With the backmarkersf1 back in full swing launching the world’s very first Nigerian-American Formula One podcast I’m not sure I’ll find time to rewatch Korea 2010 and do my usual ‘this time last year’ series with the next race weekend already underway so let’s just get our predictions for this year in shall we. One thing I will mention looking back is that at this point last year, when Vettel’s engine blowup robbed him of the win and saw Alonso take the upper hand in the WDC, who’d have thought that just 1 year later, Vettel would return here as a double WDC. Things do change quickly in F1.
Some alarming reports are coming out of the paddock crowd that despite having had an extra year to get their track finished, it looks like they just ‘locked the doors last year and opened it up again this Wednesday’. I even read a team found some rotting food leftover from last year in the fridge. With limited crowds, the race in Korea is not off to a great start. Last year’s race was held in monsoon conditions where at times a boat would have been more suitable than an f1 car to get around, and fp1 and 2were also rained out this year.
However the weather reports indicate a dry weekend is on the books, so we may finally get to see what this Tilkedrome really has to offer. It has – in typical Tilke style- 2 long straights followed by tight corners, and a mickey mouse section in the middle. The tricky middle section – I hated it on F1 2010 the game- forces to cars to run quite high downforce, around the same level as Suzuka so that will help us make our predictions for this race. Seeing how Mclaren got closer than ever to the bulls in Japan – and were it not for Lewis’ and the teams’ brainfart in quali he’d have surely grabbed pole – I’m calling this as the race which will shatter the RBR dream of scoring pole in every race this season.
Hamilton or Button then becomes the question. We know Hamilton generally has the upper hand when it comes to raw one lap pace, but Button is driving better than ever this year so he could surprise us. Nonetheless, I’m calling a Mclaren front row, with Hamilton edging out Button by 2 tenths. Vettel will come a close third.
On to the race then, I predict Button’s superior race pace over Lewis, in large part due to his supreme tire management skills, will see him grab a fourth win of the season. Hamilton will struggle badly with tire wear and get in a messy fight after the first stint, losing him too much time to fight for the podium. Korea is predicted to have very heavy tire wear, and despite their lack of quali pace, the Ferraris will be strong too to nab the final podium spots from a frustrated Vettel who’ll finish off the podium for only the 2nd time this year, as the RBR is quite hard on its tires compared to the main competitors.
That’s right, the one craziness I put in today’s prediction is that I’m putting Massa in third, his first podium of the season. Further back I’m looking forward to see how Lotus will fare after a great Suzuka weekend where they managed to finish on the lead lap for the first time. With a lot of pit stops in store, they may just pull a fast one and beat some established teams.
Mercedes will be fourth fastest as usual, and the Renault- Sahara Force India – Sauber battle will be close as ever. I expect the Saubers to come out on top due to their ability to always stop less than the competition. Williams will suck and Rubens will again say he’s done the best quali lap ever – one tenth ahead of Maldonado – in his desperate attempts to find a seat for next year.
To wrap it up;
What’s your gut feeling, do share in the comments below