09 May 2009

Post qualifying prediction

Given Button on pole, and Massa 4th, with KERS, it should be an interesting race tomorrow. My race predictions are as follows:

Win - Button
2nd - Massa
3rd - Barrichello
4th - Vettel
5th - Trulli
6th - Webber
7th - Rosberg
8th - Alonso

The most interesting feature tomorrow might well be Raikkonen's progress. He starts 16th, in a car that could have made the 2nd row. He'll also have more unused soft tyres than most (having expected to use them in Q2 and Q3). He's a good outside bet for points.

The grid and weights

Going into qualifying, Brawn and Barrichello were confident of pole. Coming out, Button was surprised by it. Were those comments designed to affect Red Bull's strategy? Who knows, however, given the FIA's release of the weights of the cars, we can assess performance in final qualifying.

As usual, the grid is displayed below by row, with the odd numbers on the left (pole listed first) and with my estimate of first pit stop lap (based on fuel consumption figures from Williams) in brackets. KERS cars are highlighted in bold.

Front row: Button (16) Vettel (18)
2nd row: Barrichello (17) Massa (20)
3rd row: Webber (18) Glock (16)
4th row: Trulli (20) Alonso (15-16)
5th row: Rosberg (25-26) Kubica (22)
6th row: Nakajima (29) Piquet (30)
7th row: Heidfeld (29) Hamilton (32)
8th row: Buemi (30) Raikkonen (28)
9th row: Bourdais (26) Kovaleinen (21)
Back row: Sutil (29) Fisichella (20)

It is a 66 lap race, so 16 laps represents a straightforward 3-stopper, whilst 22 is the equivalent figure for a 2-stopper. However, given the apparent slowness of the hard tyre, expect some to have long stints on softs to avoid using hard tyres for more than they have to.

Given all that, expect everyone to start on softs, for Massa to lead into turn 1, for Vettel and Webber to pit on consecutive laps (their weights were identical). The top 8, plus Kovaleinen and Fisichella might all 3-stop, but nobody will 1-stop (if they did, Piquet or Buemi might start on hards, then use softs for 36 laps, which is surely pushing things too far).

Predictions for tomorrow's result in next post (expect it at 19:15).

Saturday Practice

A seldom-well-reported session of 1 hour, a few hours before qualifying. Usually the quickest of the three free pratice sessions it usually features pretty much everyone trying their qualifying set-up. It will be interesting to see if performances this afternoon match those this morning.

As yesterday, I include a list of the top driver from each team, to demonstrate the best pace shown by each car so far this weekend.

Ferrari ... ... 0.000 (more than a second quicker than Rosberg yesterday)
Brawn . .. ... 0.497 (3 and 4, behind a Ferrari 1-2)
BMW ... ... .. 0.686 (although Heidfeld had difficulties and ended up last 2.904s behind Massa)
Toyota ... ... 0.703 (ran more laps than anyone else, 23 & 26 compared to 22 for Kimi)
McLaren ... 0.793 (ran only 15 & 16 laps, only Heidfeld (8) ran fewer)
Toro Rosso..0.871 (9th and 14th places will cheer them, probably)
Renault .. ... 0.946 (guess which one was faster, ahem)
Williams .. .. 1.041 (unusual for them not to lead in this session)
Red Bull .. .. 1.076 (holding their fire, presumably)
Force India..1.356 (still last, hopefully they'll find something soon, to get them into the fight)

One point to note, is that the gap from the Ferrari's to the rest of the field is huge, implying they were doing something different. Another is that Button, in third was less than 1s ahead of Nakajima in 18th, and only 0.469s ahead of Kovaleinen.

Friday Predictions - Barcelona

Friday partice is as uninformative as ever. Many teams were trying out new parts and following their own schedules (especially Toyota, going from second fastest to slowest between the sessions, see below).

My updated predictions show little change in my beliefs.

Win: Barrichello (although Button looks quicker in qualy spec, and pole matters here)
2nd: Button (no loss of faith in team Brawn)
3rd: Vettel (think Red Bull have better race pace than Toyota)
4th: Glock
5th: Alonso (show pony Q3 lap, then takes advantage of KERS in the race)
6th: Webber (due a better finish, but that's been true for years)
7th: Kubica (think a BMW might make Q3, and he'd be the more likely of the pair - no KERS though)
8th: Rosberg (surely the Williams team will make some hay while the sun, umm, sets)

08 May 2009

Friday Practice Review

Button won the first session, Rosberg the second. Highlights can be found on the BBC (first session, second session). The BBC describe the major headlines here.

Below is a list, by team, of the fastest drivers in each session, and then overall (almost mirrors 2nd session). Please forgive the poor formatting, one day I'll learn html.

Practice 1 .. Gap .. Practice 2 .. Gap .. Overall .. Gap
.. Brawn .. 0.000 .. Williams .. 0.000 . Williams .. 0.000
.. Toyota .. 0.355 .. Renault .. 0.193 ... Renault .. 0.193
... BMW ... 0.422 ... Brawn ... 0.255 ... *Brawn* .. *0.209*
. Williams . 0.860 . Red Bull .. 0.439 .. Red Bull .. 0.439
.. Renault . 0.954 Toro Rosso 0.983 .. *Toyota* *0.564*
.. Ferrari .. 1.056 ... Ferrari ... 1.011 ... *BMW* .. *0.631*
.. Red Bull . 1.135 Force India 1.082 . Toro Rosso 0.983
.. McLaren . 1.278 . McLaren . 1.221 .. Ferrari .. 1.011
. Toro Rosso 1.289 ... BMW ... 1.360 . Force India 1.082
. Force India 1.290 .. Toyota .. 1.772 .. McLaren . 1.221

The less obvious headlines are that Toyota and BMW are in better shape than they appear, because they did their only fast times in the first session, when conditions were slower (less rubber on the track, mainly). Secondly, the gap across the field is miniscule, with 1.221s between the fastest McLaren and the fastest car.

Button's first session time was slightly quicker than Barrichello's 2nd session one, but it doesn't affect their 3rd ranking. Alonso's fastest lap should be taken with all the usual salt (as should those of Williams, as always) for this is Spain, and he is Fernando.

Having said that, not everyone will have done a low fuel, soft tyre lap at all (and those that did might not have run on Q2 levels, but instead with, say, 10 laps' worth on board).

Trouble did strike Adrian Sutil, who failed to complete a lap in the 2nd session, having come last in the first. His fastest lap was 1.737s slower than Button's in the first session, so hopefully he'll pick time up tomorrow morning, otherwise he'll fail again, to get through to Q2.

Final note - this race we have the harder tyres (soft and hard, rather than super-soft and medium) and it appears that the soft is better, even on longer runs, so that will affect Sunday strategy.

Preview - Barcelona

I forgot to include my Thursday predictions here. Actually, I didn't make any, but if I had, they would have been along the lines of:
Win: Barrichello
2nd: Button
3rd: Trulli
4th: Vettel
5th: Glock
6th: Hamilton
7th: Alonso
8th: Rosberg.

European racing, here we come! Friday details to follow soon...

05 May 2009

Man with no credibility makes outlandish claim

Donington 'will stage British GP' Lease-holder claims everything is fine, ignoring wreams of evidence to the contrary.

04 May 2009

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