Saturday, 5 September 2015

Italy: pre-qualifying

Back at Monza, for perhaps the final time. The excellent Italian circuit is the fastest on the calendar. Lots of straights, full throttle areas and minimal cornering, it’s all about top speed.

Because of that both Red Bull and McLaren are taking penalties as they think (Red Bull at least) it’ll put them in better stead for subsequent races, and they stand sod all chance at Monza anyway.

The race should be good if you have a Mercedes engine in the back, and less so if you don’t. Speaking of which, the Mercedes engine has been upgraded, but only for the two works cars. So, expect the race at the sharp end to be as one-sided as a fight between a puppy and a dalek.

It’s rather sad that after getting on the podium last race, Lotus struggled to make this one. Let’s hope Renault (or someone else, but it’s probably going to be Renault) buy the team and relieve its financial suffering.

The tyres are medium and soft.

In P1 Hamilton was half a second up on Rosberg, who was over a second ahead of Vettel. Hulkenberg was a way further back, followed by Perez, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Massa, Bottas and Maldonado.

In P2 Hamilton was again fastest, but his lead over Rosberg was a less mighty 21 thousandths of a second. Rosberg was ‘only’ seven-tenths up on Vettel, with Perez less than a tenth ahead of Hulkenberg. After the Force Indias was Raikkonen (again), Grosjean, Maldonado, Bottas and Massa.

I think Williams might be keeping their powder dry but otherwise I think that might be a decent indication of speed. Force India might have an outside shot at a podium. I wonder how quick Lotus will be.

The third practice session is of limited value as far as determining pace is concerned, because it was rather soggy. Ricciardo failed to even attempt a qualification run as his car broke down due to a hydraulics problem. He’s likely to start last due to penalties (I think he already had a substantial grid penalty).

With that caveat in mind, Hamilton was again fastest, a quarter of a second ahead of Vettel. Rosberg was within a tenth of his compatriot, with Bottas a tenth further back, a small way ahead of Massa. Maldonado was next, followed by Raikkonen, Perez, Ericsson and Grosjean.

It seems rain is entirely possible for qualifying, just to complicate things.

Potential qualifying bets:
Lotus/Force India to reach Q3
Ricciardo/Kvyat to fail to reach Q3

Perez and Hulkenberg were 1.34 each to make Q3, Maldonado and Grosjean very similar.

The odds on Red Bull failing to reach Q3 were comically long, and I don’t lay at those kind of odds.

So, nothing tempting. I had a quick look and Vettel was 2.5 to be top 3. That’s more intriguing, though with the uncertain weather the odds aren’t long enough for me.

So, no tip for qualifying, alas.

Morris Dancer

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