Auto Manifesto

November 2, 2008

F1: Brazilian GP Qualifying

The weather was perfect, though the prediction for race day is that it will rain. This again highlights the need to change parc ferme rules which require wing settings to be fixed before qualifying.

Every team has to decide what configuration to run the cars in qualifying and the race. But if ambient conditions change it becomes a lottery, which can greatly affect the quality of the racing for the worse.

This will be David Coulthard’s final grand prix as a driver. There is a new helmet mounted camera to give the TV audience footage from the driver’s view. It’s pretty neat but the view is quite limited and it depends on where the driver looks, which is often not where the car is pointed. And there’s a lot of bobbing around. The car mounted cameras are much more TV-friendly.

In Q1 the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen topped the time sheets. Lewis Hamilton was third in his McLaren – not clear who’s running how much wing and fuel.

Q2 was quite spectacular with the top ten drivers separated by just 0.339 seconds. Heikki Kovalainen was first in his McLaren followed by Sebastian Vettel in a Toro Rosso. Robert Kubica did not make it past Q2 having struggled with his BMW.

Q3 was all Massa as he posted the fastest time. When all the major players began their final laps, Massa was out front and timed it just right to be able to get 2 laps on the rest of the pack after the clock ran out. He ended up improving his time further to take pole, followed by Jarno Trulli (Toyota), Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Fernando Alonso (Renault), and Vettel.

Massa, always fast at Interlagos, really needs to win and have Hamilton finish lower than 5th in order to take the driver’s championship. Ferrari looks likely to take the constructor’s title, but the driver’s title at this point depends strongly on how clean of a start we get.

Tomorrow’s race is looking mighty exciting. I won’t be able to catch it until Wednesday but will be eager to take notes about it.

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