F1: Malaysian Grand Prix Predictions
The F1 machine has rolled straight from the opening weekend in Australia into Malaysia for round two. With a slightly clearer picture on where the teams are with regards to performance this should be a very interesting race with higher temperatures and that ever present threat of a downpour.
Let’s cast our mind back a few days to the eventual qualifying and F1 race in Australia. Grosjean and Maldonado managed not to play pinball and the race started in typical fashion, with Vettel dominance. However, tyre-wear became a huge factor as predicted and although Ferrari seemed right on the pace, the 2 stop strategy of Lotus paid dividends as Raikkonen took the chequered flag, but also managed to produce his fastest laps and the fastest lap of the race at the end of his stints on used tyres. Well done to Lotus and of course cool as a cucumber Kimi Raikkonen.
Back to F1 Malaysia, due to the abrasive nature of the Kuala Lumpur asphalt, Pirelli are taking the medium and hard compound tyres but even so, tyre degradation will still play a big part and we are expecting 2 or 3 pit stops. The two compounds have different temperature performance windows so it will be interesting to see if teams setup their cars to one particular compound or sit in the middle to get decent but not optimal performance on both. Caterham have a brilliant preview page with some really interesting videos on the tyres which you can find here – http://caterhamf1.com/previews/2013/02-MAL/index.html.
I’m not really sure there is a favourite for this weekend, Red Bull are fastest but it isn’t clear whether the higher temperatures will allow for them to manage their tyres better and if Lotus will have a large tyre management advantage like they did in Australia. Here are some stab in the dark predictions:
- Sebastian Vettel
- Fernando Alonso
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Lewis Hamilton
- Felipe Massa
I believe that Red Bull have enough of a qualifying performance gap to setup the car to be less aggressive with the tyres and still take pole position. It may be a fine balance that they need to find, but it’s highly likely that if anyone can find it, Adrian Newey and Red Bull can. The race should be really interesting and there might not be a clear winner until very late on in the race, the possibility of a huge downpour is also there which could change everything in an instant and give us a random winner.
Qualifying – Green light – 08:00
Sky F1 – 07:00 – 09:45
BBC 1 – 13:00 – 14:15 (highlights)
Race – Lights out – 08:00
Sky F1 – 06:30 – 11:00
BBC 1 – 14:30 – 16:30 (highlights)
With a start time of 8AM this should be an easy one to get up for and it will not fail to entertain!