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

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