zondag 20 juli 2014

F1 2014 GP of Germany - review

So here we are at the circuit of Hockenheim for the 10th Grand Prix of the Season, that of Germany.

With the season over half now, we can safely assume that the titular battle will be going between Rosberg and Hamilton, while it is only a time of mathematical certainty when the Silberpfeilen take the Constructor`s Championship.

And in that driver`s championship, Rosberg can do a very, very good case today, as Hamilton had a crash in Q1, putting him down to 16th place.  To make things worse, he also got a five place grid drop for changing his gear box, putting him down in 20th.  Only Chilton is behind him, as Ericsson once more didn`t make the 107% rule and will start at the stewards discretion.  Maybe they should replace him by someone talented, like our Belgian hope on formula one days, Stoffel Van Doorne who put in a 2nd and 3rd during the GP2 events this weekend on Hockenheim.

Other points of intrest of the qualifiers is that Magnussen put his McLaren in 4th, while Ricciardo once more outqualified Vettel.

Will this become an exciting race like Bahrain, Canada or the UK?  Or one of the more boring events like Austria?

The Start: As Bianchi stalls on the starting line, Magnussen collides with Massa.  The Dane, even though having lost a lot of places can continue onwards, but Massa, for the third time this year, is smacked of the track by things he can`t help.  Ricciardo has to go very wide to avoid the collision and falls back to the rear of the field as well, as the Safety Car pulls out.

Lap 3: the safety car comes back in and we find ourselves now with the leading foursome Rosberg, Bottas, Vettel and Alonso, as Hamilton can start his race of overtaking the whole field, for not the first time this season.

Lap 4: As Hulkenberg and Button fight over 5th place, Hamilton has already advanced to 14th thanks to his aggressive driving style and the sheer power of the Mercedes.

Lap 6 to 8: Rosberg puts in three sequential fastest laps as he opens the gap to Bottas.  In the midfield Sutil is making the best of his Sauber, hanging around the last point even as hamilton gives him a little nudge. In the meantime Kvyat is pushed of the track by Perez in a racing incident over 7th place.

Lap 10: Already both Ricciardo and Hamilton are back in the points at 9 and 10th place respectively.

Lap 11: Riccardio goes by Raikonnen as Hamilton opens the offensive on the fin as well.  As he then pushes past both Raikonnen AND Ricciardo in a wide drive, he touches the Ferrari and breaks a small part of the front wing.

Lap 15: And the day gets worse for Raikonnen, as Vettel and Alonso, his team mate, exit the pits behind him and restart their epic battle from Silverstone, literally sandwiching the Ferrari and cracking up his nose even further.

Lap 16: Rosberg and Bottas pit, and find Lewis now in between them.  Who said you couldn`t overtake on the new style Hockenheimring???

Lap 20: Bottas retakes his 2nd place but they will have to guess good on their pitstrategy, as Hamilton is on a two stopper compared to most other drivers on three stops.  Rosberg in the meantime leads with 10 seconds on the two duelists, so unless something goes horribly wrong, we know the winner and the podium is going to go between these three drivers.

Lap 23: Perez gets ordered by his engineer to conserve fuel or fall to a sputtering halt...

Lap 24: Sutil goes past Grosjean.  Take out the Mercedes and Williams at the front and the poor Caterhams at the back, and the whole field is rather close actually this year, able to battle each other constantly.  The engine sound might be gone, but it does give nice duels for the most part this year.

Lap 28: Grosjean has to retire as his engine gives out and he loses all power.  Hamilton buldogs past Ricciardo again and then touches Button lightly, damaging his front wing.  Congratulations to the stewards as they aren`t throwing all those silly stop and go`s around this time, and letthe boys all play in the garden.  To no avail for Jenson, as the Mercedes shoots by like a comet on the next straight.  It is one mighty piece of machinery, and really the McLaren of 88 style of brute dominance.  End up in the back?  No problem, we just thunder by...

Lap 33: As Hamilton goes by Hulkenberg to 5th, he can go hunt the battling Alonso and Vettel who are duelling for the last podium spot, just as the next round of pitstops is starting to get underway.

Lap 34: Raikonnen says he has an issue front left and decides against team orders he is pitting NOW.

Lap 35: Alonso goes by Vettel, virtually putting the Ferrari on the podium.  Hamilton reacts with a fastest lap, but Alonso immediately puts in another himself.

Lap 39: As Alonso and Vettel repass Hulkenberg after pitting, Ricciardo now puts in the fastest lap.

Lap 41: Bottas pits and knows he normally should make another one, while Hamilton only has his last one to go, which both Rosberg and Hamilton then immediatly do.

Lap 43: Poor Sutil loses his 10th place now to Perez

Lap 46: The Toro Rosso of Kvyat literally is on fire as his engine goes sky high.

Lap 49: Hamilton storms by Alonso, and is now hunting on Bottas, knocking off 1.5 second a lap on the Williams.  Bottas decides to try and take the Williams to the end of the race on his old tyres.

Lap 50: Due to a technical issue Sutil spins on the straight of start and finish and the engine blocks out.  But oddly enough no safety car is released, and it takes 2 turns even before someone finally comes over to try and remove the car, this was a very dangerous moment...

Lap 53: Ricciardo goes by Hulkenberg for 7th, as Hamilton knocks in another fastest lap.

Lap 55: Some sort of glitch takes hold of Alonso`s car as Vettel, Hamilton, Button and Ricciardo go by him, then the aussie overtakes Button as well to 5th behind his team mate.  Don`t tell me Daniel is going to hunt Seb on his home soil...  In the meantime the Ferrari recovers and he retakes Button.

Lap 60: This now results in a ferocious battle between Alonso and Ricciardo, two drivers not giving an inch and constantly switching places as they battle onwards.

Lap 61: Hamilton has caught up to Bottas, but Valteri bravely defends his position drifting wildly on his worn tyres and just keeps it to the finish line...

Lap 67: And Rosberg?  Yeah well, he was somewhere far in front...

The Result

1. Rosberg - Mercedes
2. Bottas - Williams Mercedes
3. Hamilton - Mercedes

4. Vettel - Red Bull Renault
5. Alonso - Ferrari
6. Ricciardo - Red Bull Renault
7. Hulkenberg - Force India Mercedes
8. Button - McLaren Mercedes
9. Magnussen - McLaren Mercedes
10. Perez - Force India Mercedes

11. Raikonnen - Ferrari
12. Maldonado - Lotus Renault
13. Vergne - Toro Rosso Renault
14. Gutteriez - Sauber Ferrari
15. Bianchi - Marussia Ferrari
16. Kobayashi - Caterham Renault
17. Chilton - Marussia Ferrari
18. Ericsson - Caterham Renault

Driver of the Race:

Is their any doubt?  Lewis Hamilton.  He started 20th, and came back to the podium not even once, but TWICE having to go through almost the whole field due to his different tyre strategy.

Team of the Race:

Or better, of the first half of the season: Mercedes.  Nothing to do against them, the only thing that can beat a Mercedes is the (rare) technical issue on BOTH cars like in Canada, but otherwise, there is always one half a day out in front of the field.

The Backmarker

Well, since Chilton put his Marussia into his team mate and then the wall in Canada, I had a spot open at the end of these reports.  And I am going to use that to bring to attention a nice / heroic / sympathetic or obscure team from my formula one following days.  Now, I always loved the smaller teams, and fondly remember the days of the prequalifying tombola in which small outfits like Coloni (5 staff members!!!) or just teams in decline or before their rise.  Like the team that was destined to become Red Bull in the end...

Anyone know the answer?  I`ll tell you in a bit.

But for the first part, it is no more then to show off the team from which the Cult of Chilton hailed, Virgin Racing.  Contending for two season (2010 and 2011) before gowing in new management and becoming Marussia, the coalition between Richard Branson and Manor motorsport was one of the three new comers that survived the budget plafond that was recalled later on. 

How different would F1 have become if the cap had indeed been implemented and more privateer teams could return to the grid for the charm...

The novelty was that both seasons the car was fully designed by computer and not with model and wind tunnels.  And it showed, as in it`s first season it ended last in the constructors, and in 2011 they where only above HRT with Belgian driver D`Ambrosio in one of the cars alongside Timo Glock.

Oh, and the answer to which team Red Bull evolved from?  Stewart Grand Prix!

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