2013 to close with a leap into the unknown

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2013The stacks of hard and medium compound slick tyres Pirelli brought to Interlagos remain practically untouched after two days of running.

Teams have been unable to conduct even the most basic set-up work for dry conditions as the track has been wet every time they’ve run. And more rain is expected for race day at Interlagos.

But even if the weather turns dry teams will face a step into the unknown and the prospect of another unpredictable Brazilian Grand Prix.

The start

A Safety Car start is always a possibility if the race starts in wet conditions and there are concerns over visibility. That would certainly be welcome for pole sitter Sebastian Vettel, as it would greatly reduce his vulnerability at the start.

Behind him the fast-starting Fernando Alonso is a definite threat from third on the grid. Before the race weekend began Webber explained how differences in the Ferrari’s clutch allowed them to make much better starts than Red Bull.

Webber starts fourth for his last F1 race and will no doubt be wary of the threat from Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean behind him at the start.

The short run into the Senna S followed by the long Reta Oposta straight is often a scene of first-lap incidents – as Vettel is only too aware following his drama at the start of last year’s race.

Strategy

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013“None of us have done any running in dry conditions this weekend,” pointed out Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, “so, if it does dry out tomorrow, it will be an interesting experience for all of us”.

Pirelli expect drivers to make two or three pit stops if it turns out to be a dry race, but the lack of dry running so far makes it hard to be specific.

Some teams have deviated little from what their calculations had told them to expect in Brazil. “We?ve pretty much stuck with the set-up we decided on before coming here,” said Paul di Resta, “which will hopefully help us tomorrow if the conditions improve and we get a dry track”.

However in the case of a wet race the scope for teams to adapt their cars to inclement conditions with a dedicated ‘wet set-up’ is greatly reduced these days.

“The typical wet set-up doesn?t exist any more, at least for us,” said Vettel. “In the past, the races that we had, there?s not that much difference.”

“For sure we tried to go a little bit in a direction that helps us for wet conditions after the first or second practice yesterday but I wouldn?t call it a wet set-up, because usually in the wet you put more wing on, you lift the car, things like this.

“But to be honest, the last couple of years, it has been pretty frozen when you went from dry to wet set-up, or dry to wet conditions.”

The final race of an F1 season always marks a change. This time we have Mark Webber bowing out of F1 and the last hurrah for the V8 engines – plus suppliers Cosworth.

There’s a lot riding on the outcome of what could be a race full of surprises – particularly the three-way contest for second in the constructors’ championship, and the Marussia vs Caterham battle for a tenth place which would be valuable for either team.

The second half of the 2013 has not always provided the best action. But the combination of Interlagos and unpredictable weather conditions rarely fail to serve up a memorable race. Here’s hoping the V8 era will go out on a high.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’25.381 1’26.420 (+1.039) 1’26.479 (+0.059)
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’25.556 1’26.626 (+1.070) 1’27.102 (+0.476)
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’26.656 1’26.590 (-0.066) 1’27.539 (+0.949)
4 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’26.689 1’26.963 (+0.274) 1’27.572 (+0.609)
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’25.342 1’26.698 (+1.356) 1’27.677 (+0.979)
6 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’26.453 1’26.161 (-0.292) 1’27.737 (+1.576)
7 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’27.209 1’27.078 (-0.131) 1’28.052 (+0.974)
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’27.124 1’27.363 (+0.239) 1’28.081 (+0.718)
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’26.817 1’27.049 (+0.232) 1’28.109 (+1.060)
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1’26.071 1’27.441 (+1.370) 1’29.582 (+2.141)
11 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1’26.266 1’27.456 (+1.190)
12 Paul di Resta Force India 1’26.275 1’27.798 (+1.523)
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’26.790 1’27.954 (+1.164)
14 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’26.741 1’28.269 (+1.528)
15 Jenson Button McLaren 1’26.398 1’28.308 (+1.910)
16 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’26.874 1’28.586 (+1.712)
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’27.367
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’27.445
19 Charles Pic Caterham 1’27.843
20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1’28.320
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’28.366
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1’28.950

