F1Punter

Formula 1: Against The Odds

Flying Finn to lead after First Lap in Fuji

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Ron Dennis gave an interesting interview to ITV-F1 prior to qualifying. When asked about the team’s strategy for Lewis Hamilton this weekend, the McLaren CEO was quite clear: they would be aggressive for qualifying, cautious for the first few laps of the race – where the cost of a lost front wing is so high – and then race tactically until the finish.

As we saw, his driver got the first part of the job done nicely, taking an excellent pole position and ensuring that he starts from the best possible position to avoid trouble. Dennis then gave a second interview to ITV-F1, post-qualifying, where he re-iterated the point of being cautious for the first few laps. This must be music to the ears of Kimi Raikkonen.

Nobody can be quite sure of where Kimi pulled that qualifying lap from; he has either rediscovered some aggression or was fuelled to get himself up top to interfere with McLaren’s race strategy. Either way it worked. Similarly, is Massa’s position solely down to performance issues or is he a touch heavier on fuel than those in front of him? Regardless, he needs his teammate to help him out.

There seem to be two clear ways that Raikkonen can do this: the team-way or the Kimi-way. The team-way involves him getting in front of Hamilton and then controlling the pace of the race. This will allow Massa to minimise the gap between him and his championship rival come the first round of pit stops and potentially stay out longer. The Kimi-way is just to go and win the race and then ask questions later.

Both strategies involve the Finn getting ahead of Hamilton on the racetrack. If we are to give credence to what Ron Dennis says and believe that Hamilton will obey him, then the first few laps of the race are surely the most likely place for this to happen. Looking at the Fuji circuit diagram, a long drag down the start/finish straight followed by a tight hairpin at turn one looks ripe for an overtaking manoeuvre. If Kimi is light on fuel – helping him get off the line – even more so.

Bet365 have Kimi Raikkonen at 5/1 to be the leader after the first lap. I’ll have some of that please.

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Written by f1punter

October 11, 2008 at 2:39 pm

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