German Grand Prix analysis

I love races that end like this one; where multiple drivers are on different strategies and in the closing stages of the race, you can’t tell who will finish where. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for his 30th career win, which just so happens to be the first time he’s won his home Grand Prix! Also well done to Lewis Hamilton for achieving his 29th career pole position in yesterday’s Qualifying. Both very impressive achievements. Another well done to the Lotus team for getting Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean on to the podium. I also think we should take our hats off to Mark Webber, for coming out of the pits a lap down, to then finish 7th is a fantastic!

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(Thoughts go out to Paul Allen, the FOM camera man who got hit by the tyre).

Whilst writing this, it’s been announced that Red Bull Racing have been fined with €30,000 for an unsafe pit release. Which I think is a bit lenient given that Nico Rosberg’s unsafe pit release in 2010 (which was very similar to today’s accident) earned his team a €50,000 fine, and similarly a €50,000 was given to Renault in 2009. Why have Red Bull only received €30,000 when they’ve put Paul in hospital suffering from some broken bones? (the injuries could have been far worse, but the danger should have never happened)

I normally start my summaries going down the  constructors order, but because it was Williams’ 600th grand prix, I thought I’d start with them!

Williams –
Qualifying – MAL P18 – BOT P17
Race – MAL P15 – BOT P16
In fairness to Williams, they were running in the points until the last pit stop problems for both drivers. Though I doubt they would have been able to fend off Paul Di Resta, Nico Rosberg and Hulkenberg etc. It was a miserable qualifying for the team, with both drivers failing to make it through to Q2. I feel like Williams have lost motivation, they used to be so full of passion and enthusiasm and now it seems to have faded away. They have so many fantastic memories, and a credible history, I just hope they don’t lose all faith, and they come back fighting.

Red Bull –
Qualifying – VET P2 – WEB P3
Race – VET P1 – WEB P7
Vettel was quite disappointed with second place, but it’s not that his lap wasn’t good, because it was good – it’s just that Hamilton’s lap was perfect. He still put his car on the front row, so that gave him a good opportunity to take the lead into the first corner. Funnily enough, this was Mark Webber’s worst qualifying result here, and it’s only 3rd place. Any driver would be happy with that! Sadly though, problems in the pit made Marks chances of getting on the podium very unlikely, though to come back through the field to take 7th place is still an achievement. Vettel on the other hand drove a pretty faultless race, he overtook Hamilton at the first corner which was a key part in his win, and then he kept calm even when the two Lotus’ applied the pressure. It’s also his 30th win, not a bad days work!

Ferrari –
Qualifying – ALO P8 – MAS P7
Race – ALO P4 – MAS DNF
Ferrari had to play with strategy to get some decent points, and that’s exactly what they did. It was obvious during qualifying that, that was what they were doing, so their grid position was satisfactory. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. I don’t know where the Ferrari race pace has gone, but they need to find it because otherwise Sebastian will just walk away with this title. Felipe Massa hasn’t been having the best of seasons, he has scored some points, but he’s also had his fair share of faults – whether they were in the practice sessions/qualifying or the race it needs to be sorted out for Ferrari to have any chance on winning the constructors championship.

McLaren –
Qualifying – BUT P9 – PER P13
Race – BUT P6 – PER P8
To be honest, I was surprised that Jenson managed to get through to Q3, but the McLaren does look like it’s made some progress. Sergio obviously didn’t have a great qualifying session, but certainly made it up in the race. It’s the first time both McLaren’s have been in the points since Monaco, and because neither Force India drivers scored points they’ve closed the gap to them in the constructors championship. Though can they keep it up?

Lotus –
Qualifying – RAI P4 – GRO P5
Race – RAI P2 – GRO P3
Romain Grosjean’s pace seem to come out of no where, it appears he seems to be well on the pace, or well off it, and this weekend he was definitely on it. At one point, I did think he was going to catch Vettel for the lead, but then Raikkonen started to get quicker and obviously the two later swapped positions. In terms of qualifying, I think it was fairly obvious that it was a shoot out between the Red Bulls and Mercedes (well Hamilton) so 4th and 5th is very respectable. Track conditions worked in Lotus’ favour today, producing what looked to be the fastest car in terms of race pace, they just weren’t close enough to Vettel to take the lead. Overall, a brilliant day for the team with both drivers appearing on the podium. Very impressed with Grosjean’s performance today, and Raikkonen gave us an exciting last few laps!

