The German GP was back to Nürburgring after one year break, as the 2012 German GP was at Hockenheim. Last week the big topic after the race was the Pirelli tyres, but this time there were some other things to discuss after the race... Let’s find out what happened during the weekend.
Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton continued with a great qualifying pace by taking the pole position for the race. The Red Bull double Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber got 2nd and 3rd on the grid, while the Lotus double Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean got the 4th and 5th. Daniel Ricciardo was a positive surprise of the qualifying and qualified his Toro Rosso at 6th. There were other surprises on the qualifying too as the British GP winner Nico Rosberg didn’t get to the last qualifying session and was left to 11th position on the grid. The other major talking point was Ferrari’s strategy for the qualifying ,as both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa made their qualifying laps with the prime tyre. Felipe Massa qualified 7th and Fernando Alonso right behind on 8th.
Both Red Bulls had a good start and went to the front with Vettel leading and Webber second, and the pole man Hamilton dropped to 3rd. Räikkönen and Grosjean followed in 4th and 5th, while Massa passed Ricciardo for 6th. Alonso was running 8th and soon made the move on Ricciardo too. With 4 laps completed, Massa spun coming to the first corner and his car stalled - that was the race over, way too early for the Brazilian who could have been on a good position on the race with that different strategy.
Paul Di Resta was the first driver to come to the pits, and he opted for the prime tyres, but everything didn’t go as planned: Jean-Eric Vergne was coming to the pits and Di Resta was released right in front of the Toro Rosso driver, which meant Vergne had to break quite hardly to be able to avoid a collision. Force India was handed a 5000 € fine for an unsafe release after the race.
“There was the moment at my pit stop, when I had to brake hard to avoid Di Resta who was released from his pit right in front of me, which cost me more time.” - Jean-Eric Vergne
Soon other drivers, including race leader Vettel, came for their first pitstop. There were more drama in the pits soon: Vettel’s pitstop went perfectly as planned, but with team mate Webber, it went totally wrong: Webber was released from his stop way too early and one tyre wasn’t attached. The tyre started rolling on the pitlane and a Formula One Management’s cameraman took the hit. The situation looked very scary, and it was reported the cameraman was fine, having a broken collarbone and some broken ribs, though. It was relieving information as it could have ended up much worse. Red Bull changed Webber’s tyres and he came back to the track, a lap behind the leaders.
“I knew we had lost the tyre in the pit stop of course, but not that someone got hit by it. That’s bad and I hope he is okay, that’s the main thing. Today was a bit of a nightmare and you want to wake up tomorrow and have another go at it. We had an excellent start and were in a great position leading up to the first stop with Seb, but we lost all of that. We lost a lot of points today and a chance to challenge for the win, but there’s no rewind button now.” - Mark Webber
Räikkönen was stuck behind Mercedes drivers after his stop, while his teammate Grosjean looked very strong and had a great pace, and was getting very close to the race leader Vettel. Rosberg made the job a bit easier for Räikkönen, as the Mercedes driver came to the pits for his first stop. Räikkönen still had to pass Hamilton, as his teammate and Vettel were extending their lead. Hamilton reported issues with his tyres on team radio and said they aren’t in optimum range, as Räikkönen made his move on the struggling Brit.
“I was stuck behind a Mercedes for a while, but once I was past the car was pretty good.” - Kimi Raikkonen
Next up behind Hamilton, was Alonso who was able to reduce the gap, as Hamilton was holding up Kimi. Alonso and Hamilton had a great and fair battle, but in the end there was nothing Hamilton could do, with the Spaniard winning the battle. Hamilton enquired about his team mate over the radio, and if Nico was also having similar tyre issues, and the team confirmed the same.
Soon Jules Bianchi’s Marussia had an engine failure, and this brought out the Safety Car, as Bianchi’s car was rolling back onto the track. Drivers used the opportunity and most of the field came to make their second pitstop. While this period worked for some, other’s didn’t enjoy the safety car’s interruption, as that spoiled their chances
“I had just completed my second pit stop and got ahead of Van Der Garde when the engine let go, but I think we had the pace to be able to fight to keep both Caterhams behind had I continued.” - Jules Bianchi
Speculation about Kimi’s two stop strategy proved wrong, as there were numerous discussions on the popular social media networks about Kimi’s pace and strategy. With just 10 laps to go for chequered flag, Kimi made his third pitstop, and took the option compound. Alonso followed the same strategy as well. Räikkönen came back to the track couple of seconds behind the leader Vettel and his teammate Grosjean.
Was it going to be enough for a win?
Räikkönen was stuck behind his teammate, as Alonso was also hunting the gap behind. Lotus made their move on the radio, and informed Grosjean that he should let Kimi pass to the second place. This was crucial for Kimi, and he tried to chase Vettel for the lead, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
So close, but still too far.
"That was a very good race from the team which validates all the hard work which has been going on back at Enstone, so we thank everyone at the factory for their efforts. After three difficult weekends, being on the podium was exactly what we needed. We need to continue like this to make up for lost ground in both championships. The E21 worked very well today and both Kimi and Romain drove superbly. I think we'll have to ask Pirelli to keep this weekend's specification of tyres for the rest of the season.” - Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
Vettel won his home race for the first time ever. It was a great day for Lotus as both drivers made it to the podium, as Räikkönen was 2nd and Grosjean 3rd. Alonso was trying to chase Grosjean’s third place, but remained 4th. The pole sitter Hamilton finished 5th after a difficult day with tyres. Jenson Button was 6th and it was a positive result as McLaren has been struggling a lot lately. Webber managed to fight himself to 7th after all the difficulties, with the Safety Car period helping him a lot and he was able to get himself back to the lead lap and then managed to pass cars, with the team tweaking the strategy. Sergio Perez was 8th with Nico Rosberg and Nico Hülkenberg finishing the Top 10.
“It was a tough race; it was one of the toughest for a long time. I’m happy the race wasn’t two or three laps longer, as Kimi was a bit quicker towards the end. I’m very happy that it worked out and it’s very special. The team worked really hard to give me the chance to win this weekend and we got it. First of all you have to remember that it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to race in your home country; we have around 20 races, but there are obviously more than 20 countries, so it’s special to race at home and get so much support.” - Vettel
written by: Sini Salminen