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The state of play going into qualifying
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The state of play going into qualifying
Posted By:   |  25 Apr 2009   |  9:54 am GMT  |  8 comments

It should be a very close qualifying session this afternoon, with a few different names up the front compared to recent races.

McLaren look more competitive here than at any stage this season and while this will not be enough of a step for them to challenge for the win on Sunday, I fancy that one of the cars could be in the top five or six.

Judging from free practice, McLaren has a car capable of getting into the top ten shootout and from there we could see them and/or others doing what Fernando Alonso did in China and running an aggressive strategy with quite a light fuel load to get up the front of the grid. Toyota could well be thinking about this too and maybe Alonso again.

You have a chance to take advantage of the field spreading out, so that when you make an early stop you come out into cars which are travelling pretty fast and do not hold you up. You will not finish, where you qualify but you do have a good chance of getting solid points, which might not be so clear if you were starting in the pack.

It works quite well as a tactic for the KERS cars, which are guaranteed a better start than the other cars around them as it is a very long run down to the first corner here and KERS cars will be able to pass non KERS cars on the way down there.

It is going to be tricky for Ferrari to get into the top ten, I reckon. From this weekend’s running so far I’d say the top ten shootout will feature the two Brawns, two Toyotas, two Red Bulls, a Williams, a Renault, a McLaren or two…so room will be tight for the two Ferrari drivers. To add to the pressure Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is travelling out to the race tomorrow. If Ferrari fail to score a point again it will be their worst ever start to a season.

Brawn has to be careful today in qualifying. The team has an advantage again, back to wheer it was in Australia probably, and so can afford to run a but more fuel in the final part of qualifying to have the best strategy for the race. Button and Barrichello both did a lot of laps this morning with a heavy fuel load and underlined their ability to keep the tyres working well over a long run. So in the race they are in great shape, but there is a risk that a few lighter cars will get in front of them on the grid.

Also watch out for the track improving a lot over the course of the three qualifying sessions, yesterday it was 1.2 secs faster in the afternoon than in the morning and you will see drivers doing a banker lap but then having to make it count on a second lap later in the session to be sure. If anyone gets thier timing wring there or makes a mistake, they will be out.

I watched the free practice session this morning out on track down at turn 10, the tricky downhill left hander and at turn 2/3, which is close by. A lot of drivers were locking up into turn 10, you’ll see Button doing it this afternoon, but it is very obvious standing there how good the Brawn car is at getting into and out of the slower and medium speed corners.

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8 Comments
  1. MartinWR says:

    At the moment we are seeing something quite unusual and gratifying in F1, that is, close and unpredictable racing. Brawn GP may still have an advantage, but if they do it is not a huge one with all the cars so close together, and it could easily be outweighed by the vagaries of slower starting, and the greater power available to KERS equipped cars. No-one can possibly predict who is going to come out on top this season, between Brawn GP, Red Bull, McLaren (if they can get away with it), Renault and Ferrari.

    Exciting, for once.

    “Championship won with the season barely started” – big joke!

  2. M__E says:

    Like the way Ferrari did (with Massa) coming through the field under the radar in China to decent pts 3rd? do you think their long run race pace is alot better than their qualifying pace to move them up the field in the opposite way to how Rosberg is, he qualifies high but struggles with tyres in the race going off sooner than rest?

  3. Nick says:

    There is no qualiy update yet so i thought i would post here.

    I think brawn Gp will be quite happy with their position as they have admitted that their one lap pace is no great thing and so as Ross said on the BBCthey mainly concentrated on the race setup in the 3 practice sessions.

    I think we alos have to remember that i think Brawn GP are the only team to have Zero updates to there car so far this year while teams like McLaren, Renault and Toyota have been bringing new front wings etc from the sapnnish package early, and so i expect Brawn GP to pull out a gap again in spain as according to Ross Brawn in an interview this week they have coming a new front and rear wing, sidepod, engine cover(as isnt there current one to big as the McLaren engine is more compact so Brawn have been able to tighten the aero of the engine cover) and so other minor updates. So i think Brawn GP will improve again but then it depends on their rate of development for the rest of the season.

  4. Kris says:

    Great qualifying. Encouraging stuff from Hamilton and Mclaren. It’s going to be brilliant viewing if Lewis can stay ahead of some of this season’s bigger guns, especially S2 where it’s clear that his car isn’t as well balanced all round as the Brawn’s, Red Bull and Toyota but seeing him try and weather that section using KERS is going to be great. It’d be tempting to have a Webber cam as well. Will be interesting to see how he progresses through the back of the field and how quickly, if at all, he can get into the top ten.

    Shaping up to be an absolute belter!

  5. rpaco says:

    I think from what Jarno said that Toyota will run out of brakes during the race. So may some others.

  6. radifan says:

    great comment!!

    has anybody noticed how much faster the brawn would go through a corner compared to a mclaren?

    It seems that Kers Do help mclaren to make up for the lost corner speed. I think mclaren have much more development ahead of them and once they have achieved better corner speed, they would excel again.

    hope there is a great race tomorrow.

  7. BrianSoCal says:

    Vettel had a good quali he’s a lot heavier than the Toyota’s and even the Brawns. He might get his 2nd win this season on sunday. It’s going to be a good race.

  8. Artorwar says:

    Heres the weights from F1.com, interesting to see Lewis pumping the time in although I guessthe Kers accounts for a certain ammount of that weight, same with the 2 red cars. Vettel is looking strong though.

    1. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 648.5 kg
    2. Timo Glock, Toyota, 643
    3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 659
    4. Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 652.5
    5. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 652.5
    6. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 649
    7. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 650.5
    8. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 664.5
    9. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 670.5
    10. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 671.5
    11. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 678.5
    12. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 680.9
    13. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 698.6
    14. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 696.3
    15. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 677.6
    16. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 678.5
    17. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 652
    18. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 656
    19. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 679
    20. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 667.5

    Was sad to see qualifying completely baron, didn’t seem to be anyone there except for teams and marshals. I wonder if its really worth parading around another Tilk track for the sake of time zones and sponsorship?

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