Early pit stop could compromise Barrichello (Brazilian GP fuel strategies)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Rubens Barrichello has gambled on a slightly shorter first stint
Rubens Barrichello has gambled on a slightly shorter first stint

Rubens Barrichello won’t have everything his own way tomorrow as the fuel weight for the Brazilian Grand Prix revealed he will have to stop two laps earlier than Mark Webber and Adrian Sutil.

Jarno Trulli, who starts fourth, will also make his first stop later than Barrichello. Here’s the fuel weights in full:

Fuel weights

Grid Name Weight Fuel (kg) First stint (laps)
1 Rubens Barrichello 650.5 45.5 22
2 Mark Webber 656 51 24
3 Adrian Sutil 656.5 51.5 25
4 Jarno Trulli 658.5 53.5 26
5 Kimi Raikkonen 651.5 46.5 22
6 Sebastien Buemi 659 54 26
7 Nico Rosberg 657 52 25
8 Robert Kubica 656 51 24
9 Kazuki Nakajima 664 59 28
10 Fernando Alonso 652 47 22
11 Kamui Kobayashi 671.6 66.6 32
12 Jaime Alguerusari 671.5 66.5 32
13 Romain Grosjean 677.2 72.2 35
14 Jenson Button 672 67 32
15 Sebastian Vettel 683.5 78.5 38
16 Heikki Kovalainen 656.5 51.5 25
17 Lewis Hamilton 661 56 27
18 Nick Heidfeld 650.5 45.5 22
19 Giancarlo Fisichella 683.5 78.5 38
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi 680 75 37

Jenson Button is starting on a similar strategy to the cars immediately in front of him – he will need to work is way past them if he is to have any chance of scoring well tomorrow.

The two McLarens are fuelled aggressively and will be able to use KERS to make progress. Sebastian Vettel, however, has settled on a long first stint in the hopes of moving up the running order.

Trulli could be a dark horse for a strong result here, as the heaviest of the top four. But a fast-starting Kimi Raikkonen could upset his race.

Sebastien Buemi also has a very respectable fuel load having qualified an excellent sixth for Toro Rosso.

The start

Barrichello will have to fend off Webber at the start, but he can at least take heart from the fact that this highest KERS car – Raikkonen’s – is four places back and not likely to give him too much grief.

Button will be having nightmares about that 14th place grid slot tonight. The Senna ‘S’ is a devillish funnel that’s just made for first-lap accidents – such as the one that eliminated David Coulthard on the first lap of last year’s race.

Worse, Button has F1’s three least experienced drivers right in front of him – Kamui Kobayashi, Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean – and the fast-starting McLaren duo just two rows back. And his other title rival Vettel in his wheel tracks. The pressure on Button at the start will be gigantic.

Wet set-ups

The teams are restricted in terms of the changes they can make to the cars between qualifying and the race. So the other big question mark ahead of tomorrow’s race is what kind of set-ups the drivers have gone for – who’s gambling on wet weather, and who’s leant towards a dry set-up.

On the face of it Vettel seems the most likely to have taken the gamble. Normally so at ease in wet conditions, he was unable to do better than 16th in the first part of qualifying.

Also the McLaren drivers were quick to blame their failure to progress beyond Q1 on the shortcomings of the MP4-24. Although the cars’ downforce levels are poor, 17th and 18th is still somewhat worse than one might expect, suggesting something else might be responsible for their low starting positions.

Update: Vitantonio Liuzzi has been given a five-place penalty following an engine change. This is more bad news for Button, as Vettel now starts alongside him and the KERS-powered Mclarens start one place closer.

Brazilian Grand Prix

88 comments on “Early pit stop could compromise Barrichello (Brazilian GP fuel strategies)”

  1. Lewis said in interview that his car had a dry set up.

    Keith, by what you’re saying, you’re implying that the McLaren drivers put in poor performances. I believe Lewis and Martin Whitmarsh when they describe the car as having no downforce in those conditions. I’m sure they know what they are talking about.

