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BBC Sport's fuel-adjusted Belgian GP grid

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F1 Mole | 17:26 UK time, Saturday, 29 August 2009

Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella sent shockwaves through Formula 1 by setting pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix - but it is Toyota's Jarno Trulli who on paper has the best chance of winning Sunday's race.

Once the amount of fuel being carried by the cars is taken into account, Trulli - who qualified second - was the fastest man at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday. Fisichella was fourth behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld - still a stunningly good result for a team more used to being at the back of the F1 grid.

The BBC Sport fuel-adjusted Belgian Grand Prix grid, with predicted first pit stops, is as follows:

1 Trulli (lap 12)
2 Vettel +0.156 secs (lap 15)
3 Heidfeld +0.157secs (lap 12)
4 Fisichella +0.211 (lap 10)
5 Kimi Raikkonen +0.290 (lap 12)
6 Mark Webber +0.341 (lap 13)
7 Robert Kubica +0.454 (lap 10)
8 Nico Rosberg +0.495 (lap 16)
9 Rubens Barrichello +0.538 (lap nine)
10 Timo Glock +0.562 (lap 10)

We calculate these figures by combining the weight of fuel in the cars in qualifying, the lap-time penalty for each kilogramme of fuel and the amount of fuel used by a car on a lap. The cars in the top 10 shoot-out are not allowed to refuel between qualifying and the race so their pace, and their first stop, are dictated by the amount of fuel they are carrying.

The fuel-adjusted grid therefore makes analysing how the race might pan out much easier - and in this case Trulli is clearly in the best shape to win, in that he is the fastest car closest to the front of the grid.

Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari at the Belgian Grand PrixCould Raikkonen win at Spa from sixth on the grid?

This is not the first time that has happened this year - Trulli also should have won in Bahrain, where a bizarre strategy decision by Toyota scuppered his chances. With question marks hanging over their future in F1, the team are desperate to score their first victory in their ninth season in the sport.

But with the traditionally faster cars some way behind them, Toyota have never had a better chance than this to shed their reputation for being the masters of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Underlining that point, the de facto second fastest man in qualifying was Vettel - but the Red Bull driver is only eighth on the grid, so he is likely to be hamstrung by spending time behind slower cars that will prevent him running at his ultimate pace. He will hope to leapfrog them by running longer than most to his first pit stop, but even so he will be doing well to overcome the handicap of starting so low down.

Heidfeld was third on the grid and on fuel-adjusted times, and this steady, consistent driver must therefore be fancied for a strong points finish.

But the man all the leading runners may be most wary of is Raikkonen in the Ferrari. He has been second and third in the last two races - both times after qualifying sixth, which is again his starting position at Spa.

There are two factors pointing towards a potentially even stronger finish for Raikkonen this time, though.

The first is that only Barrichello of the regular front-runners is in front of him - and the Brazilian is only ninth fastest on fuel-corrected times and will pit about three laps before the Ferrari driver.

The second is that Raikkonen is the only driver in the top 10 with the Kers power-boost system after the McLarens qualified 12th (Lewis Hamilton) and 15th (Heikki Kovalainen).

That should ensure Raikkonen gains several places on the first lap - he will press the button on the hill down from La Source and should be strongly placed to slingshot past his rivals on the climb to Les Combes after Eau Rouge.

For that reason, while Trulli has to be the favourite on paper, it is Raikkonen who is the Mole's dark horse for victory in the Belgian Grand Prix.


  • 1. At 5:59pm on 29 Aug 2009, cordas wrote:

    Cheers for the quick posting of fuel loads. It would be cool if you could also put actual qualifying place on that data sheet (would save having to flick between different tabs trying to sort out what it really means for the race).

    I would say it looks like Kimi is in the best position really, but it looks like there could be a real tussle up the top with cars up there on merit really. Trulli is going to probably decide the race depending on where he comes out after the start once he settles into his usual off pace.

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  • 2. At 6:06pm on 29 Aug 2009, facemandave wrote:

    Good to see the times up much quicker than in the past. Should be good tommrrow with big names trying to come through from the back, and the several overtaking opportunities.

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  • 3. At 6:27pm on 29 Aug 2009, Peter Santamaria-Woods wrote:

    Thanks for the quick update!

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  • 4. At 6:29pm on 29 Aug 2009, Darkman wrote:

    Could be the 'Trulli train' of the year if KERS can't get Raikonnen through the field in the first few laps.

