Vettel has slight strategy advantage (Japanese Grand Prix fuel weights)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Vettel's strategy gives him a good chance of winning tomorrow's race
Vettel's strategy gives him a good chance of winning tomorrow's race

Sebastian Vettel should be able to pit one lap later than Jarno Trulli and Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix.

But will he be able to keep Hamilton behind at the start of the race? Here are the fuel weights in full.

Grid Qualifying Name Weight Fuel (kg) First stint (laps)
1 1 Sebastian Vettel 658.5 53.5 18
2 2 Jarno Trulli 655.5 50.5 17
3 3 Lewis Hamilton 656 51 17
4 6 Nick Heidfeld 660 55 18
5 8 Kimi Raikkonen 661 56 19
6 5 Rubens Barrichelllo 660.5 55.5 19
7 11 Nico Rosberg 684.5 79.5 27
8 4 Adrian Sutil 650 45 15
9 13 Robert Kubica 686 81 28
10 7 Jenson Button 658.5 53.5 18
11 9 Heikki Kovalainen 675 70 24
12 15 Jaime Alguersuari 682.5 77.5 27
13 10 Sebastien Buemi 665.4 60.4 20
14 16 Giancarlo Fisichella 661.5 56.5 19
15 17 Kazuki Nakajima 695.7 90.7 31
16 18 Romain Grosjean 691.8 86.8 30
17 12 Fernando Alonso 689.5 84.5 29
18 19 Vitantonio Liuzzi 682.5 77.5 27
19 19 Mark Webber

This grid is provisional. For more information on the starting order see here: Japanese Grand Prix grid (updated)

The start

Vettel vs Hamilton

Who prevails between Vettel and Hamilton on the run towards the first corner will be crucial to the outcome of the race.

From third on the grid, Hamilton’s KERS boost should allow him to make short work of Trulli’s Toyota. But will he be able to get past Vettel as well?

The run to the first corner at Suzuka is not one of the longest. And the double right-hand first corner has a short braking zone, making it harder for Hamilton to steal an advantage.

If Hamilton can’t pass Vettel there, he will most likely have to follow the Red Bull until they exit the hairpin. That could give him the chance to use KERS to pass at Spoon, or on the exit from Spoon down towards 130R, or at the start of the following lap.

Keep an eye on both drivers when the tyres warmers come off at the start to see whether either of them has gambled on starting the race on soft tyres for a crucial extra burst of first-lap pace. However the soft tyres could be more prone to graining early in the race before the track has rubbered in – a particular problem for Red Bull this year.

But for Vettel this is everything he could have dreamed of: he’s starting from pole position with the Brawns tenth or worse, and more fuel on board than those closest to him. This gives him a precious opportunity to keep him championship hopes alive.

Japanese Grand Prix