Raikkonen crashes after Hockenheim race

Kimi Raikkonen finished Sunday’s German grand prix in fourth place. But in the immediate aftermath of the Hockenheim result, the Finnish driver enjoyed a dose of good luck — and then a reminder of harsh reality.

When his friend Sebastian Vettel was penalised post-race for the illegal pass on Jenson Button, Finn Raikkonen inherited the podium. But, according to Bild newspaper, he then crashed.

The newspaper has published a photograph of the 2007 world champion tripping whilst jumping a fence to the paddock carpark, and landing awkwardly on a car.

“Kimi was rushing,” said an observer, “as he took a shortcut to the carpark. “His right foot got caught on the fence and he fell onto a car. He cried out ‘f**k’ and quickly got up and going again.”

The photo can be seen here: https://bilder.bild.de/fotos-skaliert/kimi-27617790_mbqf-25305966/2,h=343.bild.jpg


Vettel penalty like ‘death for chicken stealing’

Red Bull has stepped up its attack on the FIA after Sunday’s German grand prix.

After stewards demoted Sebastian Vettel from second to fifth place for his late-race pass on Jenson Button, Dr Helmut Marko admitted it had left an “aftertaste”. On Monday, he suggested the governing body often applies a “double standard”, punishing some for identical infractions and not unnamed others.

Speaking on Red Bull-owned Austrian television Servus TV, the energy drink company’s motor racing chief said the Vettel penalty was like “the death penalty for stealing chickens”.

Jean-Eric Vergne, a rookie selected by Marko for Red Bull’s secondary team Toro Rosso, agreed that Vettel only left the circuit because he was forced wide by Button.

“In Sebastian’s place I would have done exactly the same,” the Frenchman said.

Marko also suggested the FIA ‘forgot’ to warn Red Bull that simply letting Button re-pass could have saved Vettel the much harsher post-race time penalty.

“That warning did not come,” he revealed.

Some F1 insiders suspect there could be more to the recent ‘FIA versus Red Bull’ wrangling. In Germany’s Bild newspaper, it is noted that “In Formula One, it is no secret that Bernie Ecclestone is on Red Bull’s side”. And the F1 chief executive is “the archenemy of FIA boss Jean Todt”.

At present, the sport’s most powerful pair are arguing about the vital and lucrative Concorde Agreement.

Writing in Der Spiegel newspaper, journalist Ralf Bach also referred to the behind-the-scenes “power struggle”, and the fact that Ecclestone runs Red Bull by “remote control”.

Vettel has vowed to do his best to give stewards no possible reason to punish him this weekend in Hungary.

“I will be careful to do nothing that could jeopardise the result,” said the German.


Nurburgring ‘not annoyed’ by Ecclestone snub at German GP

Nurburgring officials might be forgiven for feeling “annoyed” after being stood up at the weekend by Bernie Ecclestone.

Despite the Nurburgring entering an insolvency process, bosses Jorg Lindner and Kai Richter took the time and expense to travel to Hockenheim, specifically to meet with Ecclestone and discuss their circuit’s crisis.

“They waited and waited, but Bernie did not come,” revealed the Suddeutsche newspaper.

Media reports speculated that the F1 chief executive stayed away for fear German prosecutors would order his arrest as they push forward with a bribery investigation.

“We are not annoyed,” a spokesman for the Nurburgring told DPA news agency. “We are in contact in other ways (with Ecclestone) regarding Formula One at the Nurburgring in 2013.”

Already convicted and jailed for receiving Ecclestone’s bribes is the former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, whose lawyer Daniel Amelung says 81-year-old Briton Ecclestone cannot hide forever.

“I wonder how in the future he can fulfil his duties in Germany, in Europe, indeed in the entire world if the prosecutor should apply for an international arrest warrant,” he told Bild newspaper.

Ecclestone has been unavailable for comment.


Marko accuses FIA of double standards over Vettel penalty

Dr Helmut Marko has accused the FIA of sometimes using a “double standard” when it comes to dishing out penalties.

