Daily Archives: July 26, 2010

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.

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.