It’s seems the ever-changing winds of competitiveness have worked in the favor of Mercedes this weekend. Not only have they been shockingly quick over one lap, but their long-run pace has been up with the best of them. Ominous signs for the other top team, surely.
The question is, can Mercedes emulate their 2012 performance in China on Saturday and Sunday? I believe they can, and I would be surprised if there was anything other than a Mercedes on pole come Saturday.
There is one factor that could derail a dominant performance this weekend, and it has come full force in China. The tires are producing some shocking figures on the track. The soft tire makes its 2013 debut this weekend, and while it is making big performance gains over one lap, it’s durability over anything more than that is perhaps even more worrying than what we saw from the Supersofts in Australia. Television coverage from practice today of the tires didn’t do anything to assuage our concerns over tire life, as the track was showered with huge chunks of hot rubber corner after corner. Reactions to this have been ones of confusion, rather than outright concern. Over the radio, Lewis Hamilton explained to his engineer that he had “never felt the tires act like this before.”
Regardless of this increased worry over tires, Mercedes seem to have made the most of the situation. The dominated the first practice session and still showed very strongly during FP2. Their headline times in the day’s second session weren’t there, but their consistency was, and that is perhaps even more dangerous than outright speed in F1 these days.
Force India are still a step ahead of the rest if the midfield and look set for a battle with Mclaren this Sunday. Sauber, Toro Rosso and Williams are still pretty equal, with Marussia’s Jules Bianchi getting worryingly close to the back of the midfield.
We are set for a dramatic qualifying session tomorrow. Who will be one pole? Will he prevail in the race? Tell me what you think!