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F1 Spanish GP: Car Weights and Race Prediction

Fuel weights

1.  Jenson Button         Brawn Mercedes        646.0
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      RBR Renault           651.5
 3.  Rubens Barrichello    Brawn Mercedes        649.5
 4.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               655.0
 5.  Mark Webber           RBR Renault           651.5
 6.  Timo Glock            Toyota                646.5
 7.  Jarno Trulli          Toyota                655.5
 8.  Fernando Alonso       Renault               645.0
 9.  Nico Rosberg          Williams Toyota       668.0
10.  Robert Kubica         BMW Sauber            660.0
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*

* declared weight

Jenson Button did brilliantly to get pole position in the dying seconds of qualifying. He hadn’t been happy with the balance of the car so far this weekend. Despite this he put the lap together when it really mattered.

Rubens Barrichello will perhaps be disappointed that it wasn’t him on pole, as he was looking stronger than Jenson up to Q3. Sebastien Vettel continued his top 3 record in qualifying in 2009, which is very impressive.

The fuel weights have now been declared and are listed above

Overall the front runners are pretty much doing the same thing.

Jenson Button will be the first of those at the sharp end to pit and he will be in on lap 15/16.  Sebastien Vettel has a couple more laps of fuel onboard, and he will visit the pits for the first time on lap 17/18.

Rubens Barrichello is in between this pair, and he will be in a lap after Jenson, but a lap before Vettel on lap 16/17.

Felipe Massa is the heaviest of the top 5, and he will run till lap 19/20. Mark Webber has exactly the same amount of fuel as Vettel. Obviously they won’t pit at the same time if they are close together on the track. Red Bull will decide who comes in first depending on how the first stint is unfolding.

Furthur back Alonso is the lightest of the top 10 and he will be on lap 14/15.

Lewis Hamilton is the heaviest of everyone and looks like he will be running a 1 stop race. He will be going beyond 30 laps in his first stint. Mclaren have been disappointing, and appear to have dropped back this weekend

From these weights Felipe Massa has to be my star of qualifying. He qualified 4th amongst quicker cars, which had less fuel than him. Massa has four more laps of fuel on board than Jenson, and was only around 0.4 seconds slower than him. Fuel corrected it would have been quite close between the pair. This shows how good Massa is over a single lap, and how far Ferrari has come with these new upgrades.

Credit must be given to Jenson too who pulled off a stunning lap under immense pressure. He almost didn’t make it past the start line in time, after a mis-calculation during his out-lap. He was able to get his head straight again after that immediately.

Vettel did another brilliant job, and fuel corrected was right up there with Jenson too.

My prediction for tomorrow

Button has to be made favourite for this race. In Barcelona the driver on pole has won for the last eight seasons (which is a record). The Brawn GP has looked to have re-established its advantage over the long runs here. This circuit is very hard on the tyres and this plays into Brawn’s favour, as this car is easy on its tyres. Over the race distance here Brawn GP are up to 0.5 seconds quicker per lap.

Brawn GP don’t enjoy this same advantage in qualifying, so all the more reason why a 1-3 on the grid was a fantastic result for them.

As long as Button gets away well he ought to be able to cruise to a comfortable race victory. Vettel does have a couple more laps of fuel onboard, but I don’t think Red Bull quite has enough race pace this weekend Once they have the new diffuser sorted I am sure they will have. However we all know that Vettel can produce something special, so he will push Button very hard.

For me Massa is the joker in the pack for this race. He is starting 4th and has KERs up his sleeve. It’s a very long run down to turn 1 so he has a great chance of having a go at Button at the start.

If Massa could get into the lead he has a genuine chance of winning the race. In Spain it’s impossible to overtake, and he can use KERs to defend down the pit straight. He would also have the tactical advantage with 4 laps more fuel than Jenson, so he could continue to stay in front after the pit stops.

