Hello, chaps, me again with the predictions post as both of the site’s founders were sadly unavailable… actually, no, I just beat them to it. This time it’s Suzuka in what sounds like sunny Japan, first Grand Prix after the massive amount of announcements over the previous week – Hamilton to Mercedes, Perez to McLaren, Schumacher to retire – you know it.
FP1 and FP2 have outlined mostly trends that seemed fairly predictable pre-weekend but also some peculiar ones. It seems fairly obvious that the main tossup in the “quickest car” category will be between McLaren and Red Bull. Button was quickest in FP1 ahead of Lewis while, in FP2, it was Mark who shined… also ahead of Lewis.
On the other side of the spectrum, Lotus and Ferrari looked okay-ish, with their usual faster drivers seemingly mixing it up with the leaders in FP2. However, both might have to expect a difficult weekend ahead of them – Ferrari is still going through the “windtunnel crisis” while Lotus is still reluctant to run the DDRS, probably because it doesn’t seem to work particularly well. Kimi’s no-run in FP2 after his KERS gave out is also more than a bit worrying.
Mercedes is looking decent even though the entirety of FP2 has pretty much gone to waste with Schumi binning his car and Rosberg doing a minimal amount of laps. Sauber, despite the hype, is seemingly nowhere, while Force India are looking pretty confident. With Williams, it seems really hard to tell, while the remaining four teams seem to be occupying their usual positions.
Got a bit distracted there with the massive amount of rumours going on on Twitter. I have a feeling those might amount to something even before I post this. 😀
Onto the predictions. In qualifying, I fully expect there to be an accident of sorts, as FP sessions so far have been… eventful. Hopefully I am proven wrong.
Q3 should be a fun one, as lots of cars appear competitive. I personally expect to see both McLaren drivers, both Red Bull drivers, both Mercedes drivers, Alonso, Romain, Pastor and Nico to make it, but you never know. Your guess is obviously as good as mine.
For pole, I’d imagine it’s going to be Webber as this seems to be the track that suits him relatively well. Lewis alongside him on front row with, say, Romain in third. The three after that I’d expect to be spread out between Alonso, Vettel and Button. Shame about Jenson’s five-grid drop then.
Sources on Twitter start overwhelmingly suggesting that Hulkenberg will go to Ferrari and Alguersuari will go to Force India. I know a couple of people who will be overjoyed with that. Shame, really, I got a bit used to the idea of seeing Massa race in F1 for another year.
At this point, it is a touch hard to write up approximate expectations for the race, as team tactics are sure to come into play. If I expect Mark to outqualify Seb (and I do), then I might have to account for the fact that they will either ask him to move aside or favour Seb with strategy. Still, if Mark does get on pole, I don’t think he’s likely to lose that in the first lap of the race and, well, spoilers, I have him down as the winner of the race. In second, Grosjean, cause why not – the car seems reasonably faster than in Singapore and maybe Lotus will finally have at least part of a decent weekend. In third, Seb would mirror his finish last year that secured him the title.
Cucumber of the race – honestly don’t know. Something in my mind suggests it might be Paul di Resta – he didn’t exactly have the best week in terms of contracts and opportunities and already crashed in practice. Hopefully not.
Qualifying: 1. Webber 2. Hamilton 3. Grosjean
Race: 1. Webber 2. Grosjean 3. Vettel