What Happens When Cars Aren’t as Light as Imagined
—Saturday’s qualifying was an exercise in an upside-down grid, with Giancarlo Fisichella on pole, both Toyotas and both BMWs in the top ten, and the McLarens and Jenson Button out in Q2. It would lead one to believe that the Force India was terribly light. Instead, it is Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn that is lightest on the grid, a full 50 kg less than stuck-in-fourteenth teammate Button. Jarno Trulli looks to be in a quite healthy second, stopping about three laps later than the pole sitter, one later than third Nick Heidfeld, and four laps later than Barrichello. Issues with downforce have plagued the (usually) front running teams all weekend, with various drivers complaining that “it doesn’t feel right, I just don’t have grip” (Button) and “it slides like it did at the beginning of the season” (Lewis Hamilton).
With only forty-four laps in the race, it is quite conceivable that the McLarens, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, really anyone who qualified lower than eleventh, could do a one-stop strategy. That idea is helped by the high likelihood that Spa will involve a safety car (hopefully not), and possibly some rain. Of course, the idea of a one-stopper is hurt by the likelihood of rain and its inherent necessity for changing to rain tires at some point. The weather forecast for tomorrow is mostly sunny and moderately cool, so there shouldn’t be rain, but one never knows at Spa. Also, with the complaints about lack of downforce and the cars feeling funny on the hard or soft tire (depending on the team), the tires will likely not last for a half race distance. A one-stop strategy could be a risky but points gathering strategy for a team or driver that has little to lose and a lot to gain. Perhaps Luca Badoer will attempt only one stop so as not to be passed on the pit lane or incur a penalty.
Though, common consensus has Trulli, Barrichello, and Kimi Raikkonen vying for the win, with Fisichella forced back on the podium during pitstops. Raikkonen has been making some very impressive starts lately, and will be stopping at or around lap 14. Most interesting will be how the championship is affected. Barrichello could gain impressive points on teammate Button, while Webber (who must be careful not to be seen blocking after a reprimand by the stewards this morning) and Vettel will be trying not to wreck each other at the start yet still gain points on the Brawns.
(weights and projected stop times courtesy of F1Fanatic)
|Grid||Name||Weight||Fuel (kg)||First stint (laps)|
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