Tag Archives: German GP

German Grand Prix stats and facts

Once you look behind the headlines, you can find the fact that this is Williams 100th race since their last win. Here are more stats and facts from the German Grand Prix:

  • Fernando Alonso’s win means that he is now in the top 10 of Grand Prix winning drivers, with 23 to his name, as many as Nelson Piquet Sr. On the other hand, if Massa had won, then he would have had 12 wins, 1 less than Lewis Hamilton.
  • Sebastian Vettel’s 5th fastest lap of his career means he has as many as Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton.
  • Also, Vettel’s  11th pole position means he is in 30th place overall.
  • This is only the second time this year that Red Bull have not led a lap in a Grand Prix. The other time was in China, when Sebastian Vettel again lost his lead at the start, although Fernando Alonso jump started into the lead.
  • This was the 3rd pole position in a row for Vettel, although he has bottled the last 2 in a row at the first corner.
  • The qualifying gap to Alonso (0.002 seconds) was the smallest pole position margin since the Italian GP in 2006, when Kimi Raikkonen took pole.
  • This is Williams’ 100th race entry since their last win. However, taking Indianapolis 2005 into account, they have actually only competed in 99 races since their last win.
  • This is Red Bull’s 100th race entry, but again, only 99th race start, thanks to Indy 2005.
  • Robert Kubica has now out-qualified his team-mate 11 times in a row this year (every race), the only driver to do so.
  • Felipe Massa has completed the most laps, with 666. 3 drivers are one lap behind on 665 (Rosberg, Hamilton and Alonso) as they retired with one lap to go.
  • I could be wrong, but I think it is the first ever time in Formula 1 history that 3 different teams have scored 2 1-2 victories in a single season.
  • Many people are claiming that Nico Hulkenberg’s pit stop was 2.9 seconds, and therefore the fastest pit stop in F1 history. Unfortunately, I had a look at the replays, and there was a huge timing error, as the stop was actually around 4.5 seconds.
  • Not exactly a historical stat, but I’m guessing it’s the first time that a driver tried to adjust his brake bias, and hit the engine fire switch instead, cutting out the engine and forcing him into retirement. Three cheers for Sakon Yamamoto!

If you know of any more, let us know in the comments.

Massa and Alonso grilled in press conference

Both Ferrari drivers, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, have been hounded by the press following the team orders controversy surrounding the German Grand Prix. After Felipe was ordered to allow Fernando through, who went on to win the race, they were promptly summoned to the press conference, where they just about survived a grilling.

Normally, the first part of the press conference is an extremely boring affair, with lots of “for sures” and “the team did a great job” statements. However, the second part is much more interesting, when the newspaper journalists get to ask any question they want, and the drivers must respond. So without further ado, here are the stinging questions that Felipe and Fernando endured:

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Fernando and Felipe, via a coded message it appears that we’ve just witnessed a clear case of team orders being handed out. To Fernando, do you feel embarrassed about taking such a win, and to Felipe do you feel angry about having to give up such a win?
FM:
For sure, you always want to win. That’s always what we’re working for. For sure we don’t have team orders, so we just need to do the race that we can and if you see that you cannot do the race that you can, you need to think about the team. I think that’s the most important thing.
FA: Yeah, same. What’s important is the team result, so I’m happy.

