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How the German GP will unfold
How the German GP will unfold
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Jul 2009   |  8:36 pm GMT  |  21 comments

A lot of the teams this evening are talking about tomorrow’s race being one of those wet/dry, chaotic races with loads of pit stops as the conditions change.

I’m sure that Mark Webber would like a nice uncomplicated race, in the dry, so that he could convert his well-earned pole position and car advantage into a first GP victory. Meanwhile plenty of drivers with nothing to lose, like Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and Adrian Sutil will be going for it, taking risks and strategy gambles in the hope of nicking an unexpected win.

Sutil did an amazing job today, not just earning a place in the top ten for the first time, but also carrying a lot of fuel and still qualifying in seventh place, ahead of the Ferraris. Allowing for the weight of the fuel he is also quicker than Kovalainen in sixth place.

Sebastian Vettel is particularly concerned about the McLarens as they will have a big advantage at the start if it is dry, thanks to their KERS system.

Today was a day for cool heads and as I was sitting there in the post qualifying TV interviews with the top three drivers I was thinking that  it is no coincidence that they have 589 Grand Prix starts between them. Experience combined with instinct are what give them the assurance to make the right choices at the right times. Rubens Barrichello was very sure footed, making a brave call for slicks in the second qualifying session when Jenson Button had just gone out on intermediates. He was dead right and Button quickly copied him and made it through to the top ten shoot out.

We’ve seen already this weekend how quickly the track dries out when the rain stops and how much faster the slicks are than the intermediates when that happens.

So it should be a really exciting race. The Brawn team has the lightest cars in the top ten and that is because they wanted to make darned sure that both their drivers were up at the front, out of trouble.

If you look at the table below you’ll see that Hamilton had a great run in qualifying today, faster than the Brawns when you allow for the extra weight of fuel he was carrying. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh estimates that the new aerodynamic package which is only on Hamilton’s car this weekend, is worth around 7/10ths of a second per lap.

Fuel weights and pit stop predictions

1.   Webber       Red Bull-Renault       661.0  Lap 21
 2.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes         647.0  Lap 15
 3.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes         644.0  Lap 14
 4.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault       661.0  Lap 21
 5.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes       654.5  Lap 18
 6.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes       664.0  Lap 22
 7.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes   678.5  Lap 28
 8.  Massa        Ferrari                673.5  Lap 26
 9.  Raikkonen    Ferrari                674.0  Lap 26
10.  Piquet       Renault                676.0  Lap 27
11.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber             681.0* Lap 29
12.  Alonso       Renault                668.2* Lap 24
13.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota        683.6* Lap 30
14.  Trulli       Toyota                 683.7* Lap 30
15.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota        689.6* Lap 32
16.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber             673.5* Lap 26
17.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari     674.5* Lap 26
18.  Fisichella   Force India-Mercedes   662.5* Lap 21
19.  Glock        Toyota                 662.3* Lap 21
20.  Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     689.5* Lap 32
* means the fuel load they have elected to run.
Glock has a three place grid penalty for blocking Alonso in Q1
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Although while that explains why their weights are the same, it doesn’t explain Horner’s comments…


“Vettel was supposed to do another lap . He’d ve ended up lighter if that was the case .”

Aaaah of course! Thank you Ani. This was really bothering me.


James, why is everyone saying what a great job Lewis did, when Martin Whitmarsh comes out and says that the aero package (on lewis’ car) is worth 7ths per lap, and he has 3 laps less fuel than heikki (who doesnt have the aero package) and is only one place ahead, surely Heikki should be getting a pat on the back!!!??? doesnt that weight and aero corrected mean that heikki was around 1 second faster than lewis!?


I agree with Cliff’s comments. Should never have been a penalty. May be the stewards are covering themselves for any big decsions that need to be made in the GP, decisions that may enable them to manipulate the result and possibly extend the championship.It’s coming to that time of the season again!


I hope the top three do keeo their heads! Just whatched the GP2 race the race stewards appear to have penalised Petrov for “causing an avoidable accident” This was a first corner incident where two tyres touched, in damp conditions but there was no accident. At the same time other drivers were ploughing into the back of one another. With the weather conditions due to get worse, I hope they show more common sense later!


Good luck Mark.



