Hungarian Grand Prix: Hamilton wins for Mercedes

The Hungarian Grand Prix was true to it’s reputation of a hot and dirty track. The 4.381 km circuit which is characterised by several sweeping corners taken at high speed, and often a very dusty and blisteringly hot surface is more like a street circuit in terms of difficulty. It’s not difficult to see why the Hungaroring is referred to as “Monaco without the barriers”, the narrow circuit is extremely difficult to pass on, and like Monaco, relies heavily on downforce and tyre performance rather than sheer speed. Both Red Bulls were strong during practice and qualifying until Webber suffered a KERS issue, and, in true Mark Webber fashion, he was not shy in broadcasting his displeasure with the team. So much for seeing some of the old happy Mark. What we did see, was an extremely impressive qualifying drive (without KERS) to see him start from tenth on the grid. Difficult track conditions, and strength from the RB-9s didn’t stop Lewis Hamilton from taking out pole in qualifying and on race day for his first win for Mercedes.

Hamilton had a strong get away off the grid, as did Grosjean, who was pressuring Vettel for second. After an uncharacteristically poor start from the Red Bull (of Vettel… not Webber), the German was on the defensive coming in to turn 1 to hold his position from Grosjean. Rosberg had a very unfortunate start, first being overtaken by Alonso outside of turn 1, and then being squeezed off track by Massa as he made his way up to catch his team mate. Shortly after the Mercedes and Ferrari made contact at turn 5, though at first Rosberg’s Mercedes appeared to come out reasonably unscathed, though he lost several places. Grosjean impressed me early in the race as not only did he pressure Vettel without making contact, but he held off Alonso to maintain his position in third.

Despite a very clean start from Hamilton, he was unable to shake Vettel from within DRS zone until lap 6. Vergne and van der Garde were the first cars doing a three stop strategy to pit on lap 8. Shortly after Hamilton also pitted to release Vettel to lead the race. Within the next 2 laps, Maldonado, di Resta, Ricciardo, Rosberg, and Bottas all came into pit. Sutil became the first retiree of the race following contact with Massa on lap 19. Luck seemed to turn around for Webber, starting the race on medium compound tyres, he was able to work his way up to race leader and hold off pitting until lap 23. This comfortably made up for a poor qualifying position. On lap 28, Gutierrez retired from the race with gearbox failure.

Vettel had to be cautious not to let his RB-9 overheat as he drove in the slip stream of McLaren’s Jensen Button. He was in a bit of a catch-22 at this stage, as the only chance he had of getting out of the slip stream, was to stay in it so he could get DRS and overtake into clean air. After a failed attempt to overtake, Vettel suffered front-wing damage and pulled back to cool the car. In the mean time, Grosjean was again putting the pressure on Vettel. On lap 24, Vettel took another pounce at Button, and this time managed to get passed him on the inside of turn 4. As Button slipped down into third, it was Grosjean’s turn to make a move on the McLaren, and he did (but not well). The Lotus and McLaren made contact as Grosjean moved back in to take the racing line, and was forced to take the escape route to maintain his position. Grosjean was handed a drive through penalty, and Button suffered considerably damage to his front-wing causing him to pit and re-enter the race in eighth.

By the half way point in the race, it was clear that Mercedes were not going to lose out on tyre pace as Hamilton maintained a +12 second lead on Vettel. Finally Hamilton was able to delivery what he’d been teasing us with so consistently in qualifying this season and continued to cruise on to a comfortable lead, leaving the race behind. Vettel’s second pit on lap 34 meant that he again had to briefly battle Button (isn’t that fun to say) for third, a move that was easily done due to Button’s worn soft compound tyres.

Kimi at this stage in the race had been a quiet achiever, looking after his tyres (as usual) and slowly gaining positions. This was where the real race began, trailing Hamilton by more than ten seconds, he was driving in clean air, but still only a few seconds clear of Vettel. The Lotus kept his advantage over the Red Bull on 29 lap old tyres, which forces me to one of the following conclusions; either a) Kimi is a wizard, or b) Kimi is God. Either way he never fails to impress me with how viciously he throws his car around a track all the while keeping his tyres as if they were fresh. Bottas left his team mate to fight for a points finish after hydraulics issues caused him to retire from the race on lap 42.

