Hamilton’s light car leaves him vulnerable (Italian GP fuel weights and strategy)

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Heikki Kovalainen's Mclaren has 20kg more fuel than the cars in front
Heikki Kovalainen's Mclaren has 20kg more fuel than the cars in front

Adrian Sutil will be able to go one lap longer than Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Italian Grand Prix.

But Heikki Kovalainen could be the man to watch as he’s fuelled to make his pit stop much later than the three drivers in front of him. Here’s the fuel weights in full.

Italian Grand Prix fuel weights and pit stop predictions

Grid Name Weight Fuel (kg) First stint (laps)
1 Lewis Hamilton 653.5 48.5 17
2 Adrian Sutil 655 50 18
3 Kimi Raikkonen 662 57 21
4 Heikki Kovalainen 683 78 29
5 Rubens Barrichello 688.5 83.5 32
6 Jenson Button 687 82 31
7 Vitantonio Liuzzi 679.5 74.5 28
8 Fernando Alonso 677.5 72.5 27
9 Sebastian Vettel 682 77 29
10 Mark Webber 683 78 29
11 Jarno Trulli 703 98 37
12 Romain Grosjean 699.8 94.8 36
13 Robert Kubica 697.5 92.5 35
14 Giancarlo Fisichella 690 85 32
15 Nick Heidfeld 697.5 92.5 35
16 Timo Glock 709.8 104.8 40
17 Kazuki Nakajima 706.2 101.2 39
18 Nico Rosberg 708.6 103.6 40
19 Sebastien Burmi 706 101 39
20 Jaime Alguersuari 706 101 39

The start

First-lap collisions and penalties are highly likely at Monza’s tight first corner.

The new kerbs at the Rettifilio have been lowered, but drivers are still going to want to steer clear of them. Anyone who arrives at the first corner too quickly and cuts it will have to give back any places they’ve gained.

Second on the grid with a pair of KERS cars behind him, Sutil is a sitting duck. There’s little chance of him keeping Kimi Raikkonen and Kovalainen behind at the start. This also means Hamilton’s chances of losing the lead at the start are pretty slim, unless Raikkonen makes a particularly good getaway.

Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean also have KERS at their disposal at the start and lts of non-KERS cars in front of them to pick off. Each could threaten the championship contenders – Alonso the Brawns, and Grosjean the Red Bulls. As at Spa two weeks ago, this could easily get very messy.

Another word on those chicanes – during the GP2 race drivers who cut them three times were automatically given drive-through penalties. We could see more of the same tomorrow, particularly if it rains…


After qualifying, the clouds arrived and transformed Monza back into the dark, drenched spectacle we remember from last year. The GP2 feature race was delayed for 40 minutes and was started behind the safety car.

The rainfall radar shows a chance of further rain, potentially quite heavy, around 2pm local time tomorrow. We could yet get another wet Italian Grand Prix, made all the more difficult by the fact the F1 cars haven’t had any wet running at the track yet this year.

If the rain arrives we can throw most of our assumptions about the race out the window. A rolling start behind the safety car would help Hamilton keep his lead and guarantee him a clear view of the track ahead. But it might also play into the hands of those with more fuel on on board, who could stop later.

Even without the rain, we’ve got a good chance of an excellent race tomorrow. Who’s your tip for the win?

Italian Grand Prix

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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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123 comments on “Hamilton’s light car leaves him vulnerable (Italian GP fuel weights and strategy)”

  1. StrFerrari4Ever
    12th September 2009, 17:47

    Wow really interesting weights Kovalainen if all goes well could get the win but 53 laps is a long time.

    The weather if it does rain and I hope it does will cause chaos and test the nerves of the teams the 1 stoppers would benefit so much if the race was raced under conditions where it’s chucking it down.

    Either way hopefully we get a Grand Prix to remember for a longtime!

    1. I disagree, Barrichelo is my favourite to win the race. He has 3 laps on Kovi to push an advantage in, so long as he stays with Kovi at the start he can win the race.

      1. 2 stops doesn’t look favourite and if the weather holds then for me its now out of Kovi, Button, and Barrichello. Like you said if Barrichello can keep with Kovi his extra fuel will put him in the lead after pits. But if Kovi gets a bit of a lead on them its his to take today.

        Who knows an accident causing damage or bad pitting or whatever from one of those 3 could even give Luizzi a chance to be up there.

