Strong result vital for Ferrari in Hockenheim (German GP preview)

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Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari will all go into the German Grand Prix expecting they can challenge for victory.

But Ferrari will be feeling pressure more than their closest rivals as a third bad result in a row could seriously damage their championship hopes.

Can Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa give the team their first win since the season-opener in Bahrain?

The circuit configuration and mixed weather conditions suggest a closely-fought battle for victory this weekend.

The Hockenheimring has only a couple of the medium-high speed corners where the RB6 is untouchable. It also has a long straight where the McLaren can make its Mercedes engine and F-duct count.

Since introducing their exhaust-blown diffuser in Valencia, Ferrari have shown good race pace in practice and have qualified well too – particularly when the super soft tyre is available, as it is this weekend.

Picking a winner out of those three teams is tricky. As usual Red Bull look like a safe bet for another front row lockout but expect McLaren and Ferrari to be quicker come race day.

Unpredictable weather

The weather forecast and an unusual tyre selection will keep the teams on their toes. Bridgestone have brought their super-soft and hard compounds this weekend – the first time they’ve mixed their two most different tyres in a single weekend.

But with track temperatures expected to be on the cool side, teams will face a challenge to get the hard tyres to warm up. Force India have already canned Paul di Resta’s planned practice run on Friday to give their race drivers the maximum opportunity to prepare for the conditions.

Their decision may also have been influence by the weather forecast, with rain expected to blow in on Friday and Saturday, which could make for an exciting qualifying session and mixed-up grid.

Read more: Rain likely to hit German GP weekend

Home heroes

The home crowd will have plenty to cheer on with no fewer than six German drivers on the grid – Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil, Timo Glock and Nico Hulkenberg.

And, of course, it’s the first home race for the works Mercedes team since the 1954 German Grand Prix. The team have clearly made progress in recent races with Rosberg getting on the podium at Silverstone.

There will be greater than usual expectation for the team to perform and the same goes for Schumacher in his first race at home since his comeback.

Read more: Who is Germany’s best F1 driver? (Poll)

Drivers to watch

Four driver to keep an eye on this weekend. Name your top picks in the comments.

Lewis Hamilton – On a very strong run at the moment with top two finishes in the last four races. Will he extend his championship lead again this weekend?

Sebastian Vettel – Along with the usual home race pressures he can’t count on any favouritism as a consequence of his championship position this weekend. At the least he needs to turn the tables on his team mate in the points standings.

Rubens Barrichello – Finished in the top five in the last two races with the improving Williams. Should be ahead of the Force Indias – can he also take on Robert Kubica?

Lucas di Grassi – With the battle between Virgin and Lotus heating up again, can the only rookie in those four cars join in the fray at a track he knows well? He’ll need a failure-free weekend to begin with.

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    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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    42 comments on “Strong result vital for Ferrari in Hockenheim (German GP preview)”

    1. I think jenson may be a dark horse for this weekend after a great race at silverstone and two great wins earlier this season in the WET. The conditions could suit him perfectly

      1. Ivan Vinitskyy
        22nd July 2010, 13:23

        He wasn’t quick in the wet or dry. Lewis is faster in either conditions. He was a lot more lucky with timing of pit stops. So I guess he will win only if he guesses weather conditions again.

        1. Which he’s shown to be very good at.

        2. I wouldn’t call it lucky if it was his call…I’d call it reading the race better than anyone. That’s how Jenson works!

    2. Massa is hopeless this year. I am sad to say this, but I really think Ferrari should sack him, the speed difference to Alonso is just too much.

      1. ill totally agree to it… Massa is way off pace to Alonso in all of the races, i dont thing he has out qualified Alonso for once this season!

        1. He has outqualified Alonso several times: i remember Bahrain, Turkey and Monaco, don’t know if there have been more.

          But I agree, after a fairly good start to the season he has been disappointing, let’s hope that he can take the fight to Alonso again, if not this year then next year.

          1. You can hardly count Monaco, where Alonso didn’t participate in qualifying at all, and had he done so he surely would’ve been towards the front of the grid after having the fastest times in free practice…

          2. And in Bahrain Alonso maid a mistake

      2. Ivan Vinitskyy
        22nd July 2010, 13:25

        Massa is perfect for Ferrari. He is not a bad racer, can score points in a good car but doesn’t challenge N1 driver. Ferrari needs this especially when they have Alonso who doesn’t like being beaten.

    3. any of the top 4 can win on sunday. I think a red bull will, possibly, vettel. Alonso is the one that needs the victory the most, otherwise he is going to find it hard to find any more positive words to motivate the team, the champioship will be gone in any way but the mathematics.

      1. Do you think that he is a motivator? The team needs Massa to score points too but he gets rough treatment if he is anywhere near his team mate.
        Hopefully there are no excuses left and that may help both drivers.

      2. Alonso is talking, ‘motivating’ and complaining far too much and failing to concentrate 100% on driving, particularly during races. All Ferrari need now is focus, the car is basically fine and they should be doing at least as well as McLaren. As for Massa, maybe the crash, becoming a father and having Alonso boss the team has all been a bit too much. But then you’d have to ask Alonso what he wants – a team mate who really competes with him, and maybe beats him, or someone regularly 5 positions or more behind him on the grid. Answers on a postcard..?

    4. “But Ferrari will be feeling pressure more than their closest rivals as a third bad result in a row could seriously damage their championship hopes.”

      i’d say their championship hopes are already seriously damaged. they are putting on a brave face, but it would take a miracle to avoid mathematical elimination in the next few races. even if they pull off some 1-2’s, they need help from another team to take points away from red bull and mclaren. i don’t expect that to happen.

