Strategy could hand Barrichello an advantage (European GP fuel weights)

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Barrichello has the strategy to take on the McLarens - but has he got the speed?
Barrichello has the strategy to take on the McLarens - but has he got the speed?

Rubens Barrichello is fuelled to pit three laps later than the two McLarens in front of him – but will it be enough to overcome the silver cars’ performance advantage?

Jenson Button also has three more laps’ worth of fuel than Sebastian Vettel, giving him a strong chance of increasing his advantage in the championship over the Red Bull drivers. Here’s the fuel weights in full.


Grid Name Weight Fuel (kg) First stint (laps)
1 Lewis Hamilton 653 48 16
2 Heikki Kovalainen 655 50 17
3 Rubens Barrichello 662.5 57.5 20
4 Sebastian Vettel 654 49 17
5 Jenson Button 661.5 56.5 20
6 Kimi Raikkonen 661.5 56.5 20
7 Nico Rosberg 665 60 21
8 Fernando Alonso 656.5 51.5 18
9 Mark Webber 664.5 59.5 21
10 Robert Kubica 657.5 52.5 18
11 Nick Heidfeld 677 72 26
12 Adrian Sutil 672.5 67.5 24
13 Timo Glock 694.7 89.7 32
14 Romain Grosjean 677.7 72.7 26
15 Sebastien Buemi 688.5 83.5 30
16 Giancarlo Fisichella 692.5 87.5 31
17 Kazuki Nakajima 702 97 35
18 Jarno Trulli 707.3 102.3 37
19 Jaime Alguersuari 678.5 73.5 26
20 Luca Badoer 690.5 85.5 31

It’s also interesting to see Nico Rosberg out-qualified Mark Webber with a slightly heavier car.

Strangely, BMW have put Robert Kubica on a fairly light strategy despite there being little chance he was going to qualify anywhere other than the lower reaches of the top ten. Nick Heidfeld’s strategy looks a lot more realistic.

Hamilton has slightly less fuel on board than Kovalainen but if he can eke out enough fuel for an extra lap while holding the lead of the race, he may be able to force Kovalainen to make his stop first, denying him an early chance to get ahead. Teams often give priority to their leading driver in the event of both drivers needing to stop on the same lap (we’ve seen this at Red Bull this year). Hamilton abandoned his final attempt to set a lap in qualifying, leaving him with more fuel than he might otherwise have had.

The start

Valencia has an unusual first corner sequence, with a long-right hander leading into a tight left-right chicane partly bordered by barriers. It invites mistakes and there is not much room to avoid an accident. In the GP2 feature race today pole sitter Nico H???lkenberg ran wide at the corner and only just missed the barrier, dropping down to third in the process.

In theory the pole sitter has the maximum advantage because they start from the inside on the cleaner racing line. Off-line the track is quite dusty. However as McLaren have locked out the front row of the grid and have KERS power boosts at their disposal, the chance of anyone beating Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen into turn one are slim. They’ve probably devised a strategy for keeping the rest at bay.

As at the Hungaroring, Sebastian Vettel finds himself on the dirty side of the grid in fourth and will be especially keen to keep Jenson Button, fifth, at bay. Both face a serious threat from Kimi Raikkonen’s sixth-placed KERS-equipped Ferrari.

The other championship contender, Mark Webber, ideally needs to clear Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg to make some progress.

Finally, what will happen to Luca Badoer at the start? He’s been off the pace all weekend but starting from the back of the grid with KERS power he will surely be able to pick off some of the cars in front of him. Whether he can keep them behind is another matter.

Read more: Hamilton leads McLaren one-two (European Grand Prix qualifying)

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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95 comments on “Strategy could hand Barrichello an advantage (European GP fuel weights)”

  1. lewisisoverated
    22nd August 2009, 17:32

    This is one of the best or actually the best analysis of the car weights I have read all season from the numerous websites I’ve been on..

    1. Thankyou :-)

      1. Yes, by calculating the stops, at a glance you can understand the potential strategy, although I would’nt get carried away Keith, now that you have it nicely worked out, next season you will have to abandon it…lol.

    2. I agree, very in depth and some great stuff to think about for tonights race. Can’t wait to see what happens.

  2. Interestingly both Brawns will pit on lap 20

    1. That is so Brawn can shaft BAR with a clumsy pit stop, so he loses again.

      1. best to keep him out of the way

  3. Hi Keith – someone might have asked before, but is it possible that you could put the qualifying times in this table? Would really help for comparisons

  4. I rewckon Kovalainen will slow the field to let Hamilton shoot off with his lower fuel and get out in front again after the first round of pit stops

  5. Finally Ruben got a chance to win this year

    1. Rubens has had many chances to win this year.

  6. I hope Mclaren let their two drivers race each other. Kovalainen is obviously quick here, he was on course for pole until his mistake at the last corner, and there’s no need for team orders now that Mclaren aren’t challenging for the championship.

