News was breaking as I began writing this piece that Maria de Villota, the former Marussia reserve driver who lost an eye during testing a year or two ago, has been found dead in her hotel room. At the time of writing it appears to be a natural death, but this has not been confirmed. She was 33.
The tyres for the weekend are medium and hard. In Gary Anderson’s piece about Suzuka, available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/24446906, he writes that the medium may become overworked, as happened in Korea (most notably with Perez). Flat spotting a tyre shouldn’t cause it to come to pieces.
With that in mind, pace on the hard tyre may be critical. I doubt I’ll watch P2 live (starts at 5.55am) but I might see if it goes up on the iPlayer to try and compare times on the hard tyre. Worth bearing in mind that fuel load has a very significant effect and although the teams are likely to have high fuel runs they won’t have identical fuel loads.
P1 saw only the hard tyre being used. Hamilton was fastest, three-tenths up on Rosberg, who was three-tenths up on Vettel, with Webber very close behind. Another three-tenths down the road was Massa, a shade ahead of Alonso, followed by Grosjean, Raikkonen, Perez and Ricciardo.
In P2 the medium tyre was used (as well as the hard). Vettel and Webber led the way, followed by Rosberg, Raikkonen and Grosjean. Hamilton, Ricciardo, Massa, Buttton and Alonso (hard tyre time, the rest being medium) rounded out the top 10.
I had a quick look at the betting markets for qualifying, but nothing struck me. I expect Vettel to get pole and the top 3 to be a Mercedes/Red Bull mix.
I have, however, backed (with a pound or two) Mr. Putney’s suggestion in the comments of the early discussion thread to back Grosjean for the win. Happily, his odds had increased to a perplexing 55.
Qualifying is at 6am and will be on the BBC live. I’ll endeavour to wake up in time to watch it.