Apologies to readers for late posting of this regular piece of content. I had an engagement in town and then another out of town and no wifi to be had in either place!
Anyway, the Spanish Grand Prix is going to be very close and the teams involved in fighting for the win are very excited about that. I spoke with Ross Brawn after qualifying and he was really pumped up about the way his car had performed, but also by how close and intense the competition is.
Judging from the fuel weights, I would say that Jenson Button will pit two laps earlier than Sebastian Vettel, who did the best job today, fuel corrected. Button did the second best job ahead of Massa and Barrichello. I have Button coming in on lap 14, Vettel on 16. That is based on fuel consumption of 2.4kg per lap. Some use slightly more and some slightly less, so there will be a discrepancy of a lap there either side.
However Vettel is hopeful that with the lower Renault fuel consumption, he can squeeze an extra lap out and get three extra laps on Button.
Massa’s fourth place with four laps more fuel in the car than Button has woken everyone up! This means that Ferrari are definitely back in business. And Massa is a big threat at the start as he has the KERS system, which Jenson said tonight is worth 10 metres on the run down to turn 1.
Against that, Massa is starting on the dirty side of the track and he has no new tyres left. The three in front of him all do. I reckon that he will definitely pass Barrichello, has a good chance of getting Vettel and an outside chance of leading into turn 1. My bet is he’ll be P2 or P3 on the first lap. This means the teams have to have a plan B in case Massa gets the dream start.
The Ferrari doesn’t yet quite have the legs of the Brawn and the Red Bull, but it‘s getting close.
I’d say its probably between Button and Vettel again for the win, with Barrichello, Webber and Massa fighting for the other podium slot. Toyota has slipped back a little bit compared to Bahrain. I’m a little surprised by that, I thought they would be good here, but the update they brought is not as significant as some of the others, most especially Ferrari who are the big movers.
The Red Bull car is a better qualifying car than the Brawn, we have seen that already this season and the updates Brawn have brought here have not changed that.
Rain is a possibility for the race and here the Brawn has raised its game. Unlike China where the Red Bull was a far superior on the wet weather tyre, Brawn has taken steps to fix thos problems and it should be a more even fight. I’d still slightly favour Vettel in a wet race. In the dry it’s all about staying close to Button in the first stint. If he’s within 3 or 4 seconds at the end of the stint he will have a chance, particularly if he can get three extra laps before his stop.
1. Jenson Button Brawn Mercedes 646.0 – will pit lap 14
2. Sebastian Vettel RBR Renault 651.5 – Pit lap 16
3. Rubens Barrichello Brawn Mercedes 649.5 – pit lap 15
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 655.0 – pit lap 18
5. Mark Webber RBR Renault 651.5 – Pit lap 16
6. Timo Glock Toyota 646.5 – pit lap 14
7. Jarno Trulli Toyota 655.5 – pit lap 18
8. Fernando Alonso Renault 645.0 – pit lap 14
9. Nico Rosberg Williams Toyota 668.0 – pit lap 23
10. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 660.0 – pit lap 20
11. Kazuki Nakajima Williams Toyota 676.6*
12. Nelson Piquet Renault 677.4*
13. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 676.3*
14. Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 683.0*
15. Sébastien Buemi STR Ferrari 678.0*
16. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 673.0*
17. Sébastien Bourdais STR Ferrari 669.0*
18. Heikki Kovalainen McLaren Mercedes 657.0*
19. Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 675.0*
20. Giancarlo Fisichella Force India Mercedes 656.0*