    They need to start sorting the car out for next year in order to iron out those downforce problems.

    1. No I’m suggesting they’re using dry weather set ups. I haven’t heard the interview you mentioned, got a link?

      1. The interview was shown during qualifying.

        1. Thanks for that guys.

    2. And, obviously, its hard to recover the benefit of the KERS packaging bargain with little traction. Traction and acceleration is where the McLaren makes up for and often overcomes it’s lack of aero efficiency. I can’t understand the dry-set up gamble either. Who told Marty it would be dry? It’s going to be another soggy day tomorrow.

      Jenson Button has filed his answer to Keith’s post yesterday about whether he is a deserving chamption. So far, he is doing a good job of “blowing it.”

      1. Agreed that he is blowing it but Martin Brundle points out in today’s Sunday Times that Button has led more laps this season than Vettel and Rubens combined. So not that unworthy if it happens

  2. ”Jarno Trulli, who starts third”

    does he not start first keith

  3. Jarno Trulli, who starts third”

    does he not start first keith

    now im making a mistake

    does trulli not start fourth

    1. Who knows where Trulli starts! One thing’s ‘for sure’- he won’t finish in a higher position than he starts.

    2. LOL thanks for that David, sorted now.

  4. I don’t think a short 1st stint is risky… completely the other way, i believe running short is good to an eventual rain/sun/safety car thing, very plausible for tomorrow in São Paulo…

    1. If the others stick with him or he has a bad start though we could see him end up down the field and Button win due to not enough points – which will end up being a rubbish end to the season.

      It’s all in Barrichello’s hands now.

  5. James Carruthers
    17th October 2009, 23:33

    If it’s a wet race tomorrow then Ruben’s will have a fantastic visibility advantage if he can get in to first.

    While I am supporting Button – I’ve been a long time Barrichello supporter too – I can’t decide!

  6. Keith, Hamilton had a dry set-up (and an awful car):


  7. Don’t expect problems for Vettel from the McLaren’s unless Lewis breaks the script & thinks his contract is bullet proof. Haug’s “special friend” as he called Vettel today is worth more to them as champion, so Kimi is getting 3rd party swapped by McLaren / Santander for Vettel in order for RB to take some cash & the Mercedes engine into 2011? That explains Webber’s comments. If that Cosworth goes then 2010 could still be interesting for RB. Hamilton & Vettel for 1 year and then Vettel back to RB for 2011 following the Mercedes engine with Kimi to retire. Mercedes then has the Rosberg / Vettel combo in seperate powered teams and McLaren gets sold off.

  8. I’m not sure if i want wet weather tommorow.
    With dry weather im sure we’ll have Button, Hamilton, Vettle with maybe Kovalinen fighting their way through the pack. But a wet race would play into Barrichello’s hands and I want this victory for him with a hunger.

    Never enjoy the sight of floundering McLarens though.

  9. If it’s dry, Vettel will get on the podium. That RBR is wicked quick here. And, he is 1-stopping, that’s worth about 25-26 seconds. The key for both him and Button is to not get involved in a 1st-lap accident. I think overtaking is possible here, so a quick driver w/ a dry set-up will be able to gain several places quickly.

    1. How is one stopping worth 25-26 seconds?

      Or are you simply forgetting that carrying around a heavy fuel load costs a huge amount of time?

  10. A dry race will make a spectacular race of driving with the lower “dry cars” picking off the field.

    A wet race is always interesting but can be decided purely on pitting decisions etc.

  11. Kubica is also on dry weather setup

      1. It was on autosport.com

  12. If Vettel gets not points – the best thing for him is Barrichello not to finish, that way he can grab secondin WDC.

    Webber to hit Barrichello!

    1. With Barrichellos knack for muffing his starts, and Webbers degree in wrecking his cars, you may get your wish…lol.

      1. remember nurburgring

      2. not a very exciting way for Jenson to win the title though… would be great to see him come through the field in style today. Something which we have not seen Vettel do.

  13. Alonso was pretty rubbish in Q3… he had the joint lightest fuel load yet he ended up last. At least he beat Grosjean. I hope he enjoys his last two pressure free races at Renault, as he won’t be getting any more mediocre teammates while he’s at Ferrari

  14. Johnnie Siggie
    18th October 2009, 0:20

    If Kimi doesnt nail Sutil at the Start we could see the first force india victory.

    1. Webber is 3 tenths faster than Sutil on the same fuel load so I don’t think Sutil will win it without something happening to Webber and Barrichello. A wet race could help Sutil but Webber and Barrichello are great in the wet too. I’m really worried for Barrichello, unless he gets a 21+ seconds lead he’s in danger of Webber and maybe Sutil passing him in the first pitstop. Lets hope Barichello breaks his duck at his home grand prix and keep the championship alive to the last race. Its going to be exciting race tomorrow.

      1. I’m pretty sure Barrichello doesn’t need 21 seconds over Webber at his first stop…. and Webber was .3s faster than Sutil in qualifying – doesn’t mean it’ll hold lap after lap in the race…

        1. Jelle van der Meer
          18th October 2009, 9:19

          Agree – why the 21s gap needed – if he has 5 seconds it is enough as Webber will not make up 2,5 seconds per lap.

          For Barrichello it is much more important how much lead he has on positions 4-10. The lower he gets back on the grid the more time he will lose.

          His luck can be Raikonnen creating the gap in which Barichello can return and overtake Trulli, Sutil and Webber when they pit.

  15. Vettel gained a position, Liuzzi will change the gearbox…

  16. dont think 2 laps more will matter in this race. rubens just needs to keep flooring it and extend the gap and drive a solid race. webber is his only problem here since Sutil will be more worried from kimi getting in his way and slowing him down. A accident is just waiting for jenson in the first corner and i can smell spa all over again for jenson.

    1. Weather tomorrow will pbviously play a big part. Light rain, and the top lot may drive away. Heavy rain, who knows. Dry… many at the front may end up moving backwards – possibly even out of the points. A dry car set-up will pull loads out of a wet car every lap… on the long straight alone it is probably a couple of tenths.

      A dry race… Hamilton will be on the podium I reckon.

    2. I forgot to add… at least button has experienced drivers behind him.

  17. watch for VET vs BUT tommorrow! EPIC

    1. You mean watch for Button easily letting Vettel past at the first sign of pressure, methinks.

    2. In two or three laps Vettel will be behind lewis, Heikki and Jenson. He is very, very heavy…

      1. I think it’s clever though. Now he doesn’t care if Hamilton and Heikki get past him. He is so heavy that he can just run flat out and still be slower than the people ahead of him.

        When he does his stop he will have free track ahead of him and he can make time up.

        More importantly, he won’t have to overtake cars on track, but he can wait and hope that strategy will do the overtaking for him.

  18. Reubens has a great chance to take charge of this championship. Jenson has got to be freaking out. Frankly, I think you can see the pressure wearing on him. Jenson is in the twilight zone…does he go for it or try to stay safe & finish & see what happens ahead of him. Tell you what, Vettel will be going for broke to get around Jenson and get to the front! Building to be a great finish. Bernie is going to get his title decider at Abu Dahbi.

  19. On coreccted fuel weights webber is fastest and with a two lap advantage barra will not hold him back. well, in a dry race anyway!

    1. I wouldn’t hold your breath; Red Bull constantly seem to bottle it when they’re not on pole but are fastest fuel corrected.

      1. Webber has actually gained plenty places during the races.

        1. Clarification: Red Bull never seem to win it when they’re not on pole but are fastest fuel corrected.

  20. Red Bull seem to be fastest ‘fuel corrected’ (God I hate that term) for every race this season, and yet they have never won when not on pole.

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