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BBC F1's fuel-adjusted Monaco GP grid

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F1 Mole | 18:55 UK time, Saturday, 23 May 2009

It's official - Jenson Button was the fastest man around Monaco on Saturday regardless of fuel load.

The Englishman was on pole position for the fourth time in six races this year, and he was also the fastest man once the weight of fuel on board the cars is taken into account.

The cars in the top-10 shoot-out are not allowed to refuel between qualifying and race, so they go into qualifying with differing fuel loads depending on how long their first stint in the race is going to be.


A Formula 1 car uses between 1.7-1.9kg of fuel per lap of Monaco depending on the car, and each kilo of fuel slows it down by about 0.025 seconds.

Once those figures are computed, it confirms what a superb job Button did in qualifying. He was 0.025secs quicker than Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in actual time - but the Brawn had two laps more fuel on board and Button's margin to the Finn extends to 0.113secs once that is taken into account.

The fuel-adjusted top 10, with estimated first pit-stop laps, looks like this:

1 Button - lap 20
2 Raikkonen +0.113secs - lap 18
3 Barrichello +0.162secs - lap 19
4 Massa +0.635 - lap 18
5 Rosberg +0.691 - lap 17
6 Kovalainen +0.702 - lap 18
7 Vettel +0.769 - lap 11
8 Webber +0.776 - lap 19
9 Alonso +0.945 - lap 23
10 Nakajima +1.929 - lap 31

Looking at that, the obvious conclusion is that Button is a hot favourite to win the race, as long as he does not get jumped by Raikkonen on the first lap.

That, though, is a real possibility given that Ferrari are running the Kers power-boost and energy storage system in Monaco. So Button will have to be very defensive on the run from the start to Sainte Devote and through the tunnel into the Nouvelle Chicane on the first lap.

The figures confirm the impression from the Spanish Grand Prix that Ferrari have made quite incredible progress since their disastrous start to the season, and now promise to be a feature at every race this season.

And the big loser once the fuel is taken into account is Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull - which drops from fourth on the grid to seventh on fuel-adjusted pace, with his advantage over team-mate Mark Webber reducing from 0.382secs to 0.169secs.

Vettel was not a happy man after qualifying and now it is obvious why. The Red Bull does not suit this circuit - "there's no fast corners," as Webber put it - and by stopping so early, Vettel risks coming out of the pits into heavy traffic that could ruin his race.

It's exactly not what he needed as he seeks to stop Button extending his lead at the head of the championship.

For Button, though, it could not be better news.


  • 1. At 7:16pm on 23 May 2009, Lavendyr01 wrote:

    Ross Brawn is a very clever man - telling us during the post-qualifying interview that Jenson was aiming for 20 laps. Of course, we didn't believe him, and yet it is actually true!

    You have to feel for Rubens though - just what does he have to do to beat Jens? He must be wondering that, surely - even when Rubens has consistently been better around a track in practice, somehow Jenson just manages to pull something out of the bag when it matters.

    I hope Jenson manages to hold the lead off the line - with KERS, Kimi is a real danger. One thing's for sure, though - the start will definitely be gripping!

    Roll on Sunday :D

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  • 2. At 8:11pm on 23 May 2009, looflirpa wrote:

    looks like jenson will have to be quick of the mark at the start,and do a banzai lap. at the mo it seems kurs is not a succses so why not bin it

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  • 3. At 8:13pm on 23 May 2009, looflirpa wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 8:55pm on 23 May 2009, Its a fair Kop wrote:

    WHy's everyone worrying about KERS? That's part the reason why Ferrari's are fast to begin with, and it still makes them slower than Brawns. When they reach 100kmh (60mph) at the start, which is apparently the minimum speed before using KERS (use it as part of your start of the line, and you'll only have millimetres left on your tyre lol), Button will already be miles ahead of him.

    Jenson has this won.

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  • 5. At 9:23pm on 23 May 2009, DonnyAsh wrote:

    I think Brawn let that slip... he then tried to backtrack a little bit.

