The fuel weights have been published by the FIA for the first time, under the new rules for this season.
There are some very interesting things here. For a start the Brawn cars are, as we expected, massively quick, given that Jenson Button’s car has 22 laps worth of fuel in it (59 kilos).
Allowing for the fuel he will need to get to the grid and do the formation lap, this means Jenson will probably make his first stop on lap 20.
Barrichello will go one lap longer, to 21. This is quite a long first stint for a two stop strategy.
Knowing this we can say that Jenson did a stunning job today in the final part of qualifying as the extra fuel he’s carrying will have given him less than a tenth of a second of lap time compared to Rubens and yet he is three tenths faster.
Rubens liked the car more on low fuel in the early part of qualifying, Jenson liked it more in heavy fuel mode. He will be on his own tomorrow in the race.
Sebastien Vettel, who qualified third, will probably go to lap 18, the same as Nico Rosberg. This means that the Red Bull is a couple of tenths faster than the Williams.
Meanwhile the Ferraris are in trouble, Massa has only 18 laps of fuel in his car, so he’ll get to lap 16 and yet he was 8/10ths off Button, who has 3/10ths of a weight disadvantage. That puts the Ferrari a second slower in quali trim today. Raikkonen has a similar amount as his team mate and was a tenth slower.
Kubica’s lap looks less stellar when you realise that he is running light – he will be stopping on lap 15.
Button should control the race, reliability is his only competitor tomorrow. Barrichello has more than enough speed to stay ahead of Vettel and Rosberg who will be fighting for a podium.
Massa is the driver to watch. Ferrari had a bad time in qualifying, but the car is strong in race trim. Massa moves forward to 6th on the grid after Glock’s exclusion and he has a good shot at a podium from there to get his championship campaign off to a strong start. If anything goes wrong for the Brawn cars he could well pick up the win. The Ferrari should prove a faster race car than qualifier here.
UPDATES: I’ll be doing a Twitter feed during the race, with my take on what’s going on. Look out for it here on “JAonF1″ [ in the sidebar on the right ]