Tag Archives: German GP

Maldonado leads another rainy session in Germany

Maldonado made the most out of limited dry running

Maldonado made the most out of limited dry running

Pastor Maldonado surprisingly topped the timesheets for second practice for the German Grand Prix, but the session was again disrupted by rain, even heavier than that in FP1.

Michael Schumacher suffered the worst luck, crashing out with four minutes to go in the session. He languished in 23rd, having not set a time in the dryer conditions earlier on.

In the opening stages, only Bruno Senna went out on track, to assess his repaired car after Valtterri Bottas crashed his Williams in first practice.

As conditions improved, the Ferrari drivers and Romain Grosjean traded fastest laps at the top of the timesheets. While it momentarily appeared as if the track would be dry, rain quickly poured again, ruining all chances of car development for the teams.

As well as Schumacher, Daniel Ricciardo was also caught out in the tricky conditions, running wide and getting stuck in the gravel at turn 13.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:27.476           14
 2.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:27.564  +0.088   24
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:27.902  +0.426   24
 4.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:28.402  +0.926   26
 5.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:28.420  +0.944   20
 6.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:28.495  +1.019   22
 7.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:28.513  +1.037   23
 8.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:28.516  +1.040   16
 9.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:28.877  +1.401   21
10.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:29.327  +1.851   22
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:29.364  +1.888   26
12.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:29.719  +2.243   15
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:29.785  +2.309   24
14.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:30.090  +2.614   19
15.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:30.220  +2.744   16
16.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:30.291  +2.815   22
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:30.331  +2.855   26
18.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:30.437  +2.961   14
19.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:30.617  +3.141   16
20.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:31.207  +3.731   20
21.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:32.241  +4.765   22
22.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:32.349  +4.873   17
23.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:32.777  +5.301   18
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:42.566  +15.090   8

Button heads rain-disrupted Germany first practice

Button may have taken another step towards curing his recent poor pace

Button may have taken another step towards curing his recent poor pace

The rain once again made a mockery of the Formula 1 paddock, as the German Grand Prix weekend opened to persistent showers and rain. It was Jenson Button who took top spot, as he set his times early, avoiding the rain showers later on.

Teammate Lewis Hamilton was nearly half a second behind, with McLaren testing new sidepods for this weekend. Lewis’ time came at the end of the session, when the track began to dry out.

Williams test driver Valterri Bottas almost beat Button’s time, but a crash in the Stadium section at the end of his lap left him 13th overall.

While Pirelli attempted to run their experimental hard tyre today, the rain ruled out much signs of usable data. Mark Webber set his fastest time on the developing compound, but was 3.5 seconds off the pace in 20th place.

Lotus have brought a raft of upgrades to this Grand Prix, the most interesting being two “ear” intakes on each side of the engine intake. Kimi Raikkonen spent most of FP1 doing short runs, rarely setting a fast time. A “double DRS” system was planned to be raced, but after today’s washout the team have decided not to run the device.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:16.595          27
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1:17.093  +0.498  22
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1:17.370  +0.775  21
 4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1:17.382  +0.787  20
 5.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1:17.413  +0.818  28
 6.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    1:17.599  +1.004  17
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1:17.915  +1.320  27
 8.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1:17.995  +1.400  22
 9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault        1:18.020  +1.425  20
10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           1:18.130  +1.535  21
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1:18.226  +1.631  22
12.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1:18.339  +1.744  21
13.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault        1:18.422  +1.827  28
14.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:18.709  +2.114  30
15.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault           1:18.831  +2.236  14
16.  Jules Bianchi         Force India-Mercedes    1:18.972  +2.377  21
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:19.039  +2.444  34
18.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault        1:19.674  +3.079  24
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault        1:19.963  +3.368  24
20.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1:20.122  +3.527  27
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth       1:20.169  +3.574  20
22.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth       1:20.539  +3.944  18
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth            1:21.138  +4.543  24
24.  Dani Clos             HRT-Cosworth            1:21.740  +5.145  27

Grosjean to take gearbox penalty in Germany

Romain Grosjean will drop 5 places on the grid for the German Grand Prix next weekend.

The Lotus team has revealed that it has been forced to change the gearbox on Grosjean’s car, after a problem developed in the closing laps of the British Grand Prix.

