November 05, 2010

F1 Practice: Brazil 2010

Friday's second practice was pretty much what you'd expect: Red Bulls up front and everybody else wondering if they could mount James Bond-like gadgets to their cars, and trying to figure out how much pace they'd lose with a couple of Sidewinder launch rails attached to their sidepods.

HWMNBN and Felipe Massa both showed good speeds, though both had their troubles.  The points leader had his engine die in P1, and the Brazilian had a clutch failure in P2.  Neither should suffer a penalty for their breakdowns however since they came on Friday.  Indeed, the team claimed that they weren't at all surprised by HWMNBN's breakdown as it was a well-worn race engine that they expected to have go boom.  That actually makes good sense... why put any more miles on the engine they intend to use on Sunday than they have to? 

On the other hand, McLaren may as well not bother to show up at Abu Dhabi next week; both Hamilton and Button were a second or more off the pace.  If they wind up with that sort of pace at Quals, they'll probably be DOA on Sunday, and both drivers need to win to have any chance for a comeback in the championship.

All is not wine and roses in the Red Bull camp, though.  As predicted some races ago, the tension between Mark Webber and Seb Vettel is showing through at a particularly ugly time.  Mark Webber said on Thursday that he believed that the team thought his drive for a championship was "an inconvenience.  I wasn't supposed to be in the chase at all."  His body language was reportedly that of someone under a ton of stress, full of slumping and sighs.  He did get a dig in though: "For different reasons here and there, Seb's never led the Championship and I have."  Vettel in a later interview with a German TV channel said "if Mark needs help then he should take the medical car."    

Not good news for the Austrian team.  It's clear that neither driver is willing to help the other if and when it comes down to that.  Indeed, Webber was asked what he'd do if things broke poorly for him this race and suddenly Vettel had a better chance to win the Championship.  His response, after a long pause, was telling: "I'd need to think a lot further about that."

Meanwhile over in the Ferrari camp, Felipe Massa has stated that he'll do whatever he can do to help HWMNBN win the championship.  HWMNBN, on the other hand, has said that he'd be perfectly happy to have his teammate win at his home race.  "It'll take 25 points off the guys following me," which is just as good as a win for the Spaniard.  Of course, the specter of Massa pulling over to let his teammate by looms over the team, to the point where a Brazilian official has said that Massa lets HWMNBN by, he'll have Massa arrested for violating sportsmanship laws.  Must be election time in Saõ Paolo.

Quals late Saturday morning, with the report coming sometime after that.

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