Sebastian Vettel wins in Germany, Kimi Raikkonen with a good drive to second place and Romain Grosjean claims the final place on the podium after a good drive. McLaren yet again have made small improvements to their car in order to gain their way back to the front and score some much needed points. And people are still wishing that Sebastian Vettel and the Mercedes’ drivers still do not have the pace with their cars in qualifying…
Also, the tyre debate [I called it tyre-gate] that is ongoing with Pirelli from the Spanish Grand Prix does not look like being stopped. As I mentioned in my F1 News piece two month ago on the blog, many pundits, fans, teams, drivers or anyone associated in the sport has spoken out about the situation. This is itself has been debated heavily by everyone within the sport and we have now saw Pirelli changing the construction of the tyres for the rest of the season. Pirelli has now used the 2012 construction but with the 2013 compounds with strict orders placed by the FIA in relation to areas for example such as camber. Will this benefit some teams more than others? We shall see.
In terms of the circuit, The Hungarian Grand Prix is a circuit that most drivers and teams look forward to visiting every year. The circuit is literally demanding due to a lot of slow and medium speed corners and traction will be extremely important. Overtaking is very difficult but DRS has helped the drivers for the last few years. Sector 2 will be important for the drivers to get consistently get right due to the bumpiness of the track. Usually the weather in Hungary is very hot, but rain can sometimes come!
This Grand Prix will be one full of questions of who again can go longer on their tyres, who can save the most tyres for the race on Sunday, which car has got their car set up the most competitive and race ready? Have McLaren and Williams made a significant step forward with their upgrades in their fight to get back to the front?
Alongside these questions, questions if Red Bull, Lotus or Mercedes will be able this weekend to help their own fight in the championships, can McLaren small improvements on their cars help them this weekend before Hungary where more upgrades are planned to take place on the car, who will be competitive from the off, who has the quickest car and who will win this race on Sunday?
The race weekend begins now….
Strap yourselves in. The new season begins now…
Practices 1, 2 and 3
The main headline from the Practice sessions is Red Bull look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.
Practice 1 saw Sebastian Vettel top the timesheets with a time of 1.22.723 followed closely by Webber with a gap of 0.259 seconds, Raikkonen in third with a gap of 0.287 seconds, Alonso in fourth with a gap of 0.376 seconds and Grosjean in fifth with a gap of 0.388 seconds. Jenson Button impressed the paddock by topping the timesheets in 6th place with a gap of 0.647 seconds behind Vettel. The biggest surprise of the session was Lewis Hamilton only managing to top the timesheets in 13th place.
Within Practice 1, the main talking point was Jean-Eric Vergne early on into the session experiencing an off in his Toro Rosso car at Turn 4. Vergne was able to continue on with the session after this.
Practice 2 saw Sebastian Vettel top the timesheets with a time of 1.21.264 followed by Webber with a gap of 0.044 seconds, Grosjean in third with a gap of 0.153 seconds, Alonso in fourth with a gap of 0.162 seconds behind and Massa in fifth with a gap of 0.280 seconds behind Vettel. Adrian Sutil managed to achieve a top 10 finish with an 10th place for him with a gap of 1.040 seconds behind Vettel showing that Force India may have the pace to get some good championship points this weekend. Hamilton managed to get seventh place in the session. Di Resta and Perez could only manage 11th and 12th places in the session. Button managed a strong 9th place indicating that both maybe do not have the pace needed to have a strong weekend in order to win, but could be in the hunt for some much needed points for the team and to carry on working through their upgrade programme.
Practice 3 saw Romain Grosjean top the timesheet with a time of 1.20.730 followed by Alonso with a time of gap of 0.168 seconds behind, Perez in third with a gap of 0.322 seconds behind, Vettel in fourth with a gap of 0.395 seconds behind and Massa in a fifth with a gap of 0.421 seconds behind. Again, the surprise of the session is Adrian Sutil managing to grab 10th place showing that they have good pace within the Force India car. Button looks to be having a good weekend so far with claiming 9th place which show that McLaren may have a fight on their hands to get into Q3 and to gain some championship points today.
