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The Top 5 from Hockenheim

Published 24th July 2012 - Written by Craig Norman
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The Badgerometer is looking back over the German Grand Prix to pick it’s Top 5 from Hockenheim. What made the list? Read on to find out!

Lewis Hamilton – 100..and out.

Making your century of Formula One races should be a celebration, but you couldn’t help feel that McLaren and Lewis didn’t think it was that big a milestone. In the modern age of around 20 races a season, it isn’t the feat it used to be. In fact, you can do it in 5 seasons worth of racing – just as Lewis has.

And if they were downbeat at the start of the weekend, they were even more so by the end of it.

After sustaining a puncture from debris that could have been cleared up under a safety car, the Brit was forced to race at the back, his only excitement coming from dicing with the leaders and unlapping himself. The move was perfectly within his rights – there’s nothing in the rules against it – and the car showed good pace on fresher tyres. There. That’s the only positive that came out of race number 100.

Photo: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

The new McLaren looks good when driven in anger in the dry, so it’s a shame that Saturday was wet, and an even bigger one that Felipe couldn’t hang onto his front wing.

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Did anyone see Mark Webber this weekend?

After the joy of winning in Silverstone, it turned into a disappearing act when the action moved to Germany. Saturday was alright, the Aussie getting his Red Bull onto the front row in the rain, but after the gearbox penalty he ended up 8th. And then he just vanished.

This season is a real opportunity for Mark: he’s on par with Sebastian Vettel on the 2012 Pirellis and the RB8 suits him more than last year’s RB7 – and after he signed a new deal immediately after Silverstone you expected he’d keep up the pace he’s been showing all year.

Photo: Red Bull Racing

We all know that a championship is won through consistency. Mark can’t have too many race weekend where he starts and finishes 8th while his rivals end up on the podium. If the title comes down to a decider in Brazil that Webber loses, the spotlight might just fall on this performance as where it went wrong.

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A welcome return for Button.

There’s a saying in F1 that you’re only as good as your last race. Up until this weekend, Jenson Button was having an absolute nightmare, and in previous Badgerometers, was referred to as “the next Felipe Massa”. I will now retract that statement.

Photo: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

The McLaren upgrades worked a treat in making the team move up the grid – if only slightly. It took the skill of Button to manoeuvre himself up to third over the first few laps to give him track position. And let’s not forget, he had to pass Nico Hulkenberg (a challenge) and Michael Schumacher (even more of a challenge) to get there.

The scrap with Vettel was good too. The German was wrong to leave the track and not give the place back – as Hamilton did in Spa in 2008 – and was right to be punished.

Button also kept up with Fernando Alonso as much as he could – but more on that later.

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Tough day at the office for Horner.

Hardest job on the grid right now? Photo: Red Bull Racing

We feel for Christian Horner. It’s not an easy job running a Formula One team (not that we have any experience of that), but Germany seemed to be the Sunday from hell for anyone at the head of an F1 outfit.

The morning started off badly with the FIA investigating the team’s engine mapping system. They narrowly escaped punishment thanks to the poor wording of the regulation, but there were still more problems to come.

Vettel got irate that Hamilton unlapped himself, but there are no rules saying that the Brit couldn’t. To top it all off, Seb passed Button illegally, and Horner had to go on the defensive against Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert.

(You have to love the “racing is harsh” comment from Damon. Great stuff!)

With two drivers battling it out for points, there might be a few more days like this for Horner and company.

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Fernando outsmarts his rivals.

Fernando Alonso said the key to to winning in Germany was pole position. Others said it was the speed at which he drove to keep ahead of the chasing duo of Button and Vettel. The real reason, we think, was how fast he made them drive that secured his victory.

Bear with us.

You see, roll the clock back a few months to Spain and you had Fernando chasing down Pastor Maldonado for the race win. Many thought that the Spaniard would pass Pastor easily once in DRS range – but Pastor kept the distance in tact for half the race. Fernando learned from this, and on Sunday we saw his thinking.

Jenson Button was close, but in essence he wasn’t as fast as some press are making out. Alonso baited the Brit to use his tyres as quickly as possible, and in the closing laps Jenson went from being on the Ferrari’s tail to having to fend off Vettel’s Red Bull.

Fernando, mind like a steel trap, had plotted everyone else’s move for them.

That’s what makes this season so intriguing – the fastest car won’t win the championship, but the smartest driver will be in the hunt all the way to the end. And right now, they don’t get much smarter than ‘Nando.

Photo: Octane Photography
Craig Norman
Badger GP Editor

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