        But… I think the two stoppers will run away with it if it rains – unless by chance that rain fell exactly around when the one stoppers were pitting.

        Should be a good race, and might not see a front row winner today.

  2. OMG! Kovi! i think I’ve been too harsh on him. Wow! Now that is definitely an one stopper. If he can manage to jump Sutil & Iceman at the start, this race is his. Good job to get in front of both the Brawns. that Force India is really quick. Good job by Luizzi too. Nico & Glock are fueled to Singapore or what?

    1. He’s a good qualifier, but he hasn’t quite got it together in the races (compared to hamilton). We’ll see if he can do it this time.

      1. He’s a good qualifier, but he hasn’t quite got it together in the races

        Looks like you have memorized what the so called “TV Pundits” say.. Good for you.
        If Lewis gets stuck behind a slower car, I don’t remember the Pundits calling him a slouch, If Macca strategy results in Kovy getting stuck in traffic, “He can’t pull it together in race”
        Double standards is all I can say…

        1. Thanks for playing, plus being an utter asshat to a fellow user on F1F, Agileracer. What rfs says is completely true and no amount of TV punditry (for or against) Kovalainen could make up for the fact that he hasn’t been producing this season (or any other for that matter).

          As for your comments re: McLaren…well I’m sorry but imho you are full of it.

          Oh btw, Good for you.

        2. I agree, and maclaren have become a one driver team, Ron Dennis wouldn’t have let that happen. Poor heikki

    2. OMG! Kovi! i think I’ve been too harsh on him.

      Thats the story of his McLaren Career. If this was a normal year ( Ferrari/McLaren battling for championship). You would have seen somewhere in last pages of McLaren debrief a tiny statement ” fuel corrected Kovy was faster than Lewis, getting stuck in traffic means his race strategy was compromised” This was what was happening with him 2008. But Alas who cares for the likes the Kovys and Naks, All that fans(ignorant is mild word to describer them)do is take things on face value and blast the drivers.
      One can pardon Fans, but the team management that knows the reality, conveniently forget and ruin careers of these “domestiques” by making statements that not necessarily reflect reality.

      If team like Williams does candid acceptance/evaluation of someone like Nak (Which they do if you follow their team debriefs), Fans make superficial observation “Kaz is just on grid because he is Toyata candidate” So very unfair.

      Thanks for @least accepting that you were harsh on a driver. Hope more fans show this kind of awareness.

      And hope you don’t forget this statement, two weeks from now ;)

      1. Awesome comment.

        Agreed wholeheartedly. I wish we had access to the engineers thoughts.

        More generally, I think a lot of the performance and even procedural aspects of Formula 1 are completely and totally opaque to the fans and even to the media (like BBC).

        This lack of information means that fans and the media alike will cling on to any scrap of information and spin a theory or narrative around it – often exposing their own biases and desires in the process.

        1. Awesome comment.

          Agreed wholeheartedly. I wish we had access to the engineers thoughts.

          Thanks for your support.

          Well with Fuel loads being made public after qualifiers, Fans can get a real picture, of how the teams fuel their two drivers and as such relative performance, like we have here for Hamilton-Vs-Kovy or Rubens-Vs-Jenson.

          About the Journos, Press and TV Pundits (some of whom have earlier managed some drivers), well they definitely have affinity based on drivers kind of PR/Rapport they build with them.. Enough said, on for the race

      2. Interesting but week after week Kovi goes to Woking and is at least 0.5 sec behind Lewis on the simulator. He has a different style to Lewis and Pedro which McLaren have tried to change.
        Oh well he’s out of contract soon.

        1. Oh well he’s out of contract soon.

          I´m not so sure. Martin Whitmarsh said on Finnish tv that Heikki Kovalainen will PROBABLY stay in McLaren for a long time…

      3. Utter nonsense. Other drivers can work with a longer srategy. Look at the Brawns, they are fueled to go even longer.

        Kovalainen simply drops it in the race. Look at Valencia. He qualified fine but then was nowhere on race pace.

        The TV pundits are right and you are blind. Simple.

        1. BTW, Kovalainen doesn’t get stuck in traffic. he generally keeps everybody behind him up. How many “Kovalainen trains” have we seen this season?