Vettel came in for his final pit on lap 55, leaving him 15 laps to catch up to Kimi (who had come in for his second and final pit on lap 42), and within 3 laps he had caught back up to be within DRS. Vettel didn’t make a move on Kimi until lap 66, where he briefly locked his brakes (and I lost my breath), so again he pulled back and waited again to pounce. Kimi wasn’t having any of it though and every advance Vettel made was matched by Kimi’s defense in closing the gap in corners. It was a well fought battle between the two as Kimi cruised in to take out second place, with Vettel in third. After an unlucky start, Rosberg was working his way back through the pack from fifteenth, and managed to comfortably hold ninth before his retirement from the race on lap 64 due to an engine fire. Luckily a safety car was avoided as he was able to neatly slip off track through one of the escape routes, how considerate of him. Di Resta became the final car to retire from the race on lap 66 with the team reporting hydraulics issues.

There will be much talk over the summer break I’m sure between Kimi’s manager and Red Bull. Personally I’d love to see him fill the seat at Red Bull, clearly Seb and Kimi have a good relationship off the track, and they respect each other’s talent. The other man eyeing the seat at Red Bull is Daniel Ricciardo, but after a strong qualifying, Ricciardo didn’t deliver much on race day. The STR-8 just didn’t have the speed on Sunday and he failed to make his way back through the grid after his first pit (eventually finishing thirteenth).

Webber came in to take out fourth after keeping the slower than usual Ferrari of Fernando Alonso at bay. Alonso finished fifth, ahead of Grosjean who didn’t manage to recover race positions following his drive through penalty. Button, Massa, and Perez took out seventh, eighth, and ninth respectively. Maldonado seems to be more on form this season compared to last year, and secured Williams’ their first point for the season finishing in tenth.

It was refreshing to see a race this season where the tyres didn’t play such a crucial role in team strategy, or at least no more than what would have been expected with 50+ degree track temperatures. The Hungaroring is a fantastic circuit to watch (and to race on I’m sure) as the drivers use so much of the kerbs as part of their racing line. It feels much more like a street circuit than a purpose built track. It’s exciting, and I like it.

– Alex

Qualifying Pole Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Podium Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Fastest Lap 1:24.069 Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault)

Season Comparison: 2012-2013

For a bit of visual aid, here is a comparison of race results for the first nine rounds of the 2012 and 2013 season. It’s not hard to see why (from a driver point of view) the 2013 season so far hasn’t been as thrilling as the 2012 season. This year we’ve consistently seen a swapping between Vettel, Alonso, and Rosberg on the top step (and a bit of Kimi). Where as last year the points were still so close together where is wasn’t until round 8 that Alonso became the first driver to win more than one race.

 

2012

2013

 

Round 1: Australia

Qualifying Pole Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Podium Jensen Button (McLaren-Mercedes) Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
  Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Fastest Lap 1:29.187 Jensen Button (McLaren-Mercedes) 1:29.274 Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)

 

Round 2: Malaysia

Qualifying Pole Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Podium Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari) Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Fastest Lap 1:40.722 Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault) 1:39.199 Sergio Perez (McLaren-Mercedes)

 

Round 3: China

Qualifying Pole Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Podium Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
  Jensen Button (McLaren-Mercedes) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Fastest Lap 1:39.960 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari) 1:36.808 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)

 

Round 4: Bahrain

Qualifying Pole Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Podium Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari) Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
  Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault) Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault)
Fastest Lap 1:36.379 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) 1:36.961 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)

 

Round 5: Spain

Qualifying Pole DSQ Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Podium Pastor Maldonado (Williams-Renault) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
  Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault) Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Fastest Lap 1:26.250 Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault) 1:26.217 Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber-Ferrari)

 

Round 6: Monaco

Qualifying Pole Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Podium Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Fastest Lap 1:17.296 Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari) 1:16.577 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)

 

Round 7: Canada

Qualifying Pole Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Podium Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Fastest Lap 1:15.752 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) 1:16.182 Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault)

 

Round 8: Europe

Round 8: Great Britain

Qualifying Pole Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Podium Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault) Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Fastest Lap 1:42.163 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:33.401 Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault)

 

Round 9: Great Britian

Round 9: Germany

Qualifying Pole Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Podium Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
  Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault)
Fastest Lap 1:34.661 Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault) 1:33.468 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

Mid Season Review

From round 1 in Australia, it was thought that tyre management was to play a crucial role in the performance and strategies of teams. This has definitely been the case as the season has unfolded. It seemed only Lotus were immune from tyre management issues with Kimi securing a comfortable win at Albert Park. Round two, and off to Malaysia, saw a very controversial win for Vettel and a very tense podium for the Red Bull 1-2 finish. Red Bull weren’t the only team to issue team orders in relation to driver orders. Mercedes’ Hamilton finished third, but felt his podium finish was more deserved by Rosberg (who was arguably faster, but respected his orders not to pass his team mate).

