Vettel faces Ferrari threat in season opener (Bahrain GP pre-race analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ferrari's race pace could halt Vettel's charge
Ferrari's race pace could halt Vettel's charge

Can Sebastian Vettel start 2010 the way he ended 2009 – with a win?

He’ll have to keep the fastest Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso behind him for 49 laps of the punishing Bahrain circuit. And the F10s are expected to have an advantage over Vettel’s car on race pace.

The start

Grid

The pole sitter starts on the left hand side of the track. The first corner is a right-hander.

Row 1 Sebastian Vettel
Felipe Massa
Row 2 Fernando Alonso
Lewis Hamilton
Row 3 Nico Rosberg
Mark Webber
Row 4 Michael Schumacher
Jenson Button
Row 5 Robert Kubica
Adrian Sutil
Row 6 Rubens Barrichello
Vitantonio Liuzzi
Row 7 Nico H?â??lkenberg
Pedro de la Rosa
Row 8 Sebastien Buemi
Kamui Kobyashi
Row 9 Vitaly Petrov
Jaime Alguersuari
Row 10 Timo Glock
Jarno Trulli
Row 11 Heikki Kovalainen
Lucas di Grassi
Row 12 Bruno Senna
Karun Chandhok

Lap one

The drivers will all have to remember to brake a lot earlier for the first corner than they used to do on lap one at Bahrain as each will have a full load of fuel on board.

Those on the left-hand side should benefit from starting on the cleaner side of the track but last year Timo Glock went into the lead from second on the grid. Positioning the car around the opening set of tight bends is crucial. But once they get to the narrow new section expect it to become a case of follow-my-leader.

Both the Ferrari drivers will fancy their chances of beating Vettel on race pace as the RB6 has been hard on its tyres in practice. Can either of them get past on the first lap?

They will also have to keep an eye on Lewis Hamilton, who is fourth on the grid. He’s known for his attacking starts and the MP4/25 was the fastest car through the speed traps in practice. If the lead trio get into a tangle and slow themselves down in the first three bends he could give them some trouble on the run to turn four.

The race

Tyres

The top ten qualifiers have to start the race on the same tyres they used to set their quickest time. Here are the tyres they used:

Sebastian Vettel – Super soft
Felipe Massa – Super soft
Fernando Alonso – Super soft
Lewis Hamilton – Super soft
Nico Rosberg – Super soft
Mark Webber – Super soft
Michael Schumacher – Super soft
Jenson Button – Super soft
Robert Kubica – Super soft
Adrian Sutil – Medium

Almost all the top ten opted to use the super soft tyres, which are quicker over a single lap. But how long will they be able to make them last at the start of the race with a full fuel load onboard in the Bahrain heat? They will have to take extra care not to lock up and damage their tyres on the opening lap.

Strategy

The Ferrari drivers are expected to have better race pace than Vettel’s at Bahrain and this present an interesting challenge for Alonso and Massa’s race crews if the pair find themselves stuck behind the RB6.

In this scenario whichever of the two Ferraris pits first stands the best chance of ending up ahead of both Vettel and the other Ferrari. No doubt both Ferrari driver would fancy that advantage, so how will the team make the call?

Red Bull aren’t the only team with tyre wear concerns – McLaren were struggling with tyre wear yesterday too.

On the other side of the coin, what about the Saubers? Much has been made of how the C29s are kind to their tyres over long runs, so how late can they leave their tyre changes?

Everyone from Rubens Barrichello in 11th and back can start the race on whatever tyres they choose, which means they can use a fresh set, if they have any left. Expect them to start on mediums which should cope with the heavy fuel load better in the early laps.

It seems two things will dictate when drivers will make their first pit stops. For the top nine it will be question of how long the super softs hold up. Ideally they’ll survive long enough so they can complete their remaining distance on medium tyres and do the race with a single tyre stop. At the very least they’ll want to get out of the pits ahead of the drivers who started on mediums.

But reacting to other teams’ strategy decisions will also be important. An early pit stop could help a driver who’s stuck in traffic to gain a few places in the short-term – but that means spending longer on the next set of tyres and potentially wearing them out too soon.

New teams

Lotus and Virgin will probably be in a race of their own at the back. Much has been said about the difference in speed between them and the leaders but even at five seconds per lap off the pace they’re only likely to get lapped two, maybe three times over the race distance.

The leaders are likely to come across the HRT F1 cars a bit more often – assuming they last the race distance.

How do you think the Bahrain Grand Prix will pan out? Who do you think will win? Have your say in the comments.

