Saturday, 21 July 2012

Germany: pre-qualifying

"Euripides: Chance fights ever on the side of the prudent."

We're at Hockenheim, which alternates with the Nurburgring as the German Grand Prix venue. However, the latter circuit might end up going bust and Hockenheim may end up as the sole German racetrack in F1.

The tyres this weekend are soft and medium.

P1 was a mostly soggy affair, which didn't yield too much info of use. However, there is some suggestion that Lotus might have a Mercedes-style double DRS which could give them an edge in qualifying, as well as increasing (possibly) their ease of overtaking in the race. Alguesuari reckoned the Mercedes, especially Schumacher looked pretty good on both tyres. The order was: Button, Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher, Perez, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Massa, Maldonado, Grosjean.

P2 was even wetter, so the times are probably of even less value, but here we are: Maldonado was fastest followed by Rosberg, Vettel, Perez and Grosjean. The 6-10 slots were filled by Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Button, Webber and Raikkonen.

Lotus confirmed they had a swanky new aerodynamic device, possibly like the Mercedes super-DRS but said they wouldn't be using it in the race. However, it may make an appearance at Hungary, next weekend:

We also learnt that the McLaren drivers weren't singing in the rain, which could prove of value if the qualifying forecast is wet:

P3 was mostly dry, thankfully. Alonso, Hamilton, Perez, Raikkonen, Webber, Vettel, Maldonado, Massa, Kobayashi, Senna. Button was dead last.

Webber and Rosberg both have five place grid penalties for gearbox changes, and Pic has a 10 place penalty for changing an engine. Pretty high record of gearbox changes this year.

It seems that qualifying is likely to be affected, at least partly, by rain. This shouldn't bother Red Bull, Ferrari or Sauber but McLaren may be adversely affected.

Given that, I feel more comfortable betting against drivers than for them (rain means that calling a pole-sitter is even harder than usual). Sadly the 1.23 to lay Grosjean to reach Q3 (he is, in my view, likely to be just on the cusp) has disappeared and 1.4 is not generous enough.

After some agonising I've decided to back (half-stakes each) Webber at 9.2 and Alonso at 6.2 for fastest qualifying time (hedges set up at 2.5 and 2 respectively). As usual in this case this counts as a single tip. My reasoning is thus: both were fast and very tightly matched at Silverstone qualifying (also wet) last weekend. They're also both likely to be competitive if it's bone dry. And, Alonso was very close to getting pole in 2010.

Should be an exciting qualifying session. Let's hope it's profitable too.

Morris Dancer


Nigel said...

Looks as though qualifying could be wet, which makes things a little too unpredictable for me.

I agree that McLaren are likely to struggle, as they don't seem to have a balanced car yet, even if it looks potentially quite fast.
Failing to get their big upgrade to Valencia has put them on the back foot ever since, as wet practices are not conducive to good testing.
Having two lead drivers with completely different driving styles probably makes sorting the balance even more difficult, and getting front and rear tyres heating at the same rate is absolutely critical to performance in all conditions this year.

Red Bull seem to have developed best, and are rumoured to have brought a system for adjusting camber in the pitstops, which will help them with tyre wear during the race.
The Ferrari also looks to have some very neat and sophisticated aero at the back.

I can't disagree with you tips, but I've a feeling that this might be Vettel's weekend.

Morris Dancer said...

Not heard that Red Bull rumour. As you say, that could be pretty helpful.

Got a little lucky with the Alonso bet, but I was in two minds about whether to offer a tip or not.