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel 21.322 (3) 44.319 (2) 19.284 (2)
Nico Rosberg 21.287 (2) 44.551 (3) 19.640 (12)
Fernando Alonso 21.464 (9) 45.319 (9) 19.261 (1)
Mark Webber 21.528 (11) 45.480 (17) 19.419 (3)
Lewis Hamilton 21.266 (1) 44.177 (1) 19.565 (8)
Romain Grosjean 21.378 (6) 44.812 (4) 19.564 (7)
Daniel Ricciardo 21.600 (16) 45.377 (10) 19.530 (6)
Jean-Eric Vergne 21.412 (8) 45.683 (19) 19.570 (9)
Felipe Massa 21.356 (5) 45.476 (16) 19.709 (15)
Nico Hulkenberg 21.470 (10) 44.839 (5) 19.731 (18)
Heikki Kovalainen 21.390 (7) 45.432 (13) 19.444 (4)
Paul di Resta 21.550 (12) 45.062 (7) 19.492 (5)
Valtteri Bottas 21.645 (18) 45.471 (14) 19.674 (14)
Sergio Perez 21.574 (14) 45.471 (14) 19.669 (13)
Jenson Button 21.345 (4) 44.884 (6) 19.715 (17)
Adrian Sutil 21.709 (19) 45.414 (12) 19.625 (11)
Pastor Maldonado 21.551 (13) 45.824 (20) 19.606 (10)
Esteban Gutierrez 21.579 (15) 45.164 (8) 19.713 (16)
Charles Pic 21.634 (17) 45.657 (18) 19.811 (19)
Giedo van der Garde 21.817 (20) 46.485 (21) 19.907 (20)
Jules Bianchi 22.215 (22) 45.383 (11) 20.161 (22)
Max Chilton 22.144 (21) 46.747 (22) 19.957 (21)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Adrian Sutil Force India 296.7 (184.4)
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 292.9 (182.0) -3.8
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus 292.2 (181.6) -4.5
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 286.3 (177.9) -10.4
5 Pastor Maldonado Williams 285.6 (177.5) -11.1
6 Paul di Resta Force India 285.4 (177.3) -11.3
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 285.4 (177.3) -11.3
8 Sergio Perez McLaren 284.5 (176.8) -12.2
9 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 284.2 (176.6) -12.5
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari 283.9 (176.4) -12.8
11 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 282.2 (175.4) -14.5
12 Mark Webber Red Bull 281.3 (174.8) -15.4
13 Jenson Button McLaren 279.7 (173.8) -17.0
14 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 276.4 (171.7) -20.3
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 275.2 (171.0) -21.5
16 Charles Pic Caterham 272.2 (169.1) -24.5
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 271.9 (169.0) -24.8
18 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 269.3 (167.3) -27.4
19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 264.8 (164.5) -31.9
20 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 263.9 (164.0) -32.8
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia 263.6 (163.8) -33.1
22 Max Chilton Marussia 262.0 (162.8) -34.7

Over to you

Will Vettel take a ninth consecutive victory in the final race of the year? Or will the Brazilian Grand Prix serve up another surprise result? Have your say in the comments.

Share your views on the Brazilian Grand Prix in the comments.

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Image ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Red Bull/Getty

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22 comments on 2013 to close with a leap into the unknown

  1. zippyone (@zippyone) said on 23rd November 2013, 23:37

    Oh I do dislike safety car starts, lets hope that not the case, fully expect Vettel to win. If he doesn’t well that will be a nice surprise won’t it?

    • Yes it would, and it would be stupid not to bet Vettel for pole and victory, especially because Red Bull have always been so strong in rainy conditions. One of the only constants in this year’s championship is that Red bull have always been the strongest in the rain or damp conditions, and in this track in particular having lots of downforce shouldn’t kill them in the race even if most of the field may struggle with that fact mostly because their relative performances are much closer to each other.

  2. How Vettel managed to be merely 0.059s slower in Q3 is quite astonishing.

  3. TheBass (@) said on 23rd November 2013, 23:49

    Webber explained how differences in the Ferrari’s clutch allowed them to make much better starts than Red Bull.

    I have to wonder if those who constantly say Vettel’s success is only due to his car have extended that commentary to Alonso’s starts, or is that also another case of him magically outperforming his car?

    • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 24th November 2013, 0:18

      Well, Massa has not nearly that often made as great starts as Alonso, so…

      So, yes, it is another case of him ‘magically’ outperforming his car. To an extent.

      But before you call this comment provoking, I’d say Vettel making all those better starts than Webber, he outperforms his car’s starting system a bit as well. Making all those good getaway after good getaway.

