Practice Session, FP1/FP2/FP3:
Germany was hot as hell during the Friday & Saturday sessions with track temperatures touching 60C. It was very much, unlike an European weather but at the end of the day, the teams and drivers had to their usual job. Mercedes continued being on top (with or without FRIC, it doesn’t matter) while by and by Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams paid visit in the top 5 to challenge them. Everyone was struggling with understeer problems; was it because of the FRIC, the team knows better. The high temperature meant the tyre degredation was high but it didn’t have much affect on the grid positions as such, as we had the usual people on top while the midfield was formed with the known teams as well.
After not so suiting Silverstone track, SFI hoped that Hockenheim will be the track that will suit them more and with high temperatures, it could play in their hands with the tyre strategy. They had a fairly average Friday in terms of positions on one lap pace but the long run pace was matching with the likes of Red Bull, Williams; it put them in line for them to be the best of the rest. The only problem they could have faced was in qualifying; if they were to qualify low down, they then would have had to make up places because even in Hockenheim their the one lap wasn't looking the best if we compared it with their competitors.
As expected everyone was waiting for the pole battle between Hamilton & Rosberg and to see if Hamilton can end his qualifying woes. But it wasn’t to be, the Briton crashed out in Q1 after suffering a front right brake disc failure which ultimately meant that Rosberg had a clear path to finish on pole in his home race. The Williams duo made another impressive stride to finish P2 (Bottas) & P3 (Massa) respectively. Two world champions Button & Raikkonen were out in Q2 itself while Bianchi, even though he did not make it to Q2, qualified ahead of the Lotus of Maldonado and very close behind Sutil’s Sauber. Caterham's Ericsson couldn't start in qualifying due to work on his car.
The SFI duo almost had a major scare in Q1 when they were on the cusp of bowing out in the first session itself but the thankfully the drivers below them couldn't improve and they made it to Q2. They were too close to being bumped out but that was just the hiccup they faced as both of them made it to the top 10 after an impressive lap in Q2; especially from Perez who did only one lap in Q2. They qualified P9 (Hulkenberg) & P10 (Perez) respectively which was the maximum they could have considering the one lap pace performance. They did perform better than anyone would have expected.
There was a rain prediction for Sunday since the start of the week. Seriously there was? The prediction game always plays a role every weekend but on most account it ends up being on the negative side. One can argue that it did rain on Sunday but then the rain never came during the race. The rain didn’t disrupt anybody’s performance but the overcast conditions certainly played its part, good for some and bad for the others. The start of the race wasn’t utterly chaotic but Massa’s horrific crash was enough to bring out the safety car. Massa had turned in on Magnussen who had nowhere to go and upon touching Massa slid and his car turned upside down for brief seconds but the Brazilian was unhurt. Before the SC appearance Vettel, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Button, Raikonnen, Sutil and Hamilton gained good positions while Magnussen & Ricciardo lost a lot of places in the brief opening lap. Hulkenberg was up at P5 while Perez was up at P8 by the time SC came out.
Rosberg was up ahead and gradually moving away from the field while Bottas settled in for P2. Behind them the battle was intense, there were some edge of the seat stuff happening with drivers battling for grid positions hard but safe. There was plenty on offer as the battles happened this way: Vettel-Alonso, Hamilton-Ricciardo- Raikkonen, Alonso-Vettel-Raikkonen, Ricciardo-Alonso respectively all through the race. It was wheel to wheel stuff without any contact which would have resulted in a nasty accident. Outside the top 10 it was the same situation as the fight was on between Lotus, Sauber & STR drivers for the remaining positions.
Hulkenberg was having a steady race in the top 5 but was in constant pressure from Button at the early stages of the race which he handled well, it is indeed hard to pass the Hulk. He was powerless against Hamilton and Ricciardo as both of them carried more speed when they came up to overtake him. He suffered a problem in his car which was rectified during the race itself but it did affect his balance and he did lose some valuable time during that brief period. Perez on the other hand was having an adventurous time as he was battling with the drivers outside the top 10 most of the time. He had an average first stint which pushed him back to fight for the last remaining championship points till the end stages of the race. For some reason both of the SFI cars didn’t have the strong pace which they had seen on Friday; a lot was due to the fact that Sunday was a lot cooler than Friday.
A home GP for the driver and the team saw a victory for the home team Mercedes as well a victory for home driver Rosberg who stretched his lead again at the top of the championship. Williams continued their upsurge pushing Ferrari down the championship, with third consecutive podium finish for the team & their driver Bottas. He fended off Hamilton's pressure nicely, who completed the podium puzzle, coming through the field from P20 to P3; the tussle with Button may have costed him a P2 at the end. Vettel, Alonso rounded off the top 5 respectively after a hard fought battle. Hulkenberg came home at P7 after a late pit stop from Button and Perez moved up to P10 after passing Raikkonen towards the end of the race to complete a double point finish for SFI.
German GP showed us that a close and bunched up field can give you sparks on the track (not in literal sense); we saw world champions battling hard for positions, it was pure instinctive racing. It is not only good for TV or the ones at the track but even the drivers enjoy the action, the moaning might come but at the end of the day they will be satisfied with the effort. The battle between Williams, Ferrari, SFI & McLaren is heating up, although Williams have gone ahead considerably but there is still chance for the remaining three teams to catch up. SFI scored for the 10th time this season as did Hulkenberg (only Alonso the other driver with the feat this season) and they continue to extend on the new record the team has created. The task is cut out for the team, they have done remarkably well this season but as have their competitors. Fortunately, there are some good tracks coming up for SFI but seizing those opportunities will matter the most, they cannot afford any mistake whatsoever.
It is no rest for teams and fans as the next race is only 5 days away, we go on to Hungary before the summer break begins. After the German race, definitely the fans would be hoping for more wheel to wheel action. We all wait for some more racing festival before we start saying, "The summer break is already here? It is already through the half way stage"
Thank you for reading.