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How the Italian Grand prix will play out
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How the Italian Grand prix will play out
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Sep 2009   |  10:49 pm GMT  |  33 comments

Who will win the Italian Grand Prix? This has been one of the most open race weekends of the year with four or five cars capable of pole and of the win as well.

Picture 5
Who could win it? Well Hamilton, obviously, he’s on a two stop strategy so will have to drive flat out all three stints, but the McLaren has been quick all weekend. Sutil is a longer shot, not least because he will lose his second place to Raikkonen and Kovalainen at the start due to their KERS systems.

Raikkonen has more fuel than the other two stoppers and was the winner last time out in Spa, but I’m not sure the Ferrari has quite the pace to do it in the race. Both Brawns could win as they have the right strategy and start with good track positions, in 5th and 6th, however Alonso starts just behind them with KERS and is a threat to their plans off the start line.

Kovalainen looks like a good bet for the race win as he is the best placed of the cars able to one-stop in the race. He’s 4th on the grid with KERS and loads of fuel, so he’s sitting pretty. If he does it he’ll be the first Finn to win the Italian Grand Prix.

But there are still big question marks over his consistency in the race, where his pace seems to drop off. This race is a real acid test for him. With the McLaren’s speed and his strategy and grid slot he should win and he needs to show he’s capable of it. If he fades again….

Hamilton was half a second up on Raikkonen in qualifying, but the extra fuel would have slowed the Ferrari by just under three tenths. Kovalainen had eight tenths worth of extra fuel and is only 8/10ths behind so he did a similar job to Hamilton, a fraction faster in fact.

Compared to the Brawns, Lewis is 0.949s faster than Barrichello and the extra fuel Rubens has on board is worth 0.95sec!! So Barrichello is also a tad faster than Hamilton.

Sadly for him, it looks like he might have to have a gearbox change which would drop him down five places on the grid, as the unit is only two races into its four race span.

It looks like it will be tough for Red Bull to get ahead of the Brawns and they need to because the points gap is still large. They are behind with less fuel. Some rain, like that which fell on the Saturday afternoon GP2 race, would be welcome for them.

I can’t wait, it should be a terrific race.

Weight (kg) 1st stop
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 653.5 L15/16
2. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 655.0 L16
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 662.0 L17/18
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 683.0 L26
5. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 688.5 L28/29
6. Button Brawn-Mercedes 687.0 L28
7. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 679.5 L 25
8. Alonso Renault 677.5 L24
9. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 682.0 L26
10. Webber Red Bull-Renault 683.0 L26
11. Trulli Toyota 703.0* L33/34
12. Grosjean Renault 699.8* L32
13. Kubica BMW-Sauber 697.5* L31/32
14. Fisichella Ferrari 690.0* L27/28
15. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 697.5* L31/32
16. Glock Toyota 709.8* L36/37
17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 706.2* L35
18. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 708.6* L36
19. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 706.0* L34/35
20. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 706.0* L34/35

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33 Comments
  1. Rodrigo Lamas says:

    James, your figures are quite odd, you are using 2.75-2.8 kgs of fuel per lap when the right one is 2.18 kgs per 5 kms, which means 2.525748 kgs per lap.

  2. Will Clark says:

    So for the 2 stoppers to be able to open enough of a gap, they need alonso & heikki to hold up the brawns.
    James surely rubens will risk not changing the gearbox, dropping to 10th place will leave him possibly behind grosjean & fisi once they hit the kers?
    Thanks for all you great work

  3. Mario says:

    it is going to be a fantastic race. anyone in the top 6 can win it with Heiki needing it the most. I’ll be watching Lewis very closely, he is capable of pulling miracles. I am going for one of the McLarens to win. Maybe even McLaren one two.

  4. It’ll be a cracker won’t it James.

    Such a close race, I desperately want Button to win the WDC. But the other part of me is LOVING how close the last few races have been.

  5. C.M. says:

    …I would not be so sure about Alonso getting past Sutil at the start. There’s 5 cars between him and Sutil, I think that’s way too many for chances like that. Just 1 blocking from someone infront and you need to slow down.

    I see Kovalainen having very good chances but he’s known for not having the race speed. Also Hamilton and Barrichello and Button looking strong. So many drivers who could win this, I would say top6 all can do it, I don’t remember times like this. I think I have actually not seen anything like this in F1 when there’s so many who could win it.

