Red Bull's Silverstone One-Two Sets Up Thrilling End to Season
Putting aside all the FOTA/FIA politics that have blighted the final British GP at Silverstone, what we have seen this weekend on the track is a shift in power at the front of the F1 field.
Even with Brawn's supposed cold tyres issue, Red Bull's pace this weekend has turned this championship from the processional to the epic.
Two weeks ago, Button and Brawn were imperious on their way to a straightforward victory in Istanbul.
Brawn's race pace was so superior that despite Red Bull securing pole, that was done with less fuel onboard and even if Vettel hadn't fallen off the track at turn 10 whilst leading, Brawn themselves felt that they still would have had the pace to overcome the Vettel-Red Bull challenge.
Fast forward two weeks, and after the aero upgrades by Adrian Newey, Geoff Willis and the rest of the Red Bull team, Red Bull have not only caught up with Brawn, but overtaken them—and by some considerable margin.
The new front wing and other aero upgrades have transformed Red Bull into the car that the rest of the field are envious of.
Partner the car's improved performance with two competitive drivers in Mark Webber, who is driving better than he has done in his seven previous seasons, and a German superstar who is living up to all the hype with some fantastic performances, and you have a formidable partnership.
The signs seem ominous for the rest of the season.
The sudden performance of the Red Bull's came as just as much of a shock as the Brawn's sudden drop from the front. In Istanbul, David Coulthard commented on how he couldn't see anybody getting anywhere near Brawn for the remainder of the season.
Brawn's pace was so dominant, as it has been pretty much everywhere all season, it seemed that we would be set for a repeat of the 2004 season, with Jenson Button cruising to the world championship.
However, after Red Bull's scintillating and dominant performance at Silverstone, that luxury appears to have gone away.
The development of the Red Bull has been very visible. The new "duckbill-platypus" front wing has made a radical change to the cars front end aerodynamic efficiency, whilst the improved weight distribution and other aero upgrades have dramatically increased the car's overall efficiency.
Brawn GP, on the other hand, visually appear to have not made any alterations to their car since it's testing debut back in March. Of course, up until this weekend, they haven't needed to—six wins out of seven reflects that.
However, even despite the tire temperature issues, Brawn's race pace was nearly half a second behind that of Red Bull's in terms of fastest laps.
Maybe the lack of funding from a source the size of Honda has been affecting their development. Brawn GP is now running on a greatly reduced budget from the last few years, but Ross Brawn claims the team have more than enough money to utilise their development needs.
Now they need to develop their car more than ever if they are to keep their championship lead.
What can we expect from the second half of this season?
Judging by this weekend, Jenson Button may need to follow the example of Fernando Alonso from '05, and cruise and collect points whilst competing against a superior opposition.
His championship lead does give him that advantage, but whether he or Ross Brawn be forced to elect to use this route remains to be seen. Red Bull, on the other hand, appear to have become the team to beat, and have set up the second half of this year's world championship to be a tantalizing affair.
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