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My European Grand Prix predictions

Jonathan Legard | 18:42 UK time, Friday, 21 August 2009

Michael Schumacher may be sat on the pit-wall and not in a Ferrari in Valencia but there is still plenty of drama to come in the Formula 1 championship at the European Grand Prix.

It has almost become a two-tier competition as the cars with the power-boost Kers system - Ferrari and McLaren - picked up their pace at the Hungarian GP and look like continuing that form here.

Brawn's championship leader Jenson Button and Williams's Nico Rosberg made a point of saying after the race in Hungary how difficult it was to compete against Kers cars there.

So, in some ways, it could be a case of the haves of the Kers cars and the have-nots of the rest of the teams.

I expect Lewis Hamilton and McLaren will be too hot to handle in Valencia and I'm tipping the defending world champion for back-to-back wins.

Here are my predictions for the top-eight finishers in full:

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Jenson Button (Brawn)
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
Rubens Barrichello (Brawn)
Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
Fernando Alonso (Renault)
Nico Rosberg (Williams)
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

Lewis Hamitlon practices for the European Grand Prix in Valencia

McLaren were very impressive in Hungary and arrived with more upgrades in Valencia, with another luggage load travelling out on Friday.

The plan was for both cars to run with the same updates and McLaren insiders have told me that they were aiming for a one-two finish.

But, in spite of their high hopes, it remains to be seen whether Heikki Kovalainen will qualify as well as his team-mate.

The Finn needs to beat his best qualifying position of sixth so far this season to pull a podium out of the bag.

There is a lot of pressure on Kovalainen as he is fighting for his future in Formula 1.

He is so self-critical that I wonder whether handling all those stresses will affect his race finish, and that is why I've picked him to finish fifth.

Button is also under a bit of pressure this weekend as with every passing race the Englishman's championship lead is being whittled away.

He may be 18.5 points ahead going into this race but he has picked up just nine points in the last three races and he needs a big score here to regain momentum.

Both he and Barrichello showed strongly in practice and the track temperatures were red hot, which is exactly where the Brawn is so strong.

The car is working better here - even if there are still question marks over its performance in cooler weather, which will make next weekend's Belgian Grand Prix very interesting.

Jenson Button leads the championship by 18.5 points

It's an Eddie Jordan-like punt that we are going to have the first British one-two since the Austrian Grand Prix in 1999, when Eddie Irvine's Ferrari led home McLaren's David Coulthard in the first race following the accident in which Schumacher broke his leg.

Back then, Ferrari chose to replace Schumacher with Mika Salo rather than Luca Badoer, but this time they have given the Italian a chance.

I've actually got a lot of sympathy for Badoer. He wasn't quick enough 10 years ago and now he has been pitched in here. He may have done 150,000km of testing, but there is nothing like racing and he is going to find it very hard.

Ferrari's hopes rest with Raikkonen this weekend. Like Hamilton, the Finn has the advantage of Kers in his Ferrari, and he is here on the back of a very impressive drive in Hungary last time out.

Overtaking is very difficult here, so Kers should be a big help both in terms of overtaking and defending a position.

Alonso has already set out his stall by setting the fastest time in practice on Friday and he is absolutely up for this.

In Hungary he went for glory on Saturday and put the Renault on pole. I can see him doing something similar here. Whether there will be much glory on Sunday remains to be seen.

Seventh might look like a low prediction for Rosberg after he has finished in the points for the last six races but if the Brawns are back on song, along with three of the four leading Kers cars, it will be a tough task to beat them.

I know putting Vettel in eighth place as the first of the Red Bulls is going to raise a few eyebrows after they have been so strong in the last few races, but this type of stop-start track does not favour their car at all - compared to Spa next weekend, for example, where they are likely to be very strong indeed.

In Monaco, their hopes were dashed by rear-tyre graining and they are suffering from the same problem here, albeit not as badly. And they had a desperate time here last year - something that Mark Webber pointed out after practice on Friday.

I've picked Vettel ahead of the in-form Webber because the German really needs to strike back.

It's a see-saw battle, and although on consistency Webber has come out on top so far, I can see Vettel beating him this weekend.

It's not about any lack of performance on Webber's part, more that Vettel, who signed a new contract with the team in the run-up to this weekend, needs to raise his game.

