Saturday, 8 November 2014

Brazil: pre-qualifying

Surprisingly, Marussia has folded. Given they had tens of millions in prize money likely coming for 2015 and even missing Brazil and Abu Dhabi they still had a live entry for the next year I expected them to be a going concern at the end of 2014. Given it was seen as the better bet compared to Caterham it may be we’ll have 18 cars permanently next year.

This comes a day after Christian Horner, principal of a team bankrolled by a billionaire, opined that poorer teams shouldn’t speak publicly about money troubles because it’s bad for the sport. Not a very impressive statement.

In other news, Felipe Nasr (pronounced Nassa) has been named as a Sauber driver. I’m sure that won’t confuse commentators at all. He’s joined by Marcus Ericsson, but Sutil, an incumbent of the team, has raised a contract row, claiming he’ll still be driving for them next year. Gutierrez hasn’t really impressed at any time, so it’s not surprising he’s gone.

Perez and Hulkenberg will remain at Force India next year. Good for them, and the team.

Interlagos is a great circuit, perhaps my favourite. Short lap, but the race is very often wet, so be sure to keep an eye on the sky for qualifying and race day.

The tyres are soft and medium.

In P1 Rosberg was fastest, two-tenths ahead of his team mate. Hamilton was the better part of a second ahead of Kvyat. Alonso, Massa, Verstappen, Maldonado, Raikkonen, Magnussen and Ricciardo rounded out the top 10. I wonder if Red Bull and Williams are sandbagging a bit. Mercedes once again look in a league of their own.

P2 had a similar headline, with Rosberg two-tenths ahead of Hamilton and Raikkonen half a second off the German’s top time. Ricciardo, Bottas, and Massa followed, with Alonso, Kvyat, Vettel and Magnussen rounding out the top 10.

Rosberg was fastest again in P3, but just by a tenth on Hamilton. Massa and Bottas were next (Massa’s been good this weekend so far), then we had Ricciardo and Button. Raikkonen, Alonso, Magnussen and Kvyat finished off the top 10.

The forecasts are for rain in qualifying. This will relatively help Red Bull, and also Button and Hulkenberg (recall Hulkenberg was vying for the win in the rain two years ago, and got pole for Williams about four years ago on a wet-and-dry track).

However, rain was forecast for P3, and the session was dry.

I was tempted by Massa being top 3 in qualifying (3.15, Betfair) but if it rains I think Ricciardo (Red Bull having superior downforce) might have the edge.

Rosberg’s only evens or just over for pole, rather than the 3-3.5 he often is, so it’s too short, as the pole will likely be a coin toss in the Mercedes garage.

So, no bet.

Not sure if the pre-race piece will be this evening or tomorrow morning.

Morris Dancer

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