Hamilton and Kubica keep their German GP points

The FIA’s International Court of Appeal has dismissed Alfa Romeo’s protest against their German GP penalties, meaning Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica keep their points.

Both Alfa Romeo drivers were slapped with 30-second timed penalties after the utterly bonkers race at the Hockenheimring, where Kimi Raikkonen had finished P7 and Antonio Giovinazzi behind in P8 respectively.

The FIA ruled at the time that they had breached article Article 27.1 with their torque settings at the start.

It was believed the settings they ran gave both drivers an unfair advantage off the starting line, something which Alfa Romeo denied and then claimed they had evidence to overturn the punishment.

However, following a hearing on September 24, Alfa Romeo’s case has been dismissed and so the German Grand Prix classification is final.

As a result of the verdict, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi remain out of the points, with Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica staying in P9 and 10 respectively.

It means Hamilton’s World Championship lead remains at a rather comfortable 65 points over team-mate and nearest rival Valtteri Bottas, while Kubica keeps hold of what is very likely to be his one and only point in his solitary season back in Formula 1.

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Vettel: F1 will realise it needs the German GP

Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 will quickly realise that it needs the German Grand Prix.

The German Grand Prix was the only race to drop off the 2020 calendar which will feature a record 22 rounds.

The British, Spanish, Italian and Mexican GPs all secured extensions to their contracts which were up at the end of 2019, yet the German GP, which provided the most thrilling race of this season, was not offered a new deal.

This is something which Vettel believes Formula 1 will regret in the future.

Asked by Autosport.com what should be done to bring the German GP back, Vettel said: “Maybe nothing needs to be done.

“Maybe next year or the future will show that F1 needs to be in Germany, and F1 will start looking into it again.

“I think it is not possible for F1 to lose races in countries where there is a big history, like the UK, like Italy, like Germany, so it is a big shame. Probably it’s a money question.

“As I said maybe nothing needs to happen, and just realising that we need to race in Germany, we need to race in these countries, is enough to bring the GP back.

“I would hope so. In the mean time obviously we lose out.

“I just hope that wherever we go as replacements will have as good of a race as in Germany, with as many people in the grandstands, which I’m not sure is a given, to be honest.”

Vettel has already stated his desire to return to a 16-race season, not for the sake of him or other drivers, but instead citing the pressure 22 races will place on team members like “mechanics”.

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German Grand Prix Technical Preview

The German Grand Prix returns as Round 10 of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship, after a one-year absence, in what is likely to be its final appearance on the calendar for the foreseeable future.

The Hockenheimring, not nearly as challenging as the old route through the forest, features a mix of cornering speeds, albeit slightly biased to the lower – medium end of the spectrum, together with multiple full throttle sections.

Downforce vs Drag

The part of the lap to Turn 8 favours a medium or even low downforce set-up, with Turns 3, 4, 5 and 7 all being flat-out. However, the remainder of the lap features very little in the way of straights, with a series of corners challenging the drivers, including the Stadium section. It is likely that Red Bull will aim to run lower downforce rear wings than both Mercedes and Ferrari in order to overcome its straightline speed deficit and improve its competitiveness in the first part of the lap.

Car Strengths Needed

A car with good traction and Aerodynamic efficiency will perform well here, as the majority of the lap is made up of low speed corners and straights. Those teams with a Mercedes or Ferrari power unit will benefit on the long flat-out run up to Turn 6.

Key Corners

Turn 2 is critical in setting up an opportunity to overtake heading down towards the Turn 6 hairpin. In addition, Turns 1 and 12, being the only high-speed corners on the track, will test the grid’s Aerodynamic downforce.

Tyres and Strategy

Given the absence of data from the current generation of cars and tyres at the Hockenheimring, an assessment of potential strategy options is difficult. Back in 2016, when Pirelli’s tyres were still fragile and subject to overheating, the race required a three-stop strategy to be competitive, using the SuperSoft and Soft compounds. The current tyres are more durable than in that period, with this year’s tyres a little softer than the equivalent 2017 tyres.

Given that the 2016 SuperSoft was capable of stints of up to 20 laps in the 2016 race, the UltraSoft should be able to run a similar distance, at least over the weekend, when temperatures are forecast to be lower than on Friday. The question then centres around which tyre can result in a one-stop strategy, the Soft or the Medium?