    • Hamish said on 24th November 2013, 9:51

      Don’t forget him off the line in the Renault in 2005 and 2006.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 24th November 2013, 12:32

      I also remember Alonso doing a false start not so long ago …

      And Massa had a superb start at Silverstone, hoewever Pirelli doomed his chances of a good result that day …

  4. mhop (@mhop) said on 24th November 2013, 0:01

    Just want to wish di Resta all the best for tomorrow’s race. It’s going to be a sad day knowing that this is likely his last race in the sport. Despite what the haters say his three years in Formula 1 have been a great success (121 points and helping FI to 6th, 7th, 6th in the constructors is a good effort), and he thoroughly deserved a fourth.

    Such a shame to see another talented driver leave the sport. Maybe another reason to watch Indy Car next year instead?

  5. Roald (@roald) said on 24th November 2013, 0:38

    The unknown… sure… just Vettel running off again.

    Don’t get me wrong though, he completely deserves it.

    • , he completely deserves it.

      what did we fans do though, @roald, to deserve this most boring and oppressive of F1 seasons? Vettel’s suffocating the competition is long past the point of being interesting or exciting for all but the most-partisan of fans.

      The (F1) Show…is no longer so.

      • Hamish said on 24th November 2013, 10:02

        He has 2 hands on the wheel, a foot on the accelerator and brake pedal as well. To say it is a walk in the park is not only stupid but I find it to be disrespectful of the sport. You wouldn’t last longer than 1 lap sunshine.

        We should not denouncing what is a display of obvious talent and a driver that will go down as one of the greats – I struggle to see anyone debating that. When the lights go out the man goes for gold – what more can we ask for?

        I love a bit of variety in the sport but he can drive and deserves all the accolades he gets.

        Kudos Sebastian.

        • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 24th November 2013, 11:46

          I don’t think anyone said it was easy or denounced what Vettel has done…. What Vettel has achieved is huge impressive but regardless of that, it’s not fun to watch. He’ll be 5 seconds in the lead by lap 2 and the race is over. Then we get to watch the rest race for 2nd.

          I’ve said it before though, it’s not for Vettel to slow down! It’s for the rest of them to get their act together and fight him.

    • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 24th November 2013, 8:32

      The unknown… sure… just Vettel running off again.

      Of course , what else do you expect ? Vettel winning this is a given . Let’s talk about other things that are slightly more unpredictable.

  6. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 24th November 2013, 1:29

    The rain dances have paid off, finally a quite likely to be wet race! The rain can be a great equalizer. Yes, Vettel is still fastest and a very good wet weather racer. But, anything can happen in a wet race. We have seen the best of the best caught out by their own or others mistakes.

    Looks like the drainage channels cut across the track in key places really made a difference. There didn’t seem to be rivers running across the track even with so much constant rain.

    What I would like to see:
    • No safety car start! Please.
    • A Marussia or Caterham in the points.
    • A shake-up in the finishing order, especially at the top. Not anti-Vettel, just hoping for something different.

    • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 24th November 2013, 8:37

      @bullmello Not to diminish your optimism ,but I can remeber a brazillian GP where Vettel got off to a bad start … the rest as they say is history .
      Agree on all other points . And yeah i would love for someone else to win . I’ve been saying this for quite a while now , (sighs) .

  7. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 24th November 2013, 2:20

    I’ll be watching out for Hulkenberg and Grosjean in particular tomorrow. Hulkenberg because he seems to perform incredibly at this track, and Grosjean because his fantastic form at the end of this season is so good, and I’m going to enjoy seeing how the new, improved Grosjean handles a wet track. He didn’t exactly cover himself in glory here last year! Alonso getting ahead of Vettel at the start would make things interesting too!

  8. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 24th November 2013, 3:55

    Strange speed trap numbers!

    • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 24th November 2013, 14:19

      @mike-dee

      I believe with the trap already being placed so close to the first corner (not at the red line though), on a wet track it was just that bit in the braking zone.

      This would explain the two outlier values of Maldonado and Rosberg from Friday – those two must have gone in way too deep into Turn 1. In fact, I remember Maldonado’s off in the dying minutes of FP2 myself.

  9. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 24th November 2013, 10:13

    Some odd sector times too. Surprised the Mercs are so quick in sector 1 & 2 – they seemed to be sideways round the Curva do Sol more often than not. In the wet, I’d imagine you need more downforce through the middle sector (as Sauber & McLaren seem to have).

    Looks like all those dry tyres will have to be shredded and made into calendars!

  10. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 24th November 2013, 10:44

    That would’ve been a front row for Hamilton had he presumably not had a mistake/poor exit from the final corner in sector 3. He does tend to find something extra on his final lap in Q3.

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