Given how hard it is to overtake around Valencia's Juan Carlos I marina circuit, the European GP may not be the sunshine spectacle to kick-start the championship run-in one would want after the break.


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  • 1. At 7:54pm on 21 Aug 2009, goldMarkL1 wrote:

    Great blog as always Jonathan.

    Lewis Hamilton
    Jenson Button
    Sebastian Vettel
    Mark Webber
    Fernando Alonso
    Rubens Barrichello
    Nico Rosberg
    Kimi Raikkonen

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  • 2. At 8:03pm on 21 Aug 2009, Paddy Murphy wrote:

    Great insight Jonathan

    Lewis Hamilton
    Jenson Button
    Fernando Alonso
    Heikki Kovalainen
    Kimi Raikonnen
    Rubens Barrichello
    Nico Rosberg
    Mark Webber

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  • 3. At 8:08pm on 21 Aug 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I hope you enjoyed the break. A great blog, as always.

    Here are my predictions for the top eight finishers in Valencia.

    1. Mark Webber
    2. Jenson Button
    3. Lewis Hamilton
    4. Kimi Raikkonen
    5. Sebastian Vettel
    6. Rubens Barrichello
    7. Luca Badoer
    8. Nico Rosberg

    I didn't realise the track was named Juan Carlos I. Thanks for that.

    Enjoy the weekend.

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  • 4. At 8:12pm on 21 Aug 2009, Estesark wrote:

    Vettel wins in Britain, Legard predicts Vettel to win in Germany.
    Webber wins in Germany, Legard predicts Webber to win in Hungary.
    Hamilton wins in Hungary, Legard predicts Hamilton to win in "Europe".

    A pattern emerges.

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  • 5. At 8:24pm on 21 Aug 2009, Nadaliator wrote:

    Oh, I don't know Leggie.......I think we may see the Brawns re-emerge as the powerhouses at Valencia..............

    1. Button
    2. Alonso
    3. Barrichello
    4. Hamilton
    5. Rosberg
    6. Grosjean
    7. Webber
    8. Vettel

    Whoever wins it'll just be fantastic to get back to racing after the horrible summer break!!

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  • 6. At 8:28pm on 21 Aug 2009, number1wallabiesfan wrote:

    Another great blog Jonathan thanks.


    Button looks good again and track should the Brawn man if he can get a good Qualifying Run onto the Front Row.

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  • 7. At 8:37pm on 21 Aug 2009, Kalma1212 wrote:

    Some good insight there Jonathan.

    1) Button
    2) Hamilton
    3) Barrichello
    4) Alonso
    5) Vettel
    6) Rosberg
    7) Webber
    8) Grosjean

    @ GFasulo: Badoer in 7th?? Really???

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  • 8. At 8:45pm on 21 Aug 2009, pringlecake wrote:

    1) Sebastian Vettel
    2) Kimi Raikkonen
    3) Rubens Barrichello
    4) Mark Webber
    5) Fernando Alonso
    6) Jenson Button
    7) Lewis Hamilton
    8) Nico Rosberg

    OK, so my predictions aren't to everyone's liking, but still...

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  • 9. At 9:11pm on 21 Aug 2009, davedpg5 wrote:

    Is there any chance of you sharing your experiences like it say in the blog description.

    Oh and by the way McLaren to win again

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  • 10. At 9:13pm on 21 Aug 2009, James S wrote:

    Ok, here's mine:

    1) Rubens Barrichello
    2) Lewis Hamilton
    3) Jenson Button
    4) Mark Webber
    5) Fernando Alonso
    6) Nico Rosberg
    7) Sebastian Vettel
    8) Kimi Raikkonen

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  • 11. At 9:48pm on 21 Aug 2009, James H wrote:

    This is the Grand Prix that we see an epic all-British struggle

    1) Lewis Hamilton
    2) Jenson Button
    3) Fernando Alonso
    4) Rubens Barrichello
    5) Kimi Raikonnen
    6) Sebastien Vettel
    7) Nico Rosberg
    8) Heikki Kovalinen

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  • 12. At 9:49pm on 21 Aug 2009, Gerrard_and_Torres wrote:

    1. Lewis Hamilton
    2. Jenson Button
    3. Mark Webber
    4. Rubens Barrichello
    5-9. Fernando Alonso
    Heikki Kovalainen
    Sebastian Vettel
    Kimi Raikkonen
    Nico Rosberg

    Could be any order

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  • 13. At 10:11pm on 21 Aug 2009, FastBBBB wrote:

    I honestly have no idea and anyones guess is as good as the rest. I'd say both/either Brawn, a McLaren or Williams on the podium.
    Alonso in the points with Raikkonen/Sutil, Nakajima, Webber and Vettel although the Toyotas seem to have some pace. Hamilton might not win though as out of all the Brawn seem to be consistently fast.