Q: (Fredrik Af Petersens) Felipe, you said earlier that you lost out to Fernando on the hard tyres. How come that after you were passed, that you were doing more or less exactly the same lap times, a couple of times even faster?
FM:
I was pushing hard as well but maybe I think he slowed down, I don’t know. He was controlling the pace.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Felipe, after this afternoon, do you now think you’re the number two driver at Ferrari?
FM:
Well, I cannot say that I’m there fighting for first position in the championship. I’ve lost many points, important points, and the only thing I can say is that I know what I can do, I can win races, that’s what counts and everybody saw today that I can win races and I can be competitive. For sure, what happened today is something that has happened in many races this year: when I put on the hard tyres I struggle. This is exactly what happened in the race. On the soft tyres, I was very strong and then when we went onto the hard, I was struggling again, so there’s no news about that. So I know why sometimes I’m a little bit penalised, it’s just because of the very hard tyres that we have this year. I don’t think it’s a good thing, to be honest, because you don’t have strategies any more. Then also the grip level on hard tyres for me was always a little bit of an issue this year, and most of the races that we used these tyres I was struggling. And this is another one where I was very good on the soft tyres in the first part of the race, and then we put on the hard tyres and I was struggling again. It’s a similar issue that we have had in some races.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Alonso, in a normal race, do you think you could have overtaken Massa, and Massa, in a normal race do you think Alonso could overtake you?
FM:
Well, I think I was holding in a good way anyway, but the race is long and you always have many laps, so you never know what can happen in 20 laps. So maybe yes.
FA: Yeah, I think there was one moment also on (I don’t know) which lap it was but we were side-by-side into turn six, especially with the people we were lapping – always there is a better chance to overtake and even though we didn’t see too many overtakings here today we’ve seen a lot in the past on this circuit but this year maybe with the new cars etc we didn’t see too many.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Fernando, you said after Valencia that the race had been manipulated in favour of Lewis. Those words seem a bit hollow now. Where will this victory rank in your career, is it up there with Singapore 2008?
FA:
I think you have a very strong result from Ferrari today, one and two, a very strong performance all weekend and if the final thought of the weekend is your question it’s because maybe you didn’t see the whole practice, qualifying and the race, so maybe it’s too early for you that Ferrari came back so strong.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Team orders are banned in Formula One. They were banned in 2002, that was blatant team orders.
FA:
Sure.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Eddie Jordan just said that you two should be kicked out of the race.
FA:
Again, if this is the final thought of the weekend for you, I think it is because you didn’t see the performance of the team and the performance from our car this weekend.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Fernando, I think we all know what happened on lap 48 and we don’t need any fairy tales about tyres or anything to be clear of that. I just want to ask you, because in 2006 in Monza you said that Formula One is not a sport any more for you but was that which we saw today a sport?
FA:
I think we tried to do our race, we tried to do as good as we can. We are professional drivers, we try to work in a team and we try to do the best we can every day, not only here on the track but also between the races, at the factory etc, preparing the races. Again, I think we’ve been doing a good job over the last couple of races and finally we got a strong Sunday with a strong result. I think we are happy with this, although there are things which are more for you if you want to write all these things.

Q: (Carlos Miquel – Diario AS) Fernando, do you feel that some people are worrying because you are back in the championship?
FA:
Maybe it seems like this, yes.

Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) Fernando, what have you got to say to the people who would call this a dirty win and if you win the championship, a dirty champion?
FA:
I have 19 races to… look at the overall races, there are a lot of points that we win sometimes and a lot of points that we lose sometimes. As I said, today was a good day, some other races were bad days for us, disappointing but as I said before, we need to remain focused, keep working, keep developing the car, not to be too excited when we win, not to be too down when we lose. In November, (we need to) try to be in the fight for the championship, not forgetting that Red Bull has so far been very dominant, not scoring many points on Sunday, or the points that they should have scored on Sunday, but remain very strong and McLaren as well, leading both championships, so there is still a long way to go for us.

Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) The reality is, though, that you couldn’t beat him on the track, so you had to get the team to do it for you.
FA:
If that’s your opinion.

Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) I’m asking you, is that not your opinion?
FA:
No.

Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) He had to give you this win, didn’t he, Fernando?
FA:
No.

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Fernando, you’ve said that you’re happy with this win but to be honest, I’ve never seen a driver look less happy in the middle of a podium there today, and in the middle of this press conference here. Why can’t you just be honest with us for once, and just admit that this win was handed to you on a plate today?
SV:
Can I go?

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Go Sebastian! Sebastian, give us your thoughts?
FA:
Hopefully the next question is for Sebastian. No, stay, stay. As I said, I think we were competitive on Friday, I was very competitive on Friday, first position. Finishing second in qualifying by 12 centimeters, I heard yesterday and today I think we scored the fastest lap of the race, so overall I don’t think I was very slow this weekend.

