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Four penalties give new look to Hockenheim grid
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Jul 2012   |  7:23 am GMT  |  21 comments

The grid for this afternoon’s German Grand Prix has been revised reflecting the three penalties for drivers who had to change a gearbox, but also a penalty for Sergio Perez, who was docked five places by stewards for blocking.

Mark Webber moves from the front row to eighth, while Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg compound what was already a poor qualifying position by slipping back to 20th and 22nd places. All three men have gearbox change penalties of five positions.

Perez was penalised by stewards for blocking Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso during the Q2 session.

Schumacher starts third for the second Grand Prix in a row, while Hulkenberg’s fourth place on the grid is the best for Force India this season.

Alonso starts the race from pole with a 13 point advantage over Webber and 29 points lead over Vettel, who will be the main driver he ‘marks’ today. In other words the target will be to finish ahead of Vettel or at worst to minimise the points loss to him, so in a tight race his strategy will be reactive to what Vettel does.

The race is expected to be dry so we should see a much faster McLaren than in yesterday’s qualifying. Jenson Button starts 6th, ahead of Lewis Hamilton; this is not the first time he’s started ahead of Hamilton, but it is the first time he’s out qualified him this season. The other occasions were due to penalties for Hamilton.

The DRS zone is long at Hockenheim, the drivers can activate the DRS 260 metres after Turn 4, which gives a long run to pass before the hairpin at Turn 6. So we should see plenty of overtaking. For Red Bull staying out of the 1 second DRS detection zone will be important as their straight line speeds are well down on the McLaren.

There will be quite a lot of pressure on Pastor Maldonado to keep out of trouble and get a good result today, starting in fifth place, after throwing away quite a few points this season in races like Valencia and Melbourne.

1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India
5 Pastor Maldonado Williams
6 Jenson Button McLaren
7 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
8 Mark Webber Red Bull *
9 Paul di Resta Force India
10 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari
14 Bruno Senna Williams
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
16 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham
17 Sergio Perez Sauber **
18 Vitaly Petrov Caterham
19 Romain Grosjean Lotus *
20 Charles Pic Marussia
21 Nico Rosberg Mercedes *
22 Timo Glock Marussia
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT

* = gearbox penalty
** = blocking penalty

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There seem to be a ridiculous amount of fines and penalties in Formula1 these days. It feels like the sport is governed by Brussels.

In comparison, you rarely see penalties and fines in MotoGP, which is arguably a more dangerous sport.

What gives?


Anyway, looks like the Red Bull’s will be facing further penalties viz the engine map.



A lot of the more recent comments on this site have related to the Ferrari, and whether Massa is underperforming or Alonso is outdriving the car. Personally I don’t have enough time to see or analyse enough free practice data (which I think tells more of a story of car pace than the race itself) to make an educated comment on it, but the standings show Alonso to be leading the WDC. However, you said Alonso will be marking’


Sorry, accidentally submitted too soon…

…Alonso would be ‘marking’ Vettel this race. Is this speculation based on previous remarks from Alonso, or do you know if it’s their strategy? And, more pertinently, do you think Ferrari are right to still be thinking so defensively, or should they be more proactive, even though it goes against their entrenched mindset? Or is their car just not quick enough for that yet?

Tom in adelaide

Bruno’s days are surely numbered? Massa to Williams?


@ craig mcgoo, your post is almost word for word what i have just posted on two other forums. i tgo would like to know why this rule hasn’t been amended to be a lot fairer on the drivers. perhaps james can explain why this occurs?


The stadium section was quite empty.. was it the weather or the economy in Europe …or the intreset in F1 waning in Germany …. Germany,England,Italy,France were the pillars of the F1 culture that we have today ….with the races and tracks slowly falling of the F1 calendar and developing in new places were at time it seems honestly out of place …do we run the risk of losing the character of F1 that European leg of the season brings….

Do the races in new locations do more good than damage ..


I’d like to see the ‘known’ grid penalties applied through all of the qualifying sessions. So if a driver has a 5 place penalty and finishes 15th in Q1, he is immediately demoted 5 places and is out of qualifying. If he makes it into Q2 he still carries the penalty etc. The qualifying sessions would then be a true reflection of what the grid is going to be.

I think it’s wrong that a driver can sit in the qualifying press conference for the top 3, when in fact he will be starting 5 places further back.

It doesn’t have any effect of course where penalties are applied post qualifying, but it would be an improvement.


I really like the photos that go with your articles JA; in what order do you write the headline/find the picture to go with the story?

By that I mean does the Headline of the story come first or do you find the picture, then the Headline?

A bit like a musician who writes songs, lyrics or music first?!




Thanks. The photos are mainly Darren Heath, but some of the technical ones or news ones are from XPB.cc – both are excellent operators

I write the story first, of course, then sometimes I have a photo in mind, sometimes I look for something that will go well from my photo library


Hi James,

How crucial is it relating to the latest investigation regarding Redbull engine Maps, according to the media the cars are under investigation for using banned engine maps. Is it something the stewards have just got hold of and how far back will they investigate the issue?


I think Charlie Whiting will issue a clarification on that area soon to close it off


Hi James,

There seems to be a much higher number of gearbox changes this year, am I wrong or is something causing this?



Rubinho's Keyfob

This year there is no “joker” (i.e., one free replacement before the penalties kick in). I don’t know what the actual stats are, but it does mean we’re going to hear about the changes earlier than we probably would have in previous years.


Looking forward to a thrilling race on Hockenheim due that extented DRS. The new Hockhenheim is always been one of the more boring tracks so hopefully the DRS and Pirellis will alter that. Wondering why Grosjean and Rosberg did not change their engines too?


Is it just me or does this gearbox penalty system have the potential to have a bearing in the WDC.

As the gearbox is a team related penalty why not penalise the team 5 positions post race for the constructors championship points.


Some variation of this would be the basis of an excellent solution to gearbox penalties !

A Gearbox problem clearly has nothing to do with driver performance so they should not be penalised : Nobody likes to see drivers lose grid positions for something that is beyond their control.

However I don’t think many people would like the idea of altering race results achieved on the track and your suggestion has one problem : unaltered, it could result in a penalty of up to seven points ( for the winning car ) or none at all for the car that finished in 11th place. That’s hardly fair either !

A better alternative might be to deduct a fixed one or two constructors points for every unscheduled gearbox change. That, at least means a team would always receive the same penalty for the same “offence”.

There is the possibility that some teams might have negative points at some time during the season but that doesn’t really matter.


The gearbox penalty does seem particularly tough, and yes, it’s not something really driver controlled. It’s not like the gearboxes of old. But pitstops are out of the drivers’ control too, yet can have a big bearing on the DWC.

I think they should do a sliding scale on gearboxes. If you change it from race to race, you get a 5-spot penalty. Change it at the second race, a 4-spot penalty, etc. If you change the gearbox after the grid is set, then you incur an extra 1-spot penalty on top of what you would already have received.


I agree 100% – thought the same for ages.


With the “apply penalty, reset grid” process isn’t it Grosjean 19th and Rosberg 21st?


I feel sorry for Perez – must’ve been difficult to see whats behind you in those conditions.

But what a race in prospect we have! Most should have fresh sets of both tyres and the strategy calls will be interesting to see. Start on primes or options? Might see a few starting on primes as the qualy rubber has been washed away so teams wont want to trash fresh options on a green track.

I’d say prime/option/prime could be the way to go as the soft still needs some the extra weight to get up to temp. Once the first stint is done there should be enough rubber down to get the most out of them.

Little chance of safety car so with no rain this is stacking up to be a great race..

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