Archive for the ‘2012 Predictions’ Category

Predictions for the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka

Posted: October 5, 2012 by Valentin Khorounzhiy in 2012 Predictions

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



Predictions for the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix

Posted: September 21, 2012 by thevillainf1 in 2012 Predictions

Since this international cartel of mudbutts from the US, Germany and Russia have made a dastardly attempt at a coup on our beloved BackmarkersF1 I have come back with furious as I returned to my Nigerian lair. I would have expected an underhand coup from the Russians, that goes without saying it is just in their nature. Hell, as a Belgian I still watch the Germans with a leery eye as well, but to have the Americans betray me like that – our partners from the first hour on the podcast-  was a tough hit to take. Therefore with a vengeful counter-coup I take the reins again with this predictions post for the Singapore GP.

We’ve seen the Mclaren’s finally come good on their pre- and early season form to take three successive wins, however always with a disappointing no-score for the other car which does not massively help them in the WDC. Nonetheless after having taken about 8 races to get on top of their monumentally bad pitstops, Mclaren do seem to have found something special cranking out record pitstops at great consistency, with little to no major fuckups. With Hungary, Spa and Monza the car has been strong on three different types of circuit and there is no obvious reason to believe they will not be strong here. In Hungary Lewis was supreme, at Spa Jenson was untouchable and similarly in Monza Hamilton cruised to an early victory, the team only being robbed of a 1-2 by a mechanical failure.

Ferrari was strong – as they always are – in Monza and Nando drove another great race to stay firmly in the driver’s seat of this WDC. He’s also somewhat of a beast around Singapore (that is, when his teammate isn’t ordered to crash his guy by a middle aged fat bloke who wears mankinis) and could very well seal the title right here if the cards fall into place. Especially if the race is wet, with the Ferrari seemingly the best in the field in those conditions (well, Alonso is, Felipe may go into another ballerina spinfest). Qualifying will be tight but Hamilton in beast mode with the best car on the grid will not be stopped, while Vettel will also have a point to prove in a fun shootout in q3 seeing him fall just short and saving us from the finger.

Nonetheless I’m going to be predicting what we all have predicted at one point or another this season: Raikkonnen will win it in a titanic scrap with Hamilton which sees the Briton off into the barriers and another WDC campaign shattered. Alonso will always be there to pick up the pieces, but judging from their pace in FP1 and 2, the Bulls should not be discounted either. Nonetheless I don’t think they will fully see it through to the race.

Indeed, the Kimster is going to do it, nab his comeback win and with it launch his last ditch assault on the title (which Alonso in the end will never let slip).  Hamilton will crash trying an outrageous move on the Fin, sulk, and sign that Mercedes contract just to have a change of scenery. I wonder if he has talked to Button about this, he should have some interesting experiences to share from his Benneton-Williams-BAR days and contract negotiations…

Speaking of the Mercs, they  will come up short despite their much vaunted developments, while Schumi will shock the grid by wearing glasses because he can’t see well anymore in the dark.

Further in the back, with his last gazprom dough evaporating, Petrov will try to claim the spotlight in a desperate bid to hang on to a seat (but srsly, who’d want a Petrov but then without the money)  and make an idiot of himself by ramming off his teammate fighting for 10th, because the race will be so full of attrition that Caterham will be getting that point at last. Glock will also throw another hissyfit at Pic and reports will emerge that Pci’s funny walk on Sunday evening in the paddock were due to Timo’s boot being firmly lodged up the youngsters’ ass. Max Chilton will be watching it awestruck (and with clenched buttcheeks)

Back to the midfield the Force Indias are looking good and the showdown between Di Resta and the Hulk can continue, while I do not see the Sauber’s doing as well this time around. Williams has two crap drivers and I’m done even considering them (unless it’s for cucumber of the week). Lastly,  Grosjean will be responsible for much of the attrition giving Kovi a point by doing something stupid again despite the claims of having matured thanks to the ban. Jerome, get ready!

To sum up my predictions:


  1. Hamilton
  2. Vettel
  3. Raikkonen



  1. Raikkonen
  2. Vettel
  3. Alonso


Cucumber: Petrov (almost tied with Grosjean)

Predictions for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix – Monza

Posted: September 7, 2012 by Valentin Khorounzhiy in 2012 Predictions

Hello there. If you looked at the column that says “Posted… by” up there under the title of this post, you probably figured this isn’t Matt or Steve posting this. But, since I now happen to have privileges that allow me to write articles for this wondefully-managed (thanks, Matt) blog, and since Matt is now full-on in sleep mode, I figured I’m gonna write up the usual predictions post since this is the kinda thing that we do here.

Being honest here – I don’t remember how last year’s race went, so I’m sure Matt or Steve could edit that in for me. However, the classification leads me to believe that Vettel won it, which means it was probably no different to 75% of the races last year in everything but the first corner. So, in my predictions, I will have to draw any semblance of reason I decide to put in them from Spa and FP1 which just unfolded before my eyes. And, let me tell you, that will be no easy task.