Both tyres have shown consistent performance through the year, and the selection of two or more sets of the Medium for at least one driver in every team suggests that the answer is not clear as yet. Of course, the front runners may choose to avoid the UltraSoft in the race completely, using the Soft to set their fastest time in Q2 and begin the race, before switching to the Medium.

Renault’s selection of ten sets of the UltraSoft tyre stands out as particularly aggressive, while its Soft/Medium combination guarantees that one driver will not run the preferred race tyre during practice.

Overtaking/DRS

The mix of slow corners and reasonable number of straights usually makes for good racing in Germany. For 2018, this will be assisted by the introduction of a third DRS zone along the pit straight which, like the additional zone in Silverstone, will be designed to move cars closer together in a bid to overtake into Turns 2 or 6, rather than providing a passing opportunity into Turn 1 itself.

Weather

Friday is expected to be extremely hot, but dry, with temperatures over thirty degrees Celsius, before cooler conditions set in for the weekend. This will make judging the long run data from FP2 particularly tricky for the teams, while the preparation for a flying lap may well need to be altered due to the temperature drop. Note that on Saturday particularly, but also on Sunday, there is the possibility of some rain showers.

Form Guide

In France and Austria certainly, and arguably in Silverstone as well, Mercedes had the outright fastest car over the weekend. However, all three of these circuits featured multiple medium-high-speed corners, and long-radius turns in the case of the first two, which seemed to suit the W09 better than the Ferrari SF71H.

Hockenheim has a very different circuit layout that could play more to the strengths of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars. In the midfield, Force India and Renault should perform more strongly than in recent races, thanks to the greater bias towards low-speed corners, while Haas should become relatively less competitive, with the VF-18’s high-speed corner performance hidden on this circuit.


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Giovinazzi gets another chance to impress

Sauber have given reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi a chance to impress with an FP1 outing lined up at the German Grand Prix.

Ferrari pushed to have both academy products – Charles Leclerc and Giovinazzi – in full-time driver roles with Sauber ahead of the 2018 season but the latter missed out with Marcus Ericsson keeping hold of his seat.

Giovinazzi had to settle for a reserve and development role for this season, but will finally get a chance to rack up some miles in the 2018 car.

The Italian deputised for two races at Sauber in 2017 whilst then driver Pascal Wehrlein recovered from an injury sustained at the Race of Champions.

However, calls for him to remain on the grid became quieter after a string of costly crashes.

Yet, there is still hope of Giovinazzi joining the 2019 grid should Leclerc be promoted to the Ferrari seat for next season.

Giovinazzi will be replacing Ericcson at Hockenheim, the Swede returning to the wheel on Friday afternoon for FP2.

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Title protagonists out for revenge in German GP

After a brief break, Formula 1 returns this weekend with the German GP where once again Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton will lock horns in the title race.

For Vettel it is a home grand prix and he wants revenge after 2016’s lacklustre outing while for Hamilton, he wants revenge for Silverstone.

Last time out at the British GP, Hamilton’s home race, the Mercedes driver’s chances of winning were dealt a bitter blow as he was tagged and spun by Kimi Raikkonen, falling from third to 18th.

He put in a storming drive to recover to second but lost points to race winner Vettel, who briefly battled the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas for the win. Raikkonen was third while Bottas’ shots tyres dropped him to fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

It was a thrilling race with Safety Cars, big crashes (no one was hurt), a great battle for the remaining points with seven drivers fighting for five positions, and a touch of controversy at the end as Hamilton, who has subsequently retracted his statement, accused Ferrari of using “interesting tactics.”

Here’s hoping for a repeat this weekend as the last time Formula 1 raced at the Hockenheimring, Germany’s sole remaining F1 track failed to set the stage alight.

Hamilton won after an early pass on Nico Rosberg, Red Bull’s 2-3 was decided by strategy, Rosberg’s fourth by the stewards while Vettel and Ferrari’s floundering form continued leaving him wanting more, and better, this weekend.

His 2016 win was Hamilton’s third German GP triumph but his second at the Hockenheimring while Vettel previously won but at the Nurburgring. Fernando Alonso is the only other current driver to have won the German GP with three P1s to his name.

And while it must be noted that Mercedes have won the last two editions of the German GP, both in the V6 era, this year’s campaign has thrown the form book out of the window.

