Qualifying for the British Grand Prix has thrown up a surprising grid and much speculation about what each of the teams are doing.
With rain threatening for tomorrow some teams may be running with set-ups geared towards wet weather.
What will happen in tomorrow’s race? Here are my thoughts on the grid.
British Grand Prix Grid (provisional)
1. Heikki Kovalainen 2. Mark Webber
3. Kimi Raikkonen 4. Lewis Hamilto
5. Nick Heidfeld 6. Fernando Alonso
7. Nelson Piquet Jnr 8. Sebastian Vettel
9. Felipe Massa 10. Robert Kubica
11. David Coulthard 12. Timo Glock
13. Sebastian Bourdais 14. Jarno Trulli
15. Kazuki Nakajima 16. Rubens Barrichello
17. Jenson Button 18. Nico Rosberg
19. Adrian Sutil 20. Giancarlo Fisichella
At Silverstone the pole sitter is on the racing line and has the advantage of being on the cleaner side of the track. Last year Lewis Hamilton was on pole and kept the lead at the start despite being slower off the line than Kimi Raikkonen, second.
Much like Magny-Cours the run to the first corner is short and with it being a very fast corner there is little opportunity for places to be won or lost. Thus in dry conditions the pole sitter can take it for granted that he will be leading at least as far as the first round of pit stops.
This is all good news for Heikki Kovalainen so far. The real action will probably take place behind him.
What happens to Mark Webber on the less ideal inside line will be crucial in shaping the fortunes of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton. If either of them can get past him (and the grid layout strongly favours Raikkonen) they can probably rely on Webber holding up those behind him and setting about chasing down Kovalainen.
Further back we find another driver out of position: Felipe Massa in ninth. This will challenge the world championship leader in an area of his game where he has often been found wanting – wheel-to-wheel racing. Last year he started from the pit lane and finished fifth. But he only had to pass slower cars on the track – he got past most of the quicker traffic thanks to his pit stop strategy, and got stuck behind Robert Kubica’s BMW in the closing stages.
Incidentally, according to Ferrari Massa’s lap time was slow because of a mistake on his first lap and then a problem with his pit stop keeping him from doing an additional lap – and not necessarily because they have prepared the car for wet weather.
What about the weather?
At present the signs for tomorrow are that it will rain lightly but persistently in the morning before easing off, but further showers may fall early in the afternoon.
This would change the complexion of the race entirely. Some teams may have pre-emptively gone for a part-wet weather setup on their cars, making them slower in the dry qualifying but better tomorrow. Conversely, some of the cars that went surprisingly well may have full dry setups and could struggle if it rains (Mark Webber?).
I’m writing reports on the British Grand Prix for Auto Trader this weekend. Please have a read of some of the coverage here:
Lewis Hamilton beaten to British GP pole
David Coulthard announces F1 retirement – read the full story now
David Coulthard announces F1 retirement – your reaction
British Grand Prix moving to Donington – read the full story now
British Grand Prix moving to Donington – your reaction
Batmobile hits Silverstone for British Grand Prix
Are you going to the British Grand Prix?
British Grand Prix guide
See how an F1 team prepares for the British Grand Prix