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Intriguing situation developing over German GP
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Intriguing situation developing over German GP
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Jul 2010   |  2:59 pm GMT  |  107 comments

I’m interested in a few things which are developing for this weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

One is the weather, which looks wet for Friday and Saturday and then quite cool on Sunday at just 22 degrees.

Darren Heath


Another is the tyre choice, with super soft tyres at one end of the range and the hard tyre at the other end. This is in itself the first time we have had such a range, which will make things very interesting from a strategy point of view as their operating ranges are very different.

We could have another Montreal on our hands.

The weather will play a part in this. If Sunday is as cool as forecast, hard tyres will struggle to warm up on some cars in the race, Mercedes is likely to feel quite nervous about this and I imagine Felipe Massa is weeping into his beer, as he has struggled all year to get performance out of the harder tyres. Engineers tell me that the hard tyre, which Bridgestone call the 199, will work in marginal temperatures, but the tricky bit is getting the fronts to work.

Another problem for the faster cars, which could level the playing field a bit, will be that the super softs will not last very long in the early part of the Grand Prix on the cars which qualify on them in the top ten on the grid.

This will be exacerbated should it rain, as is being predicted, which will leave the track green and that has massive graining on the super soft written all over it, particularly as there are lots of accelerations out of slow corners. So, we could have some of the top ten runners pitting very early in the race, which gives a chance to cars inside the top ten who can look after their tyres longer and possibly some outside the top ten, who can make a free choice on tyres at the start.

That said, we have been finding that whatever tyre you start the race on, the opening laps with full tanks tend to wreck the tyres pretty quickly. No-one has yet made the tactic or starting on the harder tyre work for them, because it obliges you to stop twice on tracks where the softer tyre is marginal, as it will be here. Will we see someone make it work this weekend? There’s a big reward if they can.

In the championship fight we have McLaren battling Red Bull, with a more competitive Ferrari in prospect, at least in Alonso’s hands.

Then we have the situation where McLaren has to validate the exhaust blown diffuser in practice on Friday, which might be made more difficult in the conditions,

“We’re working on the premise that we’ll have blown diffusers on both cars to start with. In Silverstone Lewis wanted to keep the blown diffuser on on Friday night. But we made the decision there to switch them both back to the old diffuser, ” said McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh today in a Vodafone phone in session.

Williams managed to bring its exhaust blown diffuser to Silverstone and get it to work sufficiently well on Friday that they ran it for the rest of the weekend with a big upswing in performance as a result. This was quite a piece of work by Williams, which was noted with respect by other team’s engineers, particularly as many had suggested the team was losing its way technically. Williams divided it’s drivers’ programmes on the Friday in Silverstone, with Barrichello running the new configuration and Hulkenberg the old.

“We could end up dividing the drivers if there was a preference from one side of the garage to the other.” said Whitmarsh. “If I can I will avoid that but we’ll do it if we think it’s the right way to perform.

“There are advantages to running one car in one configuration and one in the other. But provided that in so doing you don’t end up rightly or wrongly accused of treating the two drivers differently,” he added with an ironic nod in the direction of Red Bull, who are on Red Alert for even the smallest sign of driver favouritism.

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1

Marginal tyres like in Montreal should make for an excellent race tactically. It could force some of the teams to make two stops or more, and it could force some drivers to perform kamikaze overtakes to make their strategy work if their strategy fails to work (i.e. if dependent on safety car).

2

Am hoping for rain – but fearing the worst

3

I think Flavio visited Ferrari on behalf of his new client……….. Valentino Rossi.

I hope he is successful.

4

Potential rain this weekend could mean green tracks for both, at the starts of qualifying and the race. I believe Hamilton’s best performance was at Hockenheim in 2008, which Niki Lauda described as ” It was Senna type driving “. Look for a possible winning performance from Lewis on Sunday.

5

Hmm James, I submitted a comment earlier and it wasn’t accepted for some reason.

