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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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?â??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)

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

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

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

  2. 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…

  3. “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 post), he claims the inside is the clean side. Lol.

          1. Check the onboard video Link with Massa from last year. This will make things clear which is the racing line. Rubens aint getting past the McLaren even on the cleaan side anyway.

          2. Massa runs the race line over the inside line of the grid. So then Rubens (and Hamilton and Button) are on the clean side.

            This’ll be the end of me ;)

    2. They swapped it around last year. It was to be on the left for the pole sitter, but moved to the right which is the dirty side. So yes Rubens is on the dirty side.

      1. Yeah, I guess the drivers would know if they are on the clean line or not.

    3. Actually I’m confused now, if Rubens is right about the grid change then Hamilton is on the dirty side and kovalainen is on the clean. We’ll see tomorrow anyway.

      1. In the GP2 feature race Nico HĂĽlkenberg starting from pole position on the clean, inside line (i.e. the right hand side of the rid as you line up on it).

  4. Weird strategy by Kubika.

    By the way, a stellar job by Kovalainen. He has a less-upgraded car. Carried more fuel than Lewis. And inspite of that, was on course for pole. I hope that mistake isn’t too costly.

    Rubens holds the key tomorrow. If he can somehow start properly, and stick at the back of Mclarens through the first stint, he will be in a good position to win.

    Everyone in top 10 is fuelled pretty much in the same range, thus anyone outside the top 4 challenging for victory seems unlikely.
    In all, too many IFs to make tomorrow’s race exciting.

    Let the snorefest begin!!!

    1. Hamilton was going a lot faster than Kovalainen on his last (aborted) lap though.

      1. oh yeah, sorry!! missed that. He couldn’t have got pole anyways.

    2. Although, if Kovalainen’s lap had been good enough for pole, Hamilton would have had to complete his lap. Even if he had re-taken pole, he’d have used up another lap’s worth of fuel. The timing of his last lap was crucial.

    3. He doesn’t have a less-upgraded car.

  5. I was shouting at the TV for Mac not to send Hamilton out again – I really thought he’d have the pole with that lap and didn’t need to burn the fuel. I think he’ll be safe for the race though anyway.

    1. I was surprised how close Kov came to snatching it, goes to show that he can do it and just needs a bit of pressure to get the best out of him.

      1. Indeed. He’s always been quick, but his race pace and at times clumsy manouvres are what lets him down.

        I hope he wins tomorrow however, as he certainly deserves an outright win by now.

  6. I am going to win this race!

    1. Let’s not make fun out of that guy now.

  7. Prisoner Monkeys
    23rd August 2009, 1:17

    I expected Hamilton to be light … but not that light, whichI don’t think bodes well for them. When was the last time the pole-sitter won with less fuel than anyone?

    If Hamilon wins, it’ll be evidence that KERS was a bad move.

  8. I just wonder where is so called “equal” treatment of drivers in Mclaren :( Heikki heavier flue load…again and Hamilton have updated car, not heikki….again sigh.

    Kimi said that ferrari is ok to drive, not just fast enough and because ferrari have stopped this year car development it wont get any better.

    I think this race is McLarens if they wont do any stupid mistakes.

    I wish win to Barrichello or to Heikki, both of them deserve it.

  9. Blue_linksys
    23rd August 2009, 3:15

    This is gonna be a procession. Also, along with the quali timings, can you plz put Kers or no??

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      23rd August 2009, 8:44

      It’s easy to tell who uses KERS: ony Ferrari and McLaren.

  10. Q2 times show Hamilton and Barichello have about the same ultimate pace, n/w/s the supposed advantage Brawn had in Q3. With the weight advantage and the button—Hamilton may get 2-3 seconds on him alone by turn 1—Barichello will not be in a position to leap frog both silver cars with 3 laps of fury. He has to hope for an SC period, or that Hamilton comes out in a Raikkonen Train.

  11. I am seeing a steady decrease in the performance of the Toyotas. They were upper-midfield, front runners during the beginning of the season. Maybe the development has stopped?? forerunner to them quitting at end of the season ?? maybe??

    1. The first two races they had the advantage of their double decker diffuser. So yeah from that point they have been going down.

      Still, I’d say it’s more that their performance is erratic. They do really poorly at tracks like Monaco and Valencia, but at fast speed tracks they are doing much better.

      Also, last race in Hungary they finished P6 and P8. Not spectacular, but nowhere near as bad as here.

      1. It seems to be affecting Trulli more than Glock as well. He has higher highs and lower lows.

  12. Mercedes will win this race easily, either with McLaren or with BrawnGP!!!

  13. I am surprised McLaren have fuelled Hamilton so light, unless they think that is genuinely the best strategy for them. The way they have been using KERS McLaren could afford to start a few places back and still have a good chance to be leading after the first lap.

    I don’t know if it was just the way it was presented on TV but it seemed Hamilton did a first run of 4 laps in Q3 even though he ruined his second flying lap by going off track, so wasting a lap of fuel, but it was balanced out by him aborting his final flying lap when it became clear he would be on pole anyway, so he should be starting with his roughly target fuel level.

    Assuming the McLarens manage to get away from the start in first and second I think the race will be determined by the lead they can pull out in their first stint.

    Even though Kubica qualified better than his teammate and made it to Q3 starting on the dirt side of the grid and with Heidfeld going longer on strategy, it is another example of why finishing 11th in Q2 is sometimes better than managing to get into Q3.

