Cold and wet. It’s been a case of reaching into the bottom of the suitcase and pulling out the fleece and the winter weight jacket on this trip. Going into the Chinese Grand Prix has not been a balmy experience for the F1 Circus, as all the signs pointed to a race weekend bereft of the slightest whiff of sunshine. In fact, the past two days of track action took place under clear skies, but the weather forecast for tomorrow suggests “cloudy” as the default setting and in fact it seems that rain is on its way.
What would we prefer? A wet track makes everything more unpredictable, but given the way our cars went in Melbourne, where rain was the order of the day, we are confident, although equally so if the Grand Prix is held on a dry track. The F10 has proved to have a good race pace and that’s why we can be optimistic given our grid positions.
Fernando put in a super lap to take third spot on the grid. He is confident of getting a good result tomorrow and we see no reason not to share this positive view. Felipe however starts from seventh, although he would certainly have been further up the order, but for a mistake at the final corner which cost him a few vital tenths. Even so, the Brazilian should also have a good race.
As for the engine situation, there are no alarm bells ringing at the moment. Fernando’s engine failure in Friday’s free practice, with a power plant that had been taken out after qualifying in Bahrain, was something we thought might happen sooner or later. As things turned out, it happened here in China, which means that towards the end of the season we will have engines with a higher mileage to use in free practice. That’s all. The engine rotation programme for the races however remains the same one established at the start of the season. Basically, there’s no point in worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet.
For now, we’re just concentrating on tomorrow’s race.
Rain was forecast and sure enough, rain it was. In fact, the late afternoon downpour here in Malaysia arrived rather like those “helpful” motorway signs that tell you everything, but tell you nothing. Because our information was that the rain, which fell heavily at the start of qualifying, was due to diminish in strength, thus allowing our drivers to go out on a much improved track. It was not to be and when we realised what was going on, it was much too late to grab a pass into Q2.
We got it wrong and were the first to get upset about it, given that the morning’s free practice session had been promising and we were ready to make our mark in qualifying. Now, we’re left with regret about what might have been, but when all is said and done, you only do your sums after Sunday’s race. The important thing now is not to lose heart and look to the race in a calm manner, when It’s quite likely that the track could yet again be drenched.
As we saw in Australia, anything can happen. The key is to focus, not to make any slip ups and let Fernando and Felipe get on with their job, even though they too share the disappointment of this mistake, which involved the whole team.
How will things go tomorrow? Best not make any predictions.