It’s actually feasible that Massa could pull off a similar style of victory to Gilles Villeneuve’s Spanish GP win in 1981, where he held a train of cars behind him race long. Just like Massa now, Villeneuve was driving a Ferrari which wasn’t the quickest in the field. Maybe history really could repeat itself?

Barrichello is another potential threat to Button. We have seen in the long runs that Barrichello’s race pace is very strong. If he can get past Vettel early on, and move into 2nd behind Jenson, we could see a straight fight between the Brawns. That would be very interesting indeed.

Furthur back I expect a very tight and entertaining battle between Webber, the Toyotas, Alonso and Kubica for the lower points paying positions.

Kimi Raikkonen could also join in this tight scrap if he has a strong first couple of laps. That will be crucial if he is to have any chance of salvaging something from this weekend. It’s shocking to see that Ferrari made exactly the same error again!

In conclusion Jenson Button should win this race. As usual an awful lot depends on what happens at the start. Jenson’s dream ticket would be a clean start and Massa moving into 2nd and blocking the others.

Massa making an electric start and moving into 1st would be difficult even with KERs onboard, but it can be done. Lets rememeber Rosberg managed that in Sepang without the KERs system. If this happened, Jenson’s life would be made much trickier in this race.

Spain doesn’t normally provide thrilling GPs, and I doubt this will change even with the new aero regulations.

It should still quite an intriguing race though. With all the big upgrades put on the cars for this race, we will learn the likely pecking order for the next quarter of the season.

If Brawn GP can triumph again tomorrow (regardless of everyone else’s efforts to usurp them with upgrades) then you would have to say, that they are starting to look very good for a fairytale championship win.

Of course in F1 anything can happen.

My top 8 prediction

1.   Jenson Button

2.   Felipe Massa

3.   Sebastien Vettel

4.   Rubens Barrichello

5.   Timo Glock

6.   Nico Rosberg

7.   Mark Webber

8.   Kimi Raikkonen

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May 9, 2009 Posted by | Previews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking Points from Bahrain PART 1

The Bahrain GP weekend was another intriguing F1 race weekend with plenty more thinking points. Let’s look at the main talking points of this weekend’s action.

Button’s pass on Hamilton sets him up to win against the odds. Was it his best performance of the season so far?

Going into the race it wasn’t looking brilliant for Jenson. He had qualified 4th and was surrounded by KERs cars. To make matters worse the Brawn GP was struggling badly with overheating. The temperature was three or four degrees higher than they could realistically cope with. The Brawn GP car wouldn’t be able to cope with staying in another car’s turbulent air.

The first couple of laps were going to be crucial if Jenson was going to have any chance to challenge for this victory. Button got a decent start and was able to get ahead of Sebastien Vettel. Unfortunately Hamilton pressed his KERs button halfway down the straight and was able to get ahead. Button was also heavily challenged by the Ferraris but he managed to hold them off. That was critical.

Button was currently 4th behind Hamilton, and the two Toyotas running away ahead. Button had to pass Hamilton. At the end of the first lap Hamilton made an error at turn 14. This allowed Button to get up right close. Button then nailed Hamilton in a very brave out-braking move into turn 1. Had Button not made this move, he would have been stuck behind Hamilton for a long time. He would have then had to hang back so his car didn’t overheat.

However now he had some clear track, and importantly clean air. He managed to keep the gap to the Toyotas stable. He was running longer and was able to leapfrog the pair of them at the pit stops.

As the Trulli train formed Button was able to get away and build a gap of around thirteen seconds, which he then maintained for the rest of the race.

It was a fantastic performance by Jenson Button. This was his best drive of the season. The car didn’t have the advantage it had at previous events. There was the overheating issue too, which Ross Brawn described before the race as “trouble”. He had a lot of work to do at the start to make a victory challenge even possible. He pulled it off brilliantly.

He has now extended his championship lead to 12 points, and is looking in brilliant shape.