    Grosjean will impress and Badoer will shock everyone by finishing just out of the top ten.

    I also believe that more overtaking will appear as everyone is so close.

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  • 14. At 10:27pm on 21 Aug 2009, BulletMonkey wrote:

    1) Hamilton
    2) Button
    3) Rosberg
    4) Kubica
    5) Webber
    6) Kovaleinen
    7) Vettel
    8) Alonso

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  • 15. At 10:36pm on 21 Aug 2009, PAOLOofESSEX - Should have taken the blue pill wrote:

    1. Lewis Hamilton
    2. Jenson Button
    3. Seb Vetell

    Jonathon, you are a bad commentator but good bloggist.

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  • 16. At 10:38pm on 21 Aug 2009, ButtonFTW wrote:

    I believe that Felipe Massa has a better chance of getting a point at Valencia than Luca Badoer.

    Therefore my predictions are:

    1. Barrichello
    2. Rosberg
    3. Hamilton
    4. Button
    5. Alonso
    6. Webber
    7. Nakajima
    8. Sutil

    20. Badoer

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  • 17. At 10:56pm on 21 Aug 2009, FanMan wrote:

    (from lol!)
    4)barry's chello

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  • 18. At 11:07pm on 21 Aug 2009, steveblack1000 wrote:

    Brilliant commentary, brilliant blog, Jonathan.

    Mark Webber
    Lewis Hamilton
    Jenson Button
    Kimi Raikkonen
    Sebastian Vettel
    Rubens Barrichello
    Nico Rosberg
    Timo Glock

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  • 19. At 11:35pm on 21 Aug 2009, Baldbadger1 wrote:

    Will be very close race with a few accidents
    Could be 1st corner mayheim

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  • 20. At 11:38pm on 21 Aug 2009, DeleriumDon6345 wrote:

    It wont be a classic, but the teams are all quite equally balanced. I however expect Hamilton to win again. I cannot see why the Brawns will improve so quick, so still have the Red Bulls ahead, albeit not as much.

    1) Hamilton
    2) Webber
    3) Vettel
    4) Rosberg
    5) Button
    6) Barrichello
    7) Alonso
    8) Nakajima

    Cannot see where Ferrari will get points from, and i think Force India, just might be able to nick a point, depending on retirements

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  • 21. At 00:15am on 22 Aug 2009, Tim wrote:

    For once i think your virtually spot on.

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  • 22. At 00:27am on 22 Aug 2009, smifffies wrote:

    Providing Rubens doesn't have problems at start again:

    1) Jenson Button
    2) Rubens Barichello
    3) Kimi Raikkonen
    4) Fernando Alonso
    5) Mark Webber
    6) Nico Rosberg
    7) Heiki Kovaleinen
    8) Adrian Sutil

    Seventh and eighth could be reversed, also fifth and sixth. I think Adrian will get his 1st points for Force India this race. I haven't listed either Hamilton or Vettel as i think both have an attacking driving style that does not suit street tracks and i think they will both have either DNF's through accidents or be at the back and unable to overtake enough cars, due to the fact that they will both be trying to hard for the win.

    Just me tuppence worth

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  • 23. At 00:56am on 22 Aug 2009, alcoholicmonkey wrote:

    @ Paolo (#15)

    Jonathan Legard is a fantastic commentator. If you disagree why not record your own commentary, upload it to YouTube and we'll tell you what we think.

    Until you have the guts to do that, quit criticising someone who does a frankly amazing job.

    Keep up the great work Jonathan :)

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  • 24. At 01:29am on 22 Aug 2009, OneEaredWonder wrote:

    Congrats on another great post.

