Argh. I forgot that Webber’s got a 10 place grid penalty when I backed him at 6.5 for a podium spot. Oh well. From 13th he could yet achieve it. And, as I didn’t mention it before, the tyres for the race and supersoft and medium.
Briefly looking ahead to next year, it sounds like weight/height will be critical, so I may well compare those for the drivers (if I can find the data) ahead of next season.
Brilliantly, I managed to sleep in and missed the first half of qualifying, only to discover Radio 5 didn’t carry the coverage (despite me degunkifying the battery slot of my ancient Walkman, thanks to Mr. HD2 for that tip, specifically to listen to it). Once on Radio5Live it turned out I’d missed Legard’s grating voice (he stills talks over men far more insightful than himself, incidentally), so it wasn’t all bad.
In Q1 the pointless teams continued their long habit of predictably leaving the stage, and this time were joined by both Williams drivers.
Q2 was also a three team affair, with both Toro Rossos, Force Indias and, surprisingly, McLarens exiting. Bit surprised that McLaren appear to have taken a step backwards, and that both Saubers managed to get into the top 10. It’ll be interesting to see if the Swiss team can maintain its pace in the race.
Tedious finger-waver Vettel once again got pole, two-tenths up on Hamilton. I do respect Vettel’s excellent driving skills but it does make things (coupled with his excellent car) rather predictable. Webber qualified third but will start 13th, as mentioned above. So, Grosjean and Rosberg make up the second row, and are followed by Alonso and Massa, Hulkenberg and Gutierrez and then Raikkonen (not sure why the Finn was so slow, a full 1.3s off his team mate’s pace). Perez qualified 11th but will start alongside Raikkonen 10th on the grid.
A few Korean things to watch out for: nobody’s won from pole. I’m hoping this holds true but, alas, do not believe it. Secondly, it’s a great circuit for overtaking on the first lap as the starting section is just a collection of long straights. So, Webber (unless he leaves the handbrake on again…) could make up several places easily. Last but not least, there may well be a nearby tropical storm (qualifying was dry, incidentally).
However, the forecast I just checked showed that it’s very unlikely for any rain to arrive. Which is something of a shame, but there we are.
Bets were a bit tricky. Was tempted by both Rosberg and Grosjean for a podium at 2.6 or so, but that’s too short, I feel. Interestingly, Alonso has criticised the Pirelli tyres (too soft to push) and downplayed his prospects in the race: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/24409735
I also looked at Ferrari to top score (partly based on the negative comments of Alonso I’ve discounted that) and Hulkenberg to be top 6 (he’s a good driver but on race pace I think Raikkonen, Webber and maybe the McLarens will have the edge).
In the end I went for Mercedes to top score at 3.5 with Ladbrokes. It seems a very close fight between them and Red Bull. If a Mercedes finishes first I think they’re nigh on certain to top score. If Vettel is first then they could still win, contingent upon Webber’s finishing position (and whether or not he suffers a trademark reliability failure).
So, I think the teams are more or less evenly matched, but one starts 1st and 13th, and the other 2nd and 4th.
Anyway, let’s hope Hamilton wins, Rosberg is second and Webber third.