Technical director James Allison noted “we are very fortunate that Romain didn’t have the problem earlier in the race.” The Lotus car was adjusted before the Silverstone race, to reduce strain on the alternator, which had failed previously at the European Grand Prix.

Under current technical regulations, gearboxes must last 5 races in a row. Unlike engine rules, there is not a stipulated amount of gearboxes that can be used, rather a certain amount of races in which each must be raced.

German Grand Prix stats and facts

Lewis Hamilton took a masterful victory yesterday, despite having never taken a single point from the Nurburgring before. Here are this weekend’s stats and facts:

  • Sebastian Vettel’s poor performance doesn’t mean he can’t still break records. The German’s 4th place now gives Vettel the record of best ever start to an F1 season. The previous record holder, Fernando Alonso, had taken a 5th place at the 10th race of the 2006 season, after 9 1sts and 2nds.
  • Despite some complaints of artificial racing, it has emerged that only 29% of overtakes this season have been due to DRS.
  • Lewis Hamilton took his 10th fastest lap, matching Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Mark Webber and John Surtees.
  • Mark Webber took the 9th pole position of his career, the 29th for Red Bull. Despite this, he has yet to retain his lead off the start at all this year.
  • However, Webber has finally managed to lead a lap this year. He is the seventh driver to do so in 2011.
  • 4th marks the first time in 15 races that Vettel has finished off the podium.
  • In terms of total driver’s points, Ferrari have now amassed 5,555 points in their 61-year history.
  • Alonso took his 68th podium finish, as many as Rubens Barrichello.
  • Apart from Lotus, Virgin and HRT, Pastor Maldonado is the only driver of the main field to have not completed full race distance so far this year.
  • Fernando Alonso is now the only driver of the pack who has out-qualified his teammate at every event so far. Felipe Massa has not beaten Alonso in qualifying since Spa 2010.
  • Lewis Hamilton has finished on the podium at least once at every F1 circuit he has raced in.
  • Nico Rosberg now has the most points without a win of any F1 driver.

Buemi takes 5-place grid drop for Hungary

Buemi will take a grid drop after colliding with Heidfeld in Germany

Buemi will take a grid drop after colliding with Heidfeld in Germany

Sebastien Buemi has been ordered to take a 5-place grid penalty for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The stewards decided that he was at fault for causing a collision between the Toro Rosso and Nick Heidfeld early on in the German GP.

Approaching the Veedol chicane, Heidfeld was squeezed onto the grass by Buemi, then the Renault was launched into the gravel trap and out of the race. Buemi continued, but pitted for repairs to his rear right tyre.

Although the television images suggested Buemi squeezed Nick off the track, Sebastien claims “Heidfeld drove into me”.

This follows Buemi being disqualified from qualfying, after a fuel irregularity with his car.

In related news, the FIA has stated it will not take any action against Nick Heidfeld, who was issued a drive-through penalty (for colliding with Paul di Resta) before he crashed out.

Hamilton takes superb victory in Germany

Lewis Hamilton took one of his greatest wins in the German Grand Prix today. Lewis drove his heart out all race long to beat Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to the top step of the podium. Sebastian Vettel had a dire race, struggling to 4th on the final lap. Adrian Sutil silently took an excellent 6th, while Kamui Kobayashi made a brilliant comeback from 18th. Here is what happened:

Webber continued his streak of bad starts, allowing Hamilton to leap into the lead at the first corner. Fernando Alonso pushed Vettel aside to move into 3rd.

Hamilton takes the lead while the Red Bulls fall back

Hamilton takes the lead while the Red Bulls fall back

Nick Heidfeld and Paul di Resta came together, sending both cars to the back of the grid. They remained ahead of Karun Chandhok, who pitted for a new nosecone after a few laps.

Slipping wide at Turn 3 cost Alonso 3rd place to Vettel. The other Ferrari, back in 6th, was stuck behind Nico Rosberg, and was being urged to pass the Mercedes to avoid “ruining” his race. Even with DRS, Massa failed to pass.

His teammate, without DRS, barged his way past Vettel at Turn 1, giving Alonso back 3rd position.

On Lap 10, the world champion shocked viewers around the world, by succumbing to pressure and spinning at Turn 10. He kept 4th, but was now under pressure by Rosberg and Massa.

This 3-way battle allowed Massa to get closer to Rosberg, and the Ferrari driver pushed his way into 5th. Further back, Sebastien Buemi accidentaly pushed Nick Heidfeld off the track, launching the Renault into the air and into the gravel trap.