Sebastian Vettel on Sunday was demoted from second at the flag to fifth in the classification after passing Jenson Button whilst off the circuit at Hockenheim. Marko, Red Bull’s motor racing consultant, insists his driver did nothing wrong.

“The whole situation was triggered by Button, who left Sebastian no room and pushed him out,” the Austrian told Servus TV. “Sebastian had to move out to avoid a collision.”

Many pundits likened Vettel’s move to Nico Rosberg’s overtaking antics in Bahrain, for which the German escaped penalty. Marko pointed out that “the defendant” is often given “the benefit of the doubt”.

“That wasn’t the case now (for Vettel),” he said. “There is a bad aftertaste. There is a double standard.”

Unfortunately for Marko, most paddock residents do not agree with him, including Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg who said Vettel’s move was “not right”.

“The rules are very specific,” ORF commentator Alex Wurz agreed. “You can leave the track with all four wheels as long as you have no advantage.”

Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari added: “I think Vettel’s overtaking was totally illegal. He was clearly outside the boundaries of the track.”


Whiting: Vettel penalty was hard

Charlie Whiting has admitted that the penalty handed to Sebastian Vettel after the German Grand Prix was harsh.

Vettel was slapped with a post-race drive-through penalty after race stewards decided that the German driver had gained an unfair advantage when he passed Jenson Button off the track. The penalty meant that 20 seconds was added to his race time, demoting him from second position down to fifth.

“It was disproportionate to the offense,” said David Coulthard, who according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said that sort of move happens regularly in DTM.

Whiting does not disagree.

“The punishment is very hard,” he admitted when asked about Vettel’s demotion. “Unfortunately at the moment we have nothing else to choose from.”

It is believed the FIA is looking into introducing a raft of new penalties, including a mechanism that could delay a driver for as little as five seconds in total.

“Work is still ongoing as per the technicalities,” Auto Motor und Sport said.


Ecclestone’s motor home in Germany, Ecclestone not

Bernie Ecclestone’s familiar paddock motor home with its blacked-out windows was in the Hockenheim paddock, but the F1 chief executive did not show.

The Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper said it is “not known” if the 81-year-old feared being arrested for corruption by German police. What is known is that, even until the eleventh hour of the weekend’s German grand prix, the diminutive Briton was widely expected to be in the country.

For example, Nurburgring officials Jorg Lindner and Kai Richter had travelled to Hockenheim specifically to meet with Ecclestone to discuss their circuit’s crisis.

“They waited and waited, but Bernie did not come,” a correspondent for Suddeutsche newspaper said.

Jailed F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky’s lawyer Daniel Amelung said it is obvious Ecclestone got “cold feet” about risking German custody by making the trip from London.


Hamilton hopes Kovalainen gets fast car for 2013

Lewis Hamilton would be happy to share the podium once again with his former McLaren teammate, Heikki Kovalainen.

Paddock speculation has linked Finn Kovalainen, who was Hamilton’s teammate in 2008 and 2009, with a return to the upper half of the grid for 2013. Kovalainen, 30, struggled during his stints with Renault and McLaren, winning just a single race, but he has rebuilt his reputation with startup stragglers Caterham.

Hamilton and Kovalainen each celebrated their 100th grand prix weekend at Hockenheim, but both suffered races they would rather forget. Indeed, Hamilton said on the radio that he would like to retire his damaged McLaren, and later stood by his desire to give up.

“I don’t understand the point in driving around in a broken car. I was just driving for the sake of driving,” said the Briton.

Kovalainen also struggled at Hockenheim, but Hamilton nonetheless tipped him as a contender for a much better car in 2013.

“Heikki has shown himself to be one of the fastest drivers,” he is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3. “Unfortunately, he does not have a very good car now, but he’s still shown many times that he is strong, consistent, mentally focused and very fast,” said Hamilton.

“I really hope he will get the chance to have a faster car, so that we can be racing against each other once again.”


Red Bull German GP saga – track spat or high-stakes politics?

Lewis Hamilton questioned world champion Sebastian Vettel’s maturity after the Red Bull driver called him “stupid” at Hockenheim.

German Vettel disliked the way Hamilton overtook him despite being a lap down during the German grand prix.

“That was not nice of him,” said Vettel. “It’s a bit stupid to disturb the leaders.”

When told about the 25-year-old’s comments, Briton Hamilton responded: “Hmm. Maturity has come through I guess. It shows his maturity.”

Vettel even suggested Hamilton had made the move in order to disturb him in his battle with the sister McLaren of Jenson Button. But Button insisted: “He (Hamilton) is allowed to do that.”

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh also defended the 2008 world champion.

“Racing drivers race. If that’s stupid, I don’t know what else is. He was quicker, overtook and pulled away, so I’m not quite sure of the stupidity. That’s for others to comment on I suppose.”

Indeed, others sensed more – even F1’s high-stakes politics – was at play. Rumours were swirling in the paddock that tensions between the two camps had swelled again, amid suggestions it was McLaren who blew the whistle on Red Bull’s iffy engine maps.

“That’s the nature of Formula One,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “You are always going to get other teams who will speculate that you have done wrong.”

Writing for Der Spiegel, correspondent Ralf Bach smelled an even bigger rat, with the pre-race torque map controversy and Vettel’s post-race penalty all in the mix. The conspiracy theory is that the FIA is clamping down on Red Bull amid the reigning world champions’ refusal to agree new cost-limit regulations.

Referring to Vettel’s penalised pass on Jenson Button, Dr Helmut Marko observed that, “normally, the race director would have sent an email that he should have let Button back past. Not this time,” the Austrian said.

The post-race drive through penalty cost Vettel not only second place, but also third and fourth.


Vettel penalised for Button overtake

Sebastian Vettel has been given a penalty for his overtake on McLaren driver Jenson Button towards the end of the German Grand Prix.

Vettel passed Button with less than two laps of the race remaining at the exit of the hairpin – however he ran off the track whilst making the pass. According to race stewards, the move was illegal and they have handed Vettel a post-race drive-through penalty. This means that 20 seconds have been added to his finishing time which has demoted the German from second place to fifth.

This means that Jenson Button has been promoted to second, with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen moving up to third.

Controversy for Red Bull at German Grand Prix

Before and then after Sunday’s German grand prix, controversy haunted Red Bull. But it was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who continued to stroll away at the head of the world championship, the Spaniard serenely extending his lead with a commanding win at Hockenheim.

All the excited talk, however, was about Red Bull.

The FIA kicked it all off, very publicly questioning the legality of the RB8 just hours before the red lights were due to extinguish. A media report at the federation’s official website said scrutineers found “torque irregularities” as the result of questionable software settings.

FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer said he thinks it is a rules breach. But three hours later, the stewards said they did not agree, even though they did not “accept all the arguments of the team”.

However, “as the regulation is written, the (engine) map presented does not breach the text of” the regulation, and so “no action” was taken.

On the grid, this weekend’s driver-steward Derek Warwick said he suspected the ruling is “certainly not the end” of the latest Red Bull technical controversy. And another Red Bull saga would break out on the very last lap of the race.

Jenson Button complained on the radio after losing his second place to Sebastian Vettel that the Red Bull passed him “beyond the circuit”. Button’s McLaren engineer told the Briton the FIA is “aware” of the questionable move, and race officials indeed launched yet another stewards’ enquiry.

Button then made Vettel aware as well, boldly telling the German before walking onto the podium: “They’re going to investigate your overtake, you know.”

Far away from all the controversy, Hockenheim was a perfect result for Alonso, as the Spaniard extended his points lead from 13 points to a commanding 34, with closest challenger Mark Webber – earlier pushed five places down the grid with a gearbox penalty – just eighth at the finish.