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Old 03-18-2013, 12:11 AM   #348
A. T. T-W
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Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
I wonder how McLaren so badly bungled an incremental change to last year's car?
The McLaren has actually changed quite a lot.
Originally Posted by wxwax
Still, it's just one race, shouldn't make too big of a deal out of it, right?
A few more races and we might just have an idea.

Red Bull is still very conservative, hence the low top speed. They are content with their strategy of high corner grip at the expense of top-end speed believing that if they dominate qualifying, they can control things from the front. If their drivers can be quicker through the corners they can open enough of a gap to avoid being overtaken on the straights.

It's a strategy that has worked well in the recent years.

The strategy places more stress upon the tyres though and this year that may be enough to compromise their season.

If anyone needs an example of this, just look at Vettel's Abu Dhabi performance last year. When he was demoted to the back of the grid, the team altered the car set-up to lose corner speed in favour of top speed and he finished on the podium.

A few years ago, someone at Red Bull did the sums and worked out that if their cars could start in front of the rest, having the ability to corner faster than anyone else, taken together with the aero penalty of following too close, would negate the loss of top speed between the corners. As long as the gap coming out of a corner is big enough and the car can accelerate up to its lower top speed at least as well as the following car, then the chance of being passed (even in the DRS zone) is limited. With better cornering grip the drivers can brake into a turn later than any car that manages to close the gap between corners in the knowledge that they will have the grip to not fall off the circuit.

Watch the speed trap figures this year. If Red Bull begin to register higher top speeds it will be an indication that the new, less durable, rubber is hurting their overall strategy (probably the reason for the compound change in the first place).
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