Anyway, my question to you was regarding something you previously said about the engine retarding ignition switch:

“Renault has the technology, Red Bull work with them on it. This is one area where an engine builder and customer have to be transparent”

My question was – are Renault currently using this trick with their blown diffuser in Q3, or are they planning to introduce it? It’s just I haven’t seen them make a huge jump in Q3 like Red Bull do.

My other question was – if McLaren are to introduce the engine ignition trick, will they have to get it passed by the Mercedes F1 team and if Mercedes were fighting with them upfront, could there be a situation where Mercedes make McLaren’s life difficult.

6

Sorry about that. Something went a bit pear shaped on the comments today. Seems to be working again now. The ignition trick is common to both Renault engined teams. Mercedes are working on it for their teams, yes

7

Potential rain this weekend could possibly mean green tracks for both qualifying and the race. I believe Hamilton’s best performance took place at Hockenheim in 2008, which Niki Lauda described as ” It was Senna type driving “. Look for a possible winning performance from Lewis on Sunday.

8

There is a more interesting report out now which says that a senior RBR mechanic stated anonymously that Webber did not want the wing during the training sessions.

He was only complaining about how it’s not good and won’t work. And when suddenly 1 was left over and they said it’s going on Vettel’s car, he wanted the wing come hell or high water. And the team was very surprised and shocked he made such a fuss about it after the qualifying and race, while he didn’t even want to work on the wing during the training.

Vettel on the other hand was positive about the wing during the training sessions. Webber also had a new lighter floor, which Vettel didn’t have. Adding these things up led the team to decide what they decided.

It seems Webber is totally not wanted by a big part of the team at the moment because of these kind of weird primadonna moves. Unfortunately the media and fans also feed his act of ‘poor guy’ while the truth seems to be very different.

Kimi, the report says, is still an option for next year for RBR because senior RBR figures do not want Webber anymore.

9

Excellent insite James, preparing us already for another weekend. This is why I keep coming back to your website – I don’t know of another which prepares you and analyses in this fashion.

Thanks, and keep it up.

10

There is a report out now which says that a senior RBR mechanic stated anonymously that Webber did not want the wing during the training sessions.

He was only complaining about how it’s not good and won’t work. And when suddenly 1 was left over, he wanted the wing come hell or high water. And the team was very surprised and shocked he made such a fuss about it, while he didn’t even want work on the wing dirung the training.

Vettel on the other hand was positive about the wing during the training sessions. Adding these things up led the team to decide what they decided.

It seems Webber is totally not wanted by the team at the moment because of these kind of weird primadonna moves.

Kimi they say is still an option for next year for RBR.

PS: why doesn’t it let me post this without a proxy? Censorship?

11

Quality control, keeping the standard high, read the rules of the blog

12

To be honest the idea of tyres spicing up the racing seems a gimmick. I’m not in favour of tyre management being a driver skill – I only want flat out sprinting. You can tell more about a driver who can push the limits of his car and himself.

13

James do you know will it be “drivers trackers” on BBC online for this race?

It was great for British GP.

14

Don’t know, but I imagine so as it was a great success

15

Following the success of its introduction at the British Grand Prix, BBC Sport has decided to continue with the new Formula 1 driver tracker feature.

Great!

16

James in your comment to the previous text you mentioned the wrangle between Allsport and Fota developing. You said:

“It’s funny that it’s never been a problem before. It will be resolved, just some early sabre rattling. There will be much bigger bumps in the road soon.”

It would be interesting to know what bumbs are we talking about. After Hungary there will be plenty of time to talk about 2011 season. Maybe there is a chance for “10 issues that have to be cleared for the 2011 season” text on your blog?

17

It’s not 2011, its 2013 we are talking about. THe new Concorde Agreement

18

Analysing all the different information given until now about tyres, weather and car performance so far, the German GP could be a very interesting race.

Bridgestone choice of tyres is very particular, months ago Bridgestone were adamant that they did not want to see tyres not able to finish races while Bernie and the fans were crying for more marginal tyres, I wonder who won at the end, Bernie off course.

Bringing those tyres and the possible weather changes, the teams will need to compromise on the set up and most of all, the track will not rubber up if we will have rain.

Without any grip the supersoft will grain creating a lot of problems.