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  • 6. At 9:30pm on 23 May 2009, FastBBBB wrote:

    It's Australia all over again

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  • 7. At 9:31pm on 23 May 2009, FastBBBB wrote:

    I don't think the run don to the first corner is long enough for KERS to make an effect

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  • 8. At 10:00pm on 23 May 2009, Flick it Like Ramsey wrote:

    Raikonnen or Massa might be a screw in the Works for the Brawns especially as all KERS cars locking rear brakes and spinning, 1996 all over again? Adrian Sutil to win it?

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  • 9. At 10:35pm on 23 May 2009, Tom Davidson wrote:

    I'm tipping Button for the win obviously but Raikkonen will probably leave Barrichello trailing. Could be a long afternoon with not much action but then again Raikonnen could overcook it into turn one and cause chaos. That's the beauty of Monaco, you never know

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  • 10. At 11:21pm on 23 May 2009, Ginger wrote:

    KERS only kicks in after three seconds, they should be almost at the first slow corner by then.

    Last year LH was in third at the start and second by the first corner, this would be the ideal scenario for Team Brawn.

    That said JB's starts haven't been the best, if he get to the first corner in the lead he will win, well should win.

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  • 11. At 11:32pm on 23 May 2009, me wrote:

    "The figures confirm the impression from the Spanish Grand Prix that Ferrari have made quite incredible progress since their disastrous start to the season, and now promise to be a feature at every race this season."

    What utter and complete rubbish. Performance at Monaco tells us NOTHING about how the cars will perform at any other track in the season. So they can go round slow corners at the same speed as everyone else and go down the straights that bit faster with their kers. We already knew that..... but we haven't a clue whether their aero package is any better that in Spain.

    Please think before you type nonsense like this.

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  • 12. At 04:32am on 24 May 2009, pomozki wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 05:59am on 24 May 2009, pomozki wrote:

    Can someone please explain: Jensen Button has never been more than a very average driver - suddenly he is unbeatable and heralded as a superstar. Isn't this purely a result of the changes his team managed to make to his car - in effect blindsiding opposition teams - or has he suddenly become a genius? Or a mixture of both? maybe someone can enlighten me

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  • 14. At 06:38am on 24 May 2009, followthetrawler wrote:

    pomozki - Can someone please explain: Jensen Button has never been more than a very average driver -

    Button is actually a very good driver he has just never had particularly good equipment, partly his fault because he could have joined Williams and at the time would have won races.

    If anything what we are seeing with Button is less car factor and more driver factor and that has to be good for the sport.

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  • 15. At 07:48am on 24 May 2009, scouse0595 wrote:

    I think that RB has a real chance if he can clear KR at the start, I dont believe Ross has team orders at this stage. But if JB moves further ahead the team would have no choice but to tell RB to support JB.

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  • 16. At 08:12am on 24 May 2009, scouse0595 wrote:

    I a Farrari was to win it might not be too bad for JB as long as he stays within the top 3.

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  • 17. At 08:43am on 24 May 2009, fundraised wrote:

    Are you sure about your maths? I calculated somewhat different figures for first stop.

    1. Jenson Button, Brawn GP 42.50Kg fuel = Lap 22
    2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 39.00Kg fuel = Lap 21
    3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn 43.00Kg fuel = Lap 23
    4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 26.50Kg fuel = Lap 14
    5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari 38.50Kg fuel = Lap 20
    6. Nico Rosberg, Williams 37.00Kg fuel = Lap 19
    7. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren 39.00Kg fuel = Lap 21
    8. Mark Webber, Red Bull 41.50Kg fuel = Lap 22
    9. Fernando Alonso, Renault 49.00Kg fuel = Lap 26
    10. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams 63.00Kg fuel = Lap 33

    Calculated on 605Kg minimum car weight minus declared start weight divided by 1.9Kg of fuel per lap.

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  • 18. At 09:13am on 24 May 2009, scouse0595 wrote:

    I feel that fuel weights carried by drivers can only be a guide as to the lap they pit on ............ if you take Massa for example he drive a more aggressive style and as was seen he had to slow in order to finish the race or risk running out of fuel. Jeson himself said he would have to change his style to suite this circuit so who knows if this will have an effect on his fuel consumption.