Alonso was next to secure a win at the Chinese Grand Prix after a superb race by the Spaniard. Mercedes were looking strong in qualifying, but again couldn’t maintain race pace against Ferrari and the Lotus of Kimi. It seemed to be a race between Alonso and Kimi, until Kimi sustained front wing damage after a collision with McLaren’s Perez. Despite suffering considerable understeer, Kimi raced on and was able to fight off Hamilton to secure second place 10.1 seconds behind the Ferrari.

Vettel was victorious again at the Bahrain Grand Prix, though Red Bull and Formula 1 fans alike were split down the middle of a Team Webber/Team Vettel debate surrounding the “Multi-21” team orders. Rosberg got off to a strong start but conceded the lead to Vettel on the third lap and was unable to maintain his pace eventually finishing ninth. Again, Mercedes were strong in qualifying, but hadn’t quite got the tyre management which was crucial on race day. Alonso’s race was anything from perfect in Bahrain, who suffered from a malfunctioning DRS (remaining open) and was forced to battle the straights without it, eventually finishing eighth. Button had a strong start to to the race but eventually succumbed to tyre management and a late fourth pit stop saw him finish tenth. Both Lotus’ had my attention in Bahrain. After a poor qualifying Kimi gained six places to finish second, and Grosjean gained eight places to finish third.

Round 5 and the Spanish Grand Prix was a home victory for Alonso. The Sunday was a perfect race for the Ferrari, who despite qualifying fifth on the grid, made his way to the front and become to first driver to win at Catalunya from further back than the first row on the grid. Webber had a poor start but eventually finished fifth behind his team mate. Tyres were again an issue for every driver, except for Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi drove with a perfect balance aggression while still nursing his tyres, and was capable of a three-stop strategy (while most drivers struggled with four). The Lotus’ strategy paid off as he was able to take Vettel as he slipped in for a fourth stop, eventually finishing second. Mercedes’ Hamilton showed a stronger race day finishing third.

There was a bit of drama at the Monaco Grand Prix after it had emerged that Mercedes had conducted a secret tyre test after the Spanish Grand Prix. The test seemed to pay off for Mercedes as Rosberg secured a victory after qualifying on pole.  Teams discovered after the race that Mercedes managed to get extra wear out of the tyres but swapping the L-R rears. The race was red flagged when Maldonado crashed into a protective barrier after making contact with Marussia’s Max Chilton. Kimi was lucky to score a point in the race after a late puncture and pit put him in last place. The incident stricken Monaco Grand Prix concluded with Rosberg maintaining a comfortable lead, and the Red Bull’s of Vettel and Webber taking out second and third on the podium.

In contrast, the Canadian Grand Prix went ahead with very little incident for the drivers, though following the apparent success of Mercedes rear tyre switching in Monaco, most teams could be seen adopting the same strategy for round 7. Webber pace suffered from an incident with van der Garde, Sutil executed a very impressive pirouette mid race (in which he somehow managed to avoid contact with everyone and everything), Hamilton and Alonso has a brief battle for second and third, and Kimi secured a points finish to equal Schumacher’s most consecutive race finishes in the points. The resulting podium consisted of Vettel, Alonso, and Hamilton (in that order).

The British Grand Prix was strewn with tyre blow outs from the likes of Hamilton, Massa, Vergne, and Perez. Webber had a poor start, and to add insult to injury, suffered considerably after wing damage from contact by Grosjean.  Apart from being a dangerous race, the blow outs cost  Hamilton his shot at the podium. Vettel looked set to take the podium until suffering from gearbox failure forcing him to retire on lap 42. Grosjean was the final car to retire from the race on lap 52. Webber showed us all just what he is capable of  by making a spectacular comeback after the final safety car to eventually finish second. Alonso, who was on a similar pit strategy to Webber during the safety car, was able to get better speed and grip out of the tyres to make his way past Kimi. The final podium stood as Rosberg, Webber, and Alonso.