    1. Fernando Alonso (Being his home GP will spur him on)
    2. Jenson Button (He really needs a result and knows it)
    3. Lewis Hamilton (His McLaren is back on form)
    4. Nico Rosberg (another solid, and probably quite lonely perfomance)
    5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari's only real chance of points)
    6. Sebastien Vettel (He will manage to salvage a few points, despite his tires)
    7. Adrian Sutil (He thourougly deserves a points finish)
    8. Rubens Barrichelo (Wont be able to quite follow Button's pace)

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  • 25. At 01:32am on 22 Aug 2009, aveli666 wrote:

    tanks for the information and prediction. i think you got most of it spot on and more likely to be right this time.
    did you notice that martin brundle started to talk about button overtaking nakajima and you spoke over him, he also started to talk about hamilton overtaking webber and you did the same with excitement. you were also excited about alonso's wheel coming off in hunagary while it was expected to come off. i think you should be excited about the unexpected like webbers first pit stop error. that was spot on with the excitement but then again, it sounded like you spoke over martin on that one too.
    i must say that you are getting better with time.

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  • 26. At 01:41am on 22 Aug 2009, ravenmorpheus wrote:

    My top 8 will be, in reverse order -

    8. Raikonen
    7. Kovaleinen
    6. Webber
    5. Barichello
    4. Hamilton
    3. Button
    2. Vettel
    1. Alonso

    FOM/FIA have to please the crowds, don't they...

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  • 27. At 03:51am on 22 Aug 2009, the_stath wrote:

    1. Fernando Alonso
    2. Kimi Raikkonen
    3. Rubens Barrichello
    4. Mark Webber
    5. Sebastian Vettel
    6. Heikki Kovalainen
    7. Timo Glock
    8. Nico Rosberg

    Ferdy will be aiming to impress Ferrari and stick it to the FIA! Kimi is trying to impress everyone EXCEPT Ferrari for a drive next year!
    Rubens will finally outdrive Jenson, Webbo will claw back more of the points gap to Button, with Vettel chasing him home hard.
    Kovalainen will have a quiet afternoon but will progress through the order with Glock having another great drive and Rosberg a bit of bad luck to finish 8th when a possible podium was on offering.

    Button and Hamilton to take each other out at the first corner as the battle for British pride ends in tears...and hopefully some fisticuffs...I look forward to Button spanking Lewis in the head....great TV!!

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  • 28. At 04:14am on 22 Aug 2009, Ben Jones wrote:

    Well here's what it wont be!

    8.My Mum

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  • 29. At 05:54am on 22 Aug 2009, A HiFi wrote:

    1. Barrichello (Really think he could do it this weekend)
    2. Button
    3. Alonso
    4. Kovalainen
    5. Nakajima
    6. Sutil
    7. Vettel
    8. Rosberg

    ...and Kubica to just miss out on the points. Wild stuff, but I could also put Badoer anywhere else but 20th and that'd be a wild shot.

    P.S. I hope Luca does well. Good to see him back.

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  • 30. At 07:42am on 22 Aug 2009, FormulaWest wrote:

    It's got to be.............


    But I think Alonso will get Pole today with Hamilton P2 and Button P3.
    Vettel P4
    Webber P5
    Barichello P6
    Kovalainen P7
    Raikkonen P8

    Fingers crossed for a great race whatever the outcome! It's been too long a wait....................Great Blog Leggie

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  • 31. At 09:25am on 22 Aug 2009, Sean Sutton wrote:

    I think you're a bit ambitious about a Lewis Hamilton victory Jonathan, but I definitely think he's going to score well this weekend! But here's my top eight...

    1) Button
    2) Vettel
    3) Barrichello
    4) Hamilton
    5) Kovalainen
    6) Webber
    7) Rosberg
    8) Maybe Sutil

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  • 32. At 10:00am on 22 Aug 2009, Jerome2812 wrote:

    1) Barrichello
    2) Hamilton
    3) Webber
    4) Button
    5) Rosberg
    6) Vettel
    7) Raikkonen
    8) Kovalainen

    I think that amidst all the Hamilton-Button 1-2 talk Barrichello will nip in and steal the show. Wouldn't be suprised if Badoer finished last.

