I was reading James Allen’s story about the poor starts for Mark Webber in 2011. We’ve mused about the reasons and offered them as tangible examples of why Mark isn’t closer to Vettel this year as he was in 2010.
It’s an interesting read as Red Bull’s Christian Horner explains to James some of the reasons Mark has struggled. Most germane to the issue is this:
“Well you have two clutches, so the driver will release one lever and then feed in the other,” explained Horner. “So how they prepare the clutch on the way to the line is important, the engineers give them instructions on the number of burn-outs they need to do. They rehearse religiously to get the clutch clean – the best it can be for the start.
“Then it’s about matching the torque demand from the engine, through the clutch bite point and synchronising that. The drivers have the throttle position which they manage with the foot, then with the clutch he needs to keep his arm light, dumping one lever, feeding in the other one. At the same time he has to use his mirrors to see what’s around him.
“It’s very easy to overslip the tyres, creating wheel spin. It’s easy to underslip, where the engine bogs down and you have a bunny-hop start.
“So it’s a very small window that you are operating in.
“Mark’s had some good starts, unfortunately the bad starts have been when he’s been right up the front.”
The dual-clutch program with matching engine revs and the possibility for error seem incredibly tight. So tight that Horner suggested teammate Sebastian Vettel nearly had a similar start at Spa if it were not for an additional 100 revs the Renault engine was delivering at launch.
That’s a very narrow window for we, as fans, to understand. Then again, maybe it isn’t. We’ve grown accustomed to F1 being measured down to the gnats behind and this is really just another example of how critical the numerical side of F1 is.
With all starting procedures, revs and other mathematical nonsense aside—do we really think Mark is struggling with the precision of the start process so much more than Vettel in 2011? How different is the procedure than in 2010?
The argument also is interesting to me in that we hear many fans wondering just why Webber is so far behind Vettel and few are offering, what may be the real truth, the notion that Vettel is just that much better this year than last…that the young man from Germany may, in fact, be the real deal.