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April 27, 2009 Posted by | Race reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bahrain Car Weights and Race Prediction

 

1. Trulli       Toyota                 648.5

 2. Glock        Toyota                 643.0

 3. Vettel       Red Bull-Renault       659.0

 4. Button       Brawn-Mercedes         652.5

 5. Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes       652.5

 6. Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes         649.0

 7. Alonso       Renault                650.5

 8. Massa        Ferrari                664.5

 9. Rosberg      Williams-Toyota        670.5

10. Raikkonen    Ferrari                671.5

11. Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes       678.5

12. Nakajima     Williams-Toyota        680.9

13. Kubica       BMW-Sauber             698.6

14. Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber             696.3

15. Piquet       Renault                677.6

16. Sutil        Force India-Mercedes   679.0

17. Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari     678.5

18. Fisichella   Force India-Mercedes   652.0

19. Webber       Red Bull-Renault       656.0

20. Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     667.5

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April 25, 2009 Posted by | Previews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practice Times

Practise 1

1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:33.647 + 19
2. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:33.907 + 0.260 17
3. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:33.938 + 0.291 17
4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:34.227 + 0.580 24
5. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:34.434 + 0.787 15
6. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:34.502 + 0.855 24
7. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:34.531 + 0.884 18
8. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:34.589 + 0.942 17
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:34.827 + 1.180 21
10. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:34.827 + 1.180 19
11. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:34.880 + 1.233 24
12. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:34.938 + 1.291 21
13. Piquet Renault (B) 1:34.974 + 1.327 21
14. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:35.021 + 1.374 18
15. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:35.036 + 1.389 22
16. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:35.042 + 1.395 16
17. Glock Toyota (B) 1:35.333 + 1.686 20
18. Alonso Renault (B) 1:35.348 + 1.701 24
19. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:35.353 + 1.706 22
20. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:35.369 + 1.722 15

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April 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Form Guide and Predictions

Brawn GP started the season perfectly by dominating the first two races. However in China they suffered their first slight blip as Red Bull usurped them in the wet conditions. As Red Bull doesn’t yet have a new diffuser it was a particularly impressive victory for them. However a solid 3-4 finish still leaves Brawn GP dominating the standings, and is still very much the team to beat this weekend.

Jenson Button is also looking very strong in the drivers’ championship, having scored 21 points out of the first 25 available. That is great championship form. He is really stepping up to the plate now he finally has a great car. He has beaten his team mate Rubens Barrichello in all three races so far. Barrichello has to up his game so that he doesn’t get stuck with the dreaded number 2 status again, that he suffered at Ferrari. It’s a very important weekend for the Brazilian.

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April 23, 2009 Posted by | Previews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Practise Session Times and Analysis

Free practice session one

1.  ROSBERG       Williams      1m26.687s

2.  NAKAJIMA      Williams      1m26.736s

3.  RAIKKONEN     Ferrari       1m26.750s

4.  BARRICHELLO   Brawn         1m27.226s

5.  KOVALAINEN    McLaren       1m27.453s

6.  BUTTON        Brawn         1m27.467s

7.  MASSA         Ferrari       1m27.642s

8.  GLOCK         Toyota        1m27.710s

9.  SUTIL         Force India   1m27.993s

10. ALONSO        Renault       1m28.123s

11. HEIDFELD      BMW           1m28.137s

12. TRULLI        Toyota        1m28.142s

13. KUBICA        BMW           1m28.511s

14. FISICHELLA    Force India   1m28.603s

15. BUEMI         Toro Rosso    1m28.785s

16. HAMILTON      McLaren       1m29.042s

17. WEBBER        Red Bull      1m29.081s

18. PIQUET        Renault       1m29.461s

19. BOURDAIS      Toro Rosso    1m29.499s

20. VETTEL        Red Bull      1m32.784s

 

