There are spoilers- obviously- so if you haven’t watched it yet… don’t read further.
67 laps on a 4.57km long track.
The German F1 grand prix alternates every year between Nurburgring and Hockenheim, and Kimi Räikkönen set the lap record of 1.13.78 back in 2004 in a McLaren-Mercedes. Today saw no less than 5 German drivers on the track- so the grandstands were full up!
It looked to be a dry race, with most cars opting for the harder Bridgestone compound to start with. Hamilton qualified on pole, with Massa just 0.2 of a second behind him in P2. Hamilton’s team mate Kovalainen took P3, with Trulli, Alonso, Räikkönen, Kubica, Webber, Vettel and Coulthard making up the top 10 grid positions.
When the 5 red lights went out, everyone shot off the start line beautifully and the first 3 laps saw a LOT of position changes! Massa maintained his 2nd place and Räikkönen managed to gain a place with everyone else jostling for position.
There have been a lot of changes made to the McLaren in the last month or so, and Hamilton seems to have a very definite mindset change as to how he drives an F1 car, and he very quickly opened up a decent gap between himself and the pack.
Massa seems to have really gotten to grips with his car this season whilst Kimi seems to be losing touch… its very strange!
Barrichello and Button, team mates in the Hondas, are exceptionally well matched and the two of them had a few track tiffs today.
Most cars had a two stop strategy, with the first round of pit-stops happening by about lap 13.
Then on lap 35, Timo Glock had a huge accident (coming out of Sudkurve I think). It looked like his right rear suspension failed chronically as he went over the bit of curb on the left hand side of the exit and then spun backwards into the wall on the opposite side of the track, sliding across the track again to end on the grass and littering the tarmac with bits of carbon fibre. He was very winded but okay when he got out of the car. This of course brought out the safety car and had all the team strategists calculating like crazy to reorganise their fuel decisions! Then with 29 laps to go, it looked like Webber’s engine gave out- the rooster tail of smoke from the back of the car a dead giveaway! He kept going though- which annoys me because there’s oil spraying out behind the car when that happens. Hamilton was about the only car not to take advantage of the safety car to pit. After 5 laps, the safety car pitted again. Hamilton was still leading, followed by Heidfeld and Piquet. And after all the pit stops Massa dropped to 4th from second and Kimi dropped to 10th. Vettel and Alonso were having an awesome battle for 8th position, which really seemed to mess with Alonso’s head and he quickly dropped two positions!
Friday’s practice had been a wet one, and with 20 laps to go you could see the clouds gathering again… but luckily thats all that happened in terms of weather changes.
So, with Piquet and Massa having stopped during the safety car period, and Heidfeld still to stop again, Massa would really have to put foot to catch them and regain his 2nd place.
Coulthard and Barrichello then had a bit of a bumper bashing with Coulthard not seeming to realise Barrichello had come back up alongside him and Barrichello lost his nose cone. Coulthard seemed to come out of their scrap relatively easily and got back onto the track.
Hamilton then pitted, switching to the softer compound (which McLaren doesn’t like) so he should REALLY have wanted to change tyres when the safety car was out, and when he exited the pits he had Heidfeld, Piquet and Massa ahead of him, with Kovalainen having to move out of the way with some very subtle (illegal) team orders… Heidfeld then had to pit, giving Piquet the lead followed by Massa and Hamilton in 3rd. With 11 laps to go, Hamilton made a move on Massa (who opened the door a little too widely) to regain a position and then set his sights on Piquet. Then the fargin commentators started harping on Massa and saying how Ferrari should maybe find another driver for their championship hopes… Jerks!
Hamilton then very quickly passed Piquet (who started in 17th) to regain the lead of the German grand prix and come that much closer to the title and to give McLaren their first win at Hockenheim since 1999. And, if there are still people out there saying there’s no overtaking in F1 obviously hasn’t been watching this season!
Lewis Hamilton 58
Felipe Massa 54
Kimi Räikkönen 51
Robert Kubica 48
Nick Heidfeld 41
Heikki Kovalainen 28
Jarno Trulli 20
Mark Webber 18
Fernando Alonso 13
Rubens Barrichello 11
Nelson Piquet Jr 10