So. Are we finally starting to see a pattern emerging now? The top four on tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix starting grid corresponds, roughly, with the top four in the 2012 World Championship standings; Vettel from Hamilton from Alonso from Webber. Two Red Bulls in there. Two Red Bulls that have this weekend twice had to adapt to regulation, ahem, ‘clarifications’. Maybe the RB8 is every bit as fast as its predecessors after all. Oh dear.
McLaren (and for now that might as well read ‘Lewis Hamilton’, as Jenson Button once again was obliged to phone it in, though he did make Q3 this time) saw its domination of Friday’s free practice fade away. Lewis could not get within three-tenths of the World Champion when it mattered. Jenson Button meanwhile starts in tenth.
Likewise Mercedes, who might as well have designed its trick F1 W03 for this track: Rosberg starts fifth, Schumacher ninth. And this season’s fastest wild cards, Sauber and Lotus, failed to live up to the promise, only Romain Grosjean making the top ten. Driver talent more than chassis speed saw Paul di Resta qualify the Force India in eight. No wonder he is said to be on both Mercedes and Ferraris dance card for next year.
And a Ferrari might just be the best place to be in 2013. The F2012 started this season locking up and sliding about the streets of Melbourne and generally obliging its drivers to miss the apex. Not any more. Though it’s clearly not as quick yet as the RB8, its evolution has been spectacular and there’s a more to come. This is a very different approach Ferrari to anything we’ve seen in the past where, typically, the team’s performance would gently disintegrate over a season if it didn’t start it with a huge advantage.
It’s an approach that has clearly got Fernando Alonso motivated. We’re thinking tomorrow’s race, and indeed the rest of the season, is going to be about ‘Nando versus the Red Bulls. If Sebastian Vettel wants to make it three on the trot, there’s one man he’s going to have to beat, starting tomorrow.
We’ll be back with more thoughts in the morning – let us know your tips for winner below in the meantime…