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Winner and Losers: German GP
Sunday 22nd July 2012


Ferrari have incentivised Felipe by taking away his company F12 Berlinetta

Fernando Alonso has got his Ferrari F2012 locked in winning mode, while Sebastian Vettel is spending a lot of his time waving…but not at the fans


Star of the Race
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1st
This is what he does best. Win when he shouldn’t. He shouldn’t have won in Valencia, but he did. He shouldn’t have won at Hockenheim, but he did. At the European Grand Prix he produced some dazzling overtakes and took some well-calculated risks to snatch the win. At Hockenheim it was a combination of managing a car that was slower than the McLaren and the Red Bull for most of the lap and maximising his speed when he was most vulnerable – out of Turn 3 and running through the DRS to Turn 6. To which he added his usual masterful ability of keeping cars at bay, failing to make a mistake and choosing absolutely the right strategy.
The only slight gripe is the constant switch between Italian and English on race radio between himself and his engineer Andrea Stella. The whole point of making race radio available to broadcasters is that people can get an insight into what is going on. It’s fair enough that they should speak Italian, it’s an Italian team, but stick to Italian.


Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 5: Kimi Raikkonen on Paul DiResta
It seemed like both Force Indias spent their whole race being overtaken. Paul had actually got ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the opening laps and Kimi wanted to get by him in a hurry. They raced through Turns 7, 8 and 9 virtually side by side but Raikkonen made it stick. Edge of your seat stuff.
As for the rest of the race, Kimi moved up into fourth but was never going to challenge the front three and wasn’t actually faster than them when he was told he was by his engineer. He should apply to the Red Bull management for his magnum of champagne that Vettel nicked off the podium.


Winners

Jenson Button, McLaren, 2nd
Jenson proved that indeed it’s not him it’s the car by stepping back onto the podium and finishing seven seconds behind the winner. Most impressive of all was Button’s final pit-stop when he got in and out of his pitbox in what Mclaren claim is 2.31 seconds and jumped Vettel in the process.


Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 4th
A great race from Kamui (who has supposedly been told to get a move on by the team) so overtaking Perez while Sergio was engaged in overtaking another car will only add to the pleasure.


Sergio Perez, Sauber 6th
A double Sauber celebration, finishing 6th from 17th on the grid was another line to be added to the ever-expanding driver cv of ‘Checko’. And he kept his front wing the entire race. Unlike some.


Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 7th
A familiar 7th place for Michael. With German drivers starting in P2, P3 and P4, they could only manage P5, P7 and P9. That’s the kind of German efficiency that closed Munich airport a couple of weeks ago because the radar failed, stranding thousands. How un-German is that?


Mark Webber, Red Bull, 8th
One of the mysteries of the race was how Mark could make no significant progress from 8th on the grid having qualified as high as third (yet taken a gearbox penalty). It was clear that Vettel had KERS issues in the race after the team asked him to reset it, but it looked like Mark had lost his altogether.


Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 9th
Great qualifying, not such a great result, but Nico Hulkenberg put on a show with some wily defence against Sergio Perez, delaying the inevitable. If the Force India ambition was to get the car on TV this weekend he certainly achieved that.


Losers

Charlie Whiting, FIA Race Director
A poor race from Charlie Whiting who should have sent out the Safety Car after Massa spread carbon fibre all over the high-speed Turn 1 on Lap 1. And the reason he should have done it is because he did it for a much lower speed corner at the European GP which dramatically affected the race result. The consequences of a high-speed tyre deflation into Turn 1 at Hockenheim would have been far more serious – yet there was debris floating round there for many laps afterwards. Even on Lap 4 Alonso’s Ferrari was knocking chunks of it into the air as he came through.
In Germany the cars were already bunched up from the start so it would have been very quickly cleared and nobody would have been adversely disadvantaged. So Sebastian Vettel has every reason to feel retrospectively aggrieved


Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 5th
It was very funny for Sebastian Vettel to call Lewis Hamilton “stupid” for unlapping himself when he went on to throw away eight points himself. The contentious move he made on Jenson Button could have been far less contentious if he had tried to keep two wheels on the circuit and Button left a bit of room there before moving out to the edge of the track (once Vettel was through). Vettel didn’t need to go quite as wide as he did. He also could have waited one more lap when Jenson’s tyres – which were losing up to half a second a lap at that stage – were that little bit older. It was a bit of a wavy weekend. He had a nice wave at Lewis when Lewis scorched past and earlier in the weekend he’d waved at his own team-mate for having the audacity of not getting his lap quite right in front of him.


Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, DNF
Not a great way to celebrate your 100th GP. Had Lewis punctured in S2 or S3 it might have been a different story, but puncturing somewhere in the vicinity of Turns 1 and 2 is inavariably fatal to your race chances. It’s like three drive-through penalties all at once. His Lap 58 retirement looked to the PF1 office like a strategic DNF after the team had gathered enough data using their new bits and pieces and knew for sure they weren’t going to luck into a point. Although he got a poor start he did manage to get places back on the opening lap and most encouraging of all, the upgrades looked like they were working. If the ginger milestone* can get second place then that has surely got to be encouraging.


Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 12th
Felipe can often make great leaps forward at the start of races but he mistimed this one badly and that was his race effectively over. Ricciardo’s tyre was lucky to survive.


Romain Grosjean
A bit of a non-weekend for Grosjean, he qualified poorly, got a grid penalty and blew a lot of places by losing his front wing on the opening lap. In Silverstone he had an early stop and drove a storming race. In this one he finished twenty seconds behind Petrov.


BBC Radio 5
If ever there was an advertisement of why the F1 coverage should be taken away from BBC Radio 5 Live we got it on Saturday. It was trailed on the website as ‘Coverage of German GP Qualifying’, what we got was golf banter from John Inverdale with a succession of guests coming into the studio at the Open Golf at Lytham. They weren’t actually covering ‘live golf’ either, they were discussing the size of golf ball dimples and Padraig Harrington’s short game. All the while in Hockenheim Q1 was slipping away. With five minutes of the twenty minute session left they daned to cross to the German circuit and Jonathan Leggard with Jaime Alguersuari. Q1 over, they went back to the studio and talked to their man out by the Lytham driving range to see who was practising before their round. They got back to Hockenheim with five minutes of Q2 left. Then they went back to the studio for more golf - one whole minute of actual live coverage of golf course action - then finished off at the end of Q3. Unforgivable.
Radio 5 has to work out what priority they are going to give F1 and if they can’t broadcast the whole hour then hand it over to an independent. They must also get rid of Jonathan Leggard, because he is like an embarrassing uncle with Jaime Alguersuari.
In FP3 Michael Schumacher reported back over race radio that something was rattling by his left elbow. “Any idea what that might be Jaime?” asked Jonathan.
You could hear Jaime sighing and imagine him wanting to say – “No, you twat, Schumacher’s in the car and he doesn’t even know what it is, how am I supposed to!”
In Q3 Jaime was asked about Alonso’s lap – “It’s a good lap,” said Jaime. “Is that all you can say?!” wailed Jonathan in a mock telling off voice.
At the end of FP3 he had chided Alguersuari after Jaime thought Vettel would be good for P1, “Go on, give me a prediction for something unusual that’s going to happen in qualifying,” was the gist of Jonathan’s goading question. “Glock on pole,” said Jaime.


Quotable Quotes
Michael Schumacher becomes Mr Enigmatic: “We take the result and see what happens in future. I think we might see some interesting happenings in the future that does not concern just one car but several cars. It will be interesting.”


Andrew Davies


*courtesy of Flavio Briatore – he knew a lot about F1.