The championship-leading trio of Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello have taken the top three spots on the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.
But keep an eye on the man in fourth: Felipe Massa in the newly-upgraded Ferrari could use his KERS to disrupt the leaders at the start.
Here’s a look at how the Spanish Grand Prix could unfold.
Pole position gives Jenson Button the advantage of starting from the clean side of the grid and, conversely, puts Sebastian Vettel at risk of losing second to Rubens Barrichello.
That’s exactly what happened to Fernando Alonso last year, when he started second between the two Ferraris. And it’s exactly what Vettel doesn’t need if he’s to take advantage of his heavier car to get ahead of Button after the pit stops.
The highest-starting KERS-equipped car is fourth on the grid. This time it’s Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, so what can he do from that position?
Lewis Hamilton was able to move up from fifth to third at Bahrain, so Massa will be aiming for a similar improvement. Jenson Button hasn’t made the best of starts this year, so if Massa makes a rapid getaway (he gained four places off the start at Melbourne and three at Sepang) it’s not inconceivable he could end up in the lead – and then we’d have a race on our hands.
According to Bridgestone the teams are finding the soft tyre quicker and sufficiently durable to run for a stint. A normal strategy will probably involve two stints on the soft tyres followed by a final run on the harder compound.
For Button, the best thing that can happen would be for Barrichello to pass Vettel and keep the Red Bull behind.
Another driver to keep an eye on is Robert Kubica. He seems much happier with the updated BMW F1.09 and would have qualified better had he not ended up on the wrong tyres for his final lap.
Overtaking is often extremely difficult at the Circuit de Catalunya. Tellingly, Kimi Raikkonen has not tried to improve his position by going light and fuel and passing other cars – even though he is one of few cars with KERS – he is starting with a heavy load of fuel and hoping to pass cars via a longer fuel strategy. If he can pick off a few rivals in the opening laps as well, so much the better for him.
Your tips for victory
I asked on Twitter who people tip for the win – here’s some of the responses:
cholle2001: brawn still looking good, despite everyone’s upgrades. But i wanna see vettel win his 3rd :)
alvint: i think massa has a real chance tomorrow. glad to see ferrari back on good form.
gofinn: Vettel – if he gets off the line okay
ManipeF1: I’d imagine it’ll be between Button and Vettel again. I’m going for Vettel, he’s a super talent.
Who do you think will win the Spanish Grand Prix? Have your say below.