Yesterday’s German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring was won by Sebastian Vettel, a victor for the first time on home soil. Here, forumula1.com’s Hugh Podmore analyses what fans can take away from the weekend.
1) Pit lane safety is far from absolute
Tyres were once again under the spotlight in Germany, but this time it was for the bouncing, out of control ones still on the wheel as opposed to the exploding ones. That Mark Webber’s errant right rear hit Paul Allen the cameraman was grimly inevitable but still unlucky; that it didn’t injure him more severely was lucky. Red Bull have been fined, and justifiably so; but it could have happened to anyone. With flesh and blood standing in the pitlane and cars effectively still racing, albeit slowly, accidents can and will happen. Again, it’s a cost-benefit evaluation. Are the powers that be prepared to institute dramatic new safety regulations at the possible cost of the spectacle? Or at least, that’s the question until someone gets seriously hurt, when it becomes a no-brainer.
2) Vettel and Red Bull still have the cards, but not a full hand
Vettel drove a measured, careful race yesterday, perhaps one of his best – this insofar as it was not a preordained result due to his overwhelming dominance, as it has been so often. The Lotuses might have reined him in if they had had different strategies or played the intra-team game a little more wisely or been luckier with traffic. And so the margin out front is just that – marginal. Strategies, tyres and circuits will play their part.
3) Lotus are not yet to be discounted
Lotus showed at the Nurburgring that their recent form has picked up. Whether it is the case that their car better suits a circuit with a mixture of slow and medium speed corners predominantly, or that they prefer Kevlar-belted Pirellis, or that they’ve found some speed with the odd upgrade, can only be hazarded at. What is guaranteed is that Raikkonen is committed, driven and extremely rapid. Grosjean seems to be showing somewhere near his best again, too, and was a victim of the team game this weekend.
4) Mercedes are not title challengers
Or so says Lewis Hamilton, who, bless him, is not a happy bunny at the moment in any way, shape or form. But he might be right. They haven’t sorted out their degradation issues, and the presence of those rearward-facing infrared cameras on their front wings proved it. Depending on temperatures they may be swift in Hungary because of the nature of the Hungaroring, but their pattern of fast-in-quali, tumbling during the race seems to be with us for the long term.
…please come to the party. Yet again your man Alonso is outperforming every single person in the team, by a country mile. His talent really deserves more than what you’re giving him, and even the hope for developmental remedies to the lack of competitive pace seems somewhat forlorn. He will be at the front, or near it, because he is hands down the best driver out there in less-than-blistering machinery. Massa’s spin might have been his fault or it might not have, but it does seem to happen a lot. While you’re in the middle of changing personnel, take a look at Bianchi, Paul di Resta or even Jean Eric Vergne. That is all.