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

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