    3. Nico & Glock fuelled to Singapore! Lol! Good one!~

  3. Going to be a good race. Ham, Sutil & Raikkonen are ridiculously light compared to everyone else. Barrichello & Button are well placed as long as they avoid a collision at the first corner.

    Does it mean everyone bar Ham, Sutil & Raikkonen are on one-stops?

    1. yup everyone else is on a single stop….53 lap race….

  4. I don’t see why Heiki is the man to watch, since the Brawns just behind him are still heavier, but with a good pace. Special attention to Rubens, 1 lap heavier than his team mate (if he can start when the red lights go off…)

    1. I was thinking that, but they don’t have KERS, so Heikki will leave them behind when the lights go out :P

    2. Because of KERS, the Brawns can’t pass Kovalainen on the track. They have to do it in the pits, and they have to come out a couple of seconds ahead so Kovalainen never gets within range. And, of course, they have to be quicker than the McLarens, which practice and qualifying suggests they aren’t.

      That’s why I think Kovalainen is a bigger threat than the Brawns.

      1. What do you think about Kimi’s race prospects?

  5. Brawns are looking good, Im impressed by Heikkis pace, Raikkonen looks to have the advantage on Hamilton, Hopefully lewis can make a big enough gap before the pit stops. should be an interesting race.

    1. I don’t want an interesting race I want an exciting race!

      1. I think we’ll have it!

      2. I don’t want an interesting race I want an exciting race!

        Hear, hear!

  6. Brawns look good for it, interesting to see still Ruben’s ahead and he has a tiny bit more fuel in the tank. I think Kovy and Liuzzi done well with qualifying with Hamilton’s strategy I’m not sure, if he has blistering pace and so doesn’t lose time he’d have a better chance.

  7. Hamilton will still win the race …hờ hờ

  8. Rain may to save the race tomorrow!

  9. Remember that KERS cars could double stack the KERS during qualifying which will make them look quite a bit quicker than they will be in the race tomorrow. Taking this into account Brawn are clearly quickest with Force India and McLaren fighting for second quickest car.

    If the Brawns keep Alonso behind off the start I can’t see anyone touching them tomorrow.

    1. Hamilton didn’t use KERS twice on the start/finish straight, he was using the boost coming out of each of the chicanes.

      1. Not correct.

        On the outlaps, they were saving their KERS for just after parabolica. One of the shots showed Lewis doing just that.

    2. Good point, Jack.

  10. Kimi is also in a pretty good strategy. If he jumps Sutil at the start, Lewis will need to race a great first stint to keep 1st place.

  11. It looks like the bottom five are hoping for rain…with their fuel load they could make it through the race without stopping.

    1. @xanathos

      It looks like the bottom five are hoping for rain…with their fuel load they could make it through the race without stopping.

      Impossible, they have to use prime and option tyres.
      Unless they change it while driving :D

      1. If it rains they don’t have to do so.

  12. people to watch at the beggining are:
    Raikkonen- to see whether he can get past Sutil and Hamilton.
    Alonso- to see if he can get past Button (and even Rubens?)

  13. Kovalainen is favourite now on my opinion, but it may change tomorrow.
    Barrichello is more competitive on rain conditions.

    1. Agreed… If it rains, he’s got a great chance of winning his third Italian Grand Prix… did any of you remind this? It’s quite funny how Rubens great performances were overshadowed by the fact that he was Schumacher’s no 2 at the time, and his wins felt like the german saying – “I’ve won too much, let him take this one to himself…”

  14. C’mon…Kimi Raikkonen….he is in a better shape than what i had expected

  15. Rubens did a great job out-qualifying Button with a marginally heavier car.

    A lot will depend on how quickly the top 3 get away in the initial laps.

    If there’s rain, I just hope it isn’t so strong as to delay the start or introduce a safety-car start. A wet but drying track would be awesome.

    Should be a fascination race either way!

  16. Well sutil will be 4th by the first corner. All we can hope is that he and the two McLaren’s all take each other out battling for 1st at the chicane, and Sutil streaks off into the distance to win for Force India.

    But being realistic, Kimi might take this one, I think.

    1. I don’t see any advantage Kimi has over Lewis, and might even be overtaken in the pitstops by Heikki and the Brawns, if they get their act together.

  17. This is really interesting!! Curious strategies indeed. This way, there are going to be just 3 scheduled pit-stops in the first half of the race.

