The tyres will be supersoft and medium, and with the heat it’s possible that Lotus, being softer on tyres, will benefit (a pit stop is a very long 29 seconds, putting a premium on fewer stops). Cheers to https://twitter.com/theWPTformula for that thought.
However, there’s some very surprising news to discuss first. Namely that McLaren apparently want Alonso next year (replacing Perez). Alonso is contracted to Ferrari, but F1 contracts are like the rules of piracy; they’re more like guidelines than actual rules. It would be quite astonishing if next season saw Raikkonen rejoin Ferrari *and* Alonso leave that team to rejoin McLaren. I wonder if Perez would jump to Ferrari, or if Massa might get a reprieve. Hulkenberg and Di Resta haven’t signed anything yet either (Hulkenberg is thought likely to go to Lotus).
Since the story first broke it’s emerged that (at the time of writing, anyway) Whitmarsh isn’t actually speaking to Alonso. It’s still possible, but not a likelihood, right now.
P1 had Hamilton fastest, followed by Webber and Vettel. Rosberg was next, then Raikkonen, Grosjean, Alonso, Perez, Vergne and Gutierrez.
In P2 Vettel and Webber led the way, followed by Rosberg and Hamilton. Grosjean, Alonso and Button came next, with Raikkonen, Sutil and Perez rounding out the top 10.
At this stage it looks like Red Bull will, alas, retain their dominance, with Mercedes, Alonso and Grosjean behind them. McLaren look reasonably competitive without setting the world alight.
P3, rather predictably, had Vettel fastest, followed by Grosjean. Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton came next, followed by Alonso, Perez, Hulkenberg, Button and Massa.
Sadly I missed the qualifying simulation runs at the end of P3, so it’s hard to say if traffic played a role in any of the times.
Vettel’s only close rival was Grosjean, who was just two-tenths off. Then there’s about half a second to Rosberg et al. Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton have pretty close times, then there’s a gap to Alonso.
Barring rain (presently forecast as being very unlikely) or accident it’s hard to see anyone stopping Vettel getting pole. However, his odds are just 1.5, and given the serious possibility of a small touch on a wall costing time and my own dislike for such short odds I’ve decided not to bet on qualifying.
I was tempted by Hulkenberg to reach Q3 and Grosjean to be in the top 3, but Hulkenberg’s odds of evens are too short, and the 3.5 available for Grosjean disappeared, alas.
Anyway, let’s hope Vettel has a reliability issue. It’ll make the race and qualifying more interesting.