Mercedes, Renault, Force India and Toro Rosso will struggle in these conditions and probably Ferrari with Alonso, McLaren and Red Bull will create a bigger gap w ith the rest of the field.

In my opinion the ones to watch will be Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.

I believe that Sebastian Vettel will struggle with these conditions and my personal choice for the win in Germany will be Alonso, Ferrari is back in the hunt.

But watch out, if we will have rain during the race, for Rubens as well

19

Hockenheim has lost its soul in my opinion since it changed the layout. My best memories of the old circuit was Mika Hakkinens tyre exploding in 1998 and Murray Walkers reaction to it.

Looking to this weekend i really hope Schumi can deliver a solid result and maybe a podium. Its quite fashionable to be slating him at the moment and the Schumi haters are loving it. James i remember watching Saturday qualifying in 2004 when Schumi absolutely destroyed the new layout, stunning lap. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xz0MSgkPXg

20
malcolm.strachan

James: do you know why teams have not been trying to use scrubbed tires at all??

I was thinking that if they put a quick heat-cycle on a set of the harder compound during FP1, wouldn’t they then last longer for the first stint at a more abrasive circuit??

21

Well, its a boring boring track baring ofcourse whats left of that legendry super fast old track.. the first conner and the stadium section still possesses the only true racing interest, the rest of the track is purely a wind down from turn one to the stadium section.

I do fancy Mclaren to do well there. Seb and Web (sounds like a rap song) do have the fastest cars but have the tendency of shooting each other on the foot.

The Mclaren however, have the best driver line-up.. by far the most complete and the most complete package and if the manage to get that floor right, which I’m sure they must have not sat idle on since the British GP, they will be make everyone look rather ordinary including the Redbull monkies.

However, my personal interest lies with Fernando Alonso. He has been a revelation this season. At comes a true Ferrari Driver in a true Ferrari mould. I can compare his few drives baring Valencia to Giles Villenuve.. there was heart in his drives and I’m sure and forsakes of the spectacle I wish he continues to drive through his heart.

Give him 90% of a car of what Redbull and Mclaren are and I’m sure you will see a new complexion to this season, for honestly, apart from Alonso its all been about cars, be it Red Bull or the Mclaren, their drivers delivered when the car came good, but Alonso on the other hand has been driving a notch above than anyone on the grid.

Some may disagree to my views, but if you remove your personal elements out from Alonso and see Alonso the driver, I think you will see things in a very different light.

Bracing for a good German GP.

Ah and about Schuey… Give him this year… he is re-adapting… next year… I’m sure he will make everyone on the grid look rather ordinary.

22

Mo, about Schumi, I hope you’re not putting the house on it. Otherwise, time to dust off the tent …

PS, when I post for the first time in a week, does the site say I’m posting too quickly ?

23

Grabyrdy,

The most lethal thing about Schuey is that he channels all the available resources for himself. At this juncture he is still in the process of making that happen with Mercedes. By no means Rosberg is no push-over, and Schuey has been beaten on a numeber of occassions by his teammates, namely Ruben and Massa. But what Shuey gets to a team is world championships and consistency, something where others fail by quite some distance.

If you review his carrer, he always consistently fought out, may it be Senna, Hill, Villenueuve, Hakkinen, Alonso or Raikkonen.

This is a true reflection of his metle.

Now the game has changed. God F1 is more complicated now than it has ever been with Double Diffusers to Blown Diffusers to Tire Variants to F-Duct.

So, its natural to give him a season’s window to re-adapt to all these techonological advacements.

He might not be young and might have a reflex deficit. But fludity and his competitive furiosity can never be questioned.

Afterall, Drivers of Schuey callibre and the ones who offer the level of commitment as he does are rare in coming.

And about dusting my tent… I own plenty of houses to put on 🙂

24

Grabyrdy,

Thank you for your reply, I know one year is a rather longtime for a driver of Michael’s Caliber to take to get back into thick of things. But lets not forget, after three years of sabatical he still is managing to give Rosberg an occassional sweat or two.

