As in Australia last week, the FIA's publication of the post-qualifying weights of all 20 Formula 1 cars on the starting grid for the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang this weekend has thrown up a number of surprises.
Though he was always expected to be fuelled light given his imposed ten-place grid drop, that Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel weighed in 8.5kg lighter than anyone else in the field suggests the German star will have quite some work to do from 13th on race day – and somewhat puts team-mate Mark Webber's performance into a different light too, with the Aussie just under three tenths of a second shy of the sport's youngest-ever race-winner in Q3 but 9kg heavier with it.
Amongst the front-runners, indeed, it is pole-sitter Jenson Button who would appear to be in the best shape, with his Brawn GP BGP 001 weighing a healthy 660kg – more than any of the five cars starting immediately behind him. Toyota duo Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were identical in terms of weight but four tenths apart in the Italian's favour in terms of lap time, whilst Red Bull's conviction that Webber is running with more fuel than Nico Rosberg just ahead of him on the grid seems to be belied somewhat by the fact that both cars weighed exactly the same.
It is perhaps little surprise that, further down the top ten, Robert Kubica and former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen appear to be running a fraction heavier than the drivers in front of them, whilst at respectively 680.5kg and 692kg, Renault's Fernando Alonso and BMW-Sauber ace Nick Heidfeld – who share the fifth row following the various penalties – look strong indeed. Starting twelfth and 14th respectively, McLaren-Mercedes pairing Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen were also reasonably heavy.
In the intra-team duels, whilst the differences at Toyota, McLaren and Renault are either negligible or entirely non-existent, the greatest discrepancies can be seen at Force India (Giancarlo Fisichella 25kg heavier than Adrian Sutil), Ferrari (Felipe Massa 27kg heavier than Raikkonen), Williams (Kazuki Nakajima 27.4kg heavier than Rosberg) and BMW-Sauber (Heidfeld 29kg heavier than Kubica – though part of that can doubtless be attributed to the German running KERS and the Pole not).
The full list is as follows (their actual starting position is in brackets at the end):
Red Bull Racing-Renault 647.0kg
Force India-Ferrari 655.5kg
Red Bull Racing-Renault 656.0kg
Brawn GP-Mercedes 660.0kg
Brawn GP-Mercedes 664.5kg
Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 670.5kg
Force India-Ferrari 680.5kg
Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 686.5kg