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Raikkonen confirms Lotus the pacesetters in hot conditions of Malaysia
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Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Mar 2013   |  11:33 am GMT  |  274 comments

Kimi Raikkonen, the winner of the Australian Grand Prix, eradicated any doubts that his Melbourne performance was due to exceptional weather and track conditions by topping the time sheets in Sepang on Day 1 of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend.

With track temperatures over 30 degrees, the 33 year old Finn edged out Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull and Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, but the margins were tight; just 9/100ths of a second separated first and third.

Lotus’ technical director James Allison confirmed that only Raikkonen had the new updates on his car today, with Romain Grosjean thus disadvantaged. Lotus has a new exhaust package and was trialling a new front wing today. The Frenchman was 6th, some seven tenths of a second slower than his team mate.

The session was punctuated with a rain shower; the track was soaked but dried quickly. Nevertheless the times never got back to the levels of the first part of the session.

There was some encouragement for McLaren and Jenson Button when the track was damp; he was closer to the pace than in the dry. But the reality for his team is that without rain, he will once again be trailing Force India in the bottom of the top ten. Also showing strong pace in the wet once again was Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez and the Mercedes drivers.

Raikkonen’s pace was strong on both low and high fuel and in the wet conditions and with tyre degradation looking severe, especially on the harder compound, the Lotus’ ability to cover the distance in one less stop than its main rivals while maintaining good pace, may turn out to be a big advantage again.

Allison observed that Malaysia is traditionally one more stop than Melbourne, which indicates that his team is planning for three stops on Sunday. The question is whether Red Bull and Ferrari can also do the 56 laps at pace in three stops.

Williams, another team that has had a disappointing start to the season, ran an evaluation programme today hoping to solve some of its problems which are partly aerodynamic and partly set-up geometry. Early indications looked positive, but by the end of Free Practice 2 it appeared that they were still some way off, with Jules Bianchi’s Marussia ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado only half a second ahead.

“We haven’t made the progress we had hoped for today,” admitted technical director Mike Coughlan. We need to look at the data we have from both sessions to maximise the package we have. We will then head straight back to the factory to work on some improvements ahead of Shanghai.”

MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, Sepang, Free Practice 2
1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m36.569 28 Laps
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m36.588s + 0.019s 27
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m36.661s + 0.092s 33
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m36.985s + 0.416s 23
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m37.026s + 0.457s 29
6. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m37.206s + 0.637s 26
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m37.448s + 0.879s 32
8. Paul di Resta Force India 1m37.571s + 1.002s 30
9. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m37.574s + 1.005s 32
10. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m37.788s + 1.219s 10
11. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m37.838s + 1.269s 21
12. Jenson Button McLaren 1m37.865s + 1.296s 29
13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m38.068s + 1.499s 31
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m38.645s + 2.076s 23
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m38.738s + 2.169s 31
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m38.801s + 2.232s 27
17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m38.904s + 2.335s 31
18. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m39.508s + 2.939s 30
19. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m39.660s + 3.091s 28
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m40.757s + 4.188s 29
21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m40.768s + 4.199s 32
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m41.438s + 4.869s 23

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274 Comments
  1. Nick says:

    Massa faster than Alonso – has he got his Mojo back?

    I suspect he will have to move out the way of Alonso if he is ahead of him…

    1. krischar says:

      1 Practice or 1 qualifying session massa does better ? People here go crazy and start the anti-alonso

      Massa to move over for alonso ?

      Please wake up mate

      Massa will not be ahead of alonso for sure. Come the race day massa will race with force india and mclaren’s

      Wow the amount of people here support or backs massa are too much

      [mod]

      1. EM says:

        As a long time reader of ja on f1 dot com I’m really disappointed you’ve seen fit to approve this comment.

        It’s rude, personal and is a very poor reading of the initial post which is positive about Massa, not negative nor a rant about Alonso.

        When the comments here are intelligent and informed it is a delight. When it gets tribal it can still be fascinating debate.

        When it’s rude and personal it puts me off reading above or below the line.

      2. James Allen says:

        I agree, ir should have had a line or two modded out. Sorry, slipped through the net

      3. Ant says:

        Mmmmm – think it’s you who needs to wake up! Massa today and in the last 3 GP weekends has been quicker than Alonso. The thing that separates them is Alonso’s race craft. But give credit where credit is due and Massa right now deserves some. Come Sunday, providing they aren’t involved in a crash of have a mechanical failure both will feature in the top 4 somewhere. . .And that’s great for Ferrari and Alonso

      4. dean cassady says:

        totally, Massa has been at least there, I think it’s five races?!?

      5. Michael S says:

        that does not seem fair. Massa has out qualified Alonso 3 straight races… race one he took a 5 gridder for him, race 2 he moved over twice during the race and last week he was kept out on track longer for Alonso to get by…

        I am not saying Alonso is not great, but don’t pretend Massa does not have the speed on Alonso of late

      6. Ryan says:

        Massa finished the last race a full 21 seconds behind Alonso.

        He’s as fast as Alonso under conditions ideal to him, but the car and track conditions evolve during the race and he doesn’t cope as well as Alonso. Over the course of an entire race he is still a slower driver.

      7. Simmo says:

        +1. It is a very unreasonable comment. Massa is maybe not faster, but to say that his performance deserves sacking is ridiculous, because Ferrari have kept him, and therefore he is doing something right.

      8. [MISTER] says:

        Last race Massa was not kept out on track for Alonso to get by. Come on! Massa reacted to Vettel on the first pit, by pitting a lap after Vettel. At the second pit stop, it was Alonso who triggered the pit fiasco. I am a Ferrari and Alonso fan, and you might call me biased, but Massa didn’t do anything diferent to try and get passed Vettel, while Alonso did.
        Also, Alonso didn’t need 3 laps to get passed Massa. He needed 1 to get passed Vettel quite comfortably and the same would’ve been the case for Massa. It was a poor strategy by Ferrari and Massa’s engineer.
        Saying this was done to allow Alonso to get passed is pretty desperate, as if this would’ve been the case, Massa would’ve been pitted the next lap, or the next.

      9. Justin says:

        They have been much closer lately but i would say that Qualifying is Massa’s biggest strength while Alonso’s biggest strengths are his ability to drive around car issues, his lap to lap consistency, and his ability to think strategically while racing. Qualifying might actually be his weakest point as he is also a genius at setting up overtakes, often preparing with a different line 2 or 3 corners beforehand.

        In Australia Massa wasn’t left out longer so Alonso could get by, Alonso just decided that if he was going to get by Vettel and Massa he had to pit then. Massa was waiting for the team to call him in, like he does every weekend, while Alonso worked out for himself he had to switch to 3 stops.

        Also Alonso’s DRS malfunctioned on his Q3 lap in Australia. it wasn’t open for the entire length of the start/finish straight, if it was i’m sure he would have made up more than the .003 sec he was behind than Massa.

      10. madmax says:

        3 qualifying sessions in a row he is faster than Alonso

      11. Horno says:

        And the other 16 before..?

      12. TJ says:

        I’m a fan of FM and would like him to do well even challenge for a WDC but Alonso’s a class act and for me there’s always the suspicion he’s holding something back.

        Essentially when I see FM on or faster then FA, I’m thinking, this car is good and FA’s in great shape for the race. I stress the race because I don’t think he’s in the slightest bothered about being quickest in practice or even pole because he’s aware an optimised race setup is what’s going to win races.

        And topping the lap times in practice is pure vanity.

      13. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        2 bad set up and one problem with DRS. Last time Felipe was really faster than Fernando was Suzuka 2011.

      14. Rod Aguirre says:

        It doesn’t matter. Coming time to deliver, Alonso is the man. Some others are fast on 1 lap. Racing is a different story. Anyone remembers Jarno Trulli?

      15. Elie says:

        Krischar what you have to appreciate is that people here are very pleased that Felipe has got his mojo back and being competitive. Not many would ever doubt Fernandos pace but you can understand in the true competitive nature of sport we like when an underdog challenges the established order . As true sportsmen people really … Dislike ( for want of a nastier word) Ferraris political tactics many times over the years with Fernando and the fact that Fernando himself had become a very political speaker who plays mind games and show boats way too much for his own good. So if you do not appreciate the fact that readers here can make basic accurate observations ,then read someone else. In fact it’s ridiculous when readers have to watch what they have to say so as not to upset Alonso fans opinions of him. Get a grip ! & whilst Im not Massa or Fernando fan I really hope Felipe is competitive if nothing other than to show everyone he is not unbeatable and in fact not even one of the greats.

    2. Anil says:

      He didn’t move out of the way from Alonso in Australia and potentially cost them a win because of it. The fact Alonso had to pit in 4 laps earlier than expected for his 2nd stop proves that Ferrari won’t make him move over, even if he does hold up Alonso again.

      1. Andrew says:

        Oh poor Alonso, the mighty Alonso shouldn’t have to contend with a competitive team mate (like every other driver on the grid).

      2. 180110 says:

        and just why Massa should move over for Alonso even if he were holding him up? He’s racing for himself. Plus, he himself was held up by Sutil so you never know if he would have been faster than Alo in free air or not so the entire debate is pointless. Ferrari guys on Alo’s side of the garage did the right thing and used pit stops for Alo to jump Mas and Sut.

        And btw, Mas’s outqualified Alo for 3 straight races now.

      3. Simmo says:

        While I mainly agree with you, just a point that Massa is not really racing for himself. No doubt it is written in his contract that he is a second driver, and should help Alonso win.

      4. dean cassady says:

        good one.
        give Massa a chance.

      5. Anil says:

        I never said Massa should move over for Alonso! They are racing for themselves and Ferrari will only use team orders if one of their drivers is massively more likely to fight for the title.

        It’s just frustrating when people claim ferrari treat Massa like dirt when actually they’ve been massively patient with him and other than when Alonso was fighting for the title and he wasn’t, they’ve never asked him to move over.

      6. Anne says:

        If you are ahead of me be aggressive and do everything in your power to win the race. If you don´t then don´t expect me to spend the whole race behind you just to make you happy. It´s not my job to make you happy. My job is to try to win the race. So I´m going to figure out a way to end up ahead of you.

      7. Veena says:

        Win for Alonso? Nice joke…

      8. JEZ Playense says:

        I disagree, and we shall see over the following races. Massa is a #2. We all know it.

      9. Justin Bieber says:

        He is, just like Webber and Grosjean. Whats the big deal? Its been like that for over 60 years!

      10. [MISTER] says:

        It is a #2 because his skill does not raise to Alonso’s, not because of team orders.
        For some reason Massa has his great moments, but during a race he doesn’t seem to do as well as Alonso.

        Considering how tight last season ended with only 3 points separating the top two..if Ferrari doesn’t treat both drivers equally at the begining, they they would’ve moved Massa from the 2nd lap…not leaving him blocking Alonso half the race. The margins are too small (3 pts over a whole season!!!!) for teams to play with things like these just for the sake of pleasing some fans. They will do whatever is needed to get those points.

      11. Anil says:

        I don’t know it, as I have never seen Ferrari tell Massa to move over unless Alonso was clearly their only chance at the championship (Germany 2010, USA 2012). You can find numerous examples of Alonso being held up by Massa and Ferrari not telling him to let him past, with last weekend being a classic example.

        Massa has been abysmal at Ferrari in the last few years , he’s very lucky to still be there at this rate given Alonso has single handedly carried the team. I say this as a Massa fan!

      12. krischar says:

        Exactly my thoughts as well ANIL

        Well put mate @ ANIL

        Massa hed and blocked alonso at all costs

        Massa costed Ferrari the victory. Massa was slow and dumb yet people here back him up for nothing. I see some pathetic posts here in favour of massa

        @180110

        Massa was racing ? whom he was racing ? which race you watched ?

        Massa had clear track and chance for once. Even rob smedley urged him to push on the team radio. which would have brought him atleast ahead of vettel. Yet massa failed to put the hammer down and post a quick lap or two.

        You cannot blame sutil for massa’s lap times or slow pace. Massa was not quick nor he was clever enough to play the card.

        Stop blaming Ferrari or Alonso for the pitstop jump. Ferrari offered alonso the chance to undercut the traffic ahead of him and just look at the lap times alonso posted to make the stratergy work. Alonso = Genius.

    3. Rob says:

      They said the same thing last week and he never had to.

      You guys are like a broken radio…

      1. Rob says:

        *record

      2. Random 79 says:

        No: Radio…one that you can’t turn off :)

    4. W Johnson says:

      How about Alonso being asked to move over for Massa?

      1. Vipin says:

        Never in Million Years!

      2. Deeno says:

        If that were to happen, he’d throw his toys at the team manager and go join another team. (Like he did at Mclaren)

    5. Livas says:

      Still has Massa to improve his race pace ( Alonso’s faster no doubt), he started ahead Alonso in last 3 GPs, and many practices, so for sure is not ” 1 pratice or 1 qualifying “. Massa is not the fastest driver, but he is one of them…and its part of the game to start ahead the teammate….if Alonso couldnt do it recently, its his fault. and its only his fault not to catch up Kimi in the final stint.

      1. JEZ Playense says:

        Agreed. Massa is in the top 20 fastest F1 drivers. Probably #15

    6. dean cassady says:

      Nick, you are likely right.

      But get ready for the onslaught from the Alonso Media Corporation.

      Ferrari is the Alonso team.
      So, ultimately, Massa knows he has always been the number two; he was hired as the compliant number two for Schumacher; the suggested committment of equal status when Schumacher left was made convincing by the drastically apoliticized change to Raikkonen, who is perhaps the most apolitical driver on the grid, but surely, Ferrari brought him in as the number one driver, and he delivered star clutch drive. (I swear it came out of me without forethought).
      Then Ferrari bring in the new ‘kontrol-meister’, Alonso and him media corporation; (or should say ‘control maestro’).
      So Massa either does know, or should know what his role is.
      Nonetheless, I’d enjoy seeing him trounce the media corporation moguel, even if only once or twice. Go Massa, go!

      All the whinging about tires is tedious. In the end, as they say, all of the teams and drivers have the same thing to work with.
      The racing and spectacle is so much better now than in the bullet-prood Bridgestone days; I really don;t know why anyone would want to trade what we have now, for that?

    7. forzaminardi says:

      The annoying and important thing being lost in all this “Massa is BACK” hyperbole and “Ferrari will have to get Massa to pull over for Alonso” nonsense is that Massa, over the whole race in Australia, still ended up miles behind Alonso.

      Quite frankly, if Massa has improved, evidence so far suggests that he’s only improved in qualifying, and that being the case, Ferrari would be mad not to facilitate Alonso passing him if they want at least one of their cars to end up anywhere near the front.

      When Massa actually finishes a race fair and square ahead of Alonso, that’s when I’ll believe he’s back (if he was ever there in the first place!)

      1. Basil says:

        Exactly!

      2. Justin Bieber says:

        I think Massa is back but even at his best, he is not in the same league as Alonso.

        I know a lot of people are gleeful about the fact that Massa has out qualified Alonso just like a lot of people were gleeful when Button got the best of Hamilton in 2011/2012. Those comments say more about the person who writes them than anything else.

        The fact remain that Alonso is at the top of his game, just like Raikonnen is at the moment.

        Lotus are very open about the fact that Raikonnen is getting preferential treatment with new parts and Grosjean is expected to move over for him.

        Ferrari have enough resources to have 2 identical car(so far). Massa has not been asked to move over(yet). Alonso(with his engineer) decided to take a gamble with a very early second pit stop to get out of the traffic and it worked. Massa was offered the same and declined.

        I hope the cynics will acknowledge the fact that Lotus is much more aggressive about running a no1 than Ferrari. Sadly I doubts they will.

      3. Paige says:

        Right.

        The reason why Ferrari give Alonso preferential treatment is because he is a two-time world champion who has won with every team for whom he is driven (except for Minardi, where no one could win). Similarly, Lotus give Raikkonen preferential treatment because he is also a world champion who has won in every car he has driven (except for Sauber where, again, no one has won), and on top of it all, he has actually won for Lotus- twice, now. And at Red Bull, Webber had a fair shot to beat Vettel in 2010 and failed, so Vettel became the favored driver because he actually delivered for Red Bull. (And has done nothing but deliver ever since.)

        F1 is a meritocracy when you get to the top level teams of the sport. Teams back the guy with the credentials to show he deserves backing. It’s on the driver with less credentials to show he can beat the number one on the track, and if he can’t, then he goes into support mode. Raikkonen won for Lotus last year, he won at the beginning of the year, and for that, he gets the privilege of taking a new development piece when not enough are available for both drivers. Grosjean could have earned that right if he wasn’t so busy losing his head on the starting grid last year.

      4. Truth or Lies says:

        Yes your right and Fernando is Alonso is so good he doesn’t need people to get out of his way.

      5. Justin says:

        Massa tried for a two stop and didn’t make it so he had to switch to a compromised 3 stop. If he’d run the 3 stop strategy from the beginning then he would have been much closer to Alonso, who’s early pit stop put him much closer to the ideal 3 stop strategy.

      6. Steve says:

        Why don’t you ask Alonso to qualify ahead of Massa, then no more problem!!

      7. BWLF44 says:

        Agree

      8. David Ryan says:

        You seem to have overlooked an intervening factor in the form of Adrian Sutil being quite an effective mobile chicane. Granted, he’s under no obligation to get out of the way as they were racing for position, but given the effect that will have had on both Massa’s pace and the condition of his tyres (turbulent air heats them faster so increases degradation/wear) merely pointing at the finishing times is, with respect, somewhat simplistic.

      9. Rod Aguirre says:

        He’s never been on par with Alonso. I don’t get why so many people still have doubts about it. He’s a decent second fiddle… not even a good one. Webber is a better second.

      10. Ahmed says:

        Massa was compromised by Ferrari’s strategy to give the undercut to Alonso. If that option was given to Massa, Massa would have finished 2nd and Alonso 4th.
        Massa only got run in clear air on worn tyres, Alonso had the advantage of running in clear air on new tyres, big difference. Everyone knows Massa is a confidence driver, he is one good result away from getting back to his best, if Ferrari will give him that opportunity?

        For all those that claim Alonso creates miracles etc, why is it when the championship is on the line Alonso crumbles?

        The only time he has shown ability to handle pressure is back in his Renault days in 05 & 06, and that was due to a massive advantage from mass damper controversy.

        2007 he couldn’t handle a rookie in Hamilton, too many dummy spits. Instead of his experience allowing him to get a team to rally behind him?

        2010 he qualified poorly and squandered a championship lead in the last 3 races. Didn’t even try an aggressive move in the last race and just followed Petrov for the whole race?

        2012 he one again got the wobbles when enjoying a 40+ point lead in WDC, started to qualify poorly at end of the year, as shown by Massa having superior pace in qualifying and at times in the race.

      11. Random 79 says:

        ‘If he was ever there in the first place’?

        You call just missing the WDC by one point ‘not being there’?

    8. gudien says:

      Forget about Massa vs. Alonso. How about Raikkonen vs. Grosjean and the Lotus team are giving preferential treatment to Kimi!

  2. Quade says:

    This year could see an upset in the recent tradition of Red Bull always pulling away and winning everything.
    For the first time in years, we have a top driver with a fast machine and able to use it very cleverly, which is the only plus for the ugly tyre situation.
    Today, both Vettel and Webber said pretty sad things about F1 and tyres; there’s a growing chorus against Pirrelis ideas. Webber and Vettel join Nicki Lauda, Toto Wolfe and a host of other top F1 names in lamenting the current tyre nonsense.

    “I hope we have enough tyres to survive the race” – Vettel

    “The whole category is geared around tyres at the moment” – Webber

    “Everything is around tyres. Tyres, tyres, tyre, tyres, tyres” – Webber

    1. Hendo says:

      Funny, but I haven’t seen any reports about Kimi whinging about tyres tyres tyres.

      1. Luca says:

        hahaha +1

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Or the Ferrari drivers..
        Seems that RBR don’t like it when they can’t dominate with ease.

      3. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Well it isn’t as if Ferrari don’t have a history of excessive whinging when they are not winning, is it?

      4. 180110 says:

        People used to winning and not doing so will complain. Natural. Also Vet complains when things = not going his way. Used to it.

        Mercedes have struggled to get on top of their tyre probs completely so again, understood they’ll whine about it.

        Ultimately, the car with the best package (quick and able to look after its tyres) will win the C’ship. Long way to go for that to happen.

      5. JEZ Playense says:

        Actually I heard Kimi likes the tyres, and has sent t.shirts to Pirelli with the message/ slogan

        “You know what you are doing”

      6. Random 79 says:

        Nice one :)

      7. Random 79 says:

        I can’t speak for what Kimi might say behind closed doors, but I haven’t seen any reports about him whinging about anything…possibly because right now he has (arguably) the best overall car, more likely because that’s just the way he is :)

      8. Rod Aguirre says:

        I agree. If there seem to be a professional driver, it’s Kimi.

      9. Andrew says:

        “I haven’t seen any reports about him whinging about anything”

        I’ve seen him whinging at his team for trying to communicate with him.

      10. Rudy says:

        I’m “tyred” of hearing more than often about tyre performance in every single interview since last year. Why we don’t hear about engines, fuels, efficiency. Yes, I know next year’s a big change in powertrain configs looms. Discard the ridiculous DRS and bring back refuelling, along with another tyre manufacturer. What happened with true racing in F-1?

      11. James Allen says:

        Next year you will hear a lot about fuel efficiency, running out of fuel etc

        They have to get from lights to flag on 100kg of fuel – fast!

      12. Random 79 says:

        I have a question about that:

        In 2010 when in race refuelling was banned the cars were made longer to account for the increased size of the fuel tanks – they were turned into limos according to Vettel.

        With the 2014 engines using less fuel, will we see a return of the shorter cars again next year?

    2. Sri says:

      When it was all aero and these guys were having a bing advantage over others, they kept smiling and were quiet. Now if someone else got an advantage, they start complaining. I would now like to see what Vettel can do to win in a car that has no distinct advantage. If he complains, he is hurting his own credentials. I am happy that at last we have got some serious competition in F1 and I hope Raikkonen and Ferrari do well in the race along with the “complaining” Vettel. Webber complaining is laughable, that guy never took advantage of a fast car, how does it matter to him if he was at advantage or disadvantage?

      1. Martin says:

        There is a subtle difference in that the teams feel that aerodynamics is entirely in their control as the air is pretty consistent from one moment to the next. It is harder to design a car from early in the previous year to accommodate a set of tyres when the first time you run on the tyre is the start of December.

        The teams can invest a lot of effort into designing systems that aim to optimise an expectation of poor tyres or they can put that effort into aerodynamic performance or other areas.

        Red Bull doesn’t like KERS or the new engine rules as the team is built around aerodynamicists and material science guys, so bringing electronics and engine variations makes the performance beyond the team’s complete control.

        The tyres are an engineering problem that the teams can solve, but it is very reactive.

      2. We says:

        Vettel won half a dozen times with a car that was not best. Keep repeating the red herring argument you guys use won;t make it fact.

        And RBR have been complaining about these fake gummy tyres since 2011.

      3. Justin Bieber says:

        I dont recall them complaining about anything in 2011.. I dont think they would have dared considering the pace they had.

        Can you provide a few examples of “Vettel won half a dozen times with a car that was not best”. I’m not saying its not true but I,m curious to know which races you’re referring to?

      4. gudien says:

        That’s correct. Vettel has been winning without the fastest car. Why does Marko like him so? Because Sebastian is very, very good.

      5. dean cassady says:

        We, you got that right! I was not a fan of Vettel until mid last season, where he hauled the Red Bull upwards through the pack and often on to the podium, when McLaren and Ferrari started ahead and had solid race pace.
        Look at the last race of the 2012 season; it was nothing short of masterful.
        Alonso is unrelenting.
        Lewis is a phenominal reflexive driver.
        Kimi si unflapable, (and my pick as the best overall).
        Vettel is so intelligent; his strategic perspective in the modern F1 racing is second to none, and a large part of why he is a triple, IN A ROW, world champion.

      6. Rod Aguirre says:

        And he won 3 times as many with the best car.

      7. Red Rider says:

        1+

    3. Daniel M says:

      “This year could see an upset in the recent tradition of Red Bull always pulling away and winning everything.”

      “I hope we have enough tyres to survive the race” – Vettel

      “The whole category is geared around tyres at the moment” – Webber

      “Everything is around tyres. Tyres, tyres, tyre, tyres, tyres” – Webber

      Do we not think the first statement may be leading to the others? Drivers always moan when they are not winning.

    4. NickH says:

      +1 Raikkonen is looking back to his extremely fast pace he had at Mclaren

      1. Justin Bieber says:

        and he had a clear No1 status, things are looking well for him!

    5. Dan says:

      Of course when you have the best aerodynamicist in the business you will complain about tyres.

      Pretty sure a few years ago you could replace the word tyres in those quotes and they would be representative of the time.

      Question is: what is preferable? Aero dependence or tyre dependence? (Discounting engine performance for the time being! (leave that for next year!)

      The answer is a balance between the two. My own opinion is that we probably have that balance at the moment. The thing is we have been used to over the last decade (or more) to aero dominance so the shift in the last two or three years is more noticable.

      I think of it like this, the driver has three controls that are directly linked to the tyres (go pedal, stop pedal and steering wheel). What control does he have over aero? Very little. (Though I was interested to read about Seb Vettels sytle of planting the throttle at the apex to engergise blown diffuser but I digress!)

      1. Martin says:

        Hi Dan,

        A key thing with aerodynamics vs tyres is that the teams can plan their aero designs from the release of the regulations, but with tyres the teams only really know from the testing after the car is well developed. So a team that hadn’t got the tyres right can blame luck or its crystal ball, whereas last year when McLaren did a better design job than Red Bull the Red Bull guys knew they had to work harder in the direction they were going rather than change direction.

        There is an argument in the latest Autosport magazine from Mark Hughes that the fastest cars now have too much downforce for the tyres. I had put this idea to James lay year and he passed it on to an F1 engineer and while the answer was a bit vague he kind of disagreed. But from what I can see there could be a shift towards cars that are very aerodynamically efficient in the downforce they produce rather than total load. Force India has historically been good in this area, being quick at Spa and Monza. Sauber could be one to watch in the races with its narrow sidepods. These will reduce the drag at the expense of slower air over the diffuser.

        Am obvious point with tyres vs aerodynamics is that if the tyres are perfect in having no influence on the racing the only real variable during a race is fuel load, so the fastest cats will generally qualify at the front and pull away during the race. Only differences in driver ability jumble up the natural order. I don’t mean that as a positive but instead want to bring to mind the Trulli train.

        To put it another way, if the engines are basically the same and the tyres are perfect, the fastest cars in qualifying will be the fastest cars in the race. Which leads to crap racing.

        Cheers,
        Martin

    6. Anne says:

      True but this is a tricky race. Rain could be a big factor like it was last year. I mean they could start the race with dry tyres and finish ii with the wet or the other way around

    7. Luca says:

      i dont think you should lay the blame of the tyre situation at Pirelli’s door. they have been asked to supply tyres of a certain specification and have done so.

      If anything, Pirelli are doing a very good job at meeting the requirements given to them.

      Besides, as the past has shown, in a few races the teams will have got on top of the ‘issue’.
      Not being able to use the tyres correctly, is no more or less an technical challange for a team, as not being able to get the most out of the coander effect etc…
      Its just the coander effect ‘challenge’ has not changed from last year – the tyres have. if they had not, then you would not be hearing about it at all.

      I do think there is too much importance on the tyre, but it is a controlling element that FOTA/FOM/FIA (whoever actually runs the sport these days?!) prefers to use, rather than say reduce aero and put more importance on mechanical grip and so forth….

    8. sender says:

      Well, it’s confusing when it is said that there was some kind of tradition of Red Bull pulling away. I remember only 2011 being done in that fashion.
      But even that is not the main point. Last year Red Bull also started in conservative shape but later made improvements and were in a class of their own. Of course, each year is not the same but I think that they could be just as strong as last year.
      About the tires – I think that they are criticized only by those who do not have an advantage or who can’t find a way to switch those tires on. I don’t think that you can call it a nonsense. At least there is more excitement. If the races would be more procesional, then there would be a lot of people complaining about the lack of interest.
      I did not think that the previous race was some kind of a classic, but it was watchable and the tires art least provided some entertainment. Maybe it is a bit artificial, but then I would expect some more propositions from people involved in F1. Propose something else. If someone doesn’t like something, then the governing people and the teams should sit behind a table and work out something else.

    9. Innes Iderh says:

      How about this equation:-

      Red Bull + ‘Tyres, Tyres’ = Clever Subterfuge

      Might mean they’re working on innovative, ‘rule stretching’ changes elsewhere which they don’t want attention drawn to and once they perfect the latter will simply say that their improvements are due to ‘understanding the tyres’ and setting-up to suit.

    10. IgMi says:

      The tires is one component of the car where the teams have very little time to test. It is expected that the tire behaviour would be largely unknown and there would be an associated steep learning curve. It is natural that the most of any team focus would be on the component they understand the least – the tires, and that most of the talk would be about them.

      I understand how it can be frustrating when you don’t get it the first time. Different people vent frustration differently. But, the moment they start understanding the tires they would stop being frustrated and those who used to publicly complain would stop complaining. We saw it all last year.

      On a critical note I don’t hold complaining in high regard. People who speak of their challenges but face them stoically gain more of my respect.

    11. Wilma the Great says:

      “For the first time in years, we have a top driver with a fast machine and able to use it very cleverly”

      Mmmhh .. did you consider RB6 thru RB8 a fast machinery and Vettel able to use it?

    12. Andrew says:

      Raikkonen isn’t doing anything ‘clever’, his car is just better at using the tyres. Lotus won the tyre lottery.

      1. Basil says:

        Oh please shut up! Give credit where credit is due!

      2. Veena says:

        Yes he did’t even drive the car, the car was just carrying him while he was sleeping.

      3. Justin Bieber says:

        I think they might have helped themselves by providing their 2010 car for testing to Pirreli..

      4. Offdutyrockstar says:

        And finishing every single race in the points last year was just luck right? Get real man, Raikkonen has always been an impressive talent.

      5. Offdutyrockstar says:

        Oh and all the teams had the same preseason tyre data, there’s no lottery in it they have engineered their car inherently with this balance in mind. Quite how you can imply that anything engineering-wise in modern f1 is down to blind luck I have no idea, you must know very little about the sport.

      6. Rod Aguirre says:

        Not clever perhaps, but right maybe? He doesn’t make many mistakes.

      7. AndyRat says:

        Just like Red Bull won the aero lottery, I suppose!!!

      8. Andrew says:

        Red Bull have superior aero because of their designers superior talent.

      9. AndyRat says:

        And Lotus use their tyres better because of their designers superior… oh, never mind… I really don’t think you’re going to get it…

      10. Offdutyrockstar says:

        Lotus have superior tyre wear because of their designers superior talent.

      11. Andrew says:

        “And Lotus use their tyres better because of their designers superior… oh, never mind… I really don’t think you’re going to get it…”

        No you don’t get it…

        To have aerodynamic efficiency is to have maximum downforce with minimum drag, this is a simple formula that is effective in all conditions, more downforce is always useful as is minimal drag – there is no lottery involved.

        The Pirelli tyres are sensitive to temperature, so the variable temperature of the track and the different tyre compounds from race to race can completely change the competitive order, hence it’s a lottery.

        However, some suggest that the lottery is a little biased towards Lotus as the tyres were designed around the Renault R30 from which the Lotus has evolved.

      12. Mark V says:

        Yes yes yes… it is always the car and never the driver that wins races. Put a monkey in that car and it will still win, correct? And yet Raikkonen got nothing but universal praise for his drive from his colleagues, fellow racers, media pundits etc….but we are to assume YOU know better than all of them?

    13. **Paul** says:

      “This year could see an upset in the recent tradition of Red Bull always pulling away and winning everything.”

      I guess you missed most of last season… the season Review DVD is out, go on treat yourself ! There were some cracking wins for Lewis, Jenson, Nico, Kimi and Fernando.

      1. Quade says:

        …But Red Bull won both the contructors and WDC yet again. Surely, thats winning everything. No?

      2. Simmo says:

        And for Vettel…

      3. Lezza says:

        Didn’t some guy from Oz win a couple?

    14. Bayan says:

      No different from previous years of F1. Even during the tyre war era.

  3. Baghetti says:

    Despite the fact that you would expect them to do as many laps as possible in order to get a better understanding of the tyres, the amount of laps during the dry FP1 was very low (between 14 and 21). Are they really that concerned that they will run out of tyres this weekend? Given the high likelihood of a wet race I would think that for at least a couple of teams (McLaren, Williams,…) the additional data gathering – even on a ‘green’ track – would be more important than keeping all of their tyre options open for Sunday’s race?

    1. Satish says:

      Aren’t qualifying and race sets different in number from the FP ones? I think all FP sets get handed back after FP3.

      1. Baghetti says:

        Each driver gets 11 sets of dry weather tyres: 6 of the harder ‘prime’ tyre and 5 of the softer ‘option’ tyrre.

        1 set of primes has to be returned after FP1), a set of primes and a set of options has to be returned after FP2, and a set of primes and a set of options has to be returned after FP3.

        So that leaves each diver with 6 sets (3 primes, 3 options) for the race.

    2. Justin Bieber says:

      Well they have a VERY limited set of tires and the engine needs to last a while.

  4. F*ckYeah says:

    Massa has outqualified his teammate in the last 3 races now, nice to see him ahead yet again. Listening to the excuses coming from the other side of the garage “I could have been on the front row” gives us a lot of hope that we are not too far from seeing the light blue toys flying out of the red pram… Despite the PR Co seemingly taking over all communications duties !

    1. krischar says:

      Oh pity

      Where was massa over the past 36 months ?

      Did he slept or went on vacation ?

      Excuses and dramas are made when smedley and masssa combines well.

      Last 3 races ? Which 3 races are you talking about ? Alonso out qualified massa 17-3 in 2012
      Please check the stats

      It’s only a practice session. Let’s wait until qualifying.

      Do not worry Fernando will resume normal services soon come the qualifying and massa will be racing force india or mclaren’s

      People here seriously need to get a grip. Massa cannot be compared with alonso at all. Even charles pic would have done a much better job in F2012 than massa did

      1. sandman says:

        Last 2 races of 2012 and melbourne, braniac!!

      2. Jack F1 says:

        Massa is a totally different driver now. There is no way in hell, Alonso will manage to do the same to Massa as he did in 2012.

        I also find the Massa bashing funny, at least Massa does not trow his toys out of a pram, like Alonso did with Hamilton in 2007.

        Me as a Ferrari fan, I much prefer having honest drivers that put the team first. Alonso is neither of that and I wish he would get the sack instead of Massa.

        Alonso is a total hypocrite, especially what he said after the 2006 Brazil GP to his Renault team on the radio. “I will also support you, as long as your car is not red.” The guy is a joke, he nearly throw his toys out of the pram at the end of the 2006 season, after the China GP.

        If Massa matches him this year, there will be fireworks from Alonso side of the garage, thats for sure.

      3. Justin Bieber says:

        If it helps you sleep at night dude..

        When you wake up, Alonso will still be in from the Massa.

        Sweet dreams lol

      4. krischar says:

        @ Jack F1

        It does not matter whether alonso has won the WDC in 2012 or not.

        My question is where was massa from 2010 to 2012 ?

        [mod]

      5. VP of Common Sense says:

        Jack- Why are you still going on about something that happened in 2006 and 2007? That stuff has no bearing on the 2013 grid. You’re trying to say Alonso is not honest? As a Ferrari fan, you know that he is honest. Alonso is the guy who told the World Motor Sport Council the truth. He admitted that McLaren had possesion of confidential Ferrari designs and set ups. Time to move on pal and get behind Ferrari’s best driver, Fernando Alonso. Credit to Felipe for outqualifying Fernando for 3 straight races. A fantastic achievement especially the 0.003 domination in Melbourne. Massa is nearly to Alonso’s 12 straight qualify wins to start out 2012. Not! Alonso will outqualify Felipe soon enough, likely here in Sepang. Greatness just cannot be denied.

      6. 180110 says:

        @krischar -> Lol man. Alo may have outqualified Mas 17-3 but that dint make him win the C’ship, did it? And he would have been farther back w/o Mas’s favours. The guy almost lost his life when you’re saying he underperformed for 36 months. He may not be the best but when you say he will be racing Force India and the current Mclaren, well, that is arrogant.

      7. krischar says:

        @ 180110

        Iam not arrogant nor I dislike massa

        Alonso may have not won the WDC in 2012. yet the discussion here is how people jump quickly and suggest massa is as good as ALonso

        You cannot use the 2009 hungary incident as excuse till now.

        When i say massa has underperformed. I just state the fact here. Stats do not lie nor the performances lie. on other hand Alonso carried the Entire Ferrari team in his shoulders

        yes massa will be racing force india or Mclaren / Mercedes. He was not quick enough in australia. He held and blocked alonso. yet Alonso made his own call and made the 3 stop stratergy work. Whereas massa failed despite rob smedley urged him to push.

      8. James Allen says:

        If we isolate just your comments, they read like a strong of invective against Massa, one after another

        That is not tolerated here.

        It’s trickier when they are mixed in with everyone else’s.

        Please moderate your comments from now on if you wish to participate in this forum

      9. Onko says:

        krischar, 10 points to you for expressing it
        what bottom line says.
        What ever Massa had he lost it in Hungary
        for the life of me I can’t understand why
        Luca D,M persevere wit him,it cost the team dearly,disposing with Aldo Costa and couple
        others for one or two failures and Massa still there vaving the flag, talk about stand by
        your man,ask Massa?.

      10. Joel says:

        ” I can’t understand why Luca D,M persevere wit him”

        The real answer is, nowadays, its hard to find a good No2 driver. Massa and Webber are the good ones, apart from them, there aren’t any. Thats why.

      11. Krischar says:

        Hi james

        This is quite unfortunate

        I have nothing against massa nor i dislike massa

        My point is Massa has performed poorly over the past 3 seasons. Stats do back up my thoughts.

        I do not know what sounds arrogant here

        Based on last 3 seasons performance massa do not deserve the Ferrari seat. Simple as that

        On a side note time and time again i see far too many invective posts against Alonso here. All such posts do appear here as well

      12. James Allen says:

        We are having to mod more, there’s no doubt –

        It’s time consuming and costly and I’d really appreciate it if people could control themselves, whoever the target of their “bashing” is.

        Keep it constructive!

      13. Lezza says:

        Can’t think of many pilotes who’ve returned to top form after a serious on-track injury.
        Massa should be acclaimed for his courage and perseverance, two attributes saying a lot about his character.
        I’d choose Massa as a lunch companion in preference to the majority of his opposition.
        Wouldn’t it be good for the lore of the sport if he trumped Alonso?

      14. Rod Aguirre says:

        Completely agree.

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Soooo laughable.

      Last year stats (source: http://www.vivaf1.com)

      - Felipe was outqualified by his team mate in 17 of 20 races
      - Felipe was beaten on the race day in 18 of 20 races.

      I’ll make no further comments your honour.

      1. NickH says:

        Massa has definitely upped his game compared to last season, that cannot be denied. And he has out qualified Alonso since Austin

      2. Pat M says:

        The comment wasn’t that Massa had outqualified him over the whole of last season. Nor was it that he beat him over the whole of last year in the races. It was that he has outqualified him over the last three races, and he has.
        No further comments.

      3. F*ckYeah says:

        There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

        Spin it however makes you feel good, but the facts are there to look at. Ferrari have finally got some kit Massa can work with.. and he is ahead of his teammate who does not like an equal competition, especially after his one experience of that, being beaten by a Rookie.

        Felipe is a popular guy, many remember how he lost a WDC because someone conspired to benefit from his teammate staging a crash. You remember, the guy who started near the back for that race, yet somehow came up with the totally unique strategy of pitting early, just before the fortuitous safety car came out…

      4. Galapago555 says:

        Thank you for your reply.

        To be honest, I’m not sure if you mean I’m lying or simply commenting facts.

        About being beaten by his team mate… We can add that he was beaten not only by his rookie team mate but by the whole team (“We are not racing Kimi, we are racing Fernando”, Dennis dixit).

        Btw, you failed to mention Germany 2010 and the famous “Fernando is faster than you”.

      5. **Paul** says:

        It’ll be interesting if Massa has his speed back and can outpace Alonso though, kinda destroys his reputation everytime someone as slow as Massa can out qualify or race him…

      6. [MISTER] says:

        The points are on Sunday and as far as I know, Alonso’s got 18 and Massa 12.

        Also, it is well known that you can set your car for the race and have a disadvantage in qualy, or set it for qualy and have a disadvantage in the race.

    3. Manos says:

      Don’t be so jumpy to protect your idol. It is true that Massa was in front of Alonso in qualifying for the last three races. To remind you in Austin was 7th and Alonso 9th, in Brasil 5th to 8th and Melbourne is very recent to forget it already.
      And in 2012 it was justifiable to let Alonso throught due to the title hunt. But now it’s only Alonso’s privileges over Massa, which leaves you fanboys to search for excuses. It will be fun if Massa manages to continue this trend.

    4. clyde says:

      Dream on :-)e

    5. kfzmeister says:

      I hate to see your face when Zo wins his 3rd title and Massa finishes 6th that same year.
      Lol

    6. JEZ Playense says:

      Where did Massa finish in the WDC in the last few years? If he was half as good as some might say, Alonso would be his #2 LOL.

  5. Russell says:

    will Grosjean get the updates this weekend?

    1. Candice says:

      he got the exact same car as Kimi except the exhaut as the team only had enough time to make 1.

    2. DonSimon says:

      Yes, he will be updating his iPhone and his copy of What’s App.

    3. **Paul** says:

      It’d be nice if they were on a level footing wouldn’t it. Romain is quick… but it’s like watching Lewis vs Heikki in 2008, it’s not a like for like comparison.

    4. madmax says:

      James Alison about Grosjean

      “He’s not had an easy weekend either here or there (Australia), because we haven’t been able to provide two cars in exactly the same configuration on either occasions,

      “In Melbourne on Friday he was running a step behind Kimi in terms of his aero package, and then he had the upgrade for Saturday morning but then Saturday was disturbed by the weather. Here, once again, we only have one set of (new) kit and we’ve chosen to run that with Kimi and Romain is disadvantaged for that.”

      Sounds like no.

      1. madmax says:

        From Reuters

  6. Well says:

    Seems Webber agrees with what I posted yesterday in your article about “tyres, tyres, tyres, tyres…”

    “Mark Webber declared Formula 1 to be ruled by tyres after Friday practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang….. said tyres were now such a dominant factor in performance that little else mattered.

    Webber: “The whole category is geared around tyres at the moment,” he said.

    “Everything is around tyres. Tyres, tyres, tyre, tyres, tyres…”

    Case closed.

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s not winning….

      1. Robert N says:

        Well, to be fair James, even Raikkonen said that his win last week was the easiest of his career, because he was never pushing in the race, so as to preserve his tyres.

      2. Basil says:

        Exactly! He is not winning, but frankly, he is not in a position to complain.

      3. Bones says:

        When they’re not winning they’re whining!
        I don’t see Kimi complaining.

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        Just whinning!

      5. Kevin L says:

        Even as a Webber supporter, this does come across as a bit of belly-aching.

        Everyone is on the same tyres from the same manufacturer.

        When RBR had a massive aero advantage, I didn’t hear anyone from the team talking about how F1 is all about aero.

        Someone else is doing a better job at the moment with the common equipment. Suck it up, and try to do better!

        (Go Kimi!)

      6. JEZ Playense says:

        “He’s not winning….” – as usual…

      7. Random 79 says:

        Doesn’t make him wrong and don’t get me wrong: I like Pirelli, and I like that they’ve made F1 consist mostly of interesting races rather than processions, but you can’t deny that tyres are a major factor these days – possibly even the biggest factor.

        I’m not too worried about it though; this time next year everyone will be talking about the engines ;)

      8. Lezza says:

        Odd, silly, comment James.
        Are you saying that only winners are entitled to opinion about a serious contagion?
        If that is the case, Webber should ignore you next time you seek information from him.

      9. James Allen says:

        No, I’m saying that when a team/driver is not winning they are more likely to say this stuff than when they finish 1-2

      10. Rod Aguirre says:

        He has always had some excuse no to be on par with Vettel. Front wing, favoritism, tyres this time. Not that he’s so open about the excuse cause the guy’s decent enough, but c’mon, he has the best car in the field for years and hasn’t done very much with it.

      11. Random 79 says:

        Except in 2010 :)

        But yes, he really should have had better results.

      12. Craig in Manila says:

        Wow, with just three words and four dots, nice one.

        So, basically, we should ignore all comments by anyone except for Kimi. Okay then.

      13. Andrew says:

        Great site James.
        Is it correct that in ‘fuel saving mode’ drivers can still race at 100% of their human effort (with the engine setting changed) whereas in tyre saving mode it might be 95% effort (or whatever percent)? Or basically, what is the difference between the driver’s input for the two situations?

      14. James Allen says:

        Well in fuel sving mode you go slower too, clearly, which means less forces on the body etc

        Racing has always been about pushing flat out at times and managing the car, fuel consumption and tyres at other times. That is true of pretty much every era of F1

        A lot of fans seem not to understand this.

    2. CarlH says:

      Tyre wear was a vital component in 2011 and 2012, yet the team he drives for won both championships in both years.

      Funny how now they’re a little worried both he and Vettel are blaming everything on the tyres, no?

    3. Steven says:

      Its a little disingenuous for anybody in the RB garage to be complaining about the tires. This is hurting Vettels reputation as a top 3 driver, it shows he was only winning because his car was faster than the others by miles. Now hes going to have to work for his points. Lets see if he can match Alonso and Kimi. I SO wish Hamilton had a better Merc right now… LOL

      1. Quade says:

        Vettel never was a top 3 driver and might never be, either. I’ve never seen a top 3 driver forgetting about the safety car, crashing behind the safety car, crashing into cars they are lapping, running off the road for no reason when chased by JB etc etc.

        The top three are Lewis, Alonso and Kimi.

      2. dean cassady says:

        No buddy; I really think that you may not have seen it, yet it still might exist.
        Vettel has his thing: in terms of keeping an eye on the strategic target, and executing, and reading the signs, and making tactical calls, only Senna was smarter; only Senna.
        In terms of reflexive driving, Vettel was the one that came late in the session, barely getting in under the line to begin his qualifying lap, and then score the pole.
        I can empathize, for it was only last summer that I really started to admire him, working his way up in Budapest was a racing fans treat; and the thing was this underlying grit, stubborn, determined. Take a review of it, if you can; it was quite a drive.

    4. Veena says:

      Was Mark/vettel racing with different set of tyres for the last 3 years. Why didnt they complain when they were winning.

      Poor Mark, Even if we put the good old Michelin tyres only for you this year, you wont win the championship. So get on with it and do some racing.

    5. David says:

      Everyone has the same tires.

    6. David Goss says:

      “Oh no, we’re not winning. Blame the tyres!”
      “But everyone has the same tyres…”
      “Shut up!”

      - [whoever's not winning today]

  7. Chromatic says:

    Poor Grosjean ! !
    Lotus belly aching to us that Grosjean is “dis-advantaged” is getting to be an embarrasing routine every time out. Pre and post race.

    1. F*ckYeah says:

      His manager is also the Team manager….. Flabbio style :)

      His manager said he would be a WDC, if this is their year and instead Kimi goes on and wins it, RG will be permanently disadvantaged.

      As will Boullier’s wallet.

    2. dean cassady says:

      Grosjean is fast, but his confidence is wounded and not healed, and look who he is racing against?
      But the reality is, his seat may not be secure.
      Of the top teams, the Grosjean seat is the least secure for the season, owing to his exploits last year.
      I’d enjoy seeing him race at the front, as long as he doesn’t interfere with Kimi, but I’d also REALLY like to see Bianchi on a top team.
      I suspect Bianchi may get a point in this race, and that will really get people talking; the only great up and coming rookie on the grid is Bianchi, followed by Gutierrez.

      1. Martin says:

        Hi Dean,
        I haven’t seen much of either really, but few seem to put Gutierrez in the same class as Bottas. In shuffling of driver seats for next year I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hulkenberg in a Ferrari and Bianchi in the Sauber.

        I’ve found a number of your opinions quite interesting of late too. I don’t always agree but I might occasionally be wrong :-)
        Cheers,
        Martin

      2. Chromatic says:

        Dean,
        Bianchi is 25/1 to finish in the points here. Suspect this would be 250/1 for a wet race! Worth risking a fiver at least.

    3. Red Rider says:

      I’m not sure I understand.

    4. Sabine says:

      Romain 2013 is not the Romain of 2012. He is not dangerous and not sharp. Good thing and bad thing. I hope he shows he has the talent of last year. Yes, I agree for a non-political team, they are talking up excuses for him very often, both they, and Romain. Still, Kimi does not care.

  8. Peter says:

    I see Raikkonen as the strongest driver right now: consistent, error-free, fast, great racer, strategic. Great to see him back on form. As for the tyre situation, its the same for everyone and the ones complaining, who have lost their lead or competitiveness.
    Also great to see Massa healthy and good again.

    1. CarlH says:

      Kimi looks the dog’s you-know-whats at the moment. Wonder how many wins (and championships) he’d have by now if he had been this relaxed and committed for his entire career?

      1. Random 79 says:

        I don’t think he’s been allowed to be this relaxed with any team before. Kudos to Lotus for giving him space and letting him do what he does best: Winning races and eating ice cream :)

      2. KRfan43613 says:

        3 if Mclaren and Mercedes were reliable

      3. Veena says:

        The two chances he had were 2003/5 which were screwed up by the car. I think the only one he missed is 2008, which except him, no body has answers.

      4. ymy says:

        Great question Carlh.I am glad to see it happening right now though..loving my f1.

  9. Robert N says:

    James,

    can you shed some light on the relative tyre degradation experienced by the top four teams today: Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes?

    With times so close in FP2, it will boil down to tyre degradation as to who has a chance to win and who does not.

  10. Robert N says:

    Max Chilton almost 2 seconds off the pace of his team mate. Will Marussia stick with him no matter what, or will his seat come under pressure if his performances do not improve?

    1. dean cassady says:

      Chilton is the rich boy with the financing that Marussia requires to be on the grid.
      Bianchi is much better than almost anyone (besides I) have talked about; it’s the largest spread in comparative talent on the grid.
      In summary, Bianchi is flattering the car and making Chilton look worse than he is; I believe he is much closer in capability to the two Caterham drivers, though possibly the weakest of the three.

    2. DonSimon says:

      Thought the same when I saw the times. That’s one hell of a gap/

    3. Random 79 says:

      They probably knew that he was not up to par when they sighed him, but he (or his sponsors) have paid for his seat, so unless someone else comes along and offers Marussia enough to make it worth breaking their contract with Chilton, there he will stay.

      For now Marussia only really need to finish 10th in the WCC…i.e. They only need to beat Caterham.

      From what I’ve seen of Bianchi he can do that for them. As I understand it, as long as he can manage a 12th or 13th place finish and if Caterham can only do 13th or 14th, then Max can come in every race last for all it matters.

    4. Justin Bieber says:

      I wonder what bianchi would have done in a Force India.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Well, I’m no expert but I’m guessing he probably would have driven it. I know I would have :)

    5. Martin says:

      It is a practice session, so we have no idea of the programme they were on. Bianchi may have got in a lower fuel run with the option tyres. Chilton may have had problems.

      My suggestion would be to not care about practice, look at qualifying and the races.

      Chilton is unlikely to be sacked of he isn’t crashing regularly. Marussia needs money, and his family has power in the team, so the only likely scenario is where Red Bull feels it needs to blood a new driver as it did with Ricciardo. I cannot see anyone else that could have enough speed and money in 2013 to be worthwhile.

  11. Quade says:

    Is it me, or is the McLarens nose lower?

    1. Kevin Green says:

      much!

  12. goferet says:

    Uh, can’t remember the last time Kimi topped a free practice session. I think I would have to go back all the way to the 2007 season for that.

    For some strange reason, the experts don’t think that the cars that are fast at Melbourne will be fast everywhere and yet, this happens to be the case all the time.

    Now we all wait to see what tricks the 2013 tyres throw up this weekend but from the looks of it, it appears Red Bull are in a little bit of trouble and yes, it’s convenient to blame the tyres when you aren’t winning e.g. Schumi in 2012 etc

    On the other hand, you hear nothing but praise for a driver’s ability (and willingness to visit the Pirelli factory) if their car treats their tyres good e.g. Jenson and Vettel in 2011.

    Now considering Alonso’s tweets in regards to having had a good day, Ferrari appear strong too and degradation isn’t a major worry for the team.

    Also Lewis says Mercedes’ degradation on the long runs is better than most especially better than Melbourne so they too hope to pull a couple of rabbits out the hat (though he was quick to add a win in the dry is out of the question).

    Now Mclaren’s midtable ranking makes me believe that the 2013 car isn’t as bad as the 2009 one and thus points and a quick solution are achievable goals.

    As for Marussia’s Jules, for sure, he’s turning into a revelation and the overwhelming best candidate for rookie of the season by far. He’s making a lot of people at the back look bad.

    Anyway, seriously hoping the skies do not open for I know rain in Malaysia means a downpour which in turn means a halt to proceedings = No good for the fans.

    1. Sri says:

      I think Kimi topped FP sessions at least once in one of the three years: 2008, 2009 or 2011 (don’t know exactly which one, very likely it is 2008 and may be in 2009). I still remember this because then I thought that although he is being “uncompetitive” in races, he still has his pace intact if only he uses it well.

      1. Sri says:

        Sorry, it is not 2011, but 2012.

    2. dean cassady says:

      goferet: bang on. good comment.
      I expect a point from Bianchi this weekend; he certainly haul in a point by the summer break.

    3. Galapago555 says:

      “Uh, can’t remember the last time Kimi topped a free practice session. I think I would have to go back all the way to the 2007 season for that” –> don’t need to go back so long in time, just this very same track, 4 years ago (April 3rd, 2009).

      http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2009/806/6606/

  13. F1 says:

    Kimi Raikkonen did very well. So now, it’s feet back on the ground because there’s still a lot of work to do.

    “Sorry my English is not very good”

    1. SteveH says:

      Please don’t apologize about your English – it’s great. Most of us should be apologizing because we have no other language.

  14. D17MO.D says:

    RAIKKONEN for the win!
    Massa to beat Alonso!
    Webber to beat Vettel

    (all the above is my hope / predictions but apart from Raikkonen for the win, I cant see the other two happening).

    … Glad to see the Mercs being smart and not worrying too much about the 1 lap speed and instead, focussing on the long runs! Should pay dividens on Sunday!

    All in all, looking forward to another good and stratagey filled race on Sunday!

    1. DonSimon says:

      Massa isn’t as good as Alonso. That’s a fact. Webber isn’t as good as Vettel. That’s also a fact.

      I’m all for rooting for the underdog but these guys will not be remembered. People like Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, they write the history books.

    2. Quade says:

      Its official that Merc is sacrificing qualifying for race pace. They point to Kimi’s last race as the reason; Kimi was 1.3 sec slower than Vettel in quali, but his fastest lap was 1.2 sec faster than Vettels fastest.

      I think merc have had their epiphany. Other teams will follow suit if it brings Merc success and Lotus continues to succeed as well.

      Long and short is, we might soon see teams either opting out of Q3, or running unrepresentative times that suit their tyre strategies better than starting track position. It will be the rape of F1 as we know, and its started already. Thank you Pirreli for wrecking F1:

      “The interesting thing is the winner started seventh, and the pole position car finished third, and struggled a lot with the tires. Can you say that every car has a certain pattern, or a certain DNA? Maybe. Lessons to be learned could include compromising the Saturday result even more for the Sunday result, in terms of set-up. This is what we’re going to see in the next few races from all the teams, I guess.
      -Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG Petronas

      1. Random 79 says:

        As Gru would say: ‘Light bulb!’

      2. Carlos says:

        Not too long ago, when the races were processional, the race was won or lost on Saturday during qualifying. Now the setup and strategy for Sunday matters as well. As fans of F1, how can we be upset about that? F1 engineers are clever – give them time to solve the problems and enjoy the racing in the meantime. Even if drivers can’t push cars to their maximum 100% of the time, everyone is still trying to win. Watching how teams have solved tyre/engine/aerodynamics/KERS/turbo and other car issues is part of the enjoyment of F1 for as long as I can remember.

      3. Random 79 says:

        +1

      4. dean cassady says:

        Another good one, Quade, however…
        Remember, last season, this team, that dedicated itself to race pace, only won a single race, and that on another McLarry breakdown for Lewy.
        It takes a while to make this strategic development approach to work. Maybe Merc can throw the bank at it and get it a bit quicker, or…
        Maybe Merc have been concentrating on it since the middle of last year. Adrian Newey is a great designer, but Ross Brawn is a phenomenal strategic planner.
        I believe that tire management MUST have been the top of Merc’s agenda from the middle of last year, when the double-DRS turned out to not work.

      5. Quade says:

        Thanks Dean.
        The real danger in having a sole tyre supplier is that it encourages impunity.
        There are all sorts of vices that feed of impunity and we wouldn’t want to the remote hint that race fixing is possible in F1. This is the danger of a tyre supply monopoly, this danger is made even worse when radical changes to tyre compounds seem to be made at a whim.

        The real fear I have is for the health of F1 and the genuineness of race results.

      6. Joel says:

        It is interesting to read Hamilton say that he still have not got 100% comfortable with the car yet…

      7. Anon says:

        You can’t really blame Pirelli if the F1 teams wanted stupid cheese tyres.

      8. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Wrecking F1 are they? You mean the tediously processional Bridgestone/Michelin era did not? How was that in any way better than F1 is now?

        Seriously, go back and watch a race from that era, they were borefests.

      9. Quade says:

        There were never any processional races due to tyres in the Bridgestone/Michelin era.
        Processional race increased year after year with the increase in aerodynamic efficiency of the cars; the turbulence in the cars wakes was what made overtaking difficult and wrecked the tyres of chasing cars. Result? The aerodynamic opportunities were narrowed to todays levels.
        It had NOTHING to do with tyres.

        By the way, Hamiltons 2007-2008, Kimi’s maniacally blasting blind through smoke in the Monaco tunnel to complete an overtake, Alonso beating Schumi etc, all happened before the Pirelli era.
        Indeed, the most exciting racing I can recall happened before Pirelli.

      10. Peter says:

        Or they could go back to changing setup & tyres after qualification. That would solve the problem of people compromising Saturday performance to make sure they get long-run performance.

  15. Craig in Manila says:

    Am I right in thinking that that is the first practice/qualifying session where Perez has outpaced Button ?

    1. alexdhq says:

      It’s practice, not qualifying nor a race – and they’re running different programmes, testing completely different upgrade packages.

    2. Martin says:

      Depends how you count things – Perez was faster in Q1 in Melbourne. Perez had the quicker fastest lap – which is pretty meaningless really – and was less than two seconds behind at the finish.

      Overall, the only things that matter are Qualifying times and race performances. Q2 in Melbourne was not a matter of pace but tyre choice so we’ll never know how he would have gone. I haven’t heard whether there was any set up differences between the two cars, but on race performance, Perez was certainly pretty even with Button.

    3. Kevin Green says:

      genius!

  16. Alonso fan says:

    Good good Massa is only 1 tenth off the leaders, this means come race time the dirty Spaniard will beat the grumpy Fin.

    My predicted Race Result.

    1) Alonso
    2) Raikkonen
    3) Vettel
    4) Massa

  17. Enzo says:

    Lotus looks good on track, but not financially i’m afraid, saw a tweet from Flavio B. after Melbourne, saying he enjoys seeing his old team on winning form, but that they have big financial problems.
    Just wondering if the fact that only Kimi gets to drive with the upgrade this race, is already a sign of that.

  18. Bayan says:

    Bianchi looks like he might be the real deal. I know it’s too early and he had some Friday runs last year but damn, he is destroying his teammate and the caterham cars so far.

  19. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Interesting to see how Mercedes prepares for qualify with a long-run set-up,
    or prepares for the race without worry too much in qualify (since Kimi won from P7).

    If Mercedes got P12 in qualify, I don’t know how well they can progress in the race. Time will tell shortly.

  20. Leandro Guimaraes says:

    About the tyre issues, here’s a great quote from funkymonkey at the PF1 forum:

    It does not matter if it is same challenge for everyone like it is now. This is still much better than what F1 used to be.
    This is better than tyre wars we have had in not too distant memory. It is also better than ever lasting tyres we had just few years back.

    F1 has never been about driving flat out. Those who drove like that also broke down the most. F1 is still about getting right balance between pace and reliability. Before it was managing fuel, or engine or avoid blowing up engine, conserve fuel etc. Tyres have always played a big role in F1.
    Pirelli tyres are designed to be fragile. But they are same for everyone. Nobody has physical resource advantage here with tyres. They can gain advantage by designing their machine and setting it up properly and by drivers driving it properly by deciding when to push more and when to contain.
    Control and fortune of race has actually been taken out from the hands of tyre manufacturer and put in hands of teams again. There is more emphasis on car setup and driver’s ability to drive with these tyres.
    Good drivers are still at the front because their cars are better and they are adapting quickly by realising what is happening with the car when they are driving it around the track.
    This is just a skill and experience coming into play. It is just like any other skill for driver and teams. Like managing engines of old days, or fuel and turbo boost in turbo days etc. They need to decide when to do what.
    This is not bad and we have seen some of the best racing over last 2 years.

    Adding pitstops is not just about creating artificial element. We had similar thing happen with refuelling where really fast cars used to actually stop more and run quicker by running lighter. But number of stops gives some drivers opportunity to time it right and get chance to push in cleaner air if they take early pit stop or car in front pulls in pits etc. We have seen races won or lost because of this.

    With the current technical regulations, nobody is going 100% all out. There is no real sense in doing that keeping the entire season in picture. They have limited engines, limited gearboxes and limited time in pits to prepare cars. And these changes happened to keep the sport viable in tough economic conditions, so these things are not going away. When that is the case, this tyre situation is a very welcomed change we received over last 2 years.

    Teams just needs to get on with it and they are. Did you see RedBull whining a lot in 2011? they ran away with season even with all the tyre drama. Tyres are not going to stop a good car. This year it is Lotus who are not complaining. They have the best setup. So we have someone who still manages to manage these tyres. That is reward for good engineering and good driving. Why it should be deemed gimmicky or bad than any other advantage? It is no different than having engine or aero advantage. The team and driver is getting advantage because they are doing something better with their cars.
    And tyres are same for everyone.

    What we have now is much much better for racing, for fans of the sport and for the sport in general. Lot of people wont realise it, and the fans of teams which is suffering will as expected bicker about it. But hey, that is always the case about anything. Ferrari have been bickering about aero for years now, RedBull not happy with tyres this season when they are suffering. All this is to be expected.

  21. dean cassady says:

    Love the blog, and many of the contributors perspectives.
    Everyone’s worst fears, except Lotus, are in the process of being confirmed, so it would seem.
    But this is practice!
    PRACTICE!
    Notoriously, it is flippant to make race predictions based on practice sessions.

    I am intrigued by the MErcedes progress, and find it very salient that we don’t have a contributions from them trashing the tires.
    Ferrari look strong and Alonso is OF COURSE a threat to win; they will be trying to match the number of stops of Lotus, which is looking like three, but I don;t think that they are quite there, yet. However, Ferrari lookto be heading in the right direction.

    Red Bull: I’ve got to say that I am skeptical about their ‘disadvantage’. I am just not ready to buy into the supposition that Adrian Newey could have bungled up the development, specifically the priority of the tire management capability of the car. It is VERY early going in the season, and so far, Vettel is ten points off the lead; that’s nothing over the whole season in front of us! Much morelikely is Red Bull playing the long game with strategically timed introductions of upgrades, SO THAT THE OTHER TEAMS WILL NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES, NOR TIME, TO EMULATE, going to the wire in Autumn. They have the pace; I am incredulous that they don’t have a best-in-class solution to the tire management issue, or one in the pipe.
    Enough said on McLaren, it’s sad.
    I am looking forward to seeing if Hulkenburg can beat one or both Force Indias; I got to say that I don’t like his propsects, right now.
    Di Resta has got to make a big splash in the points or get swept away with the Sutil fanfare, which I am decidedly not a suporter of; I would have much rather seen Bianchi in the Force India, though admittedly, Sutil has already proven that he’s not a bad choice (maybe just not the best choice).

  22. Jonathan says:

    I really wish everyone would stop moaning about the tyres. What I hate is the demand that drivers must use both compounds – that is the false bit and that is down to the FIA and Bernie not Pirelli.

    I would far rather see tyres degrade fast than see tyres that last a whole race with ease. It is great to see the difference in the way the cars use their tyres. Red Bull are using identical tyres to Lotus – therefore Lotus have done a better job.

    If all cars could make their tyres last a whole race we would lose a whole area of technology. We would not see better racing as the cars would be able to wheelspin any time they liked and risk nothing – they would still not be driving to the car’s limits as some suggest – the limit would be restricted by the ability to grip the track.

    I remember hearing about BMC testing cars and tyres in the ’60s. They could destroy a set of tyres in 30 miles with a Morris Minor! It is the way you use tyres that limit their life. It is well known that Red Bull push every boundary they can – they have now been see to go too far with the way they use tyres.

    Red Bull are abusing their tyres and blaming Pirelli whilst Lotus are being more sensible – and reaping the rewards.

    1. Random 79 says:

      I agree about having to use two compounds, but there are reasons for that:

      If there was only one compound there is the risk that if the supplier messes up and brings the wrong tyre to an event (as Michelin did a few years back) then it would be unsafe to use it, which is where the prime comes in. In the event that the soft was unsafe, the order would come down that the teams only race on the harder compound, which is why they bring two compounds to every race.

      Since the supplier is bringing two compounds to every race they might as well get used, but the only way to enforce that is through the regulations, otherwise the teams would just use whatever compound suited them which would likely mean going back to one stop processions.

      The fact that the drivers have to use both compounds mixes it up and introduces a bit of strategy.

      It’s interesting that you mention wheelspin: According to James the 2014 engines will have more torque meaning the cars will get a lot more sideways out of the corners. It’ll be interesting to see how the tyres last (or don’t last ;)) next year with that kind of racing.

    2. HRC says:

      Good post, Jonathan.
      I watched two hours of P2 last night. Most of that time was spent working with long runs to determine how the car will perform under race conditions. Qualifying is an important part of the race but it is only one part of it.
      Over the past two decades aerodynamics evolved as an extremely important factor in determining vehicle pace [in clean air]. This led to the necessity to qualify up or near the front to do well in the race. The sport evolved to a follow the leader event with very little passing.
      Rather than do away with aerodynamics, F1 has introduced a number of things. Kers, rear wing difussers, tire options etc..
      One thing that was predominant a few years back was the constant complaining about no passing or real racing in F1. We now have a much more reasonable balance with technology, racing and entertainment than we had.
      How can we complain when so many drivers and manufacturers have been winning races. Were the good old days ever this good? Who out ther wants to go back to the pre-aero days with narrow hard rubber tyres?

  23. Ciprian says:

    Hello James,
    There are stories emerging on an suposed “unfair tyre advantage” Lotus might have – http://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/rivals-suspect-lotus-has-unfair-tyre-advantage-report/ -

    do you think there’s actually something in it?
    cheers

    1. James Allen says:

      Read the Race Strategy Briefing from Wednesday. I wrote about it in there.

      Whenever someone is winning, these stories come out with Red Bull it’s RRA busting, with Lotus it’s this etc etc

    2. Random 79 says:

      Thanks for the link, just read it.

      That’s basically saying that Toyota should have stuck around because they would have had the advantage while Pirelli was using their old car.

      Just because the Pirelli test car had Renault written on the side does not make it a 2013 Lotus. Two different cars, two different geometries, exhausts, setups, etc…

      Case in point: A 2012 McLaren is not a 2013 McLaren :)

    3. Kimi4WDC says:

      The way car changes just after few upgrades, you really have to close your eyes in order to make such gossips even remotely plausible.

  24. Michael S says:

    I hope it is a rain free weekend so Kimi can continue to exploit the Lotus pace and tire performance.

  25. Andrew says:

    Thank god it’s Raikkonen and and not Button that is getting the benefit of winning the tyre lottery. If it was Button then we’d have to endure a load of nonsense about how Jenson is the tyre whisperer and his smooth driving style is the pinnacle of f1 mastery.

    1. alexdhq says:

      and if it was anyone else, it’d be called “doing a Perez”

    2. Glennb says:

      Ha, Ha! I love JB but have to admit the ‘easy on tyres’ thing is just rubbish. I think it’s his smooth driving style that gives the impression. He IS smooth, no doubt.
      You want to talk about tyre mastery? Check out Webber in Melbourne last week. He somehow managed to get 4 or 5 laps out of his S/S’s :)
      Smooooooth as a baby’s ear.

    3. Calmo says:

      Indeed. But it’s always the way it goes. British drivers because this is a UK based/ran sport drivers from the UK tend to draw too much attention and praise (helloo mr diResta). Button is just an above average driver. Yes should the stars align ever again he has a good quality or two that may allow him to almost challenge the best drivers in the sport.

      I can’t make my mind about Kimi however since his return. He’s been good granted, but has he really been fast? I reckon had Kubica not gotten injured he would’ve flat-out beat KR, and maybe even mounted a serious title challenge last year

      1. Kimi4WDC says:

        What a vague reasoning, have you been watching F1 past two years?

    4. Joel says:

      +1
      you hit the nail on the head my friend

    5. Spinodontosaurus says:

      Instead we have to endure a fanfare of how Raikkonen is the second coming… Although that tends to happen anyway, regardless of how he actually performs.

      1. Andrew says:

        I agree, the ‘Kimi’ personality cult is growing rather tiresome (no pun intended).

  26. Antonis papadakis says:

    Come Sunday and Kimi wins then do an article
    about Ferrari and Kimi. Luca should have
    paid him more… not to drive

  27. Horno says:

    Alonso has never been sacked by any team.. so please rephrase your last sentence please!
    -
    And now lets be honest;
    Ferrari, since M.Schumacher, prefers to have a clear number 1 and a clear number 2.
    After Schumacher left, Massa got his chance against Raikkonen, but Raikkonen became WDC in his 1st year for the Scuderia..
    Then there was this odd year 2008, where Massa was WDC for a few seconds.. that basically was his only real moment in F1.
    -
    Alonso is the clear number 1 at the Scuderia, pure by results.. because it is clear that Massa is being loved very much by the team. If Massa was able to match Alonso race after race, than there never had been any discussions about the current strategy that is being used by the Scuderia.
    -
    Face it, Massa isn’t leader material, you need someone else to handle those kind of pressures, someone like an Alonso…

    1. Horno says:

      The above post of my was a reply to someone, but I think I made a mistake..
      -
      So just to make sure, it was not mentioned to James Allen!

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      Thanks god, leader material is not necessary to become World Champion.

      At the moment it seems a down side, as Alonso yet to win the title he came for, with all his leader qualities and support.

  28. etls says:

    Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director believes his tires are making F1 more entertaining.
    He is quoted by Autosport as saying,
    “We had the most exciting Melbourne in years. Do you want us to make boring races?”
    My answer to him is, “Yes.” Stop meddling with natural talent.
    I would rather watch F1 cars racing flat out.
    The fastest guy’s pushing their machine to the limit.
    Seeing who got the skill to go that bit harder to win.
    That’s what this sport is meant to be about, (RACING.)
    Not what he is turning F1 into, “a tire endurance competition.”

  29. Rohit says:

    Guys

    Why do they say that Alonso is the greatest driver ?

    I mean he is so mean and political – every team he has been in he has picked up a story with some political issues and as well as bad doings -

    Was watching senna the movie – and a lot of resemblance with Alonso and Prost – remember the scene in 1991 season where Prost keeps speaking bad about everything around him but him and his driving – senna spoke about it

    Some how alonse never has the character like Kimi or mika or Lewis or Damon hill .

    I know this is off topic but no one every thinks about the negatives of alonso but praise him as the best – every one has their opinion and mine is that Alonso may be a good driver but not a respectable one !

  30. Irish con says:

    Looking at the sector times today it seems to me that red bull is missing out on the drs for the hole lap. There still the fastest in the aero dependant middle sector and losing out more on the 1st and last sector which has a lot of straight lines and the lack of drs everywhere means there losing out more. I could be massively wrong tho. Also the merc is running more rear wing this weekend with it being slower on the straights than even the red bulls. Hope it’s a dry Saturday and Sunday now because I think the race could be very tight between kimi amd vettel amd the ferraris again.

  31. cometeF1 says:

    It all looks very good for Kimi at the moment. A bit early to really be able to put your money on this leading to a WDC for Kimi. It is going to be an interesting season, I feel. Three or four teams being stronger at different time of the season. Consistency as in most case will be very much a must. I hope McLaren will make it a five teams contest before too long in the season. We will have to wait and see. JB is really showing something special to date, would you agree? No, not that JB, I meant Jules. Marc

  32. F12012 says:

    Sick of hearing about these Pirelli tyres and I’m not a fan of red bull

    It’s all about tyre saving throughout the race, these cars and drivers should be going flat out every race from the start to the finish

    It’s all fake racing, just when a drivers doing well his next set of tyres go off within a few laps and his race is ruined

  33. Mark says:

    Feels like 2005… Go kimi

  34. coronwen says:

    I think all the comments about Felipe posted here are wrong.

    Felipe occasionally beat Michael Schumacher fair and square when allowed to. He beat Kimi more often, and was prospective WDC for a few seconds in 2008. He suffered a horrendous accident and is still racing.

    I was in a hotel breakfast room in 2010 when Felipe came in to speak to his brother. His brother was at the back – possibly twenty metres away. So Felipe just shouted to him from the doorway – to hell with everybody else in there.

    That’s how F1 drivers are – they’re arrogant and believe they are the best thing on the planet. If they didn’t think like that they wouldn’t be in an F1 car in the first place.

    When they are sitting on the grid they all believe they are the one who will win the race despite all the platitudes they’ve previously offered the press.

    Felipe can beat Alonso I have no doubt. Whether he will probably depends on Domenicali. But I’m sure as far as Montezemolo is concerned he couldn’t care less providing a red car crosses the finish line first.

    In a way I appreciate the fact that Ferrari seem honest in the way they set about their task of winning. I don’t feel the same about Red Bull with Marko in the background, and now I feel the same might happen with Lauda at Mercedes (think which driver speaks German). And wasn’t it the same at McLaren in the Dennis days.

    I wish for the year of the number two driver – Kimi excepted. End of year Massa has more points than Alonso, Webber more than Vettel, Perez more than Button and Rosberg (I know he isn’t really number two but nobody told the media) more than Hamilton. Guess who wins?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Well said :)

  35. Darren W says:

    I am always surprised at how much negative commentary discussions of Massa generate. Sure his form has taken a long time to improve since his head injury, but he is starting to come on nicely. It is like people aren’t happy if the sport isn’t relentlessly ruthless regardless of circumstances.

    Whether it has been Ferrari patience, circumstances of the driver market, luck or a combination of all of these that kept Massa in his seat long enough to rediscover his form, it makes for a nice story.

  36. Van says:

    The Lotus is a great car, but it still takes someone with Kimi’s talent in order to get the most out of it and deliver the results.

    Look at where Grosjean finished in Australia. You would never guess that the Lotus had race- and potentially championship- winning pace judging just from his running.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Not to take anything away from Kimi, but he got the updates early; Romain didn’t get them until just before quali and so his setup wasn’t quite there.

      He’s fast and he’ll show it – just hopefully not with an insurance claim :)

    2. Timmay says:

      Car was broken – have a read next time.

      I am Kimi’s fan – but I wouldn’t say Grosjean isn’t actually faster than him – just not as experienced or as good.

  37. Tim says:

    Poor sauber. For the past couple of seasons they’ve been the savior of the tires. Now they have to deal with this other team that can save them just as much and is a good bit faster while doing it.

  38. yassin says:

    Shame there are forecasts for Rain Sunday, Kimi is terrible in the Rain.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Since when?

      1. yassin says:

        Check all his finishes in the rain.

  39. Ryan Eckford says:

    It is going to be very interesting to see what happens on Sunday if it is dry, in terms of strategy between the Top 4 teams.

    Lotus will be aiming to do 3 stops, and are very capable of doing this.

    Mercedes I believe can do 3 stops as well. In Australia, I felt Hamilton was only 4 laps away from making 2 stops work, and he admitted the balance of car wasn’t as good as it could have been. So by improving this, meaning better pace, and better tyre durability, 3 stops is definitely possible.

    Red Bull probably have the outright fastest car in Malaysia, but I think they will continue to chew up the tyres, so 4 stops is likely for Red Bull.

    So what about Ferrari? Ferrari are on the edge of 3 or 4 stops. The key to Alonso and Ferrari beating Vettel and Red Bull will be whether they can make the tyres last long enough to do 3 stops. If they can, Alonso will win. If they can’t, Vettel will win.

    What do you think, James?

  40. Daniel Spiller says:

    It’s typical red bull. Totally ok for them to play with engine maps and blow off throttle and also to fun flexible wings but the second they can’t use the tyres (homogenised throughout the field) they throw their toys out of the pram. I dislike Vettel intensely for his smug looks when he wins and his Button-esque moaning when he loses. This is why in the eyes of many fans he’ll never be a legend of F1. To me, the jury is still out on his true ability but I dislike his attitude to racing.

    1. Chris says:

      Daniel, he’ll be a legend in the history books no matter what,his statistics in F1 are mind-blowing. Why do so many people overlook this just because they don’t like him?

      I think this is a fair question, based on the below, what exactly is the jury debating about his ability?

      Races: 102
      Championships: 3 (2010, 2011, 2012)
      Wins:26
      Podiums: 47
      Career points: 1,069
      Pole positions: 37
      Fastest laps: 15

      1. James Allen says:

        Similar numbers to Jackie Stewart

      2. Rockie says:

        A man has won 25% of races entered very soon people would say he has to win in the Marussia to be great very sad.

    2. Daniel Spiller says:

      I don’t doubt his statistics, in fact yes they are possibly the most successful statistics given the competitive nature of the sport in the current F1 age. What I mean is as a driver, he doesn’t seem as gracious as many other drivers. And that I feel can be hard to overlook for me and to me suggests that maybe it has literally been the car and the in season engineering that has been so superior and not himself as the driver that as such. Statistics don’t lie and I appreciate that, but my perception of him needs to see him “struggle” and succeed to cement that legend. He certainly deserves these statistics as he’s clearly got them forever, but due to his cars advantages over the last few years, I just don’t feel he’s earned it.

  41. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the response, I appreciate it. Perhaps for the sake of the fans they should put a green light on top of the cars for when they are in an ‘eco’ mode :)

  42. Elie says:

    James , firstly congrats on the Friday drivers interview- very well handled and good guidance to the floor and drivers. Next can we remind people that this post is about Lotus confirming its pace at Malaysia and not about Alonso and Massa.

    Im sure also Grosjeans package is not 1+ seconds behind Raikkonens for all those thinking its a disaster.I would like to see Romain on level terms but there are very few racers that ever existed like Raikkonen at his best. This should answer people’s question mark on whether its is the E21 or Raikkonens driving style that has made him win so comfortably in Melbourne. The keen observers will note how Kimi uses clear air to make up ground then just attacks when drivers make a mistake of pit . For mid field cars he just passes them like they are not even there.
    Only car & driver in perfect unison can be so strong- especially when they are not fastest on Saturday !
    That is abundantly evident to me clearly still lacking in many people perceptions.

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