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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

  1. 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….

  2. 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.

  3. 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

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

  5. 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 …

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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.

  8. Dumb question, but which side of the track will Ham be starting on? Inside or outside?

      1. This is what I see happening going into the first corner.
        RAI and KOV will use their KERS to overtake SUT, dropping SUT to 4th, then at some point, BUT will pass him, leaving him vulnerable to BAR (if it rains BAR will pass him or they will take each other out). All in all the top 8 will round out like this:
        I put Bar last simply because I cheer for Red Bull and don’t paricularly like Bar. lol.

        1. if you like red bull so much then why did you put Button so high up?

          1. being realistic.

        2. hihihi…hohoho…hehehe….It is Monday now and guess who won?

  9. but he is having more load than hamilton arun. he just have to make sure he keep ferrai back

  10. brian i think you are underestimating luzzi and for your information he is having good fuel in his car.

    1. I just think that LIU and ALO are gonna get bumped out by VET and WEB. I’m putting a lot of faith that LIU will go out in the first corner. Some one usually does, and I so I had to pick some one, unfortuneately it is him. It is no fault of his, but it seems that the home boys almost always never do that great. Sorry.

  11. Paige Michael-Shetley
    12th September 2009, 19:06

    I still think this is Hamilton’s race. Yes, he’s light on fuel, but look how much quicker he is than drivers who are heavier? He’s about a second quicker than the Brawns, and he’ll likely be quicker than that in the race if Alonso jumps them on the start and holds them up. At the pace he’s had all weekend, Hamilton could well come out ahead of the Brawns at the start; at the very least, he’ll build more than enough of a margin to hold them off in the overlaps.

    The only threat to Hamilton is Raikkonen. But whereas Hamilton was less than a tenth quicker than Barrichello in Valencia on the same relative strategies, he’s half a second quicker than Raikkonen at Monza. His pace is genuine, and he should have more than enough of a margin to stay ahead of Raikkonen through the overlaps.

    1. Fuel adjusted Heikki was quickest with Bar in second Ham in third and Button fourth. Only .075 sec seperating all four. So he hasnt really got any advantage over any of his rivals.

      Plus Brawns have a better race pace then the Mclarens so i think tomorrow will be a struggle for lewis.

  12. i am looing forward to this

    kimi and lewis go racing and button and rubans are coming hunting this is going to be the best GP all year…………………………

  13. McLaren have revealed a prototype of their 2010 car, the mp4-25


    1. common….i believed it for once….nice trick….(they aint gonna hve Santander written over their car)

    2. I don’t get it…?

  14. There is no question that the Mercedes engined cars are doing better than the rest. Alonso would do well moving to Brawn instead of Ferrari.
    The future belongs to Mercedes.
    Maybe Hamilton will win tomorrow. Alonso will also be up there, specially if it rains.

  15. Thanks mp4, what do you think of the car?
    Rubens may need to change gearbox tomorrow, the team are going to look at the data. I hope it’s ok or this championship will never close up.

  16. The grid is quite interesting and looks like many cars would have un-scheduled pit stops at the end of lap 1.It looks like the SC is inevitable at the end of Lap 1.
    Firstly we have Sutil surrounded by Kimi & Kovi.(It will be interesting to see how the passing between these cars take place)
    Then we have the second lot, here again we have a FI involved.Tonio having Alonso(KERS) and behind him is a desperate Vettel.
    Third we have KERS at the disposal of two new drivers who are using it for the first time(FISI & GRO).Wonder how they wud manage it at the start.
    Hence fuel loads would mean nothing as there are always possibilities that the cars make an unscheduled pit stop(just similar to what happened at Spa).
    But this uncertainity is what makes this sport so interesting….

  17. How are the pit stops predicted? FIA just publishes the total weight of the car and I am sure Sutil is lot heavier than Hamilton and there is always possibility that the driver’s weight changes from race to race. Are there numericals that eloborates the Car’s weight given above?

