2012 Japanese Grand Prix – Friday practice analysis Suzuka

Way to go Webber!

I’d like to have seen Webber take a world championship; but I think that it is practically out of the question.

Consistent with the performance trend, McLaren and Red Bull are the class of the lot, with Red Bull having the advantage.

This may not last!

The word is out about the front wing flex, or as translated by Google from the original German in the Auto Motor Und Sport article, “…the entire wing to rotate about the transverse axis” under load, at speed, giving a straight-line top speed advantage, which rumour has suggested that both McLaren and Red Bull have adopted solutions.

The current performance matches this speculation, and I doubt that Ferrari, purported to have tipped of the FIA to this allegation, will not protest if a way can be found to adequately scrutinize a mechanism of this type.

So it may be that both Red Bull and McLaren have an alternative front design in the wings, so to speak. If the heat is on, and they have to revert to a different design, then performance may be a bit closer. I would suspect that the action/decision will be made prior to Free Practice 3; so we may get a better picture then, prior to qualifying.

However,it could be very difficult to test for this?!? Maybe too difficult.

But as things stand, it looks to be a straight shootout between the …Bulls and McLaren. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they take the top four spots in both qualifying and race.

Ferrari were off the pace of the front runners, but may be going through their program, and biding their time.

Lotus will not be using ‘the device’, but Grosjean was in sixth in the second practice testing a new rear wing; so they could be close if the potential front flex-wing protest happens and is successful; I wonder what Kimi can do with the new rear wing.

Force India, Nico Hulkenberg is firing on all cylinders, as a man might if he was getting a shot at the marquee next year; obviously they’ll be pleased with his P4 in the second practice, after Di Resta’s 4th place finish in Singapore.

Williams, Mercedes and Sauber are duking it out in the mid-field; Schumacher continues a dreadful run; I hope he can salvage some dignity out of the weekend by getting into the points.

Caution to Predictors

The second practice P2 (1m 32.707s – Hamilton) to P10 (1m 33.750s – Schumacher), a difference of slightly over a second is very tight on a challenging and complex that Suzuka is. Teams and drivers that put it all together could surprise, and conversely, if a team/driver gets just one thing wrong in qualifying, it could drop them several rows back. The Ferrari-Alonso package has been the most consistent in these situations this year; look for ‘the metronome’ to once again hit higher than expected.


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