The most recent race in Germany was a home victory for Sebastian Vettel as he managed to keep Kimi’s preying Lotus at bay during the final laps. Webber again suffered from a race incident that considerably impacted his position putting him a lap behind his competitors. Though following the safety car deployed after Bianchi’s retirement, Webber was able to un-lap himself and had fantastic drive from there on out to finish an impressive seventh.  Romain Grosjean had an flawless race in Germany, demonstrating a truly impressive drive throughout the entire race. After a incident stricken British Grand Prix, all teams were banned from rear tyre swapping, resulting in considerably less grip and slower lap times by the Mercedes and Ferrari teams.

Looking back over the first half of the season, the Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, and Lotus teams have been successful on race days. Lotus are currently sitting fourth in the constructors championship, but this is largely accountable to incidents occurring later in the race affecting Kimi’s position. I’d expect in the second half of the season for Lotus, and especially Kimi, to gain more points on race days. Tyre management has been an issue for all teams over the first half of the season. Though following the Pirelli Tyre Testing at Silverstone, I’d expect tyre wear not to be as strong of an issue for teams for the remainder of the season. Mercedes early dominance in the season has been attributed to their participation in tyre testing in Spain. Although, aerodynamic improvements to the Mercedes F1 W04 would have had considerable advantage on track like Monte Carlo, where downforce and grip around the many corners play a more vital role than speed in race performance. Consequently from participating in the tyre test in Spain, Mercedes are the only team not to test in Silverstone this week.

Now lets look at some stats;

2012

2013

Position

Driver

Points

Driver

Points

1

Fernando Alonso

129

Sebastian Vettel

157

2

Mark Webber

116

Fernando Alonso

123

3

Sebastian Vettel

100

Kimi Räikkönen

116

4

Lewis Hamilton

92

Lewis Hamilton

99

5

Kimi Räikkönen

83

Mark Webber

93

In the Driver’s Championship for 2013, we are still looking at the same drivers taking out the top 5 positions (although with some order change). Vettel has moved up three places to currently sit at the top of the championship with a very healthy 34 point lead on Alonso. On that note, Alonso was taking out the top position last year, and is currently second. Kimi has moved up two places to third. Lewis Hamilton, despite changing teams has stayed in roughly the same points and is fourth. Mark Webber was second in the championship this time last year. In 2013 Webber is currently in fifth position, a hefty 64 points behind his team mate. Despite a 34 point difference between Vettel and Kimi, I think the second half of the season will close the gap between the two. Mark Webber’s announcement to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season (and the open seat at Red Bull) could result in some quite successful races for Webber. Now that the pressure is off him, and he’s got a clear path in Le Mans, we might see some more of the old Mark Webber (before he went all dark and twisty). I think his race performance will improve, but mainly his attitude may be a bit nicer.

Ricciardo, Vergne, and Kimi will also be drivers to watch for the second half of the season, largely due to the seat that Webber is leaving open at Red Bull. Personally I would love to see Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull seat (and we’re getting a taste of that this week as he tests for RB at Silverstone), but I’m worried that he isn’t quite ready to leave Toro Rosso. Ricciardo is a driver will tremendous skill and potential, and I want to see him master that before he moves on. Vergne, another young driver with potential often placing higher race days than his team mate, will be a driver to watch closely in the following races as both the Toro Rosso drivers are essentially undergoing a job interview (at 300km/h). Kimi Raikkonen has been favourited as the driver to fill the empty seat at Red Bull, and to be honest, he’s the driver I’d most like to see in the RB10 next to Vettel. There is a lot of talk about who’s a better driver out of Vettel and Kimi, but when it comes down to it you can’t really compare the two until they’re in the same car. So if Kimi does join Red Bull, we can finally see the two race against each other from an equal footing. Now that will be a season to watch.

2012

2013

Position

Constructor

Points

Constructor

Points

1

Red Bull-Renault

216

Red Bull-Renault

250

2

Ferrari

152

Mercedes

183

3

Lotus-Renault

144

Ferrari

180

4

McLaren-Mercedes

142

Lotus-Renault

157

5

Mercedes

98

Force India-Mercedes

59

The gap in the Constructors Championship is huge. 67 points between Red Bull and Mercedes. It’s obvious who the favourites are to take out the Constructors Championship, but (as I mentioned in relation to Kimi), I expect to see Lotus move up in the points and possibly bump Ferrari down to fourth. Despite Alonso driving consistently well for Ferrari, his team mate seems to be struggling with his F138, and this may cost the team points in the later half of the season. Force India, while being 98 points behind Lotus in the Constructors Championship, have performed well in the first half of the season. Paul di Resta has consistently scored in the points, and looks in good set to finish off the season well. His team mate, Adrian Sutil, has had less luck only managing to finish in the points on three more occasions since Australia, though he’s a strong driver and the car is looking better in each race (especially on the corners). While McLaren have had a shaky first half of the season, the week of testing at Silverstone and extra time between races to work on their MP4-28, should see a more successful second half.

There’s a lot to think about for the races to come. Personally I most interested to watch the competition for the Red Bull seat unfold, but we’ll see what happens.

– Alex

German Grand Prix: Another notch on Vettel’s belt

It took me a good few hours to calm down after Sunday’s German Grand Prix. The podium could not be more deserved by any driver. It was Sebastian Vettel’s first win at his home track in Formula 1, and a race that couldn’t be faulted for either Lotus drivers. Kimi Raikkonen worked his tyres better than anyone, and really gave Vettel a run for his money right up until the final corner. Kimi’s team mate however, seemed to have figured out how to drive fast and not drive into anything. It was incredible to watch both the Lotus cars work their way through the grid in succession.

Both Red Bull’s had superb starts. Mark Webber took three practice starts prior to the formation lap, which maybe he should have done more often, his start was impeccable. It was only made better by Hamilton’s rather risky move of being too aggressive off the line on the Vettel, which left the first corner wide open to Mark to take the outside line and push the Mercedes out the way. Immediately off the grid Massa managed to gain a position on Ricciardo. Massa’s luck ran out pretty quickly as he lost grip into turn 1 on lap 4 and became the first retiree of the race.

Force India and Red Bull have been handed fines for pit lane incidences. The first of which was an unsafe release of Di Resta (nearly into Vergne). It was a disastrous stop for Red Bull’s Mark Webber on lap 9. The RB9’s right rear went rogue and hit a FOM cameraman squarely in the back. Luckily the cameraman escaped serious injury, and Formula 1 commented today that he would make a full recovery. Looking back over the footage of the pit stop, the wheel gun fails to engage and the mechanic gestures to have the wheel adjusted. The mechanic jacking the car up at the front misinterprets the mechanics gesture and releases Mark, down the pit lane, with one tyre completely loose. I dare say there were some stern words spoken in the garage after the race. It seemed to be the end to Webber’s race receiving a radio message to switch off his engine, but he soon had all four tyres (as securely as they’d even been fastened) back on, and he was released a lap behind and in last place. Disaster.

Jules Bianchi was the second retiree of the race. Bianchi’s MR02 was reluctant to retire and did briefly attempt to rejoin the race without his pilot. Unfortunately without having anyone to steer it rolled back off the other side of the track eventually coming to rest on top of a UBS sign. The safety car was released while the track was cleared and Vergne became the third retiree with car troubles. Teams were once again forced to scrap their original race strategies and start again from the pitwall. Bianchi’s retirement turned out to be the saving grace for Mark Webber as he was allowed to unlap himself.

After the safety car, Webber moved his way up through the pack, and managed to finish in the points in seventh. It was disappointing for Webber’s race after having such a fantastic to have to work his way back from a lap behind, but it does go to show his skill and determination. Well done Mark.

The second half of the race was clearly dominated by the two Lotus’ and Sebastian Vettel. Kimi and Romain, who were swapping fastest sector times, absolutely flew around the track. The pressure seemed to only push Vettel on to set fastest personal sector times to pull away from the Lotus’. Grosjean clearly was not going to give up without a fight and he launched on the Red Bull with mind-boggling precision. If that is what he is capable of when he is on form… Keep doing that? Not so surprising was Kimi’s managing soft tyres for the last ten laps of the race. Iceman continued to set fastest lap times and make his way back towards Vettel and Grosjean following his final pitstop, eventually passing his team mate on lap 55 to close the gap on the Red Bull.

The front cars were lapping the back of the grid (blue flags, blue flags everywhere), which momentarily slowed Vettel and Kimi down. The race between these two had me on the edge of my seat. In final two laps Kimi was consistently within DRS of Vettel, but he ran out of laps. I really would love to see them drive in the same team next season, those boys are without a doubt my favourite drivers.

Other than that, Mercedes struggled with their tyres during the race. Hamilton and Rosberg seem to have no grip around the corners. Fernando Alonso had a pretty straight forward race, though he failed to make it back to the pits after crossing the line in fourth. The worst part of the Grosser Preis Santander Von Deutschland (isn’t that fun to say), is that there is now such a long wait until Belgium.