Q: (Miran Alisic – Korpmedia) I have a question for Sebastian. I think you had some not similar but close situations with Mark as well. Do you feel proud that what has happened at Ferrari today hasn’t happened in your team?
SV:
Don’t you have another question maybe? Yeah, maybe they should have crashed. I don’t know, I haven’t seen the incident. I was too far back. I always saw them going into the hairpin when I was coming out of turn five, so I don’t know what you’re all talking about. I can guess but I don’t know. For sure my advice would not be it’s better to crash because also then you get a lot of questions that you have to answer so… Yeah, for me I was focusing on my own race and trying to do my thing, trying to stay close enough, trying to get closer, trying to put them under pressure. It didn’t work, so I’m not pleased with that. No matter who you race, it’s always difficult in Formula One to pass people and sometimes you have to take a lot of risk. When you don’t have to race your team-mate, you’re racing for the team, both of you, both drivers and on the other hand everyone looks for his own advantage. We had a couple of situations this year in our team, so it’s quite a comedy that we are not in focus at this stage but life changes quickly, so… It’s never wise to say anything that you might regret. Maybe in a week’s time. I’m happy where we are now, as a team. Again, I can only repeat that from the outside there was more of a fuss made than there was inside. I can assure you that Mark and myself are always looking to do our best but on top of that, I think we understood many times this year that the team is the main priority and we are racing for the team, in the end. We don’t get our cheque from you guys, we get it from the team. I think that’s something we always have to respect.

Q: (Ralf Bach – R & B) Felipe, you said it was your decision to let Fernando past, so my first question is why did you take this decision, as a racing driver in Formula One, and my second question is do you have any idea why Rob Smedley said sorry to you? FM: No. (Regarding your first question) As I said, because I was not so strong on the hard, so we need to think about the team.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Felipe, Rubens damaged his image a lot in Brazil when he did what you did today. Until now you had the support of the country; aren’t you worried that now after you did what Rubens did you have deeply damaged your image in Brazil?
FM:
For sure not, for sure not. I’m very professional and I’ve showed in my career how professional I am. You are professional as well, you work for a company. I believe you are doing what you have to do, so I’m professional and today I showed how professional I am. That’s it.

Q: (Tony Dodgins – Tony Dodgins Associates) Fernando you’re getting quite a bit of flak but as you say, you’ve been the quicker Ferrari driver for most of the weekend. We see it so often that the guy who is second on the grid gets beaten away by the guy who is third. Is there ever a case for actually asking to reverse the positions on the grid?
FA:
I think there are some circuits where the clean side is an advantage. There are some circuits where it is not an advantage, for example in Hungary next weekend, it will be crucial to be on the clean side. There are other circuits like that. There’s nothing we can do. We have a fifty percent chance of being on the clean or dirty side of the grid, unless you are the quickest which secures the clean side. The only thing we can do is to fight for pole position which allows you to be on the clean side. If not, I don’t see any other possibility. Maybe there should be more distance. Instead of eight meters, maybe 12 or whatever.

Q: (Tony Dodgins – Tony Dodgins Associates) Take today, if you’d been able to opt to start third instead of second and actually swap places, would you have done it?
FA:
Maybe I would have done a bad start, you never know. I think it was a good start today, overtaking Sebastian and that was our target today. You never know.

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) To both Fernando and Felipe, we always talk about the show, the necessity of the show in Formula One. Can you conceive that race lovers and show lovers might be a bit frustrated today?
FA:
Well, I think we try to put on a good show always for people, for spectators but as Felipe or Sebastian said, we work for companies, we work for teams. Sometimes, as we saw this year, there are crashes between team-mates and the loss of 42 points for the team. Today Ferrari has 42 in their pocket, so I think it’s what we are here for.

Q: (Ted Kravitz – BBC Sport) Fernando, after the pit stop, when you were behind Felipe, we heard a radio message, it wasn’t very clear, but it sounded like you were telling the team guys ‘think of the victory.’ Did you say that?
FA:
No.

Team orders taint F1 yet again by Ferrari

It couldn’t come worse for Felipe Massa. Exactly one year after his crash in Hungary that ruled him out for the rest of the year, his team have turned his back on him, and blatantly taken a rightful win off him. Of course, championship points are what Fernando needs at the moment, but this cannot cover what happened today.

This incident kicked off when Alonso was unable to make a move on Massa for the lead. He complained on the radio: “This is ridiculous”. Clearly, the heads of the team wanted Fernando to get through, and the engineers, specifically Rob Smedley, were fighting for the drivers to battle over the lead themselves. After many laps of arguing over the matter, Smedley dejectedly ordered Massa to lift and allow Alonso through.