Since Spa happened less than a week ago and is in many ways similar to Monza, you’d expect the previous race to serve as a benchmark for this one. As such, you can easily observe that, say, Sauber is obviously on the rise, their summer break upgrades (?) having worked out quite nicely for them even if all of that easily amounted to nothing in the actual race due to factors we’ve talked enough about. McLaren, meanwhile, is looking lovely but mostly that should be attributed to Jenson Button who produced a stunning race and could be on the verge of repeating the fantastic second half of the season that he had last year. Meanwhile, both Red Bull and, to a certain extent, Ferrari looked fairly stagnant despite Vettel’s podium. The Enstone team’s weekend seemed to be undone by car problems, uncertainty over the DDRS and… other things, while Mercedes just looked appaling in every way.

Going by that alone, my original prediction for qualifying was Vettel – Button – Hamilton, with the podium for the race being Vettel – Button – Alonso. However, after FP1, it seems that I will have to do a Romney and change my stance on things in record short time.


So, I’m not sure when that happened, but Mercedes are suddenly looking good again, possibly due to their drivers’ morale boosted by the rumours of being replaced by Lewis Hamilton. As such, I’d expect both of them to get the car firmly into Q3 but with the current tactical standards in the house of Brawn that’s about as far as they’ll go. Hamilton, who I originally expected to place third in qualifying, doesn’t look like he’ll be able to do it to me anymore, because during this week he’s been put under a lot of stress and you know how that works out, right? Both Red Bulls, meanwhile, look pretty bad and with Vettel saying that nobody there knows where the qualifying pace is, you know even his abilities probably won’t be enough to put that car on front row. Lotus doesn’t look too hot as well, having had to push their DDRS thingie until 2027 or something (actually until the Japanese Grand Prix) and… other factors, their weekend will probably be a recovery one – as many points as possible. And, honestly, you can’t really tell what to expect from all the midfielders – Sauber and Force India are where they usually are in FP1, while no Williams predictions will ever be justified by anything.

So, going by that, let’s say we’re on for a repeat pole from Jenson, who’s looking very strong and confident indeed and certainly has the car to accomplish just that. I reckon that Alonso might just put that car into second, because he is Fernando and that’s how he does things. Third – yeah, I’ll go with Seb. Car doesn’t look good, but he doesn’t need that sometimes. I also expect to see Kimi, Lewis, Hulk, the two Mercs, Sergio and Pastor in Q3, although I’d hope Mark can get in there as well.


The first back-to-back victory of the season is yet to come and how fitting it would be if in 2012 it would be a driver virtually out of contention for the championship. However, Jenson could do it and I would be massively happy to see him do it on Sunday. However, it might prove not quite so easy this time, with Alonso apparently being renowned for his Monza starts and the car looking fairly good.

Even so, throughout the race, I’d expect the Red Bull strategists to prevail and put Vettel ahead of Alonso, where he’d hold up the Spaniard for the majority of the race. That might be a bit of a long shot, but with this being a track that’s been kind to Vettel over the years, it could happen. As I predicted safety cars, I’d also expect to see both Lotus drivers do well, as Kimi is really consistent when it comes to staying out of trouble and I just generally have faith in Jerome. Mercedes should be there, but you just never know with their tyres, while Sauber look like their Spa form was just a one-off. Even still, Monza is not too different looking (and in layout) from Montreal, so I’d expect a solid race from Perez, barring any accidents. I’d also expect another solid performance from Hulkenberg, even though Paul di Resta should be a lot closer this time.

Who do I give the “Cucumber Award for Sporting Excellence” to? Well, honestly, even though I imagine Pastor to have one hell of a qualifying yet again, you do imagine he’ll have to start in the midfield and fight his way up, which is usually recipe for disaster. Yes, him crashing in Monza would be some kind of a statistical anomaly, but who else are you gonna bet on?

Post yours below, as always, you amateurs.


1 – Jenson Button

2 – Fernando Alonso

3 – Sebastian Vettel


1 – Jenson Button

2 – Sebastian Vettel

3 – Fernando Alonso

Cucumber: Pastor Maldonado



As has become the the norm lately I’m fashionably late with my predictions post so this will be just a quickie. Again we’re set for a weekend with the threat of rain looming in the background but it could just as well be crazy hot this weekend in Hungary. The Mclaren already looked strong in Hockenheim but was hampered by again struggling in a wet quali. The Ferrari is a top car now but perhaps not quite the best one yet, while it remains to be seen how hard the bulls will be hit by yet another rule ‘clarification’.

Mercedes are horrible managing their tyres, and added to the high temps they will probably struggle like hell again in this race. Lotus is definitely the dark horse with Kimi seemingly finally having fully found his stride and Grosjean capable of some fine drives on his day I would not count them out. Their car also seems to work best when it’s nice and hot outside so this could be a great chance for them.