Are the brawns gambling on a early rain shower?


Concerned about rain, yes, but also limited by the tyres as to what they can do. Had to go with three stops


Vettel was supposed to do another lap . He’d ve ended up lighter if that was the case .

and also i remember reading somewhere that at RedBull they get the lighter car strategy on alternate GP weekends . Webber was lighter at silverstone , So Vettel’s turn


I think the car’s weight includes the driver’s weight as well. Maybe because Webber tips the scale more than Sebastian, Horner made that statement. The deficit (to 661 kgs)in Sebastian’s case is being made up more fuel on-board.


Congrats on the new gig James!


Yes I agree today should be a great race. Certainly looking forward to this one more than a couple others recently. Although this season has been very good so far I would say that there has not been a classic race yet in the mould of Silverstone 08, Spa 08 or Monza 08 although Melbourne this year was excellent especially with the story attached to that race.

It would be great to see Mark Webber win his first GP. The last time F1 was at the Nurburgring Winklehock led in a Spyker (now Force India). What can Sutil do?

James earlier in the season you said that McLaren would be winning GPs by the summer. That was a view I agreed with at the time. Can they win a race this year based on what you have seen this weekend albeit slightly later than you suggested in spring?

Finally Mercedes have 5 cars in the top 7. That must be a record for recent years. There’s talk of Mercedes supplying four teams next year with Red Bull being the fourth team. What price a Mercedes clean sweep of all the points at a single race next year? This is excellent support from Mercedes to F1 despite of all of the problems in recent months.

After reading one of your previous reports it’s concerning that a manufacturer might yet leave F1. This does reinforce the view that new teams are required even if the processes and politics of recent months has not been particularly satisfying.


From Spain GP onwards, where BGP001 was upgraded, Barichello seems to have the upperhand over Button, who consecutively used Barichello’s race set-ups to get the job done in Spain and Monaco weekends. And in both GB and Germany, Barichello out-qualified Button with a heavier fuel load.

I remember Rubens saying that car started suit his drivind style after the upgrade done in Spain. I hope it’s the true sign of what is happenning in Brawn GP. I hope Button will not easily win forthcoming races so that we can have a three or four way championship battle until the last chequered flag.


Hi James,

Could you please explain why Christian Horner made a point of saying that Vettel has more fuel on-board than Webber, when their car weights are identical? Does this mean that Webber’s car doesn’t meet the 605kg weight limit due to him being heavier than Vettel?(Given that Red Bull doesn’t use KERS, I doubt it!) Or is Horner just speaking rubbish? (Given that he knew the weights would be released, this seems doubtful too!) Surely there’s a logical explanation?


Good question. Will look into it. The weights of cars and predicted laps have been accurate for those two so far this season, so not sure where the discrepancy is this time.


So James,

McLaren do have KERS back on this weekend for sure?


For sure!


Six years of supporting Mark Webber (2003 when he was somehow driving that Jaguar was just amazing!) and I don’t think I’ll be able to watch tomorrow. Especially if he’s leading with 10 laps left. mmm…I think I need to stock up on Lucky Strikes…


Wow, Sutil and Hamilton really did do a fantastic job! I am hugely excited about this race tomorrow. Should be a great afternoon wet or dry. Will be interesting to see how the Ferraris make their way through the pack (or not.) Must be a great boost for McLaren and a testament to their stubbourn determination and fighting spirit. Really enjoyed seeing Ham so buoyant in the interviews on the Beeb. Great to hear you in the press conference as well James, we need your insight badly. The 5Live Practice commentary is woeful and they’ve dumbed it down to a shocking level. Feel sorry for Davidson having to put up with it.


My bet is on Vettel.

Webber would have deserved a win, but i think Vettel will be able to handle the pressure/conditions way better tomorrow.

What im sure about is a 1-2 for RB, maybe Hamilton comming third and a mediocre result from Brawn.

Oh and dont forget to cheer for Sutil! Lets hope he finally gets his first point


“…as I was sitting there in the post qualifying TV interviews with the top three drivers I was thinking that it is no coincidence that they have 589 Grand Prix starts between them”

James, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had that statistic in your head at the time!

I was pleasantly surprised to hear your voice during the post qualifying interview.

Keep up the brilliant work!

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