– Alex

Pirelli Blames… Everything

Pirelli have issued a statement saying that the tyre issues we saw at the Silverstone Grand Prix were due to teams swapping tyres and running them below recommended pressure, and at extreme camber angles. This, combined with sharper curbs at Silverstone. An “anything that could go wrong, went wrong” situation it seems. The manufacturer have also stated that teams will be  switching back to Kevlar reinforced tyres for Germany this week.

Here’s the deal though, Pirelli hadn’t raised issue to side-to-side tyre swapping during the Canadian Grand Prix. Looking back over the season, it appears that Mercedes were the first team to trial swapping the left and right rears during the tyre testing after the Spanish Grand Prix. Mercedes seemed to get better grip and degradation from tyres, so they trialled the move in Monaco (proving successful), and more teams it seemed followed suit in Canada, and again at Silverstone.

So, here’s what strikes me as odd… Obviously Pirelli would do extensive tests during the winter break when developing the next seasons tryes, a much more thorough test than Mercedes were able to do in Spain. It’s not difficult to see that fitting tyres backwards could be dangerous at high speeds (ie. 300km/h), so why did Pirelli sit back and let the teams do it?

British Grand Prix: Post Race Mind Blown (and a few tyres)

I think it’s safe to say that Pirelli’s PR division would be working in over drive today following Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It appeared that not a single driver was immune from tyre issues yesterday, though some suffered considerably worse than others (and not just from Pirelli).

From lights out, Hamilton made a very clean getaway from the grid. Immediately Rosberg conceded a position to Vettel, and Webber suffered a poor start (Hmm) and then some contact from Grosjean (Again, hmm). For the next five or so laps it seemed as if the podium was decided. Hamilton had a strong lead on Vettel and Webber was at the back of the pack. I admit, I was quite disappointed when I thought Webber’s shot of the podium was out of reach.

Hamilton was the first to suffer major issues with his tryes. On reflection, that’s a bit of an understatement, Hamilton was the first to recover from his tyres just flat out giving up and exploding in a sea of debris. The blow out occurred right after the pit lane entrance as well, so Hamilton was forced to limp back around the track for one more lap before he could change his tyres.

Massa was next to suffer a rear tyre blow out, followed by Vergne who was forced to retire. In the final laps Perez became the fourth and final driver to have a tyre blow out, with debris missing Alonso by inches. It was quite unbelievable to watch, there was a very intense feeling when you didn’t really know who was next. It felt like there was a sniper on the track taking drivers out one by one. After Hamilton, Massa, and Vergne’s blow outs the safety car was deployed. To be honest I was half expecting the SC’s rears to go too… I’ve never seen race marshals have to work so hard, it was hard to believe that the race wasn’t even halfway through. More than just marbling. Pirelli have reported saying that this season’s bonding process is not to blame for Sunday’s incidents.  A number of drivers have defended the Silverstone track after suggestion that tyre damage was caused by the kerbs.

Apart from the tyre ‘issue’ (magical exploding tryres), race leader Vettel suffered gearbox failure on lap 42. Vettel obviously didn’t read my Canadian Grand Prix post in which I asked for him to win for my birthday (naughty German). He went out in style though requiring a safety car and a crane to remove his car from the pit straight. Grosjean’s car suffered damage and he retired on lap 52 due to handling issues.

Rosberg’s win was considerably overshadowed by the multitude of tyre failures during the race. Not only that, but Webber’s comeback was just incredible. As I mentioned earlier, after his contact with Grosjean it seemed like his hopes of being on the podium were squashed. This was not the case as he pulled off some fantastic moves going around the outside to over take. Pure skill, it was awesome. Alonso’s drive throughout the race was unsurprisingly good, but incredible in the final five laps. During the second safety car, both Webber and Alonso came in to pit which was a very risky move. Though maybe due to the track temperature, both cars had much superior grip and speed. As a result, Alonso was able to steal a podium finish away from Kimi, and Webber secured second place.

So that was a few of the highlights. Other points worth a mention include Alonso’s fantastic moustache he is currently sporting (Please don’t shave that one off mate), and Kimi breaking Schumacher’s record for most consecutive races finishing in the points. Well done Kimi! It was a pretty good way to ring in my twenty third birthday to be honest, one of the best races of the season. A Finnish friend of mine wished me a Happy Birthday today, or more accurately wished me a “Hyvää Syntymäpäivää”, which is much more difficult to say.

Well, that’s all for now. I shall see you later in the week for the German Grand Prix

– Alex