    Still it's going to be an interesting start to the race for sure.

    Force India should definitely be in the hunt for their first points of the season and a good result for Toyota might make all the difference come the start of November...


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  • 5. At 6:32pm on 29 Aug 2009, DjR wrote:

    The Mole suggests: "he will press the button on the hill down from La Source and should be strongly placed to slingshot past his rivals on the climb to Les Combes after Eau Rouge."

    Just curious -- would that be the best place? It won't be in the run to the hairpin (pointless, right?), but it might make more sense to press the KERS rocket-boost button on the climb *out* of Eau Rouge than heading into it, wouldn't it? That's where the extra power would provide the biggest differential.

    Of course, I know squat about this -- but it would be interesting know where the most useful KERS points are at Spa.

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  • 6. At 6:41pm on 29 Aug 2009, explosifrider wrote:

    The weakness of Trulli's position is that he has always been a faster qualifier than racer, so his adjusted time doesn't necessarily indicate his race pace. Kimi could be well placed on the first lap, but I doubt whether KERS can enable him to pass more than one car he wouldn't have passed anyway. I fancy Vettell's position, with six extra laps.

    It's surprising that Rubens was so light and so slow - Button could still be in a better position for the race, with all his extra laps and the hard tyres wearing well. Remember Hungary, Glock came from miles back on the grid through running long.

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  • 7. At 6:53pm on 29 Aug 2009, Scarletdragon wrote:

    Interesting to remember Fisi's pole time was his last but one flying lap, i.e. with about an extra 2.25kg of weight in the car. Had he have aborted his slower final lap, when it was clear that he couldn't be beat, he would have been further up the fuel corrected grid again.

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  • 8. At 6:54pm on 29 Aug 2009, salti wrote:

    Hey Mr Mole can you explain to us how you go about calculating your fuel-adjusted grid please?

    I've found this graphic that shows how the fuel load changed the predicted line-up, the order isn't quite the same as yours but it's really cool.

    Pity in a way that it's Fisico and not Sutil starting on pole as I reckon he'd do better fro bringing home Force India's first points. Good luck to them, let's hope they finally get some well deserved points.

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  • 9. At 7:04pm on 29 Aug 2009, AndrewHallidayF1 wrote:

    #5 - The reason KERS would give Raikkonen a decent boost before Eau Rouge is that the burst of speed will carry the car for longer therefore it will benefit from it more. If KERS wasn't used until after Eau Rouge he would still benefit from the burst of speed but for a much shorter time before having to brake for the next corner. It's the same principle as carrying speed through a corner, for example at a track with a long straight such as Barcelona, if car A comes out of the last corner at 100mph and car B exits at 110mph then car B already has a head start and more speed on which to build whilst going down the straight!

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  • 10. At 7:10pm on 29 Aug 2009, Inherent wrote:

    all this crap about actual pole is a load of nonsense;If one a team wants to go with a different strategy than the norm. then good;if were going to start moaning about the pole sitters weight then do away with practice or even better give Luca Badoa the win

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  • 11. At 7:16pm on 29 Aug 2009, Paddy Nesbitt wrote:

    Well respect to Fisichella for sticking the Force India on Pole for the race tomorrow - it's a good result for the 'little' team and I hope he can bag a good finish.

    Disaster for Button though as Vettel looks in decent shape compared to him. Don't give up JB!

    And Badoer... please go home. I'm not a Ferrari fan, but matey, you are not worthy to drive for that legendary team. I'm sure the tifosi will go nuts if he goes to Monza!

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  • 12. At 7:22pm on 29 Aug 2009, shasha001 wrote:

    it is going to be one of the best gp this year.just dont understand why mclaren used the longer wheel based car at this gp,shorly the short wheel based car would have suited it better especially if there was was fast and would suit the 2nd sector better plus in qualifying,they used the wrong tyres.

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  • 13. At 7:26pm on 29 Aug 2009, Niko wrote:

    I seriously doubt Raikkonen will get himself amongst the guys on the same fuel load as him through KERS alone, and he doesn't have the pace either. A podium? Likely. A win? He'll need help. Ironically the better he does off the start, the more he could hamper his chances of victory. If he manages to get ahead of Heidfeld, if not Trulli as well, Trulli and/or Fisichella will run away in the first stint from Raikkonen holding Trulli and/or Heidfeld up.

    Watch out for Vettel, if Hamilton doesn't KERS him off the start. And if the weather or a Safety Car intervenes, it's anyone's game.

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  • 14. At 7:38pm on 29 Aug 2009, Icemanrules wrote:

    I hope we don't end up with another Trulli train! Will just ruin the race. But if theres not I could see it being a race between Trulli and Raikkonen

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  • 15. At 7:53pm on 29 Aug 2009, Niko wrote:

    Just something else to add, would it be possible for F1 Mole to calculate the expected first pit stops for all the cars and post them, instead of the top 10? Now we have to wait until the pre-race show before the info is presented to us.

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  • 16. At 7:54pm on 29 Aug 2009, Kenny wrote:

    rain, saftey car, breakdowns and poor pitstops will all happen and have an effect. its Spa for crying out loud.

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  • 17. At 8:11pm on 29 Aug 2009, sassy-sez wrote:

    Trulli train, Kimi with his KERS, Rubens with virtually no fuel and Jenson in 14th. What's going on? Nightmare! My Parents are coming for lunch tomorrow.... would it be rude to delay lunch until after the race even though it's my Mum's birthday?

    Oh almost forgot, well done Fisi

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  • 18. At 8:18pm on 29 Aug 2009, TheWillMB1 wrote:

    Someone mentioned earlier about the KERS being better out of Eau Rouge instead of into it. No, it would be best for going out of La Source because going through Eau Rouge the drag of the cars would compensate for the KERS buttons and it wouldn't make too much effect. If you press it going down the hill you'll get more speed up to fly through the corner and get a good slipstream to the car in front.

    It is a very raceable strategy. If they can get in front in the first sector, there is nowhere to pass in the middle sector which is where the non-KERS cars are stronger, and they can hold them up. There are going to be lots of place changing tomorrow, and as Hamilton said, it's going to be fun using KERS from that far back.

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  • 19. At 8:35pm on 29 Aug 2009, Stargazer wrote:

    Lewis Hamilton is running 45kg heavier and Kovaleinen 50kg heavier than Trulli. The McLarens are amongst the heaviest cars on the grid (i.e. a long first run). Nakakjima is heaviest in the Williams, only about 10kg heavier than Hamilton.

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  • 20. At 8:51pm on 29 Aug 2009, Sean Sutton wrote:

    For the first time in a long time, I am genuinely stumped as to who exactly is going to win this one. I don't think it will be Brawn, BMW or Force India (altough Fisichella is a great bet for points and even a podium), but smart money says Raikkonen and basic instinct says anybody from Rosberg, Trulli or maybe another KERS powered car. Hamilton, maybe.

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  • 21. At 8:57pm on 29 Aug 2009, Mancun Ian wrote:

    Despite rumours that Fisi may drive for Ferrari at Monza, he denied there had been any contact prior to qualifying....I bet thats being reconsidered in the Prancing Horse garage as I write.

    I feel sorry for Luca in that he hasn't been allowed to test the car, but the truth is that he hasn't improved much over the whole race weekend. He SHOULD have been allowed to test as the Ferrari situation was that their driver was injured where as Toro Rosso and Renault CHOSE to replace their underachieving drivers. I am a firm believer that Ferarri DO get the good end of most FIA decsions, but I think that the rules need to be re-thought for the scenario where there is no chance that the named driver is able to drive due to injury, which would need to be confirmed by an 'independant' FIA doctor (not sure such a person exists in the FIA though).

    I'm looking forward to a great race tomorrow, and if it rains then drivers like Jenson and Lewis will gain an advantage that allows them to negate their rivals obvious advantages. Saying that...if it does rain Sutil will be in a faster car, and he has shown great pace in damp and changeable conditions in the past.

    I just realised that nearly everything I've written has nothing to do with this blog and thanks for the quick update.

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  • 22. At 9:01pm on 29 Aug 2009, Mancun Ian wrote:

    With regards KER usage - Martin Brundle (I think) pointed out, during quali, that using KERs down the slope is the better option as the 'drag' up the hill would negate the power given by KERs. Kimi used half of his KERs down the hill, and then half in the second part of the lap...unfortunately we didn't get to see where as the producers took down the graphics before panning to a wide shot of the Ferrari.

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  • 23. At 9:20pm on 29 Aug 2009, cordas wrote:

    I am baffled as well as to who is going to win this race.... Its a wide open field about the only people who I don't think are going to win are Fisi (sorry but I just don't even though I would love it) and Jenson (unless it rains).

