German GP Preview: Ready like never before

German GP Preview: Ready like never before


Following on from Mario Götze’s goal that saw the German national football team take World Cup glory in Brazil this past Sunday, Hockenheim could now extend that winning feeling this coming weekend as Formula One rolls into town. Richland F1’s Alex Goldschmidt takes a look ahead before the action gets underway.

Nico Rosberg may still be leading teammate Lewis Hamilton by a mere four points at the top of the drivers’ standings, but the momentum could swing either way in the fight for the title, no matter the victor this weekend. However, the German driver will be sporting a very special tribute helmet this coming weekend.

1030LB1D3229Mercedes are pretty much assured of the win, so the home fans are almost guaranteed to cheer wildly as the cars cross the finish line. Hamilton may have won at Silverstone two weeks ago, even with his disaster in qualifying, but neither driver can suffer any major blow to their current run of form, be it through technical issues or genuine mistakes.

One other local hero will look to keep his cool and win a race that had eluded him until last year. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel showed his mettle in his fierce battle with Fernando Alonso last tim out in Silverstone, but the radio transmissions showed another side to a man who has become increasingly frustrated throughout the course of this season.

His teammate, the smiling Daniel Ricciardo, again went with the flow and scored a well-deserved podium place, showing that his calm demeanour and hard work ethic to adapt to whatever situation is working. Could he outclass his stablemate once again, or will Vettel pull on the support of the home crowd to raise his game?

McLaren regained some pride last time out at Silverstone, with team leader Jenson Button getting a well-earned fourth place finish, and showed that he can still get the best out of a car. Button felt he could have even been on the podium had he one more lap to pass Ricciardo.

1017LB1D8697The Brit’s future has yet to be publicly confirmed as his contract runs out at the end of the season, but he is certainly fighting to remain in a sport that he has been a part of for nearly a decade and a half. However, his rookie teammate Kevin Magnussen is still racking up the points in a very impressive debut season, which will stand him in good stead for years to come.

Ferrari had their major highs and lows at Silverstone for a variety of reasons, with the lows hurting in several respects, which included Kimi Räikkönen’s 47G impact which kept the Finn from testing, as well as his comments regarding his future in the team. Qualifying was the biggest shock for the Scuderia, as Maranello’s finest, as well as Williams made a costly mistake, with both teams losing one driver through the incident on the Wellington Straight, minimising their points-scoring chances at Silverstone.

Felipe Massa may have celebrated a double century of races two weeks ago, but he was out of the car early after his first lap shunt, but credit to him to avoid any further drama or injury with his cat-like reactions. However, Valtteri Bottas showed how well he has matured and the fact that Grove is gaining ground on Mercedes in terms of pace, as the Finn took his second successive podium and is just one step away from taking his first win of his career.

Force India are continuing their run of points finishes into this round, and Nico Hülkenberg will be desperate to score well at home, while Sergio Perez will also look to add some points to his tally, after what was a difficult race in Silverstone following contact with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Éric Vergne on the opening lap.

Toro Rosso’s pairing of Vergne and Daniil Kvyat will look to keep scoring points, after the duo finished ninth and tenth at Silverstone and even bettered the sister team when it came to qualifying, showing that they should be able to fight a bit further up the field if allowed.

Lotus continues to tread on the same path that it has found itself on this season. Pastor Maldonado’s bad luck in terms of incidents continues, as the Venezuelan’s clash with Esteban Gutierrez caused another DNF, whilst Romain Grosjean brought his E22 home a bit further down the field than he would have liked.

Sauber’s woeful season continues as the Hinwil-based team still has no points to their name and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for both drivers, who are struggling with the Ferrari-powered C33. Their troubles were slightly more compounded by Giedo van der Garde’s recent crash during testing, and further work is required for the team’s preparations ahead of their home race.

Marussia made a great call during qualifying in the UK to get its two cars into Q2, but their pace in the dry on race day saw them falter. The Banbury-based outfit seem to be fairing a lot better than fellow rivals Caterham, who are venturing to their second grand prix under new ownership. While funds have been reportedly allotted for a shot at 10th in the constructors’ championship, those updates will not come until after the summer break at Spa. Expect more struggles for the team in green.

Silly season has already started to gain momentum, with Carlos Sainz. Jr linked with a race seat for the rest of the year at Caterham, even if Red Bull have said they would rather see the Spaniard concentrate on winning the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, which eh currently leads.

There are also question marks over Sauber’s driver line-up, with Giedo van der Garde, Sergey Sirotkin and Simona de Silvestro all waiting in the wings to secure a race seat at the team. Considering the Swiss outfit’s terrible season so far, they might not have to wait until next year, with Adrian Sutil looking increasingly isolated at the team.

1030LB1D3020Jules Bianchi has been rumoured as a potential replacement for Fernando Alonso, should the Spaniard upticks in his hunt for a third world title at the end of the year, the Frenchman doing himself no harm with an impressive showing during testing with the Scuderia at Silverstone last week. As already mentioned, Jenson Button will look to stay past the end of the season, especially as his ties with Honda within the sport are well documented.

Apart from the potential of finding out who will be where come 2015, there is the big ‘FRIC’ing debate over the front/rear interconnected suspension systems this coming weekend.

Having suspension on all the cars that is interlinked between the front and the rear is a costly exercise for all the teams, as the systems were part of the design, but will it have that much of an effect on the likes of Mercedes, who could suffer as a result, or was there already a back-up plan just in case?

Thus far the teams have failed to come to an unanimous agreement to delay the banning of the system until 2015, which means teams now must face the decision over whether to run FRIC during the German Grand Prix weekend, and risk a possible exclusion if found to be using the concept.

However, will that detract from the racing itself, and will the teams and drivers find themselves hindered from it? We’ll have to find out. The biggest question is will “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” once again ring out over the podium speakers this Sunday afternoon?

Images © Octane Photographic