So I’m sat watching the opening feature race of GP2, determined to stay awake for FP3 and the F1 Qualifying at Sepang and it’s occurred to me that it has been far too long since I last updated this thing… let’s hope the habit endures this time.
First thing’s first; a special mention to Justine who happens to be in Kuala Lumpur for the race weekend! I am incredibly jealous and hope you have an awesome time! Fingers crossed you brought an umbrella with you…
Justine’s likely to need a poncho too, because, it you haven’t seen the forecast for race day, it’s going to be wet. Like, really wet.
Malaysia is no stranger to torrential weather, but what makes this weekend such an exciting prospect is how competitive the front runners are this season. Lotus, who were the touted dark horse last season have had a fantastic start to 2013 with Kimi Raikkonnen securing the top step in Melbourne. Raikkonnen’s smooth style combined with the E21’s kindness to it’s tyres means Lotus are one of the favourites on Sunday in a season that’s shaping up to be all about the Pirelli rubber.
Ferrari too, who were dogged with a terrible car at the start of 2012, have put there heads together and not made the same mistake twice with the new F138; Fernando Alonso was quickest last time out in Melbourne and would have won if Ferrari could have made the two-stop strategy work. Massa too, who spent all of last season wading through a river of transfer speculation regarding his seat in F1 (and a wealth of drivers supposedly more deserving of it), made a strong start to the season also.
Naturally, the triple double world champions, Red Bull, picked up where they left off and locked out the front row in Melbourne. However, in a team that settles for nothing less than perfection, a few heads were left being scratched when Sebastian Vettel struggled with tyre degredation, albeit still bringing it home in 3rd, and Mark Webber spent the afternoon in a battle for scraps with Paul di Resta. Nevertheless, they’re Red Bull, and I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over the defending champions finding form very soon.
Mercedes had an encouraging opening round in spite of Lewis Hamilton down-playing prospects prior to the race. Despite Nico Rosberg retiring with reliability issues, The Silver Arrows have good pace and should be competitive this weekend, particularly in the wet if FP1 and FP2 in Australia are anything to go by; the W04 dominated the time sheets in the rain a week ago.
The team I SHOULD be discussing now is McLaren, but it’s not. It’s Force India. McLaren have opted for revolution rather than evolution this season, and it has cost them a spot, for the time being at least, amongst the front runners. This spot has been happily filled by Vijay Mallya’s boys. After a season away from the sport, Adrian Sutil excelled in the VJM06 round Albert Park, finishing 7th after having lead the race. Until McLaren begin to understand their MP4-28, Sutil and Di Resta can settle into their new home as the fifth team in F1, leaving Jenson Button to grind out a few more 10th places.
With all that said, prediction time. Tyres will be key around Sepang, so Lotus are already at an advantage and should show. Ferrari too will finish strong, as will Red Bull. I expect Force India to be in the points again and McLaren, if they’re lucky with the weather. My big tip goes to Mercedes. Rosberg’s wet weather running in Melbourne was untouchable, and although he and Hamilton mightn’t qualify too well if the circuit stays dry, the inevitable rain on Sunday should suit them.