Only 2/3 practice sessions were run, because it became dangerously wet towards the end of Q2. Even so, it was full wets only both Q1 and Q2, which were not without incident.
In Q1, Sainz introduced his wheel to the curb, and his car to the wall. Wet and tricky, but the second qualifying in a row this occurred, though thankfully the crash was far more minor this time. As is traditional, both Manors also failed to progress. The Saubers both exited the stage here as well, after struggling consistently in the wet conditions.
Q2 was pretty tight. The Red Bulls had a lovely day, almost challenging Mercedes for the top spots, and there was a nice spat between the Force Indias, Williams, Lotus and McLaren to see who else could make it through. Ferrari were so-so, but both drivers (due to an engine change) will incur a 10 place grid penalty and, in soggy weather, that could prove more significant than would usually be the case.
Because of worsening weather, Q3 was cancelled and the Q2 times were used to set the grid (excepting those who left in Q1, of course). That gave Rosberg the pole, ahead of Hamilton.
Kvyat leads Ricciardo on row two, then we have Perez and Hulkenberg, Massa and Verstappen, then Alonso and Bottas. Grosjean and Button are 11th and 12th, with Maldonado and Ericsson next, then Vettel and Nasr, Rossi and Raikkonen, with Stevens and Sainz (if the latter’s car can be mended in time) bringing up the rear.
I happened to glance at a forecast, and it seems the race may be at least partially dry. Which makes it even harder to call.
If it’s wet -
Alonso to score
Hulkenberg top 6
Perez top 6
Lay Raikkonen points
McLaren double score (maybe)
If it’s largely dry or wet-and-dry -
Massa top 6
On reflection, I like the Force Indias the most because they should be alright in both the wet and the dry, unlike, say, the Williams.
Very tricky. Been very wet all weekend but it should be dry for the race, which should see something of a return to normal. If so, that’ll help Ferrari climb through the field, as well as Williams. It may harm McLaren (not sure how Alonso’s new engine stacks up), and Red Bull/Toro Rosso, who benefit in wet weather from their good downforce.
So, a difficult guess. Alonso for points would perhaps be the tempting outsider bet if rain were certain, and Perez (maybe split with Hulkenberg) for a podium is an interesting outsider if it’s dry.
The forecast is for it to be dry. The bets I’m seriously considering are:
Alonso, points 3.25 (Betfair)
Perez/Hulkenberg, podium 7 (Ladbrokes)
Perez/Hulkenberg top 6, 2.12/2.04 (Betfair)
Grosjean, points 2.25 (Ladbrokes)
Poor reliability puts me off Grosjean. Probably dry weather puts me off Alonso. Which leaves Force India. I think a podium is credible. If it’s dry, they should pass the Red Bulls on the straights, but the Ferraris should struggle to completely close the gap against Mercedes-powered cars. That said, the Ferraris are very quick indeed.
Tip: I’ve decided to back both Perez and Hulkenberg to be top 6 with Betfair (2 bets, not 1 stake split between them), at 2.12 and 2.04 respectively.
The post-race analysis will probably be up tomorrow.