With the release of the car weights this year by the FIA, we are now seeing, for better or for worse, the strategy of each team prior to the grand prix. Most teams have always had a good estimation of each others tactics before a race but they could never be 100% certain until it unfolded. Now, everyone is privy to those tactics via the FIA’s car weight communique released two hours after each qualifying session.
This week is no different. What we can assume from this document is that Jenson Button is running lighter than both Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa. The fact that Vettel qualified in second would not be a revelation this year as Red Bull have been the most consistent threat to the Brawn GP domination of the season so far. What may be a bigger surprise is that Ferrari seem to have made significant leaps in performance and qualified fourth on the grid for tomorrows race. All of this is pure speculation but one must consider if all fuel loads were equal during Q3 of qualifying, would not Vettel and Mass be P1 and P2 respectively?
A bigger question could be turn one. Felipe Massa’s car is fitted with KERS and should he get a good start, he could end up in the mix of carbon, fuel, rubber and bravado at turn 1 at Barcelona. Jenson Button is fully aware of this fact:
“I’ve heard that KERS gives you 10 metres from the start to the first corner, which is quite a lot, so that’s a problem.
“If Massa gets a good start it could be a problem for me, but I think it will make it a bit crazy going into turn one more than anything else.
“When one car is going into the first corner a lot quicker than those in front of him, it could cause mayhem, especially at quite a high-speed corner like this one.
“So it will be about keeping your nose clean going into turn one, and that’s going to be difficult for all of us.”
Irrespective of the outcome, anything can happen in F1, Ferrari fans should take some solace in knowing that the “B-spec” car has shown great improvement. In fact, McLaren have been steadily progressing since Australia but Ferrari, in one weekend, have seemingly surpassed McLaren in the performance gain arena. Massa may have the right fuel load and strategy but he will have to get past Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel to prove it. Should be an interesting race nonetheless.