After this, nobody on the pit wall spoke to each other, Smedley sitting there, with his arms folded, not saying a word. Stefano Domenicail was in between Smedley and Chris Dyer, who was similarly refusing to talk, although it is not known what side of the argument he was on.

The problem lies within the FIA’s inability to punish Ferrari for this blatant act of team orders. Firstly, the stewards will need to find hard evidence to hand out a penalty, and unfortunately “Fernando is faster than you” just doesn’t cut it as evidence. While there is 100% certainty that the race was manipulated by Ferrari, they have conveniently maneuvered themselves in such a way that they cannot realistically be punished. And secondly…. Jean Todt is FIA president. Do you trust him in this situation? I don’t. But it would be nice to be surprised.

If Ferrari were to be punished, excellent. Team orders would be fully banned (at least in situations in relation to the lead of the race), and it would not happen again. If that were the case, then I would be happy enough, and move on. But, Ferrari, even if they were summoned to the stewards, could use many other blatant team orders to defend themselves. Look at Kovalainen letting Hamilton through in Germany 2008, or Raikkonen and Massa in China ’08. The radio transmission “Driver X is faster than you” has previously been shown to work, and I don’t think that it will change this time.

So, we must point the finger of blame, but I don’t think it should be aimed at Fernando Alonso. While he certainly gained from this, it was the team who made the call, and they are the ones who need to be taught a lesson. On the other hand, Fernando’s complaining about “this is ridiculous” earlier on shows that he was expecting Massa to let him through, as opposed to what happened in Australia, when he was held up by Felipe all race long.

However, should we not criticise Massa, who was obviously slower than Alonso? When Fernando got through, he was up to half a second faster at points, and pulled out a 4 second lead by the end of the race. This situation would never have happened if Felipe had the pace to stay away from Fernando in the first place.

But that’s not justifying the team order. What happened today has happened many times before, and it needs to stop now. The McLaren and Red Bull bosses are saying that they treat their drivers equally (cough *Webber* cough), and that Alonso is gaining an unfair advantage by using Massa to help himself to some extra points, and this is perfectly true. Look at what happened in Turkey, when Vettel and Webber collided. While what happened was completely unnecessary, at least the team allowed them to race each other, rather than ruin the excitement (before the crash, that is) by issuing team orders.

In fact, the shining example of how to treat your drivers comes from McLaren, who have been excellent so far in giving equal treatment to both Button and Hamilton. While the “save fuel” incident initially caused concern, the team later said that it was a mistake by Hamilton’s engineer, and I would believe them. If the world championship ended today, then McLaren would totally deserve to win it. Button or Hamilton? Doesn’t really matter.

You know what the worst part of this is for me? While in London, I bought a Ferrari shirt, and I’m wearing it as I write this.  Looking back, not a perfectly timed purchase.

Alonso leads Ferrari 1-2 amid team orders in Germany

Fernando Alonso won the German Grand Prix today, ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa. However, this result was overshadowed by a coded team order from Ferrari to Felipe Massa, instructing him to allow Alonso through during the race. Behind the two Ferraris, Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull.

At the start, Vettel was slow to start, and both Alonso and Massa took 2 different routes to get around him. Fernando Alonso was pushed up by Vettel close to the wall, but still got through, while Felipe sailed around the outside and took the lead. At the hairpin, the Toro Rossos collided, with Jaime Alguersuari ripping off Sebastien Buemi’s rear wing, putting him straight out, and Jaime pitting for a new front wing.

Vitantonio Liuzzi hit the debris and pitted for repairs, but Adrian Sutil also pitted on the same lap. In a huge mix-up, the Force India team put each other’s tyres on both cars, which led to the FIA instructing the team to change the tyres again on both cars.

Jenson Button fell to 6th at the start, behind Mark Webber, who was overtaken by Lewis Hamilton. The top 6 began to swiftly move away from the rest of the field, as the super-soft tyres were holding up much better than expected. Sebastian Vettel got the ball rolling on Lap 12, when he switched to the hard tyres. This prompted a flurry of stops from the frontrunners, with nearly all of his rivals stopping in the next few laps.

Everyone except Jenson Button, that is. He opted to stayo out until Lap 22, and when he did change tyres, he got out ahead of Mark Webber to move into 5th place.