Heidfeld is launched into the air after colliding with Buemi

Heidfeld is launched into the air after colliding with Buemi

The focus soon switched to the frontrunners, as the top 3 drivers began to close up to each other. Lewis made a mistake exiting the Veedol chicane, allowing Webber to slide past into the lead. Hamilton wasn’t having any of it though, using a wider line onto the pit straight, and shoving his McLaren along the pit wall to retake the lead.

Webber pitted from 2nd on Lap 16, followed by Hamilton and Alonso a lap later. However, as the three drivers came together at Turn 1, Felipe Massa – who was yet to stop – was in the middle of the battle. Pushing Webber wide, he took the lead, but Mark was still past Hamilton.

After Felipe pitted, Webber took control of the race. Michael Schumacher emulated Vettel by spinning off at Turn 10. Jenson Button finally stopped on Lap 25, indicating a 2-stop strategy.

Webber surprised many by stopping earlier than expected on Lap 31. With traffic and a poor out lap, Hamilton retook the lead after stopping a lap later. Mark tried a move around the outside of Turn 2, but Lewis pushed him onto the grass to retain the lead.

In a complete contrast to the regular undercut, Alonso pitted on Lap 33, and managed to move into the lead. However, his lead didn;t last long – Hamilton did what Webber couldn’t, and sailed around the outside of the Ferrari to retake the lead again.

Vettel jumps Massa on the final lap - albeit in the pits

Vettel jumps Massa on the final lap - albeit in the pits

In the battle for 6th, Nico Rosberg did very well to hold off a faster Button on both the back and main straights. However, running wide at Turn 1 handed Jenson the position. It was short-lived though, as a hydraulic failure caused the McLaren to retire.

Sebastian Vettel began to pick up the pace, and tried a move on Massa at the Veedol chicane. It failed to materialise, as Sebastian locked up and went straight on at the chicane.

Hamilton celebrates a fantastic win

Hamilton celebrates a fantastic win

Into the final 10 laps, the battle for the top 5 positions were decided by the final set of pit stops. The medium tyres were delayed for as long as possible, but with the rain holding off, using the slower tyre was inevitable.

Hamilton was the first to react, diving into the pits on Lap 52. Alonso followed him in a lap later, but failed to pass the McLaren. Oddly enough, even though Lewis was faster on the primes, Mark decided to stay out for several laps, to try a different strategy.

If failed to work, as the Red Bull emerged in 3rd again, well behind Alonso in 2nd. Meanwhile, the battle for 4th was decided on the final lap. Both Massa and Vettel pitted on Lap 59, but a slow stop by Ferrari allowed Sebastian to take 4th position.

Alonso hitches a lift from Webber back to parc ferme

Alonso hitches a lift from Webber back to parc ferme

A last-gasp battle for the lead was short-lived, allowing Hamilton to cross the line to take one of the finest wins of his career. After a stunning lap on Saturday, he was on the pace every single lap, and pushed the Red Bulls past their limit. Fernando Alonso was also impressive, but the drama didn’t end after the chequered flag for him. After running low on fuel, the Spaniard stopped as a precautionary measure – and Webber gave him a lift back to the pits on the Red Bull sidepod!

Adrian Sutil was the unsung hero of the race, quietly moving up the field to take a well-deserved 6th place. Rosberg and Schumacher were behind the Force India, while Kamui Kobayashi recovered well to take points after qualifying 18th.

Update: Sebastien Buemi has received a 5-place grid penalty for Hungary, after the stewards concluded he was at fault for the collision with Nick Heidfeld. More to follow.

Webber snatches pole in Germany

Mark Webber will start on pole position ahead of the German Grand Prix. He will start ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who pulled out a stunning lap at the end of Q3 to move ahead of Sebastian Vettel in 3rd. Fernando Alonso failed to beat the Red Bulls after a promising start to the weekend. Here is the full report:

Q1

Ricciardo went within 0.02 seconds of Liuzzi

Ricciardo went within 0.02 seconds of Liuzzi

As expected in Q1, most of the frontrunners did their best to conserve their soft tyres. Felipe Massa was the only driver in the top 6 who felt the need to put on the options in Q1.

Daniel Ricciardo got much closer to Vitantonio Liuzzi compared to last race – only 0.025 seconds away. Karun Chandhok split the two Virgin cars to go 21st.

