Saturday, 26 May 2012

Monaco: pre-qualifying

I was seriously considering doing this piece on the Friday, or late on Thursday, but the lack of running in P2 and the potential for rain put me off.

I missed all save the last 10 minutes of P1, when Kovalainen's Caterham did a fantastic impression of a steam engine (or possible a flatulent dragon). The order was: Alonso, Grosjean and Perez, followed by Hamilton, Maldonado and Massa. The final quartet in the top 10 was Kobayashi, Button, Vettel and Rosberg. It's only practice, but it's still very jumbled up.

I saw just about all of P2, which wasn't much use as off-and-on rain meant that running was very limited and of little use. However, the teams did go out and play a bit on the intermediates. Perhaps worringly, the intermediate (green) tyres struggled to retain sufficient temperature and were massively slow on a circuit too wet for slicks. Button led Grosjean at the sharp end, but there was only a short space of time for dry running so the times can't really be read into.

In P3 Massa was notably faster and more confident than he has been recently, which is great to see. The session ended with a red flag when Maldonado's Williams needed hoisting out on a crane. Rosberg was fastest, followed by Massa and then Vettel. Alonso was 4th, then Grosjean, Button and Hamilton. The top 10 was rounded out by Schumacher, Perez and Webber.

The Sauber looks pretty promising, including in the wet (which may well prove advantageous for qualifying and the race). The supersofts are good for only one lap, maybe two at a stretch. Then they're gone.

McLaren have also suggested that the Lotus team could be the one to beat, and I anticipate a good performance from the likes of Raikkonen and Grosjean.

There's a pretty enormous 0.8s to 1s between the compounds, and Pirelli reckon a one-stop strategy is viable for the race (although that doesn't mean it's necessarily the optimal strategy).

Just checked the weather forecast, and rain is likelier than not during qualifying. Given that, I'm taking the prudent/cowardly decision not to offer any tips for qualifying. The circuit's about as forgiving as Darth Vader and rain would make it very difficult in terms of both reaching and winning Q3 and introduce a large element of luck (if you're the fastest but get rain then you're screwed even if you do a perfect lap).

Morris Dancer

1 comment:

Nigel said...

A one stop strategy is far from optimal, so it's essentially a gamble on a safety car working out for those not on the front row.
Could be a worthwhile gamble, though.

I'm not betting either, since I have no idea which of four or five drivers is going to get pole.
Added to that will be the enjoyable (for us spectators) mayhem of Q1.