After this, the main battle was for the lead, with Alonso pressurising Massa. Up until Lap 28, Felipe kept Fernando at bay, until the Spainard decided to c0nserve fuel for a few laps, giving Massa a few seconds of room. However, within a few laps, Alonso had already began to catch up, and was less than 2 seconds behind.

Massa holding him up allowed Sebastian Vettel to close up behind Alonso, and this angered the team. Under no circumstances would they allow their 1-2 to be compromised, and they also felt that Alonso needed the extra points. So, on Lap 48, after a few laps of the team engineers arguing, Rob Smedley dejectedly sent a message to Massa: “Felipe, Fernando… is… faster… than… you. Can you confirm you understood that message?”

Clearly he did, as Massa slowed down to allow Alonso through on the next lap. Smedley simply said “sorry” to Felipe, as Fernando sailed away into the distance. Now, the focus switched to Mark Webber, who was under instruction to lift off on the straight, as he had an engine oil consumption problem. He managed it well, but he lost the opprtunity to challenge Button for 5th place.

While many were furious about the team order, it was very clear that Alonso was now much faster than Felipe, as Sebastian Vettel began to close on Massa. While he got within 1.4 seconds, he was unable to make a move for 2nd place.

Most drivers started on the super-soft, then switched to the harder tyre. However, both Pedro de la Rosa and Nico Hulkenberg decided to start on the hard tyre for most of the race first, then use the soft at the end. The strategy did not work though, as Hulkenberg and De la Rosa were 13th and 14th respectively.

With no more moves until the end, Alonso crossed the line first, 4.1 seconds ahead of Massa, with Vettel another second behind. The McLarens just didn’t have the pace today, as Hamilton and Button were 4th and 5th, more than 25 seconds behind Alonso. Mark Webber was another 14 seconds slower than Button, in a poor result for Red Bull.

With all the focus at the front, the other points-scorers went practically unnoticed. Robert Kubica was 7th, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Vitaly Petrov was 10th, getting in the points for the first time since China.

It was a poor day for the new teams, with both Lotus cars retiring, followed by Lucas di Grassi and Sakon Yamamoto. Only Glock and Senna were classified in the finish. It was a disaster for Force India, with Liuzzi and Sutil 16th and 17th.

So, the German Grand Prix is over now, but the controversy over team orders has just begun. A post about it will be up soon.

The standings have also been updated, you can view them here.

Vettel pips Alonso to pole in Germany

Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for the German Grand Prix – but only by 0.002 seconds, ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Mark Webber made a mistake on his final lap, and could only start 4th. Here is the full report:

Q1

Before the session even began, it emerged that Lucas di Grassi would be unable to take part, as a gearbox issue had forced him out. While he did go out, he pitted instantly, suggesting a ratio problem. A later gearbox change sealed his fate at the back of the grid.

After only 5 minutes, the session was halted when Vitantonio Liuzzi crashed into the pit wall after the final corner, in a very similar fashion to Timo Glock here in 2008. Ironically, it was Glock who had to swerve to avoid one of Liuzzi’s detached tyres.The session later restarted, and Mark Webber did a 1.16.024 to go fastest on an old set of tyres, before Lewis Hamilton got a 1.15.505 on a new set.

Sebastian, on a new set of tyres, unlike Mark, could only go a few tenths faster, but still was 2nd. Jenson Button was 3 tenths off Hamilton, before Vettel went around again to blast 4 tenths off the fastest time. Further back, Nico Rosberg was struggling in the dropout zone, after 2 previously failed attempts, but finally got a 1.16.1 to get up to 6th.

Then, Fernando Alonso set the fastest time of the weekend so far, with a 1.14.808. This left the Lotus, Virgin and HRT cars all out, alongside Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jarno Trulli

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Timo Glock

21) Bruno Senna

22) Vitantonio Liuzzi

23) Sakon Yamamoto

24) Lucas di Grassi

Q2

The first set of laps were mostly done on the harder tyres, except for Felipe Massa, who opted to do his first lap on the super-softs. This allowed him to set the fastest time early on, with a 1.14.607. He could have gone even faster, but a mistake in the final sector cost him the lap.

