In the years to come, the 2013 British Grand Prix will be remembered, among other things, for Mark Webber's announcement of his Formula 1 departure. The good news is that it doesn't mean the Red Bull driver is hanging up his helmet altogether--starting next year, he'll be driving for Porsche in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship.
For now, though, it's business as usual for him--and for us, too. Here are our predictions for this weekend's grand prix.
1. Dry tires will remain in use throughout the race. Tricky, this one, because British summers are hardly straightforward. Only 11 drivers elected to set times during the rained-in first free practice, but at least the 80,000 fans in attendance got to see far more action in the second session.
Even the number of Felipe Massa's Friday crashes so far this season has nothing on the number of times the weather forecast for this weekend has changed. The latest word is it will be dry, and we're inclined to agree. Maybe spots of rain will make some areas a bit slippery, but it won't be enough to necessitate a change to inters or full wets.
2. Massa won't survive Q2, and a Toro Rosso will make it to Q3. So, another crash for the Ferrari number two. Not sure if he wants to keep doing that on the lead-up to the annual game of F1 musical chairs, which will now pick up speed after Webber's announcement. It must be noted that Felipe also failed to make it into the Saturday top-10 shootout the past two races.
The Toro Rosso drivers, for their part, will be determined to put in strong performances to stake a claim to Webber's seat. A Q3 appearance will earn either of them precious brownie points.
3. Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta will finish in the top 10. These two should best represent the Brits on Sunday. If only the Merc's one-lap pace could be paired with the Force India's full-distance tire longevity, right? The German squad was again not posting ideal times on its Friday race simulations.
As for Jenson Button and Max Chilton, the other two local boys on the grid, the most they can do is stay out of trouble. A points finish for Button isn't totally impossible if it rains, but then we've already predicted against that.
4. Pole for Mercedes, victory for Red Bull. No, we're not going for an Alonso win this time. Even if Red Bull misses out on P1, either of its drivers will still likely qualify ahead of Alonso and just about match him on race pace. And with Mercedes expected to go backward on Sunday, we think the proceedings will culminate in another Red Bull win.
5. Webber on the podium, Kimi in the points. For old time's sake, it would be great for the Aussie to claim victory in Great Britain. Silverstone has always been a happy hunting ground for him--remember that "not bad for a number two driver" line from 2010? Sebastian Vettel can challenge for the win at his home race next week, though his teammate has historically fared better at the Nurburgring as well.
And what about Raikkonen--will he finally beat Michael Schumacher's record for consecutive points finishes? Tune in to find out--the race airs tomorrow (June 30) at 8pm, Philippine time.
|GBR||Free Practice One||Free Practice Two|
|Pos||Driver (Team)||Time, +Gap (Tire)||Driver (Team)||Time, +Gap (Tire)|
|1||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||1:54.249 (W)||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||1:32.248 (M)|
|2||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||1:55.033, +0.784 (W)||M. Webber (Red Bull)||1:32.547, +0.299 (M)|
|3||P. Maldonado (Williams)||1:55.354, +1.105 (W)||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1:32.680, +0.432 (M)|
|4||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||1:55.458, +1.209 (W)||P. di Resta (Force India)||1:32.832, +0.584 (M)|
|5||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||1:55.825, +1.576 (W)||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||1:32.911, +0.663 (M)|
|6||V. Bottas (Williams)||1:56.361, +2.112 (W)||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||1:33.171, +0.923 (M)|
|7||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||1:57.891, +3.642 (W)||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||1:33.290, +1.042 (M)|
|8||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||1:59.859, +4.610 (W)||A. Sutil (Force India)||1:33.313, +1.065 (M)|
|9||M. Chilton (Marussia)||1:59.719, +5.470 (W)||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||1:33.322, +1.074 (M)|
|10||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||1:59.876, +5.627 (W)||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||1:33.494, +1.246 (M)|
|11||F. Massa (Ferrari)||2:06.534, +12.285 (W)||J. Button (McLaren)||1:33.740, +1.492 (M)|
|12||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||1:33.896, +1.648 (M)|
|13||K. Raikkonen (Lotus)||1:34.120, +1.872 (H)|
|14||S. Perez (McLaren)||1:34.130, +1.882 (M)|
|15||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||1:34.998, +2.750 (M)|
|16||V. Bottas (Williams)||1:35.070, +2.822 (M)|
|17||P. Maldonado (Williams)||1:35.127, +2.879 (M)|
|18||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||1:35.802, +3.554 (M)|
|19||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||1:35.984, +3.736 (M)|
|20||C. Pic (Caterham)||1:36.079, +3.831 (M)|
|21||M. Chilton (Marussia)||1:37.329, +5.081 (M)|
|22||F. Massa (Ferrari)||1:43.466, +11.218 (I)|
Legend: W—full wet compound; I—intermediate compound; H—hard compound; M—medium compound. Only 11 drivers set a time in free practice one.
Photo from Infiniti Red Bull Racing