But, we all know, Michael does have a unique approach to racing. His goal is not to prove himself against his teammate but to win a worldchampionship. Bearing that in mind he needs to develop a car that can deliver this. It was all too evident in Valencia where despite of multiple pitstops and being completely out of any noteable contention he altered the task for testing and clocking in fastest laps on a few occassions.

I feel its his approach which is being misread currently and would only be visible next year.

Forsakes of F1 I’m hope I’m right 🙂

Godbless Bud 🙂

25

Mo, nothing you say is wrong. But I fancy his “reflex deficit”, which I sense also, means that none of it really counts at the very highest level. A year seems a very long time to really get back on it.

Time will tell. Rendezvous in a year’s time to see who’s right ?

PS Glad to hear you’re well set up for houses, just in case …

26

??????????

27

Me too.

28

Sometimes I get an error message when trying to reply. Think it says “Slow down, you’re posting to quickly”

29

Hi James, this is completely off topic but I can’t help asking, as I’m a resident Kiwi.

Brendon Hartley getting cut from RB’s development programme – some are saying its down to a snap judgement from F1’s new bogey man, Helmut Marko, rather than any poor performance from Hartley, even though he has had a suck year in his championship.

Can you shed any light on whether Hartley’s cut was actually justified or whether its the symptom of some sort of power struggle in RB?

Apparently, the F1 team was a big fan of Hartley’s due to his prowess in the simulator, so it sounds like Marko might be doing his old bull-in-a-china-shop routine again.

cheers – and keep up the excellent work. Most F1 forums digressed into Alonso/Hamilton bashing fests years ago, but you’ve managed the blog very well.

30

I will ask Christian Horner tomorrow in Germany

31

As long as it’s not processional we will welcome the tyre differentials extreme for Germany.

Sounds like this will be the most interesting race of the year.
As always, the first turn jostling is what I like most.

32

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8838354.stm It would seem that Martin Whitmarsh has come out and said they wont favour Lewis. Is this just a slight dig at Red Bull, or is it trying relieve tensions building up at Mclaren. Any thoughts James?

33

When it was Hamilton vs Alonso, even then they didn’t come out and say they favoured Lewis…. but they did!

Ultimately, there is NO WAY a team could come out and say they favour one driver in the current politics of F1 and with as many races remaining as there are.

BUT in saying that, as we get deeper into the year ALL of the front runners will have to choose their driver and run with them as points will become tighter and tighter.

McLaren have Hamilton.

Ferrari have Alonso.

Red Bull have Vettel.

If McLaren give Hamilton the chance to be the greater points scorer while Red Bull swap their winning points places every second week then, ultimately, McLaren win the WDC. It’s a simple math thing really.

McLaren, however, are in the fantastic position of being able to say “oh we don’t favour” drivers and thus throw more fuel on the fire that RBR are trying to turn down making it harder and harder for RBR to, when the time is right, be able to come out and choose a driver publicly.

34

I was in on that conversation and he wasn’t making a big point. But the facts show that LH has the edge on JB now and so the team is in a good position to benefit as LH harvests the points

35

It does seem (as I guess we suspected) that Lewis will be able to maximise a car that is struggling more than Jenson.

It is interesting that they have not excluded the thought that one car might run “blown” and one not.

Didn’t Lewis want to keep the diffuser on after Friday at Silverstone?

I think (even as a JB fan) that Jenson needs to up his quali game, as in race pace is doing really well, but is just too far back at the start.

36

It’s good to see Bridgestone kept their word on bringing a much larger gap between the option and prime tyres to races from Germany onwards.

James, I was just wondering what your personal opinion is regarding the change in layout at Hockenheim a few years back. Personally I much prefer the old layout, and if they really needed to change it, they shouldn’t have changed it so drastically.

37

We they are two completely different things. The old Hockenheim was majestic, something really different, more like Monza. The new one is okay, but nothing really to recommend it.

38

The old Hockenheim was a joy to drive/watch. The castrated Hockenheim is like a kart track. So wish they hadn’t changed it.

39

I’m not a big fan of the new layout in terms of driving (the challenge etc), however we should remember that this track is one of the best on the calendar in terms of overtaking. It’s one of the few circuits where the drivers turn up saying “you can overtake here”, which makes a nice change.

