Friday, 17 April 2009

China - Friday preview

Friday practise comes and goes, and things appear a little clearer. Of course, Friday times are usually misleading, so caveat lector. Team-by-team updates below:

Brawn: (First session (FP1): P2&P3, Second session (FP2): P1&3) Unusually strong Friday performance from the team. This was put down (partly) to the fact that their car looks after the super-soft tyre best (Jenson put in the fastest times in the final sector). Look exceedingly strong for this weekend.

Toyota: (FP1: 6&8, FP2: 6&8): There or thereabouts. Should maintain their strong early season form. If anything happens to the Brawns, Toyota would be the team to beat.

BMW: (FP1: 16&18, FP2: 17&18) Always slow on Fridays (probably due to different testing schedule. However, this performance is terrible, even by their standards. Will need chaos to score points.

Renault: (FP1: 9&20, FP2: 16&19) Alonso was not running KERS, but did have a new diffusor. That left him 9th and 19th in the two sessions (was the 9th place a so-called glory lap?) Not looking great for the team, but perhaps they are sandbagging. We'll know tomorrow, but I suspect they are in trouble. Nul points, I predict.

Williams: (FP1: 7&19 FP2: 2&7) Rosberg finished just 0.025s away from Button's time, but Williams usually run away with the Friday sessions, so unless they are running more fuel than usual, they've dropped back a little.

Toro Rosso: (FP1: 10&13, FP2: 10&15) Mid table, they did run an adjustable front wing, something Red Bull haven't done, but don't expect them to race with it (5 live's commentary team understood it to be a test run for the senior squad). A race like the 2 most recent might lead to points, a normal one wouldn't.

Red Bull: (FP1: 5&12, FP2: 4&5) Vettel had some problems in the second session, but they don't appear to be too major. Should maintain their place in the top 4, probably as the 3rd fastest car. Racecraft and strategy (and coping with super-softs) will determine whether they end up with podiums, points or nothing.

McLaren: (FP1: 1&4, FP2: 9&13) Aero upgrades appeared to be working in the first session, but if form from the second session (usually better representative of Qualifying form) is repeated, they'll struggle to get into Q3. Better than I expected.

Force India: (FP1: 14&17, FP2: 11&20) A better than usual showing from the team, but this probably reflects the problems of others, more than any improvement by them. Another team who might benefit from chaos.

Ferrari: (FP1: 11&15, FP2: 12&14) Running without KERS (for "reliability" reasons) they are no better, in fact worse than they have been so far. Nul points, most likely.

Updated predictions:
Win: Button (seems to be quicker than Rubens this weekend)
2nd: Barrichello
3rd: Glock
4th: Vettel
5th: Trulli
6th: Rosberg
7th: Hamiton
8th: Webber

That is, I've moved Jenson up, replaced Alonso and Kimi (cars too slow) with Trulli and Webber (not dropping them for "bad luck" any more).

Further updates tomorrow.

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