Remember Button’s mid-2009 slump? RBR figures it was ‘the yips’

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Red Bull has its preview of the European Grand Prix up, and there are still remnants of the “we’re too cool to care about winning” attitude that the team had before it started to, you know, win.

First off, though, some useful basics:

• The circuit is built around the America’s Cup port and marina area and also features a swing bridge section – the only one of its kind in F1.
• It’s a long track – 5.419km – with 25 corners, 13 right-handers and 12 left.
• Curiously only Brazilians have won the event here in Valencia, Felipe Massa taking the inaugural race, with Rubens Barrichello victorious for Brawn last year. It was Barrichello’s first win in five years.

[snip]

• Cars are at full throttle in Valencia for 59% of the lap, making it quite tough on engines because of several long high-speed sections that give way to low-gear corners. Top speeds can hit 315km/h at several spots on the track.
• Brake wear can he high here, owing to some stop-start sections on the 25-corner track.
• The semi-permanent nature of the circuit means it is usually very slippery early in the weekend but improves during the event. Bridgestone has brought its super soft and medium spec tyres to this race to help out.
• The tight turn 17 hairpin is reckoned to give the best overtaking opportunity.
• Because of the port location, sea breezes can upset car balance. It’s a low downforce circuit but the wind can hamper getting good set-up.

I figure those are helpful reminders, given you’ve probably slept through most of the past three races in Valencia. But on to the “cheeky” parts of the Red Bull preview:

Once again the rule that no country may host more than one round of the Formula One World Championship is circumnavigated by the clever expedient of giving one race the title ‘European Grand Prix’. That’s what’s now happens in Spain, as apart from the national race in Barcelona, we now have this extra event in Valencia. And, along with Singapore later in the year, it means we now have two more street races to make Monaco a little bit less unique. If the crowds seem a bit thin on the first couple of days of the weekend, it might have something to do with the fact Valencia already boasts a perfectly acceptable permanent race circuit, which is a favourite for winter testing, so the organisers would do well to post someone at the main gate to explain to spectators they house the Americas Cup, so it comes complete with some radically designed hospitality areas.

Translation: Yeah, we don’t really understand why we aren’t over at that perfectly good, and far better than the marina-side, track. Well, we do. Two words: Bernie Ecclestone.

And then there’s the explanation of Jenson Button’s mid-year problems:

What Happened Last Year
Jenson Button, who had dominated all year, was suffering a dose of what golfers call ‘the yips’ by the time the circus reached Valencia in August for the season’s 11th race. The title leader qualified fifth and finished a disappointing seventh, though held his points lead as Rubens Barrichello took over the reins for Brawn and won his first race since China ’04.

And it sure didn’t help that Rubens started hitting every fairway and green for a few races, huh?

So, does anyone think there’s a realistic chance that this weekend’s race won’t end up a procession?

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