We had some nice overtaking at Silverstone but it was mainly due to cars running out of position (Alonso and Vettel). Plenty of the drivers who were running where they were supposed to said it was impossible (yet again) to overtake.

40

Perhaps the worst aspect is that Mercedes Arena, which is just a very big, glorified chicane “complex”.

If the new circuit had simply kept to the line of the straight that used to be there, a closer semblance of its high-speed nature might have been retained. Plus, more of the trees (the truly defining feature of the old Hockenheim, producing its eerie feel, evident even on TV) might have been retained.

It’s one thing to hack into a circuit, but quite another to completely destroy its preceding character. Hockenheim is like an anti-Spa. The revision seem to have been designed to entirely obliterate its sense of character and place. I’d much rather than German GP was permanently at the Nurburgring, even if that too is a pale shadow of a track formerly holding its name.

41

This people do pronounce that webber be strongest here, for the preceding year he is strongest. These people are WITHOUT understand – a webber did not race here, last one!! The track becomes a total different!!!! HOCKENHEIM.

42

Sad but true!

Here is Webbers most recent record for Hockenheim lifted from markwebberforum.com:

2002 Minardi, Qualified 21st, DNF lap 23, Hydraulics.

2003 Jaguar, Qualified 11th, Finished 11th.

2004 Jaguar, Qualified 11th, Finished 6th.

2005 Williams, Qualified 6th, DNF lap 55.

2006 Williams, Qualified 11th, DNF lap 59, Water Leak.

2008 Red Bull, Qualified 8th, DNF lap 40, Oil Leak.

You have to say that even in the best car he’s starting behind it so to say!

43

Good point mitsifumi-san. Your English is better than my Japanese. Your blog is very funny. To quote:

“I must tell it feelings of Vettel. When Vettel become pole or win it race, his FINGER makes for my FRUSTRATE! I have katana and wish it to be snipped off! Hatred of finger. SNIP FINGER”

I’m sure many agree with you.

44

I hate the finger, but even worse is the mechanic who has taken to copying Vettel singal after each qualifying.

Please – SNIP!

45

James Allen:

“No-one has yet made the tactic or starting on the harder tyre work for them, because it obliges you to stop twice on tracks where the softer tyre is marginal, as it will be here. Will we see someone make it work this weekend? There’s a big reward if they can.”

Isn’t that exactly what Kobayashi did at the European GP – or am I missing something?

Granted Kobayashi benefited from an early safety car, but he still made the tyres last for almost the entire race.

Not saying it could be repeated successfully, but it has been done.

46

Koybayashi started from 18th on the grid in Europe, which meant that he started the race on fresh tyres (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_European_Grand_Prix#Qualifying_2). Nobody seems to have successfully run a race after qualifying in Q3 on harder tyres (see Webber in Canada, etc). (James, is this right?)

47

Sorry, didn’t realise he only meant top 10/Q3 runners, thought he meant anyone at any GP.

However, the fact remains Kobayashi did start on hard tyres, didn’t wreck them in the first few laps, did make them last almost the whole distance, and had a very successful race.

Obviously the circumstances have to be right, and you need a large slice of luck, but it’s not impossible.

48

Is the Ferrari chassis still kinder on its tyres than its competitors? If so, the hard/soft allocation could play into their hands with a longer first stint.

49

If all are subject to the same conditions these weather & tyre issues will count for little,”the cream always rises to the top”.

50

Disgaree.

If we are plagued with differing conditions requiring extreme/inters/slicks then it really brings the team and strategy into play.

Take a few of the early GP’s as an example. Being an Aussie I’m a Webber/RBR fan but even I believe McLaren are miles ahead of RBR when it comes to team harmony and strategy which is one of the key ingredients of a wet race.

The difference between a front driver and back driver in the wet is not what it was 20 years, or even 10 years ago!

51

If qualifying is wet but the race is dry, are the teams then able to start the race on whatever tires they want?

52

Yes I believe they can, assuming that Q3 is wet China is an example of this

53

Yes.

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