I slightly overestimated Button’s pace, but he did slot in just behind Vettel and significantly ahead of Webber in qualifying, in line with my response to Peter in the previous post’s comments.
It’s a McLaren front row, Hamilton 1st, Kovalainen 2nd, and neither should have immediate difficulties as they have KERS and the cars behind them (Barrichello, Vettel, Button) do not. Sixth placed man Raikonnen is the next chap with KERS and could easily leapfrog Button and Vettel early on if he starts well.
Mark Webber starts in a disappointing 9th, which won’t do his chances of claiming the Drivers’ title much good but will help Button as the Aussie is his closest rival. Looks to be a great weekend for the English but a bad one for Australia. How terribly sad.
Hamilton is rightly favourite to win. Hard to pick out podium spots as it’s easy to see a large number (down to Raikonnen at least) having a realistic shot. However, I’m surprised Kovalainen’s odds of winning are as long as 8.8. It’s true he’s not as good as Hamilton and has a record of disappointing, but he’s second on the grid with KERS so he should finish the first lap at least in second place and with a good start could even overtake Hamilton early on.
Vettel rather spoilt P3 when his car decided to urinate a huge stream of oil over the track, an indication of the new regulations (limited number of engines per season) and the toll they’re beginning to take. Although arguably the most talented driver out there, Vettel has failed to finish in 40% of the Grand Prix so far.
He crashed out in Australia when he got clumsy with Kubica’s car, spun in Malaysia, had an accident in Monaco and suffered suspension failure in the last race in Hungary.
With Vettel’s high failure rate, Webber starting in ninth, McLaren suddenly rising to dominance, Brawn recovering (at least in the heat of Valencia) and an 18.5 point cushion still Button looks set fair for the Drivers’ title. Of course, he could crash in the first corner, but assuming nothing crazy happens I think this race may mark the comeback of Brawn and Button.
Apologies for my cock-up on the main site, here’s a link to the starting line up: