F1 Winter Break
How the race will unfold -update
How the race will unfold -update
Posted By:   |  18 Apr 2009   |  12:12 pm GMT  |  36 comments

The fuel weights have been released showing that Sebastien Vettel was 17 kilos lighter than the Brawn of Rubens Barrichello in qualifying this afternoon, this is worth about 6 laps.

Based on these figures I reckon that Vettel will stop around lap 12 or 13, the classic first stint for a three stopper, and he could well be looking at running the soft tyres in that short first stint to get them out of the way. The Red Bull is not able to match the way the Brawn looks after the soft tyre on a long run and this looks like Red Bull strategy guru Neil Martin giving his guys the best way to challenge for the win.

Barrichello looks a shade stronger than Button given that he is ahead despite carrying a little more fuel (2kg). These two will fight Vettel and Webber for the win and I think the Brawns will come out on top. But they don’t want to lose too much ground in the first stint and they are going to have to deal with Webber, who may play a role for his team mate.

What was interesting was the margin between Vettel and Button was the same in the low fuel Q2 as it was with fuel in Q3 and yet the fuel Button had in Q3 was slowing him down by 4/10ths! So he must have either been sandbagging a bit, carrying more than the minimum of fuel. And yet after the session he himself highlighted the relative Q2 performances.

I think this can be partly explained by the Brawn still not being at its best on low fuel single lap running, whereas the Red Bull, a typical Adrian Newey car, is. The Brawn is happier when it has some fuel in it. Rubens was only 3/10ths slower than Vettel but the extra fuel he was carrying slowed him by 6/10ths, so the Brawn is still 3/10ths faster.

Also impressive was the Toyota of Jarno Trulli, who was seven tenths off Vettel, the exact amount his extra fuel is worth. He will need to make up places at the start if he isto use his strategy to challenge for the win.

Alonso is very light but with the field spreading out in the first ten laps, he’ll be hoping that when he pits early, he can take on a lot of fuel for the middle stint on hard tyres and convert his grid slot into a meaningful result.

The Ferrari of Raikkonen and the McLaren of Hamilton both went heavy, some 30kgs more than Vettel, which is 11 laps worth. Fuel adjusted they are not terribly fast, Raikkonen is 2 secs off Vettel and the extra fuel is worth only 1.05secs.

1. Vettel 644.0kg
2. Alonso 637.0kg
3. Webber 646.5kg
4. Barichello 661.0kg
5. Button 659.0kg
6. Trulli 664.5kg
7. Rosberg 650.5kg
8. Raikkonen 673.5kg
9. Hamilton 679.0kg
10. Buemi 673.0kg
11. Heidfeld 679.0kg
12. Kovalainen 697.0kg
13. Massa 690.0kg
14. Glock 652.0kg
15. Nakajima 682.7kg
16. Bourdais 690.0kg
17. Piquet 697.9kg
18. Kubica 659.0kg
19. Sutil 648.0kg
20. Fisichella 679.5kg

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Like you say it's interesting what you say about Button's Q2 times. It's almost as though the Brawn car is better (relative to the others) when it has some more weight in it!

James, how much time would you say 10kgs is worth around here?


Looks like a repeat of '04!

Any word on whats going on with the Vettel block on Heikki?

Is it still being investigated or has it been dropped?


After all Kimi and Lewis were not that bad at all. As far as I know Kimi was on used soft tires, without KERS and without double decker.


Looks like we could see a great battle between the Brawns and the Red Bulls tomorrow. Can't wait for it.


My views…

Red Bull prove once again that they have a seriously fast car. How much they actually NEED the so called 0.5 sec rear diffuser is not apparent. Though they both have a few laps less fuel than both Brawn cars

Renault have delivered Alonso the new parts and their car now looks on the pace a bit more. Nelson is now marooned as the worst driver on the grid and the most disappointing (bearing in mind his lower formula performance). Alonso has only around 10 laps of fuel so is bound to start on the option and look to gain P1 early though he will lose out after his first stop (unless it rains)

Brawn look solid as usual and have more fuel on board than the top 7 bar Trulli on the grid. Look out for Jenson putting in stellar laps after Vettel and Webber pit - his in and out laps at his first stop will probably decide the overall result

Toyota will be looking for Trulli to take advantage of his high fuel load and they are either hoping for rain (when having fuel on board gives you a bigger window) or more likely looking to run a short final stint on the option tyre

Williams were disappointing today - Nico Rosberg doing loads of laps (some 23 or so) in qualifying - using up his tyres and in Q3, with a low fuel load, I suspect he ended up trying to post his fastest time on worn tyres.

Ferrari actually look like they have a worse car now than McClaren (KERS failures, other reliability worries and quali and race performances have not been great since Melbourne) - Kimi and Massa both burned their tyre allocation in Q1 and Q2, meaning Massa failed to get into Q3 and Kimi has admitted he posted his Q3 time on worn tyres

McClaren have both cars on the grid with a stack of fuel, Heikki with enough fuel to power well past lap 26 (compare that to Alonso’s fuel load looking like a first stop at lap 10). The car is definitely better here but still short of the performance needed to win a race. Interestingly, Lewis is the highest KERS qualifier and with a clean run from the start he should do well and should also benefit from the 2 long straights on this circuit that provide good over taking opportunities. He will probably pit last of anyone in the top 10 and if his race performance is strong a podium chance is possible for the first time this season.

BMW - ooops!

Torra Rosso - well Buemi is my star of the season so far and he was excellent again in quali. Bourdais is just awful, he was licked last year by Vettel but given another chance. Now Buemi is murdering him.

Fantasty worst driver line up - Nelson Piquet and Seb Bourdais. A team or world beaters!


Trulli has a good shot for a podium finish. I reckon he might even win the race if he gets a good start.


James do you think Hamilton over acheived in qualifying also due to the fact he was carrying 35Kg more fuel than Vettel on pole????


Alonso as we all thought was extremely light. It's a shame because I'd rather see the Red Bull's and Brawn's together rather than being separated by the Spaniard in his Renault. In reality Alonso with a decent amount of fuel would be down in 7th or thereabouts. Surprised at how heavy the Brawn's were. It could really work for them if they are still within 5 seconds of the Red Bull's tommorow when Vettel and Webber make their early pitstops. Ideally I'd love to see the "pensioner" and "road side post" overtake Alonso. Seeing Briatore's face if that happened... priceless.


Hi James (or anyone else out there!), for mathematical dimwits like me; if the fuel loads had all been identical but relative performance maintained, what would the grid order be?

I know it's a somewhat academic question, but I'd love to know that the "natural order" of car and driver is at the moment.


It is disappointing that Alonso is very light and yet outpaced by Vettel. That means the only thing he can do in his first stint (10 laps) is to struggle to save his position while he is supposed to build a good gap to return in a good position after the first stop!!!

Another strange thing, Kubica isn't going to start as much heavy as needed to have a competitive strategy regarding his grid position.


Jenson did say afterwards that he wasn't sandbagging or carrying fuel... isn't a more likely explanation for the Q2 vs Q3 gaps that the Red Bull is more adversely affected by a fuel load than the Brawn? Or rather, that the Brawn works much better with heavy fuel than any of the other front-runners. That has seemed to be the case so far.


Just for fun, my spreadsheet has VET, WEB, BAR, BUT ,TRU, HAM ,RAI, BUE

With Alonso 11th.

But that assumes all the cars were running on fumes in Q2, and I think Alonso and the 2 Brawns had a little bit more in the tank.

It looks like both Red Bulls will 3 stop, so will Rosberg, and Glock.
Kubica, Trulli and the two Brawns could go either way and the rest look committed to 2 stops.

I think Vettel has the tyres to do 3 stints on softs, and they should last 12-14 laps each (but 16-18 for a 2 stop is marginal and 28 for a 1 stop is out of the question). If the Brawns have the tyres to do it, they'll start on softs make a call just before the first pitstop on whether to run the rest of the race with 2 lots of hards or 2 soft and 1 hard.


So, Lewis is the heavier of the top ten. I wonder how far he can go...4th or 5th?? Still, my bet is Button!! Rubens is very close too!! It will be a nice race!


I think this could work out rather well for the Brawn team. Jenson was quoted in the last few days as saying the team would not compromise their race strategy to get on pole. It looks like this has proved to be true.

The Red Bull team are admittedly quick, but I don't see them challenging for the win unless the Brawn cars get involved in accidents or have reliability issues.

We saw in Malaysia that Jenson had pace to burn when he wasn't stuck behind other cars. I suspect it will be the same story in Shanghai. Red Bull's best bet would be to keep Webber backing up the Brawn's.

I have to give credit to Alonso though. An amazing effort by Renault to get him on the front row. Not only does he get to start up front, but he'll surely be using the super soft tyres which he has expressed a distinct dislike for. The short fuel will enable him to get rid of the tyres early and then focus on his real race. Being out of sync with everyone else should play into his hands beautifully.

On another topic entirely, I'd like to pose the question: Is there a future in F1 for Nelson Piquet Jr and Heikki Kovalainen? Are they just at their respective teams to make their team mates feel good?


James, and other readers, I am wondering does it sound unreasonable that the Brawns may start on the supersoft tyre? With hamilton behind them with KERS, and Raikkonen also heavy, I think they cannot afford to run the risk of falling behind them, running on the hards, in a worse case scenario if they struggle for grip (and on the start aswell with the harder tyre) in the early laps, either Button or Barrichello could lose time, position and find themselves not being able to fight their way through (at least maybe not as quickly as they would like), compromising their race even more than if the soft tyre started to fade, and if as you say James the Brawn manages it's tyres really well, it may not be that much of a gamble? Maybe infact starting on the softs guarantees them safety, the three ahead are all running aggressive strategies, if they are confident in their pace and tyre management, I think maybe it is actually the sensible option, even if they have to pit a lap or two early.



Hamilton has been pretty rapid all weekend and he's been good here in the past, I wouldn't rule him out for a podium. Alonso seems to be going for his classic first stint dash, but I just dont think his car is fast enough yet to keep him up at the front.

I would like to see Vettel convert pole into a win, Red Bull deserve one for their recent performance I think.
Obviously the Brawns will be up there too, I hope we dont get a race like last year where the first three just followed each other around for the whole race.

This is all assuming no rain/racing incidents of course.


Was Kimi's pace (and that of Buemi, Hamilton or Rosberg) down to being on harder tyres (or indeed less fresh ones), having run out of new sets to use, just getting into Q3?
I doubt Kimi, Buemi or Hamilton had expected to get so far - or did they simply have bad laps in slower cars?


Considering the updates to Alonsos Renault and Lewis McClaren I would be careful with hailing their performance since we do not know how much the car is responsible of the improvements. The proper judgement of a job well done should be compared to your teammate with the "same" car, everything else is merely an opinion. The stars of this qualification are Buemi, Barichello, Raikkonnen and Vettel for different reason.


First post here - hello from the US. I've never heard James on TV but the insight in this blog is incredible, I love it!

I see a lot of sense in Alonso's strategy. He was complaining that the super softs give out after just 5-6 laps. By getting them out of the way at the beginning, he can get better grid position by running light, and he can hope to pull away from enough cars early on, when it's most important to do so.

He'll get caught up later on, but he runs less risk of being crashed into or stuck behind traffic in the first phase of the race.


James, or anyone ! Perhaps I've missed something. These fuel weights - I understand the weights for the first ten cars - it's what they ran in Q3. But where do the other weights come from ? Do the other drivers really have to declare in advance what they are going to put in the car the next day ?


Please do not forget there's ALONSO.


OK Thanks.

I must say that while it's interesting to have the weights of the front ten, seeing that we've seen them run that way, in a way it's a pity to know the others - a bit of mystery might give them a way back into contention, and it doesn't tell us anything interesting about what has already happened.

What do you think ?


Note to self. Bet on the 1-2 you forecast the night before the race. Bookies had 15:1 on VET-WEB.

" The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet."

(Also good odds on Glock getting a point. In China it spreadsheet was saying odds on Glock for a Podium were v. Generous).

Horner saying on the TV now that RB were going for 3 stops.


when a driver finishes outside the top 10 in Quali, they can put whatever fuel they like in the car for the race.. they tehn have to declare that weight to the FIA before the fuel weights are published..which is why pos 11 is so coveted!


James you Racist! 😮 -saying hi to the first US man...for marketing purposes no-doubt 😉


"...the team would not compromise their race strategy to get on pole...."

Pole = Vanity
Winning = Sanity 😉


Thanks for that, Carlos. Welcome to the site. Glad you like it. Tell your friends!


"road side post" ?????????? (Button??)
what a BIZZARE comment?!?!! 😮


The Flav obviously ordered Alonso's car with the new diffuser to be fuelled with a saucer-full of fuel (at 32Kg approx half that of Rubens' 56Kg) so that he could say to the press: "...this is the difference the diffuser makes to the speed" but if you compare the quali lap times then the 24kg (!) extra fuel of rubens only added .112 second time. Rubens and Jense should be laughing if Alonso has to pit before lap 10...

Shame if Alonso is being used as a pawn in Flav's great moaning gameplan...


RE Moog's fuel adjusted peroformance:

looks like Williams have slipped well back into the clutches of Ferrari/McL and Renault are in no mans land between that bunch and the top (BGP/RB/TTA)

yet Rosberg still thinks they are the "fourth best team out there"
according to his post Quali press!...he Wishes! 😀


Thanks James.
So Fuel Adjusted (using my crude calcs):
BAR: 1:35.653
BUT: 1:35.762
TRU: 1:35.872
VET: 1:35.939
WEB: 1:36.133
ALO: 1:36.381
RAI: 1:36.829
ROS: 1:36.942
HAM: 1:37.125
BUE: 1:38.061

Which in distance terms would put Button just over 6meters behind Barrichello when he crossed the line (and Trulli a further 6m back)


Racing...and that goes for any sport...F1, 'cars', cycling, Moto GP you name it, is mostly about psychology, and quite frankly Piquet JNR has been completely Psyched out.

1) his fathers reputation...everyone 'expects' the same = huge pressure for him.

2)He's in the same car as one of the modern greats and double world champion! IMMENSE pressure to perform, especially since your reputation hasnt 'settled' down yet...and your team mate is b**ch slapping you every race, and making you look foolish and inadequate!

3)Same thing is happening over @ Macca with Kovi, World champ team mate and 'rising star' in the making =Psyched out driver sitting in the same car...nowhere to hide!

4)Massa had same problem at Ferrari with Kimi...it ALL comes down to confidence, as massa has finally shown last year taking Hamilton all the way to the line, he's finally getting his head together...and oh look whats happened to Kimi? - yep he's pretty much finished its just a matter of time now.....sea-saw... ;-D


I think unless they bring their car in early the tires wouldn't last long enough, in fact I think they'd be in more trouble from the cars behind them if they went for softs, with their pace advantage I dont see them getting stuck behind a McLaren for long, KERS or not. Their main objective I think will be getting past Webber for first pit stops, I have no idea if Alonso will hold them up or pull away at the start.

My impression is the softs might last 10-15 laps if they're well looked after, so not near enough to their fuel stop.


BBC guys said his sector times were indicative of a Hot lap. Shame to see different rules for different drivers.


I think it was on an out lap. No sign of trouble.


Moog, it's worth 0.35secs.

Top Tags
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!