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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

Driver Form Guide Part 1

Lewis Hamilton

Now that Lewis has won a world title some of the immense pressure is now lifted. No matter what happens now, he will always be referred to as a world champion. Had he lost last season’s title final, life would be feeling much tougher right now.

It is clear that Hamilton has enormous talent.

When he performs at his best he is one of the best out there, if not the best. However he still has many flaws. He makes silly errors, and can make life hard for himself. The pressure from outside can often get to him, and affect his driving.

In the future if he can cut all these flaws from his game, then more world titles will surely be won. At the moment though it’s looking like it could be a tough season for Lewis.

The Mclaren currently isn’t a front runner. On a positive note this is his key chance to prove the critics wrong. He can prove to them that his early success wasn’t just about having a quick car.

He can prove that he can drive a car further than it deserves to be, like all the greatest drivers in F1’s history. If he achieves that in 2009, his critics will have to start finally taking note.

If he struggles in a difficult car, it will only confirm their suspicions. This season will tell us plenty about Lewis’s ability, even if he is unable to defend his title. Can he battle hard from the midfield to score points? This is one of the most interesting sub plots of the 2009 season.

 

Heikki Kovalainen

This is without a doubt a make or break year for Heikki. Last season he underperformed. There is no doubt the talent is there, but he has to seriously up his game. He can’t afford to be threatened by who his team mate is. He has to dig deep, and fight harder than ever before in 2009.

He needs to ensure, that he stakes his claim within the team right from the start of the season. He simply has to make a much better start to the season than he did last year. He can’t let all the momentum run Lewis’s way early on.

He needs to show Mclaren that they have two exceptional drivers, not just one. One thing that may swing in Heikki’s favour is that he has had experience of driving a difficult car (with Renault in 2007).

This may give a Heikki a small advantage over Hamilton. If Heikki doesn’t perform in 2009 his Mclaren career will surely be over. He simply has to give Lewis something to think about. Nothing less will be sufficient.

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

Team Mate Wars 2009 Part 2

TOYOTA – Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock

Jarno Trulli completely walloped Glock in the first half of 2008, but in the second half of the season, Glock improved and came back strong. In the end, it was Trulli who won the team mate war, but it didn’t end up as comfortable as it might have been.

Glock looks to be a very handy driver. After a tough start, he has adapted himself very well to F1. He will improve furthur and have a very good second season.

However, he will find it very hard to beat Trulli. Trulli is in the form of his life at the moment. He is also arguably F1’s best qualifier. If he can get a few cars between himself and Glock, then Trulli has a great chance of leading Toyota’s charge for podiums and wins.

Trulli can find an extra few tenths from nowhere when it matters most. This sets him apart from Glock, certainly when it comes to qualifying.

In 2009, Jarno will be able to get rid of his worst enemy—the grooved tyre. He will be one of the drivers who benefits most from the changeover to slicks. When Trulli first started in F1, he was super-quick on slicks. I think Trulli stands a chance of having his best ever season in F1 in 2009.

Glock will have a good season too but don’t expect to see Trulli’s No. 1 status in the team changing. Glock will push him all the way, but Trulli has enough to stay ahead and may edge further ahead of Glock.

If Toyota is going to win races this season, Trulli is more likely to be the man to deliver them.

FINAL VERDICT: Glock is a very competent driver who will keep Trulli on his toes. However, I don’t see No. 1 status shifting to Timo’s side of the garage this season. Trulli looks set to build on 2008 and will become harder to beat.

 

Scuderia Toro Rosso – Sebastien Buemi and Sebastien Bourdais

For Toro Rosso, it’s the battle of the Sebs again!

Bourdais may not have had many points last season, but in the final third of the season, he was very strong. Luck wasn’t with him at times.

He could have challenged for the win in Monza—it rained at the wrong time in Spa. Then there was that dreadful decision by the stewards in Fuji. Once he adapted to the car he was fast.

The decision to give Buemi the drive is a strange one. He didn’t finish that high up in the GP2 standings, and his best results came in the sprint races benefiting from the reverse grid system.

I think with so little experience, and having the new F1 cars to adapt to, it will be a very tall order for the young Swiss. As the season goes on, I am sure that he will get more adapted to F1, but it’s going to take some time. I don’t expect him to get results straight away.

Bourdais, on the other hand, could have a very strong season. These new cars could really suit him down to the ground. Over in Champ Car, he was used to cars with slick tyres and more emphasis on mechanical grip.

In Champ Car, there also was the “push to pass” button. This may give him a little head start, when it comes to making the most use out of the KERs system, when it comes to overtaking.

Bourdais could be one of the surprises of this F1 season. He could get the odd podium. I think that he will come out on top at Rosso this season.

FINAL VERDICT: Rosso has brought Buemi into F1 too soon and he may struggle. Bourdais has a chance of having a great second season. He will improve massively on what was overall a disappointing debut season. He will feel more at home with the new spec F1 cars.

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March 24, 2009 Posted by | Previews | , , , , , | Leave a comment