Mercedes –
Qualifying – ROS P11 – HAM P1
Race – ROS P9 – HAM P5
A mixed result in qualifying, that possibly cost Nico Rosberg of some better points. Lewis’ qualifying lap was faultless, he really did push hard and it payed off, tipping Vettel for pole, making this Lewis’ 29th career pole. Unlike Lotus, track conditons weren’t in Mercedes’ favour, they looked to be very challenging yesterday but with the hot temperatures it just didn’t suit the W04. Tyre degration problems were the main reason why both drivers couldn’t get a better position. Lewis did however recover quite well on his last stint, moving from 10th to 5th within 15 laps. Nico was the biggest to miss out, though he did move himself up into the points, and made an impressive overtake on both Bottas and Ricciardo simultaneously at turn 2.

Force India –
Qualifying – DIR P12 – SUT P15
Race – DIR P11 – SUT P13
What a miserable result, after showing strong pace in Silverstone, I thought they might duplicate it here. But like Mercedes, track conditions played to their disadvantage. Their speed disappeared and as a result, failed to get in to Q3 and score any points. All isn’t lost though, the car still has a lot of potential, and I do still think Force India are capable of getting one of their drivers on the podium at some point this season. They are still ahead of McLaren in the constructors championship, though they have closed the gap to the Silverstone team to just 10 points.

Sauber –
Qualifying – HUL P10 – GUT P14
Race – HUL P10 – GUT P14
You have to consider that this time last season, Sauber had achieved 2 podium positions and had ten times as many points as they do now. So to drop back by that much, is terrible, especially as they are apparently in financial troubles, with a rumour floating about that Hulkenberg hasn’t been paid in a while. Despite this, looking at their results, Hulkenberg has to be doing something right to pull points out of a sluggish car. I think he deserves a better drive, and with speculation that he’s in talks with Lotus he could be on his way there. Esteban Gutierrez is still yet to surprise me, I’m not convinced that he was the best driver to choose. Obviously finishing where he started in today’s race isn’t a bad result, but it’s always best to move up the order. I do hope Sauber sort out their financial issues, it’d be a shame to lose them from the sport.

Toro Rosso –
Qualifying – VER P16 – RIC P6
Race – VER DNF – RIC P12
Like Force India and Ferrari, I was a bit confused as to where the pace from the car had gone. However, I was surprised at Ricciardo’s qualifying result, his joint best to date grid start (not inc the Silverstone promotion). It seems to me that Ricciardo is the better qualifier, and Vergne is the better racer, though which (if any) Red Bull might sign to replace Webber is still a mystery. I myself believe Ricciardo is the better option, he’s consistent and seems like a team player, though Vergne is still a big contender. It’s a shame a hydraulic problem put him out of this race, and a near collision with Paul Di Resta showed his quick reactions (Force India have recieved a €5,000 for an unsafe pit release due to this). A satisfactory result for the team, though no points were scored, lets see what they can do in Hungary!

Caterham –
Qualifying – PIC P19 – VDG P21
Race – PIC P17 – VDG P18
It seems to be quite predictable during qualifying that Pic and Bianchi are the leading two young team drivers, and Van der Garde usually starts ahead of Chilton. In qualifying though Pic lead the back markers and Van der Garde slotted in the middle of the Marussia’s. Caterham are another team that are struggling financially, though I’m hearing they should be OK for another season.  Van der Garde actually had the better start during the race and got himself in front of Bianchi, Pic also managed to keep in front of both his team-mate and the Marussia’s. Overall not a bad result for Caterham.

Marussia –
Qualifying – BIA P20 – CHI P23
Race – BIA DNF – CHI P19
I’ve put 19th for Chilton, but essentially that’s last, and that’s not where Max should be finishing. Like I said previously, the Marussia’ s and Caterham’s seem to split each other up during qualifying, but this time the Caterham’s had the upper edge. Bianchi was the driver who bought out the safety car after his car blew up in smoke and fire (maybe a bit exaggerated) and then after the smoke cleared started to roll down the hill with no driver in the cockpit. Not one of Marussia’s best performances.

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