However, once the other frontrunners switched to the super-soft tyres for their second runs. Team-mate Fernando Alonso raised the bar for fast laps even higher, with a 1.14 dead. The Mercedes drivers were 11th and 12th with 6 minutes remaining, while Adrian Sutil was struggling in 14th with a suspected gearbox problem.

In the final few minutes, Nico Rosberg edged out Schumacher by 0.008 seconds, leaving them 9th and 10th. However, Nico Hulkenberg went faster than both of them, leaving Michael 11th and out of Q2. He was joined by both Sauber drivers, Toro Rossos, Vitaly Petrov and Adrian Sutil, who will drop a further 5 places thanks to a gearbox change.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Michael Schumacher

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Vitaly Petrov

14) Adrian Sutil

15) Pedro de la Rosa

16) Jaime Alguersuari

17) Sebastien Buemi

Q3

At the start of Q3, Fernando Alonso got the fastest lap in first, while Sebastian Vettel was unable to beat that time, also on super-soft tyres. Mark Webber’s first lap was a 1.14.3, but he was unable to improve upon it later.

At the second runs, Sebastian Vettel did a stunning lap, to snatch pole position by 0.002 seconds from Alonso, setting a 1.13.791. While Felipe Massa was 3rd, he was a half a second slower, and Webber ran wide at Turn 1 on his final lap, leaving him in 4th. Jenson Button edged out Hamilton by one tenth, leaving them 5th and 6th.

Robert Kubica was 7th, Rubens Barrichello 8th, Nico Rosberg 9th and Nico Hulkenberg finishing off the top 10.

While starting 1st is the best place to be, the two Ferraris will be in place to keep Sebastian Vettel on his toes tomorrow. Also, Button and Hamilton are not to be excluded, as their faster straight-line speed will help them keep up.

Alonso leads dry German FP2

Fernando Alonso pipped Sebastian Vettel today in Friday Practice 2, as the track was dry for most of the session. Despite a brief rain shower at the start, the track quickly got back up to temperature, and slick tyres were used for the first time this weekend. Lewis Hamilton was forced to sit out most of the session, thanks to his crash in FP1.

Fernando Alonso was ahead of Sebastian Vettel in German FP2 today

Fernando Alonso was ahead of Sebastian Vettel in German FP2 today

In Friday Practice 1, the fastest lap was a 1.25.701. In contrast, Alonso’s fastest lap in FP2 was a 1.16.265, more than 9 seconds faster. Sebastian Vettel was 0.029 seconds slower in 2nd place. Felipe Massa and Mark Webber were 3rd and 4th, while the Mercedes drivers of Rosberg and Schumacher were 5th and 6th. Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg topped off the top 10.

Kamui Kobayashi was 11th, followed by Vitaly Petrov, Pedro de la Rosa and Adrian Sutil. Jenson Button was unable to keep up the pace from FP1, and was 15th. Vitantonio Liuzzi was 16th, followed by the two Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.

Timo Glock was again the quickest driver of the new teams, ahead of Jarno Trulli and Lucas di Grassi. Heikki Kovalainen was 22nd, and Bruno Senna was 23rd. Sakon Yamamoto was last, and 1.1 seconds slower than Senna.

Sutil leads in the rain in German FP1

Adrian Sutil topped a heavily rain-affected Friday Practice 1 session at the Hockenheimring. The track started out very wet, and then slowly started to dry out as the session continued, although times were still very slow, the fastest of which were in the 1.25s. The biggest surprise came when Lewis Hamilton crashed out after only 8 laps.

Adrian Sutil topped FP1 in the Hockenheimring today

Adrian Sutil topped FP1 in the Hockenheimring today

McLaren had fitted the new and fully working blown diffuser to Hamilton’s car this weekend, but information was going to be limited in the wet conditions. Matters were made even worse when Lewis lost control at the end of Turn 3, and hit the barrier nose-first, then rotated and hit the left-rear. This left the McLaren out for the rest of the session.

Adrian Sutil was faster by an entire second to Felipe Massa, who spun several times on the drying track. Behind him were Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg, Sebastien Buemi, Nico Hulkenberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Pedro de la Rosa in the top 10.

