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My Singapore Grand Prix predictions

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Jonathan Legard | 22:22 UK time, Friday, 25 September 2009

Singapore's slogan 'nothing else comes close' rings true both on and off the track in Formula 1's only night race on its 17-stop calendar.

The city backdrop with the action played out under the lights is simply stunning, while the storyline - the "crash-gate" saga with Renault at the centre of the storm - has been equally captivating.

The world has been gripped, shocked, appalled and fascinated by the scandal, with headlines saying it was the worst tale of cheating in F1 and that the sport is losing touch with its fans.

The image of the weekend so far has to be of Romain Grosjean crashing his Renault during practice at the same corner, Turn 17, where Nelson Piquet deliberately crashed 12 months ago. You just couldn't make it up.

As for the race itself, well, the omens suggest that the battle on the track will also live up to the slogan given that the top 15 cars were covered by 1.3 seconds in the second session of practice.

button595_getty.jpgJenson Button drives during practice for the Singapore Grand Prix

The Brawn team fancy their chances here. Ross Brawn's cars have been shipped in with yet another new upgrade - new rear and front wings and diffuser.

But the real surprise is the performance of their rivals, Red Bull. The team came here with low expectations but insiders say there is a totally different feeling inside the garage as regards their prospects this weekend.

Whether that renewed confidence is enough to carry the fight to the Brawns is another matter. Brawn just need to score 14 more points than Red Bull this weekend to clinch the constructors' crown.

Both Brawns were positive in Friday practice, running with heavy fuel loads in both sessions so I think it could well be a Brawn one-two just as it was last time out in Monza but with the positions reversed.

I'm tipping Jenson Button to win his first race since the Turkish Grand Prix in June.

Button is determined to do well in Singapore and he has a 14-point advantage over his team-mate Rubens Barrichello, which means he holds all the cards in the championship race.

With all that in mind here are my top eight predicted finishers for the Singapore Grand Prix:

Jenson Button (Brawn)
Rubens Barrichello (Brawn)
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
Nico Rosberg (Williams)
Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber)

If you discount Barrichello's flawed finish in Indianapolis in 2002 - when he and Michael Schumacher crossed the line together and the Brazilian was awarded the victory - only once has he won two races in succession.

The oldest driver on the grid has a chance to follow up his victory in Monza but Button seemed to have the edge in practice and I'm picking him to pip his team-mate to victory here.

Button was the only driver who put in consistent, fast laps on the softer tyres without suffering the tyre degradation that just about everyone else on the grid succumbed to during practice.

I was anticipating a ding-dong battle between the Brawns and the McLarens in Singapore - and that could still happen.

The higher downforce track with slower corners plays to the strengths of the McLarens but team insiders tell me that they are somewhat puzzled by their performance in practice and that they still have some work to do.

They are disappointed that they are not as strong as they thought they would be given that they have brought their final upgrades of the season - a new front wing and floor - to Singapore.

For that reason, I'm picking Lewis Hamilton to finish third, with Heikki Kovalainen, who has scored points in the last five races, to take sixth.

Red Bull's leading title challenger, Sebastian Vettel, took to the track straight away here in last year's inaugural Singapore GP, and they say that you find more out about a driver on a new track than on a familiar circuit.

Red Bull have arrived with a new front wing and aerodynamic package and there is far greater optimism that they can score more heavily than they thought, which is why I've gone for Vettel to come home fourth.

Things did not go so well for his team-mate Mark Webber during practice as he admitted he lost the car for the first time this season because he got slightly slippery off the racing line.

Kimi Raikkonen's string of podiums in recent races for Ferrari is a real credit to him. The 2007 world champion is racing without any new upgrades and his future also looks to be heading away from the Italian marque.
Despite all that, the Finn is looking good but I think he will be hard pushed to churn out another podium finish in Singapore.

After a shocker in Monza, Williams are back on the case this weekend. Nico Rosberg scored points in the last eight races before the Italian Grand Prix and he is well suited to this track, finishing second here last year.

BMW Sauber could be the joker in the pack. The team have come here with almost a totally new car, sporting new front and rear wings, a new diffuser, gearbox and sidepods.

It's extraordinary. They've put more into developing this car with four races left to go than they did when they were challenging for the championship in 2008.

webber595_ap.jpgRed Bull driver Mark Webber

It makes me think that team principal Mario Theissen is keen to wring the most out of BMW before they pull out at the end of the season to put into the development of next year's car as they look to stay in F1 under a new moniker.

