Two men to keep an eye on this weekend, two men who plan to rain on Sebastian Vettel’s hat trick parade: Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso.
In the second, rather more hotly contested free practice this morning, the two Red Bull drivers traded fastest times, Vettel eventually getting to the top of the time sheets by just three-one-hundredths of a second. No surprises there then. What was more of a surprise was the pace of the Ferrari, just another three-tenths back. Wonky wind-tunnel and all, Ferrari haven’t stopped finding ways of making its car faster.
So both this weekend’s qualifying and race and will be worth getting up early for then. And you have no excuse, as the Beeb are there live too. Qualifying is at six UK time, the race at seven. Both broadcasters will of course be on the air beforehand, but we at the Sunday Afternoon Club don’t fancy the idea of losing another hours sleep to see the BBC gang doing the whole Gangnam thing, as they inevitably will. Mind you, Georgie and Natalie and their gang doing the same… Hmm, maybe. Meh. Record it.
Fresh from ‘you-don’t-respect-me-gate’, Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the morning, but could not match ex-BFF Jenson Button in the afternoon. Funny isn’t it, how Jenson can always rise to the occasion when required. Of the two he seems to have the most fight in him, however hopeless his title challenge might be. McLaren have explained that Hamilton’s problems in qualifying in Suzuka were mechanical and not motivational, but we didn’t see much of the real Lewis that weekend. Now he’s avowed to leave Twitter alone, let’s hope we do this weekend. He needs to win if he’s to stand any chance of keeping in the fight.
Kimi Raikkonen, the rarely mentioned ‘other’ title contender, has spent the afternoon and the early evening dissing his team’s latest down-swept exhaust systems and no wonder, he doesn’t look a shoe-in for Q3 even on today’s pace. The Mercs, mind you, did look rather more convincing, but then again they often do when there’s not the pressure of competition. Michael was again ticked off by the Stewards, get this, for impeding both HRT drivers. Is that even possible? That last race can’t come soon enough for Michael.
So we’ll be back over the weekend. Let us know when you plan to watch, live or recorded, so we can make sure we don’t post any spoilers.