Friday, 8 October 2010

Japanese GP Predictions

Some notes from the two practice sessions:

  • Red Bull are looking like the team to beat at Suzuka; not suprising really, given that the track's fast blasts really suit the car. 
  • Vettel looks the faster of the pair, it seems he's able to get a lot more out of the car through the turns. Could lead to some problems through the first corner if he's partnered up with Webber at the front.
  • Hamilton's crash in practice is a sign of recklessness, but it should hopefully wake him up a lot more for this weekend. This is the race where he has to win, and moreover beat all other title rivals into a cocked hat. Any mistakes this weekend would be fatal, but I doubt even Lewis can make it three in a row...
  • Degner is obviously the danger spot, but then it's always been, so no real problems there.
  • Everything I've said above is pretty much irrelevent, as monsoon-like rain is being reported as being present during qualifying and maybe into race day as well.
The final factor throws up some particularly interesting scenarios. Red Bull have not been particularly impressive in the wet this year, but given the dominance of the car in the dry conditions this may not have as much of an impact as it would normally. The conditions will definitely suit the McLaren drivers more, so both  Button and Hamilton have to use the conditions to their advantage. Alonso may have to throttle back somewhat, which could give a couple of other drivers a chance to get into the mix: mainly Robert Kubica, whose Renault was 3rd fastest in both practice sessions and could provide a real threat in rainy conditions.

On this basis, my predictions for qualifying are these:

1.Vettel (Red Bull)
2. Hamilton (McLaren) (7th after penalty)
3. Webber (Red Bull) (up to 2nd after Hamilton penalty)
4. Kubica (Renault) (up to 3rd)
5. Button (McLaren) (up to 4th)
6. Alonso (Ferrari) (up to 5th)
7. Massa (Ferrari) (up to 6th)
8. Sutil (Force India)
9. Petrov (Renault)
10. Rosberg (Mercedes)

EDIT: Qualifying has been postponed until 12pm Japanese time on Sunday (2am BST, 10pm Saturday EST), because of torrential rain. Lewis Hamilton has also been docked 5 places on the grid due to a change of gearbox. I have therefore changed my predictions accordingly.