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Here's how the race will unfold -update
Here's how the race will unfold -update
Posted By:   |  28 Mar 2009   |  11:41 am GMT  |  109 comments

The fuel weights have been published by the FIA for the first time, under the new rules for this season.

There are some very interesting things here. For a start the Brawn cars are, as we expected, massively quick, given that Jenson Button’s car has 22 laps worth of fuel in it (59 kilos).

Allowing for the fuel he will need to get to the grid and do the formation lap, this means Jenson will probably make his first stop on lap 20.

Barrichello will go one lap longer, to 21. This is quite a long first stint for a two stop strategy.

Knowing this we can say that Jenson did a stunning job today in the final part of qualifying as the extra fuel he’s carrying will have given him less than a tenth of a second of lap time compared to Rubens and yet he is three tenths faster.

Rubens liked the car more on low fuel in the early part of qualifying, Jenson liked it more in heavy fuel mode. He will be on his own tomorrow in the race.

Sebastien Vettel, who qualified third, will probably go to lap 18, the same as Nico Rosberg. This means that the Red Bull is a couple of tenths faster than the Williams.

Meanwhile the Ferraris are in trouble, Massa has only 18 laps of fuel in his car, so he’ll get to lap 16 and yet he was 8/10ths off Button, who has 3/10ths of a weight disadvantage. That puts the Ferrari a second slower in quali trim today. Raikkonen has a similar amount as his team mate and was a tenth slower.

Kubica’s lap looks less stellar when you realise that he is running light – he will be stopping on lap 15.

Button should control the race, reliability is his only competitor tomorrow. Barrichello has more than enough speed to stay ahead of Vettel and Rosberg who will be fighting for a podium.

Massa is the driver to watch. Ferrari had a bad time in qualifying, but the car is strong in race trim. Massa moves forward to 6th on the grid after Glock’s exclusion and he has a good shot at a podium from there to get his championship campaign off to a strong start. If anything goes wrong for the Brawn cars he could well pick up the win. The Ferrari should prove a faster race car than qualifier here.

UPDATES: I’ll be doing a Twitter feed during the race, with my take on what’s going on. Look out for it here on “JAonF1” [ in the sidebar on the right ]

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I’m enjoying the Beeb’s coverage overall I must admit, particularly their web stuff but also on tv. It’s bound to take a while for them to settle into a groove, making any judgements after the first programme of the season seems more than a little premature.

I’m not a big fan of Legard’s, and would prefer James back commentating, but I assume were that to happen there simply wouldn’t be time to keep this site updated, certainly not to the extent it is at the moment. The blog’s been something of a revelation and I’ve always enjoyed reading what James has to say about the sport, so having a slightly inferior commentator (and I’m sure he’ll improve) is an acceptable trade-off I think.


James,I dönt quite understand this, KERS as the name suggests is kinetic energy recovery system, now according to newtonian laws of physics,kinetic energy is the energy gathered by a physical body which is motion.(e=(1/2)*m*v^2). Now i am not sure how much energy will be generated by cars equipped with kers during the warm up lap.not much i suppose. Charging it fully before the start, violates & contridicts the very the purpose of its existence,which is to cönvert waste energy(brake) to electrical & then to mechanical torque. Now i would like to know from the FIA as to how much electricity the teams are wasting in order to fully charge their batteries. The purpose of kers is to utilise self generated energy. Will this procedure of charging the battries before the start put williams at an disadvantage? They are said to been using a fly wheel based energy system, which requires no battries as it is a mechanical system. It has no effect until the car is in motion. So imo kers should’nt be used on the start.


i hate this publication of weights – we’d find out on sunday how long they were going to go, can we really not hang on overnight?

watching someone put in a great pole and then outlast everyone in the pitstops, this would be much greater revealed during the race surely? and now, people like rosberg and webber know they are fuelled longer than the guys in front so they won’t bother trying to overtake! even the ones that are lighter will now just try to use pitstop strategies to jump a few places. ok that last point might not work but i’m pissed off and want to rant.


