2012 Formula One German Grand Prix Preview
There is nothing more interesting than an unpredictable Formula 1 season. We’ve reiterated this fact before, and will state it yet again, that with all the top drivers still clamouring for the lead in the driver’s championship title, the fights just seems to get spicier with every grand prix. Agreed, that with the past couple of races at Valencia and Silverstone, the season’s epic new-winner-every-race streak got reduced to shambles; but it has done little to curb the apprehension regarding who will win again. The question has remained as doubtful and as unanswerable as ever.
It can be a third victory for Fernando Alonso or Mark Webber. However, a second victory for Lewis, Sebastian, Jenson, Nico or Pastor Maldonado, is just as likely. As is a victory by someone who hasn’t won in this season yet. And we do have quite a few options for the third type. We certainly have more race winners starting on the grid than what this season has yielded, and this weekend at Hockenheim will indeed provide the perfect arena to iron out a few truths about this fact.
First up, let me begin by doing what I love – viz praise the Lotus team. They have systematically proven, that they are no less capable than the traditional front runners. I would infact, hazard an opinion here, by saying that they have even managed to outclass McLaren on most occasions this year. Not surprisingly, they have inched past their British rivals in the Constructors’ battle and are now sitting a mere 8 points behind second placed Ferrari.
By the looks of it, Lotus seem to be perfectly poised. Romain Grosjean, who started this season as a newbie has already proven a thing or two about his driving calibre. He does have a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gear box change this weekend, but that shouldn’t deter the Frenchman’s chances much. We have seen him come through the field earlier, and he would be looking to do the same again. As for Kimi Raikkonen, the Iceman really does not need to prove anything to anyone. Coupled with the fact that these two supremely talented drivers have a top notch car in their hands, it is surprising that they haven’t won a race yet. Germany will be crucial for them as they’ll be looking high and low for that elusive breakthrough to try and make a run for the Constructors’ title.
If Lotus have been one end of the surprise spectrum, Ferrari most definitely have been the other. They started off with a car which was slightly faster than a supermarket trolley, and which handled slightly better than a 1938 Panzier. Then they dropped several thousand jaws worldwide by winning a couple of races and gliding into the second place of the constructor’s tally. Which simply lays testimony to the sheer amount of labour the team has put into bringing the otherwise under-average F2012 up to standards. However, the fact that their top speed and grip problems still exist won’t help them at the Hockenheimring, a track which puts both of these factors at a premium. But Alonso is on a high, and fresh from two well deserved consecutive podiums and he would do anything to maintain this streak.
Red Bull’s strong performance throughout this season reflects well in the rather convincing lead that they have drawn in the constructor’s tally – and with Mark Webber renewing his contract for the next year, they seem very well set to take their game a step further. Silverstone proved that Webber is done with playing the second fiddle to world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel, and this weekend will see a rather crucial match-up between the Aussie and the German – who will incidentally be gunning for the first home victory of his career.
Speaking of home victories, do watch out for the Mercedes’ of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Rosberg has been known to pull surprises here and there, and Schumacher – thousands still believe that the legend still has it in him. Put Force India’s rising talent – Nico Hulkenberg into the fray and you have a very German civil war happening in the heart of Germany this weekend. Rest assured that the grandstands will be loud. Very loud.
Which, as usual, brings us to the sad state of affairs that is McLaren. No one really knows what has gone wrong with them. First, it was the pitstops. They set that right only a couple of weeks back at Silverstone, but then set up the chassis all wrong. The result has been a steadily slipping position on the constructors’ table and a depression epidemic in their garage. They have the drivers : both Lewis and Jenson are world champions. They have the car. They have the record of being the most successful team in the sport. What they do not have is that Midas touch to set their season right. They have even won two races, one from each of their drivers – but the story since then, has only been about mechanical failures, pit stop debacles, unfortunate collisions and … to put it simply, a lot of hard luck.
With Lewis’ contract renewed yet again, the team would be looking to dive back into the points just as they are used to, and this weekend will be extremely crucial for them in that regard. Lewis can take all the encouragement he needs from the fact that he won the German Grand Prix last season, albeit at a different venue.
Leaving aside the top teams, we have of course, the traditional mid-fielders, in the form of Sauber, Force India and Williams. Amongst them, Sergio Perez would be a good bet for a podium slot – he has the skill and he has been up there on the podium before, and he has managed to salvage points here and there throughout this season. However, the fact that Pastor Maldonado will be around does make the situation a wee bit dicey, because he hasn’t really been the cleanest driver in the recent past.
To all of this, add a dash of weather forecasts; sprinkle some thoughts over the ever baffling tyre strategy. And you have a race that can very well live up to the high standards of unpredictability that this season has set.
That’s that, then. Hockenheimring this weekend, is where all the action will be. Stay tuned for a blitzkrieg this Sunday. Abschied!
(image : autoweek)
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