German GP – The Race

Hockenheimring (I miss the forest but still a classic track)
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Firstly a HUGE apology for failing (again…slinks off in shame) to post any form of qualifying blog. In my defence, it was not a good weekend. The husband was ill with some kind of Man Tummy Bug which I did show a degree of sympathy towards until he mentioned that he might need to retire to bed in the afternoon. Obviously that got vetoed but our weekend was a bit all over the shop. And now the 5 year old is on School Holidays for Six Weeks meaning I have even less free time than normal (ie. we are now talking negative terms) to do things like blogging! So far just to cope with the first morning of the school holidays, I have had a steak for lunch and two of the strongest possible coffees. I realise that makes me sound practically French.

The most annoying man on TV?

Currently I’m trying to block out the ear-shattering tones of Mister Maker (possibly The Most Annoying Man on the Planet) and the sound of lots of frenzied scissor cutting from downstairs. God, its going to be a long six weeks. The 1 year old is currently asleep so this is one tiny window of opportunity to speed-type about the German GP.
Its safe to say this blog won’t be so much a labour of love but a race against time though more of the Maldonaldo car crash variety than a serene Alain Prost canter through the race.
No ‘live’ Beeb coverage as over at the Beeb they are preparing for the Very Important Olympics so unhelpfully, given severe child-imposed time constraints, I had to wade through Sky’s epic coverage. Well that’s not really true. Huge swathes of chat, analysis and waffle were fast-forwarded through but I have at least watched the race. Huzzah.
In the interests of time and my need for the occasional few snatched hours of sleep, I’ll rattle through qualifying as follows:
1.     Alonso
2.     Vettel
3.     Webber (demoted 5 places after gearbox change)
4.     Schumacher
5.     Hulkenberg
6.     Maldonaldo
7.     Button
8.     Hamilton
9.     Di Resta
10.  Raikkonen
Blimey that was easy. So onto Sunday’s extravaganza show! We had a quick montage of Martin Brundle’s best gridwalk bits (not sure why they randomly put this together for the German GP) where we were able to relive Martin’s attempted interview with that ol’ charmer, Owen Wilson, all the way back in Malaysia. No wonder Kate Hudson ran for the hills although I’m keeping a close eye on any Yoko antics from her now she has hooked up with the lead singer from My Favourite Band in the World. The Random Celebrity at a Race quotient hasn’t been quite as stellar this year at the F1 races. I’m praying that the cast of Dallas might rock up to the Austin Grand Prix. Still just as long as Victoria Beckham doesn’t show up doing her wannabe Anna Wintour impression in the paddock. *Shudder*

How things might have unfolded had Bernie popped along to the race
Even Bernie wasn’t gracing Hockenheim with his presence this weekend. A fact which I am sure was entirely unconnected with the recent law case where a business associate of Bernie’s got jailed for 8½ years for various misdemeanours like…er…taking £28m in bribes from Bernie. Thoughtfully, Bernie didn’t want to be a distraction at the race. I guess that the dramatic arrest of the F1 supremo in the pitlane 20 minutes before the race could potentially have been a distraction to be fair. Still (chooses words carefully), none of us know the full facts of the matter and it would be unwise to comment or speculate further.
It was time for #MartinsGridWalk (not a pointless montage but the real one). Both Rosberg and Grosjean seemed surprised (but not overly bothered!) to be so far back on the grid. Er, surely the classifications post-qualifying would have revealed all.

The Engine Map Controversy (frighteningly this is document 45 – bloody lawyers hey!)

The big pitlane news was that Red Bull had escaped punishment for using an ‘engine map’ [goes off to google what an engine map is] following an investigation (of which I had been previously unaware!). Basically they are altering the engine mapping to change the torque (nope, not got a clue!) output of the engine which in some way is helping the cars aerodynamically. Apparently “while the stewards do not accept all the arguments of the team, they however conclude that as the regulation is written the map presented does not breach article 5.5.3 of the technical regulations”. This is lawyer speak for ‘Red Bull are doing something a bit sneaky outside the spirit of the rules but we can’t actually stop them on a strict interpretation of the wording’. Naughty Red Bull. Again. Still, lets hope their drivers both drive cleanly and fairly to avoid further controversy. Especially Vettel.