    Interesting that Sebastian Vettel outqualified his team mate yet again, this time by 0.5 seconds, and that Jenson Button has again been outqualified by Rubens Barrichello. Barrichello is about 100 years old- surely Button ought to be able to outpace him more consistently.

    1. Webber is 10.5 kilos heavier though, so I guess that about negates the difference in laptime.

      Raikonnen will play the biggest part in the first lap I think, he’s not exactly slow and with KERS determines whose race will be screwed. He starts on the wrong side though, so maybe he’ll only hold up Button, but I fear for Vettel as well.

      I think Badoer is set to be lapped before the first round of pitstops.

    2. Barrichello is about 100 years old- surely Button ought to be able to outpace him more consistently.

      It’s about 8-3 in favour of Button with regards to qualifying.I think that’s fairly consistent.Also 6-0 with regards to race wins.Again……….

      A ‘fuel adjusted’ grid means that Barrichello is better than everyone!?

      1. BS- I didn’t realise how much heavier Webber’s car was so you’re probably right. But I’m still really impressed with how Vettel has shaped up against Webber in qualifying this season. I bet Webber’s been outqualified more often by his team mate this season than in the rest of his F1 career combined

        VXR- I’m not claiming that Brrichello is better than everyone. I’m saying that if Button really is the best driver in the world, as many people claim, he should outqualify his team mate even more often. How often were Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher etc outpaced by a lesser rated team mate in their championship winning season?

        1. I’d say 8-3 in qualifying and 9-1 (I think) in the races is consistant enough.

  7. Kimi has made a stellar effort. I hope he has a good start tomorrow. Podium is in sight.

  8. Flawless brilliant lap from Lewis. You gotta love that cheeky final lap abort that would have been a tadge quicker!

    1. Indeed, as Keith mentions this gives him a crucial lap of fuel which could make sure he pits one lap after Heikki.

  9. I don’t expect Luca Badoer to finish the race. He looks so out of his depth. I expect an error, probably due to him getting too excited when he uses KERS to overtake someone in the first lap or from clumsy defending shortly after.

    If he does survive the first 10 laps I wonder how much of the field will lap him.

    All the other rookies doing ok means he has no excuses for being so slow.

    1. “All the other rookies doing ok means he has no excuses for being so slow.”

      Don’t forget Buemi and Alguersuari have momentum on their side, having just come up from the feeder series. Badoer was drafted in at the last minute as a second choice stand-in. I did expect him to be quicker than that though. His job is made all the more tricky now that Force India and BMW have jumped up the grid a little.

      1. Apparently Badoer hasn’t raced any car let alone an F1 car since he left Minardi in 1999, so you can understand why he’s struggling. I wonder where Schumacher would have qualified- I imagine he wouldn’t have been too much further up the grid than Badoer is

        1. Well he could not have been any further back!

  10. Hamilton is the lightest but lets not forget he set that time on his first flying lap so he was carrying more fuel, maybe even 20 laps worth.

    1. ^ I didnt mean to sound like I think he’s got 20 laps worth of fuel, just saying its a real pole position, not like Alonso had a fake one in Hungary )

    2. Also, Hamilton was going a lot faster on that last lap that he aborted.

      Clever move to save a lap of fuel when he had pole already anyway.

  11. I suspect Hamilton will be fast enough to build a big enough gap over Rubens, though Heikki may be a tad more vulnerable if he’s not careful.

    Interesting to compare the two Beemers races…10th and 11th but with Nick having 8 more laps of fuel, I think that might be preferable.

    And I bet Badoer takes the start so cautiously he doesn’t even make up any places or deliberately stays off KERS or something.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      22nd August 2009, 18:08

      I see him using KERS, getting past a few cars, then braking too early for the first proper corner and catching them out. Causing an accident.

      Either that or he’s just gonna run into the side or someone.

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        22nd August 2009, 18:08

        *of someone

    2. I really don’t see a reason for Kubica’s light tactic – going light can only play good if you are at the front and can make a solid lead in clean air and then hope not to get stuck behind somebody slower.

  12. I don’t think the positions will change much. The Brawns and the Red bulls are no match for the Mclarens at the moment. I can see Nakajima making up a few places as he was pretty good in practice.

