Who can stop a Red Bull rampage in Valencia?
26 June, 2011
Jun.26 (GMM) After all the talk that the engine mapping clampdown would slow Red Bull in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber locked out the front row of the grid at Valencia and are undisputed pre-race favourites.
FIA technical boss, Charlie Whiting had earlier denied the banning of extreme qualifying engine maps after qualifying – and the further clampdown set for Silverstone – is a “political” move against the energy drinks team’s dominance.
However Niki Lauda told Kleine Zeitung that the affair “smells like an arbitrary move to disrupt the world championship”.
Nevertheless, German Vettel powered to yet another pole – eight out of eight for the Red Bull boys.
“I thought they would lose a bit more, but obviously that was not the case,” lamented McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who will start the race from third.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa echoed Hamilton’s sentiments to TV Globo: “For this race, nothing changes. For the next ones, let’s wait and see. Most cars will lose some performance so we’ll have to see if it’s more or less than the others.”
Actually, the change may have affected Mercedes GP the most, with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher both admitting they could feel “a difference” without their qualifying engine mode as they trailed the pace by over a second.
“One source told me Mercedes would be most affected because they are blowing hot air over the diffuser, rather than cold air,” wrote David Coulthard in his Telegraph column.
Ross Brawn disagrees, telling Auto Motor und Sport that, “at the most, Force India seems to have made up some ground”.
And stragglers Virgin Racing are hoping the Silverstone clampdown also brings them closer to the field.
“The rule changes will mainly affect the top teams,” said Timo Glock, “while we lose nothing, so I hope the 107 per cent in qualifying will no longer be an issue for us.”
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s position at the front looks unlikely to be troubled an their rivals are scratching their heads on how to beat them. That is if anyone can…
“The Red Bull is undoubtedly the most dominant car I’ve faced,” Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso admitted to El Mundo newspaper on Saturday.
Vettel will be aiming for his sixth victory of the season at Valencia, he already has 161 points in the bag – 60 more than his closest rival Jenson Button.