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  • 19. At 09:27am on 24 May 2009, bpacester wrote:

    @fundraised Good point. Although I understand the drivers' weights play a part as well, maybe this accounts for the discrepancy?

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  • 20. At 09:52am on 24 May 2009, Me wrote:

    "if you take Massa for example he drive a more aggressive style and as was seen he had to slow in order to finish the race"

    That was a refuelling issue. What the car had in it and what they thought the car would have in it after his last stop were found to be wrong when they weighed the fuel rig and discovered he'd be on fumes or worse if he didn't slow down!

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  • 21. At 09:52am on 24 May 2009, Phillip wrote:

    Button is only leading the championship because of the car. He is a journeyman driver who is vastly over-rated.

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  • 22. At 10:02am on 24 May 2009, kojak1972 wrote:

    pomozki - Just think about what you said. Button is team-mate to Barrichello, and is consistently better than him, and has been throughout their Honda partnership, too. Barrichello was team mate to Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari's, and he was consistently on Shueys tail, but consistently second to him. Button is a fantastic talent, and always has been. As followthetrawler has said, he's not had a good car the last couple of years. You can see the same thing in reverse with Hamilton, Heidfeld, Trulli (the last couple of races since the new aero package). It's swings and roundabouts. If it was a single make car series, Button would still be up front.
    Fundraised - there's a lot more to it than just using one fuel consumption figures. Each car (even within the same team) will have different fuel consumption due to the driver's style, how each side of the garage have set the fuel pumps up, the aero and suspension set-up of the car, etc. The density of the particular fuel that a team uses will be different to another team's, so you can't use one figure across all teams, plus, as bpacester says, driver weight is important, too, although this can be compensated a bit with the amount of ballast in the car. No-one really knows how long everyone is going to last in the race. If you compare previous 'adjusted grids' to their actual first stops, then they never tie up anyway.....that's why it's still exciting :)

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  • 23. At 10:26am on 24 May 2009, kenthejock wrote:

    Jake said we would get the full post race press conference? Where is it?

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  • 24. At 10:27am on 24 May 2009, Jon G wrote:

    One small question to Jens' knockers: if he's so mediocre, how come Rubens, with all his F1 skills and experience, can't hold a candle to his performance?

    Jens has always been a cracking driver, but until now he's not had the car to demonstrate it.

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  • 25. At 10:29am on 24 May 2009, phil5966 wrote:

    Agaian the brawns are showing that you can race on a proper controlled budget. whats up ferrari are you worried that your hundreds of millions will not get you to the front anymore!

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  • 26. At 10:34am on 24 May 2009, Jon G wrote:

    @scouse0595: "if you take Massa for example he drive a more aggressive style and as was seen he had to slow in order to finish the race or risk running out of fuel."

    That wasn't Massa's fault, though. At his last pit stop, the rig didn't deliver the amount of fuel the meter said, confirmed by check-weighing after fuelling. Massa ended up with 1-2 laps less fuel than he needed, so he had to dial down his car's settings so that he had enough to get to the end.

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  • 27. At 10:36am on 24 May 2009, Tokeballs wrote:

    Regarding JB's ability as a F1 driver, I can't understand anyone doubting him, following his amazing start to the season. All drivers on the grid would say they could do as well, if they had the Brawn car, but actually doing it is another matter. When you consider that even the best car has to be driven well, making few errors. Vehicle sympathy & tyre conservation, which can save fuel & maximise pit stop options, all add up to a winning performance. Previously, these attributes wre not able to make any difference, in a Honda car which was often lapped! JB's driving has obviously given him the edge over RB, the most accurate benchmark. I also think JB's attitude & demeanour are a credit to him. The unprecedented turnaround in his fortunes, could have made him stick 2 fingers up to his critics, & become arrogant & big headed, but this has not happened. The way he conducts himself, makes him a fine ambassador for this country, at a time when our international popularity is not great. I also feel Ross Brawn's input can't be underestimated. The man is a tactical genius, & he & JB seem to be recreating the masterstrokes he used to pull off with MS at Ferrari. Hope I haven't put the mockers on for today!!!!

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  • 28. At 10:49am on 24 May 2009, liampg wrote:

    fundraised - further to kojak's points, it should also be noted that some cars are simply lighter than others. Kudos goes to Ross Brawn because his cars are about 50kg lighter than the BMWs before you put drivers and fuel in them.

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  • 29. At 10:59am on 24 May 2009, liampg wrote:

    Jenson Button is poor at handling an unbalanced, unpredictable car. He would never survive as a rally driver.

    Give him a grippy, predictable car, though, and he can ring its neck as well as anyone. "Smooth" is a word that gets used a lot around JB, and rightly so. If I had to put money on one driver taking the same line through a corner 50 laps running, it would be him. He works well with routine.

    He's a perfectionist and can only be perfect when his car is perfect.

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  • 30. At 11:12am on 24 May 2009, footythingscouk wrote:

    for any driver to win a race/ championship he has to have a good car. teams who have had great drivers have failed to win championships or even races and great teams with poor drivers have done the same. Put a good driver and a good car together and you get results. JB is a good driver, not great but good, the Brawn car is a good alround car, this combination WILL get results. RB should be doing better but JB is just out driving him at present. thats the way it goes. Only a few years ago Massa was causing all sorts of problems in the pack in a poor car, in a well developed Ferrari he performs better than expected now in a car thats going backwards in development (down to driver ability in testing)he's showing his true ability, quick, aggresive but uncontrolable and eratic. KR has a tendancy to loss interest, good driver but not good at setting up cars in development.

    Its certainly not down to one thing but the combination.

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  • 31. At 11:17am on 24 May 2009, SharpeMagpie wrote:

    Jensen made a telling post qualifying comment that I think points to what makes the Brawn/Jenson combination so special - he said "the car listens". What I think he means beyond that is it responds well to mechanical tweaks and changes, is that Jensen is able to dynamically change with the car. He indicated that he was struggling in the lead up to the final qualifying, as has experienced before in his career. The difference being that he was able to bring the car and himself into the zone over the space a those sessions.

    There was also some comments from his Dad, I think, which indicated that Jenson is getting much more involved with team and the car - very focused and determined.

    This could indicate that the reason for this success, beyond a great car and a great driver, is the relationship between car and driver. Brawn has delivered their part of the partnership and Jenson is delivering his.

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  • 32. At 11:18am on 24 May 2009, anubisrich wrote:


    You are ignoring the "out lap" and the "formation lap".

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  • 33. At 11:20am on 24 May 2009, Andrew Benson wrote:


    I edit the Mole blog, and thought I would quickly address some of your comments.

    fundraised asks are we sure of the maths - the short answer is yes and no. The first thing to say is that the first stops are only estimated. In Monaco the situation is complicated by the fact that there are differing figures for fuel consumption - Brawn's is 1.7kg a lap, for example, while other teams use more.

    The car weight you need to use is about 609kg, not 605. Although 605 is the legal minimum, you have to take into account fuel used on slowing down laps and formation laps, etc.

    The problem is that the 1.7kg figure gives Button a stop lap of 22, but Ross Brawn said on BBC TV after qualifying that Button was going to stop on lap 20. So because of the confusion, we have used Ross's lap 20 statement as a default and worked backwards from there. Also, you have Button and Barrichello on the same weight, bar 0.5kg, and they can't stop on the same lap. Usually, the leading driver gets priority, so in this example, assuming they hold position, we have brought Barrichello forward by a lap.

    It's not an exact science, unfortunately - the main point of these calculations, as I see it, is to gauge the actual pace of the cars, as opposed to where they qualified, and to give a guide as to when they might stop relative to each other, rather than to accurately predict the stops.

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  • 34. At 11:32am on 24 May 2009, Number ()^6^() ©™ wrote:

    'it should also be noted that some cars are simply lighter than others. Kudos goes to Ross Brawn because his cars are about 50kg lighter than the BMWs before you put drivers and fuel in them.'


    What nonsense, why would BMW engineer a car 50kg heavier than the minimum weight? Think about it.