    I know I was the 1st to mention the Trulli train but actually if he gets a good start I think he might do it, yes he often becomes a rather quick mobile chicane but occasionally (very occasionally)he can race with the best. Kimi can if he gets a good start and clear track (and with his KERS if he can't find himself running in clear air then he doesn't deserve to win). It would be great to see Heidfeld get a victory, would do him and the team a huge amount of favours.

    After those 3 I give any of the top 10 a chance to win, although I can see the Red Bulls possibly tripping over each other and they will have to be careful of a heavy Mclaren with turbo boost making a mess of their race (payback from Germany perhaps).

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  • 24. At 9:44pm on 29 Aug 2009, Nadaliator wrote:

    Kudos to Force India and to Fisico who aren't actually that light when all is said and done.

    I'm intruiged as to how the fab 4 do from mid-grid: Hamilton, Alonso, Button and Koveleinen, could be a massive pile-up out of Eau Rouge or huge gains from the (unusual quality) midfield.

    Trulli has a lot to prove this weekend and needs to showcase himself for 2010, it would certainly spice things up should he steal the win.

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  • 25. At 9:58pm on 29 Aug 2009, AceArteta wrote:

    well done to Fisi for Force India's first pole! i'll be waiting for a "Trulli train" I think the KERS cars will start well. i think Vettel and webber are in better positions than Jenson but if it rains, Red Bull will win. In Monza and sinapore Brawn will be better.Abu dhabi will also be good for Brawn. Badoer is awful, i don't know what Ferrari were thinking of.

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  • 26. At 10:12pm on 29 Aug 2009, cordas wrote:

    I feel sorry for Badoer... Ferrari shouldn't have put him in the car, he hasn't raced for 10 years... what more needs to be said, the likelihood of him producing anything noteworthy in a Ferrari where next to nil, and keeping him for Spa after his performance at Valencia is banned under the Geneva conventions as a cruel and unusual punishment 'for sure'.

    The only people to blame for Badoer's poor performance is Ferrari!

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  • 27. At 10:56pm on 29 Aug 2009, Ben wrote:

    I think Lewis Hamilton will work his way up through the grid even though hes had a poor qualyfying result

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  • 28. At 11:07pm on 29 Aug 2009, faz wrote:

    #26 How long has it been since Schumi raced? Well he managed to lap times during tests that would be in the top 3, so actually yeah, it is expected for badoer to do just a little bit better than he is doing!
    I am pleased for Fisichella, really weird top 3 but it should be an amazing race!

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  • 29. At 11:24pm on 29 Aug 2009, johnregis1 wrote:

    I belive Kimi is in a great position, though trulli's race pace will be key as he often performs very porr.

    The power of KERS will by my prediction see kimi 5th before the la source and pass another 2 cars on the run up from en rouge to les combes as they KERS cars carries the extra speed up the steep hill and down the long run to les combes.

    This will also be key for Lewis who should make up 1-2 more places than Raikkonen.

    Although The KERS are slower in the mid section, overtaking can be dampened as done by schumacher in 95 in the rain.

    Great overtaking opportunities for any KERS powered car in sectors 1 & 3.
    I bet Rebault are wishing they had bought KERS back earlier.

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  • 30. At 11:57pm on 29 Aug 2009, cordas wrote:

    @faz - He was racing a couple of months ago in carts, a little longer than that on bikes and he retired from F1 at the end of the 06 season (2 and a half seasons ago). Badoer last raced in 99, nearly 10 years ago, and even then he was one of the drivers who could be rather cruelly said to be making up the numbers, not a 7 times world champion and arguable the greatest F1 racer to ever race. Also we have no idea how Schumi would have done in a 2009 spec car because as far as I/we know he has never driven one, certainly he has not raced one this season (unfortunately).

    Comparing Schumi to Badoer is like comparing a F1 race car to a 10+ year old Lamborghini thats been sat in a garage for the last 10 years and only taken out to be shinned once in a while or driven to a premier obeying the speed limit now and then.

    I am not defending Badoer, he has failed to show any real racing ability anymore. I am simply saying that what on earth did Ferrari expect from him? They have asked him for some unbeknownst reason to fill in for Massa after his fluke accident and after the hype of Schumi stepping back into a racing seat. When he struggled abysmally at Valencia to show anything worthy of the seat they kept him in for a second race....

    I don't blame the guy, if Ferrari had asked me to replace Massa I would have bitten their hand off, even if I know I probably couldn't have even got the thing out of the pit lane I still would have done it!

    Its not Badoers decision who drives the car... its Ferrari decision, they have a responsibility to themselves, to their fans, to every F1 fan to make sure that whoever drives their car can actually do so in a reasonable manner and at a realistic speed. Putting someone in the car who didn't have a realistic chance of doing that is THEIR mistake, not the drivers. Keeping him there after he embarrassed himself and the car so badly at Valencia is just ridiculous... surely they had/have better options than that.... I can think of half a dozen drivers off the top of my head who would have jumped at the chance and done a better job.

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  • 31. At 00:01am on 30 Aug 2009, mikey wrote:

    26 How long has it been since Schumi raced? Well he managed to lap times during tests that would be in the top 3, so actually yeah, it is expected for badoer to do just a little bit better than he is doing!
    I am pleased for Fisichella, really weird top 3 but it should be an amazing race!
    if you actually look at the lap times for schumi they were the just slightly below what the f2007 used to do round that track, however he was racing on slicks so should actually have been beating the lap times by between 1.5-2 seconds so he probably would actually be around a second off the pace if he was racing (that allows for some catch up due to more mileage in the car at races)

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  • 32. At 00:47am on 30 Aug 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    no matter what happens - a Toyota will not win...ever.

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  • 33. At 01:03am on 30 Aug 2009, redsloz wrote:

    Sebastian Vettel to me is in a better position than what people may think. He is 8th on the starting grid, but has many advantages in his favour. This is why I think he will finish in the top 2-3.

    - The Red Bull RB5 is the fastest car on this circuit.
    - The car has more downforce than the others and is therefore much better equipped to deal with ea rouge.
    - Apart from Rosberg, Vettel has more fuel on board than any other driver in the top 10.

    I think that the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will gain a lot of ground on the Brawns today. Jenson Button would be very lucky to even score a point this weekend, and that should be an incentive for The Red Bulls. Red Bull have a real chance at this grand prix, and if they can get points here, Jenson Button will start to get really worried, especially as he does not look like he going to win another grand prix this year. Overall, I think that the title will be decided whether Red Bull can get their act together. I they can, we may have our youngest world champion ever in the Brilliant young Sebastian Vettel.

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  • 34. At 01:49am on 30 Aug 2009, cordas wrote:

    but Vettel has yet to prove that he is a racer capable of overtaking fast cars and good drivers... I am not saying that he can't just that he is yet to prove it. I also wonder how much he will be able to push his engine, that has to be playing at the back of his mind and the teams... is it better to score a handful of points beating the Brawns and save the engine or is it worth risking them all and going for glory.

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  • 35. At 02:13am on 30 Aug 2009, jadolfo wrote:

    From Trulli train to Trulli express.

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  • 36. At 04:51am on 30 Aug 2009, smifffies wrote:

    There will be a possibility of points for Jenson if he adopts a one stop strategy. 30 laps on the harder tyres then 14 laps on softer tyres when track should be stickier improving rear end grip. Most of the drivers in front will be on either two or three stops, so one stopping should get him at least a handful of points, enough to soften the blow of potential drop in championship lead. Fisi for example could three stop, the only way he could stay near the front, as Sutils car shows the true pace of the Force India cars i.e 11th.

    Just me tuppence worth

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  • 37. At 09:55am on 30 Aug 2009, BLUNNBOTTLE wrote:


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  • 38. At 10:00am on 30 Aug 2009, BLUNNBOTTLE wrote:


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  • 39. At 10:45am on 30 Aug 2009, razor_blade01 wrote:

    Firstly congratulations to Fisichella and Force India on pole position, hopefully they can get their first points here, they truely deserve it.
    Secondly I think the race will be between Raikkonen and Trulli (hopefully Kimi) although watch out for the BMW's they do look quick here and I think this can be Heidfeld's best chance of winning, especially with his career in jeopardy.
    My top 3:
    1st: Raikkonen
    2nd: Trulli
    3rd: Heidfeld

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  • 40. At 10:48pm on 28 Sep 2009, wossat wrote:

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  • 41. At 10:50pm on 28 Sep 2009, wossat wrote:

    sorry - not a comment but a question.
    please can one of u wise owls explain what that wierd barcode like logo on the ferraris is all about?

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  • 42. At 1:18pm on 10 Aug 2010, mclarenteam wrote:

    Riakkonene wins

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