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  • 33. At 10:05am on 22 Aug 2009, Rob wrote:

    I don't see Hamilton winning again. Hungary was a bit of a one-off where the main championship contenders had dodgy weekends. Probably a top 6 finish though, if he manages to stay out of trouble.

    Barrichello looks good this weekend and I'd be very happy to see him win. I'd also love to see Badoer sneak into the points, perhaps a well-timed safety car, rain shower (unlikely!) or a race of attrition will help him achieve that.

    Sutil is a decent bet to nab some points this weekend too.

    Predictions in full:

    1. Barrichello
    2. Webber
    3. Button
    4. Vettel
    5. Rosberg
    6. Hamilton
    7. Alonso
    8. Kovalainen/Sutil/Raikkonen

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  • 34. At 11:57am on 22 Aug 2009, mastercueman wrote:

    Hamilton, Raikkonen and co could well end up helping button to win the title. They can't win the title but if the take points off the Red bulls, then Button may only need 90-95 points to win the title. It could be really close. Glad to see the williams cars going well again


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  • 35. At 2:22pm on 22 Aug 2009, domtv09 wrote:

    I think Hamilton is going to make F1 boring for the remaining races.


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  • 36. At 2:50pm on 22 Aug 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Kalma 1212 - Number 7. My predictions are done before Friday First Practice because myself and some friends predict the results for each race and we do our predictions before Practice on Friday morning. We have our own game to see who is the best at predicting the results, so I don't think it's right to change them after first Practice.

    I know, I wish I hadn't now!

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  • 37. At 2:54pm on 22 Aug 2009, Lord_Lancashire wrote:

    Contrary to the situation that F1 was in during its dark years of Ferrari dominance, it is now excitingly difficult to predict. Following this afternoon's qualifying, I do however, believe Jonathan has this time made a pretty shrewd decision on the outcome. It could well play out like this.

    I am wary of a potentially brilliant race being ruined by McLaren's KERS system - they could simply streak off unless problems are encountered with the cars. Vettel and the Brawn pair will need to be sharp off the startline, but even now, I would say the battle is lost when it comes to the first corner.

    Hamilton will use second-placed Kovalainen to his advantage, and I think there is an 80% chance of a Hamilton victory, providing he gets the start sorted.

    Watching Romain Grosjean will be fascinating, and I think, taking the testing ban into account, he's had a fine qualifying session today. By comparison, he qualified one place ahead of Nelson Piquet's position for the Hungarian GP - the previous event. Let's also hope Luca Badoer makes up ground, although I can't see that being the case unless it is a race of attrition.

    It's all about KERS tomorrow - and let's hope that Vettel and the Brawns don't let them streak away - because Valencia needs to recover from last year's dismal display, and I fully feel that it is capable of doing so.


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  • 38. At 5:05pm on 22 Aug 2009, Kenny wrote:

    1. Hamilton
    2. Kovalianen
    3. Button
    4. Barrichello
    5. Vettel
    6. Webber
    7. Rosberg
    8. Raikkonen

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  • 39. At 5:57pm on 22 Aug 2009, VioletPingu wrote:

    1 Hamilton (He will dominate for the next few races)
    2 Barrichello (Needs results)
    3 Kovalinen (Might be able to overtake Hamilton on the first lap but -
    4 Button (Needs to beat Vettel) - will lose it later)
    5 Webber (Will find it hard to overtake Button and will get stuck for -
    6 Rosberg (Going to find it hard on this track - the whole race)
    7 Alonso (Going to get stuck behind rosberg)
    8 Raikkonen (His Ferrari will be awful at this track)

    14 Grosjean
    16 Alguersuari
    20 Badoer

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  • 40. At 5:58pm on 22 Aug 2009, Dukeofjustice wrote:

    Jenson to do the job tomorrow with Rubens behind for a one-two. A win here for Jenssen over Red Bull will give him back the psychological advantage. He just needs strong finishes i.e mostly podiums rather than wins after tomorrow for the championship. At this stage of the season more than 20 points lead will be difficult for anyone to overhaul, particularly as the top positions are going to be split.

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  • 41. At 10:39am on 29 Aug 2009, Party_Man wrote:

    Hamilton is back at his pace. He will surely nail this one specially with the KERS on his MP4-24. It's really an advantage on the first and third sectors of the Spa circuit.

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