).

        1. Surely a pressure test is a better method than just loading weight? How they would conduct that I don’t know ;)

      4. The max downforce at speed on the whole car is about 2000kg. So (for simplicities sake) about one quarter of that goes to each half of the front wing. That would be 500kg.

        Now the FIA tests the wing with a load of 50kg and 100kg. And “amazingly” they cannot detect that the wing flexes at speed ….

        Even if the flex was lineair, that would mean the wing could flex up to 5 times the allowed limit in the flex test. That’s 5cm to 10cm!

        1. I agree. Seriously. How the FIA cannot see that this test is flawed to the point of ridiculing the fact that they’re doing the test at all, is beyond me. Probably beyond anyone in F1 as well, no matter what side of the fence they fall on.

      5. The beauty (or rather should I say ugliness) of the Bull wing is that the team can give a “doctored” one to Vettel, and a “normal” one to Webber, and that lefts Mark puzzled looking at Seb’s one after qualy since both of them are externally identical. That way they are able to loudly proclaim their “no team orders” policy while favouring their chosen one as they wish…

        1. What a ridiculous claim.

      6. I think the flex actually comes from the entire nose flexing down rather than the wings themselves. That is how they are getting around it because the test measures the wing flex, not the nose cone itself bending down.

        Think of the extra downforce you could get when that whole front section bends down a few mm and increases the angle of the entire front wing assembly at speed. And it would also explain their slow straight line speed.

        1. Look at the animations and you see that the nose tip doesn’t move down relative to the rest of the car at all.

          The wing endplates do move down relative to the center of the wing though.

          What did happen last year was that the whole front of the car flexed down. That was due to the flexing front floor. This is pretty much eliminated by the new floor testing.

    2. why not take it to speang or malaysia though. can’t be that hard if they’ve already designed and made it…

  3. What are the chances of a retirement if they run KERS? They are so worried about issues like last year, they must be really wishing that other teams did not have KERS.

  4. Any news on webbers car? Was there a fault? Heard rumours it might have been a chassis issue. Can you shed any light on this keith?

    1. Sush Meerkat
      3rd April 2011, 9:09

      Nah Webber stayed quiet, although I hear Jenson had massive front locking.

      ba dum tish!

      1. I doubt there was a problem with Webber’s car. He was purely slower than Vettel, nothing more to it.

        1. Essentially yes, but there’s more to it, They were closely matched for the first part of the weekend. It can’t really be setup related because they both drive in a smiliar fashion, and they often borrow one another’s setups if they see it working. But, I’d be VERY surprised if it turns out that 0.8 was the difference between them purely on pace and nothing else.

          1. They were closely matched for the first part of the weekend.

            Yes too close, wouldn’t want a repeat of last year ;-)

        2. The team have confirmed a problem with Webber’s car, in the region of a seized rear centre spring… so not just Webber suddenly so much slower than Vettel.
          But it’s no reason to scream Germanic favouritism or conspiracy … just tough luck for Webber.

  5. I read in Autosport (I think) that, compared to last year, Red Bull have increased their lead by 340%. Last year they were something like 0.2sec ahead and this year it was 0.7 at the same track. Thats got to be very worrying for the other teams.
    Sorry for the lack of any proper explanation or hard facts but its very early in the morning and I haven’t slept yet.

    1. Surely it doesn’t necessarily tell the full story though. For one thing, in race pace Hamilton was hindered by his floor, so was unable to set a comparable lap time. Plus as last years race was wet and confusing, I’m not at all suprised that at least during the race they had less of an advantage that time round.

      1. I have to agree with you there. It was all off the top of my head, I can’t remember the details. We’ll find out how things are next weekend.

        1. Yeah I don’t think we’ll really know where the ground lies till we see the top 3 teams running properly and consistently around a high-speed and not typically suprising track. Tbh though if anything I thought Australia provided hope that maybe if McLaren can improve on what is a little tested design then maybe there will be a fight on at least in race trim and off the start line if Red Bull don’t use KERS.

  6. I think Red Bull will be faster, if they get their KERS working. But McLaren and Ferrari should be able to improve.
    The first by having their package in carbon fibre instead of using titanium as well as refining the exhausts.
    The latter by getting the tyres and setup right. And I expect Red Bull to run into some trouble with their KERS during the weekend.

    But a definite favourite for pole stays Vettel.

    1. Malaysia has longer straights and that could help Ferrari but many fast corners that Red Bull faces better.

      1. Sounds like ferrari’s advantage. You can’t overtake in a fast corner! (Not without serious risk anyway)

        1. You don’t need to overtake if you can build a large enough gap in the fast corners.

  7. This chart shows the percentage difference between the quickest laps set by all the cars in race weekends this year and last year.

    Ah, but there you go. Over the race the gap is usually significantly smaller than that. This year the factor of DRS in qualifying may also be skewing this, because I believe it gives certain cars a bigger advantage than others. And the qualifying gap should have been 0.2, 0.3 or even 0.4s less due to Hamilton’s KERS problem.

    Maybe 0.7s is the natural fast-lap pace of the Red Bull on a “proper” circuit. But I’m waiting to see what the introduction of KERS does to the Red Bull and what McLaren will be like now they actually know how the car works.

    1. Don’t get me wrong, I know why fast-lap pace is used as the differentiator between the cars performances, because race pace data can be so unreliable. Just that the race never sees a direct translation of all of that advantage.

      1. Sush Meerkat
        3rd April 2011, 9:17

        because race pace data can be so unreliable.

        Just look at the first 3 laps Vettel done at Melbourne.

        I’m assuming Red Bull has a huge advantage because Vettel was like “Hey everyguys!, I’M OVER HERE!” vrooommmmm..

        1. And the laps after that? Maybe he was working the tyres too much at the start? Maybe McLaren aren’t as good at getting the initial performance out? Maybe Red Bull are that good but at the expense of wearing out the tyres too faster?

          Too many ifs.

          1. Sush Meerkat
            3rd April 2011, 9:43

            Its like your a superhero comic book character, I see your common sense is tingling!

            Damn you Itchyes! *punches arm rest*

          2. Why should the gap be smaller because Hamilton had a KERS problem?

            THe REd Bull’s didn’t KERS at all. The gap was just Hamilton without KERS vs RB7 without KERS.

            RBR weren’t running KERS because they couldn’t get it working. Hamilton wasn’t running KERS because he couldn’t get it working. Sure Hamilton was carring around the packs, but they aren’t anything more than the ballast in weight terms and the difference due to position is less than 1 tenth let alone the 2-4 that you are quoting.

          3. Why should the gap be smaller because Hamilton had a KERS problem?

            A car set up to run KERS that suddenly loses KERS has big brake balance issues. Ergo he should have been closer.

            Hamilton wasn’t running KERS because he couldn’t get it working

            He was running KERS. It stopped working in qualifying when he was running it.

        2. Just look at the first 3 laps Vettel done at Melbourne.
          I’m assuming Red Bull has a huge advantage because Vettel was like “Hey everyguys!, I’M OVER HERE!” vrooommmmm..

          Haha, that’s gotta be COTD.

    2. Well the RB7 just has massive downforce. That doesn’t necessarily always have to be the best approach. The downforce that car produces was enough so Vettel could go flatout through large parts of the corners with the rearwing open. That must