Within Practice 3, Sergio Perez at Turn 11 experienced an off on the track by dipping a left rear wheel on the white line. Judging by Perez’s response to the accident, it would seem that he was to blame for this fault and this leaves his team trying to fix the car before qualifying.
You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg and also Vettel to gain pole position again this weekend. As all three drivers seem to be excelling in qualifying at the moment and the momentum is with them from claiming Pole Positions in four rounds of the championship so far. Alonso, Massa, Webber and Raikkonen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top five places at the moment.
Button and Perez even with upgrade programme and making good and solid progress with points finishes in previous races, seem to have made an improvement. It seems from looking at their performances that the pace is coming slowly and steadily and both drivers I will admit will struggle to even make Qualifying 2 or maybe even the points in the race and it will take a lot of skill and talent to do that in a car that is not capable, unless a bit of unexpected rain happens (which is very unlikely). However, I think that Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…
It looks like Mercedes and the Red Bull’s are looking like the teams to beat heading into the session look set to challenge Ferrari, Mercedes or Lotus for pole position today due to current form that they have shown. But Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions. And it is looking likely that it will be a challenge for the Williams drivers of Bottas and Maldonado to clear Q1 and also the McLaren drivers of Button and Perez to clear Q2 as both teams do not have the pace within their cars to challenge the top teams this weekend.
Let the battle for Pole Position begin…
In Q1, Rosberg tops the timesheets with a time of 1.20.350, Hamilton was second with a gap of 0.013 seconds, Grosjean was third with a gap of 0.097 seconds, Vettel was fourth with a gap of 0.296 seconds and Alonso was fifth with a gap of 0.302 seconds. Maldonado, Raikkonen, Massa, Hulkenberg and Button managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Guiterrez, Di Resta, Pic, Van Der Garde, Bianchi, and Chilton.
In Q2, Rosberg again tops the timesheets with a time of 1.19.778, Hamilton is second with a gap of 0.084 seconds behind, Vettel is third with a gap of 0.214 seconds behind, Grosjean is fourth with a gap of 0.323 seconds behind and Alonso is a credible fifth with a gap of 0.405 seconds behind. The big surprise of the session was Riccardo finished the session in 9th place. At the end of Q2, we lose Sutil, Hulkenberg, Button, Vergne, Maldonado and Bottas. The battle for pole position is on…
In Q3, Hamilton tops the timesheet and gets pole with a amazingly fast lap time of 1.19.388 , Vettel was second fastest with a gap of 0.038 seconds behind, Grosjean was third fastest with a gap of 0.207 seconds behind, Rosberg was fourth fastest with a gap of 0.332 seconds behind, Alonso was fifth fastest with a gap of 0.403 seconds behind, Raikkonen was sixth fastest with a gap of 0.463 seconds behind, Massa was seventh fastest with a gap of 0.541 seconds behind, Riccardo was a credible eighth fastest with a gap of 1.253 seconds behind, Perez was ninth fastest and Webber was tenth fastest.
It would seem that Red Bull genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend which I am absolutely not thrilled about. However, both sets of drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this. You cannot discount Hamilton, Webber or Rosberg to be challenging also for the race win in order to keep their seasons off to a flying start. Alonso or Raikkonen could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes and Red Bull and Ferrari and Lotus to gain some points on his rivals for the championship.
Button, Sutil, Di Resta and Riccardo could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for Force India and Toro Rosso before heading to the next race in Germany. Will it rain tomorrow? Maybe. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know (hoping for a Button win!). Who will lead the championship after this race? Will it be Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Alonso or Hamilton? I don’t know. The Grand Prix has been set up nicely, just like the last race. Let’s see what happens…
The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2013 German Grand Prix will live up to expectations and who will be the winner? Here we go…
All 22 drivers are lined up on their grid positions, five red lights and its GO!!!!!!!!