I think clear favourite for the pole should be Hamilton. He’s been top in practice, he’s pissed off after three bad races and finally seems really happy with the upgrades brought to the car and how they affect its behaviour, therefore I’m taking the stupidly boring prediction of a Hamilton pole. Alonso is a master around Hungary so I believe he will come p2, to be followed home by Webber, for whom this is also a fairly happy hunting ground for him to take the edge over  Vettel in quali again this season (it would make the score 6-5 for Webbo – who would have thought that last year!)

Further down I don’t think the Saubers will be as strong as in the last race, but Mercs drop in performance will still see them finish well, same for the Force India’s who’ll be fighting the Mercs for the final points. Seeing as I got a bit of a theme going on looking at past performances at the track, I’m injecting another major dose of #PERRRRKELE into this post saying Heikki will get to Q2 AND score the first points for Caterham. After all it was the scene of his first win back in his Mclaren days.

On to the front runners’ race, I think we will be on for a thriller but it will be more a tactical one. It will be hard to overtake, as running in dirty air on this track in particular give you terminal understeer in the constant twisty sections and just destroys your tyres. Hamilton hasn’t been making particularly good starts lately ( while incidentally, Webber seems to have at long last mastered his horrible starting problems) and Alonso is a beast off the line so it will be tight into T1. However having the clean line from pole will allow Lewis to just pip Alonso into T1. They will fight very hard throughout and that will allow a sneaky Raikkonen to recover early on from another disappointing quali to be right on them in the final stint. In a shock battle Kimi will vanquish all while Lewis will get outsmarted by Alonso for P2.

To round up:


1. Hamilton








Cucumber: Pastor. Senna will beat him in quali and he’ll get all Venezuelan mob on his ass.

Coming out of my malaria haze just in time for the German Grand Prix I figured to slap up a quick backmarkersf1 predictions post up as I would not want to rob you of your chances to win your very own HornyHorner on the off chance that anybody would get their predictions right for once.

Going by their form in Silverstone, one would tend to favor either the Ferrari or the Red Bulls. Ferrari now has two competitive drivers again with Massa showing he does remember how to drive an f1 car moderately quick, and the Red Bulls 1-3 in Britain made many believe the team would get back to its dominant form of previous years.

Even the weather seems to replicate the previous GPs conditions, with torrential rains limiting running and giving the teams very little to work with to evaluate their upgrades. As in Britain, aside from  the weather the key talking point will be the effectiveness of the various upgrade packages brought by the team. While in Silverstone McLaren seemed to be lagging behind a bit in the development race – and it showed during the race-  here they have come out with all guns blazing and a thoroughly revised car to Germany.

Lotus have surprised many in the paddock by launching their version of the ‘double’ DRS pioneered by Mercedes although only Raikkonen’s car has been fitted with it and details on how exactly it works are yet to emerge. It will be interesting to see whether Lotus’ decision to pursue this area of development – whereas most if not all other teams appear to have shelved the idea long ago – will bring them the increase in qualifying performance they desperately need to grab their first win of the season. However, all the time and effort in getting their DDRS to work may set them back in the development race elsewhere, making this bite them in the ass in the long run.

When the Mercedes system was ruled legal, most teams seemed to abandon the idea of developing their own version on the grounds that it would not be cost effective for the limited performance gains it brought, and then pretty much only in qualifying with very little benefits on race day. It is another gamble by the Lotus F1 team, and while nobody foresees a drop in performance like last year with their front facing exhausts gone bust, they did expose themselves a bit here if this system does not bring significant game, because all that time spent on R%D for this is lost, and other teams have maybe applied it to more important areas, like the exhaust setup.

Having painted the picture, let’s move on to the meat and bones of this post: our predictions for the GP! With at least parts of the race and quail expected to be wet it makes the task again very difficult but nonetheless we will fearlessly plunge ahead and take a stab at it. In what may be a shock horror prediction for many of you out there, Hockenheim has traditionally been quite a good track for Felipe Massa, and his upturn in form combined with the Ferrari now being a genuine frontrunner may actually see him do well.

It begs the question whether Massa is only as good as the car at any given time but aside from that I’m actually tempted to give him a podium position. However the weather may play games on him again, and anyway I think either he’ll find a way to bin it in the race or he will get screwed over by the team. That said I’m putting him on p3 for qualifying, ahead of Alonso in probably the most shocking of my predictions this year to date. Against my best judgment I’m believing in the Mclaren upgrades which will put Hamilton in p2. Since we’re going down the ‘batshit crazy’ route anyway with this GP, I’m putting down Raikkonen for pole. As you read above I have my misgivings about their DDRS, but hey, the team definitely seem focused on improving quail first and foremost, and with Romain’s grid penalty  Kimi will have to deliver the goods. The Red Bulls will look strong throughout quail but fail to clinch a top 3 spot.

