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)|
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.
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 Hülkenberg 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.