    As for Badoer I wouldn’t be surprised if he is happy to have a slow start and stay at the back rather than risk fully using KERS and getting mixed up with all the other cars in front of him, after all he has been involved in any form of racing for 10 years and he has already said he is treating this race as a test session.

    1. Heidfeld is in better shape than Kubika for today’s race not because of him not getting into Q3.

      It is because of Kubika’s strange decision to go ultra-light. Cars in Q3 don’t have any ‘upper limit’ on the fuel they can carry. Kubika could have chosen to carry a heavy fuel load as well. Why he didn’t do that and went for an ambitious strategy is inexplicable.

      1. I can only guess he’s planning on using the super-softs first to get rid of them. He’ll need to leave Heidfeld behind in the first stint though. A safety car would wreck his race – and the GP2 sprint race this morning had three of them…

  14. European GP (Valencia); Comparing predicted and actual pit stops.

    Grid . . kg . .Pred. Actual . . . . Fin
    .. . . . . . . La. T La T La T La T 56Laps
    01k HAM  48.0  16  s — – 16 s 37 m 02
    02k KOV 50.0  17  s — – 17 s 39 m 04
    03  BAR  57.5  20  m — – 20 m 40 s 01
    04  VET  49.0  17  m 16 – 18 – 24r  RET
    05  BUT  56.5  20  – — – 20 – 43 – 07
    06k RAI  56.5  20  s — – 20 s 40 – 03
    07  ROS  60.0  21  – — – 20 – 44 s 05
    08  ALO  51.5  18  m — – 18 – 43 – 06
    09  WEB  59.5  21  – — – 21 – 44 s 09
    10  KUB  52.5  18  s — – 16 – 41 – 08
    11  HEI  72.0  26  – — – 22 – 44 – 11
    12  SUT  67.5  24  – — – 22 – 39 – 10
    13  GLO  89.7  32  – 02!  33 s 50 – 14
    14  GRO  72.7  26  – 02!  29 – 43 – 15
    15  BUE  83.5  30  – 02!  25 – 44r  RET
    16  FIS  87.5  31  – — – 32 – — – 12
    17  NAK  97.0  35  – 31 – 41 – 56r  RET
    18  TRU 102.3  37  – — – 35 – — – 13
    19  ALG  73.5  26  – — – 22 – 34 – 16
    20k BAD  85.5  31  s 29 s 34d  45 – 17

    k = KERS, m = soft tyres, s = super-soft tyres

    Hot and dry.
    Temp. air: 31 C, track: 47 C
    Wind: 2 m/s

    Order at end of first lap:
    HAM, KOV, BAR, RAI(+2), VET(-1), ROS(+1), ALO(+1), BUT(-3), WEB, HEI(+1), KUB(-1), SUT, FIS(+3), NAK(+3),
    TRU(+3), ALG(+3), BAD(+3), GRO(-4), GLO(-6), BUE(-5)

    KERS on first lap: RAI(+2), BAD no advantage over grid rivals.

    Luca Badoer gets injured Massa’s seat in the Ferrari. Romain Grosjean replaces Piquet in the Renault.

    INCIDENTS: (1)BUE runs into back of GLO who hits GRO(?) (3)BAD spins, (9)GRO spins, (16)VET fuel rig problem in
    pits, (24)VET stops (engine failure), (29)BAD cuts white line on pit exit, (36)BAD spins, (37)HAM not ready with tyres in pits, (40)NAK puncture left rear, (44)BUE stops (brake problem), (56)NAK pits on last lap.

    UNSCHEDULED PIT STOPS: (1)BUE (nose), GRO, GLO; (18)VET (short fuelled previous stop); (34)BAD (takes drive-through penalty); (41)NAK (puncture); (56)NAK.

  15. Let me try that table again:

    Grid . . kg . .Pred. Actual . . . . Fin
    .. . . . . . . La. T La T La T La T 56Laps
    01k HAM  48.0  16  s -- - 16 s 37 m 02
    02k KOV 50.0  17  s -- - 17 s 39 m 04
    03  BAR  57.5  20  m -- - 20 m 40 s 01
    04  VET  49.0  17  m 16 - 18 - 24r  RET
    05  BUT  56.5  20  - -- - 20 - 43 - 07
    06k RAI  56.5  20  s -- - 20 s 40 - 03
    07  ROS  60.0  21  - -- - 20 - 44 s 05
    08  ALO  51.5  18  m -- - 18 - 43 - 06
    09  WEB  59.5  21  - -- - 21 - 44 s 09
    10  KUB  52.5  18  s -- - 16 - 41 - 08
    11  HEI  72.0  26  - -- - 22 - 44 - 11
    12  SUT  67.5  24  - -- - 22 - 39 - 10
    13  GLO  89.7  32  - 02!  33 s 50 - 14
    14  GRO  72.7  26  - 02!  29 - 43 - 15
    15  BUE  83.5  30  - 02!  25 - 44r  RET
    16  FIS  87.5  31  - -- - 32 - -- - 12
    17  NAK  97.0  35  - 31 - 41 - 56r  RET
    18  TRU 102.3  37  - -- - 35 - -- - 13
    19  ALG  73.5  26  - -- - 22 - 34 - 16
    20k BAD  85.5  31  s 29 s 34d  45 - 17

  16. Good Luck! Your fan.

  17. All the best! Your fan.

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