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Glum and Glummer take Sepang 1-2 for Red Bull

NEWS STORY
24/03/2013

Ninety minutes before the race, as the drivers prepare for the Drivers' Parade, eyes keep darting to the sky, the weather continuing to battle tyres as the main talking point at Sepang.

At present it is fine, but as we saw on Friday and Saturday that can soon all too change.

While the weather gods decide whether they are going to have a little fun this afternoon, debate returns to the tyres with some teams continuing to moan about the uncertainty of the 2013 rubber.

With Pirelli having been given the mandate of producing rubber that will only last for so many laps it seems unfair that the Italian manufacturer is in the spotlight, while the teams that are most vocal on the issue come across as Moaning Minnies at best and poor losers at worst.

Some teams, on the other hand, seem happy with the rubber, which, if nothing else reinforces the belief that this lot cannot agree on anything.

The fact of the matter is that based on the evidence thus far, while Sebastian Vettel did well to take pole it appears unlikely that he will be able to convert it into a win. Then again, if dry today he will have a free choice of tyres and has saved some primes from early in qualifying.

Putting the weather aside, a big ask we know, Ferrari must be feeling pretty confident especially now that it has two winning drivers once again. The Italian team has looked good all weekend and, unlike some of its rivals, is keeping its head down and not complaining.

Like Red Bull, Mercedes has been vocal about the tyres, but then again the German team has had issues with its rubber for the last couple of years. In the right conditions either driver is capable of winning with Nico Rosberg definitely having a point to prove.

Much like Ferrari in 2012, for McLaren it will all be about damage limitation, the Woking team sure to be the first out of here tonight in order that it can return to base and make the most of the three week break. Before qualifying Martin Whitmarsh admitted that rain was the team's best hope of not ending up with egg all over its face and that is sure to be the case again today.

While Adrian Sutil could only manage ninth in qualifying he remains one to watch, the German, like so many, suffering due to the rain shower that arrived just in time for Q3. Across the garage Paul di Resta is clearly rattled by Sutil's strong form, however his habit of blaming his team for everything (strategy, set-up) does nothing to encourage sympathy.

Despite his three place grid penalty, Kimi Raikkonen must remain a strong contender here, while Romain Grosjean seems a lot happier with his car than he did on Friday.

Assuming Red Bull and Mercedes will continue to suffer with its rubber, both teams appearing to make excuses before defeat, we must also assume that this race will mainly be about Ferrari and Lotus, with the others, including Force India, playing bit parts here and there. Then again, if it rains…

Along with McLaren, a number of teams, including Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso are at sixes and sevens here and will be making full use of every minute over the coming break.

On the other hand, Marussia continues to make steady progress, with Jules Bianchi looking particularly impressive. If any team will be hoping that the weather gods throw a hissy fit it will be the Banbury outfit.

At Caterham it's business as usual, the 'home' team looking destined to spend yet another year going through the motions, concentrating on all things other than F1 and opting for PR spin over performance.

Around an hour before the start of the race there are dark clouds moving towards T4, while shortly after a loud clap of thunder is heard in the distance.

As the cars begin to make their way to the grid the first spots of rain begin to fall. And how.

Making their way to the grid there are a number of spinners including Ricciardo, Gutierrez, Hulkenberg, Chilton, Maldonado and Bottas, indeed, the Williams driver damages his front wing. Some drivers are on inters others on full wets. T3 is particularly wet, it is here that Bottas had his off.

Vettel is the first driver to actually arrive on the grid, the rest driving though the pitlane in order to try another exploratory lap.

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