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Thoughts on Malaysia

Quick turnaround, this F1 business. No sooner do we swap predictions for a leafy Albert Park than we find ourselves in the jungle. Naturally, heat will play its part this weekend which’ll ensure that Pirelli’s rubber offerings will take a battering.

I really expect to see McLaren pull away over the next 3 days. Whilst predictions with conviction are always dangerous, all the signs point to the Silver Arrows being dominant. Last year, they closed up by almost a second to the Red Bull in qualifying, and had a car follow Vettel home in the form of last weekend’s race winner. They were also very clearly strong through the fastest corners on the Circuit de Catalunya during the winter tests.

Good tyre management aside, we were also held back from seeing the true race pace of the Woking-built machinery due to a fuel saving exercise in Melbourne. Whilst being a commendable drive, Vettel’s performance was also the result of a series of fortunate events; Webber’s poor start, Schumacher’s retirement, Grosjean’s retirement and the luck of the draw with the safety car. Red Bull are strong, without a doubt. But not capable of leading the field, I feel.

The real surprise should come in the form of Lotus. Last weekend they were hampered by a poor qualifying and a Venezuelan liability behind the wheel. They showed fantastic pace across all three tests (two, if you discount their chassis-busting problem of the second test) and good tyre life on their race simulations. Lotus have produced a really strong car this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fight and potentially beat Red Bull for a podium.

As it were then; Mercedes should find themselves challenging for pole with their Super DRS and Sepang’s long straights, but the real action will come on Sunday when Grosjean and Raikkonen will mix it with the top four of last week.

Here’s to hoping…

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