It's always dangerous to write off Fernando Alonso on a relatively unfamiliar track where the drivers' skills can make a real difference.

The double world champion and his Renault team are cranked up after the events of recent weeks but the team say the performance of the car isn't there and it will take another classic Alonso performance to propel him into the points.

The changing track conditions could have a big impact on Sunday's race. The Marina Bay street circuit is changing all the time - the dust was like a snowstorm during the support races on Friday - and that makes overtaking even more challenging than it already is.

The last corner is very slippery - as Webber proved - and alterations to the kerbs and the chicane mean we could be in for the slowest laps on the calendar so far.

It is important that F1 puts on a show in Singapore to remind people of the good in the sport rather than reopening old wounds with more scandal and suspicion.

Comments

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  • 1. At 11:39pm on 25 Sep 2009, paulricard wrote:

    I'm going for Rubens.In the end Jenson doesn't have to beat him and I think Lewis will be that little bit more cautious after Monza - speaking as a Ferrari fan I fear McLaren may well make up some ground here in the battle for third.But like Jonathan the three guys mentioned are the ones I see battling for the win and on the podium.
    By the way Jonathan,Ferrari won the Italian and Chinese GP's in 2004.Two races in succession.Won by Rubens Barrichello...

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  • 2. At 11:43pm on 25 Sep 2009, wheres wallonia wrote:

    I'd hate to be a spoil sport but i think Rubens won two races in a row in 2004, Italy then China.

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  • 3. At 02:00am on 26 Sep 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say Alonso will win, for the second year in a row.

    And no I'm not just saying that to be humurous. Looking at his practice pace I believe he could win it, if not he'll certainly finish in the top 5.

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  • 4. At 03:44am on 26 Sep 2009, angela_harmon wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 5. At 04:41am on 26 Sep 2009, kimiraikkonenisalegend wrote:

    I completely agree with Angela. I don't think these are predictions but more like wishes or dreams. Its a shame really, Barrichello and Raikkonen are currently the man in form going by the results of the last three races however the crystal ball might say otherwise. Button had only won one race prior to this season but he has already won 6 this season, point is history is there to be read and rewritten. This article should be renamed "My Race wishes for Singapore".

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  • 6. At 05:15am on 26 Sep 2009, Tristian Trigg wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 7. At 06:33am on 26 Sep 2009, fredlungu wrote:

    Well honestly,i think jenson button has a very high chance of winning singapor.he had some really good laps in the first and second practice.

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  • 8. At 07:57am on 26 Sep 2009, pete_in_halstead wrote:

    Probably the leading 3 drivers, barring accidents, will be the same as the last race. And if the circuit rewards nursing of tyres then that gives Button an edge. But, given that anyone could be taken out at the first corner, then all you can talk about is probablities.

    Is there a Jonathan Legard Fan Club?

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  • 9. At 08:14am on 26 Sep 2009, lostin50 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 08:19am on 26 Sep 2009, ButtonFTW wrote:

    1. Barrichello
    2. Button
    3. Alonso
    4. Hamilton
    5. Heidfeld
    6. Rosberg
    7. Vettel
    8. Raikkonen

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  • 11. At 08:21am on 26 Sep 2009, foonyroo wrote:

    Not really sure why all the Legard flaming. Sure he had a slowish start to the season, but what's to be expected after years of Murray Walker and James Allen? I think he and Brundle have formed a good pairing during the season.

    As for predictions, just because someone airs their views, don't ride the high horse blind in the face of the unpredictability of F1.

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  • 12. At 08:26am on 26 Sep 2009, lostin50 wrote:

    Re 10
    Alonso without Kers won't be ahead of Hamilton. However without want to appear sardonic there's an even chance of a safety car will so many inexperienced drivers on a very twisty road circuit that will have been washed by rain. Expect an upset

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  • 13. At 08:35am on 26 Sep 2009, jamesallensmells wrote:

    Legard, nice try, but i rekon this will be more like it....

    1. Vettel
    2. Barichello
    3. Webber
    4. Raikkonen
    5. Button
    6. Hamilton
    7. Alonso
    8. Rosberg

    That is only presuming that Grosjean doesn't crash..... in which case Alonso will win.