On to the race I think the Ferrari of Alonso and the Red Bulls will come charging through shaking up the order quite a bit in the top 3. Raikkonen will be hit with some kind of bad luck to see that win slip away again, while Hamilton will still struggle with tyres at the end of stint but survive to bring it home in third. Alonso will have jumped his teammate either on track or with the help of his team (or both) to drive on to second, leaving Vettel finally shaking off the demons of his home GP woes to take the win after a commanding drive. Button will be close but just adrift of the top around p5 but I do believe his issues are getting sorted. Further down back Caterham will score points if the race is wet. Last time out I said I’m done believing in their overly optimistic pre-race statements about their upgrades but I’m willing to give them one last chance.

The final prediction for this GP is of course the one for cucumber of the race. Pastor Maldonado. Nuff said.

The Roundup:










Pastor “PastorCrash” Maldonator

You’re very welcome to share your predictions below and win #HornyHorner!

Silverstone is always a crucial Grand Prix during any F1 season, but with the field tighter than ever;  getting an upgrade to work even if it gives just a tenth can propel you 5 spots up the grid so the heat is definitely on this year.

The British GP is where a team’s chosen development paths since the start of the season come to fruition (or fail horribly), not only because it almost marks the halfway point of the season, but it is also the home Grand Prix for every team bar Toro Rosso, Sauber and Ferrari. This means that logistically it is much easier to tryout big update packages, and the timing of the Grand Prix in mid season make it that the development programs of the teams have now had the lead time needed to finish the major upgrade packages they decided on pursuing after having gathered data in the first races of the year.  In addition Silverstone‘s combination of fast sweepers requiring a lot of downforce and  slower corners added in the new layout where good mechanical grip and traction is need make it a track well suited to testing out new developments.

You can bet that every team will be coming with major changes so the likes of Scarbs will have a field day scouring every new update the coming weekend. Even Marussia reported bringing its first proper windtunnel designed upgrade to Silverstone –though De Villotta’s accident will have surely set them back a bit- and the Caterham duo is expecting big things from a heavily revised package.   Red Bull already came out swinging in Valencia with what they called a D-spec car, so arguably they did get the one up on their rivals and can now fine-tune that blisteringly fast design which did still suffer from reliability problems in Valencia (though Vettel’s failure was due to a Renault designed alternator). Red Bull’s main challengers Mclaren, Ferrari and Mercedes will need to come up with something special to counter the stunning pace exhibited by Vettel in quali and the first part of the previous Grand Prix.

With the team starting to get a proper understanding of the 2012 tyres, the development race will probably become the next big talking point for the latter half of the season so whatever happens in Silverstone may be a good indicator to see how the title battle could develop. But what exactly will happen? Get set for another round of backmarkersF1 predictions!

I for one got really scared to see Vettel scamper away at the front in Valencia as he has done so many times last year. That, as well as the qualifying gap would make anyone betting against him a very brave man..or a fool. Which is exactly why I will not be picking a Red Bull winner of course! The fact that the weather report is looking pretty gloomy could of course also throw a wrench in most people’s plans and the wreak some havoc in the  running order.

But I didn’t say I wasn’t going to predict a Red Bull pole because Vettel’s pace did not come out of nowhere, that Red Bull is quick for sure. That said  I’m still going for another shock pole man in….Mark Webber. After all, the Silverstone Grand Prix marks some of the lows in Red Bull’s treatment of the Aussie and it’s about time he reverses the trend. It’s a track he has traditionally gone very well at, but 2 years ago it was the stage for the front wing switch saga, where even though Vettel broke the newest iteration, they took the only other new wing off Mark’s car and he had to race with the older spec win.

This low point was followed by a great high though as Webber brought it home with a dominant victory and could not resist saying ‘not bad for a number 2 driver’ on the team radio to a hypocritical Horner smiling through his teeth. Last year of course it was ‘Mark, you need to maintain the gap’ which put the final nail in the coffin for Webbo’s woeful 2011 season, as with the massive lead Vettel had already built up at that point, it was very disappointing to hear the team forbid their driver to fight his teammate for the podium.

I hope this year will be different for Mark, where the team will just bloody well let him race. He suffered reliability woes with the heavily revised RBR in Valencia so he could not show his potential in qualifying – though it remains doubtful whether he could have gotten close to Vettel’s stunning q3 lap-  but he drove a smart race to 4th from 19th on the grid. After all, Mark is 6 points ahead of Vettel in the championship, and his consistency this year will surely pay off in the end…but I don’t think anyone out there believes Mark will ever get preferential treatment against the wunderkind no matter how big his lead could be. Still, I believe Mark will show he’s got the beans and hook up a very nice lap to grab pole. Hamilton has been ace in qualifying this year so will take p2, narrowly pipping Vettel who’ll make a little mistake on his final lap and will be very grumpy as a result of it.

