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How the race will play out – Spain
Posted By:   |  09 May 2009   |  10:43 pm GMT  |  0 comments

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*

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  1. steve says:

    hi james or should i say good night… anyway really apreciate you still wrote this article just before going to bed because you could think everbody is already at sleep so what is the point to do tonight and why not tomorrow morning….it might be only me who have been waiting for your comments and i was regularly checking if you put this so good to see you have kept your promise… i kind of miss your presence on TV but it is still good to be able to read some technical info on this website…

  2. Fausto Cunha says:

    I think it´s the most open race for the win of the last years in Barcelona. All the front starters have a chance for the win and i´m looking for a great race.

  3. Rich says:

    A couple of KERS-related questions:

    1. Are drivers allowed to use KERS immediately from the start of the race? I’m pretty sure they can but I’m just trying to clarify.
    2. If so, how is the KERS charged before the race? Are the batteries manually charged in the pits, or is it charged up during the recon/formation laps before the race?

  4. George says:

    What surprises me this season is that Massa is coming out as the dominant Ferrari driver, to be honest I thought last year would be a one-off for him, but it looks like he’s got the legs on Kimi still and he’s been unlucky not to get some points on the board.

    For the race I fancy Vettel, I hope Rosberg can get up there too with his long strategy (not that’s he’s repaid my faith much this year). Interesting to see Lewis on a long strategy and Kovy going light, which is the opposite of what they usually do, too.

  5. PaulL says:

    James, I can actually see your point about banning refuelling. If the fastest cars qualify at the front, then a “faster driver” behind will have less craft to be able to use to overhaul them and show his worth. Currently he can exploit the best of his pace through fuel strategy.

    It might have either a positive or negative effect on racing and the championship. I’m still holding out hope on these things for next year:
    - Some cars may still be better in qualifying than the race, in my opinion the 86 Lotus, 95 and 02 Williams had this characteristic, so in fact the true fastest cars may not always qualify at the front because some may handle better on low tanks.
    - Fuel strategy is gone, but tyre strategy can still allow the fast drivers to exploit their race pace.
    - Pitstops are potentially more exciting. Now all the time taken will be through tyre change, and there will be bigger pressure and possibly more mistakes with teams rushing to find those extra tenths. Hopefully we’ll see true pitstop races and blunders with the lollipop man or the driver jumping the gun under the pressure.
    - Drivers will hopefully give it more to get the pole because it means more for the race to start up the grid. Sources say refuelling will be permitted in parc ferme so in fact we will see true low fuel qualifying also.
    - Drivers can manage their fuel consumption and development can be put here on the part of the team. Fuel/energy efficiency has real world application to motoring so I think this is positive.

  6. Lee says:

    Jenson edged it, but as you say fuel corrected Vettel was the star man. I expect some fireworks from Rubens tomorrow – I think he has just about had enough of the Button show…

  7. tinou says:

    I’m a JB fan, but I think he wont’ win tomorrow. The last 7 or 8 winners at Barcelona have all started pole…the streak has to end sooner or later, think JB will end up 3rd.

  8. Dominic J says:

    I found some fairly good odds (6/1) on Massa leading after one lap. Having a KERS car near the front will be a thrill, it’s what we’ve been waiting for since the rules were announced.
    Any chance of Massa getting ahead and then backing up 4 faster cars (Red Bulls and Brawns) a la Villeneuve?

  9. James Allen says:

    Rich, once the cars hit 100km/h they can use KERS, it is charged on the lap out of the pits and the parade lap

  10. Ali says:

    Afaik, they can charge it during parc fermé condition.

  11. rpaco says:

    Disagree James, show me the article number. (unless its in the full tech regs but not in the summary)
    Ali is correct it can be charged in park ferme but not thereafter on the grid, in the pit or garage during the race.

    Next year there will be a maximum speed at which it can be used, interesting, could cause problems. Expect KERS fires next year.

  12. Tejas says:

    James, is that a regulation, or just how KERS works, that you can’t use it before 100kmph?

    i felt that it was the new version of launch control for the teams using KERS..

    Also what are your views about the refuelling ban from next season? i think that the current format is better for action it provides..

    also james i’m from india and have never heard u on air.. do keep reading the comments that they want you back on.. hope u keep the blog going… keep up the good work!

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