Yay! Qualifying Analysis for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza! After another fantastic qualifying session at Monza today we have another surprise grid. Hamilton grabbed pole with suspicions of running a light car in case he was penalised for blocking Buemi in Q1, Sutil was narrowly pipped to pole, which would have been the second in a row for a Force India car.
Speaking of which, Liuzzi managed to get into the top 10, however ex-Force India and now Ferrari driver Fisichella crashed in Morning Practice, meaning that he did not get enough practice in a car with KERS and failed to get out of Q2. A shame really, because an Italian driver in a Ferrari at Monza sounded like a really good reason to support Ferrari this weekend!
Also, Brawn were happy with where they qualified (as they admitted they are running heavy) and Raikkonen even managed a smile in the press conference! Shock Horror!
Let’s have a look at the Q3 times:
The field is very close here – much closer than most other circuits, but then this is a ‘point and squirt’ circuit with few corners, so all that matters is a good engine and low drag around here. KERS helps too, which is why so many of the non-KERS cars may be running heavy and near the back of the Top 10 because they know they will be passed at the start anyway!
I was watching the Qualifying today and commenting on Sidepodcast (which is the only place to be for live commenting!), I asked people to give me predictions on who they thought was light or heavy. Here are their predictions:
93 bottles of Watermelon Breezer in Sutil’s car. That’s the best I got.
Lewis light, Heikki heavy, Sutil light, Webber heavy, Alonso heavy.
Liuzzi heavy, Kovy one stopping, Sutil one stopping and Toyotas very, very, very, i.e. going 40 odd laps into the race.
Heaviest: Button, Rubens, Liuzzi and Webber. Lightest: Lewis, Sutil and Kimi. Medium: Kovi, Alonso and Vettel.
Speaking of which, let’s have a look at the fuel weights…
So over the course of a 53-lap race, all except the top 3 are on a one-stop strategy. The interesting thing is that two of the KERS cars (Kovalainen and Alonso) are heavy. Also, both McLaren and Force India seem to be hedging their bets by having one car heavy and one car light. I think Hamilton is running light in a bid to get pole because McLaren feared he would be penalised after he apparently blocked Buemi exiting the pits in Q1. This did not happen however…
Finally, it is worth noting that the top three guys are possibly running a three-stop strategy.
From this information, we can work out how fast the drivers would have gone if they had been running on fumes like in Q2. I linked to it earlier but if you want to know how it’s calculated, check out my post on Qualifying Analysis here.
Anyway, here are the fuel-corrected lap times:
Barrichello gets the fuel corrected pole, with Button less than a tenth slower – which is why they were so happy with their pace! To be so close on time when they are so much heavier means that they are in a good position to let the KERS cars scamper off while they run longer and overtake them in the pits. Also, look how much faster Kovalainen is than Hamilton – a mega effort and hopefully he can translate it into a good finish tomorrow. Amy must be happy!
Finally, putting it all together, we have the mega graph…
…and the fuel corrected times vs. Q3 times:
From all of this, I really really hope Button can use his advantage and have a strong performance – he is well overdue for a good result. I don’t think Force India can repeat their performance at Spa here, but it is possible. What is interesting is how well the KERS cars will do against the non-KERS cars – I don’t think we have conclusively seen that KERS cars will dominate here, which is odd because you would think on a circuit where long straights and power is important that they would?
UPDATE: Poll Results
I ran a Polldaddy poll to see who you guys thought would win. I have had trouble closing it, so here is a screen shot of the results:
Interesting how many people think Kovy will win and how few Barrichello would… I guess we will just have to wait and see ;)