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

138 comments on “Vettel faces Ferrari threat in season opener (Bahrain GP pre-race analysis)”

  1. Vettel’s pole was a surprise. I was betting on Alonso. I still expect him or Massa to grab the lead from Seb as I think the Ferrari’s will be quicker…

    1. We r all guessing what will happen but my prediction is as follow: ALO MAS VET with alonso passing massa on tge track and vettel losing positions because of tires prob. That will create a great situation within Ferrari in order to pivk the 1rt driver. P.S. Thanks everyone for the comments this web page is great.

    2. im predicting

      high # of dnf:
      -Hrt and Vrigin wheels are going to explode
      -heikki is going to burn his ass on the lotus
      -bruno senna smashes the 2 ferraris
      -shumacher is going to crash into Rosberg

      Boring race:big gaps

      checkered flag: Mas Alo Vet Ham Ros Web

      1. Nick Someone
        14th March 2010, 3:11

        If Red Bull and Ferrari have a performance advantage over Mclaren and Mercedes I think it might be reasonable to expect Mark Webber to finish a little higher than that. I think he got that position through making a mistake on his quali run. Hamilton is great driver, but might go backwards after the first few laps because of tyre and downforce/suspension problems.

      2. will shuey crash into Rosberg after the checkered flag? or will he limp home in 5th after the crash? i do agree on a few points u made.

  2. Massa will win

  3. Keith the first paragraph of ‘strategy’ doesn’t make sense

    ”The Ferrari drivers are expected to have better race pace than Vettel’s Bahrain and this present an interesting challenge for Alonso and Massa’s race crews if the pair find themselves stuck behind the RB6.”

    I hope its a good race and Vettel doesn’t just disappear into the distance.

    1. If both get stuck behind Vettel,then things get tricky.They will have to rely on their better tyre management to buy them a few laps more on-track than Vettel.But a correctly timed pit from Vettel could MAYBE keep him on top.
      I would like to see the Ferraris try and overtake Vettel on-track,than wait for the pits.

    2. Missing ‘at’ – fixed it, thanks JProc.

  4. I think Alonso or Massa will take the win. Massa only if he doesn’t get into trouble during the race, he doesn’t handle that particularly well. But he’s starting on the front row, which should be good! the RBR showed great speed, the Ferrari showed great consistency throughout the testing and qualifying. let’s see what it brings! McClaren was struggling a bit. Rosberg might do well too, he seems quick!

  5. I see it as a Ferrari win…..however I am disappointed Mclaren have not got over the downforce issues from last year!

    1. McLarens BIG mistake was that it didn’t scrap its 2009 project from mid-season and focus on its 2010 car.Ferrari did that,it lost one place in the championship but it now has by far the best race pace.Aero problems can be solved relatively fast.But problems with tyre wear are almost impossible to solve before mid season,due to the testing ban.

      1. I will rather wait for the end of the race or better after next race to make up my mind on the McLaren.

        Racing will show a little bit different picture of the cars and the characteristics of other tracks as well.

        But the differences between the firs and 10th qualifier are really huge, compared to last year.

      2. Younger Hamilton
        13th March 2010, 23:12

        Not really Redbull is a big threat this weekend and this season.Dont Rule out Mclaren and Mercedes because they havent been very quick here in bahrain im a big Mclaren and Mercedes fan and i’ll tell u something they are not teams u can easily rule out in championshpis and race weekends.Ferrari not really in a comfort zone this season

  6. Webber says that ‘all’ of the teams are worried about tyre wear for tomorrows race.

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/82102

  7. I doubt how Vettel can do just 1 stop tomorrow. The RedBull is not as soft on its tyres. Plus, the higher temperatures at Baharain are no match to the cool conditions of Barcelona.

    I think he will have 5-6 laps on the supersofts at first, followed by -30-35 laps on medium, and a final dash with the supersofts for remaining 10-12 laps.

    The same strategy could be used by others who are starting on super-softs.

    I reckon only Ferrari and Sauber will do a 1 stopper. Unlike Vettel’s 5-6 laps, Alonso and Massa can probably go till lap 11-12 before the supersofts become useless. And then run remaining 35-40 laps on mediums.

    It won’t even be necessary for them to overtake Vettel off the starting line if the above situation holds true.

    1. Great post Sumedh.

      Long run stints on Free Practice 2 (same hour of the day race) were made of consistent 8-9 laps, then Tyres went to degrade. Hopefully Ferrari’s will run some laps more then others, but i think will be hard to divide tha race in only two stints. This way Sutil could be very dangerous for podium… IMHO top drivers will do
      S.SOFT-MEDIUM-S.SOFT stints…

      1. Has anyone done more than 20 laps in a row on the Mediums yet? I know Massa had a decent stint on Friday but don’t recall how long it was.