Ferrari may have the best engine this year, if you listen to Red Bull, and Mercedes may be “vulnerable” and showing “weakness”, again if you listen to Red Bull. This has put Ferrari into the lead in both championships with Vettel eight points ahead of Hamilton and Ferrari 20 points up on Mercedes in the Constructors’ race.

Red Bull, meanwhile, are there and thereabout. With three wins on the board, they are equal with Ferrari and Mercedes. The only difference is both Red Bull drivers have won whereas only Vettel has won for Ferrari and Hamilton for Mercedes.

The Milton Keynes’ squad, though, will be looking forward to the German GP after a double podium in 2016. Actually only one will, Max Verstappen.

His team-mate Ricciardo is likely to take engine penalties because in “Hockenheim you can overtake, so we will probably install the new engine there” the Aussie revealed. And with Ricciardo showing throughout this season his overtaking prowess, he could be the main highlight this Sunday.

With a midfield being billed as “tighter and “tighter” with Haas even saying there isn’t a midfield given how close fourth to tenth – we think he meant ninth – are out on track, that could where the best battles unfold this weekend.

Renault are bringing a new front wing as they look to maintain their advantage in the B-championship while Haas will be looking to stay out of the barriers and McLaren for a qualifying improvement.

A layout from the classics, a controversy hangover and a championship battle in which both want revenge for one reason or another, Formula 1 has handed Hockenheim all the ingredients, now it needs to deliver.

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Giovinazzi set for Sauber duty in Hockenheim FP1

Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi will be back in a Formula 1 cockpit when he does duty for Sauber during the first free practice session of the German Grand Prix weekend on Friday.

The Italian driver, who made his Formula 1 race debut at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix, in place of injured Pascal Wehrlein, will do the FP1 session in place of Marcus Ericsson, with Charles Leclerc in the sister car meaning that both Ferrari proteges will be in action during the 90-minutes morning session at Hockenheim.

Giovinazzi drove during Barcelona F1 testing, after the Spanish Grand Prix in May, for Sauber on day one of the in-season testing and then for Ferrari a day later.

Last year the 24-year-old Italian did seven FP1 sessions with Haas and has recently been linked to a return to the American team as a possible replacement for wayward Romain Grosjean, if not this season then as a contender to do so next year.

Ferrari ran out of seats this season for their drivers as the Maranello bosses were keen to place both Giovinazzi and Leclerc on the grid. They opted for the latter with Sauber who has done a stellar job, setting himself up as the first Ferrari Drivers Academy (FDA) graduate to step up to the Scuderia.

At the time Haas were committed to both their current drivers, however, However Guenther Steiner and Gene Haas may well think twice when considering their line-up for next season because Giovinazzi would come with a substantial discount on their Ferrari engine deal.


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Hulkenberg: I’m German, I’m a machine, I just do my job!

Nico Hulkenberg’s career to date has been something of an enigma, highly rated and respected among his peers yet he has never stood on a Formula 1 podium thus far in his career but that could change soon as he sees Renault as a force for the future.

In an interview ahead of the German Grand Prix weekend, Hulkenberg was realistic when summing up where he and Renault are in the pecking order this season, “At the moment we’re still quite far away.”

“In Canada we were lapped by the top six guys, which is obviously a lot, a big gap. But you need to see the progression since Renault came back. From last year to this, we’ve made really good improvements.”

“The big teams are doing a very good job and they have huge budgets, huge resources, so it’s hard… it’s also naïve to think that you can just catch them up like that over one or two years.’

“It takes time, because it’s in every detail. We’ve made good progress and we’re not lifting off the throttle, we will keep on pushing.”

Hulkenberg has normally had the better of his teammates, but Carlos Sainz’s arrival in the team was a wake-up call for the German who had to raise his game relative to the pressure he was getting when Jolyon Palmer was his teammate.

But The Hulk has his own opinion, “I don’t really agree with that. I think last year, yes, I was more comfortable, let’s say I was always clear. But I don’t feel that having a team-mate closer to you makes you find extra stuff.”

Looking back at last year, I’m pretty confident that there was not one instance in qualifying or the race where I underperformed because of that.”

“I don’t see it because of my own ambition, my own challenge is to always get the best out of me and my car. I don’t need someone to push me to do that. I’m German, I’m a machine, I just do my job!”

Renault have lagged behind Mercedes and Ferrari in the power unit stakes, but the goal is to slug it out for victories and titles in the future, how far ahead that is only time will tell.

