Sunday, July 31, 2011

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal - Großer Preis von Deutschland (German Grand Prix Post Race Recap)

Added in the second year of the Formula One Championship, the German Grand Prix is interesting to me as its location alternates every year.  It was called the European, Luxemberg, and German Grand Prix but for me it doesn't really count unless it is at the Nürburgring.  I will wistfully contemplate what it would be like to hold the race on the old 14 mile configuration.  Certainly a bit of romance about that.

There was a lot of conjecture about why Vettel was not on Pole for the first time in 15 races.   Did he set his car up for optimum performance in the rain?   This would mean his performance would suffer in Qualifying.   Very confident move if that's the case.  Did it work out?  Was it worth the risk?  Will Webber repeat last year's win in Germany?  Lets find out.

Tim's Take:
The German Grand Prix marks the middle of the F1 season this year.  Just a couple races ago, it looked like Red Bull Racing were going to be marching to the constructor's championship uncontested.  But now it seems Ferrari is rising to the challenge and stacking on some good points.  I'm not saying that they are going to push RBR off their pedestal, but if the British and German GPs are any hint of what's to come, the front of the field could have some surprises in store for us.

For the second race in a row, Webber qualifies on pole and loses the lead going into the first corner.  I don't know what it is about his starting skills, but lately (meaning pretty much this whole season), they suck.  This time it was Lewis Hamilton out running him to turn one and taking the lead.  Maybe the memory of his home Grand Prix was fresh in his mind, nearly running out of fuel, but Lewis drove like a man on a mission. 

The track was wet enough that it was slippery in many parts, but nowhere near wet enough for "inters" so most everyone struggled with grip through the first 10 or 12 laps.  Lewis always seems to do well in those situations, as does Vettel, but that didn't stop him from spinning his car on lap 10 and dropping a few spots.  In fact, that spin, and having the misfortune of getting stuck behind Massa for half the race ruined his chances at standing on the podium.  The first race this season that Sebastian wasn't on the podium!  By sheer force of habit, the race officials handed him the 1st place trophy anyway, before sheepishly asking if they could have it back to give to the proper winner.

One exciting moment saw Heidfeld and Buemi get a little too cozy heading up to one corner causing Nick to run over his own front wing and attempt his own version of Vitaly Petrov's flight of the Renault.  That put him out of the race and ruined Buemi's.  Speaking of DNFs, poor Jenson Button suffered his second in as many races.  This time it wasn't a laundry list of mis-queues in the pits that caused his early exit, but a hydraulic problem.  That really sucked, but of course Button had a great attitude about the whole thing in spite of the fact that he was crying inside.

There was a decent amount of real race excitement in through the Grand Prix.  Webber chased Hamilton for the first 13 laps and finally pulled off a decent pass, only to have Lewis snatch the lead right back a few seconds later.  Massa chased Rossberg around for 12 laps as the rest of the field pulled away, but finally managed to get by him with a pretty decent move. 

What ended up being the pivotal incident that decided the race was, I think, a pit stop, or more appropriately, pit strategy.  Lewis pitted from 2nd place at lap 31 for fresh tires and managed to gain just enough time on track that when Fernando Alonso pitted at 33, he came out of the pits just behind Lewis.  Hamilton never gave up the lead after that.

It was hard to say if Ferrari's victory at Silverstone was due to the FIA's mis-guided attempts to cripple one team by changing the rules mid-season, or because Ferrari is really making headway with their car.  But then the FIA stepped forward and issued the following press release and memo to all the teams, "Psych!!"  What that meant is that everyone was able to bring their best car out at the Nurburgring.  So what did we see?  A very competitive McLaren, and Ferrari chassis gave the Red Bulls a run for their money.  Can't wait to see what happens in Hungary.

Fred's Take:
First let me lament, as I always do, the passing of the "Green Hell" from modern racing.   "Too dangerous" they said.   "Too long", they said.  "Too much death."  Well so what, it would be a really interesting change of pace.  Let's be clear here.  We don't people dying but we do want some differences to test the elite in motorsport.   Screw that artificial rain crap, bring back all 14 miles of this monster.

Qualifying was pretty good.  Ferrari, McLaren, and RedBull Racing fighting it out for the top spot.  Excellent action and the changing weather brought some tension but little drama.

There was some manufactured excitement from Bob calling the excitment of the German born Nico, in a Mercedes at the German race trying for Pole with just a minute left, but there really wasn't much of a chance. Hamilton makes it second in the McLaren.  Two things about the coverage here: The symbol for the "Woman's Restroom" looks much more urgent than it really needs to and my favorite comment by Varsha, "OOOH another contact between Hamilton and Massa" as they pass by each other in the post qualifying stewards area.

Why doesn't McLaren use the black Qualifying uniforms all the time?  They added some flames(1) to them and they look way cooler than the white ones.

So I've been trying to give Will Buxton a chance but he's ususally been an irritating 4th wheel with some inane commentary that is completely extraneous.   Lately, he's gotten a bit better.  Unfortunately his little segment about Team Orders set him back a few places.  He starts out with some footage intended to be embarrasing to Christian Horner where Buxton opens with how Horner vowed to never resort to Team Orders.  The footage really didn't work out that way.   In 2010 Horner never said they wouldn't employ Team Orders, he said so far they haven't.  Buxton needs to stop pretending he's a hard hitting investigative reporter.   Schumacher's answer really showed how unthinking Buxton can be.   Why in the world would anyone ask someone what it would feel like to have team orders issued against them.   This is someone who has always been number one with every team he's been with, has always been the guy who would benefit from any Team Orders issued, and has no clue what it feels like to be told to slow down, do less, or let someone pass them.  "Ask me once I've been in that position," he said.   Which means, stop wasting my time with your stupid questions.

Horner's clarifaction about their intent of team orders, made absolute sense.   He's got two strong willed drivers and one of them is a complete ass.  So it's about time Karma caught up with Webber for his action (or inaction) in Turkey.

The race starts out with a bit of rain and the question of tires.  Not raining, but not dry, nobody is exactly sure what the weather is going to do but everyone stays on slicks.  Pretty hairy start as Webber had a bad one and did some impressive attempts at recovering.
The DRS, KERS, and tires combo is opening up passing gaps and the drivers are responding.  They seem to be seeing passing opportunites where there are none and taking opportunites that they would never have bothered with before.   Webber's pass on Hamilton was impressive at first.  Hamilton's retaking the lead was even better.   First place changed so much it was almost like NASCAR. (2)  For the first time ever, Webber started to look like he deserved to be running with the champions.

"Vettel, do the opposite of Massa. If he pits stay out, if he stays out, pit."  Fortunately this message was code, not understood, or delivered too late as they both stayed out until the last lap.    Either way, the pressure got to someone because they both pitted at the same time and Vettel left way before Massa.   This breaks Massa's streak of crazy last lap shenanigans.   Well, come to think of it, it continues it.  Go Phil.

The downside to Hamilton winning is two-fold, Vettel didn't, and we have to watch Nichole Sherzinger jump up and down like a lunatic.  I know some of you say, "Hey!  That's not a bad thing."  I say that unless her entire group is there in bikinis celebrating, then it's a total waste of time.

Since there is no break between race weekends this week, we'll be right back with our breakdown of Hungary.

(1) As a general rule adding flames to stuff stops being cool around 12 or 13.   Not really.  Adding flames is generally a good thing and if done well is always a good idea.
(2) Not really.  you can tell the difference because the F1 cars don't have headlights painted on the front.


  1. Thought you might like to know...

  2. Outstanding Patrick! Thanks for the tip!



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