But then the trouble starts for Mark in the race. He’s no slouch in the rain but has never really excelled in it either and  I’m predicting a very wet race, allowing Hamilton to shine again a-la Silverstone 2008 when he took a stunning wet weather victory,  this time in a titanic battle with Fernando Alonso. Failing to keep up with the leading duo’s pace, Mark will have to satisfy himself with p3, after having fended off a charging Vettel for most of the race and probably survive an attempt at getting screwed by the pitstops at Red Bull.

Further back I sincerely hope for Caterham that the updates they are so positive about in the press turn out to be as successful on track, with Kovalainen mentioning a whopping .5 to a full second in gainsWhile that is probably a case of Caterham being too optimistic again if the race does turn out to be rainy, I’m predicting first points for the team – with Heikki of course – as the race will also see a fairly high attrition rate due to poor conditions and fairly untested updates brought on most of the cars increasing unreliability. The Mercs will be running well but will lack that last little bit to really allow them to fight with the leading trio.

I believe the Lotus and Williams will drop back a bit because for starters it doesn’t seem like either car is as good in low temperatures, and their lack of budget compared to the big four will start to show as they are going to start struggling keeping the development pace. Same goes for Sauber, even though their pace should be good in the wet conditions, I believe in Silverstone we’ll start seeing and end to the fairy tale for midfielders in 2012.

As for Cucumber of the race I ‘m sorry but I have to go for Felipe Massa. With my mind again going back to Silverstone 2008, he turned in an embarrassing performance constantly spinning out while his title rival dominated. Some say he lost the ‘08 title in Singapore or because of Timo Glock in Brazil..I say he lost it just as much in Silverstone with that appalling drive, and he’s on to relive the experience this year as the heavens will open in England. Perez will do well again and the rumor mill will keep on churning.

To round up:

Steve’s Predictions







1. Hamilton




Cucumber of the race

Felipe Massa


As always, now show me yours and win #HornyHorner. Tattoos are out, nothing better than scarring your soul for life!

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

Share your predictions below and stand the chance to win #HornyHorner !

Time is flying by as weathergods, timezones, sleep inducing indycar races and general slacking of your trusted backmarkers F1 duo make that we still haven’t made a Spainonaco cast so it’s starting to look like it’ll be a spainonacoreal podcast (that sounds like it might actually be a place in Mexico) , but that doesn’t mean we can’t give you our traditional predictions for the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix. The student revolt notwithstanding, it promises to be yet another corker on this special track which has treated us to some great racing over the past year.

The weather is always an unknown going into the Montreal weekend and this year it will be no different, but let’s hope we do not get the monsoon like conditions of 2011 which brought a horribly long red flag period but also saw Jenson nab the win with a brilliant drive from the back to the front…..and to the back again to go to the front once more. Talking of Jenson, the tyre guru seems to have lost his mojo in the past races, and it’s teammate Lewis Hamilton who is showing he has a better understaning of the 2012 Pirellis. Canada of course is quite notorious for tyre usage, as it gave birth to the Pirelli approach to racing tyres with the strange 2010 race in which the Bridgestones were just not holding up, the combination of soft and supersoft will surely ensure a lot of pitstops will be made during the race..unless it gets wet and then all hell breaks loose. As if we needed even more unpredictability from this year’s racing!

I do remember from last year that the Schum came tantalizingly close to that elusive come back podium, and I believe this day it will finally arrive. The Mercedes is steadily improving and the pole time in Monaco showed both Schumi and the car have what it takes when everything clicks. It is also surprising that the Merc – thought to have its  main strongpoint in quali with the W-Duct benefiting from long straights – was in fact arguably the fastest car of the Monaco weekend, where high downforce, mechanical grip and good traction is key.

The Merc is surely bound to have some good performance to unlock this weekend, therefore I am predicting a 7th winner in as many races to emerge: Herr Schumi! He’s great around Canada, the car should be good in the dry and even if it rains it won’t be a problem as  he’s masterful in the wet around that track, the Mercs W-Duct and high top speed will also prove a powerful weapon on the long back straight where his podium was so cruelly snatched away from him last year. Lastly, he surely got a confidence boost with the pole in Monaco – I’m sure even the 7 time world champ must have been having some doubts whether he really still had what it takes but he can put those to rest for a little while – nobody lucks into pole at Monaco…

In quali however Schumi will get bested by Hamilton since Lewis is superfast on one lap pace and quail gives the team less of a chance to cock it up for him (well, then there was Spain of course..).  In third we’ll see Vettel making an appearance near the front of thr grid again after what have been some difficult quail sessions lately for the German.