The lovely Tanja from German TV

Brundle conveniently ran into Ross Brawn and asked him about the stewards’ decision and Ross, in his usual lugubrious way, said he didn’t know enough of the facts but was sure that wouldn’t be an end to the matter. I bet it won’t. Martin then had a brief encounter with the lovely Tanja from German TV. Ah now there is a chemistry that DC and Eddie could only dream of on the pitlane! Then time for the German National Anthem which isn’t really worthy of note except for the fact that it was being sung by someone who appeared to be wearing a white and black splattered suit made of tinfoil. Marvellous. I just love Germany.
Time For the Start and Go Go Go…! An awesome start from Alonso to leave Vettel trailing in his wake with Schuey all over the back of his car. By lap 2 it appeared that all the cars were driving through bits of carbon fibre and general car debris with no apparent clue where it came from. Oh, and it was from Felipe Massa’s car. Yup, he would have made my top five list of suspects! Awaited imminent appearance of the Safety Car but no, the stewards and officials thought it would be fun to spice things up and see who came out unscathed from the carbon fibre lottery! The unlucky ones were Massa (actually it was all his fault so fair do’s), Grosjean and Senna.

Note to Lewis – this is what a really bad puncture looks like (poor Nige)

It looked like Hamilton already had a left rear puncture and he radioed in to say he should retire. Well, Lewis, maybe when you’re getting a gazillion pounds a week, you should try and bring the car into the pits to see if you can continue. I think someone relayed that exact message to him (or reminded him that Scary Ron D was watching) as he came into the pits and then shock horror was in fact able to continue.
Paul di Resta and Kimi meanwhile had a ferocious battle going on for 8thplace and not too surprisingly, Kimi ‘balls of steel’ Raikkonen eventually pulled off a fierce overtaking move on Di Resta. Somehow, Button had already manoeuvred his way up into 4th place by lap 8 after passing The Hulk. This was a bit more like the Jenson of old, ie. the wily, smooth racer of yesteryear as opposed to the pretty diabonical Jenson of 2012. Hamilton, meanwhile, was a whopping 18 seconds behind Narain Karthikeyan. It doesn’t get much worse than that really.
By lap 11, Button had overtaken Schuey for P3. The Mercedes just seems to lack raw speed which is an odd thing to say about a ‘Silver Arrow’. It’s the 3rdyear of a three year project, guys. Not. Good. Enough.

The Hulk never features much so here he is!
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The first round of pitstops kicked off starting with Di Resta, then in rapid succession, in whizzed Rosberg, The Hulk, Webber, Maldonaldo but the big winner was Kimi who leapfrogged up a couple of places. Schuey emerged from his pitstop right into the path of the unsuspecting Hulk and was clearly steaming at this turn of events – eventually he pulled off a brilliant move to overtake the Hulk and to add insult to injury, Kimi took full advantage and sneaked past as well. Next to be gobbled up by Schuey was Daniel Ricciardo until the Very Fast but Twitchy Lotus managed to pass Schumacher on lap 21.
By this stage all the front runners had pitted with little incident (even at the McLaren garage) and the order of play was shaking out as follows: 1. Alonso, 2. Vettel, 3. Button, 4. Kimi, 5. MSC and 6. The Hulk. And we had the usual upbeat ‘deckchairs on the Titanic’ messages from McLaren. First to Jenson, saying they were racing to win (that must have amused Ferrari who had The Best Driver currently in F1 leading the race) and a very calm therapist type person telling Hamilton they still might be able to make it work. Good luck with that one guys.
In all fairness, Button was looking right on the pace so clearly the much needed upgrades were working out well. Vettel was closing on Alonso which allowed Button in turn to make inroads into the gap from P2 to P3. By the half-way point, the top 5 order was unchanged from the first lot of pitstops which doesn’t mean it was the most boring race in the world but my eyelids may have closed on more than one occasion.

Blue flags (who knows when they apply!)

