Rosberg's week of wonder has seen him sign a new contract, Germany win the World Cup and the driver himself get married. Can he top it off with winning his own home race, and thereby stretch his lead (now just 4 points) over his team mate?
FRIC suspension is front-rear interconnected suspension. This has been banned after the FIA limply said it could be retained for the season if all teams agreed. As all teams agree on nothing, ever, this didn't occur so the teams are not running FRIC. This will disadvantage almost every team (Force India least of all, Marussia quite a bit and it may also help Williams), but won't have a critical impact, I feel. In Hungary the effect may well be more pronounced.
It's going to be hot until race day, when rain is forecast, and it could absolutely piss it down. Well worth comparing the probably dry qualifying pace with the wet qualifying in Silverstone and Malaysia (the former's more recent but Williams/Ferrari cocking it up makes it of somewhat limited utility).
Tyres are soft and supersoft.
P1 had the two Mercedes top of the timesheets, unsurprisingly. Rosberg was 0.065s ahead of Hamilton. Then came Alonso, Ricciardo, Button, Vettel, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Kvyat and Sutil. Worth mentioning the Williams may have been high on fuel (they were more or less on pace with the Sauber, which is a bit of a dog of a car). In addition, the McLaren's being upgraded at a more rapid rate than expected, so could be tastier this weekend than it might otherwise be.
In P2 it appeared that the Mercedes' brakes were getting really rather hot. Whilst other cars seemed to be near(ish) on single lap and initial long run pace, over the course of a longer run the Mercedes was in a league of its own.
James Allen suggested Force India (and Williams) tend to do better when the softer tyre compounds are used. Rosberg seems to be a tenth ahead of Hamilton. Then the Red Bulls, Massa and Alonso clustered together, according to analysis from McNish and Benson. The Ferrari appears a bit slower on race pace than in qualifying, but if the race is wet that changes things.
In P2 Hamilton was two-hundredths of a second ahead of Rosberg (apparently Rosberg made a mistake, suggesting that, on pace, the German is the faster). Ricciardo was close behind and Raikkonen a distant fourth, followed by Magnussen, Massa, Button, Vettel, Alonso and Bottas.
A day before putting this piece up I tipped Rosberg for pole at just over 3 on Betfair, hedged at 1.5. His odds have since declined to about 2.3/2.4, and I'm not tipping at those odds (the 3.1 bet won't count towards my records).
In P3 Rosberg was a day and a half ahead of Hamilton (or so it seemed...), with Alonso a close third, then Massa and Bottas also close together. Magnussen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Vettel and Hulkenberg round out the top 10.
Hamilton reported a slight vibration in his tyres and was 0.6s off the pace. However, apparently it was said at the start of the session they were on different programmes (be a bit weird not to do a qualifying run at the end, but perhaps Hamilton had higher fuel. Short lap, though. Hamilton didn't sound disappointed on the radio, suggesting a fuel effect).
Raikkonen seems to have a car issue which makes it uncertain whether he'll be able to participate in qualifying. On the plus side, his 47G hit a fortnight ago doesn't appear to have caused any lasting damage.
The supersoft tyres are clearly the faster but in the very high temperatures may not last long at all, so it'll be one fast lap per set, it seems. The Red Bulls are looking nice over a single lap, though fuel may mean they can't match the Mercedes over longer runs. In P3 the Red Bulls were much slower but that may well be sandbagging. Williams perhaps a shade slower than expected, but still solid.
The McLaren's got a lot of upgrades. Button got them later (only in P3) than Magnussen. Could mark another step forward for the team.
Although not an issue for the qualifying, it's worth noting the climatic conditions are going to be very different from qualifying to the race, so don't make race bets using qualifying as a strong guide. The race is highly likely to be wet.
I still think Rosberg's favourite, but only marginally, for pole. The odds are too short to back him now, I feel. Red Bull probably sandbagging and Hamilton either well off the pace or, more likely, having his speed obfuscated by a higher fuel load makes it tricky to tell who'll be making up the top three.
So, no proper tip, though obviously I hope Rosberg gets pole.