James (or anyone else for that matter!)
the car weights on their own just tell us the relative differences between cars, and how many laps +/- they will stop before or after the first guy does. But to know what lap that guy will actually will stop on, how do you work that one out?

and is the 2.5kg fuel a lap a good guestimate of what most GP laps are on the calendar, save for places like spa, and some of the longer circuits, and in those cases are we talking 3Kg per lap??

cheers, and nice blog.


I have to chime in an say, since the start of the season I have switched form going to the usual websites to coming here to a) catch up on the ‘inside’ of F1. b) to read the comments from other f1 nuts.

I love the info and personal feel of the articles. Keep up the great work James


Great insight James- -have just discovered your site and will be staying with it all season – -and beyond.
Checked out the Beeb’s coverage early this morning and agree with several comments here that it seems to lack the ‘chuminess’ that ITV had, still early days, first night nerves etc….


Cant wait for the race tomorrow morning, should be great race, its been a long winter waiting!

I agree with the vast opinion of people here about Legard, I dont think quali was his finest hour, but so we see. Unfortunately the BBC dont really like admitting they were wrong, but hopefully they will get James back with Martin in the commentary box soon! I thought that David Croft does a very good job on the practice commentary.

On KERS, its interesting that all the cars fitted with it werent really troubling the timesheets today, but lets see what effect it has in the race.

Regarding the diffusers, how long James (assuming the appeal rules that Brawn etc’s diffusers are legal) do you expect before all the other teams can develop them and fit them to the cars, Spain maybe?

Keep up the blog James, thanks, its a great addition and insight into the F1 race weekend!


great stuff james but this has got 98 written all over it . Jenson & Rubs will be saying first one into corner one will win. The only thing that will stop them is reliabilty or a crash, on the times there showing with more fuel on board the could lap the whole field ala 98.

As for KERS i cant see the benefit at all none of the KERS cars showed the pace of brawn and there carrying more fuel. They say race pace and quali are different beast’s but the gap is to large and with Ross’s race strategies the best in the paddock he will run this race like a puppet master.

I know its only the first race of the season but with no testing at all the slower teams are going to find it that much harder to catch up. In past years Ferrari for example would have been testing a new diffuser with the test team in italy as we speak ready for the next round, this can no longer happen.

This is going to be a very long season for most of these teams if brawn win the first four races which is quite conceivable the trailing pack might as well just concentrate in there cars for next season. This may be a change from the norm but nothing about this season is normal.

Remember the rule changes were going to slow down the cars they haven’t, make the racing closer not with these times just another procession just different teams at the front,increase over taking no evidence in practice and don’t you have to be faster than the other guy to overtake them.


Come on guys, give Legard a break!Its early days!I thought the BBC did well considering its their first crack at F1 for over 10 years.BBC always have the edge on ITV for sport-they will come through!!


The cars are weighted withought drivers right? That means that we must add the weight of the driver to see the real fuel load. In case of ferrari that means Kimi is about 10 kilos havier than Massa. Correct me if I am wrong


I’m expecting some of the teams near the back to gamble on a safety car, so when it does appear they willl come in, put the super softs on for a lap or two behind the safety car, then put the medium compound back on.

Would make sense for the Force Indias etc.. and should make for an exciting second half of the race as some people struggle with the super softs!


great article James very good analysis i know the Brawns are easily fastest but i hope for the spectacle they dont sprint off and dominate well my favourite driver Vettel has proved his a future star hopefully the racing will be close i think it will did anyone see in FP2 i think when Sutil was harrasing Raikkonen that was awesome if thats signs of whats going to happen tommorow then im up for it

Regarding the BBC good coverage although the press conference shouldve stayed till the end but Legard is really annoying me already he needs to calm down and let the expert(Martin Brundle) take lead i do miss hearing you James everytime i watch the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix i still get goosebumps when Schumacher and Alonso fight to the line i hope the BBC gives Legard the sack and brings you onboard


Not sure if this is the right place to say this but, although the BBC is doing a very competent job on its coverage of the Australian GP weekend, I really missed hearing your commentary while watching qualifying. It’s difficult to pin down but I think it is that the ITV coverage had a warmth about it, an almost tangible cameraderie between the presenters, which was so attractive. The BBC’s coverage so far is lacking this.

All of us greatly appreciate your incisive insights into the sport we love on this website but be in no doubt that TV viewers will very much miss your authoritative, yet friendly, verbal commentary that we have so enjoyed and learned from over the last few years. I hope that somehow you can get back to live F1 television commentating sometime soon.

lower-case david

Brawns off, off and away, (Rubens dreading the radio crackling into life after the first pitstops, with ol’ Ross telling him to hold station, same as it ever was, eh?)

… but after a shaky weekend, think i’m perhaps more impressed with the Vettel lap, both the driver and the car, let’s hope he can stick a nose in there and make things interesting. i like seb a lot, would enjoy seeing him mixing it.

(although ultimately i guess the redbull season depends on the appeal, as there seems to be no realistic way to put the shady diffusers on the tight, upside-down newey rear-end)

quick note for any bbc staff wandering by, in german the V is pronounced as an F, please stop mispronouncing Vettel, really, it’s not that obscure a language, and does get kinda annoying.

(obviously not eddie jordan annoying, but annoying nonetheless … have we opened a pool yet for when DC snaps and “sticks the heid” on him … i’m going early and banking on the Malaysian humidity for an assist.)


And now is obviouse, teams that last year kept evolving their cars now loose big time…

Good job for Brawn, let’s hope tomorow more cars finish the race then last year…


Hopefully the outcome tomorrow will silence the gormless cretins who have been rubbishing Jenson for years, apparently without even actually noticing that he was driving second or even third rate cars. Payback time, I hope, but there’s many a slip betwixt …….

As I understand it, the wretched KERS contraption is useable at the start. This could prove absolutely lethal. The melee at the first corner is always fraught. However throw KERS into the equation and the slower KERS equipped cars from several rows back could quite easily storm non-KERS cars in front and cause pile-ups that would wreck the succeeding race.

Please, please, somebody rid us of this utterly unnecessary, irrelevant, ruinously expensive complication ASAP.


I agree with Peter, I now come to this web site first (use to go to ). what we have lost on the commentary we have gained with great articles and insight.

Keep up the good work James and hope to see you back one day in the commentary box.


Come on Jenson! Will this finally be the season when he proves his critics wrong? Also, is it me or does everyone want James Allen back on TV – even his previous critics want him back. COME BACK JAMES!


What do you make of Kovalienen; he was running very heavy at 690Kg – where will this put him relative to the rest? Thanks for your insights.


Do you know what Williams were up to with their protest of Ferrari and RBR? Seems very strange…..


I thought that Vettel was superb, I thought to have problem’s before Qualifying and still achieve 3rd was sign of a great driver to me.

I thought that Barrichello and Button, after the two seasons they have had, deserve this more than anyone else on the grid.

Yes, I don’t think this improves the spectacle either.
But to see a Ferrari and a Mclaren not run over the line first in Qualifying was pretty special to me.

Fantastic insite by the way James.. nice to see you keep into it.. I thought some people got on your back way to much.. great commentator.


Once again James, A BRILLIANT article. I’m now finding that I’m coming on this web page first to get the inside info on f1 because you are giving it all to us. Like many I am absolutely stunned that Brawn GP are hellishly faster than the rest and yet they’ve got much more weight on board. The only thing that can stop these guys now is reliability issues in the race tommorow.


I think the KERS equipped cars might have an advantage at the race tomorrow, yes they’re a bit further down on the grid but Toyota’s DSQ will have helped. If the boost is as good as has been tipped then they could make some places off the grid, maybe another if there’s a safety car (which sounds likely), then as has been said before, it would work as a defensive weapon.
It probably wont be enough to catch the Brawns but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Ferrari on the podium.

I’m most looking forward to how the green tires work tomorrow, do you think they will come back to the drivers after the graining phase, or will we be seeing some very slow stints do you think?


Looking forward to the race and the twitter feed James. See you all then!


Fantastic! The Brawns are clearly a league apart from the rest of the field. I had a good feeling about them when they showed up for testing – put a tenner on each driver to win at Melbourne, stupid bookies and their 66/1 odds.

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