Malaysian Grand Prix: Saturday Update

Posted on March 23, 2013

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I’m liking these tyres. We get long runs in FP3, which are very interesting this morning. Oh, and I think the teams will be very relieved at the rain for Q3 – especially Red Bull. Given that they were using as few tyres as possible, I think that they might not have run in Q3 at all has it been dry. Pole is quite a bonus…

To the long runs this morning. Those which are useful came from the Mercedes (again!), the Red Bulls and Hulkenburg. And we got four laps from Raikkonen suggesting that his race pace is competitive, but not extreme. All are interesting.

The Mercedes ran on medium tyres, and did about 10 laps. Their pace was consistent with about a third stint (of four) pace and they looked like they had consistent pace (similar to that of Raikkonen yesterday) but weren’t going to get much further than 10 laps. This suggests two things – first that they would be looking at starting on the hard tyres (which looked to be true for all – hence the happiness at the rain), and second that they will need 16 laps out of the mediums for three stops, and 23-ish for two stops. The longest stint we have is Hamilton on 17 laps, so two stops may just be possible – but probably not for Mercedes in the dry.

The other stints were all on the hard tyres (I think). I have updated yesterdays chart, replacing the Red Bull and Raikkonen’s curves, and adding Hulkenburg.

2013_malaysia2

And what do we see? The Red Bulls are about where Webber’s runs were yesterday, but they don’t look like going much beyond 10-12 laps. Which is a four stopper! With running as few tyres as possible in qualifying, they aren’t looking good for the race. Mind you, we all thought that about Mercedes in China last year…

Raikkonen slots nicely into the picture between Ferrari and Mercedes, but we can’t really see where the pace will level to as the stint is too short – nor do we get an idea about how well he is looking after the tyres. The fit puts his pace just behind Mercedes – but there is a big uncertainty on it.

And Hulkenburg. Fast, consistent, good on the tyres. I think that the big teams must be hoping that he is running light, as this is the best long run we have in the ‘first stint’ pace bracket. Seem to recall Sauber did quite well here last year, and are good on their tyres. Not sure that this is representative, but I will be watching out for progess from Hulkenburg in the early laps to see whether there is anything in it. An interesting one.

Qualifying suggests that the Force Indias are indeed quick again, and that Ferrari are there-or-thereabouts. In fact, if I had to pick a winner, I would be looking to the red cars.

The update of yesterday’s table is (relative to Vettel yesterday):

  • +0.2s Hulkenburg (is this real?)
  • +0.5s Alonso/Massa/Rosberg/Hamilton
  • +0.7s Di Resta/Raikkonen
  • +0.9s Vettel
  • +1.0s Webber
  • +1.4s Button (but deteriorates to +2.5s)
  • +3.0s Bottas
  • +3.5s Maldonado
  • +3.7s Vergne
  • +3.8s Ricciardo
  • +4.1s Bianchi

I really hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow. I’m fascinated to see how this plays out.

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