        If the Mediums can’t make it 40 laps, nobody will make it on one stop. If they start degrading before 30 laps I think 3 stops might be the way to go.

        1. Indeed, I don’t think it matters when the stops are made as long as your competition is planning on stopping the same number of times.

          Unlike last year, one car would not be fueled lighter than another to take advantage of an early stop. I see all the top qualifiers this year running on the softer compound and making earlier stops. Negating the ‘strategy’ of starting on the same tire.

          1. I haven’t seen it anywhere, but does anyone know how much time will be lost to simply driving down pit lane?
            Is it about 20 seconds plus the time actually stopped?

            That might be just enough time for a leader pitting on lap 10 to come out in the battle between Hulkenberg and De La Rosa for 14th place.

    2. No way the medium will last for 40 laps,even on an F10.A S-M-S combination with fast 10lap stints on the S and long endurance run on the M is more realistic.At least for the Bahrain inferno.

  8. I don’t necessarily see the race as a one-pit-stop phase ordeal. Once the field stretches by the end of the race and the cars become faster, I can totally see a driver in P6-P8 opt for a second tyre pit-stop to demonstrate even higher speed by the end of the race and catch up on rivals. Pit-stops will be much shorter this year – about 5 seconds shorter – so the lost distance may be gained back given a set of new tyres – especially if the driver is a decent overtaker. I can see Schu trying out the strategy if he finds himself at the bottom end of the top 10.

    1. “Bottom of Top 10” Which Schu will!

    2. Can you imagine a repeat of 1998 Hungaroring?
      A Shuey doing 3 stops going S-S-S-M on 10 laps S stints and a longer M stint at the finish?

      1. al them stints were done on one type of tyre. as were the rules at the time. plus fuel played a bigger part.

    3. i certainly hope so! Schumacher magic pit-strategy, anybody?

      Maybe someone else will try as well? I think Vettel might do an early stop if he gets cought out in the first corners.

    4. One pit-stop is very much likely for someone like Sutil.

      If the supersofts are expected to last for 8 laps on heavy fuel (at the start of the race), then they would be expected to last close to 12-16 laps on low fuel (at the end of the race).

      Now, going 33-37 laps on mediums isn’t entirely impossible.

      1. but the harder tyre, which I thought was softs, were wearing badly as well, It isn’t just the option tyre that is degrading, which I thought was Super softs.

        can someone correct me on what tyres are available?

        1. ok worked it out, Super soft and Med, But regardless, the Meds are degrading quickly as well, and I think 37 laps on them will have the driver most likely hurting by the end.

  9. Lets not forget the factor of fuel efficiency. The Ferrari is a known gas-guzzler. Spa last year graphically revealed this detail, specifically, vis a vis the Mercedes engine. That means more weight.

    Also Ferrari and Vettel need to make sure they dont burn their tires racing each other. Hamilton will be waiting.

    1. But he will ‘burn’ his tyres as much if not more

    2. The last time Ferrari was a “gas guzzler” was 1987. Things have changed since then. Spa is a very different track from the one we have tomorrow and if you look at the times today Ferrari have 1 sec on Mclaren. Over 49 laps that is a lot of fuel. I am not getting carried away here, Mclaren showed some very serious issues today. Ferrari are not way out there but the colsure of the F60 very early on has shown to be worth while.

      1. You can hardly say any F1 engine is fuel efficient from an mpg point of view! Surely they must be about 4 mpg.

        Saying Ferrari the worst could be 3.5mpg and Renault at 4.5mpg, both are still hellish!!

        Do you think if for the new engines (if this no-fueling malarky stays) we could see teams severely sacraficing performance for efficiecy, like a 20mpg engine so they are much lighter for the whole race?

        1. The engines themselves are actually incredibly efficient, but because they run at 18,000rpm in such aerodynamic cars they use a lot of fuel.

          Were an F1 engine installed in a normal car and driven up a motorway at 70mph the fuel consumption would be much lower then any car on the road today.

          1. UNaerodynamic cars, apologies.

      2. Remember when Ralf beat Michael in Canada? That was put down many to the disparity in fuel efficiency. Whether or not it’s true I don’t know, but Ferrari is generally believed to be less efficient than Mercedes and Renault.

      3. From Domenicali’s mouth:
        “I believe this year consumption will be fundamental. We are working very hard with [fuel supplier] Shell on this. We have relative expectations but we are going in the right direction.”
        http://en.espnf1.com/ferrari/motorsport/story/6918.html

        Let me paraphrase: the Ferrari guzzles the gasoline.

