While Valencia is not exactly a track many people look forward to, with this year’s highly unpredictable championship and even less trustworthy Pirellis we may actually be in for an interesting race for once. The track itself is not bad but it just doesn’t feature any proper overtaking spots. Turn one is awkward as anyone sticking their nose in either bumps the other guy on the inside or gets squeezed out to lose his wing, and while there are fairly big braking zones, there are no real wide straights where someone can slipstream and easily pull alongside for a proper outbraking maneuver, even with DRS last year we saw little to no passing. Like I was saying in the podcast, on tracks like Valencia, DRS is probably a good thing. I just wish it wasn’t used on proper racetracks like Spa, where overtaking has never been an issue.
On to the race then, will it be the 8th different winner in a row or will we see the first repeat winner of the year? Paul Hembery himself has thrown in his lot for once to tip off Schumacher for the win to continue the streak. True, in Monaco he showed that when everything comes together, he can still put together that blinder lap, and on a track almost equally notorious than Monaco for the difficulty to overtake, the person who’ll start on pole has to be in with a good chance to win it come Sunday afternoon. Anyone who stuffs up in quali will very likely also be suffering in the race, so I doubt we’d see a repeat of Perez and Grosjean’s recent performance – unlike in Montreal you can’t just rely on your overall race pace and not really worry about the cars around you, to do so you need to be fairly certain you will be able to pass when coming under the rear wing of a slower car. One or two laps stuck behind and your race is done for. Therefore I don’t see the Lotus or Sauber do particularly well this time around. Qualifying has been their weakness all year long, and like Monaco it’s on these sorts of tracks that really hurts you.
That’s why the Mercs would appear to be a fairly good prospect indeed, as qualifying pace has generally been their strong point this year, but despite Rosberg’s recent comments saying they got the fastest car of the lot I’m not buying it. He will be right up there for qualifying but with the very high track temperatures expected, I believe they will struggle in the race yet again and fall back . Of course Hamilton should not be forgotten, having gotten the first win of the year under his belt and because he has undeniably been the best qualifier on the grid this year, he will be in with a good shot at the top spot this year in Valencia.
However I am going a slightly different route and predict an Alonso victory. He came tantalizingly close again in Montreal, and this combined with Felipe finally finding some decent pace (until of course he threw it off the road on lap 6) shows the Ferrari is now at last capable of truly fighting for victory on raw pace alone. In addition it is also second home race for Alonso, and we know the Spaniard always gets some extra out of the car with a home-crowd behind him. Even though the car may still be lacking that final tenth in quali, another of his lightning starts could easily annul that disadvantage.
Having for once waited until after the first 2 practice sessions to post this we can also see that Force India might just be the dark horse for this race, with both drivers showing impressive pace. If all of a sudden force India comes out of nowhere to start challenging for the win this weekend I frickin’ dare you to say Pirelli is not making this into a lottery 😉 But hey, good on The Hulk and Di Resta, I guess every team will get their place in the sun this year…
As for cucumber of the race I guess Grosjean is the prime candidate again, seeing he always alternates a good race with a first lap incident – mostly his fault too – but for this time I decided to go a little different except my usual suspects of Fat Joe, rapistface and springface, although they remain prime candidates at any race. Anyway for the cucumbers I reignite the my old love for Vitaly for no other reason really that he has been too much under my radar there in the back of the field.
Wrapping up the predictions, Im going for a more ‘traditional prediction with the three drivers expeced to fight for the WDC come the end of the year with Alonso being the 1st double winner of the year, while Matt is putting his money on Raikkonen to break his comeback cherry and continue the streak of different drivers on top this season.
Steve’s Prediction Matt’s Prediction
1. Rosberg 1. Hamilton
2. Vettel 2. Grosjean
3. Hamilton 3. Raikkonen
Steve’s predictions Matt’s prediction
1. Alonso 1. Raikkonen
2. Hamilton 2. Hamilton
3. Vettel 3. Perez
Cucumber of the race:
Vitaly Petrov Pastor Maldonado
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