Saturday, 27 March 2010

Australia: pre-race

Happily, I woke up a little earlier than usual and watched qualifying as it happened. There are a few bits of interesting information. Firstly, Hamilton came 11th, and didn’t even make Q3. His team mate Button surprisingly kicked his arse and came 4th.

Red Bull now seem to be top dogs clearly, with a 1-2 on the front row of the grid. Unsurprisingly, Wunderkind Vettel beat Webber. Alonso was 3rd but very close to the Red Bulls, but between the top 3 and the rest of the field there’s a huge margin, with a full half-second separating Alonso’s and Button’s best times.

Almost as interesting as Button thrashing Hamilton is Massa coming a poor 5th, 0.7s behind Alonso. Australia’s not a typical Massa hunting ground, but that’s still a huge margin.

Barrichello and Sutil were both, again, the best of the rest, along with Kubica who came 9th.

I found a video of the Bahrain start ( which provides a little bit of information regarding the starting prowess of the Ferraris and Red Bulls. It’s important to remember that both at Bahrain and the present track the odd numbered grid slots are on the clean side, meaning grip is better. Alonso overtook Massa based on a good start, and I think the Ferrari will be quick enough on the clean side to do much the same to Webber.

The weather forecast for the race, according to the BBC, is for heavy rain. If this happens intra-race it’ll make the result something of a lottery. Serious rainfall will see numerous cars sliding off, and those making the right tyre calls getting huge advantages.

I think Alonso is value at 6.4 for the win. He may well overtake Webber at the start, and is one of the few with the skill to hold onto Vettel. There remain questions over the Red Bull’s reliability as well. Alonso’s improved on his qualifying position at the last two races, and in 2007 held onto second when Raikonnen won, so he’s comfortable in Oz.

I also advocate backing Vettel at 1.8. If there’s no reliability issue, I can see him scampering away and just remaining out of Alonso’s clutches. The Red Bull seems to have a more efficient energy, allowing less fuel and thus weight. Plus, they seem to be good at getting their tyres nicely warm.

If you want to stay green either way, you’ll need a slightly higher stake on Vettel than Alonso, obviously.

If there is rain then this could make the result almost random. However, if it’s raining at the start of the race then the grid will get wet tyres to start with and not need to pit, and the frontrunners have the same advantage they would in the dry.

Let’s hope the result is a happier one than Bahrain.

Morris Dancer


Nigel said...

Great race.

Interesting how the intra-team competitions at the top developed.

Vettel showed why he ought to - but probably won't - win the championship this year. Webber did not enhance his reputation.

Button was comprehensively outraced by Hamilton in the opening laps - but found a way to win.
Hamilton was rather unlucky not to take second/third place after a splendidly buccaneering drive, had he not (been ?) pulled in for a new set of tyres (or third place had not Webber taken him out later on).

Massa looked desperately uncomfortable compared to his teammate, yet found the grit to hold him off at the end.

Morris Dancer said...

Aye, the race was very entertaining. I missed the start, but saw from lap 7 onwards.

You're right to single out Massa, I think he did extremely well, and is now second in the standings despite not being at home in Oz.

Pretty disappointed to have such a poor run. Malaysia's only a week away, so I need to try and work out what I'm doing wrong.

Still, one thing seems clear: Vettel's car will find a way to break. Reminds me of Raikonnen at McLaren.

Nigel said...

Actually, I don't think Massa did extremely well.

Apart from his superb start, he looked a very poor racer compared to Alonso - and to give some context to Alonso's failure to pass him in the closing laps, you only need look at Hamilton's difficulties behind Alonso - with a car that was a good second a lap faster.

And the ease with which other drivers passed him earlier in the race was noteworthy.

I think his comeback from injury has been remarkable, but if I had any money on his championship chances, I'd be concerned.