        Let’s do the math: A 5 percent differnce in consumption means an additional approximately 15 pounds at the start more or less, relative to other cars. And that weight is carried way up high. Further, the cars just ahead and behind are well known for good efficiency.

        Tomorrow, I look for Vettel to make like Houdini and for Hamilton, Rosberg, and Webber to be straight up Alonso’s diffuser in the first stint. If Alonso can’t keep that lot behind at the first stops the long run second-stint consistency will be academic.

    3. DMW

      Yes, that means that the Renault powered Red Bull should be carrying less weight and be slightly lighter than the Ferrari’s. Over the course of the race the fuel burned by the Ferrari will bring it closer to the weight of the Red Bull.

      1. And thus the Ferrari, should be faster pound for pound, never mind the tire advantage.

        1. Well we simply don’t know that yet, it may be slower at the start of the race but quicker at the end as it is nears the weight of the RB and has better tyres.

          I don’t know where you get the idea that we know for sure who’s quickest on heavy fuel loads

          1. They both qualified on race fuel. Assuming the Renault is more conservative on fuel we can also assume the Ferrari is slightly heavier but still within a few tenths on a hot lap.

            I’m just guessing that the Ferrari will be able to stay close at the beginning and be faster at the end.

          2. @DanM, sry won’t let me hit reply for your comment.

            I believe you’re mistaken, the whole qualifying this year is low fuel, so they don’t have the race fuel on board.

  10. I think the Sauber’s will at least get into the points because they will be able to leave their pit stop nearer to the end than the other teams so hen they get their super-soft’s they wont have as much time to get worn enough for it to be noticeable on the time sheets

    COME ON KAMUI AND PEDRO

    1. I find the battle at mid-field more exciting, than at the top which will most probably be Ferrari 1-2 and then Lewis. But find it very difficult to predict the mid-field topper. There’s very little that separates Renault, Force India, Williams and Sauber. Watch out Adrian and Rubens, 10 & 11 can spring a surprise if the super-softs wear out in 5/6 laps.

  11. Totally agree with sumedh —^^^^

  12. theRoswellite
    13th March 2010, 19:06

    The Ferrari’s should still have the edge.

    Hope we get to see a final 10 laps with cars changing position around the issues of fuel and tire management.

    I’m obviously not the only one who hopes for this scenario.

    If we get someone motoring off into the distance after the mid-point, no thanks Mr. Vettel, and big gaps between the remaining top 10….then it may be a very long season for F1 promotion.

    But for me, I think it is going to be exciting…let’s hear it for the old fashioned… “breaking down on the last lap”.

  13. Massa will be first in for a new front wing after wiping out Vettel at the first corner. ;)

    1. 10 pound bet? massa is much too experienced to be doing things like that. but heavy fuel should make for an interesting turn 1

  14. I see this as a double Ferrari podium with Hamilton in there too, though in what order I can’t say.

    I think the ferraris will both try a one-stop, whereas Hamilton and Vettel will be nearly forced to go for two stops, which I think both of them will do. Ferrari and McLaren should have the edge over Red Bull in race pace, so that’s why I see Vettel falling out of the podium positions. In fact, if Hamilton has a mega first lap and somehow gets 1st place, I see him doing an aggressive two-stop strategy, making the most of clean air and pipping a surprise over the Ferraris. Otherwise, it’ll be a Ferrari victory, I think.

    1. One thing is for sure, McLaren’s race pace is not 1 sec/lap quicker than Red Bull’s and that’s the differential that they have to bridge to RB on raw pace.

      1. That’s assuming both Red Bull and McLaren were running at maximum, or the same percentage of their potential, during qualifying. McLaren, for instandce, may have been saving their tyres, knowing they had a one-lap disadvantage.

  15. After all that, my money is on Alonso for a convincing win.

  16. If a Ferrari can get in front of Vettel, he will probably pit for new tyres early (Ferrari being a little slower with the extra 10-15 kg of fuel compared to the Renault engine) and make 2 stops to get ahead of them.

    Next to that, i expect some colisions in the lower part of top-10 or in the mid-field

    After that it will probably be up to tyre management and maybe a short sprint on super softs in the last few laps to get back places for some drivers.

  17. Its possible that the front runners might run into traffic before the end of the first lap. HRT is the first lap wildcard :l

    1. They can’t run into back markers on the first lap. Not physically possible ;)

  18. if ferrari needs just one stop, and the others two as some people imply, the world championship is decided already. So i doubt the difference in tyre wear is that big. And don’t forget, the car that is deciding on strategy, is the one on pole.