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  • 14. At 08:44am on 26 Sep 2009, Nadaliator wrote:

    It's a really tough one to predict this weekend; Rubens is in the best form of his season so far, Jenson's got his mojo back and the Red Bulls are looking competitive again............I've never got any of my predictions correct but it's all in the name of fun, so here goes.

    1. Hamilton
    2. Button
    3. Barrichello
    4. Alonso
    5. Vettel
    6. Webber
    7. Raikkonen
    8. Heidfeld

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  • 15. At 08:49am on 26 Sep 2009, paulnw2 wrote:

    I live in Singapore and I've got grandstand seats for qualifying tonight - look out for me at turn 2 :) Mind you my missus wants to see Travis who are playing at the Padang at 23:00 just after qualifying finishes so might miss the end...

    After I've had a good look at qualifying I'll come back and tell you who's going to win

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  • 16. At 08:51am on 26 Sep 2009, rich1701 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 17. At 09:05am on 26 Sep 2009, marmac97 wrote:

    As long as its a fantastic exciting race with no safety cars is all we ask.

    That said i would love to see Kimi bring it home, that will give Luca and SD some tough decisions for next years driver line up.

    One of the best thing about the Beebs commentry team is NO James Allen, with him it was like a game of trivial pursuit where you just know he had read n learned all the answers by heart BORING.

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  • 18. At 09:07am on 26 Sep 2009, domtv09 wrote:

    I only think Kimi can finish 7th/8th, but i hope he gets a fith podium in a row!

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  • 19. At 09:22am on 26 Sep 2009, Matt Bennett wrote:

    Is everybody forgetting about the Force India? They've had 2 really good races both at Monza and Spa, 2 Brilliant Circuits!

    I wouldn't write off Adrian Sutil getting a good position in both qualifying and the race!

    Top 3:

    Barrichello
    Button
    Hamilton

    Brilliant yet ironic to see Grosjean going off in the same corner as Piquet Jr in practise yesterday! Did make me spill my coffee at work as I was watching the practise!

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  • 20. At 09:46am on 26 Sep 2009, The-Flying-Flyer wrote:

    Button looks stronger to me, but Rubens is cabable of turning it on. Also, Button was super quick in Monaco and will treat the soft tyres kindly.

    Best quote, for me, from the new boy was 'and there's John Button who's known Jenson all his racing career.'

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  • 21. At 09:46am on 26 Sep 2009, adtrad wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 22. At 09:52am on 26 Sep 2009, jamhow79 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 09:56am on 26 Sep 2009, andrewtheboom wrote:

    Why all the Legard bashing? He is doing alright in a deceptively tricky job. He will improve the longer he does the job.

    If you read what he says properly, he says "only once has he won two races in succession" - which would be Italy and China 2004.

    As for his predictions, would love to see Button beat Barrichello, as I think he needs to win a couple of the remaining races to be a credible champion, but on recent form can't see it happening.

    Do think Brawn is the team to beat, but surprised not see Sutil featuring more in people's predictions.

    http://sportingchameleon.wordpress.com/

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  • 24. At 10:11am on 26 Sep 2009, best_car_wins wrote:

    Dont know why people are giving Legard such a hard time - I can watch the races now without getting irritated by the commentary.

    My prediction is for rubens to win this one providing he gets a good start.

    As an Alonso fan im hoping for one of those performances where he can drag it into the points somehow, Renault need him to do well and get a big result before the end of the season for their sake.

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  • 25. At 10:20am on 26 Sep 2009, steveblack1000 wrote:

    Hi Jonathan.

    Rubens Barrichello
    Kimi Raikkonen
    Lewis Hamilton
    Sebastian Vettel
    Heikki Kovalainen
    Nick Heidfeld
    Nico Rosberg
    Mark Webber

    DNF Jenson Button

    Keep up the good work with the commentary by the way, you're so much better than James Allen.

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  • 26. At 10:25am on 26 Sep 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    1 button
    2 barrichello
    3 hamilton
    4 raikkonen
    5 rosberg
    6 alonso
    7 kovalinen
    8 vettel
    come on the iceman.
    he will definitely go back to mclaren for 2010 then we will how good hamilton is because since he joined in 2007 he has been given preferential treatment

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  • 27. At 10:27am on 26 Sep 2009, Jonathan Legard - BBC Sport wrote:

    Morning all and thanks for your comments so far.

