With the end of the season in sight and with a few drivers still in with a shout, I have decided to put together a series of articles with a bit of info on the track, with a difference, being from a drivers perspective followed by a few words on each team as they head into the race.
A Drivers look at the track
Many people will immediately compare this track with Monaco.
I can see why that would happen on the surface, but the circuit apart from being round a port is not like the Monegasque track at all. It’s much wider and faster more reminiscent of tracks such as Melbourne in places and Singapore in others.
Despite the width, it’s still not an easy place to overtake on, with the first section nicely flowing but very bumpy up towards the bridge, hindering overtaking.
The section after the bridge is very narrow and vital to get a good run through here, because if you’re slow through here, you’ll carry it all the way down the long straight. This straight opens a couple of options. It’s long and you can either go for downforce to help with the corners, or take off some wing to give you a better top speed, which at the end is easily over 300kph.
A bit of a Mickey Mouse section after this, use the kerbs, leading into the last sector, which after a fairly boring lap, opens up into a pretty awesome final sector.
Double right-hander, speeds building up to nearly 300kph again, difficult to get the car flat through here, but if it’s working well, you can make up a load of time. Pick your lines and a nice hairpin back into the pit straight.
So, overall a much faster and open version of Monaco, if you like, with some long straights and big stops meaning you can overtake in a couple of places.
A team on a high after major updates move the car up the grid, culminating in Hamilton’s victory last time out. The circuit here will suit the car and suit Hamilton’s style. Expect him to fight for pole and for the win. Kovalainen should feature but only for the minor places.
Another team moving forwards but not as far as the Woking lot. Expect Raikkonen to be up near the front in qualifying, but slipping back in the race. Points, not podiums. Badoer? Maybe will get into Q3, but that’s it. Maybe a point or two if lucky.
Despite big promises, I fully expect these to be fighting near the back again, although they might go for a silly banzai low fuel lap in qualifying to tempt a buyer. No points for either.
Home turf for Alonso. I would expect him to go for pole, even at the expense of a light fuel load. He’ll try to hang on in the race. Solid points for Nando, but no podium. Grosjean may surprise and get into Q3 but probably retire form the race.
Real disappointment of the year for me. Big words coming from Trulli for this race, but can’t see it myself. Q3 probable, and maybe small points, but no more. Expect Tim O’Glock to fuel up heavy and run to 9th. Again.
Difficult race for the Ex-Minardi boys. Buemi will be the quicker of the two, but still not enough to get into Q3. Alguersuari made a good fist of Hungary, fully against my expectations. Don’t see that continuing here. The wall beckons.
Red Bull Racing
Came away from Hungary a little more positively than they expected. No-one expected their car to be as competitive as it was. So expect more of the same here, with both Webber and Vettel fighting for pole and the win.
Again a team making progress, but so is everyone else, so don’t expect miracles. Q3 should see the end of the days running on Saturday, although Sutil could pull out a blinder. Will be very lucky to score points. Will need others to retire for this to happen.
Not long ago I would have put Brawn as shoe in for pole and the win. Now, with others getting faster and the car mysteriously getting worse, I don’t know! First two rows and podium likely, but difficult to see more, but then again could turn up and blow the rest away!
Difficult to see past Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Button or Barrichello for the pole, although watch out for Alonso.
Same four drivers are my favourites for victory, so I’m going to predict a top 3 of:
That’s it! My head on the block now!