Timo Glock was 20th, but complained to his team, claiming they were “making his life difficult”. Heikki Kovalainen was comdfortably the fastest of the bottom 3 teams.

Sauber’s strategy of holding their drivers in the garage for the first half of Q1 failed to pay off. A 1:33.786 wasn’t enough for Kamui Kobayashi to make it through the session, and he will start the race 18th.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:33.786

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:35.599

20) Timo Glock – 1:36.400

21) Karun Chandhok – 1:36.422

22) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:36.641

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi – 1:37.011

24) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:37.036

Q2

Perez struggled for pace in Q2

Perez struggled for pace in Q2

Lewis Hamilton was the first man of the weekend to enter the 1:30’s, leading the two Red Bulls.

Vitaly Petrov pushed Michael Schumacher out of 10th, before he was de-seated by Paul di Resta.

Schumacher moved back into the top 10, while Adrian Sutil went 7th to knock his teammate out of Q2. Nick Heidfeld improved on his time to stay 10th, before Petrov came back to go 9th.

Pastor Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello were 13th and 14th, with Sergio Perez 15th. The Toro Rossos of Buemi and Alguersuari were 16th and 17th.

Update: Buemi has been excluded from qualifying because of fuel irregularities. He will start tomorrow’s race either last, or from the pit lane.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nick Heidfeld – 1:32.215

12) Paul di Resta – 1:32.560

13) Pastor Maldonado – 1:32.635

14) Rubens Barrichello – 1:33.043

15) Sergio Perez – 1:33.176

16) Sebastien Buemi – Excluded

17) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:33.698

Q3

Webber resisted a charge from Lewis to take pole

Webber resisted a charge from Lewis to take pole

Fernando Alonso led the way out of the pits for Q3. He briefly went fastest, before Hamilton beat the Spaniard by one tenth.

However, the searing Red Bull pace quickly propelled Mark Webber in front by 0.4 seconds. Vettel was a single tenth behind his teammate.

Massa’s and Button’s times were well off the pace, while Petrov went 7th. Neither Mercedes or Adrian Sutil set a time n the first 5 minutes, instead electing to go out while the frontrunners were in the pits.

Fernando Alonso pushed his Ferrari to the limit, but only moved into 3rd. Mark Webber improved by a tenth to stay on top, while Lewis Hamilton pulled out an incredible lap to split the Red Bulls, after Vettel moved into 3rd place.

Nico Rosberg pipped a dissappointing Button to 6th, while Adrian Sutil was 8th. Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher finished off the top 10.

Lewis was delighted with his 2nd position, describing it as a “wicked lap”, going over a second faster than teammate Button.

While a Red Bull on pole was not too surprising, it was a joy to see Alonso and particularly Hamilton push their cars to the absolute limit. The gap to the previously invincible Red Bulls has disappeared, and it has set up for a fantastic race tomorrow, with rain on the forecasts…

Single DRS zone remains for Nurburgring

The Nurburgring features DRS approaching the Veedol chicane

The Nurburgring features DRS approaching the Veedol chicane

One DRS zone will be used at the German Grand Prix this weekend.

The activation zone will be on the back straight, approaching the Veedol chicane. In previous years, drivers have attempted passes, but nearly always fell short.

The detection point will be at the approach to Turn 10 – the Kumho-Kurve. Drivers will be then able to open the rear wing exiting Turn 11 – the Bit-Kurve.

As in previous races, DRS will remain open until the braking point of the Veedol chicane.

The Nurburgring has proven difficult in terms of passing in recent years. Hopefully, with Pirelli tyres and a decent DRS zone, that will change this weekend.

Chandhok to replace Trulli for German GP

Chandhok will make his first racing appearance since Silverstone last year

Chandhok will make his first racing appearance since Silverstone last year

Karun Chandhok will take over Jarno Truli’s car for the German Grand Prix, the team confirmed today.

The Indian driver has taken part in 4 practice sessions with the team so far this year. It will be his first race in F1 since the 2010 British Grand Prix.

Trulli has struggled with power steering problems all year in the Lotus. He is due a steering upgrade in Hungary, so many believe that this temporary replacement is simply to allow Trulli to cool off.

Despite losing his seat for one race, team principal Tony Fernandes has confirmed that the team is still in negotiations with Jarno regarding a contract for next year.