Hamilton gets off the line and has a good start and leads into the first corner. Rosberg also gets a good start and is putting pressure on Vettel. Vettel has had a bad start and seems to have been bogged down. Massa has also had a good start even though he is still behind Alonso. Meanwhile, Grosjean manages to get on the outside of Vettel and Rosberg is also looking for a way past. Jenson has a cracker of a start from 13th place.
Alonso manages to pass Rosberg. A few corners later, Rosberg after being tapped by Massa is off the track and looks like to be suffering with right rear damage. Further on down the track, Di Resta passes his team mate Sutil.
Lap 2 and Hamilton leads by 1.1 seconds. Webber is up to 11th place. Di Resta is up to 13th place and Maldonado is up to 11th place. On track Hulkenberg passes Sutil. Lap 5 sees the battle for 5th place hot up between Massa and Raikkonen. The next lap sees Grosjean applying pressure to Vettel for second place at this stage in the race.
At the end of Lap 9, Hamilton pits for new tyres with a stop time of 3 seconds and rejoins the race in 8th place handing the head to Vettel. At the end of Lap 10, Riccardo and Rosberg pit for tyres. Lap 11 sees Vettel leading by 0.7 seconds. The battle for 4th between Massa and Raikkonen heats up. On track, Hamilton passes Jenson with a good move. At the end of the lap, Vettel pits for new tyres with a stop time of 2.6 seconds and rejoins the race in 7th place.
Lap 12 sees Grosjean leading the race ahead of Alonso by 4.9 seconds. The battle between Button and Vettel for 6th place is grabbing our attention. At the end of the lap, Alonso pits with a stop time of 2.6 seconds and rejoins the race in 7th place. At the end of Lap 13, both Grosjean and Raikkonen pit for tyres and rejoin the race back in 4th and 9th places.
Lap 15 sees Mark Webber leading the race ahead of Hamilton by 5.4 seconds. The battle for the final place on the podium between Button, Vettel and Grosjean is ongoing. The two laps sees Vettel trying to get past Jenson but cannot do so. Also, Grosjean is starting to get even closer into this battle and looks like he could try Vettel very soon.
Lap 18 sees Webber lead by 5.2 seconds. Grosjean in the battle with Vettel for 4th place tries to make a move on the German but cannot do so. While this is ongoing, Alonso seems to be gaining on this battle between Grosjean and Vettel. On track, Raikkonen passes Massa for 8th place. Lap 20 sees Webber lead by 4.7 seconds. Sutil retires from the Grand Prix due to a hydraulic leak on his Force India. At the end of 23, Webber pits for new tyres with a stop time of 2.9 seconds and rejoins the race in 6th place.
Lap 24 sees Hamilton leading the Grand Prix from Button by 12.1 seconds. On track, Vettel passes Jenson on track at Turn 4. Grosjean behind is eyeing up Button himself and while passing him, both drivers touch. Alonso is then able to pass Jenson. At the end of the lap, Jenson pits for tyres with a stop time of 3.3 seconds and rejoins the race in 7th place. The next lap sees Grosjean pit for new tyres.
Lap 27 sees Lewis extend his lead by 13.3 seconds. The stewards are now looking at the incident between Grosjean and Button a few laps ago. The battle for 3rd between Alonso and Webber is ongoing. The next lap sees Grosjean passing Massa on track for position.
Lap 31 sees Lewis lead by 11.9 seconds. On track, Button is not able to pass Massa on track but a few corners later Jenson is able to make the move stick. At the end of the lap, Hamilton pits with a stop time of 2.7 seconds and rejoins the race in 4th place. Also, Massa pits with a stop time of 2.9 seconds and rejoins the race in 10th place.
Lap 34 sees Vettel leading the race ahead of Alonso by 7.5 seconds. Webber and Hamilton are battling for third place. Hamilton is then able to pass Webber for third place. At the end of the lap, Alonso pits with a stop time of 2.7 seconds and rejoins the race in 7th place. Also, Vettel pits with a stop time of 3.2 seconds and rejoins the race by 5th place.
Lap 36 and Lewis retakes the lead of the race and leads Webber by 1.2 seconds. Grosjean has a drive through penalty from the stewards as a result of the second incident he has encountered during the race. The next lap sees the stewards announcing that the incident between Grosjean and Button will be investigated after the race. On track, Vettel passes Jenson for position.