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  • 35. At 11:41am on 24 May 2009, gp606 wrote:

    I've made this comparison before, but think back to Mika Hakkinen's 1998 season; after years of toiling in mediocre cars, he suddenly gets given an absolute rocket and shows everyone the way home. Jenson's in exactly the same position in 2009.

    Mika went on to become a double world champion regarded as one of the fastest of all time - didn't Schumacher refer to him as the only driver he was ever really concerned about?

    If Button and Barichello were consistently on identical pace and pushing each other all the way, I'd agree that perhaps it's just down to the car. But JB is showing Rubens up race in, race out; he's clearly giving something extra.

    Can't wait for the start of today's race...KERS should make things very interesting, especially with all Jenson's talk about aggression! What odds a Brawn/Ferrari tangle at St Devote?

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  • 36. At 11:46am on 24 May 2009, cordas wrote:

    fundraised - have you taken the out lap to form up on the grid, and the warm up lap before the race starts into account... seems to me your figures are all 2 laps higher than those the bbc (and itv-f1) have given.

    As for Jenson, has everyone forgotten his debut for Williams when he was beating Ralf who was very highly rated at the time... I felt at the time that Williams should have kept Jenson to partner Montoya and ditched Ralf. His career did take a bit of a dive at Beneton / Renault where he and Flavio didn't see eye to eye, with him being put in the traditionally weaker 2nd car. Or how about his move to BAR, where Vilnerve was talking about how he was going to thrash Jenson and how he couldn't understand why anyone rated him as a driver.... Jenson just replied on the track by soundly thrashing JV, I am fairly sure that it was the thrashing he got off of Jenson that made JV leave mid season.....

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  • 37. At 11:48am on 24 May 2009, liampg wrote:

    to number ()^6^().
    not by choice, but by being rubbish engineers
    (50kg might be a slight exaggeration)

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  • 38. At 11:52am on 24 May 2009, cordas wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 39. At 12:16pm on 24 May 2009, Lukewarmer1 wrote:

    I want to thank Andrew Benson for clearing those points up, its really nice to see that even when obviously busy getting ready for the GP to start, finding the optimum seat to watch the GP from he can still find time to read and answer the comments made.

    As for the Button debate, Jenson is a good driver always was and when the car he drove was good he got the results, but what i think was most telling was the way that even when he car wasnt good he still managed to score points by being consistant and keeping the car on the track.

    I have heard so much twaddle spouted about Alonso being the best driver in F1 or how good Lewis Hamilton is, but look at them now that they are struggling, Jenson has consistantly shown throughout his career that when the going gets bad you just dig you heels in and carry on...

    Lewis Hamilton has been saying the right things but you can see in his attitude and demeanor that he dosent believe what he is saying, Alonso's comments from what i have seen are mediocre at best and negative at worse, Dont get me started on Kimi Raikenen what his attitude says about the sport never mind his own car and team speaks volumes for the performances he is putting in on the track.

    Jenson deserves to be where he is because he and the team have put together a racing package that works, and the other teams haven't, I'm sure if Ferrai and Mc'Clarens were fighting for the championship then everyone would be complaing that its always the same people at the top of the leaderboard.

    Theres enough arguments and disagreements off the track already without the fans adding more.

    Anyway mini rant over lol....

    Good luck Jenson i will be cheering for you all the way.

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  • 40. At 12:23pm on 24 May 2009, nyelvmark wrote:

    Is Button a great driver? Well, is Barichello?

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  • 41. At 12:24pm on 24 May 2009, tiller206 wrote:

    Hi. I'm new to this blog. Forgive my ignorance, but if KERS is an acronym for Kinetic Energy Recovery System, why are drivers with it fitted to their car able to use it at the very beginning of the race? Where has the kinetic energy come from at that point? I thought the idea was to increase the excitement of the RACING, so until the cars are actually racing, why can it be used? A while ago automatic start systems were banned, so where is the difference? It would be fairer to allow all teams to fit a big firework rocket - to be used once only - at the driver's discretion.

