Safety is always paramount
Our thoughts go out to Paul Allen, the FOM cameraman who was struck by Mark Webber’s errant rear tyre during Sunday’s race. It was a freak accident that the FIA have rightly striven to prevent happening again.
We also had Jules Bianchi’s abandoned Marussia trundle backwards down the hill after it’s engine gave up the ghost, just as the leaders were coming into that part of the circuit. That was very lucky indeed.
And after furore involving Pirelli at Silverstone, it was refreshing to see the drivers take matters into their own hands by stating they would boycott the German race if more blowouts occurred.
This weekend showed that motorsport is still a dangerous sport. We should remember that, folks.
Silly season is upon us
Mark Webber’s announcement for 2014 – that he would be leaving F1 to enter sportscars – has really put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. Now there is a prime race seat on offer, and several names have been linked. But what about who’s going to fill those seats?
Nico Hulkenberg has been strongly linked to a move away from Sauber, and is highly rated. Lotus might lose patience with Romain Grosjean despite the Frenchman’s renaissance in Germany. Felipe Massa is now under pressure again at Ferrari.
It’s fascinating to think who could end up where going into 2014, in a season where the cars will be completely different.
Spare a thought for Lewis Hamilton though. If he’d just signed that one-year-extension at McLaren last year, he could have his choice of seats for 2014, including the one he really wanted at Red Bull. Just think about that combination for a moment.
Never mind Lewis, these things happen.
A welcome return for Lotus
As if this season didn’t have enough twists and turns already, we now get the resurgence of the Lotus team to another double podium (they don’t do things by halves, do they?). They’ve gone from also-ran to contenders over the past few races.
It’s exactly what Lotus need and don’t need in equal measure. If the results had continued to drop – this was Kimi’s first podium since Spain and Romain’s since Bahrain – then it would have pushed the Finn further into the temptations of Red Bull.
Why was it a bad thing? Because it keeps Romain in the frame for a 2014 seat, which is still a major risk. He brings £5m in from Total, is quick but erratic. When he’s good, he’s good. When he’s not, he’s expensive. It’s amazing to think that a season and half in to this stint in F1, the jury is still out on the Frenchman.
Lotus are back at the front again, which is a good thing short-term. Long term, it could cause them some headaches.
Pirelli make it even more fascinating
A lot was made about Pirelli’s conduct leading up to Germany. “Illegal” tyre tests, haphazard tyre compounds, unpredictable blowouts. But in the space of 7 days they’ve got their act sorted out and help deliver a race that brought intrigue and tension back to races, rather than unwarranted paranoia.
All it took was the change of the belt within the tyres from steel to Kevlar, as well as some procedural regulations put in place, and all of a sudden the pecking order was changed.
We’ve already covered Lotus, but they were the big winners. McLaren had their best points haul of 2013 by finishing 6th and 8th. Ferrari aren’t as fast as everyone around them, but their tyre strategy worked better than they hoped. Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber looked like a points threat all race, and even the Williams would have been in the hunt if it wasn’t for a wheelgun problem.
But there will always be losers. Mercedes lost all the information they gleaned from the “tyregate” scandal to fall back into their “fast on Saturday, slow on Sunday” pattern of earlier in the season. Force India fell back, as did Toro Rosso.
With more changes coming in Hungary, what will the order be after that?
Vettel isn’t just winning this championship – the others are all losing it
Sebastian Vettel has another sparkling gem to add to his resume – a home victory. He held off Kimi and Romain to get it, and in doing so, strengthened his grip around yet another World Title race.
Ominous, isn’t it?
Not only is the German proving to be fast this season, but he’s adding consistency to his repertoire or skills, something that Fernando Alonso and, to a lesser extent, Kimi Raikkonen, had cornered the market in.
Let’s just look at the last 6 race results for all three;
VET – 1st, 4th, 2nd, 1st, Ret.*, 1st
ALO – 8th, 1st, 7th, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
RAI – 2nd, 2nd, 10th, 9th, 5th, 2nd
* retired while leading comfortably.
Whilst he is racking the points up, his main rivals are having mediocre days at the office. Ferrari are struggling for raw pace and are relying too heavily on both tyre strategy and sheer willpower of Fernando Alonso. Sometimes that just isn’t enough though. And with Lotus, they are more dependant on temperature more than anything else – both double podium finishes this season have come when the track temperature has been just short of blistering.
Both can’t afford any more “bad” races while Sebastian and Red Bull are in this kind of form. The clock’s ticking though – the window for opportunity will only be getting narrower.