Lap 39 sees Lewis leading by 1.7 seconds. Nico Hulkenberg has a drive through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. The battle for 5th between Alonso and Grosjean is ongoing. By Lap 42, Hamilton leads by 2.6 seconds. At the end of Lap 42, Raikkonen pits for tyres with a stop time of 2.8 seconds and rejoins the race in 6th place. The next lap sees Webber pit for new tyres and rejoining the race in 3rd place. Lap 45 sees Bottas retire from the race.
Lap 46 sees Hamilton leading the race by 15.3 seconds. Alonso and Grosjean are still battling for fourth place. The next lap sees Grosjean pit with a stop time of 3.6 seconds and rejoining the race in 7th place. At the end of Lap 48 sees Alonso, Massa and Rosberg pitting.
Lap 49 sees Lewis leading by 15.9 seconds. The battle for fifth place between Alonso, Button and Grosjean is still ongoing. Grosjean tries to make another move on Button at Turn 4 but is unable to get past him. The next lap sees Grosjean making his move stick on Button for 6th place in the race. At the end of the lap, Hamilton pits for tyres with a time of 3.2 seconds and rejoins the race in third place.
Lap 51 sees Vettel leading Webber. However, a few corners later Webber loses second place by going off the track. By Lap 55, Vettel has a 7.3 second lead before pitting at the end of the lap for new rubber and rejoining the race back in fourth place.
Lap 56 sees Hamilton retaking the lead of the race again and has a 2.3 second lead to Webber. By Lap 57, Raikkonen and Vettel on track are battling for the final place on the podium. At the end of Lap 59, Webber pits for new tyres. Lap 60 and Lewis leads Raikkonen by 10.6 seconds. The battle for second place between Raikkonen and Vettel is grabbing our attention.
Lap 64 still sees Hamilton leading Raikkonen by 11.1 seconds. Vettel and Webber are still battling on track for third place in the Grand Prix. The next lap sees Nico Rosberg retire from the race with the engine deciding that it has had enough. Lap 66 sees the battle for fifth between Alonso and Grosjean and the battle for second between Raikkonen and Vettel grabbing our attention.
Lap 68 and Lewis extends his lead by 11.5 seconds. On track, Vettel tries to pass Raikkonen but Raikkonen is doing a stunning job considering the little grip the tyres have left to keep Vettel at bay. Lap 70 is completed and Lewis Hamilton wins the Hungarian Grand Prix with a stunning drive, Raikkonen is second by 10.9 seconds behind, Vettel claims the final place on the podium 12.4 seconds behind, Webber is fourth after a brilliant drive 18 seconds behind, Alonso is a credible fifth 31.4 seconds behind, Grosjean is sixth 32.2 seconds behind, Button is a credible seventh place 53.8 seconds behind, Massa is eighth 56.4 seconds behind, Perez is ninth a lap down from Hamilton and Maldonado claims the final point in tenth a lap down from Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel leads the Driver’s championship with 172 points, Raikkonen is second with 134 points, Alonso is third with 133 points, Hamilton is fourth with 124 points, Webber is fifth with 105 points, Rosberg is sixth with 84 points, Massa is seventh with 61 points, Grosjean is eighth with 49, Button is ninth with 39 points and Di Resta is tenth with 36 points.
Red Bull lead the Constructor’s championship with 277 points, Mercedes is second with 208 points, Ferrari is third with 194 points, Lotus is fourth with 183 points, Force India is fifth with 59 points, McLaren in sixth with 57 points, Toro Rosso in seventh with 24 points, Sauber are eighth with 7 points and Williams are ninth with 1 point.
The Grand Prix tested the drivers throughout the race with the high level of tyre degradation, just like the many races we have had this season. However, I am glad that the small changes that Pirelli made to the tyres has worked this weekend and they have not compromised safety or the racing.