    For a 53 lap race, 17 out of 20 drivers are fueled for lap 28 or later. How often do you see that? I foresee 3 possible reasons:

    1. The Monza track probably have a lower penalty for carrying extra weight? How much is the kgs of fuel burned per lap BTW?

    2. Either of the tyrees (soft/hard) are really really bad, but I haven’t any report that concurs with this.

    3. Almost everyone is betting on rain tomorrow and is thus playing safe.

    Curious race in the offing, indeed.

    1. How much is the kgs of fuel burned per lap BTW?

      For this race is 0,33Secs per 10Kg of fuel, and the fuel consumtion per lap is 2,66Kg. So, the effect of 1 lap of fuel is around 0,088 Secs.

      It’s more less little bit below average.

      1. Where’d you get the 2.66kg figure from IDR? Williams reckon 2.525, which is what the above is based on.

        1. Mine should be worst than yours surely. I have taken this figures from this link: http://www.f1world.pl/en/pages/circuits/circuit.php?gp=13

          Those figures are for 2008, not 2009, so could be some differences.

          Btw, could you indicate me how where can I get some indications for Indianapolis about fuel consumption per lap and the effect in car’s speed?

  18. Why are drivers so heavy lately? I mean, 53 laps, 26 is enough for one-stopper, and many won’t pit till lap 30. Is that because of the rain chance?

    1. Might also be uneven due to the relative longevities of the two tyres.

  19. Perhaps Heikki will `stick it in the wall` Lap 17.1

  20. Well, another stupid strategy for Lewis. I couldn’t see why the team send him with that low fuel despite KERS advantange.
    Those pit stop predictions don’t represent the truth all the time. We know McLaren is good at using the fuel mixture. So we can see Lewis at the pit later than the 17th lap.
    Well done to Heikki. Good chance to secure his seat for next year.

  21. I have never understood fuelling a Kers car light because they are just going to make up the places at the start. I reckon Hamilton could have afforded to have about 5 more laps of fuel on board but hey, ill probably get proved wrong.

    Im going for Kimi to make it two in a row, he will be second going into the first corner and first after he pits. I have a feeling there will be some good fighting between the brawns and heikki for the final places on the podium.

    1. Even sutil will be in the mix of things with brawns and heiki….

  22. I might as well just say random stuff, because that’s what a lot of people do here!

    1. And you’re realizing that just now? :D

      Not just here, this phenomenon is entrenched in the F1 world (see Agileracer’s comments above) – I find it quite fascinating actually.

  23. Heikki is looking best i think as he is the highest placed 1 stopper. If the brawns are his next best competition they won’t be able to pass him in pits or on track due to KERS

    Between Hamilton and Raikonnen.. Raiks will pass hamo during the first pit stop from the extra lap of fuel… Raiks will be leapfrogged by a one stopping heiki later on.

    … in theory :P

  24. actually baro will probably pass him in the pits, didnt see baros fat tank :P

  25. Luizzi what a great drive. Best performance of the day. Shame about the Red Bulls being so far down but it’s what was expected. :(

    Hopefully Hamilton or Sutil can get the win tomorrow.

    But I hope for rain..

    1. StrFerrari4Ever
      12th September 2009, 19:01

      Amen rain rain please fall and help the Red Bull drivers stand tall!

      To be honest thats their best hope if they want a victory and the rest of the field all 1 stopping so if it does rain it could be very fascinating to watch.

      This race has all the right ingredients hopefully it shall give us a feast of a race!

    2. Don’t you feel it would have been better if they didn’t try to save their engines. Better take pole and suffer a 10 place grid penalty than what they are doing now.

      This far down they just look silly. Or maybe they are just gambling on rain and have adjusted their setup accordingly …

  26. I dont think sutil have much think about fuelload.as last time we have seen mercedes engine have better mileage than ferrai the only thing he have to make sure is to be ahead of kers car if he is able to do so i think he can surely think of winning the race.

    1. U r forgetting that hamilton is also having the same merc engine………But i am also supporting sutil….Go sutil go!!!

  27. not sure if RAI will do 21. the ferrarris seem to take up a lot of fuel

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley
      12th September 2009, 19:07

      Yes, and the Mercedes engine is pretty fuel efficient.

      Hamilton is the man to beat tomorrow if he doesn’t make a mess of the start.