Saturday, 6 July 2013

German Grand Prix: Qualifying

The predictability of qualifying was set to continue at the Nurburgring this weekend, as the Mercedes cars displayed their usual great pace and dominated the first session. Things fell apart, for Rosberg at least, when he was pitted at the end of the second session and sat watching his name tumble down the order, as car after car slammed in faster times than him. The track conditions obviously changed in the closing laps and Mercedes were simply caught out. It's difficult to know who to  blame for the failed gamble, but it's interesting to consider that there will be somebody in the Mercedes garage whose job it is to predict changes in track conditions.

In the end it was Lewis Hamilton who lead the Mercedes team to another great pole position, just pipping Sebastian Vettel to the top spot. The Mercedes is looking better and better in race set up and so the team and Hamilton will be hoping that things can keep developing in that direction. The Red Bull drivers will be breathing down Lewis' neck at the start of the race, in second and third, and Lewis will be up against it from the off.

The Ferrari's showed a lot more pace than they have in the last couple of races. However, here in Germany, they have shown a lot more conviction and despite finishing seventh and eighth were very strong in the first two sessions. They always show good race pace so, combined with the reasonable grid positions, we  may see a really good result from Alonso and Massa, launching them back in to the title fight.

As long as the tyres can remain intact, after being reinforced with Kevlar and redesigned, then it looks like we are in for a fantastic race.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

British Grand Prix: full blown mayhem!

The British Grand Prix was explosive, but unfortunately not in the right way. At one point during the race I couldn't help thinking, it really should have been abandoned, as Pirelli tyres failed left right and centre, resulting in at least two drivers almost having very big crashes. Massa had a big spin when his tyre delaminated and exploded on one of the fastest corners of the circuit. During the first of two safety car periods, pundits, officials and teams were trying to work out exactly what was going on, through a combination of speculation, investigation and simple guess work. Could it have been a failure of the Pirelli tyres themselves? A particular corner on the circuit? Or simply the geometry of the track? As the race progressed it looked like things had been resolved, however a blowout for Sergio Perez, in the final few laps, proved otherwise. Should the race have been abandoned after the first three blowouts? I think so.

The beginning of the race saw Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, displaying some unusually good race pace. Rosberg lost second to Vettel, in to the first corner, but then both Mercedes cars kept up the pace very well. Webber had another characteristically bad start and dropped all the way from fourth down to fourteenth, whilst Massa engineered the opposite for himself, powering from thirteenth all the way up to fifth. Things were going well for him, up until the tyre failure that really scuppered his race.

It was Hamilton who experienced the curse of the tyres first, much to the disappointment of his adoring followers. To make matters worse, the blowout occurred right at the end of the lap and after the pit lane entrance, meaning he was forced to drive an entire lap on three wheels. It was a credit to Lewis that he was able to work his way all the way up to fourth place by the chequered flag.

The end of the race was extremely exciting. Rosberg put in a sterling effort to take the win and its nice to see Mercedes managing to convert a perfect qualifying result in to another win. Webber caused a lot of excitement by discovering some blistering pace and storming past car after car, to take second place. He almost managed to snatch the win from under Nico's nose, but in all fairness Rosberg didn't deserve for that to happen.

The biggest story of the race, for me, was the British fans displaying their lack of sportsmanship, at the apparent 'home of Formula One'. It was shameful to hear a huge roar go up as Sebastian Vettel suffered an engine failure on the home straight. I think what made it worse was the fact that, it wasn't the case that Vettel's cruel luck allowed a Brit, Hamilton or Button, to come through for the lead. It was the bitter jealousy and soreness that resulted in a crowd of baying patriotic Brits, jeering and mocking (and later booing) the brilliant young German driver. I think its time we moved on and put the boring and poorly managed 'home of Formula One' behind us, to enjoy some racing in a far more welcoming venue.

The Race Result:

1.deNico RosbergMercedes1:32:59.456
2.auMark WebberRed Bull+0.765
3.esFernando AlonsoFerrari+7.124
4.ukLewis HamiltonMercedes+7.756
5.fiKimi RäikkönenLotus+11.257
6.brFelipe MassaFerrari+14.573
7.deAdrian SutilForce India+16.335
8.auDaniel RicciardoToro Rosso+16.543
9.ukPaul di RestaForce India+17.943
10.deNico HülkenbergSauber+19.709
11.vePastor MaldonadoWilliams+21.135
12.fiValtteri BottasWilliams+25.094
13.ukJenson ButtonMcLaren+25.969
14.mxEsteban GutiérrezSauber+26.285
15.frCharles PicCaterham+31.613
16.frJules BianchiMarussia+36.097
17.ukMax ChiltonMarussia+1:07.660
18.nlGiedo van der GardeCaterham+1:07.759
Did not finish
19.frRomain GrosjeanLotus+1 Lap
20.mxSergio PerezMcLaren+6 Laps
21.deSebastian VettelRed Bull+11 Laps
22.frJean-Eric VergneToro Rosso+17 Laps