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Jul 09

2013 F1: German GP Recap

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

The more things change the more they stay the same a truism that defines this year’s Formula 1 season.  Hit the jump for our recap of the German GP and our commentary on the hamster wheel that is F1.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

The German GP, at the Nurburgring in the Eiffel mountains of German,  marks the approach of the midpoint in the 2013 Formula 1 season. The three time champion and current points leader, Germany’s Sebastien Vettel, had never taken the victory at his home Grand Prix and a number of strong contenders threatened to keep him win less in Germany.  That didn’t happen, Vettel drove a controlled race and managed his first German GP victory.

As we’ve come to expect this season, the race was not without drama and the obligatory tire controversy.

 

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

At the start of the weekend the usual suspects were putting up competitive times with Mercedes continuing their impressive run of fast practice and qualifying times.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

The real question was how the tires would handle for the duration of the race.  After the previous weekend’s disastrous results Pirelli came to the German GP with a revised tire. Teams were also instructed to not switch tires from one side of the car to the other, one of the contributing factors in the failures at Silverstone.

At the end of Saturday’s qualifying it looked as if the teams were quickly coming to grips with the new tires.  Hamilton managed to sneak by both Red Bull drivers for the pole position while a tactical error meant that Rosberg, who showed equal pace, was eliminated in Q2 by a mere hundredth of a second.

© Red Bull Media House

Mercedes hops for a repeat of their Silverstone victory were quickly dashed as the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber streamed past in the first corner.  The Mercedes continued to back slide with both Hamilton and Rosberg struggling for grip.  It appears that whatever advantage Mercedes “gained” by testing with Pirelli might have been negated by the new tires.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

While Mercedes qualified well and then faded, Ferrari struggled in qualifying and they attempted an alternate strategy by starting on the Medium tire, the harder of the weekend’s two compounds.  Ferrari’s strategy fell apart early on as Massa spun out of the race and Alonso wasn’t able to get enough life out of his tires. 2013 is starting to look like 2012, with Alonso in an under-performing Ferrari and the unstoppable Red Bull juggernaut steamrollering the field.

© Red Bull Media House

The Red Bull team had an exciting and flawed race.  Former German GP winner, Mark Webber looked like a man with nothing to lose as he chased Vettel and then overlapped him at the the first pit stop.  Continuing his reign as the unluckiest man in F1 Webber’s car lost a wheel in pit lane, which struck a camera man and resulted in three broken bones and a concussion.  The error in the pits resulted in Webber falling a lap down.  All was not lost as a later safety car allowed Webber to unlap himself and then work through the field to finish in 7th.

The aforementioned safety car was caused by the dramatic engine failure of Jules Bianchi’s Marussia.  After Bianchi exited the car it began to roll backwards across the track which looked to be a little exciting for a couple of drivers.

© Red Bull Media House

What about Vettel? Once again he showed that his three championships are no fluke.  Driving just as hard as required, Vettel managed his tires to perfection, finishing just 1 second ahead of the charging Kimi Raikkonen.  Vettel’s win at the German GP stretched his championship lead to  34 points over his nearest rival, Fernando Alonso.  Even with the controversy and insanity of this years F1 season Vettel and Red Bull have remained the one constant.  If anything the fact that there are now four top tier teams plays directly into Red Bull’s favor.  While his rivals now have to battle for smaller pieces of the same pie, Vettel just has to stay consistently fast and he’ll be assured of his fourth title.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

Kimi Raikkonen is one of those rivals that wouldn’t mind another championship trophy.  Both Lotus (Loti, Lotuses, I think you get the jist of it) were able to put in surprisingly long runs on their tires.  As the laps wore on Grosjean and Raikkonen closed down the leaders and in the end, like Silverstone, if the race were one lap longer there might have been a different result.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

Formula 1 reaches the halfway point of  the season in two weeks at the Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary.  At this point it is no surprise that Red Bull is once again in the catbird seat.  Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton and the rest will have to really pickup the pace if they hope to be close to the German at the end of the season.

For all the detailed results of the German GP checkout the super fancy Official F1 site: http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2013/902/