    1. rossetto says:

      Probably he meant Kimi.
      It may be a Freudian laps-us.
      Somebody knows who will be on that red car soon.

    2. Mario says:

      James meant Raikonnen when he said Alonso.

  6. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    James,

    Something a point you neglected:

    Brawn may look like they have a great strategy, but they’ve got a couple of monstrous eyebrows right behind them in row four in a yellow, white, and red car with KERS. Alonso has unfailingly been stellar on starts when he’s had KERS this year. He’ll surely get ahead of the Brawns on the start, and when he does, he will really muck up their pace and compromise their ability to challenge McLaren and Raikkonen ahead.

    Barring a cockup on the start, Hamilton must be the favorite at this point. Yes, he’s very light on fuel, but just look how much quicker he is than people who are heavier. His top lap was less than a tenth of a second quicker than his nearest challenger in Valencia (Barrichello), but he’s more than a half-second quicker than his nearest challenger in Monza on basically the same strategy. He was more than a half-second quicker than Raikkonen with (we think) four laps less fuel, and he was about a second quicker than the Brawns with about 14-15 laps less fuel on board.

    If he runs at that kind of pace, he should be more than fine with the gap he’ll pull out. He could well come out ahead of the Brawns after his first stop, especially if Alonso gets ahead of them and slows them down. And he should be able to build enough of a gap to stay ahead of Raikkonen after the overlaps.

  7. Mark A. Stephens says:

    Rubens tweeted that his tranny is fine for tomorrow so I see it like this..

    Kimi P1, Nando P2, Vettel P3.. I think Hamilton will have some kind of failure or get locked up in pit lane. Sutil will be over taken by Kimi at the start and Nando will be the big surprise. Look for Rubens in 4th for 5th , depends on what Jens does at the start.

    1. Silverstoned says:

      couldn’t have put it better.
      The Kimster will win this one or I’m taking a bath in the best of Trulli’s Podere Castorani wine.

      1. James Allen says:

        Enjoy the bath! Shame to waste good wine, though!

      2. Mark A. Stephens says:

        Waste of some of the best wine on the planet.. Like burning $100.00 bills

    2. Pay The Piper says:

      Glad to hear she is doing well Mark, but did he say anything about the gearbox?

      1. Mark A. Stephens says:

        Here in states a tranny means transmission which = gearbox over there.. My mind doesn’t think like yours..

  8. omar kamal says:

    I think Hamilton will be the man!. Therotically, Kova and the Brawns have a very good chance but as usual Kova will show a weak pace and the Brawns will be trapped after the Mclaren KERS.

    Raikonen will finish 2nd.

    3rd will be for Sutil, Kova, one of the Brawns or Alonso

  9. Domenico says:

    James, not sure you have used the appropriate title for this story. Maybe i missed it but if you are saying “How the Italian GP will play out” one would assume you would end it with a Top 3 at the very least.

    Lewis to win, he has the pace and is very consistent
    Kimi to finish second, he will get Sutil at the start but not sure he can stay with Lewis to challenge for the win.
    Heikki could be Kimi’s saving grace at this race, he should use KERS to good effect getting past Sutil and hence create a problem for Sutil to get past during the first and subsequent second stint given their fuel loads as Heikki will go longer during the first stint and should hold this advantage.

    To conclude;
    1st – Lewis
    2nd/3rd – Will be a fight between Kimi and Heikki given the relative pace of the McLaren and Heikkis fuel load advantage, Kimi race pace and Heikkis lack of it will be the decider on this one.
    4th – Sutil will have to work real hard to stay ahead of the Brawns, but i think Heikki getting ahead of his at the start will determine his destiny in this race. I would expect Button to challenge for this spot putting his title back on track with the Red Bulls struggling for pace.

    All this assumes of course no first corner incidents.

  10. PaulL says:

    Another reliability problem on Rubens’ car. Here’s the ledger so far:
    - Start problems at Australia, Turkey, and Spa.
    - Gearbox failure at Turkey
    - Engine problem at Spa.
    - Possible gearbox failure at Monza [mod]

    And Jenson Button’s car..
    - .

    Why is this? It’s not uncommon that one car in a team has all the problems, think back to Berger in the McLaren. But why is it quality control on Rubens’ car or is it possibly Jenson’s “smooth” driving that is easy on the mechanical side of things?

    1. rossetto says:

      It was the same in Ferrari.
      Michael had a fraction of the problem Rubens had.
      Ross was managing both team though.