    1. It’s not that Ferrari may have such superior tyre wear, it’s that they could afford to gamble on nursing theirs through two stints, whereas it would be suicide for the others. That’s the theory.

  19. Force Maikel
    13th March 2010, 20:10

    i am not the biggest lewis fan but i think we need to watch out from him ass well on fourth.

    1. Who is going for Lewis ass? Do you think Schumacher will try, or maybe Webber. Or maybe Sutil will make a fast start and go for it!

      1. Doubt it’ll be one of the Virgins.

  20. Apparently the McLaren and Renault diffusers are illegal and they have to change them for the Australian GP…

    Also, apparently has a puncture or something of the sort in one of his tyres and asked the FIA whether he may change it.

    1. any source about diffusers?

  21. *Kubica has a puncture

    1. thanks for a link! macca and renault.any idea about other teams?

      1. anyway this is so stupid :) last year 3 teams could use DD and now they do some rule clarification? during first race weekend?
        what is it all about?

    2. But not for this race.

    3. Why can’t they do these things before the season. With those Fly-away races it is pretty bad to have to bring in something else.

      I understood, that McLaren tested the last days in Barcelona with a smaller diffusor, so they were probably expecting something like this though.
      Might even be a trade off for getting to keep the clever F-duct thing.

      Will Renault use their more extreme W wing in exchange?

    4. comment seems harsher than it is. they just need to make some small changes.

      1. Yes, the article says so

        “ESPNF1 understands the FIA’s ruling will prevent teams adding another layer to the diffuser by exploiting the hole where the external engine starter fits. The cars have all passed scrutineering in Bahrain and their participation in this weekend’s grand prix will not be in question. Under the latest clarification the teams are now clear on what will be allowed for the rest of the championship, starting in two weeks time in Melbourne.”

        Maybe Ferrari will now be saved the trouble of bringing their “diffusor with a hole the size of a A3-sheet” idea taken from a former Toyota engineer.

  22. Well,i see an end-of-1st-lap Massa-Vettel-Alonso-Hamilton.
    That is if there is not a massive accident in Turn 1.
    Ferrari will be heading to an easy 1-2 since their race pace should be vastly superior.Not due to raw car performance but more due to better tire/fuel management.
    My money is on Alonso for win,i think he is more mature and consistent and,although he will be stalled behind Vettel until mid-Race,he will catch up with Massa until the 2nd pit stops.

  23. “The pole sitter starts on the left hand side of the track. The first corner is a right-hander.”

    I just hope they all remember that they have three times as much fuel onboard than last season at the start of the race. I have a feeling that some may leave their braking far too late.

    1. Sure, he can change that after he does one lap …

      1. Renault changed right front tyre in kubicas car.

    2. Change the wheel?! Renault should be careful what they are saying. Next they’ll be wanting engine equalisation… oh hang on!

      1. I cannot see the engine homologation happening, look at where Red Bull is now. No way, they will let them have a better engine to add to that!

  24. Does anyone think that drivers will try not to overtake because of the tyre wear situation? The race could end up a disappointment if that’s the case.

  25. I think Alonso has an advantage over Massa by starting on the clean side of the track. I expect him to steal that position from him by the first corner.. and then its simply a wait game, as I’m sure Vettel will pit before the Ferraris.

    Alonso for the win.. Massa Second.. Vettel third

  26. Anyone notice the Ham-But difference in Q1/2/3 was
    pretty steady at 0.4-0.5s. This is the margin that got
    Kov sacked.

    Also, Vet, Ham, Alo, Ros all showed about 0.3-0.4s worse
    in Q3 that Q2. Mas improved 0.1s from Q2 to Q3.

    Is there any reason Q3 should clock differently to Q2,
    other than the drivers staying easy on their tyres
    for race preservation?

    Does this mean MAS has thrashed his tyres in Q3 to leap Alo, when others were backing off a bit?

    Anyone note that BUT stated to press HAM was *over* 1s down, when in fact he is just about 0.9s down.

    1. Kubica explained it by increased track temp.

    2. That was in Q2, in Q3 the difference was 1.116

  27. Alonso and Hamilton will drive each others out of truck, Webber will do same to Rosberg and Massa will win, Vettel second and Schumi 3th. Webber drive like most aussies aka ” I will past you even if it would be my last thing to do” and Hamilton can not look that ALonso is front of him, while Alonso can not let Hamilton past him.

    Well maybe I am just dreaming…At least there would be some actions in that way lol.

    1. I expect some accidents with Hamilton involved as well.
      Maybe he will do the same type of move on Alonso, like in Australia 2007. Guaranteed to give some fireworks with these fuel heavy cars.

