Thursday, 16 April 2009

China preview

Another Thursday, another set of predictions.

Team-by-team (now in championship order, rather than my view of their performance):
Brawn-Mercedes: Jenson won both of the opening races, Rubens suffered much mishap on his way to 2nd in the championship and the approval at the Appeals Court of their diffuser. All told, Brawn are in good shape for this weekend. The question remains "have the opposition managed to catch up?"
Toyota: Finished 3rd and 4th in Australia, after starting from the pits (and after Lewis' disqualification). Were in good shape before the rain (Trulli) and during the rain (Glock) in Malaysia. I'm sure that they will manage at least a podium, and will probably lead the race on Sunday. Brawn, in my view, are only just ahead of them.
BMW Sauber: Heidfeld used good tactics, more than good speed, to get his eighth second place finish. However, Kubica is now being given a try at KERS, which implies that the team have found a way to lighten the car. This will only help (because they wouldn't use it if they didn't feel it was worthwhile). Rumour has it that their new diffuser will be ready for Spain. In the meantime they should be scrapping for points, if current reliability trends continue, otherwise 10-14th.
Renault: Along with McLaren, they have a new diffuser for this weekend. This should help them make the leap to the front running pack (joining Red Bull and Williams slightly behind Toyota and Brawn). Alonso to be in a podium place at some stage, finish about 5th. Piquet to finish a race without crashing (well, maybe).
Williams-Toyota: Will push as hard as they possibly can this weekend, as they will find their advantage slowly slipping away. Having said that, I feel they would be contending for the win, were it not for the fact that their car took VERY unkindly to the super softs at Melbourne. I doubt they've fixed that, so that they only suffer as much as everyone else. We'll see. Predicition: points if they finish.
Toro Rosso-Ferrari: Umm. Got lucky for their points. Don't have KERS or a new diffuser. Will struggle. 9th out of 10, in my view. At least one, probably both drivers will drop out in Q1.
Red Bull-Renault: Vettel to secure shock pole position. More realistically, they'll both be in the top 4 rows, with one interrupting the Brawn/Toyota hegemony at the top of the grid.
McLaren-Mercedes: New diffuser (see Renault). One of the best drivers (see his performance in a bad car at Melbourne). I'd say, barring disqualification, that the McLaren will drop out in Q2, and will somehow score good points. Credit KERS (I think it is a slight disadvantage in qualifying, big advantage in the race).
Force India-Mercedes: Rumour has it they are further advanced than Ferrari in their diffuser design, but since they haven't got it yet, expect nothing from them this weekend. Only chaos exceeding what we've seen so far this season will help them get any points.
Ferrari: Last in the standings. Major managerial reorganisation. Surely things won't get worse? They've dropped KERS until Spain (due to reliability issues, apparently). Expect Q3, but few, if any points.

Thursday predictions:
Win: Barrichello (his turn to avoid bad luck, methinks)
2nd: Glock (that Toyota is good)
3rd: Button (some misfortune will strike)
4th: Vettel (something to go wrong for Trulli)
5th: Alonso (that new diffuser will help, along with KERS)
6th: Rosberg (all that effort, and still Williams won't win)
7th: Hamilton (fighting through from 14th on the grid)
8th: Raikkonen (benefitting from others' misfortune)

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