Saturday, 18 April 2009

China GP grid and post-qualy views

The grid listed below includes the estimated laps worth of fuel, with which the cars will start. Williams estimate consumption of 2.55kg/5km, which is the equivalent of 2.78kg/lap. Naturally, some excess weight is left in (drivers lose eight during a race, cars need fuel to get to grid and do formation lap). For this reason the numbers aren't a simple "car weight-minimum allowable/fuel consumption" function. I'll assess my accuracy against the BBC and James Allen after the race tomorrow.

The grid:
Front row: Vettel (11-12) Alonso (9)
2nd row: Webber (12-13) Barrichello (17-18)
3rd row: Button (17) Trulli (19)
4th row: Rosberg (14) Raikkonen (22)
5th row: Hamilton (24) Buemi (22)
6th row: Heidfeld (24) Kovaleinen (30-31)
7th row: Massa (28) Nakajima (25-26)
8th row: Bourdais (28) Piquet (31)
9th row: Kubica (17) Sutil (13)
10th row: Glock (14) Fisichella (24)

KERS cars in bold, Glock penalised 5 places for gearbox change.
Also note that Piquet does not have the same car upgrades as Alonso, and that Alonso's front row spot is entirely due to having the lightest fuel load.

Tyre choice: In qualifying many drivers were getting a better second lap time than first out of the super-soft tyres, so they shouldn't be as bad as they were in Melbourne. However, a 40%-40%-20% two-stop strategy may still prove popular. That would leave 22-24 lap stints on medium tyres and 10-12 laps on super softs. By this reckoning Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Rosberg, Sutil and Glock are all likely to start on softs.
Barrichello, Button, Trulli and Kubica are on neither here-nor-there tyre strategies, in that their fuel loads should take them to about 1/3 distance, which isn't an obvious level for either tyre. Of course, rain may interfere.

Of the 5 forecasts I viewed (the first five from google) all show a fair chance of rain (though probabilities, where offered, vary from 30% to 90%, though these don't specifically relate to the race period. The BBC predicts heavy rain, but doesn't offer hourly forecasts for non-UK cities.

If it rains mid race, advantage to those about to stop anyway, and to those who have yet to use the softer tyres (as they would no longer have to). If the race starts wet, then advanatage to those who cope best with a drying track (if it dries at all) through timing of stops and car balance. Fuel consumption is slightly less in the wet, so that may affect stop times (as would any early safety car).

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