Back to the race then: I know many of you will be pegging Hamilton for the win, after all he has been driving flawlessly but has been held back by poor team work and strategy calls, surely one day things will fall into place for him? Of course Canada is a bit of a special track for him as he can boast a few poles and wins around the circuit he’s clearly always performed well at (well, except last year lol). Still, I’m done hoping for Mclaren to get their shit together so I’m dropping him out of the top 3 and I don’t see Jenson getting on top of the tyre issues just yet. As the pattern of things are this season, no team seems to ever be able to have a good result with both cars so I’m predicting Rosberg to fall out of contention at some point in the race, perhaps another retard steward decision dropping him to the back of the field.

So who does that leave for the other 2 podium spots? My Monaco predictions fell into the water quite badly last time around gunning for the Sauber triumph and I’m not willing to give up on them yet but I feel it’s a bit of a stretch to put them right on the podium, maybe a 4th or 5th for Perez. Instead, I will peg the Kimster for p3 after a great battle with the Schum sees him run out of tyre in the end and get passed by our guy in p2.   To complete the noughties WDC podium Alonso  will be second because let’s face it,  somehow the guy always gets on the podium so he’s pretty much a safe bet now that the Ferrari is becoming more competitive as well.

As for cucumber of the race there are three recurrent candidates emerging. My prediction for Maldonado was quite spot on last race ( literally the only thing I predicted correctly this whole season but okay, I’ll take it and gloat) and while I think he should have been DSQ’d for the ram on Perez in FP3, I do believe he will keep it cool in Montreal but drive to a fairly anonymous low points scoring position. I mean, nobody is that stupid to try and ram other cars twice..oh wait… So if it won’t be Pastor my pick would have to be between Felipe and Grosjean. Feeling a bit sorry for poor Felipe – after I kept insisting on twitter that a 6th place is NOT a good result if you pretend to be a top driver with Ferrari –  I won’t pick him this race either. He’ll be behind Alonso again, thrilled to be ‘only’ 3 tenths and 5 positions behind in quail to drive onto another ‘great’ 6th or 7th place but anonymous enough to escape getting the cucumber. Grosjean then? The kid is becoming quite known for his lap 1 incidents, and with turn one in Canada notorious for its many first lap incidents I’m going to peg Grosjean to clout into someone again and ruin his chances in the race. The kid has got speed for sure, but he has got to learn to keep it clean if he truly wants to start making an impact.

n-n-n-n-n-ninja edit

Matt here. Looking ahead to Canada, we might be in for a very interesting quali-race scenario. Rain is expected on Saturday, and Sunday should be dry with warmer temperatures. Operating on this assumption, and given the abrasive nature of this track and Pirelli’s laughable temperature dependence this year, I expect completely different cars to stand out in the race and in quali. Qualifying will belong to Sauber. The team may have had all the bad luck in Monaco, but here I think the weather and the nature of the track plays to their strengths. I predict a Kamui pole, followed by Hamilton, followed by Alonso. Hamilton will find some way to get the car up there, and Alonso’s talent combined with Ferrari’s Malaysia performance leads me to believe he will be strong here. The rain will ruin Mercedes’ quali, as they won’t be able to use their DDRS/W-Duct/whatever.

The race will be another matter entirely. Alonso will hold pace, Kamui will fall a bit back, and Hamilton’s crew will find some way to ruin his race. Lotus will be very strong here, and by Lotus, I mean Kimi. Grosjean will hit a wall/another car/gopher and take himself out in spectacular facepalm-inducing fashion. Mercedes will be stronger in the race, but with the DRS zone limited to one straight this year, they won’t charge all the way through the field. I think first and second will belong to Kimi and Kamui respectively, with the Ferrari of Alonso falling off the pace dramatically towards the latter half of the race. As for third, I want to say a Mercedes driver, but am torn between the two. On one hand, I’d love to see Michael back on the podium, but his mechanics can’t seem to keep that car together. Out of his four DNF results, three were entirely out of his control, and I’d argue the Senna the Pay Driver was more at fault for their collision in Spain, but not so much that either should have received a penalty. Nico is coming back strong after only decent results in Bahrain and Spain, with a well earned second in Monaco, and I could see him besting Schumey. I’m going to go with advantage Michael, but only just. I think his rain driving will see him qualify better than Rosberg, and with there being only one DRS zone, he’ll stand a better chance of defending against any charging cars behind him.

Senna will win Cucumber of the Race for his inability to find the brake pedal going into turn one. While Grosjean will hit someone for sure, Senna will actually take himself and/or others out, triggering the race’s first safety car.

The round up

Steve’s predictions:









Cucumber of the race: Grosjean (which incidentally can be translated as ‘FatJoe’ in French.. just thought I’d throw that out there)

Show me yours below and I will show you the Horny Horner picture for the lucky guy or gal who gets their predictions right – and no that does not mean you have to purposely try to fail!

