Red Bull domination is over

Red Bull
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is absolutely determined not to use his big points advantage to simply cruise to the title; nevertheless, it looks like his most dominant part of the season is now over.

The patterns of performance between the three leading cars over the last three races suggest that they are all going to be winning races between now and the end of the year, according to circumstance of weather and track layout.

On Mark Webber's out-lap for his final qualifying run in Hungary, the Red Bull driver was thwarted from getting his tyres up to temperature by encountering Jenson Button.

The stark contrast in preparation technique between the Red Bull and McLaren drivers illustrated perfectly one of the key performance parameters that has been shaping recent races.

As Webber explained: "Jenson was needing to do a much slower out-lap to prepare his tyres than me.

"I recognised straight away what he was doing because it was exactly the way I used to have to prepare during my Jaguar days when we had a car that was hard on its tyres but which could therefore switch them on pretty much immediately.

"The trick was to not take too much out of them on the out-lap and that's how it looks for the McLarens at the moment.

"On the other hand, we have to push pretty hard on the out-lap in order to have the tyres up to temperature at the beginning of the lap. Jenson wouldn't let me by and I don't blame him for that - I wouldn't have done in his position."

The McLaren's ability to generate tyre temperature more quickly than the Red Bull - and way more quickly than the Ferrari - has played a crucial part in McLaren's two consecutive grand prix victories.

The cold damp of the Nurburgring and the warmer but damper Hungaroring placed a lot of positive emphasis on that trait.

Red Bull

In the cool of Germany it played its part in getting Lewis Hamilton onto the front row and in his instant speed at the start and early in the stints.

In Hungary - as well as helping the McLarens' qualifying and allowing Hamilton to pass and pull away from early leader Vettel - it was also why Button was able to pull out an early margin on Vettel once he had passed the German at the beginning of the second stint.

Even when Vettel later came back at him, as the McLarens were delayed by Hamilton's spin at the chicane on lap 47, Button was able to pull out the necessary margin on the Red Bull all over again. At this phase of the race the rain had increased, which was bad news for both

Button and Vettel were each on the harder prime tyre. Generally, the harder the compound of tyre, the less temperature it generates - and maintaining decent tyre temperature largely determines if you have any wet-track grip.

During that rain phase Button increased his advantage over Vettel from 0.8secs to seven seconds in just four laps, a stark demonstration of the advantage bought by this particular trait of the McLaren.

The other extreme is the Ferrari.

Although much improved in this respect since its Silverstone upgrade, the car is still reluctant to generate instant tyre temperature...

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