I was happy that Jenson and Sergio did have some pace to challenge today and did score some points for the team. Jenson had a cracking start and keeping Vettel at bay for a long period shows that he is a racer, no matter what is happening in the team at the moment.
This just shows how much they are making improvements at the moment. But it shows that McLaren are taking slow and steady progress to try and get to the front of the field once again. But I am happy that Jenson and Sergio managed to do his best this weekend for the team and they were rewarded with some good points. But they need to try and make the car competitive and understand the issues surrounding their problems or cut their losses, learn the lessons from this year’s car and focus on 2014.
The team this weekend I believe have made small steps into looking at solutions to help and cure this problem before the championships, race wins, podiums and even point finishes are no longer within their reach. As I said last race, I know McLaren will bounce back to the performance they and their fans crave and when that happens, it will make it all the more special. Bring on Spa where the team are bringing on more of their upgrade programme for the car and where Jenson excels!
Lotus this weekend may not have gained another victory this weekend but they have scored some good points from Kimi and Romain this weekend that will help their fight in the Constructors Championship. I was impressed with Grosjean this weekend. He has been on the pace all weekend and drove to my mind a good race, even though he hit Jenson. However, Romain now needs to build on this result and remain consistent for the rest of the season.
I was a bit surprised that Lotus was not able to challenge for the win this weekend, but consistency and points scoring keeps you in the hunt for the title, as Alonso proved last season. Despite the problems of this weekend, the Lotus team have managed to get again score some points, even though they are now fourth in the Constructor’s Championship.
Perez, Rosberg and Webber all again have had solid weekends. First all of them showing top 10 form in the Practice sessions and then battling throughout the field to gain some solid points. I think that all of them are driving solidly this year and are improving their form from last year. I still cannot believe how Mark did the drive he did today, absolutely going to miss him next year.
The biggest surprises this weekend for me was the 10th place of Pastor Maldonado. Firstly, Maldonado has had an impressive weekend but he has impressed me a lot this weekend yet again. He drove a fantastic lap in qualifying and drove a cracking race to bring home some much needed point for the team. I believe that Pastor this year has learnt his lessons from his last and this season from the sport and is working harder than ever to impress with his performances in the sport this year and trying to get some much needed points for Williams. I really believe that Pastor when is good is a high quality driver that he is and I was happy to him get a point today after a great drive.
Alonso also drove solidly this weekend to claim fifth place. Even though he only managed to qualify in fifth place on Saturday, I believe that he did not the potential to challenge Vettel, Webber or both of the Mercedes drivers for the win even if he qualified further up the grid. Alonso and Ferrari need to keep working on their qualifying pace as they have a really good car this year (especially in the race) and could challenge Vettel if this problem was rectified.
Rosberg does deserve a mention. Rosberg was on form all weekend and seemed to be able to match the pace of the Red Bull team and its drivers this weekend. However, due to the off encountered from Massa on the first lap, he could had to battle for the points today, who knows what would have happened?
Vettel does deserve a mention. Red Bull seem to have a car that is undoubtedly better than their car last year. They seem to be able to make sure that their qualifying performance is also consistent and reliable, while it seems they have improved their race pace today. And yet again Vettel extends his and his team’s lead into the championships today and people are now starting to believe that unless Vettel and Red Bull are challenged, the title is theirs for the taking.
All that is left to say about this race is that Lewis deserved to win today. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race even behind Button, Vettel, Raikkonen and Grosjean. Ever since leaving for McLaren, not only has he been able to out-qualify his team mate but he has been able to also consistently gain some good points for the Mercedes team. I believe that Lewis is carrying on the form he has shown from the latter half of the 2012 season and is driving solidly at the moment. Mercedes seem to have a car that is undoubtedly better than their car last year. And I think that Lewis drove solidly despite battling the front runners after his pit stops in front of him deserved to win today despite of the troubles with tyre wear today prevalent in the background.
Will Lewis be able to win at Spa? Can Vettel, Webber, Raikkonen, Grosjean or Alonso be able to challenge? We shall see in a month’s time!
My next post will be a brand new feature for the blog and also the F1 News of the week on Sunday!