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Apr 09 2011

F1: Sepang Qualifying

Well, if it’s 4:00 am it’s Formula One somewhere.  This week is Sepang in Malaysia.

Sepang is hotter than Albert Park this time of year and there’s also a history of afternoon downpours that shortened the race in 2009.  This could effect tire strategy, though Jenson Button reports the McLaren team is getting excellent wear from the designed to deteriorate faster Pirellis.

Speaking of go fast technology, because of the long straights Red Bull is not shunning KERS the way they did in Australia.  In practice the 2 McLarens split Webber and Vettel and everyone else was pretty much an also ran.  Considering the results from Albert Park this very much reminds me of last season where Red Bull had a clear speed advantage in the early races that tightened up over the course of the season, except that this year is much closer.  Hamilton finished second despite major damage to his under carriage aero.

We also know now that they’re going to be strictly enforcing the 107% rule for qualifying (though it only applies to the Q1 ETs).  The split spoiler is only activated for the trailing car and only in certain sections of track and within a certain distance of the car you’re attempting to overtake.  It was no apparent advantage in Melbourne.

If I had actually watched Friday’s practice last night I suppose I’d know more, but I was busy examining my eyelids from the inside.  I totally understand if others feel the same about tonight, qualifying is only interesting if there are surprises and there haven’t been many so far.  Tomorrow though you get a rare chance to see the whole weekend in about 5 hours as Speed will be rebroadcasting the Friday practice and tonight’s Qualifying starting at 12:30 am before the race itself at 3:30 am.  I’ll try to have the piece up around midnight though I might nap after that for a while.  They’ll be repeating the race only at 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon.

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