  13. Its great to see Heikki do so well. Pretty disappointed to hear McLaren threatening him with his walking papers if he doesn’t improve. Lewis wasn’t able to do much with the car either until he got the major upgrades that were exclusive to his car. Now that the cars are equal good on Heikki!

    1. still not equal, using the same old front wing but lewis’ car has different wheelbase.

    2. Unfortunately the cars aren’t equal in Valencia, Hamilton has a special short wheelbase car. This is surprising since Martin Whitmarsh said in the press following Hungary that he was upset to give his drivers different equipment, and wanted it to be 100% equal from now on. I guess that didn’t work out. But it makes Heikki’s second place all the more impressive!

      1. Paige Michael-Shetley
        23rd August 2009, 8:17

        Why? Kovalainen has the second quickest car on the grid, so he should have qualified where he did.

        Furthermore, the short wheelbase isn’t really that much of an advantage on circuits like Valencia. It’s much more of an advantage on circuits like Spa, and Macca will definitely have it ready for Kovalainen in a week’s time. In any event, the short wheelbase isn’t enough of an advantage that Hamilton would out-qualify all but one in Q1 while setting his flying lap on primes while everyone else sets theirs on options.

    3. With Kubica available and a possible Rosberg transfer all they need is an excuse to fire him.

    4. Paige Michael-Shetley
      23rd August 2009, 8:02

      Hamilton executed a team strategy to perfection and wringed every ounce of competitive performance out of a dog in Australia to come home with a solid 4th place points, before giving it all away by lying to the stewards. This, while Kovalainen failed to complete the first lap.

      Again, Hamilton wringed the dog into a points-paying position in Malaysia, while again Kovalainen failed to complete the first lap. Hamilton also outqualified Kovalainen there (which he would have done in Oz, too, if not for the gearbox failure).

      Kovalainen beat him in China, but Hamilton was quicker the entire race in the wet and would have challenged for a podium if not for his overexuberance cooking the tires.

      Hamilton wringed a 4th place finish out of a dog in Bahrain. Kovalainen, despite the circuit’s flattery of the car, didn’t make it out of Q2 and finished 12th. And no, there was no “exclusive upgrades” to Hamilton’s car in Bahrain.

      Both McLaren’s were stuck with crap cars in Turkey, but despite Kovalainen beating Hamilton in qualifying there and having a huge strategy advantage for the race, Hamilton still beat him with a severely compromising one-stop strategy.

      Regarding the “exclusivity” of upgrades to Hamilton’s car… well, he’s the champion, so naturally if the team are in the situation they’re in with no testing and can only rush enough new parts for one driver, then he is the one who is going to get the latest and greatest upgrade. Both drivers got the huge upgrade to the front wing in the Nurburgring; Hamilton got the rear floor upgrade that Kovalainen didn’t. In Hungary, the two cars were the same the whole weekend until Hamilton got the front wing upgrade flown in at the last minute. Both cars have further upgrades to the front wing and rear floor this weekend; it’s Hamilton who has the short wheelbase car, which is better suited to circuits like Spa and is a major experiment for this weekend that could quite frankly have gone very, very wrong.

      In any event, does anyone really think that a short wheelbase would produce such an advantage that Hamilton would be quicker than everyone else in Q1 (save Button, who was only about a tenth quicker) while setting his flying lap on PRIMES and everyone else did theirs on options? I think not.

      In the situation in which F1 teams find themselves with no testing and new upgrades, it’s often only one driver for big teams with manufacturing capacity to churn out new parts on demand who can have the upgrades for a particular weekend. Hamilton and Alonso have gotten them from McLaren and Renault, respectively, because they are both champions and have routinely outperformed their teammates with equal cars. Massa has gotten most of the upgrades first this season for Ferrari because he’s been better than Raikkonen for the past year and a half, the exception being that Raikkonen got the lightweight chassis upgrade due to his naturally weighing more.

      It’s up to Kovalainen to deliver results legitimizing his getting upgrades first at least some of the time. While he’s been good in qualifying, he simply hasn’t delivered the race performances to justify it.

      As a Macca fan and someone who has admired Kovalainen since he beat Schumacher (twice!) in the WDC, I hope he improves and shows form allowing him to stay. I honestly don’t think there are many drivers out there who would be an improvement over Kovalainen as a teammate for Hamilton. Certainly Alonso (yeah, right) and Vettel would be, but I don’t think guys like Rosberg, Sutil, or Heidfeld would. But the fact is that Kovalainen just hasn’t performed to his potential, and I don’t see much of a reason to say that he’s as good as Hamilton.

