Bahrain Grand Prix: Car Weights and Race Predictions

Daniel ChalmersSenior Analyst IApril 25, 2009

SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 25:  Jarno Trulli (L) of Italy and Toyota celebrates with second placed team mate Timo Glock (R) of Germany and Toyota in parc ferme after taking pole position during qualifying for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 25, 2009 in Sakhir, Bahrain.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

1. Trulli          Toyota                 648.5

 2. Glock        Toyota                 643.0

 3. Vettel       Red Bull-Renault       659.0

 4. Button      Brawn-Mercedes         652.5

 5. Hamilton  McLaren-Mercedes       652.5

 6. Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes         649.0

 7. Alonso       Renault                650.5

 8. Massa        Ferrari                664.5

 9. Rosberg      Williams-Toyota        670.5

10. Raikkonen    Ferrari                671.5

11. Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes       678.5

12. Nakajima     Williams-Toyota        680.9

13. Kubica       BMW-Sauber             698.6

14. Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber             696.3

15. Piquet       Renault                677.6

16. Sutil           Force India-Mercedes   679.0

17. Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     678.5

18. Fisichella  Force India-Mercedes   652.0

19. Webber     Red Bull-Renault       656.0

20. Bourdais   Toro Rosso-Ferrari     667.5


Finally the car weights are in and there are some very interesting conclusions. The Toyotas aren’t that much lighter as many were expecting. Sebastien Vettel is heavier than those around him so he is in a particularly strong position.

Timo Glock is the lightest of the front runners and he will come in around lap 12/13. Trulli has two laps more fuel and will be in on lap 14/15. Jenson Button will be in on lap 15/16. So this is only one lap after Trulli is due to stop.

This means that Trulli comfortably beat Button on merit, and not because of a much lighter fuel load. This just shows what a brilliant lap Trulli produced. It’s what we have come to expect from him.

Vettel is looking very good for the race. He has qualified third and he has about six laps more fuel than Glock and about three or four laps more fuel than pole sitter Trulli. He will be visiting the pits for the first time on lap 18/19.

Hamilton will also come in on lap 15/16. He got amongst the Brawn GPs on merit. He had more fuel on board than Barrichello who is behind him. McLaren has made a massive stride forward in the last few weeks.

Barrichello is down in sixth and only has 14/15 laps of fuel on board. Barrichello simply didn’t have a great lap at all. He has it all to do tommorrow.

Massa, Rosberg and Raikkonen are the heaviest men of the top 10, and will all be doing a long first stint beyond 20 laps.

The BMW Saubers are the heaviest cars on the grid and will be going beyond lap 30. They are surely on a one-stop strategy.


Summary of difference in laps of fuel between the front runners

Timo Glock is the lightest on fuel

Jarno Trulli + 2/3 laps

Rubens Barrichello + 2/3 laps

Jenson Button +3/4 laps

Lewis Hamilton + 3/4 laps

Sebastien Vettel +5/6 laps


My race predictions

Tommorrow is looking like it’s a very open race. Brawn GP are going to have work extremely hard if they want to win this race. In qualifying the fuel loads show that Brawn GP was beaten on pure pace.

Jarno Trulli beat Button by just over 0.6 seconds. Being one or 2 laps lighter doesn’t account for all that time difference. Brawn GP look like they have been overtaken in terms of one lap pace.

Toyota is just very quick this weekend. We hadn’t seen their full potential yet this season as they have had some penalties, and we have had two rain affected races. Today they have proven that they have a fast car.

Whether they can translate that to their maiden F1 win is a different matter.

Brawn GP’s long runs have looked very good, although their race pace isn’t as dominant as it was in Australia. They are able to look after their tyres, particularly the super-softs better than anybody else.

However, we now know that they can’t rely on having substantially more fuel to get ahead, so they are going to have to overtake cars if they want to win this race.

Their other main problem is that they are surrounded by cars with KERs. Off the line KERs will be a big advantage here, as it’s a much longer run down to turn 1 than in China last week.

This means by the end of lap one, Brawn could be as many as three or four positions down on where they started. This means that despite their likely superior race pace, they could well end up giving themselves far too much to do to win the race.

If they get stuck behind cars with KERs, it will be very tough to overtake them, as the boast button will be used in order to defend.

Vettel is my favourite for tommorrow’s race. The Red Bull looks to be working very well around Bahrain just as it did in China. He is also heavier than the Toyotas ahead of him, and the cars directly behind him.

If he gets a solid start and keeps Toyota in sight, then come the pit stops he has a great chance of leapfrogging them. He has shown how strong his race pace is so far this season. But like the Brawns, he too has be wary of the KERs cars.

Hamilton has got an outside chance of a podium tomorrow. The car looks much better this weekend, and he seems very positive and up for the fight. Fifth was a great result for him. He is the first of the KERs cars on the grid, and he will fancy his chances at getting amongst the front runners into turn 1.

I think this race will either be won by Timo Glock or Sebastien Vettel. Jarno Trulli’s race pace isn’t as strong as his one lap pace so I think he will start well but fall back as the race progesses. Vettel and Glock will take over the battle for the win. As Vettel is heavier than Glock, and has been looking strong all weekend I will back him for the victory. It will be very closely fought though.

Button could join this battle if he gets a good start and doesn’t lose too much time behind KERS cars. The first couple of laps tomorrow are going to be critical in how the battle for victory unfolds, and who is going to contest it.

I think we are in for a great race with lots of overtaking tomorrow, It could be the best so far this season. I am really looking forward to it!

Let’s hope we don’t get the sandstorm that is currently being predicted.


My top 8 predictions

1.      Sebastien Vettel

2.      Timo Glock

3.      Jenson Button

4.      Lewis Hamilton

5.      Jarno Trulli

6.      Rubens Barrichello

7.      Heikki Kovalainen

8.      Felipe Massa


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