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State of play going into qualifying
Posted By:   |  04 Apr 2009   |  7:38 am GMT  |  19 comments

This is going to be close!

In Practice 3 this morning, Rosberg was fastest by a tenth, from Webber, Massa and Trulli, the three of whom were separated by a few hundredths. Then Trulli, Glock, and Vettel were all within six hundredths of each other.

The question mark hangs over Brawn. There is no doubt that their margin over the rest is not what it was in Melbourne, certainly as far as single lap performance is concerned. Jenson Button’s long runs yesterday were competitive, but he has been struggling with understeer in fast corners and today he’s losing time in the slow speed corners. He and Rubens may well have been carrying more fuel than the cars in front of them in that practice session, but we’ll really only find out this afternoon, where Brawn is relative to the rest.

At one point there was a plume of smoke coming out of the back of both Brawn cars, but it was just an overfill on the oil, nothing to worry about.

It will be a hell of a scrap between Rosberg and Webber this afternoon, both are capable of front row slots. The temperature is likely to drop as we get to 5pm when qualifying starts and the cars with extra downforce will benefit because they’ll be able to keep more heat in their tyres.

What we do know is that this is a very strong KERS track, so cars like Red Bull, Williams, Toyota and Brawn will not want to be behind the Ferraris, because they will never get past. KERS is believed to be worth between 3/10ths and 4/10ths per lap and is a major advantage tactically in the race, both defensively (relelling attackers) and offensively (passing cars).

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19 Comments
  1. George says:

    I’m going to go for an outside bet and say Webber for pole, I imagine the Ferraris will go for optimum race strategy and rely on their KERS to get them up the grid at the beginning of the race (speaking of which, I think it’d be suicide for anyone to start on hard tires considering it’s taking them about 3 laps to get up to temperature). Any clue how long the softs are lasting? We dont get much information in that regard from the TV feed.

  2. Antonio Carlos says:

    Hello, James. Greetings from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    Of course, I follow the races by media mogul TV Globo. However, I’m always looking to extend knowledge opportunities, and that includes you, and your dazzling work.

    At your time at ITV until last year, on blog or F1 Racing, I’m pretty sure I’ll keep very inside about our sport.

    Talking about these Qualyfing sessions, I never saw times so close. I think that are six candidates aiming the win: Ferrari, Red Bull, Toyota, BMW, Williams, Brawn.

    The Toyotas seems very fast, and passing the corners like no other, including Brawns, but facing handling difficulties. Koln should work on this at European races.

    Brawns very fast too, but I’m feeling a lack of consistency on some laps.

    Williams are the cars for a hot lap, but I think the drivers are very inconstant.

    BMW looks very solid, but lacks some speed on straights.

    Ferraris looking good, but they are not very reliable, as kers answered yesterday.

    And, finally, I think Red Bull is the best handling car around the league. Looks impressive how easily Vettel and Webber driving on low and high speed corners.

    Greetings, James!

  3. Colin says:

    “What we do know is that this is a very strong KERS track…”

    So why are BMW not using it in their cars at all this race, did Herr Heidfeld have problems with it in Melbourne?

  4. john g says:

    i heard that again nick is to use it but kubica has opted not to. there were no problems with KERS in melbourne tho, he just got aero damage on the first lap and suffered for the rest of the race (somehow bizarrely setting 4th or 5th fastest lap along the way!)

  5. George says:

    Trulli seemed very happy with his second place, cant wait to see how much fuel he’s carrying. Toyota are looking good for their first win here if they can keep up that performance.

    The situation with Massa is unfortunate for Ferrari, they were close to getting away with it (reminds me of Hamilton at Monza last year), nothing seems to be going right for either of the the two championship contenders of last year at the moment.

  6. lower-case david says:

    here james, on your travels round the paddock, if you get a chance could you maybe huckle someone from FOM and get them to tell you what exactly’s going on with the onboard sound this season.

    it’s not your old-fashioned audio drop-out … all sorts of cars, no pattern, just every now and again, the engine-note sounds like an accordian going down a flight of stairs.

    never heard anything like it before, it’s the feed i’m sure, what have they changed, or what are they up to??? don’t take no for an answer, they’re up to something.

  7. Stephen says:

    Post qualifying –

    That qualifying was the clearest signal ever that Formula 1 is at the cutting edge of technology capable by Humans at this time.

    10 teams (well, 9) start out with a blank piece of paper and a rule book and all build cars that lap a 5.5km circuit within 2 seconds of each other.

    It simply shows the level of expertise in every single one of the teams is right up there at the physical limits of what is capable right now.

    Amazing.

    Oh and also C’MON JENSON, C’MON!!!

  8. gp-lounge.com says:

    Kers or no Kers, you need the double-decker.

