Monday, July 21, 2008

German GP: Winners and Losers

Re-published from Planet F1
Sunday 20th July 2008


Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1st
Another peerless drive from Hamilton who was in a class of his own at Hockenheim. It's a dramatic turnround for McLaren to be outgunning Ferrari by half a second a lap, as it was in the opening stages of the German GP. In 18 laps Lewis had carved out an 11 seconds lead over Massa.

Though that worrying rush-of-blood-to-the-head looked to have descended on him as he approached Trulli after the first pit-stop on Lap 19, he reined it in. His passing moves on Massa and Piquet were clinical. But it's a good job for McLaren that their strategy hiccup came at a nice wide circuit.


Lap 43: Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren on Robert Kubica, BMW
Having received criticism for his lack of aggression at Silverstone, Kovalainen made amends with a superb overtaking move in front of a grandstand load of Mercedes fans at Turn 8.

He was close to Kubica in the hairpin and trailed him all the way down to the turn, following him round on the outside and sneaking up the inside before the Pole could turn back into Turn 9.

Fifth place was a good result for Heikki and though Hamilton ultimately made the McLaren strategy work - had Lewis come in with the rest of the pack, the Finn would have had to queue up for fuel and tyres and would probably have had to settle for something like 6th or 7th.


Nelson Piquet Junior, Renault, 2nd
Nelson Piquet has acknowledged that he was lucky to take his maiden podium position in Germany. Not so. He may have been in the right place at the right time, but in the closing stages of the race came under no pressure at all from Felipe Massa thanks to a series of Personal Best sector and lap times. In fact, he was pulling away. Flavio would have to have a heart of stone to chuck him out now.
Stop Press: Briatore sacks Piquet Junior...

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 3rd
Unlike the ITV commentary team, I can't see what Felipe Massa did so wrong in trying to get 2nd place back off Lewis Hamilton after he was passed on Lap 57. Kovalainen had made a pass stick in the same spot and he was only about a car length away from making it work.

Massa's still in the World Championship hunt and shouldn't be as gloomy as he looked in the press conference. Not when Raikkonen's failing to set his car up and coming home 6th.

Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 4th
A brave decision by Dr.Mario to leave Nick out during the Safety Car period and one that worked. Heidfeld made up an extraordinary number of places (he was P11 on the grid) despite picking "the wrong way to go". Like Kovalainen - had he been double-teamed in the SC induced pit-stops, he would have got nowhere in the race. Circumstances forced the team into a great decision.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 6th
Raikkonen had a poor afternoon and only looked like he meant business the second the Safety Car disappeared. Then he carved his way through from a lowly 12th. He was also patient enough to wait for the opportunity to overtake Kubica for 6th place.

His cheery little wave to Sebastian Vettel as he overtook the Toro Rosso driver was a gem.

Sebsatian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 8th
A good race from Vettel and some combative dicing with Fernando Alonso. It's not Seb's fault that the lollypop guy for the Red Bull team previously worked at the Wimbledon Banger Racing stadium


Timo Glock, Toyota, DNF
He'd done an amazing job to get himself into the race, but it all fell apart - quite literally - when he bounced his Toyota over the run-off at the exit of the SudKurve.

Before the Safety Car, the GP was dissolving into a bit of a plod to the finish and he did everyone a favour. Up until that point the best overtaking move of the race was down to the official timing screens (see below)(Hamilton lapped everyone in a nanosecond).

Robert Kubica, BMW, 7th
Kubica didn't look like a World Champion in waiting at Hockenheim, he looked like a driver waiting to slip down the driver's table. The official BMW line has been that they aren't going for the title in 2008, but you tend to think that: "the lady doth protest too much". If they were still close approaching the last three or four races then they'd put the development of the 2009 car on hold. With Ferrari conspiring to get some poor results and still backing both drivers, and Lewis capable of being both Superman and Blunderman at alternate races, then there could still be a chance going into the autumn

Fernando Alonso, Renault, 11th
We saw a delicious glimpse of the old fury this afternoon. Fernando Alonso worked himself up into one of his "McLaren favour Lewis" or "Massa cannot drive straight" rages after Toro Rosso blatantly released Vettel into Fernando's path as Alonso was passing his garage during the round of Safety Car pit-stops.

Alonso was right to be angry, though.

It was yet another example of the madness of the stewards - failing to investigate the incident during the race, yet managing to fine Heikki Kovalainen 5000 euros for a non-standard fuel rig incident in Qualifying.

Webbo, Red Bull, DNF
Considering they've had some great results recently, it was a pretty poor German GP for Red Bull. David Coulthard lost a shedload of places off the start and never really recovered. Mark Webber smoked into retirement during the Safety Car period.

Webbo managed to give the quote of the weekend, though. When asked about his new 2009 team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Mark observed. "He's actually not a bad bloke for the nationality (smile + wink)".

In reply, an equally smiling Sebastian Vettel said, "He will definitely be difficult to understand - mate."

Honda Strategy
Ross Brawn might have helped pull off a strategy coup at Silverstone, but what was Jenson Button doing tucked behind Lewis Hamilton and not unlapping himself after the Safety Car allowed lapped cars through?

German Efficiency
They pride themselves on their efficiency, but the German marshals took an age to clear the track after the Glock shunt. At Monaco they are lightning, in Silverstone they're good, but in Germany you might expect them to act a bit quicker than some fat sweaty bloke in oil-stained Primark jeans with a rusty tow-truck.

German Race Attendance
Looking at the grandstands on race day it's not surprising that there is only one German race now. There were five German drivers in the race and parts of the Stadium still looked only half full.

Official Timing Computer
Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humour? The German GP timing screens acted like they'd been down to the bier keller before the race and consumed several steins. On Lap 14 they registered Heikki Kovalainen as STOPPED, even though he was carrying on with his race unabated. Then later in the GP as Lewis Hamilton flashed past the pits they decided he'd suddenly lapped everybody - and gave everybody else's time as +1 Lap. Then they registered Kovalainen as IN PIT even though he'd just had his stop and got fed up messing about and gave him the same sector times for the rest of the race. Even behind the Safety Car, Heikki was able to put in a first sector of 16.8 seconds.

Mark - git orf me barra, fraulein - Blundell
It's always good value when the ITV team start describing the wrong cars and don't realise their mistake for half a lap. You want it to go on forever. Today we got Timo Glock exiting the pits and joining battle with "Nelson Piquet and Sebastien Bourdais" - except it was Alonso and Vettel and James and Martin didn't realise.

Glock had been third before his pit-stop. Third is near the front.

Blundell, on the other hand, was on poor form and we only got, "Massa seems to be very fluid round here," along with his insistence that you need "a rivvum in the stadium complex, plus; "I fink it's down to wevver tomorrow, wevver it's raining tomorrow or wevver it's hot."

Nicht diamond, ja.

Andrew von Davies

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