Matt’s predictions:


1. Kobayashi

2. Hamilton

3. Alonso


1. Raikkonen

2. Kobayashi

3. Schumacher

Cucumber of the race: Senna


Howdy everyone! First off, apologies for not getting a BackmarkersF1 cast out in time for the Monaco GP. As some of you know, since returning to Blacksburg I’ve been battling a wicked case of food poisoning. While I now have that somewhat under control, having to run from your computer in regular intervals is not conducive to a good podcast. Instead, we’ll do a Spain/Monaco uber-cast with Pete or someone else along for the ride.

But enough of my gastrointestinal woes. It’s Monaco time baby! Last year we had an exciting race for the most part. The midfield was fluid, we had a three-way battle shaping up between Vettel, Alonso, and Button, Hamilton was putting Felipe/Maldonado/almost-Schumacher/Brundle’s Granny in the wall, fun times all around. Sadly, a red flag caused by Petrov put an end to the most exciting battle of all, since all the teams were able to change their tires, and Finger Boy bolted on the restart. Even with the following two catching, Sebastian had a nearly flawless race with the only issue of note was a tire screw up in the pits. Maldonado showed some uncharacteristic pace, running eighth until Lewis Ali-G’d his way past, and Kobayashi had a stellar result, finishing fifth.

Fast forward to 2012, and everything is in place for one hell of a race. This could be the most exciting Monaco Grand Prix, if not the most exciting GP period, if everything pans out. The midfield is closer than ever, and has effectively been halved. I would consider Lotus a sharp end team now, Sauber and Mercedes in a tier below, with Williams in a no-mans land between the midfielders and the higher echelons. Yes I know, a Williams just won in Spain, but if you look at their performance up until then, they were fighting it out with Force India for points in the lower midfield. Maldonado had a total of four points to his name before his win. True, it’s twice that of Felipe, but it’s not what Williams would have hoped for. Monaco is going to have to be where Williams make their stand. If they don’t perform here, and in Canada, you can chalk the win up as a fluke. A deserved fluke, but a fluke nonetheless.

But let’s not fret about Williams. It’s Monaco baby! Predictably Pirelli sent the Super-Soft and Soft compound tires, with the Super-Soft compound being identical to last year. I think this will pose a bit of a problem, as we saw drivers going half the race on a set of SS tires last year. This will be mitigated somewhat by the lack of EBD systems. No EBD means less grip, means more sliding, means more degradation. However, with a softer soft than before, we may be looking at two tires with fairly similar performance. This will lead to a fairly stable strategy pool among the teams, which to some is a welcome change from the ‘Relli Roulette that’s been at work for most of 2012. Expect to see everyone start on the Options, and either go Option-Prime or Option-Prime-Prime.

As for the field itself, it depends on the weather. Forecasts for Saturday point to everything from sunshine to pouring rain, but most tend towards the wet stuff. Even with tires being a gamble, a few trends seem to be emerging that can lead to general predictions of form.

Red Bull: Funnily enough the team that dominated 2011 so heavily is the biggest unknown in all of this. More than anyone, they seem to have pace one weekend, only to fall off the radar come next race. You know something is wrong when, in the process of writing this, I honestly had to pause and think, “did Vettel win yet?” While this is a track that has been kind to both RBR drivers in the past, I don’t think their car is up to the challenge. The team really relied on the diffuser for their grip last year, and while they seem to have recovered some of the downforce, looking at the steering wheel movement shows neither driver is too happy with the balance. Rain would even further dampen their hopes of success, as we saw Vettel light up the track in a hot Bahrain. Cooling rains will do nothing to help the Bull win.

McLaren: Ah Macca. What have you become? While last year we all had a go at how terrible Williams was faring, this year all the laughter is directed squarely at the McLaren garage. I can’t think of another time where a team’s crew has thrown away so many points this early in the season. Both drivers have been nearly faultless, and yet wheel gunners, fuel pumpers, and men on the wall keep making an utter mess of the team. Still, things can be put right in Monaco. Both Jenson and Lewis perform well here, and the McLaren seems to like the cooler conditions. Pit stop fuck ups aside, I’d say both drivers have equal chances here in the dry. If the race changes weather mid-race, advantage Jenson. If it rains start to finish, advantage Lewis.

Fernand…. err… Ferrari: The Prancing Horse seems to have regained a bit of lost pace following the Mugello tests. Alonso had a chance at victory until a long dance with Pic and a rare Ferrari screw up in the pits cost him position to Maldonado in the final stint. Fernando is awesome around Monaco, and I could see him doing quite well here rain or shine. Somehow, that man will find a way to drag that car beyond its potential. Felipe will crash somewhere.

Lotus: Kimi is another driver who is a beast around Monaco, and given a car with steering he likes, he will be a strong contender. Grosjean followed up his strong performance in Bahrain with another strong finish in Spain. Showing good pace two races in a row is not a characteristic I normally attribute to Grosjean, so who knows what he can do. Lotus haven’t seemed to have issues in the rain, but they do favor warmer weather. While the rains of Malaysia were still quite warm, Monaco will be a different story. Their best chance will be in dry conditions. Another key will be strategy if the race stays dry. We’ve had three races in a row now where Kimi was cost great opportunities (two could have resulted in victory) due to calls from the wall. If Lotus can lock that down, they could be in for a nice haul of points.

