German GP: thoughts on the start

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McLaren are out to convert Lewis Hamilton's pole position into victory in front of the Mercedes fans

McLaren’s strong qualifying positions puts them in the perfect place to take control of the German Grand Prix.

What can Ferrari do to stop them? Here are some thoughts on how the first corner might play out.

Massa crucial to Ferrari hopes

McLaren may not have locked out the front row of the grid but with Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen both starting on the clean side of the track they have the potential to take control of the race early on.

Whether they choreograph a move or the advantage of being off the dirty line allows Kovalainen to pass second placed Felipe Massa, McLaren have an excellent chance of completing the first lap with the cars in the first two positions. From that position they should at least be able to count on winning the race.

So what Felipe Massa can do at the start is vital for Ferrari. Unless Hamilton makes a bad start (which did happen in Bahrain, of course) it looks like the best he can hope for is to split the McLarens.

Raikkonen must make up places

Kimi Raikkonen, sixth, also starts on the dirty side of the grid and he too will be worrying about the driver one place behind him on the clean side – Robert Kubica.

In front of Raikkonen are Jarno Trulli, fourth, and Fernando Alonso, fifth. Alonso has not had great starts in the Renault this year – remember Barcelona and Magny-Cours – and Raikkonen should at minimum expect to get past the Renault at the start

Nor is Trulli likely to defend too strongly on the opening lap against an attack from a Ferrai he’s unlikely to beat to the flag. The danger for Raikkonen is that if he doesn’t pounce on Trulli right away he might not be able to get close enough to pass later on. From where he starts, getting on the podium would be a result for Raikkonen.

Incident potential

Five years ago three of the front-runners wiped themselves out at the first corner – Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen. With several front runners starting behind slower cars a repeat could be on the cards.

Another potential problem to keep an eye on at the Hockenheimring is the use of run-off areas. At Magny-Cours we saw Hamilton penalised for using the run-off area to pass Sebastian Vettel.

Hockenheim has many such run-off areas that could be used in such a way, particularly at turn one and the Spitzkerve hairpin. Drivers who use the run-offs to overtake a rival may be penalised if they don’t give their places back.

2008 German Grand Prix grid

1 Lewis Hamilton
2 Felipe Massa
3 Heikki Kovalainen
4 Jarno Trulli
5 Fernando Alonso
6 Kimi Raikkonen
7 Robert Kubica
8 Mark Webber
9 Sebastian Vettel
10 David Coulthard
11 Timo Glock
12 Nick Heidfeld
13 Nico Rosberg
14 Jenson Button
15 Sebastien Bourdais
16 Kazuki Nakajima
17 Nelsinho Piquet
18 Rubens Barrichello
19 Adrian Sutil
20 Giancarlo Fisichella

From the forum: 2008 German Grand Prix weather watch

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “German GP: thoughts on the start”

  1. Hi Keith,

    I think Alonso had a great start in Turkey and a good start in Canada, side-by-side with Massa.

    GP2 drivers used run-off areas many times today.

  2. I have always been impressed by Hamilton’s starts. He always seem to know what is going around him and where to put his car. You just expect him to gain places if he isn’t on pole.

    How aggressive will Massa and Kova be? Kimi should be careful and avoid the banzai first lap. I just hope everyone gets through the first corner safely.

  3. One may hate this suggestion, but if Ferrari tacticians have some sense, i see this going down the pit-lane poker route. Massa(if he doesn’t bungle up the start), could pretty much sit it out for the first round of pits and perhaps take the position. That’s what they should be aiming at.

  4. Jonesracing82
    20th July 2008, 3:12

    hope ur wrong sri but thats the sad state of f1 racing these days!

  5. Don’t see why that should be considered a sad state of racing. The sport should be about tactics as much as it is about outright speed and power.

    I was unable to watch qualifying yesterday, but was the possibility of a heavy fuel load for Raikkonen mentioned? A bit far fetched, I know. But could it be a possibility?

  6. Kimi is not very happy person at the moment says finnish newspapers. He do not know why his car was very bad with race fuel on. But he said he will not give up and try score as many points as possible.
    What i am worry about is Trulli. If Kimi can not take him during first lap would he be in “Trulli race” till first pit stop? In that case i think ferrari should take Kimi in as soon as possible and make 3 stop stragedy so he would not lose so much time by being stuck behinde Trulli.
    All sounds so much easier on paper than on real life lol

  7. Trulli: “No Trespassing”

  8. diseased_rat
    20th July 2008, 8:52

    Sri, I think we’ve seen that sense is a commodity the Ferrari tactitions are running short on lately.

    It’s funny seeing “the sad state of racing” mentioned when we haven’t had it so good as F1 viewers since the Mansell/Senna/Prost era as far as I’m concerned.

  9. I hope to see Massa side by side with Hamilton in the first curve. Maybe taking him off the track!

    Wishful thinking!

  10. the start of the race?, well before getting into his car Massa will be talking to the world press like the nice guy he is instead of focusing on getting into the zone.

  11. And on the threat of rain? says ‘showers still threaten for race’ are predicting no rain

    Hmmm, something tells me that a processional race is going to happen

  12. I think Lewis has this one in a bag. I’ll be watching Kovalainen, I think there’s potential for speed there.

    Kimi’s car didn’t look good at all yesterday, so he’s probably out of the podium.

    Trulli has been impressive this last few laps, maybe he manages a third place? I don’t know.

    Massa will spin.

  13. ^*these last few races


  14. Windguru’s showing no rain at all today at Hockenheim (the next shower is due late tomorrow evening). Temperature prediction in the low 20s, with wind speed of 8 knots – in other words, it will be much like the second Friday practise.

  15. Unless something extraordinary happens (which can always in racing), I think Hamilton will drive it on home. He’s driving well and at the moment the McLarens seem to be inherently faster than the Ferraris at the moment too.

    I would be disappointed if Raikkonen doesn’t end up in 4th at the very least. Even though he’s unhappy with his car, it would be sad if he couldn’t pass Trulli and Alonso throughout the duration of the race.

  16. I think after the first lap positions will be Ham-Massa-Kovlainen-Kimmi-Trulli-Kubica-Alonso, considering a clean start. After that depends on fuel strategies. I bet for Kimmi to be in the podium.

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