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  • 42. At 4:00pm on 24 May 2009, Lukewarmer1 wrote:

    Hi. I'm new to this blog. Forgive my ignorance, but if KERS is an acronym for Kinetic Energy Recovery System, why are drivers with it fitted to their car able to use it at the very beginning of the race?

    I believe the answer to this in the amount of tyre warming and braking done during the parade lap, where you can build up the kers storage.

    Though as an aside to this, Cars with KERS are only allowed to use a % of the recovered power per lap, then they cannot use it again until after they have crossed the Start/Finish line, at what point does the "recharge" happen?

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  • 43. At 4:01pm on 24 May 2009, cordas wrote:

    The Kers battery is charged on the formation lap. The car has to be going over 100kph / 62mph before it can be turned on so its not like the launch control systems that where banned... drivers still have to make a good get away and then if they have kers and enough track left can get a boost....

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  • 44. At 4:44pm on 24 May 2009, me wrote:

    I do find it amazing that when finally a Brit does good, instead of supporting him we just say 'lucky sod, couldn't do it without the car'.

    The truth is there are a lot of drivers currently pretty much-of-a-muchness. Put any one of Button, Vettel, Rossberg, Hamilton, Massa, Alonso, Kubica and maybe even a few others like Sutil or Webber in the best car, and guess what - they will win if they can beat their team-mate. And that may depend on HOW that car drives, which of the pair it suits most. There isn't any one driver who stands above the rest. In fact there are relatively few complete no-hopers in F1 at the moment. I'd name Nakajima, Piquet,Bourdais, Fissi, Kovaleinen, Heidfield and just maybe now Kimi, (ut the jury's out as he did well today) - that is drivers who you just can't see beating many of the others if in equal cars.

    So let's have a bit of pride a Brit won last year, and may well win this year too, and stop running them down for doing a damn good job.

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  • 45. At 6:11pm on 24 May 2009, sjcb62 wrote:

    Erm I am not sure how many people noticed the bloomer by Eddie Jordan at the very end of the BBC coverage of the Monaco GP today but I was rather surprised that he was unable to contain his language!

    At the very end he spoke about the fact that he had given Kimi Raikkonen a "B********g"

    Bearing in mind that a lot of young people watch F1 I felt this was rather inappropriate

    I am actually not a prude and often use language which would not be classed as appropriate but having said that I was surprised that one of the other commentators didn't give him a bit of a nudge so that he could apologise or maybe they themselves could have done this for the good name of F1 and the BBC!

    Come on Eddie we know you engrossed with all of the excitement at the end of the race but please try to remember that lots of small children love to watch fast cars even if they don't fully understand the ins and outs of it all - some also may have been just in the room while parents were watching!

    All the same a quick opps sorry I shouldnt have said that should I or something like that wouldn't have been so difficult would it!

    However apart from this small grip I was thrilled for Jenson and Rubens and the whole of the Brawn team for such a fantastic race

    Congratulations to all and thanks BBC for now showing the GP so we are able to watch without the "ad breaks" :-)

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  • 46. At 11:08am on 25 May 2009, looflirpa wrote:

    no blogs of mine here

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  • 47. At 1:12pm on 26 May 2009, yachtmonster wrote:

    A few thoughts on weight:-

    605kg is the minimum, post race weight, for driver, car, ballast, but not fuel. The fuel weight was mistakenly included by BAR a few years ago, which led to some problems for them.

    The driver's pre-race weight, car weight, and ballast, will be known be the team. What the team can't know for sure is how much weight will be lost during a race. The driver will lose some weight through perspiration, depending on the temperature in the car. The car may well lose some weight through loss of oil, hydraulic fluid, minor aero damage, etc. Drivers pick up rubbish on the tyres on the in lap to try to build in a safety margin. Post race, drivers and cars are weighed.

    The lighter the car, driver, (and this year KERS), the more ballast can be used. Put simply, extra ballast increases performance.

    The BBC's predictions are for how far COULD the individual drivers go, not how far they WILL go before pitting. Yes, they're imprefect. Diffferent cars have different fuel consumptions. Different aero settings, and driving styles, will affect consumption. I'd rather have the predictions than not.

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