Well, wasn’t expecting such Red Bull dominance in Q3, but they locked out the front row, Vettel scoring his 9th (I think) pole of the season. Importantly, the even side of the track is greener than an Irishman drowning in a vat of mushy peas, so that could be a real blow for Webber and Hamilton (2nd and 4th).
Interestingly, the Ferrari was blisteringly fast in sector 1, which is basically a collection of big straights and slow corners. It was as much as a second faster than the Red Bull at times, and the McLaren was also relatively faster in the sector [as had been expected].
The track seems to be one where overtaking will happen quite a lot, though it’s as new as a track can be so we’ll have to wait for the race to be sure. Going off-line will lead to very little grip, so that coupled with probably many overtaking attempts will see quite a few thrills and spills, I predict.
According to the internet, the weather forecast for tomorrow is, er, ‘city not found’. The very basic F1 website forecast offers cloudy with rain, and the forecasts for Seoul [which, is must be said, is hundreds of miles away] is clear. Right.
So, we have a quite exciting mix. Uncertain weather conditions, a track light on grip, especially off-line, and potential for lots of overtaking. The even side of the track would seem to be disadvantaged off the start.
I backed Alonso at 6.4 to lead lap 1, he’s since lengthened to 7. My reasoning is thus: the even side is slower, probably removing Webber and Hamilton as serious possibilities. The Red Bull has been mixed at best in recent starts (although Vettel did well last time out) and the Ferrari has been super fast in the first sector which has overtaking possibilities anyway.
Given the potential for a racing incident to turn things on their head [rain, crash, safety car] I’m less keen to bet on a winner. If you do, I’d either go for Vettel at 2.22 or Ferrari at 5 [bizarrely longer than Alonso’s 4.5].
If Alonso had been longer I’d’ve backed him to win, and if Vettel were shorter I’d’ve laid him for the victory, but they aren’t and I haven’t.
The forecast market is sadly not very liquid. There’s 3 available for Vettel-Alonso in 1st and 2nd but that’s far too short. A bit longer and it would’ve been tempting.
So, a single tip: back Alonso to lead lap 1 at 7. The race starts at 7am UK time.