  28. I cant wait anymore…. :) im 33 and ifeel again like when i was a kid and watch senna mansell prost racing. Does anyone is feeling the saime? Its going to be a great yr.

    1. Yeah I get the same feeling except that in my case it’s Clark, Brabham, Hulme, Gurney, Hill, Stewart, Amon, Surtees… :-(

      1. I liked the pictures of vantage cars with these drivers on track.
        But this got me puzzled, reading about all WDC being there: Alonso, Brabham, Schumacher, … Alen Jones, Mansell, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa – that got me wondering, when he won a F1 world championship, before it continues with Bernie and I realized they are in the picture as hosts for the event :-)
        http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2010/03/13/a-gallery-of-world-champions/

    2. it is exciting isn’t it?
      my wife&kids are laughing me out.
      i can’t wait.

  29. alonso win hopefully!! :D :-)

  30. The first lap is the most important. If no one over takes Vettel before sector 2, he goes on a two stop and wins the race (esp if they can feed him back into open air)…. The first couple of laps will be the most important to determine the order on the podium (Vettel, Ferrari, Ferrari).
    If no over takes at the front, then the fun race will be between the McLarens and Mercedes for 4th etc…

  31. Well my bet was on Hami, for once, but not surprised by Vettel, he’s i think the most adaptable and efficient qualifier on the grid.

    not sure if this is smart, but the guys starting on soft could dive in the pits as soon as they can, take on fresh mediums, race them out, and then pit again for soft when they are lighter? does it make sense?

  32. I am so happy, Alonso finally has a car that can fight for podiums again! I’ll be even more satisfied if Fernando is finishing on the podium. For me as a fan, he doesn’t have to win straight away, i’m already happy that he’s back in front and hopefully he’ll reach podium spot! Normally he’ll the way it looks right now, but i’m cautious, it’s still 49 (very long) laps!

    I saw McLaren struggling, Hamilton said he was overwhelmed with 4th, and admitting MP4-25 lost 1 second in the second sector due to a lack of downforce. So I predict Rosberg and Webber will be right on his rearwing at the start.

    Adrian Sutil can become the big surprise but he has got Barrichello behind him, and Rubens likes to overtake people by touching their cars while he’s add it (I’ve seen it several time last year).

    Race prediction:
    1 Alonso (I think he’ll overtake Massa at the start and Vettel during the race)
    2 Massa (Will also overtake Vettel during race)
    3 Sutil (Mediums at the start will give him 15 points?)
    4 Vettel (Race pace wasn’t strong enough, work to do)
    5 Rosberg (Ends close behind Vettel, within 3 seconds)
    6 Webber (Kept Schumacher behind him because MSC still ”needs some time”)
    7 Schumacher (Nothing spectacular…. yet)
    8 Kubica (I think Renault has a car to aim for points, and Kubica should do that)
    9 Liuzzi (If he starts on mediums, he should be in the points)
    10 Button (Lack of downforce but still in the points)

    Btw
    I think Hamilton will ruin his tyres as he has done in the past, and that’ll cost him a top 10 finish.

    1. 6 Webber (Kept Schumacher behind him because MSC still ”needs some time”)
      7 Schumacher (Nothing spectacular…. yet)

      schumacher does not have much time left…he’d better step on that gas pedal.

  33. I thought it was interesting that both Schumacher and Rosberg only went out for one flying lap in Q3. That means they have the least wear on their tires for the start of tomorrows race (I know its very marginal, but i could make the difference when the pits start).

    Do you know of anyone else who only did one flyer in Q3?

    1. Oops:

      “Ferrari and McLaren both sent their drivers out for early laps followed by a tyre change and a final run. The other simply bided their time until the last possible moment.”

      I didn’t think that was allowed, I thought you were only allowed to use one set of tires in Q3 that will carry over to the race. What’s to stop someone from doing a flyer on super-soft’s and then coming into the pits for mediums just to have them for the start?

      1. They have to start the race on the actual tires they set their Q3 time with.

        1. Their FASTEST Q3 time…

  34. Still dont get why people saying Ferrari are going to be all over him…. they still have to compensate for the high fuel consumption with the Ferrari engine, while the Renault engine is 1 of the best for fuel management or so I hear. Ferrari have to tune the engine power down abit or carry more fuel, either way its not sunshine and rainbows for Ferrari on raceday like on Q1-3 but I reckon they will still have enough to keep on the podium, since the rest just look “respectfully” slower and wont keep up with the Red bull + Ferrari for this race atleast.

    1st Vettel
    2nd Alonso
    3rd Massa
    4th Rosberg
    5th Webber

    Kudos for Rosberg getting 5th on the grid with a car that Mercedes say isn’t 100% happy with. Roll on Australia and Malaysia for them.