    2. Cliff says:

      Think back to Rubens days at Ferrari. If a car was broke down, it was never Michael’s. He even broke down whilst leading the Brazilian GP!!.

  11. Peter Jones says:

    James,
    What’s going on with Red Bull? After Silverstone & the Nurburgring, I thought they were going to dominate the rest of the season but they seem to have lost the plot.

    Your thoughts please.

    1. James Allen says:

      Peter, Mark Webber said yesterday afternoon, “Other guys have arrived, the Brawn and Red Bull thing is over,” meaning that they have been caught up by McLaren, Ferrari, Force India and so on. This has been a crazy year where a team can make a huge step with one update package as RBR did at Silverstone. They weren’t able to keep that up, basically. Also they have to have one eye on next year as you are limited to wind tunnel time and the more you use up on this year’s car, the less you are investing in next year’s. Also I think that at Spa and Monza the Mercedes engine has been clearly superior to the Renault

  12. rossetto says:

    I agree, Kovi has the best chance, followed by Kimi and Hamilton, then the Brawn.
    Sutil may end the race behind Liuzzi, if Tonio does not get involved in some tangle at the start.
    Fisico may end on the tens, if Grosjean does not cause his third first lap melee.
    Why isn’t Grosjean being summoned after hitting Badoer in valencia and taking 4 cars out at Spa, including the championship leader.
    Good for him that he took out Jenson that is a nice bloke. If he took out someone like Schumacher or Senna he would have showed up with a blue eye at the next race.

  13. Madhu says:

    kimi will win the race!

    1. Carl M says:

      yeah- go Kimi!

  14. Jamie Bell says:

    James, why hasn’t Hamilton received a penalty for blocking Buemi? Of course we’d like to see Hamilton do well, but it’s seems very clear cut that he was blocking him and deserves the penalty if the stewards are going to be consistent. Buemi is quoted as saying that he was blocked by Hamilton, but didn’t know he was there, but that isn’t a valid excuse is it? Therefore in the future as long as the race engineer doesn’t radio in a warning, or they don’t bother to check where the car will appear on track, it could be used as a valid excuse for blocking. Something seems very wrong here… I mean how would it be perceived if a Red Bull came out of the pit lane blocking Button’s fast lap on each of the remaining races?

  15. hamilton fan says:

    Mclaren have the best engine in the field, also the only KERS that actually helps cut times.

    Think how slow Mclaren were at the beginning. They surely got things terribly wrong at first.
    hopefully it is all fine now:)

    I hope there is rain.

    regards

  16. Peter says:

    I think the Ferrari is not fast enough, P3 is down to Kimi’s great form. Heikki can win if it stays dry and I am expecting some trouble at the first corner due to the high kerbs.

  17. Peter says:

    Also Ferrari have higher fuel consumption than the others around.

  18. raffamuffin says:

    Lewis or Kimi for the win! Here’s hoping Jenson has a good race too :)

  19. Ross Evans says:

    Thanks for the analysis James. Quality as always.

    However reading this article left me a little fustrated with F1 in its current form.

    Firstly, this:

    [quote]Sutil is a longer shot, not least because he will lose his second place to Raikkonen and Kovalainen at the start due to their KERS systems.[/quote]

    and secondly:

    [quote]Sadly for him, it looks like he might have to have a gearbox change which would drop him down five places on the grid, as the unit is only two races into its four race span.[/quote]

    What is this all about? Two cars which are proven to be very competitive yet stand no chance of winning due to either KERS giving the big budget manufacturer cars an advantage during the first 30 seconds of the race even though the non KERS car might have quicker pace of the entire race – shown at Spa with Fisi and Raikinonen. Or a rule which eliminates the drivers chances of winning/podium off the track rather than on the track. The FIA, may want to reign in the budgets of the teams, but why does this have to interfere with the racing?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, but wasn’t it great that any one of Hamilton, Kova, Barrichello or Button could have won today, with Sutil a possible if he’d been able to stay ahead of Raikkonen, you can’t ask for more than that

  20. I have Barrichello on pole and Kovy second. Well done Kovy!

    I think Brawn are pleased because they know they can let the KERS cars overtake at the start, run their own race and then Brawn will pass them in the pits…

  21. I think Rubens will win the race in front of Button. Lewis will crash at the end of Lesmo 1 so Raikkonen will be third. ;)

    It was just a dream :)

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