Hot rod or hot dog

Badger’s series of team and driver analysis: The Top Dogs, the Chasing Dogs and the Sleeping Dogs.  First of all, here’s the Top Dogs after Germany

So, Hockenheim – to be honest, the racing wasn’t that interesting and your correspondent actually dozed off at one point (don’t worry, the wonders of modern technology allowed for rewinding). However, thankfully for this article and the wider F1 press, Ferrari managed to generate reams of copy by trying to play God yet again. When will they learn?

A picture is worth a thousand words... credit: Autosport/Sutton Images


  • Qualifying: Alonso (2nd) Massa (3rd)
  • Race: Alonso (1st) Massa (2nd)

Okay. Deep breath. The story of the race up to that incident is quickly told. Both Massa and Alonso beat Vettel off the line to take first and second respectively. They then trundled round until their pit stops, pitted and returned to the same positions.

Then on lap 49 Massa deliberately slowed to allow Alonso through after an instruction from the pit wall and sparked the incident that’s got F1 in the papers for all the wrong reasons.

The story’s genesis can really be traced back to Felipe Massa’s signing of a new two-year contract earlier this year. “That’s a bit odd” we thought, “he’s been no great shakes this season.” Now the reasons for that have become abundantly clear. Massa is a number two driver to Alonso, presumably only kept on to please the moody Spaniard who, after his season at McLaren, clearly doesn’t relish having a competitive team mate. Quick enough to be World Champion again, certainly, but willing to race for it? Not a chance.

The issue itself is different to Ferrari’s Austrian switch in 2002. For a start, it’s clear to anyone watching F1 this season that Alonso is quicker than Massa and that he needs the points, which Schumacher simply didn’t in 2002. Nevertheless, at only just over half way through the season, and with Massa clearly able to hold off Alonso for the race victory, the whole thing is decidedly murky. So you’re faster than him, Fernando? Well then, get into gear and pass him. Don’t go whining to the team to make him move over. Just as an aside, it’s against the rules. What price fixing a race? $100,000 you say? We’ll take four.

Then, to top it all off, came Ferrari’s insistence that it was purely Felipe’s decision. Come. Off. It. If you’re going to do it, don’t insult the intelligence of everyone watching. It’s not nice. Rob Smedley was presumably saying sorry for something in no way connected to making a not-terribly-well-coded radio message.


Badger’s best: Massa

Red Bull

  • Qualifying: Vettel (1st) Webber (4th)
  • Race: Vettel (3rd) Webber (6th)

Another race in which Red Bull managed to spoil their qualifying performance and come home lower than they started.

Vettel’s qualifying lap was brilliant, no doubt about it. However, there’s really no point in it if you then can’t sustain it. Then it becomes only a stat, a record to be cited in forthcoming seasons that no one will remember. Vettel said after the race that he got the maximum out of the car, but when Webber is finishing sixth and if he really wants to press home his advantage, he should have done better.

Webber, for his part, wasn’t really on form all weekend. Jumped by Hamilton and Button and then suffering from an oil consumption problem, he’ll just be glad Vettel could only manage third. A quieter weekend for the Red Bull drivers, but you get the feeling that their own personal battle isn’t finished. Expect more fireworks. Hopefully big ones.

Badger’s best: Vettel


  • Qualifying: Button (5th) Hamilton (6th)
  • Race: Hamilton (4th) Button (5th)

When you don’t have the car, you don’t have the car.

A weekend in which the McLarens were never really anywhere near the ultimate pace and struggled to compete with the Ferraris and Red Bulls. Perhaps the upgrades on the car, perhaps the set up they’d gone for (surely no one needs that much of a straight-line speed advantage…), they’ll be looking for a big step in Hungary, lest their grip on the two titles loosens.

Button did well to out qualify Hamilton and was unlucky to be blocked by Vettel around the outside of turn one at the start of the race. After losing a few places and making one back almost immediately, he then ran a long first stint to jump Mark Webber and settled into a groove behind Lewis for a spot of formation flying.

Nothing too much of interest and nothing that tells us anything about the relationship between the two drivers. That’s your lot, folks.

Badger’s best: Hamilton


  • Qualifying: Kubica (7th) Petrov (13th)
  • Race: Kubica (7th) Petrov (10th)

Not bad for the Renault team, again finishing as the best of the rest.

A good scrap with Hamilton at the start led to Kubica losing a couple of places followed by holding off Schumacher. Realistically, barring retirements, seventh was the best he could have hoped for. Seeing as he achieved that, he’s done well. The question beginning to form in our minds is whether he could be going even faster if he had a good team mate to push him. Does it matter that much his team mate, even in a world of flying pigs and fairies, simply is never going to challenge him properly?

Speaking of whom, Petrov managed to score his first point in dry conditions. We’re pretty sure he didn’t enjoy being harangued by his engineer over the radio though. It almost sounded like he was directing the village idiot. Oh for the days of closed radio communications. He wasn’t helped by the fact he thought he was eleventh when he was, in fact, tenth. We suppose that’s a way to increase your happiness when you exit the car…

We still don’t think he’s doing enough to merit a seat next year, so he’s almost in the position of an American politician, having to raise enough money to even have a shot at being selected. It’s all about the roubles.

Badger’s best: Kubica