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Tag Archive | Germany

Vettel’s penalty was deserved

After Sunday’s German Grand Prix, in which he crossed the line second, Sebastian Vettel had 20 seconds added to his race time for an illegal pass on Jenson Button. The penalty pushed Vettel all the way down to fifth in the race results.

The incident happened on the penultimate lap, on the exit of the Spitzkehre hairpin. Vettel had drawn alongside Button before the corner with the aid of DRS. Button held the inside line, and reached the corner exit fractionally in front of Vettel. It became obvious that Vettel would run wide on the corner exit, which he did, to the point where all four tyres of the Red Bull were outside the white line that defines the limits of the track. Vettel kept his foot down, and managed to rejoin the track in front of Button.

A driver may not gain an advantage from running off the track. That much is very clear in the rules of Formula One. Had Vettel not run off the track, he would have had to back out of the throttle and fall into line behind Button. It was clear that the pass could not have been completed without the use of the run-off area. Vettel had obviously gained an advantage, and he was duly penalised.

It seems a little strange that Red Bull did not get on the radio to Vettel to tell him to let Button back past. They should have known immediately – as Button, McLaren, the BBC commentary team and the viewing public knew – that Vettel would likely receive a penalty that would cost him more than just the one position. If he had surrendered the position, no action would have been taken against him.

At this stage of the championship, with Alonso so dominant at the front, 15 points for third place would have been invaluable. Instead, Vettel walked away with only ten points, and fell even further behind the championship leader.

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Bad to worse for Mercedes

At the British Grand Prix, Mercedes weren’t expecting to do well, and they didn’t. Schumacher put in a strong qualifying performance for third on the grid in the rain, but in the dry race there was nothing he could do to stay near the front, and the illustrious German finished seventh, which was a reasonable result considering that Mercedes did not expect the car to be suited to the Silverstone circuit.

Ahead of today’s German Grand Prix, Schumacher stated “We have the most difficult race behind us”, referring, of course, to the British Grand Prix. Unfortunately for Schumacher it proved not to be so. He again put in a good performance in qualifying to take fourth place, and inherited third when Mark Webber took a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. In the race, Schumacher was again unable to stay with the front-runners, and finished seventh, as had happened at Silverstone.

If Silverstone was expected to be the tough race of the season, and the W03 was supposed to be better suited to Hockenheim, then how is today’s result to be interpreted? It can only be that Mercedes have taken a step back.

After a poor start to the season, Ferrari have made massive strides forward, to the point that they now have possibly the quickest car, and definitely the quickest driver in Fernando Alonso. Red Bull have improved in recent races, and are on a similar level to Ferrari. McLaren struggled in Valencia and Great Britain, but bounced back in Germany with a significant upgrade package the obviously made a huge difference as Jenson Button finished second. Where is the development from Mercedes? They must be developing the car, otherwise they would be at the back of the field, but the improvements are not particularly evident on the race track.

With a four-week break coming up after next week’s Hungarian Grand Prix, it is possible that Mercedes are planning a significant upgrade for the first post-break race in Belgium. The W03 should in any case be quick at the high-speed Spa-Francorchamps track, and again at Monza for Italian Grand Prix.  But the rest of the season is unlikely to be suited to the W03 as it is now, and so some action is required from the team.

Can Mercedes deliver a car capable of competing at the front? They did it in China. Perhaps they can do it again.

Alonso eases to win in Germany

Fernando Alonso has taken his third win of the season with a fairly uneventful victory from pole position in Germany.

After making a good start, Alonso led almost continually to the flag, surrendering the lead for only a couple of laps when he made his first pitstop. Although he never had to defend too vigorously, there was always a challenger close behind. In the early stages of the race it was Sebastian Vettel who was chasing the Spaniard, and then after Button passed Vettel in the second round of pitstops, the Briton kept Alonso honest until Vettel took the place back while he was outside the limits of the track. The stewards ruled that Vettel’s pass was illegal, and he was handed a 20-second penalty after the race was completed, but he crossed the line second with Button close behind in third.

Kimi Raikkonen came home fourth after a fairly strong afternoon that included a good pass on Michael Schumacher. Kamui Kobayashi finished fifth ahead of his Sauber team-mate Sergio Perez, and the pair of them were followed by Schumacher, who struggled for pace over the race distance but managed to collect his 77th career fastest lap. Mark Webber came home eighth after a race in which he lacked performance for no apparent reason. Nico Hulkenberg finished ninth for Force India followed by the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in tenth.

Lewis Hamilton was hoping for a strong race in dry conditions after struggling in yesterday’s wet qualifying session, but the McLaren driver was unfortunate to pick up a puncture in the early stages of the race that put him out of contention. He eventually retired his car with 11 laps remaining after providing some entertainment by passing Sebastian Vettel to unlap himself. Despite Hamilton’s tough day the team will be reassured by the pace of the car after a significant upgrade for this race.

There were no points for Williams and Toro Rosso today, continuing the run of bad form both teams have experienced recently. Pastor Maldonado in particular must be wondering what he has to do to achieve decent results – since winning in Barcelona over two months ago, the Venezuelan has not finished in the top ten.

Vettel’s post-race penalty pushes him back to fifth position, giving Kimi Raikkonen his fourth podium of the season, and promoting Kamui Kobayashi to fourth place. Vettel is gradually falling back in the Drivers’ Championship, a situation he will want to remedy in a hurry.

Alonso has now extended his championship lead to 34 points over Mark Webber, with Vettel a further ten points back. Kimi Raikkonen has moved up into fourth place in the table, albeit 56 points behind Alonso.

Formula One now heads to Budapest for next week’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Alonso will be keen to consolidate his championship lead ahead of the mid-season break, but he will face stiff competition from Red Bull and the resurgent McLarens.

No action taken against Red Bull

After being hauled in front of the stewards to explain their engine maps, Red Bull will be relieved to have no action taken against their drivers for today’s German Grand Prix.

FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer had examined the RB8 engine maps and found evidence that suggested that Red Bull were attempting to gain an aerodynamic advantage by blowing more air through the exhaust than was required to produce the demanded torque at full throttle at mid-range revs.

Christian Horner was surprised to hear that his team was being investigated, and his confidence in the legality of the RB8 proved justified as the stewards decided not to impose any penalties on the Red Bull drivers.

Sebastian Vettel will start second, with Mark Webber eighth after qualifying third and receiving a five-place gird penalty for changing his gearbox.

Penalties looming for Red Bull?

Red Bull have been referred to the stewards at the German Grand Prix for having illegal engine maps.

FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer examined the engine maps on both RB8 cars and considered them to be in breach of Article 5.5.3 of the 2012 Formula One Technical Regulations as he found the maximum torque output in a certain range of revs to be significantly less than the engines are known to be capable of producing.

In addition, Jo Bauer considered that the illegal engine maps would also alter the aerodynamic characteristics of the cars, which is illegal under this season’s regulations.

The stewards are currently looking into the potential breach, which could result in penalties for Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. If the cars are found to be illegal, Vettel and Webber may be excluded from the results of qualifying and demoted to the back of the grid. They may even be required to start from the pitlane, as they would be required to change the engine maps for the race, which would put them in breach of parc ferme regulations.

It seems unlikely that the Red Bulls will not be allowed to race.

Germany – Provisional grid after penalties

Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber have been given five-place  grid penalties for gearbox changes. Sergio Perez has been handed a five-place grid penalty for blocking during qualifying.

The provisional starting order for the German Grand Prix after these penalties is as follows:

Grid No Driver Team
1 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
3 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes
4 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India
5 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams
6 3 Jenson Button McLaren
7 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
8 2 Mark Webber Red Bull
9 11 Paul di Resta Force India
10 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus
11 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso
12 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber
13 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
14 19 Bruno Senna Williams
15 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
16 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham
17 15 Sergio Perez Sauber
18 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham
19 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus
20 25 Charles Pic Marussia
21 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT

Alonso on pole in Germany

Fernando Alonso has taken pole position for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix, in a brilliant display of wet weather driving.

Although there had been rain earlier in the day, the racing line in Q1 was completely dry, and the teams streamed out onto the track, fearing that the weather might affect the latter part of the session. The rain held off, which was fortunate for Michael Schumacher who only just squeaked in to Q2 with a last lap effort to put him 17th.

The rain came down just before Q2 started, which made the conditions difficult to read. All of the drivers who had made it into the session went out on intermediate tyres, but as the rain continued to fall the full wets became necessary, and the times soon stopped coming down. Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean were caught out by the weather, and did not manage to post quick enough times to make it through to Q3.

Q3 was very wet, so much so that Nico Hulkenberg aquaplaned into a spin in the high-speed turn five, and Michael Schumacher complained over the radio that the track was too wet to drive. Nonetheless, the drivers kept at it, and as the cars began to disperse the water the times started to tumble. Ferrari made a good strategic call to bring Alonso in for a fresh set of full wets, and he rocketed to the top of the time-sheets with only a few minutes to go. Right at the end, Alonso improved on his own pole time, which proved unnecessary as no-one else could challenge him.

The Red Bull pair of Vettel and Webber qualified second and third respectively, followed by Schumacher, who had a strong Q3 despite almost not progressing from Q1. Hulkenberg and Maldonado were fifth and sixth, followed by the McLaren pair of Button and Hamilton who seemed to struggle in the wet conditions. Paul di Resta came in ninth to complete a good session for Force India, and Kimi Raikkonen  rounded out the top ten.

Alonso’s second pole in as many races highlights his form, particularly in the wet, where he has been untouchable so far this season. The weather is expected to be dry for tomorrow’s race, which shouldn’t bother Alonso too much as the Ferrari F2012 seems to be quick in all conditions.

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