  35. I was surprised more werent conservative on their tyres with the top 10 in Q3. Maybe Alonso and Button were, maybe even Schu. But Webber and Kubica were hard on it except for the same mistakes at turn 16. An extra couple of laps b4 the pit doesn~t make the same benefit as last year because you come out faster than you go in.
    I hope RBR did finally solve their start mapping late last year. If Schu is going to look bad he will bang wheels even more than normal. Plenty of 2 stops is my bet, I just wish I knew who had what left in terms of fresh tyres.

  36. Does anyone know why there was a Force India parked in the spot reserved for the 3rd placed? Alonsos ferrari should be there.

    I think Massa wins and Schumacher goes to the podium. Cant wait.

    1. that parking rule doesn’t apply to qualifying. it’s just whoever gets there first.

      1. But there are Rules about parking in Qualifying at Monaco :-D

  37. i’ve put money on sutil to win. only driver in top 10 with harder tyres on. could be a big surprise how fast the softs wear out at the beggining…

    but otherwise i think vettel will keep his lead for a bit, and i hope MAS and ALO have a big scrap behind him. hoping for MAS for the win.

    1. Not a bad bet if you got about 25-1 or better. I reckon Massa will take the win, a good bet at 3-1 (on Betfair) at the moment.

      1. woah, Sutil’s actually 100-1 for the race win. $:)

  38. Ferrari will take the double, with Vettel in third.

  39. Florida Mike
    14th March 2010, 0:54

    Do the rules require the exact tires used to set the fast lap, or just the same spec tire? What if the fast lap is from Q2 (for example if Q3 is hampered by rain); will the teams be able to identify the exact tires used for the fast Q2 lap. Or what if qualifying is wet; can the teams chose any tire for the dry race?

    1. Drivers must use the exact same tyres to start the race that they set their fastest lap on in Q3. Teams can choose any slick tyre for a dry race if qually was wet and they could only use wet tyres during that session. They do not need to use both compounds of slick tyre if a rain tyre is used during a race.

      1. Florida Mike
        14th March 2010, 3:20

        Thanks for the clarification.

    2. From 2010 Sporting Regs

      http://argent.fia.com/web/fia-public.nsf/65EE8F15945D0941C12576C7005308AE/$FILE/1-2010%20SPORTING%20REGULATIONS%2010-02-2010.pdf

      25.4 Use of tyres :
      d) At the start of the race each car which took part in Q3 must be fitted with the tyres with which the driver set his grid time. This will only be necessary if dry-weather tyres were used to set the grid time and if dry-weather are used at the start of the race.
      Any such tyres damaged during Q3 will be inspected by the FIA technical delegate who will decide, at his absolute discretion, whether any may be replaced and, if so, which tyres they should be replaced with

  40. Tomorrows finishing order will be the most unexpected result we have seen for some time. The cars could be all of 8 seconds per lap slower at the beginning of the race, and that is as far away from qualifying as the cars will have been all weekend.

  41. Alonso VS Hamilton @ row 2 of the grid, expect some fireworks.

  42. Guys, many great posts on this thread, some of the best work I have seen ever on this site.

    I tend to agree w/ some of you who think we will see more than 1 pitstops in many cases. I also think Alonso will at least attempt a strong move on Massa off the line. And there is a question as to whether the RB6 may be lighter than the Ferrari, by anywhere from 5 to 10 kilos, due to their better fuel consumptions. But even so I would still give the edge to Ferrari’s front wing which seems to be working great.

    I think the Scuderia’s strategists will give the tactical edge to driver who is in front after the first 10 laps or so. So I expect to see some pretty good racing between Massa and Alonso. Theoretically Alonso may have the clean-side advantage and of course he is a tremendous starter, historically.

    Looking at practice times, and even Q1-Q2, Alonso has been consistently quicker than Massa by around 2 tenths. So I am surprised that he was slower in Q3 by almost 4 tenths. In fact, Alonso’s Q3 time was almost equal to his Q1 time, clearly not normal. Vettel and Massa went almost a full second quicker in Q3 than in Q1, so you would expect Alonso to follow the same progression which would have brought him a Q3 time in the high-1:53’s … and a pole position.

    Unless there is something wrong w/ his car all of a sudden, I would tip Alonso for the win, provided he can get past Massa at the start or within the first 3-4 laps. I also think Rosberg will be on the podium. He has been very fast and consistent all weekend.