  14. This is great… Very Concise. I’ve also included Speed Trap (Green Fastest) & Sector Times (Best Sector/Driver in Green). I’ve had KIMI for 3rd since THURS… Looks like it’ll be fight for 3rd with Vettel/Button. Rubens may hold up traffic to let Button catch up. McLaren need at least 10 sec lead within 10 Laps. Will be a big fight for Top 4.

  15. I fully expect to see Heikki swing right over to the clean side of the track at the start. Otherwise his KERS won’t do much except spin up big clouds of dust!

    I’m finding this mismatch of KERS and non-KERS cars quite interesting for the start of a grand prix. It’s a shame it’s always the McLarens and Ferraris that have the advantage though. How about a KERS lottery for 2010 where each race chooses random cars that are allowed to use it?

    1. Well, to be fair to Ferrari and McLaren, they’ve sacrificed half a season and and chance of the championships to be able to get KERS working with a half-decent car.

  16. And Trulli is fuelled for half the race again :)

    1. Whoop whoop! Another trulli train!

      1. Only Alguersuari and Badoer are behind him….and Badoer will be too slow – so only Jaime is the passenger really :)

        1. the guys in most danger are the frontrunners who pit early – trulli rain will wreck races.

          1. rain = train

      2. Yeah there’s not going to be many carriages – I’m not sure Badoer will be quick enough to get on board.

    2. Paige Michael-Shetley
      23rd August 2009, 8:19

      Trulli needs to take lessons from Glock on how to pull off the one-stop strategy, as do pretty much all the other drivers on the grid.

      If Glock ever gets back into Q3, then no one else will have a chance.

  17. From the press conference, With P3, Barrichello says:
    In one way, I’m not on the very good side of the grid because I think that this year they’ve turned (the grid around) and it’s not very clean, so we need to see what that brings but I hope I have a really good start and I can be with the guys and if I have more fuel, to be able to win.

    Anyone know more about this?

    1. Sorry about the blockquotes. This is what Barrichello said:

      In one way, I’m not on the very good side of the grid because I think that this year they’ve turned (the grid around) and it’s not very clean, so we need to see what that brings but I hope I have a really good start and I can be with the guys and if I have more fuel, to be able to win.

      DId the switch it around? We’ll know in the GP2 start as well.

  18. Hope Kimi is the Driver of the day

  19. Paige Michael-Shetley
    22nd August 2009, 18:59

    The McLaren’s are light, but they’re also quicker than the Brawn’s this weekend. Hamilton set the pole lap on his first lap in Q3 and then aborted a flying lap that would have been even quicker. Both laps were his first laps on sets of the option tires, and the options have been picking up pace over multiple laps. Barrichello set all of his competitive laps while multiple laps into the run. My prediction is the McLaren’s will rocket away from the start into turn one and not be seen again until the parade laps, barring mechanical failures.

    As mention earlier, Raikkonen is the one who is really going to ruin some races. He’ll definitely jump ahead of Button, and he’ll likely get Vettel as well. He could also get Barrichello, which would basically put a rubber seal on victory for McLaren.

  20. Complete domination of qualification by Hamilton; he even had Kovi’s last minute threat covered.

    Should be another win for LH easy. But something tells me there’ll be a safety car or two tomorrow, anything but a procession. Plus tyre and brake wear could prove critical.

  21. This could be an interesting race.. Lets hope its better than last years!

    1. could it even be more boring than last year?

  22. Hasn’t vettel got a 10 place penalty because his engine blew up? So he will be starting from 14th right? which means kimi will be on the clean side of the track?! A possible 3rd place by the 3rd corner and could challenge for the win?!! None of the websites have mentioned vettels penalty and the change in grid! or have I missed something?

    1. No, there’s no penalty until you go on to the 9th engine.

    2. I see that someone else has been given bad info, courtesy of ESPNStar… I caught grief for it yesterday when I lost track of how many engines Vettel has left…

      Any chance of a Vettel-Kimi-Button sandwich going into turn 1???

      If Kimi stays in front of Button and uses KERS to defend until the first fuel stop, Button’s race is spoiled if they are on similar strategies…

  23. “In theory the pole sitter has the maximum advantage because they start from the inside on the cleaner racing line.”

    I’m confused now. I assumed pole would be on the clean side, but in the post qualifying press conference Rubens said that he was on the dirty side. He claimed they swapped the grid around.

    Which is it?

    1. Hamilton is on the inside – Heikki on the outside

      1. OK, so that’s indeed the dirty part of the track.

        1. Re-reading Keiths quote (in my first po