All of a sudden it emerged that Lewis Hamilton (in 18th place) was right behind Vettel (in 2nd place) with Button closing up on them both. Cue a message on the radio to remind Hamilton not to hold up Jenson. There then followed an explanation of the unlapping and blue flag rules by Martin Brundle which were so idiotic and convoluted that I had to rewind what he said about 4 times. In a nutshell, if Lewis wanted to unlap himself that was fine (so therefore he could ‘race’ Vettel and Alonso) BUT if the race leader (ie. Alonso) was behind him, then he could technically get ‘blue flagged’, ie. instructed to let Alonso go past.
Anyway those daft rules weren’t going to trouble Lewis who probably just thought ‘I’m in a car, there is a car ahead of me and I want to overtake it’. So that’s what exactly he did on lap 36 when he overtook Vettel (and unlapped himself). That made Vettel very cross and there was lots of hand waving. Oh stop sulking Seb…you would have done the same.
The next lot of pitstops were underway with Kimi and Schuey coming in early doors. Lewis meanwhile was harrying Alonso like a demon and there were lots of demented sounded Italian messages over the radio from Ferrari. I heard a rumour that McLaren have employed an Italian translator to tell them what’s going on at Ferrari. Lets hope, the translator wasn’t born anywhere near Maranello though that’d be a marvellous twist. There was some temporary big excitement at seeing some blue flags finally but they were only for Pic who was presumably somewhere near the back being troublesome.
Just as the Wise and Learned Martin Brundle predicted, in came in Button on lap 40 for his final pitstop. Then there was a Race Defining Moment on lap 41 when both Alonso and Vettel came into the pits at the same time and as they rejoine the track, Jenson Button was side by side with the Red Bull and made his move stick to move up into 2nd place. Button was absolutely flying and gradually starting eating into Alonso’s times. With still 20 laps to go, he had brought the gap down to under a second. In unrelated news, Kobayashi had forced his way up to 6th place and was having a cracking race.
By lap 50, all 24 cars were still running. Not a single retirement although Grosjean gave it a good stab with a massive detour into the gravel. The 5 year old was most unimpressed to see Schumacher dart into the pits on lap 53. All most confusing but presumably 5th place is nowhere in Schuey’s world so he thought he might as well go for broke on some faster tyres. With ten laps to go, there was only 0.6 seconds between Alonso and Button. We were all set for a Mega Grandstand Finish although the one guy you really wouldn’t want to have to pass to a win a race was Fernando. Damn and blast.

This is where Lewis should stick his memories of Hockenheim 2012 (blame Sky commentary not me!) 

Oooooh our first retirement and it was … pray silence please … Lewis Hamilton. Still he had been threatening to retire since almost the start. As Crofty put it, time for Lewis to consign this race to the dustbin of memory (where it can languish alongside most of Narain’s and Massa’s races and Fisichella, the Ferrari Era).
Suddenly in a very unwelcome development, Vettel was catching Button and on the penultimate lap, he passed Button for second place. But wait, he overtook him while OFF THE TRACK. Audacious or outrageous? The way I see it is if there had been a wall there instead of a run off zone, then Button would have finished that race in 2ndplace. End of. Or another way of looking at the incident is if Schumacher had executed such a move, David Coulthard would have imploded in self-righteous indignation.

Our race winner, Fernando Alonso. This man is on fire (not literally).
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
So are are the results from the German Grand Prix 2012:
1.     Alonso – His third race win of the season and an utterly dominant drive from start to finish. He is the man to beat this season.
2.  Vettel – Engine maps, illegal overtaking moves, childish strops over perfectly acceptable overtaking manoeuvres. I’m kind of going off Seb.*
3.     Button – Hooray, finally a return to form. Hopefully Jenson has got his mojo back.
4.     Kimi – A very creditable 4th place.
5.     Kobayashi – Up 8 places from his grid position. Great job by Kamui and Sauber.
6.     Perez – Slightly overshadowed by his team-mate but Team Sauber will be delighted with the weekend.
*Vettel demoted to 5th after 20 second drive through penalty. Epic fail.
Just one week’s rest until the fun and games at the hot and twisty Hungaroring. I have a massively soft spot for the Hungarian Grand Prix which has thrown up at least 3 of my all time favourite races. Should be an extra lively affair after the German GP which ended off with Vettel calling Hamilton “a bit stupid”, Hamilton responding by saying of Vettel “it shows his maturity”, lots of unpredictable contract negotiations going on (see Schumacher, M and Hamilton, L) and some frantic re-writing of the rule book to cover those naughty Red Bull engine maps. The F1 season is hotting up nicely. Just like the English summer. Finally!


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