  43. There are just a few things I would say everyone needs to consider for the race tomorrow:

    – Race pace and qualifying pace can differ vastly
    – We have no idea how much abuse drivers put their tyres through
    – Whatever happens here has only 1/19th bearing on the season ahead. Already I hear talk of what implications guesses about the races will have on the championship, but these cars are so sensitive to tracks and conditions, let alone updates, that we’ll he luck if we have any clarity even by mid-season. Which is what’s going to make this year so exciting!

  44. Im so looking forward to this race, I just hope it lives up to the expectations.

  45. massa all the way.forza massa,,,,,alonso eat massa dust

  46. Massa i think is on a disadvantage as he’s on a dirtier side…more on that is that this year he will be starting the race on full tank and therefore dirtier side will hurt more than before….lets see if he can hold his position after a lap…i doubt

  47. with my limited knowledge on med-soft tyres, is it that Sutil , Rubens and Vitantonio are in a better position for the race than Schumi , Jenson and Kubica ?!!

  48. i had a dream last night that ferarri went 1st n 2nd, webber 3rd and vettel 4th. Ferarris got DQ’d and redbull took the honors…. hahahah. But my dreams dont usually come true, but stranger things have happened. I reckon Kubica will be the dark horse or Bee for that matter. should be a corker cant wait for the race to start!!!!!!

  49. It’ll be interesting to see whether or how some of the longrun impressions from testing can be recognised in the race we’re going to see. There are potentially significantly different conditions, the higher temperatures, for example. Maybe even more importantly, the teams have admitted they haven’t really had the time or made the effort to drive closely together with other cars over the course of a long run, so in a racing situation, with fights for positions going on, I’m seeing the risk for some drivers to use up their tires more severely than in a clean, simulated run.

    From what I’ve seen, I hardly expect the new section of the track to prompt a lot of (additional) overtaking. The only real potential I’m seeing there is that if a driver out front makes a significant mistake and has to leave the track, the one behind might be able to slip past.

    One thing I’m particularly curious to see is the tire-changing flurry the pit stops will now undoubtedly become… as much as I loathe the “show improvement” philosophy in regards to Grand Prix racing, having abandoned the refuelling seems both a sensible decision and something that factors into that.

  50. I notice that the tines for Q3 were generally slower than for Q2. Some as much as a second.
    So I assume, at least some of the top 10 had to adjust the ride height for the start with full tanks. So who got it right.
    And if this has to continue for the rest of the season doesn’t it mean this parc ferme and must use same tyres rule a bit pointless.

    Did anybody else watch the GP2 race and notice the complete difference between this one (using the extra length track) and the previous, two weeks ago, that used the old track.

  51. If I was a team owner I would have a hare and a tortoise with 1 set up bias toward qualifying / track position / and driver instructed to go hard in Q3. and then I would have 1 set up bias toward long runs / less tyre degradation / and tell the drivers to go a bit easy in S2 especially during qualifying. So maybe all the gaps between drivers in the top 4 teams are strategy rather than driver performance. Time will tell.

  52. I’m looking forward to some late on mad dashes. Low fuel new super softs ‘v’ nursing old mediums to the end. aka Senna in the 80s/90s. Can’t wait!!

  53. I think the other dark horse here is Sutil qualified on the medium in 10th and will start the race on the medium. He’s the real bet for a single stopper just will remain to see how long he can make his mediums last before going onto the softs. I think the softs are the real problem because of their short life span. I’m not a bit Schui fan but I wouldn’t right him off either. I suspect his quali performance was compromised making sure the car was good for the race I’m sure Schui and Brawn will come up with a good race strategy. Hmm 3 hrs to go. Better find some thing to do to make the time pass a bit quicker!!

  54. drivers outside the top ten can change tyres if they like.

  55. sorry, this was an answer to a post on page1

  56. We have a new update…. it seems Massa will get a new engine for the race… which means he will drop 10 places down the grid. So now, it is VETTEL, ALONSO, HAMILTON, ROSBERG, WEBBER, SCHUMACHER, BUTTON, KUBICA, SUTIL, BARRICHELLO, MASSA, LIUZZI….. I guess thats the right order…. but maybe i am wrong….

    1. yes he is having an engine change but no penalty not with the current engine rules, but now he is 1 engine less for the rest of the season

  57. how many miles per gallen do the cars do
    and is it true that fallepa massas getting a new engine so he will have to drop out???????????????

    1. Massa won’t drop out-there is no penalty. Massa and Alonso are both changing engines as a precaution

  58. Alonso will also have his engine changed

  59. just under 58 mins to go!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. 58min to go? i dont get it :)

    2. bit more than that i’m afraid

      1. I assume he means till the start of the bbc coverage

  60. who is bruno senna

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