    A particular thank you to paulricard and wildor for that eagle-eyed correction. Must have got myself too steamed up over the memory of Indy 2002. Apologies. What's the betting Rubens will now go out and back-to-back another Monza victory to make the point even more forcibly!

    As a general comment about the predictions, they're meant as a bit of fun. The beauty of this season is its unpredictability. Let's hope this weekend lives up to the 2009 standard.

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  • 28. At 10:37am on 26 Sep 2009, goldMarkL1 wrote:

    Hey Jonathan, good to see you reply.

    Don't pay any attention to certain narrow minded people, you are doing a brilliant job and I think your commentary is fantastic.

    Kimi Raikkonen
    Rubens Barrichello
    Jenson Button
    Sebastian Vettel
    Nico Rosberg
    Mark Webber
    Heikki Kovalainen
    Lewis Hamilton

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  • 29. At 10:51am on 26 Sep 2009, Nadaliator wrote:

    I'm interested to see so many of you, Leggie included, omit Alonso from your top 8. Why's that then?? The Renault is poor in comparison to Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn etc but surely Alonso has the talent to get a few points this weekend? And yes, last year's win was (ahem) fortunate but he would've finished in the points in the race, he was super quick even from 15th.

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  • 30. At 10:58am on 26 Sep 2009, smilingSpongeMuffin wrote:

    Formula 1 has never been more exciting. If you don't think this is exciting, then stop watching, as F1 is not for you. Fortunately, millions agree.

    Button's positive strength is the undulating season in terms of technical suitability of car, track, tyre and temperature. Indeed, 6 winners in 6 races. His advantage is that almost anyone can win, and so this spreads the points out thin.

    There are a lot of drivers without cars next season, and so I think that this will be a very important factor. Button has to stay close to Rubens, but the others have to do more to be seen. Nico wants to get revenge for last year, and I go for him and a maiden victory. Some son's have it, so me don't. Nico is a fast driver, and it would be a suitable slap in the face for Piquet the cheat.

    1. Nico Rosberg
    2. Vettel
    3. Heidfeld
    4. Hamilton
    5. Button
    6. Kovalainen
    7. Raikkonnen
    8. Barrichello

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  • 31. At 11:01am on 26 Sep 2009, smilingSpongeMuffin wrote:

    Sutil is a man to watch, but the force India car needs fast corners. This will not be their day.

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  • 32. At 11:05am on 26 Sep 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    It's do or die for the Red Bull team in Singapore this weekend, and they've looked pretty good in practice.
    They won't let go of the championship lightly while they still have a mathematical chance.
    Fate has a funny way of dictating matters - so I wouldn't write off Alonso doing well here....
    I've had my fingers burnt many times predicting Rubens a win in the early part of the season - and he's looking good, but so too is Jensen.
    As Formula 1 has brought the pantomime season prematurely forward, here are my predictions, for what it's worth..

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

    Been saying it for ages - but I really want Raikkonen at Maclaren next season, with Alonso in the Scarlett Red.
    It just makes perfect sense... which is what Formula 1 desperately needs...

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  • 33. At 11:08am on 26 Sep 2009, U14039828 wrote:

    Webber will be in the mix. He was very bullish in Thursday's press conference and gave off the vibes of a man comfortable with where his car is at.

    He's also handy on street circuits.

    As for Renault. Has the fallout ended with the sponsors fleeing the scene of the crime? I doubt it.

    http://funnypeculiarenglish.wordpress.com/

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  • 34. At 11:08am on 26 Sep 2009, steveblack1000 wrote:

    Pete in #8.
    If there is a Jonathan Legard fanclub then count me in. :)

    Muffin in #31
    I don't think the Force India's will be as suited to Singapore as in Spa and Monza.

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  • 35. At 11:27am on 26 Sep 2009, ron hilton wrote:

    Hope Jenson gains a few more points and would like Lewis to do well, i think he deserves a break.

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  • 36. At 11:45am on 26 Sep 2009, wildthing66688 wrote:

    I have a feeling Barrichello will finish ahead of Button as Button will be content to finish just behind his main contenders but not give away too many points that means he has to really push in the last few races, by staying behind Barrichello Button does not have to worry about him trying a rash move and taking him off meaning that the red bull team may close both the constructors and drivers championship by up to 16 points

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  • 37. At 11:54am on 26 Sep 2009, angela_harmon wrote:

    Interesting to see that around a certain post #27, all critical comments went to moderation - wonder how long they'll stay invisible....