    1. didnt realise its just the cars weight without the driver…:D

      1. The weight is actually including the driver, but the cars are built underweight and they use ballast to reach the minimum 605kg (with no fuel).
        It is assumed that all cars weigh 605kg. but if you have a heavy KERS and a heavy driver you might have to add extra ballast to get the balance right (that’s a possible reason why Kimi pitted so early in Belgium).

    2. The cars’ minimum weight including the driver is 605kg, and all the teams can build a car lighter than that, they use ballast to get to 605kg. Anything on top of that is fuel, so the difference is their fuel weight.

      Williams estimate 2.525kg of per lap, so we can work out how many laps they can do on that fuel load. They also have to drive to the grid and do their formation lap on that fuel, although not at race pace, so we deduct one laps’ worth of fuel.

      Obviously, there are limitations to how accurately we can model this. We’re just using a general average figure when each engine will have a different rate of fuel consumption. Driving style can have a big effect too, especially on the formation lap. For example, at Spa, Raikkonen believed he lost his fuel weight advantage over Fisichella by aggressively warming up his tyres on the formation lap.

  18. I don’t think that Lewis is particularly vulnerable, given his position and fuel strategy. Sure, he’s light; but this has given him pole, which will be very helpfull. First, being light, Lewis should have good pace to pull away, especially if slower cars get in between him and his quick opponents, such as Brawn and Red Bull. Second, Lewis has a clear run into the first corner and is unlikely to be involved in any first-corner (potentially race-ruining) incident. Third, Lewis should have good visibility if it rains.

    Moreover, if you look at the fuel-corrected grid, McLaren are strong. Lewis might be ever so slightly behind Kovi, here, but we know that Kovi cannot sustain this in race pace; and Lewis can.

    1 Kovalainen (lap 28 of 53)
    2 Barrichello +0.016 (lap 30)
    3 Hamilton +0.047 (lap 16)
    4 Button +0.073 (lap 29)
    5 Sutil +0.200 (lap 17)
    6 Raikkonen +0.266 (lap 19)
    7 Liuzzi +0.296 (lap 27)
    8 Vettel +0.363 (lap 27)
    9 Alonso+0.381 (lap 26)
    10 Webber +0.469 (lap 28)

    [From BBC]

    1. Can somebody clarify what is the exact meaning of this fuel-corrected grid data and how is it calculated?

      1. I think they ascribe a time deficit per lap for every kilo of fuel and work it out from there.

        To be honest, I have little to no faith in these calculations which is why I don’t rely on them. It’s a hypothetical too far for me.

        1. To be honest, I have little to no faith in these calculations which is why I don’t rely on them. It’s a hypothetical too far for me.

          Well, I think for fuel correction are far more accurate than for pit stop estimations.

          For fuel corrected figures the important thing is lap differences between drivers, not the exact lap they are going to pit, so I think are much more accurate. It’s just important to be consistent with all calculations for all drivers, that’s all. (And have a not to bad estimation of the effect in speed of 1 lap of fuel)

          In any case, I agree is a theoretical exercise given each driver could have performed badly (As Sutil in Q3) so is just theory; but giving you good information about fuel loads and performance despite it is not exact.

          1. (and have a not too* bad…)

  19. i wish Bar has gearbox change than luzzi have a good chance making in point tomm.it just sutil who have problem having kERS CAR in front and back. Tomm he(sutil) have to drive sensibly other than doing anthing stupid on first lap.If he is able to keep ferrai back in first lap than he can look good for whole race.

    1. If he is able to keep ferrai back in first lap


      true FI fan eh??

  20. If it rains you’ve got cats-in-a-bag….

    How long can Button keep sleep walking his way toward somebodies championship? If he continue in the current form, and still wins the driver’s C, it has got to be the the strangest road to a coronation in memory.

    In fact this whole season is more than a bit twisted. I just hope we go into the last race with a handful of possible champions.

    As for tomorrow……….let the boys from the Sub-continent have their day…variety is the spice of life you know.

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