Mercedes: The Double DRS will not be very effective here, and the bumpy surface at Monaco makes me worry about flow reattachment. If the car hits a bump whist disengaging the DRS and flow doesn’t reattach to the front wing immediately, we could see a Silver Arrow spear its way into the Armco. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but it gives us something to look for in practice. Compare how Mercedes drivers disengage DRS compared to other teams. If they do so much earlier, you know why now. As for performance, I think they’ll have a fairly anonymous race. Schumacher will beat Rosberg, but it won’t be anything spectacular. That is, unless it rains. If the wet stuff comes down, look for Schumy to punch well above his weight.

Sauber: I expect a strong performance from Sauber here in Monaco, but like Mercedes, in an anonymous sense. They will be fighting in the upper midfield, but won’t challenge for the lead. Since I predict many teams will go for one-stop races, Sauber’s conservative tire usage won’t play as much of a factor.

Williams: It all depends on whether their performance in Spain was luck or a sign of resurgence. If they are truly on the pace, I expect Maldonado to finish with solid points bin it somewhere (just read up on his new-found attitude). Bruno will be useless and ram someone into T1.

Force India: Meh.

Torro Rosso: Bleh.

Caterham: Respectably Slow.

Marussia: Slow

HRT: Shit.

So for my predictions, will all my knowledge and infinite F1 wisdom which… hasn’t produced a good result yet…


Matt’s prediction        Steve’s Prediction

1. HAM                            1.HAM

2. RAI                              2.PER

3. ALO                              3.ALO


1. RAI                               1.KOB

2. HAM                             2.HAM

3. ALO                               3.PER

ninja edit with Steve’s predictions

While I havent been spending my week running to and fro the toilet I still had a lot of shit to contend with at work as well. Anyway a lot has been made of Maldonado’s win in Spain and the William’s very strong performance in the slow third sector of Catalunya, combined with Pastor’s impressive record in the municipality (that is, if you disregard the time he almost killed a marshal there when he ignored yellow flags) make the hitman a prime candidate for many people’s predictions. However I’m going another way this time. As I mentioned in my live on twitter review, the performance of the Sauber was overshadowed by the William’s triumph and Perez’s puncture on lap 1, but that car has clearly also kept on improving handily. With Kamui and Perez definitely no slouches around the track – Kamui scoring his career best 5th place which he just equaled in spain and Perez who looked mighty in qualifying before he crashed heavily in 2011 – they are on for a good result and in line with this season’s madness I’m predicting a Sauber triumph: Kamui for the win! Hamilton will put it on pole but get screwed by a bad pitstop – yea not so unpredictable anymore – while I think Pastor will be my cucumber. Perez will slot in nicely in third to complete the triumph and make everybody go ‘Williams who?’

For Qualifying I’m still putting Hamilton on pole as the man is also superb around Monaco and the Mclaren does seem to have the one lap pace nailed, if not the race pace and strategy. Hamilton will also be out for revenge after the teams’ cock ups and with the mindset he’s at this year and the top quality of his drives, I still believe he’s on for the WDC in the long run. He will be followed in 2nd by Perez while Alonso completes the top 3. Pastor will overcook it in q2 and miss out on q3 while Senna picks up the challenge to show one bad (or good) weekend does not make a season.

Why am I betting against Pastor after the Catalunya win and the Williams looking set to be a strong car in Monaco? While it’s good to see Pastor enjoying the attention his first shock GP victory brought, I don’t feel  he’s been handling the whole thing very well. The day after Spain he was already talking about becoming world champion, how this year ‘the driver can really make a difference’ and other quotes which made me think he probably needs to tone it down a bit before he starts thinking of himself as the best thing since sliced bread. While he has been impressive around the track, I believe his newfound superstar status will make he will overdo and crash sometime during the race from a promising position, thereby earning my cucumber.

ninja edit for Matt’s cucumber

Once again I forgot to predict my Cucumber of the Race. I actually agree with Steve 100% on this one, Maldonado will be the cucumber. This isn’t to take anything away from him, he did a great job in Spain and got a well earned victory. However, he is not WDC material. This year’s Williams is leagues better than last years, and still Pastor is coming up with new ways to crash it. I’ve never seen anyone else bin it where he did in Australia. I think if you combine his typical performance with a hot-headed “I’m the shit now” attitude, we are going to see blue and white carbon littering the track. Combine that with Senna going Banzai Brazilian in the first corner, and Williams will follow up their Spanish victory with a big 0 in Monaco.

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:












1. Hamilton

2. Vettel

3. Button


1. Raikkonen

2. Webber

3. Hamilton


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!