Free practice session two

 1.  ROSBERG       Williams      1m26.053s

2.  BARRICHELLO   Brawn         1m26.157s

3.  TRULLI        Toyota        1m26.350s

4.  WEBBER        Red Bull      1m26.370s

5.  BUTTON        Brawn         1m26.374s

6.  GLOCK         Toyota        1m26.443s

7.  NAKAJIMA      Williams      1m26.560s

8.  VETTEL        Red Bull      1m26.740s

9.  SUTIL         Force India   1m27.040s

10. MASSA         Ferrari       1m27.064s

11. RAIKKONEN     Ferrari       1m27.204s

12. ALONSO        Renault       1m27.232s

13. FISICHELLA    Force India   1m27.282s

14. HEIDFELD      BMW           1m27.317s

15. KUBICA        BMW           1m27.398s

16. BOURDAIS      Toro Rosso    1m27.479s

17. KOVALAINEN    McLaren       1m27.802s

18. HAMILTON      McLaren       1m27.813s

19. PIQUET        Renault       1m27.828s

20. BUEMI         Toro Rosso    1m28.076s

It’s been a very interesting day in Melbourne. It was great to see all the cars in anger on the track for the first time. First impressions are that the new cars look great. You get used to them very quickly. I even started to get used to the sight of the Renault after a while.

Who’s hot and who’s not?

In terms of who impressed today, there is no doubt that the 3 teams with question marks over their diffuser (Williams, Brawn GP and Toyota) all look in extremely good shape. All 3 of these teams have performed consistently well throughout the day. Williams are probably the most pleasant surprise of Friday practise, as Nico Rosberg topped both sessions.

Throughout testing it looked as if they were going to be stuck in the midfield. However on their final day in Jerez they set a very fast time, the fastest time set in Jerez all winter. It looks as if they may have brought that form with them to Melbourne. Let’s hope they can keep this pace up throughout the weekend.

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March 27, 2009 Posted by | News articles | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Testing Analysis: Who is at the front and Who is Suffering?

This week, all the F1 teams have been in Barcelona for the last major F1 test of the year. For many, it was their final chance to put miles on the car and learn about their 2009 package.

 

The Difficulty of Analysing Testing

When studying testing times, you have to take them with a pinch of salt; we won’t  know until Melbourne what the real pecking order is. There are many different variables in testing, which can give a misleading picture of who is where.

For example, we don’t know what programmes the teams are working on. They might be working on a particular area of setup. They could just be testing the reliability of the car. They could be getting used to the tyres’ behaviour over a single lap or a race distance. They are learning as much as they can about their cars, as opposed to chasing that outright quick lap.

Importantly, we don’t know how much fuel the teams are carrying. This alone can make a huge difference to the lap times. Some teams opt to run light, whereas others always tend to run heavy in testing.

Track conditions also contribute to lap times. The track conditions change throughout the day. The race track is a living creature; it will normally get more rubber on it as the test day goes on. However, any precipitation will wash all that rubber away. The track will become “green,” and therefore much slower than it was previously.

Despite all of these variables, it’s still possible to see patterns that are forming. You can spot which teams look like they are in good shape and who may indeed struggle.

By the end of testing, you can get a rough idea of how the pecking order is looking. In the last test session, in particular, a clearer picture begins to emerge. At this point teams need to assess how fast their cars really are.

Also in this final week many teams will do simulations of the race weekend. This offers the best chance of comparing their performances.

Each season, though, there is always at least one team that doesn’t end up where testing suggests they should have.

Teams may run ultra light to attract sponsors or may run extremely heavy to hide their true speed. This is a term often referred to as “sandbagging.”

In 2001, Prost were setting very fast lap times, and even broke a lap record! Once the season started, they were nowhere near the front of the grid. At the time, Alain Prost’s team were struggling for funds, so they ran their car under the minimum required weight to set fast times and attract sponsors.

Quite a devious little plan!

Last season, BMW Sauber didn’t look too good for much of preseason testing. However, they caused a big shock when Robert Kubica came from nowhere to almost snatch pole position from Lewis Hamilton in Melbourne.

So the big question on every F1 fan’s lips is how is the current order looking as things currently stand?

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March 24, 2009 Posted by | Main Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment