You usually expect to get interesting grid positions for the race after a wet qualifying session and while rain did threaten for a time at Shanghai, it stayed dry. While you wouldn’t necessarily consider a Mercedes front row to be exactly “topsy-turvy”, their race pace of late means you’d expect them to struggle to stay there in the race.
I genuinely couldn’t tell you who is going to win tomorrow and that’s before you consider the fact that there is a 20% chance of rain!
The bookies agree with me as they’ve got 5 drivers with shorter odds than 10/1 and nobody shorter than 3/1 so worth a flutter if you feel lucky just don’t ask me for a tip.
Rosberg and Schumacher are both fairly evenly matched in race pace so despite Rosberg’s titanic lap in qualifying, either of them could win the race. However, the Mercedes is really hard on its tyres so I doubt they’ll be leading once they’ve pitted for their first stops that are likely to be amongst the earliest of everyone, of course rain will be a big help to them here.
Kobayashi in third in the Sauber is stunning, normally I’d say he’ll drop back quickly through the field but if you look at the speed trap times http://literalf1.com/2012/04/14/china-2012-qualifying-analysis/ he’s going to be very hard to pass even with DRS. The Sauber has been soft on its tyres this season so again that’s in his favour, unless it’s wet. Kobayashi must be careful to not run into anyone early on in the race and the he should be fine.
Raikkonen is 4th and while there are some question marks over the Lotus race pace, he’s the kind of driver to be pumped up enough to have a shot at the win if the opportunity presents itself.
Button starts 5th and is the highest place driver with a pedigree of winning races, in a car that has a history of recent wins. Normally I’d say he’s favourite but he’s been complaining about his set up all weekend and slower than Hamilton by a fair margin. Has a good chance though, but not favourite.
Webber must have been smiling when he saw Vettel not making it into Q3 and he has a good chance to win tomorrow with the Red Bull being quicker in race trim than qualifying so far this season. Has the experience of last season when he came through from the back of the grid to be 3rd at this very track, that overtaking experience will be useful.
Hamilton must rue his 5 place grid penalty for the gear-box change or he would certainly start as strong favourite tomorrow. Even back in 7th he has a good chance to win but I have a funny feeling he’ll claim his hat-trick of 3rd place finishes tomorrow.
Perez back in 8th is probably the highest placed driver who you say has almost no chance to win, but bear in mind how well he drove at Malaysia and his speed trap times, combined with the Sauber’s ability to tip-toe on the tyres and he must be in with a chance of a podium at least.
Alonso starts 9th and is likely to improve on that as the Ferrari is better in race trim than qualifying, the mercurial Spaniard will take advantage of any situation and could win if it’s wet like he did last time out in Malaysia.
Finally 11th placed man Vettel must have a chance even from that far back, especially if it’s wet, Red Bull seem to have a lot of down-force on that car.
I like to have a flutter on the races, the bookies are being very stingy though so I will wait for the weather tomorrow, but Alonso and Vettel are both at 25/1 so a small each way bet might be worthwhile.