Further back, Sebastian Vettel was 11th while Timo Glock was 12th for Virgin. Behind them, it was Robert Kubica, Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli, Jaime Alguersuari, Lewis Hamilton, Lucas di Grassi, Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi. Fairuz Fauzy made another appearance at Lotus, but was 1.7 seconds slower than Trulli, and ended up 21st. Bruno Senna took back his seat, and was 22nd, followed by Michael Schumacher. He was running full wets at the end of the session, even when the track was drying out, as the car was suffering from a rear wing problem. Sakon Yamamoto was 24th, and an entire second away from his team-mate as usual.

Looking at Hamilton’s crash, it seemed to be that he stamped on the throttle a little too early, which shows how bad the conditions were out there. Here is the footage:

By the way, I know I said that I wouldn’t be around today, but I was back earlier than expected, so I was able to get the reports up today. Qualifying coverage will still be delayed tomorrow.

Yamamoto to replace Chandhok for German GP

After the mess of Bruno Senna being replaced for the British Grand Prix weekend, it has now emerged that team-mate Karun Chandhok will be replaced by Sakon Yamamoto for the German Grand Prix. In their statement, HRT also implied that Chandhok may make way for Yamamoto several times more during the season.

Sakon Yamamoto will replace Karun Chandhok at the German Grand Prix

Sakon Yamamoto will replace Karun Chandhok at the German Grand Prix

After Bruno Senna’s seat being handed to Yamamoto in Silverstone for “disciplinary reasons”, as well as the financial benefits of Yamamoto, Karun’s replacement is certainly about the money and not the driver. However, the HRT team still tried to claim that Yamamoto was there because of more than money:

"After Sakon Yamamoto gave a very positive performance in 
Silverstone [sic], the team has decided to give the Japanese 
driver another opportunity to drive the car alongside Bruno 
Senna. Karun Chandhok is still part of the Hispania Racing, 
HRT F1 Team family and is likely to be in the car at some 
later races this season."

Where do we start? Yamamoto was last in qualifying, and was in last place in the race in Silverstone. Although Karun Chandhok was only 1 place ahead of Sakon, he had sustained bodywork damage at the start of the race.

Despite this, Sakon’s sponsorship was enough to convince Colin Kolles to replace Chandhok for the German GP. However, if you look at the team statement above, you can see that the team states: “Karun Chandhok … is likely to be in the car at some later races this season.” This heavily implies that Yamamoto will be taking more races out of Chandhok’s hands, purely so that HRT can survive on the extra sponsorship money.

In my opinion, this is a disaster. Even if HRT are gaining money from this, they are losing whatever fans they had, by juggling their drivers just to stay alive. I’m not annoyed at Yamamoto, it’s Kolles who is at fault here, as it is completely unfair to the drivers. They turned up in Bahrain to get into a car that hadn’t turned a wheel, struggled at the back for 4 months, then have their faith rewarded by being replaced by a worse driver with more money. Then, after one race, they find out that they will be replaced more times just for the team to stay afloat. This is an absolute joke.

Update: The BBC are reporting that Christian Klien is being considered to take part in a (or several) Grand Prix this year, at the expense of either Chandhok or Senna of course. Just brilliant.

Extreme gap in tyre compounds for German GP

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone have announced that they are to bring a 2-step gap in the tyre compounds in the tyres that they will bring to the German Grand Prix, in an effort to mix up tyre strategies. Following the Canadian GP, the Japanese company had said that they would be more radical with their tyre compound choices.

For the race in Hockenheim, Bridgestone are to bring the super-soft and hard tyres, meaning that there will be a 2-step difference in tyre compounds, the first time that this has been done this season. Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone’s head of motorsport tyre development, said that the characteristics of the Hockenheim circuit allowed this extreme tyre variation to go ahead.

However, for the next 4 races after this, there will only be 1 gap between tyre compounds. In Hungary, the super-softs and mediums will be used, and similarly for Singapore. The soft and hard tyres will be used for Belgium and Italy.. Hamashima explained these choices:

"The Hungaroring requires a softer allocation as finding grip is 
always a target there. Spa and Monza are high speed tests for 
cars and tyres, needing a harder allocation because of the heat 
durability requirements. Singapore is a high-speed street course 
where the softer allocation is suited."

Personally, I think that a 2-step difference is dangerous, as performance in the cars will vary wildly across the race. What do you think? Is this a step too far to “improve the show”, or is a simple and effective way of spicing up the racing?

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