Ich bin ein Formula 1! Yes, we went to Germany last week for our yearly dose of schnitzel, lederhosen and a lot of smugness following the nation’s World Cup win the week before.
Even Mercedes had the cheek to rebrand its motorhome with a message of congratulations to the winning German squad, with the phrase “Das Beste” printed on the side. Unsurprisingly, Mercedes was das beste once again on Sunday as Nico Rosberg secured his fourth win of the season, but the star was teammate Lewis Hamilton following his charge from P20 to P3. Oh what could have been had he not crashed in qualifying…
Nico goes untroubled, but Lewis proves his worth
Nico Rosberg’s run to victory at Hockenheim was probably his least stressful race since Australia. Once he’d opened up a gap to Valtteri Bottas in second place, it was purely a question of keeping his car on the road and in good nick. However, Lewis was in brutally brilliant form. He shoved and shimmied past the rest of the field, and, had the phantom safety car come out following Adrian Sutil’s win, he might just have won it.
Looking at the timing screens, there was one point where Hamilton was 37 seconds down on Rosberg; he finished just 21 behind, and, had Mercedes gone for one prime run at the end instead of two short stints on options, it might have been even less. Come the dying stages and his battle with Bottas, the super-softs were just too worn and the Williams was too quick in a straight line for Lewis. Nevertheless, it was a devastating display from the team as it secured its first win in Germany since 1954.
Like a Bot out of hell
It’s quite remarkable how Williams has turned its fortunes around over the past twelve months, and leading the team’s charge is Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas. Although the more experienced Felipe Massa has been very unlucky on a number of occasions this year, Bottas has starred to lead the team’s charge. With three podiums on the bounce now, both he and the team will be looking at the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull with hungry eyes: they are beatable.
Massa was less unfortunate this weekend and more blinkered. He immediately pointed the finger at Kevin Magnussen for causing him to roll, when in truth, the Brazilian should have taken a wider line at the first corner as the McLaren was on the inside. His comment about all these drivers coming from GP2 and causing accidents was particularly interesting given that K-Mag came from Formula Renault 3.5. Details schmetails!
Alonso versus Red Bull, round two
Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel treated us to a superb fight during the British Grand Prix at the beginning of the month, and we got a near repeat at Hockenheim last weekend. They ran each other very closer – even with Kimi Raikkonen between them on track – and certainly produced some entertaining racing. A split between the two drivers in their final strategy meant that Fernando could not catch the German, but he then came up against Daniel Ricciardo. Once again, it was a treat, and both drivers commented on how awesome their fight was. Good, proper racing right there.
As for Kimi? Well, once again, he was pretty anonymous. The Finn enjoyed a good second stint on the options, but that was about it. He didn’t seem too bothered about finishing 11th.
Kvyat’s promising weekend goes up in flames
Ah, what could have been. Daniil Kvyat’s weekend was going so well until the safety car restart on lap three in Hockenheim. He was running sixth at the time after qualifying eighth, but it all went downhill from there. Whilst trying to hold his position ahead of Sergio Perez, he was spun off, and then it all went up in flames when his car caught fire at half-race distance. It was a real shame for the Russian, who has been very impressive throughout the first half of his rookie season. We can only hope that there is more to come after the summer break.
Vergne, on the other hand, was quiet once again, doing very little. Let’s see just how patient Red Bull remains with the Frenchman.
Did you go to the German Grand Prix?
No? Don’t worry, few others did. In fact, the race day attendance was estimated to be 52,000 – around 40% of what Silverstone got at the British Grand Prix two weeks ago. Is Sebastian Vettel to blame? Of course not. Are people tired of sport in Germany? No, you can never have too much sport. Quite simply, the problems are closer to home. Circuit needs money because of big hosting fees, so ticket prices are high. Average Hans on the street doesn’t want to spend his hard earned Euros on an over-the-odds GP ticket, so doesn’t go. “Think of all the schnitzel I could get for that!”
Auf wiedersehen, Hockenheim?
All of the gossip in the paddock suggests that this was the final German Grand Prix to be held at Hockenheim, with the Nurburgring set to get a five-year deal to host the race. Whilst Hockenheim is a shadow of its former self, and whilst the facilities aren’t quite up to that of the ‘Ring, it’s certainly still a superb venue that will be missed in F1.
Except for the media centre. And its internet. /rant
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic.