Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Germany ... It'll be efficiant you know.
Welcome to the second half of the season and the German GP from the Nurburgring.
Now I’ll be honest and up front here, I don’t really like this circuit .... It’s just a bit too ... well, German for my liking.
This is all coloured by playing GT and F1 games over the years of course, but whenever Nurburgring turns up, my heart sinks a little. Yeah it’s got some fast bits and the odd technical bit. But I just don’t think it flows, it’s almost an exercise in what a track should be like. Flawless and ruthlessly efficient, there no silly little corners like Monaco or stupidly fast sections like Silverstone. There’s no seat of the pants grip the wheel and hope she hangs in there, type stuff here. It’s just .... well.... all so efficient and safe really.
Which isn’t to say the races are dull far from it in most cases, these are the hills of central Europe after all which means there is either a heat wave or more usually some rain and rain always spices things up. So the racing over the years hasn’t lacked for some excitement. But I find myself rather hoping for rain here more than any other circuit. Being rather efficient means there isn’t really anything but a single racing line. Which, without the rain, tends to produce a bit of a processional race and a win from the front row a more than a fair bet.
This places suits the more passionless drivers on the grid, Button, Vettel and Alonso go well here where being smooth and patient are the keys to a good lap. Drivers like Kobayashi, Webber and Hamilton who like to hang it out there, somewhere where the talent ends and lady luck is drinking her champagne, don’t go so well here. Hamilton in particular seems to have a bit of a love hate relationship with this place. It’s win or go out in blinding glory, stones, grass and bits of carbon fibre galore, fun to watch but not always with something to celebrate at the end of it.
Talking of the English wunderkind, he’s been getting a lot of press interest of late with stories of his imminent move to someone other than McLaren any day now. How much of this is just the tabloids filling a few column inches, how much is Simon Fuller keeping his boy in the public eye and how much is actually true is anyone’s guess. I’m sure Lewis isn’t happy with things at the moment, he can’t win and like all F1 drivers he thinks he has a God given right to win. The question i think that’s occupying his mind is can McLaren build a car that can beat a Newey designed car next year. The pragmatist in my thinks not and maybe Lewis is coming to that conclusion too.
This is of course the silly season though, when stories appear on Friday about driver A going to team X which of course are denied by team X before disappearing on Monday to be replaces with stories about driver A going to team Z all along. And it was driver C that was going to team X as long as diver D goes to team G when driver H is fired for not being as fast as driver W. It’s called silly season for a reason you know.
This year’s key to unlocking all of this is Massa. Everyone thinks he’s going to either get fired or retire at the end of the season. If he does then there is a seat a Ferrari and with the prancing horse looking like they have some direction now, they could be the next best seat after Redbull when the music stops. Webber has still not put his X on a new contract with Redbull, so there is a seat there, possibly. But that is all rather dependent on what Massa is going to do, because most people think that Webber will walk away from Redbull to Ferrari given half a chance.
Well they did until last week, when Alonso fresh from winning at Silverstone said that he would be happy to work with Lewis again. I know, i don’t believe it either. He says all the ho harr in 2007 was the fault of the team and he never had a problem with Lewis ... that was all the tabloids filling column inches. So Hamilton might have a shot at a Ferrari seat ... something I think we can all agree that would be orgasmic.
Button is also not overly happy with the boys from Woking who cocked up his Silverstone race. Personally i think it was just one of those things, these things happen when the team is fighting tooth and nail just to stay in the hunt. The car was nowhere all weekend so they had to roll the dice and see if Lady Luck was going to smile for them. Unfortunately she was deep into her second bottle of Italian Frescarti and wasn’t interested in a pint English bitter. The wheel man realised that the nut was missing so went for the spare gun just as he’s supposed to do. The lollypop man misread the move and released Button with no fourth wheel. Fighting for a podium meant saving seconds in the pits, a comfortable lead would have given them the time to make sure the wheel was on. Thems’ the breaks when you’re not at the front.
There is some speculation that Button will take the Massa seat at Ferrari, but i think he’s embedded with McLaren now and too far into his career to be trying to play the politics game in Italy.
So then the race this weekend.
Well you have to go with Redbull, maybe Webber but probably Vettel, Redbull will have their all singing all dancing Blown diffucer back on song with no silly tantrums front the FIA to distract them.
The only real challenge i can see is coming from Alonso now, Ferrari is going to be behind him 100% and Redbull know this. Webber didn’t get bitch slapped at Silverstone because Horner likes the press attention. He was right too you know, Webber is a bit flaky in those situation and would undoubtedly have taken them both off if he hadn’t been told to wind his neck back in.
Realistically then, Ferrari have to hope that Vettel doesn’t finish in the points for the next nine races for them to stand a chance of any silverware this year. Alonso is good but he is 90 odd points behind Vettel, Ferrari have left it very late to get their act together but this is Ferrari and if a crisis and needless panicking is required you can bet your ass on Ferrari turning up to the party all red faced and flustered.
McLaren needs to bounce back mostly just to keep their drivers happy. They’ve looked out of sorts for a few races now and despite lucking into the Canadian win, don’t look like they can find that edge to carry them past Redbull. These boys will never stop trying to win, but you can see their shoulders starting to drop a little as each week they look at the back of a Ferrari or a Redbull. They need something special to happen here in the heart of Germany. Something to fire the troops up and get the team going again.
As for the rest, Mercedes will be praying for something from Mickey and Rosberg, the Mercedes stand will be full of corporate clients and guests. They throw a lot of money at this race and it needs to start delivering for them on the track. Rosberg managed to finish at Silverstone higher than he qualified for the first time, let’s see if he can do it again. I think Mickey has had his high point of the season at Canada. With a bit of luck he could have had a win there but the tires wore out before his talent and he was just off the podium. Maybe that’s given him the boast he needs, he’s talking about doing another year at the moment, weather Mercedes want to bank roll that is open to debate. But he’s always gone well here so a top ten should be attainable this weekend.
Renault meanwhile have been very quiet of late after claiming that Kubica was coming back any day now. I suspect the dawning realization that he’s not coming back is hitting home. Look at Massa he just got a small spring in the face and he’s never been the same. Kubica had most of his right side rebuild. How fast do you think he’ll be? Not very is the honest answer. Anyway we’ve not heard much out of the Renault team of late and I imagine they’re trying to decide if it’s worth carrying on with two under performing drivers or not. They’ve lost the “No WE’RE Lotus” debate and the money looks like it’s going to walk soon, so they’re starring down the barrel of back of the grid misery very soon indeed. Time to hunker down and start phoning the old contacts I imagine.
The boys at HRT are having fun with their new owners, who like most new owners have blundered in and started telling all and sundry that they’ve been doing it all wrong and they know how it should be done. This in essence means they want to fire Liuzzi, understandably, and bring in some new untried hot shoe Spanish touring car driver. Well why not, Petrov used to go ice racing back in mother Russian and look how well he’s doing, no one else has got anywhere near his high jump record so far.
Maybe the New HRT owners will turn it around and then again maybe Petrov will win this weekend.
So then, The blown diffusers are all turned back on this weekend and it’s probably going to rain. Pick the winner (Vettel) out of that.
More dispatches from Julian Bowdidge
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