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Pre-Budapest analysis - Red Bull relaxed over rule clarification 27 Jul 2012

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing sign autographs.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations Day, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 26 July 2012 Aero paint on the diffuser of Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 21 July 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations Day, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 26 July 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 21 July 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations Day, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 26 July 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 22 July 2012 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 signs autographs.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations Day, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 26 July 2012

Red Bull Racing have already shown twice this year that they bounce back almost unscathed from technical clarifications - with the holes in the floor being banned after Monaco and questions of their hub design in Canada - and Sebastian Vettel said yesterday that he doesn’t think the enforced change in their engine torque mapping is such a big deal either in the wake of changes mandated after the German Grand Prix.

The stewards there dwelt on a report from FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer on race-day morning but said there was nothing they could do within the precise wording of the technical regulations. However, following a technical working group meeting in London on Monday last week the FIA issued a further clarification on Wednesday outlawing the map they had used at Hockenheim on the grounds that it exerted an aerodynamic influence over the rear end of the Red Bull RB8.

"We only knew an hour before the race what was going to happen, but we took it and obviously it was good for us to start from the grid,” Vettel said of the German race in which he finished second on the road behind Fernando Alonso but dropped to fifth after a post-race 20s penalty was applied when he went beyond circuit limits to pass Jenson Button. “It was also clear that probably it was not the last action to be taken. But, to be honest, I think there was more of a fuss in writing and talking, than in the mapping in the car.

"Obviously, if you look at the cars this year they are different to last year in terms of regulations, and the way you are forced to put your exhaust in a certain position. If you look at what people tried to achieve it is similar to last year, so everyone tries to do his best. But it is not as if the car does not work now any more. I am quite confident that nothing will change.

"We had what we had in the car in Hockenheim because we believed it was quickest, so it is a little bit different for here. But it is hard to give you a figure: if it is two-tenths, half a tenth, or nothing. We cannot measure."

Meanwhile, Alonso said yesterday that he and Ferrari are far from complacent about their world championship chances despite an extraordinary first half of the season in which he has won almost 30 percent of the races in a car that began with many shortcomings.

“I think we are in a good position in terms of points that we achieve in the first half of the season, in the first 10 races,” he said cheerfully, “but we are only halfway. We did 10 and there remain another 10 important races with the same possibilities for everybody. I think the distance between the top five, top six is not a distance or a gap that is impossible to recover. You just need one good race or two good races and you are up there.

“So, we need to keep the concentration, try to keep maximising what we have in our hands every weekend - sometimes we know that can be a podium, sometimes maybe it’s a fifth position, sometimes a seventh, but we cannot afford to make any mistakes or anything that we will regret. So, we need to keep doing good - some good consistency but in terms of the championship it’s obviously way too early to think and still McLaren, Red Bull, Lotus, Mercedes - anyone is in contention at the moment.”

Asked to quantify how much they had improved what was initially a difficult and disappointing car, he replied: “Well, definitely we did improve the car a lot. I don’t know how much, or I cannot quantify it in terms of lap time because it will be difficult. I think between two and three seconds maybe but obviously it’s a number that cannot be very precise. I think the biggest improvement that we introduced was in Barcelona; the biggest updates were mainly the aerodynamics of the car - but we knew that in the first three or four races, when we were in China, Bahrain, the car was not doing what we were expecting. And when we arrived in Barcelona, everything became a little bit more normal for us and from that point, all the updates it was fine-tuning. But the Barcelona one was to make everything back to work.”

Together with the two McLarens, Red Bull and Ferrari start this Hungarian race weekend as the favourites, with Lotus expected to be the dark horse.

David Tremayne

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