Hulkenberg might have been an option for Mercedes and Ferrari at some point, there was talk at some point of a deal to drive for Maranello but nothing ever materialised. However, Renault came calling and the rest is history.

“I’m very happy here,” admitted the 30 -year-old, “I can see that they want what I want, and that everybody is pushing in the same direction and that, for me, is important. To be able to see and feel the progress.”

“It takes that kind of time, the same for Ferrari years and years ago, for Red Bull and for Mercedes. When they came back in 2010, Mercedes started to dominate only when we changed to the new regulation cars, but before that there was a four-year time period leading up to being the best in the game.”

“You need to be in the right car to be winning and win races and to go for the championship. Of course, I feel I have what it takes, and I am confident I can deliver if I have the right car one day. So far, I haven’t, and that’s why I haven’t even been on the podium. Those are the facts. That’s the nature of this sport.”

Formula 1 has been dominated by Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull for the past half dozen years, with no other team coming close to victory.

Knowing this, he rationalised, “What are the alternatives? If you don’t like it you can walk away, but this is Formula 1, the best there is in the world. This is the best of racing, the best drivers are here, the best engineers.”

“This is where I want to compete and challenge other people and challenge myself. Even if I’m upset or not happy that I don’t have the winning car, the alternative is to leave – and I don’t want to do that. I love what I do and I’m good at it; I’m still chasing that dream, wanting to win races.”

“Right now, I have an excellent opportunity with Renault to work our way up there over the next few years and that’s very exciting for me and gives me a lot of motivation.”

Asked during the interview if this was the most enjoyable period in his career, Hulkenberg replied, “I think so, yeah. I feel good, I feel confident, and I’m probably doing the best driving of my whole career.”

The Hulk has made 145 grand prix starts since his debut at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix and scored 447 points. He won the Le Mans 24-Hours on his first attemptin 2015 with Porsche.

 

There was a school of thought that said when Carlos [Sainz] came into the team, it would be good for you because he would be the best team-mate you’ve had to date and that it would push you to another level. Have you felt that?

Going back to the performance gap between the top teams and those in the midfield, that’s something that’s existed for quite a bit of your career…
Yes, always.

Do you feel that a lot of you have missed out on big achievements because of that performance gap? If there had been a cost cap in place then it would have shrunk that gap.

 


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Ricciardo expects German GP penalty

Daniel Ricciardo is likely to race a new power unit at this weekend’s German GP as in “Hockenheim you can overtake.”

The Aussie has been knocking on the door of engine penalties for several weeks, however, Red Bull held off handing him Renault’s updated parts.

He took his third and final penalty-free internal combustion engine and turbocharger back at the Canadian Grand Prix while also moving onto his third MGU-H.

The time, though, has now come to update his engine with the Aussie revealing he is likely to take the hit at the Hockenheimring.

“In Hockenheim you can overtake, so we will probably install the new engine there,” Ricciardo told Speedweek.

Should he move onto a fourth ICE, turbo and MGU-H, he will start the grand prix from the very back of the grid as the penalty amounts to more than 20 places.

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Alonso expects difficult German GP weekend

McLaren can expect a trying weekend at the Hockenheimring with Fernando Alonso saying it won’t be “an easy track” for their MCL33.

Although the Spaniard was back inside the points at the British GP, he was left to ponder what could have been had McLaren managed a better showing in qualifying.

Alonso raced from 13th on the grid to eighth at the chequered flag.

He has reiterated McLaren’s need to improve their Saturday pace.

“We know we need to work on our qualifying performances to give ourselves the best chance on Sunday, but we’ve also seen that during the race we can push forward and secure points, so the aim is to achieve the same in Germany next weekend,” Alonso said.

“I enjoy racing at Hockenheim and have won there three times so it’s great to be back after a break last year.

“The track is viewed as one of the classics, it’s fun to drive and there are a couple of overtaking opportunities – and an extra DRS zone this year – so hopefully we can fight with the cars around us.”

Germany marks the first of two races in a double-header with Alonso acknowledging that the two extremely different tracks, the Hockenheimring and the Hungaroring, mean extra work as they involve very different set-ups.

And while he is hopeful for Germany, he says it could be a difficult weekend for McLaren.

“The next couple of races before the summer break are on very different tracks. We need to work hard, and do as much as possible to adapt our set-up for each of them to maximise our chances.

“We know this weekend won’t be an easy track for us but we’ll give it our best as always.”

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