Saturday, 8 May 2010

Spain: pre-qualifying

Well, it’s been a long three weeks, during which we’ve seen volcanic disruption of British airspace, the first Hung Parliament since before I was born and a long time for car development for every F1 team.

Spain is a circuit which should be Red Bull’s. The biggest challenge to the likes of Vettel and Webber has come from the McLarens, but the McLaren’s big strength is great straight line speed. Unfortunately for Hamilton and Button, Spain has just one straight, unlike previous races where there were two close together in Malaysia and a couple in the circuit in China.

We’ll see whether developments have meant an improvement for the other teams, or whether Red Bull’s only real problem remains the fact that Vettel’s car explodes every time he’s due to make 25 points.

Practice 1 saw a McLaren one two in the 1:21s, with Schumacher closely behind Button in third. He was followed by Webber, Vettel, Rosberg, Kubica and Alonso.

Practice 2 had the Red Bulls topping the timesheets, Vettel first, but Schumacher managed to come third again (albeit half a second behind Webber). It’s only practice, but it is a clear improvement. The German seems happy with the new wheelbase and chassis, whereas Rosberg seems less pleased. Alonso came 4th, followed by Hamilton, Kubica, Rosberg, Massa and Button.

Spain tends to be a procession in the dry. But will the qualifying be dry?

The BBC reckons it’ll have light showers, Wunderground’s hourly forecast reckons it’ll be dry and clear and has it dry and clear.

So, it seems likely to be dry. The Red Bulls seem a street ahead of their rivals. Vettel’s P3 time was fastest, and 0.7s ahead of Webber, but that may be due to fuel/Webber not completing his final lap due to yellow flags. Hamilton and Button were close behind and Schumacher was 5th, followed by Massa, Rosberg and Alonso.

Vettel’s 1.59, but I’m unconvinced of the value there. Webber’s longer, and I think worth backing for pole position at 5.5 or more. Traffic issues, precise timing of the final lap and luck mean that although Vettel is right to be favourite, Webber’s got a reasonable chance of snagging pole. I doubt anyone else will do it because the Red Bull is just too fast.

I’m keeping these pre-qualifying posts under review.

Morris Dancer

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