With F1 treating itself to another 3 week holiday, it seems like we’re about to start a whole new season again. Looking at the standings, we might as well, as very much in contrast to last year nobody has established momentum in the champion ship yet. The season openers are now done and dusted as we head into more familiar terrain with the European stint of the 2012 season. Having long breaks between the 4 opening races is just not good to keep F1 alive in the minds of people and I’m a bit miffed at Bernie for this stupid 2012 calendar. That said we can finally start looking ahead at the Spanish Grand Prix on the borefest that usually is Catalunya.
Last year we did see a relatively exciting race with Hamilton pushing Vettel hard in the final laps and Alonso making a sublime start to lead the race, only to end up getting lapped as the Ferrari struggled with the hards. Getting the tyres to work will again be the all deciding factor this weekend. The tyres will also make it that the days of Catalunya the bore will start becoming distant memories although DRS is not expected to have a very big effect again this year with the tricky final corner making it difficult to get close enough through the dirty air before coming onto the main straight and DRS zone, as we saw last year notably in the Hamilton-Vettel scrap.
As I’ve failed so miserably with my predictions this year I’m going to go out on a limb this time with my predictions and go for a Webber pole and victory but wait! There is some (rather flimsy) reasoning behind the madness. Catalunya was one of the few places where even in his horror season last year Webbo managed to beat Vettel in qualifying after winning it in 2010 so he clearly has something in hand on this track.
He’s not been superb this year but at least he’s been driving very consistently and will be intent to stop the momentum which tilted back in to Vettel’s favour after the Aussie got off to a better start this season. Of course he will have to avoid his trademark granny getaway off the grid to stand a chance, but I believe Webber is set for a good result after 4 consecutive 4th places. In quali I see Vettel complete the front row narrowly behind his teammate and egged on by Hamilton in third.
On to the race then, I believe the Mclarens will in essence have the best race pace but will get stymied again by a failing pitcrew and pitwall. Button will get stuck in traffic after a dissapointing quali session while the pitwall will screw up on Lewis’ strategy. This will leave the door open to another strong Lotus performance as Kimi will grab his 2nd consecutive podium although only on the third step this time. Hamilton, being mr. consistent this year will finish a disappointed 2nd, as he could have won it without the pitwall errors. Up front we will see a titanic battle between the Red Bull teammates which at times will make us think back of Turkey 2010 as Vettel will eventually come out worse with a puncture seeing him drop down the order. Vettel is going to come under scrutiny again for some dubious move again as the chop he gave Raikkonen in Bahrain will be repeated but with more aggression against his teammate – on a sidenote, I thought you weren’t allowed to move around in the braking zone?
The teammates will touch giving Vettel a puncture as Webber will divebomb Vettel into turn 1 with a ballsy overtake despite an attempted chop to snatch victory away from his goldenboy teammate, as if to give a big finger to Vettel and even moreso to Helmut Marko and Christian Horner before later in the year it will come out that he has signed with Ferrari to replace Massa – a rumour which has been coming up from time to time over the past year and a half. As a bonus I’m throwing another prediction out there not related to the top of the grid: Ferrari’s much anticipated updates will have barely moved them up the field as a depressed Alonso somehow still drags the car into 5th on race day.
Matt here! Time to jump in with my predictions. Though mine have been just as bad as Steve’s for the most part, at least mine are due to crew errors for the most part (or cheeky chops from Das Gurke). Looking back at past history, I too think Webber will do well here, but not win. He’ll beat his teammate for sure, but I think someone else will spoil his day. Lewis will find a way to qualify on pole, but will fall to third due to another pitstop from Hell. The Mercs won’t be able to switch their hards on, and we can expect to see Sauber punch well above their weight again.
As for winners, I’m going for Kimi. He’s won here twice for two different teams (McLaren in… ’05 I think it was, and Ferrari in ’08), and knows the circuit well. Lotus seem to be improving every race, and they don’t seem to be as effected by changing weather as everyone else. Kimi went P7 in a dry Australia, P5 in a changeable Malaysia, and would have finished around there in China had the team not borked the strategy. What could spoil this prediction, aside from somebody getting stupid during the race, is what upgrades all the teams bring. Most seem to have saved their packages for Catalunya, and new parts could really shake up the sharp end, seeing as they are all so close this season.
To sum it up:
In honor of the segment itself I messed up and almost forgot to add my ‘cucumber of the race’ prediction– yes the facepalm is gone but Matt’s tits (or more accurately, manboobs) still exist. It is a bit of a tough one to call as I always feel drawn to Pastor and Felipe, but in line with my slightly more off base predictions this week I will go for Grosjean. He’s going to throw away a solid top 5 finish in a scrap with Alonso pulling a Pastor in the closing laps. We said in the latest podcast he’s more of a ‘win it or bin it’ kind of driver, and this week it will be time for the latter. You see, even though I didn’t nominate him this time I still managed to sneaksome Pastor into this week’s cucumber. Bless him.
Share your predictions in the comments below and stand the chance to be scared for life!