Saturday, 26 July 2014

Hungarian Qualifying: Hamilton in mourning, again!

The story of qualifying, revolved around Lewis Hamilton, once again. Question is, does it really matter? He sounded pretty dejected in the press pen, but somebody should fish out a videotape of last weekend, to remind Lewis that all is never lost. Of course, it's still hard work, but it's far from impossible, to achieve something, not only respectable, but downright great, from the back of the grid. Then again, it wouldn't be Lewis Hamilton, without the characteristic sorrowful failure interview; cue the violins.

It wasn't only Hamilton who suffered in Q1. Raikonnen and Ferrari made a big mistake, which resulted in one of the weakest teams in the paddock knocking them out of the session. Bianchi and Marussia will be over the moon at outperforming the legendary Italian outfit. Ferrari simply misjudged the pace out on track and counted their chickens before they'd hatched. There appeared to be in a mad panic in their garage with seconds of the session remaining, but it was far too late to do anything about the situation.

In Q3 all hell broke loose, when the rain destroyed everyone's first flying lap. All the talk was that Nico Rosberg had to get around the track, being the first one out, and put in a clean lap before the rain got too heavy. Instead, he overran the first corner, whilst Magnussen smashed in to the tyre barrier, resulting in a red flag. When the cars reemerged, once the track had dried out, things were exciting, but nothing like what they would have been, had they been able to qualify in the wet. The positions, up the front, were chopping and changing, but Rosberg was on pole again, with the Red Bull's taking up the second two places. Fingers crossed for somebody to challenge Nico, away from the lights, this weekend.

The Grid:
16Nico RosbergMercedes1:25.2271:23.3101:22.71520
21Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:25.6621:23.6061:23.20116
377Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:25.6901:23.7761:23.35419
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:25.4951:23.6761:23.39118
514Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:26.0871:24.2491:23.90917
619Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1:26.5921:24.0301:24.22319
722Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:26.6121:24.5021:24.29421
825Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault1:24.9411:24.6371:24.72019
927Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:26.1491:24.6471:24.77522
1020Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1:26.5781:24.58513
1126Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault1:25.3611:24.70614
1299Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1:26.0271:25.13612
1311Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1:25.9101:25.21111
1421Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:25.7091:25.26010
158Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:26.1361:25.33716
1617Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari1:26.7281:27.41914
177Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:26.7925
1810Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1:27.13910
194Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1:27.8197
209Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1:28.64310
2144Lewis HamiltonMercedesNo time2
2213Pastor MaldonadoLotus-RenaultNo time1

Sunday, 20 July 2014

German Grand Prix: Head over heels at Hockenheim!

Yet again, we were treated to an explosive race start. Felipe Massa, made an error of judgement, that resulted in him ending up on his roof. Massa made the decision that, in to the first corner, it was alright that he throw his car in to apex, even though Magnussen was driving there. His Williams was flipped over and sent sliding along the run off area, upside down. It resulted in a red flag, but the fact that Massa walked away unscathed is a testament to the strength of F1 roll hoops.

The racing was on top form again this weekend, which was aided by the success of the two DRS zones. It was the perfect balance between making the passing a little easier and yet still requiring the drivers to work. One thing that didn't work quite so well, again, and with all due respect, was the race marshalling. The handling of Sutil's spin and subsequent stranded Sauber on the start/finish straight, just felt a little chaotic. At the pinnacle of motorsport and in a sport that can be so unpredictably dangerous, I have to say that I think the practice of having voluntary, relatively unqualified marshals is dated and irresponsible. Time and time again, it is all too apparent that the race marshals are a little under prepared, for the incidents they have to deal with. Isn't it about time that these generous heroes are given the adequate training to deal with such a responsible and, let's face it, 'life or death' determining role.

As for the Driver Of The Day, I might as well award it now, so that I can then elaborate on the simply stunning race that Lewis Hamilton had. I don't think it would be inappropriate for me to say that, at times, Lewis' driving was Senna-esque. An example of this would be his fearlessly daring move on Fernando Alonso, in to the very corner that he experienced brake failure on, just the day before. Not to mention the fact that he started in twentieth on the grid and finished third and on the podium. It poses the question, how important is qualifying, for the top drivers? They can qualify at the back of the field and still finish on the podium.

A couple of drivers were a bit naughty today, whilst others showed their inexperience. Daniel Kvyat had a lapse in judgement as he squeezed Perez on to the apex, on a part of the track where a more experienced driver would have provided their competitor adequate room. Sutil did a similar thing to Lewis Hamilton, but in quite a suspect manner, since Hamilton had moved well up the inside of Adrian's Sauber, and Adrian appeared to be looking directly at Lewis' Mercedes, as he turned in. Nobody else picked up on it, but after regularly witnessing F1 driver's quick wits, like Massa in Silverstone, it's difficult to excuse Sutil's delayed action in turning his car away from the passing Hamilton. One thing that was refreshing, was to hear attitude travelling in the opposite direction across the team radio, with Perez's race engineer sounding more like a headmaster than a strategist, "I won't tell you again Sergio, lift and coast." It's about time the teams laid down the law, to some of these headstrong employees.

If I had to pick a moment of the race, it would be Ferrari's attempt to bully Sebastian Vettel. He exited the pits, a flying bull between two prancing horses, and found himself being harassed by Fernando Alonso behind him and Kimi Raikonnen ushering him to the track edge, from the front. He threw caution to the wind and, touching the grass, shot around the outside of Kimi. He then squeezed the two boisterous Ferraris together and then raced away. It's great when these races tell a story, complete with twists and turns, heroes and villains.

Check out The F1 Spectator's German GP podcast and listen to The F1 Spectator himself.
The Result:
16Nico RosbergMercedes671:33:42.914125
277Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes67+20.7 secs218
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes67+22.5 secs2015
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault67+44.0 secs612
514Fernando AlonsoFerrari67+52.4 secs710
63Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault67+52.5 secs58
727Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes67+64.1 secs96
822Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes67+84.7 secs114
920Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes66+1 Lap42
1011Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes66+1 Lap101
117Kimi RäikkönenFerrari66+1 Lap12
1213Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault66+1 Lap18
1325Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault66+1 Lap13
1421Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari66+1 Lap16
1517Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari66+1 Lap17
1610Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault65+2 Laps19
174Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari65+2 Laps21
189Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault65+2 Laps22
Ret99Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari47Spin15
Ret26Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault44+23 Laps8
Ret8Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault26+41 Laps14
Ret19Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes0Accident3