The top three qualifiers have all fuelled very lightly for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix – with Fernando Alonso potentially making his first stop for fuel after just nine laps.
It’s likely a ploy to get a stint on the unfavourable super-soft tyre out of the way as quickly as possible – but it could backfire on the drivers if there’s an early safety car period tomorrow.
To put it into perspective, Alonso’s starting weight of 637kg is 10kg less than the lightest start at Malaysia, where Vettel started at 647kg and no-one else was lighter than 655kg.
The FIA has published the official starting weights of each car, which means we can predict the lap one which each driver will make their first pit stops.
Here’s how I worked out the stint lengths:
1. Deduct the minimum car weight (605kg) from the total weight of the car.
2. Divide that by the approximate weight of fuel used per lap (2.6kg at Shanghai)
3. Deduct three laps’ worth of fuel to account for driving from the pit lane to the grid, the formation lap, and extra fuel left in the tank as a safety net when the driver makes his first stop
4. Round down to the nearest whole lap
That gives us the following predictions:
|Grid||Qualifying||Name||Weight||Fuel||First stint (laps)|
|16||17||Nelson Piquet Jnr||697.9||92.9||32|
(Car and fuel weights in kilograms).
Although this puts Webber and Vettel down as stopping on the same lap, realistically Webber is probably able to go one lap further than his team mate (this is a quirk of the ’rounding down’ part of the calculation).
Other interesting points include:
- Rubens Barrichello out-qualifying Jenson Button with more fuel on board
- Robert Kubica, Adrian Sutil and Timo Glock are fuelled lightly in a bid to make up positions early on