Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Webber Monza Preview

One down One to go for Webber and Red Bull.

Spa and Monza were never going to be Red Bull friendly tracks, the Red Bull Renault engine has many good quality's particularly its great pick up and drive out of the corners. Red Bull are the first to admit however it lacks outright grunt and top speed. This was best shown in Qualifying at Spa where Webber was burned by the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton through the long straights of Sector One, where even the legendary Eau Rouge is taken flat by all cars now, making it for the purposes of arguments about power, a straight. But in the twisty sector 2, where downforce and aero efficiency are the key, both Webber and Vettel were supreme, amazing Webber ended up on Pole after Saturday, which though it had elements of luck with the changeable conditions messing up qualifying for the top teams, was achieved on a dry track and slicks.

During the race, Webber got off to what is sadly becoming his customary terrible start and settled into 6th place at the hair-pin turn one, then outfought Sutil coming out Eau Rouge, with what is also becoming a Webber tradition, the incredible overtaking move that is completely ignored by the commentators. So he settled into 5th as the changeable conditions intervened. This led to the other great fear for Webber fans, Christian Horner having a say in the outcome of the race with strategy calls. I have many concerns about Horner as a manager of the egos within the Red Bull team and his obvious favoritism of Vettel is frustrating not just due to the fact it exists but with the complete lack of skill with which he has handled the whole situation. However, these concerns pale into insignificance compared to my finger nail biting angst that occurs whenever a race becomes a strategy battle and it becomes possible that Horner's decisions will directly affect the outcome of the race.

So in conclusion, Webber faced a triple threat at Spa, Firstly a track that does not suit the car, Secondly the terrible start, Thirdly, the stomach churning prospect of Horner vs Whitmarsh strategy battle. In the end as we know Webber came out of this with a stunning 2nd place finish. Better yet, Vettel showed his impetuousness yet again this season, took Button out and ruined his own race, meaning that he fell 28 points behind his teammate in the World Championship and took Button out as well. This means that the 5 way World Championship battle entering Spa, became in all reality thanks to Alonso's failure a 2 way race between Hamilton and Webber. Neither McLaren or Red Bull have acknowledged this as yet, and a reverse result at Monza opens it up again, but as long as Webber finishes within a place of his teammate for the next 2 races Red Bull will have little choice but to put their eggs in the Webber basket.

So now we head to Monza, again another Engine Power/Top Speed track, unfortunately their is not twisty bit at Monza, just long straights, chicanes and a couple of hairpins. This is particularly troubling as not only does this put the Renault powered Red Bulls behind McLaren but at the same time creates a situation where the Ferrari's and even the Force India's could leapfrog the Red Bull's as well helping Hamilton increase is championship lead by more than just the 7-12 points that a McLaren/Red Bull top 4 would cause. There is a real chance Webber could be scrapping for 6 or 7 points this weekend.

Mind you, I felt the same way heading to Spa and it ended up being the best weekend for the Webber World Championship charge so far this season, thanks to the youthful stupidity of his teammate. Now lets just hope that Horner and the Red Bull ownership think of the best chance to get a World Title and not try to somehow jeopardise his chances to get the young German back in the game and keep the Austrian parent company happy. And yes, this is a real fear.

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