Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2013

2013 to close with a leap into the unknown

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix pre-race analysisPosted on Author Keith Collantine

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.

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