Grand Prix 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

The first race of the season has just finished and what a race it was. Exciting from start to finish. Nice battles. Three World Champions on the podium. And the good thing is, there is another Grand Prix in just seven days time in Malaysia!

Having won in Melbourne, Kimi Räikkönen will go into the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix leading the World Driver's Championship. His Lotus car looked as though it was treating the new Pirelli tyres better than any other car/driver-combination, managing to win the race with only two stops. Can they keep this good initial form up?

Red Bulls pace didn't look too frightening in Melbourne. Mark Webbers race was ruined by his (usual) bad start, which apparently was caused by a software issue. Sebastian Vettel finished third. Let's see if they'll be able to fight for the win in Malaysia, where temperatures should be significantly higher than in Australia.

McLaren had a poor race (as expected). Jenson Button just finishing within the points. Sergio Perez' terrible qualifying led to him finishing just outside the points. Jenson sounded pretty pessimistic after the race about short term improvements. So we shouldn't expect a strong performance from them in Malaysia. But one never knows.

Mercedes had a pretty good start to the 2013 F1 season. Even though Nico Rosberg retired in the middle of the race, Lewis Hamilton was able to qualify third and finish fifth, which in his own words was more than expected. He seemed very upbeat about the car's performance, so there is probably more to b e expected from them. Considering McLaren's early form, his switch to Mercedes seems to have worked out.

Ferrari had a very strong race, leading the constructor's championship after Fernando Alonso finished second and Felipe Massa finished fourth. Alonso was strong as usual, but it was Felipe Massa who looked really impressive. After outqualifying his teammate, he was able to keep Alonso behind him for the first part of the race only losing the battle against Alonso due to a poor pit stop strategy. They're in for a pretty strong season.

In the midfield battle it was Force India who looked mightily impressive with Adrain Sutil leading the race twice and finishing seventh after his last stint was compromised by the quickly deterioating super soft tyres. Let's see if they can keep up their good form in Malaysia.
Sauber only started the race with one car as Nico Hülkenberg was unable to start due to a fuel pump problem. Esteban Gutierrez looked rather anonymous during the race. They'll be hoping for a more competetive outing in the next race.
Williams didn't look too strong with Pastor Maldonado calling the car "undriveable" and retiring after beaching his car in turn one. Rookie Valtteri Bottas finished 14th not living up to the high expectations people put on him. Let's see, if they will be able to make short term improvements for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Toro Rosso looked strong during Free Practice and parts of qualifying but only managed to finish 9th with Jean Eric Vergne. Daniel Riccardo, who told media before the race that he will have to "blow Vergne away" in order to get a shot at the Red Bull seat for 2014, retired from the race.

In the battle of the "new teams" it was Marussia who looked to have the upper hand over Caterham, with Jules Bianchi appearing to be strongest of the four backmarkers.

Can Kimi Räikkönen make it two out of two? Are McLaren going to be as poor as in Malaysia? Will Nico Rosberg come back strongly after his retirement? And most imprortantly: What about the weather?

From what I understand from Sky, Vettel's got 5 sets of fresh tires.

Seeing Sky Sport's review of the pole lap, this might be one of, if not the, best pole Vettel has ever set. He drove the perfect lines to avoid the wheelspin-inducing rubbered race lines, setting the car for every straight and tip-toeing around sector 1 so that his tires are perfect for the other two sectors. Gotta appreciate a great lap when you see one.
Vettel on 2nd hand tyres in Q2 and on an extra set in Q3. Good tyre calls so long as they don't need those tyres tomorrow. Hamilton in 4th with 1 more set of fresh inters than those ahead of him. Massa quicker than Alonso, again, and been looking the quicker Ferrari driver quite consistently over the last few outings.
No surprise that Massa pipped Alonso. Even the commentators said the last car over the line would take pole. He didn't take pole but the point they were making was each car was getting quicker as they completed their lap. I don't know whether there's a clean side of the track but if there is Alonso's on it sitting behind Vettel. My bet is Alonso will be leading by the end of the opening lap. :)
Yep. Just like last week when Alonso got straight past Massa after being out-qualified by him. Oh, wait...

I do admire your relentless optimism, though. I am sure that one way or another, Alonso will finish ahead of Massa at the end of the race, though. That is pretty much a given regardless of pace. ;)

Night night all. It's 05:50 and I am shattered.
How many sets of inters do the teams get over a weekend? It may be interesting if the race is rain affected, those who only used one set in Q3 may be in a slightly better position. Gone are the days when inters used to last for nearly the whole race.

If the race is dry, tyre choice for the top 10 will be interesting, and it will mean that those at the tail of the top 10 will be less vulnerable to those at the top of the q2 losing times, due to all being able to choose the tyres, it may lead to some mixed strategies, which could be interesting.
Massa, Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen all used up 2 sets of inters. The rest I believe only used up one set.

Also feel absolutely gutted for Paul di Resta, bad call from the team there :(. Plus no bonus if the weathers dry tomorrow as the front runners have used the same amount of tyres as those who were knocked out in Q2,

However, hats off to RasputinLives for his top knowledge on Jules Bianchi at the moment he is the rookie that is standing out brilliantly :). I'm sorry I ever doubted the guys ability and if he continues in this vain for the rest of the season a midfielder team will surely fancy a crack at him next season at the wheel :).
So the teams get 4 sets of inters for the weekend, I assume that includes free practice too. So the top 3 will have 2 used sets of inters, and 2 new sets (I cannot remember what happened in practice, how many sets were used?)

Although, if it does not rain, then the advantage is in grid position.

Over to Jos the Boss for the weather.....
Felipe will run his race under Rob Smedley's instructions as he always has. Alonso will make his own calls. Isn't that what we all want, teammates fighting for the win. Maybe this time Alonso won't make such a good call, maybe he will, he usually reads a race better than most.
Me!!!!!! :) All joking aside, no one should be surprised at Massa'a form. He's always been a very good qualifier when he's happy with his car. On the other hand qualifying has never been a major strength of Alonso's. Alonso has just been quoted on Autosport saying Felipe's form is a boost for the whole team.

It's nothing against Alonso as a person outside the car. But when inside the car he can become a dis-likable character with his demands to get Massa to be moved out of the way that I don't like about him. I'm sure away from the sport Alonso will be a likable character though :).
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