So another grand prix weekend and Sebastian Vettel is top of the time sheets again, but don’t lose heart just yet, because it’s far from plain sailing for the loveable yet frustrating youngster – there’s plenty going on ahead of the German GP qualifying and race.  Following the final practice, here’s the news you can use ahead of qualifying…

NEWS

As with many of the other top teams, Renault are running their pre-Silverstone spec engine maps and ahead of this morning’s practice Nick Heidfeld followed Vitaly Petrov’s example and has gone for the original front exit exhausts (he had an option of their new rear ones) – Renault are still looking forward to turning their mid-season around and take 4th back from Mercedes in the constructors championship this weekend.

Chandhok’s grand prix return hasn’t been particularly easy so far.  As a driver, he’s still one of the most relaxed, chilled and friendly ones in the paddock, but out on the track he’s struggled to keep close to Kovalainen and very nearly binned his car into the barriers this morning.  His final practice session ended with his car facing the wrong way and parked up.  All at Badger would like to wish him all the best for qualifying and his first grand prix in over a year.

 

 

Original graphics courtesy of Pirelli Media

 

TYRES

Pirelli are providing the soft (yellow marked) and medium (white marked) for this weekend for the Nurburgring.  For a track that isn’t too hard on tyres, it’s an interesting choice, which in qualifying could see drivers not doing their best lap until their second timed lap.  With these tyres being next to each other on the scale of soft>hardness, you’d think they’d be close in terms of performance, but pre-GP data has said there’s as much as 1.5s between the compounds.

In terms of strategy, Sunday could be interesting – let’s face it most drivers will qualify on the softer tyres and therefore start the race on them too.  Now, the interesting bit is that Pirelli reckon the soft tyre could last nearly the whole race, so we may see a 1 stop strategy this weekend, with drivers nipping into the pits for harder tyres, as per the regulations – but leaving this until the end of the race.  We’ll see.

 

WEATHER

To through Michael Fish’s spanner into the works, rain is likely over in Germany, around the Nurburgring and could well be raining during qualifying.  This morning’s final practice was in a shadow of dark cloud and reducing temperatures.  Here’s a photo from the pitlane at 10.30am:

Grey clouds over the 'ring this morning via @OfficialLRGP on Twitter

POLE FIGHT

You’d have to silly to discount Vettel as a contender for pole position in qualifying, but all throughout practice, Alonso and Webber have been ahead or very close to the current championship leader.  It could be a case of, like in Silverstone that Vettel has more of a challenge to grab his beloved pole position.

McLaren managed to split the Ferraris, but still seem to lack the raw pace to fight for the front row, they cannot be discounted entirely though.  Should it rain, then all this is out of the window and it could be one of many on the front row.

Final Practice Times:

You can see all the practice times from all three sessions and compare drivers using our Complete German Practice Times table.

DriverTeamBESTDIFFLAPS
Sebastian VettelRed Bull1'30.9160.00015
Mark WebberRed Bull1'31.0490.13316
Fernando AlonsoFerrari1'31.1380.22212
Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1'31.5780.66213
Jenson ButtonMcLaren1'31.6230.70714
Nico RosbergMercedes1'31.6940.77819
Felipe MassaFerrari1'32.1441.22813
Adrian SutilForce India1'32.3911.47520
M.SchumacherMercedes1'32.5231.60716
Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1'32.7511.83518
Vitaly PetrovRenault1'32.7771.86118
Paul Di RestaForce India1'32.8131.89721
Nick HeidfeldRenault1'33.0722.15618
R.BarrichelloWilliams1'33.1792.26317
Sergio PerezSauber1'33.5312.61520
Kamui KobayashiSauber1'33.6712.75520
Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso1'33.9483.03221
J.AlguersuariToro Rosso1'34.1253.20919
H.KovalainenLotus1'35.3854.46913
Timo GlockVirgin1'36.7245.80821
Vitantonio LiuzziHRT1'36.8045.88823
J.D'AmbrosioVirgin1'36.8945.97823
Karun ChandhokLotus1'36.9596.04318
Daniel RicciardoHRT1'37.5546.63822