German GP Debrief: Recapping the Talking Points from Hockenheim

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    paddylowe1.jpg For Nico Rosberg, there was no better time to extol the virtues of German efficiency than on Sunday.

    From start to finish, Rosberg utterly dominated the 2014 German Grand Prix, so much so that it's fair to suggest that the only person he was ever really racing was himself.

    Fortunately, that did nothing to detract from what was a superb race at the Hockenheimring (go here for the full report), so without further ado, let's have a look at some of the major talking points from the race.

    No FRIC, No Problem for Top Dogs

    After two weeks of explanations, accusations and speculation surrounding the FIA's decision to ban Front-to-Rear Inter-Connected suspension (FRIC), Sunday's race demonstrated it had little effect on the pecking order -- and certainly not at the top.

    Behind Rosberg through the chequered flag came Valtteri Bottas (Williams), the Merc of Lewis Hamilton (from 20th no less), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Daniel Ricciardo (RBR) to complete the top 6. The race previously at Silverstone, the top 6 would include two Red Bulls, a Ferrari, a Williams, a Mercedes and a McLaren in lieu of the other Silver Arrow, which DNFed. On top of that, the German GP saw 7 Mercedes-powered cars in the top 10, up from 5 two weeks prior, and it's that engine that makes the biggest difference -- something that can't be changed under current homologation rules. If the FIA wanted to shake-up things up, they probably shouldn't have glued the cup to the table.

    Undoubtedly in the move to ban FRIC 9 races into the season, the dominance of Mercedes AMG played a factor -- having pioneered the technology in 2011, it would help them achieve their first win at China in 2012, and a consistent position at the front of the grid in 2013. Evidently, it was not a defining characteristic of their success, but that does little to put the FIA above suspicion.

    The notion that FRIC is infringing on the rules about movable aerodynamic devices now, in its fourth season of operation seems tenuous at best. Considering that some systems are less advanced than others, surely the FIA had the data to ban FRIC outright earlier than this -- what makes Marussia's 2014 design illegal compared to Mercedes' 2013 one?

    For my two cents, it's nice to see a FIA technical directive backfire when it has such an obvious ulterior motive. Nothing has been ruled illegal, and yet that didn't stop Charlie Whiting from unfairly flexing his muscles. Teams spend months designing cars around regulations which are set in stone beforehand, so expecting them to make a change without no possible benefit to driver safety in a matter of weeks is simply unfair. It doesn't matter whether Mercedes is winning by 2 seconds or 20, they are entitled to reap the benefits of their superior design. It should be left up to rival engineers to catch up, not the FIA to pull them back towards the pack.

    Massa Left in the Lurch as DNF Woes Continue

    For Felipe Massa, that offseason contiki tour to desecrate indian burial sites is probably starting to look like a bad idea.

    Massa's first lap incident with Kevin Magnussen was the third time in four races he was forced to retire, and his fourth overall. In the only race of that stretch that he did finish, in Austria, the Brazilian endured a disappointing Sunday that saw him start on pole, only to end up fourth behind the two Mercedes and his teammate Valtteri Bottas. Massa quite simply can't catch a break, and that may very well end up being his F1 legacy. massa1.jpg

    Since his title hopes were thwarted by Lewis Hamilton in the waning seconds of the 2008 season, Massa has had a pretty rough go of things. He was nearly killed at the Hungaroring in 2009, and returned to the sport in 2010 having to play second-fiddle to Ferrari's new hire, Fernando Alonso. Winless in his next four seasons, he lost his seat at the Scuderia to Kimi Raikkonen.

    Joining Williams for 2014, it's fair to say the paddock's expectations of what he could achieve were low, at least until testing began, and it was clear he had one of the best cars on the grid. What was seen as a step down career-wise is now an opportunity to prove that he can be more than F1's nearly man -- and yet he's still exactly that. Losing a shot at the win in Canada, or the teammate battle to Bottas. Especially if Williams can keep this momentum going for a title challenge in 2015 or '16, the 33-year-old has cause to be concerned that his employers might look elsewhere if a younger, sexier prospect (Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, or even Max Verstappen?) becomes available. Formula 1 can be a ruthless business, but it would be a great shame indeed if the Brazilian never returned to the top step of the podium.

    Hockenheim Goes Off With a Bang... For the Last Time?

    Ricciardo vs Hamilton (And Raikkonen), Hamilton vs Raikkonen, Vettel vs Raikkonen vs Alonso, Ricciardo vs Button, Alonso vs Ricciardo. The German Grand Prix was certainly not without its fair share of wheel-to-wheel action. While it certainly didn't have the drama of a Canada or a Bahrain, so many drivers in close proximity made the race enthralling to watch. Whether that's a case of the cars making the track (certainly Hamilton and Ricciardo's misfortunes played a part in spicing things up) or not, the drivers were able to enjoy plenty of overtaking opportunities, particularly at turns 7 and 8.

    hockenheimring.jpg Unfortunately, irrespective of the racing, that might be Hockenheim's last Grand Prix for quite some time. The problem is, amidst reports that the Nurburgring is set to take over as sole host of the German GP from 2015 onwards, the Hockenheimring endured a dismal turnout on Sunday, recording just over 50,000 attendees. That's not the message you want to send to Bernie Ecclestone, and it may very well be the circuit's death knell. Regardless of the fact that the Hockenheimring has hosted the vast majority of German GPs, it remains firmly in the shadow of its more iconic, westerly cousin. The redesign in 2002 left the track stripped of much of its character, and while Sunday showed it can still put on one hell of a race, it seems unlikely to be sorely missed.

    Thoughts on FRIC? Massa? Maybe a favourite Hockenheim memory? Or perhaps Lewis Hamilton's knowledge of his wheel's buttons? Sound off below.

    h/t to r/Formula1GIFS
    • Like Like x 4
  2. Paul Ad

    Paul Ad

    Massa crash Hockenheimring 2014 Formel 1 - Nordtrib├╝ne - turn one

    The accident between Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen at the Germany Grand Prix 2014 in the first corner.

  3. Steve Bird

    Steve Bird
    Racing Since 1978 Premium

    I thought giving someone the 'bird' from the grandstand was what football fans did. I've been to over 20 F1 GP's and have never seen that particular gesture at a driver before. Idiot (around 1:07)
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Fernando Deutsch

    Fernando Deutsch

    Is so sad seen this track no longer part of the F1 calendar. For me this is a much more interesting track than the old layout, and much better than the N├╝rburgring. At least it provides more passing oportunities, and I find it a more technical demanding and hard for setup configuration.