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  • 38. At 12:58pm on 26 Sep 2009, U14102384 wrote:

    My waters say Vettel.
    Prediction:
    1.Vettel
    2.Hamilton
    3.Barrichello
    4.Alonso
    5.Webber
    6.Button
    7.Suttil
    8.Kubica

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  • 39. At 1:57pm on 26 Sep 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Great Blog as ever. It's great to see you replying to comments as well!

    Here are my predictions:

    1. Rubens Barrichello
    2. Jenson Button
    3. Lewis Hamilton
    4. Kimi Raikkonen
    5. Robert Kubica
    6. Giancarlo Fisichella
    7. Mark Webber
    8. Sebastian Vettel


    I think you're doing a superb job at commentating. If there is a Fan club, I'll add my name to it.


    Enjoy Qualifying and the Race.

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  • 40. At 4:37pm on 26 Sep 2009, dgmcl3284 wrote:

    1. Rosberg
    2. Heidfeld
    3. Button
    4. Kovalainen
    5. Vettel
    6. Barrichello
    7. Hamilton
    8. Nakajima

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  • 41. At 5:06pm on 26 Sep 2009, QwaarJet wrote:

    1. Hamilton
    2. Vettel
    3. Webber
    4. Rosberg
    5. Barrichello
    6. Alonso
    7. Heidfeld
    8. Kovalainen

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  • 42. At 7:08pm on 26 Sep 2009, stirlingfangio wrote:

    Years ago when my son was about 15 or 16 I said to him "Jenson Button"
    "the next British World Champion". Of course I didn't reckon on L Hamilton Esq. Anyway I have supported Jenson ever since. Now, after today I am seriously asking myself if he deserves it, his whining excuses really are getting beyond a joke. If he drives his balls off tomorrow ok, but if not I dont really think I can continue to support him. Also, at this rate will Ross Brawn want him next year?

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  • 43. At 7:24pm on 26 Sep 2009, Sean Sutton wrote:

    Here is my top eight:

    1) Lewis Hamilton
    2) Mark Webber
    3) Sebastian Vettel
    4) Nico Rosberg
    5) Timo Glock
    6) Heikki Kovalainen
    7) Rubens Barrichello
    8) Fernando Alonso

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  • 44. At 7:41pm on 26 Sep 2009, getridofJL wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 45. At 10:13pm on 26 Sep 2009, kimiraikkonenisalegend wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 46. At 00:50am on 27 Sep 2009, bigfish786 wrote:

    i'm thinking its gonna be a close fight between hamilton and rosberg, vettel finishing 3rd, jenson scraping a point or 2 at the best, rubens, i've gotta say, not lasting the distance, or finishing in the bottom 5. if the weather gets bad and we have an incident or 2, we may get a suprise. never underestimate ferrari and their ability to adapt strategy, especially with a car at the back of the field.

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  • 47. At 04:07am on 27 Sep 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    "46. At 00:50am on 27 Sep 2009, bigfish786 wrote:
    i'm thinking its gonna be a close fight between hamilton and rosberg, vettel finishing 3rd, jenson scraping a point or 2 at the best, rubens, i've gotta say, not lasting the distance, or finishing in the bottom 5. if the weather gets bad and we have an incident or 2, we may get a suprise. never underestimate ferrari and their ability to adapt strategy, especially with a car at the back of the field."

    The Williams cars lack race pace, they've proven that time and time again this season.

    Alonso is starting 5th, now that Rubens has had to change his gearbox, my money is on a fight between Hamilton and Alonso, although it will probably come down to pit strategy rather than wheel to wheel driving, as usual.

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  • 48. At 12:59pm on 27 Sep 2009, fredlungu wrote:

    hamilton is most likely to win.he has a very fast car.vettel should be on his mind.

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  • 49. At 3:32pm on 27 Sep 2009, BLUNNBOTTLE wrote:

    From Bernies comments at this weeks race, or should I say reading between the lines of what he said, looks as if Brands Hatch is on his mind for the British GP 2010

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  • 50. At 11:31pm on 02 Oct 2009, torinho69 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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