    The drivers will adapt themselves to Kers. The learning curve will certainly be very fast. For the diffuser there’s not much they have to do. They just need the best one.

    Nice grid in the end. Shame for the penalties: a race incident and a gearbox = 15 places lost in total. Stupid rules and not so clever stewards.

  9. Jon says:

    If KERS gives 0.3-0.4 per lap, why are all the teams at the top without KERS?

    I think you could make arguement for it losing 0.3-0.4 per lap. You get the strategic advantage of boosts during the race, but lose corner speed with the higher centre of gravity and less ballast.

  10. James Allen says:

    JA writes: Lower case david – I will forward your message on to FOM TV.

  11. F1 fan says:

    Anyone know why Kimi didn’t use KERS in Q3? Will he use it in the race?

    If KERS gives around 3 tenths then why would Kimi not use it.

    I expect Button to go into the distance…Trulli will stay 2nd but 3rd place will be contested between Rubens, Rosberg and Kimi.

    Massa will either get some points or retire and both McLarens will struggle.

  12. Antonio Carlos says:

    I think at least two teams will drop their KERS device for this race.

    Because their batteries looks very fragile on hot conditions. And I don’t think the cars have an efficient cooler to work properly at these conditions.

    And Jenson will win again, with some Toyota in second or third, followed by Red Bull’s Vettel. Rubens must keep concentration now, he needs a podium if he wants something on WDC.

  13. Colin says:

    “I’m going to go for an outside bet and say Webber for pole…”

    He certainly has a point to prove, but I’m afraid he’ll be overshadowed by the junior member of his Team this year.

    I rated Mr. Webber highly during his debut season. He was a second faster than his teammate in a Minardi at Monaco, AND managed to bring it home in one piece at the Principality. Not many novices achieve that feat.

    But, sadly, since then, he’s really failed to live up to his promise. However, I hope you’re correct. :)

    It looks like a Ferrari front row today, if the Monsoon stays away.

  14. Peter Dawson says:

    Kimi didn’t use KERS for the whole session because the battery melted in practice yesterday setting off the fire extinguisher in the process. That was the reason, unless someone can correct me.

  15. Colin says:

    Yes Dr. Thiessen finally confirmed it today after equivocating about it overnight. Didn’t seem to help today though.

  16. Colin says:

    Your pick did well in Qualifying. The mere 2-3/10ths behind his team-mate could be accounted for by the lighter fuel load of the youngster’s car. And the extra titanium in Mr. Webber’s recently broken leg.

    Not a decisive split today, not shamed yet.

  17. James Allen says:

    JA writes; Here is a response to Lower case David from the FOM people

    In answer to the question, we would need to know what broadcaster they are watching the footage on, there could be issues with what the broadcaster is doing to the sound once they receive it. We have had some problems with Kubica’s OBC here in Malaysia.

    Things to consider are :
    · OBC is now produced in stereo (from 2009).
    · KERS does alter the sound of the engine when used.
    · Engine mapping.
    · The set up of the audio in the home for example, if a home cinema system, is it configured correctly for stereo . (Some broadcasters are broadcasting 5.1)

    Hope that answers your question, Lcd

  18. lower-case david says:

    thanks for taking the time to do that james.

    it only happens very rarely (although usually about 16k in 7th gear), last week FP1, i thought that was just what KERS sounds like, till it happened with barrichello. it’s all sorts of cars, kers’d or not.

    it’s more of an rapid zipper up/down/up (sounds kinda digital) very distinct change in engine tone … i then thought maybe some kind of curious short-shifty notchy engine map, or something to do with optimizing new 18k rev limit for frozen 19k engines (but when it happened with telemetry visible, no change in revs/gear/throttle was seen onscreen), and it is intermittant.

    i am watching on bbc, i since heard someone asking 5-live guys about it, (so i know it’s not just me) but anthony didn’t know … and yesterday in qualli martin heard the same weirdness … i guess for the first time, becuase he thought maybe it was an open mic from another car, but it’s not that.
    … so that must mean it’s heard in the commentary box too, so we can rule out the satellite or problems at playout.

    although in saying that, i just finished watching the Premiere on-board feed from last weeks race, and although i was skipping chunks, didn’t hear it … i wonder if bbc are doing something on the downmix.

    has anyone else heard it?

    off to watch the race now, cheers again.

  19. George says:

    @LCD: Yeah I’ve heard it here and in Australia, I’ve noticed it usually does it in the same places on the track as well, although whether that’s because of the location or just because it does it at certain revs I dont know. That’s with BBC coverage, although as you say that’s unlikely to be the issue.

    Just to clarify, it happens on both KERS cars and non-KERS, usually at high revs in 7th gear.

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