Monday, June 8, 2009

James Allen's Turkish GP verdict

The Turkish Grand Prix was another tale of perfect execution by Jenson Button and Brawn, and missed opportunities for Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull – although Button’s relentless pace underlined the fact that the Brawn remains F1’s benchmark car.
James Allen analyses Button’s flawless drive, Vettel’s first-lap mistake, the nicely simmering rivalry between the Red Bull drivers, and the shuffling of the chasing pack.This was a race which may come to symbolise the 2009 season.

Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were quick, but Jenson Button had every base covered and won with a comfortable margin. Meanwhile luck didn’t run Rubens Barrichello’s way.
This was a track that, with some fast corners, should on paper have given Red Bull a chance – but instead it was the Brawn that was the class of the field.
Button now has more than double the number of points of his nearest non-Brawn challenger, Vettel (61 to 29).
Vettel started on pole position but made a mistake on the opening lap, which allowed Button to pass him and sail off to victory.
He has made a few mistakes this season, like the accident at Monaco, but he has nevertheless really made his name and shown his speed.
With experience he will undoubtedly mature. Button in contrast has hardly made any mistakes.
After that crucial error, the Red Bull team kept Vettel on a three-stop strategy compared to the two-stop plans of Button and Webber.
Vettel caught Button in the second stint, thanks to his lighter fuel load, but couldn’t get through.
He was unable to use the light fuel loads in the second and third stints and lost time as a result against Webber, who leapfrogged him at the second stops.
That’s twice he’s done that now, after Spain last month.
Vettel said afterwards that he thought they would change him to a two-stopper.
It was a bit like what happened between the two Brawn cars in Barcelona, except that in this case Vettel gave away the initiative by making a mistake.

At the end, with Vettel catching Webber in the closing stages, the team sent a coded message, “Mark is faster” – which he wasn’t at the time – and that meant that they had to hold station.
It is worth remembering that the pair set almost identical lap times in qualifying, so Webber was very much a match for Vettel once again this weekend.
After a strong start to the season for Vettel, while Webber was recovering from his broken leg and shoulder, Webber seems recently to have got the measure of him.
Fair play to the Aussie: A lot of people were all prepared to write him off in comparison with his exciting young team mate, but he’s fighting back.
This will make things interesting in Silverstone, where the Red Bull should have another chance to get ahead of Brawn with the many high-speed corners.
Webber was mighty in qualifying there last year, sticking the car on the front row of the grid. Vettel will have to be right on his game to beat him.
Toyota will be delighted to get back towards the front of the grid and silence the critics, with a fourth place for Jarno Trulli after a dire Monaco weekend.
Trulli put in a great drive, losing ground to Nico Rosberg at the first pit stops but regaining the place next time around.
Rosberg had his worst qualifying performance of the year but turned it into his best result of season, thanks to a great start, where he went from ninth to fourth in the opening stint.
Kazuki Nakajima was very unlucky. He got as high as fourth by running long on the opening stint and was set for seventh place.

But then at his second stop a wheel change problem cost him loads of time and he dropped out of contention, down to 12th at the finish.
It was a good day for Williams, who were comfortably faster than the Ferraris and a match for the Toyota.
It was a bit like the beginning of the season, where Brawn, Toyota, Williams and Red Bull are the quicker cars and the rest are behind.
BMW were back on song in this race, after not a great qualifying session.
Robert Kubica finished seventh and the car looks like it’s now about half a second a lap slower than the pace setters. They have been miles off at times recently.
This shows how much of a gain it is possible to make in one step and we could perhaps see that among the front-runners at some point soon.
Ferrari made a good step before Spain and Monaco, but lost the momentum this weekend.
The British Grand Prix is next. Jenson Button has always received a fantastic reception at Silverstone, whatever the competitiveness of the car he’s had that year.
Naturally he will be cheered to the rafters and it should be a fantastic occasion.

No comments: