Saturday 6 November 2010

Interlagos Preview: Rain makes things interesting

Thank goodness for rain. Some of it fell between practice yesterday and practice today, and it'll clearly be at least damp for today's qualifying hour at Interlagos. This will make things interesting.

For most of Friday it appeared that the Interlagos weekend was going to follow the pattern of that pretty much everywhere else, at least in recent races. The Red Bulls appeared to have the legs on everyone. Further, of the two Red Bulls Vettel was a smidgen ahead of Webber, continuing the theme of the last couple of races. It seems astonishing how Seb seems capable of consistently outpacing his team mate by that tiny, yet massive, margin. Further continuing the recent pattern, Alonso was brooding not far behind the Bulls, and poised to take advantage of whatever opportunity they present him with.

However, the weather will make things a lot less straightforward. It is tricky to draw conclusions from the practice session just passed, given that times tumbled as the track dried and Webber and the two Ferrari pilots didn't complete many laps. But certainly the Ferraris and the Red Bulls both looked strong even in the wet (perhaps showing that quick cars in the dry are often still quick cars in the wet), so shuffling of the established order in qualifying may be limited. And it doesn't currently appear that we'll get the monsoon-type conditions that we did last year at Interlagos

One interesting facet was that McLaren are apparently considering running Hamilton with a wet set-up in qualifying even though they'll in all probability be stuck with it in a dry race tomorrow. This is apparently a gamble based on the advantage of 'getting the car to the front', as well as that McLaren are generally stronger in the races than in qualifying. Still, it was hard to tell if this approach was getting them in front of the Bulls and Ferraris in any case. Never write off Lewis however when the weather throws in some variables.

Elsewhere, look out for Sebastian Buemi, who looked strong in the conditions, and also qualified sixth here last year in the wet. Kubica is also likely to be strong, and indeed topped the times in Practice 3 with a late lap.

Then there's Felipe Massa. He also looked quick in the wet today (and wet weather doesn't always suit him). And if Felipe can't get into the mix here, where he specialises, he probably can't get into the mix anywhere.

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