Despite this, it is still suspected that Trulli will make way for Chandhok at the inaugral Indian Grand Prix as well.

Thoughts on the German Grand Prix

Isn’t it very strange how Ferrari change tack on the rules so quickly? After Valencia, they blasted the stewards, called the race a “sham”, after the safety car penalty mix-up. In Great Britain, Fernando Alonso ignored the rules, stole a place off Kubica, ignored common sense, and rightfully earned a drive-through penalty. You would have thought that they would have learned their lesson. But no, screw the rules, we’re Ferrari.

I’ll explain. In both Valencia and Britain, the team were using the rulebook to argue their case. For Valencia, they wanted an immidiate drive-through penalty for Hamilton after he overtook the safety car, and rightfully so. In Britain, they skated around the rules, claiming that Alonso did not gain an advantage by cutting the corner, even though he clearly did. However, not a single Ferrari team member could explain their way around breaking rule 39.1 : “Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.”

It shocks us all to believe that Ferrari could try to bring Formula 1 back to the sham of Austria 2001 and 2002, when Michael Schumacher and the team stole 1st and 2nd positions off Rubens Barrichello two years in a row. As these 3 videos show, very little has changed in 9 years:

The media’s reaction has varied by country obviously. The British media are screaming “Fraud-ula 1″, and the Star were so angry they couldn’t even spell:

Meanwhile, the Brazilian media have grilled Felipe Massa, claiming he was spineless and weak in allowing Alonso through. And over here in Ireland… you could barely find it. The newspapers here don’t care about F1 (something I have vowed to fix in my lifetime), but no matter which way you look at it, Formula 1’s reputation has been ruined yet again by Ferrari.

Many people talk of “improving the show” to attract more casual viewers. How do they expect to do this when people open their newspapers and read “Fraud-ula 1″?

But enough on this sham, back to the race. Unfortunately, the German Grand Prix fell below our expectations, as there simply wasn’t much to note, apart from the obvious. I would however like to note Pedro de la Rosa’s excellent overtake on Nico Hulkenberg as a highlight of the race for me.

Also, I’m sure we were disappointed by the lack of action generated by the large gap in the tyre compounds, as the super-soft tyres held up much better than expected. This meant that, while a few drivers started on the harder tyre, the usual 1-stop, soft to hard tyre strategy worked well. However, Nico Hulkenberg’s strategy is well worth a mention. He started on the soft tyres, and managed to drag them up to Lap 35, by which time they were completely shot. While he went a few laps too far, this is an example of the changes that are needed in tyre compounds, as they need to be even softer to mix things up a bit.

Vitaly Petrov has made a good step towards retaining his seat for 2010, by getting his first points-scoring position since China. He finished 10th, although he mistakenly believed he was outside the points, and only found out after the race! Like Eric Boullier was saying, this is exactly what Petrov needs to do to keep his seat, by upping the pace to get closer to team-mate Kubica. Remember Nelson Piquet Jr nearly won here in 2008, thanks to a perfectly timed safety car? The difference here is that the new Renault driver doesn’t need sheer luck to keep his seat. A few more good performances and Petrov will be my favourite rookie driver of the year.

Driver of the race – Felipe Massa: Exactly one year after his horrible accident, an excellent performance should have got him the win. A clever move at the start got him into the lead, and although he fell away in terms of raw pace, still deserved to take 1st place.

Driver of the new teams – Timo Glock: He was easily the fastest driver of the new teams, and overcame a difficult 23rd position on the grid.

Best rookie – Vitaly Petrov: Got his first points scoring position since China, and has also improved in terms of qualifying. While he is still well behind Robert Kubica, he does seem to be catching up. His race seat for 2011 will become more and more secure with each of these good performances.

Best team – McLaren: It was hardly going to be Ferrari. While Sebastian Vettel finished ahead of Button and Hamilton, it must be noted that the two McLarens were extremely close in terms of pace to each other, although they would have wanted to be closer to the podium finishers.

Least impressive – Sakon Yamamoto: To start off, when the race began, he didn’t realise that the pit limiter was still on, which dropped him to the back of the grid after a terrible getaway. Then, when he was trying to adjust his brake bias, he his the engine fire switch, and cut out the engine, forcing him into retirement. An absolute waste of a driver, and is costing HRT and Karun Chandhok dearly.

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