      1. I think the Constructor’s championship maybe a little out of reach for Ferrari but I’d say as long as Alonso stops the silly mistakes he could still contend for the drivers championship, the more contenders for the driver’s championship the better

        1. I agree, the constructor’s is out of reach at this point with Massa’s performance so far this year. Alonso is still in the hunt if he can have some consecutive podium finishes.

    5. Two more drivers to watch out for is Webber as he will go for everything to ruin Vettel’s home race (by win) & Kobayashi who have finished 7th & 6th in the last two races. I think Ferrari may give a hard time but come raceday their result will talk.

      1. I don’t think Sauber will be as quick here as they were at Silverstone. But look out for them at Spa.

        1. I would expect them to be quick. Why do you not think so Keith?

          At Silverstone the Sauber looked pointy and was quick in the highspeed stuff as well as through the new arena twiddly bit.
          I think they’ve ironed out some serious flaws and got a pretty decent all round car now.

          1. Plus they’re supposedly bringing an updated diffuser to Hockenheim as well. Fingers crossed to see Kobayashi up there in the points again…

        2. I don’t know why Keith you think that other way around as they Sauber did a good job in Silverstone which had high speed corners & just as US_Peter pointed out they are bringing good updates to the race, I still think that someone may be Kobayashi will be in the points.

    6. Wasn’t a strong result for Ferrari ‘vital’ at Valencia…and Silverstone. If they leave Germany with a handful of points will Hockenheim be vital for Ferrari according to F1 journos?

      1. Ever more vital, until it is too late, if things keep developing the way they have over the last months. Even if they win, they will need good points in the next races to keep it up and not run out of races to make the difference. One good race is not enough.

      2. Harry – it’s indicative of the fact that Ferrari have got a good car and they need to start scoring more points with it.

    7. It’s quite sad the situation with Felipe. I was watching the 2008 season review the other day and he was just thunderous. What a season he had.

    8. With Felipe I think it will take a good result and then his confidence should ensure he has better results from then on. This season Ferrari tend to be good with tyres and seeing as they are both important and unusual this weekend they could perform well.

      Agreed Button could be a dark horse and Renaults will be competitive at a track where their good handling and stability over kerbs and the twisty sections will work to their advantage!

      1. I thought Massa was having trouble getting heat into the harder tyres, however good the car is on them.

        1. Yeah you’re right there. I suppose I mostly meant Alonso, but my point was they seem to be able to make tyres last when they need to looking back at these races. But Felipe isn’t winning races, he’s second to Alonso now and I’d guess it’s a psychological problem with Massa and on top of it he’s not responding well to the narrower tyres this year.

      2. Although Kubica’s worried about their lack of F-duct for the long sections of the track. All the other top runners (and some of the mid-pack teams) have their F-ducts functional at this point.

    9. Great article Kieth, but instead of Hamilton on drivers to watch i think it should be Massa because on his last 2 races he didn’t get a single point.

    10. I think Alonso may be able to spring a surprise here. He has been deceptively quick lately and were it not for penalties and misfortune, he would have scored a lot more points. With 9 races to go, it is now vital for Alonso to not just get on the podium but win. Under normal conditions the RBR is still quicker in qualifying, but if he can get a 2nd-row slot on the grid here, and execute a perfect start, he can win this. We should see 2 pitstops as the normal here, which should complicate the race a bit.

      1. I don’t think that’s unrealistic. Especially if it rains, McLaren will again be tied up with data trying to understand their new EBD and floor. Ferrari should now really have theirs ironed out after two races. Alonso could easily be fighting for a spot at the front of the grid barring any silly mistakes on his part.

        1. I really hope you’re right mate!!

    11. Felipe Massa’s lack of motivation clearly indicates thet he’s a second driver by contract this year. In past seasons he has delivered many irregular performances, but this year’s are too regularly mediocre to believe he really had the championship in mind even from the start.

    12. Why not watch Rosberg? He must be feeling good after regaining his grip on Schmacher and getting some good results. He is Alonso’s real problem now. If Hamilton can realize a couple tenths from the EBD, there will be space for Rosberg to get in between Ferrari and McLaren. Anyway, if Ferrari have trouble with getting heat into the softs, then they don’t look to qualify strong here, and look to start the event behind Rosberg and/or Kubica.

    13. Looking forward to the weekend so much!

      on a completely random point, you mentioned the Mercedes engine Keith, i remember reading that Mercedes are going to be slowly pulling away from McLaren to focus on its own team. Have we heard anything more about this as i’m intrigued as to what this means for McLaren, does this mean they are going to have to find a new engine supplier in a few years?

      1. I think there is a 4-5 deal where Mercedes are giving free engines to McLaren

        1. True Monk, engine supply till 2015 and by then we hope the new production line for the MP4-12c must have been functional and with it the production of McLaren’s house engine … ;-) …… Can’t wait…. :-)

    14. I think this is the weekend where Massa becomes official no.2 for Ferrari (atleast for the remainder of the season).

      He has the supersoft tyres this weekend, the only ones on which he hasn’t had any problems, if he still qualifies behind Alonso and Kubica, he will definitely be made no.2

      Still not sure if he should be sacked. Drivers’ performances vary from year to year. Fo eg: Nick and Kubica in 2007-2008, Massa-Kimi in 2007-2008, Rubens-Jenson in 2007-2008. Vettel-Webber in 2008-2009.

      And Massa did lead the team admirably well in 2008. So unless his lack of speed is traced down to the life-threatening accident, Ferrari don’t need to let go of Massa… yet!!

      1. I do concur with your analysis Sumedh, but you forgot to mention the role MSC played in his garage during his stay as “adviser” at Ferrari.

    15. i feel massa is ok…although he has lesser pace than alonso….he is not doing silly mistakes like alonso….i hope massa will overcome his bad luck this weekend..he has consistency

    16. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a point or two to one of the new teams! Would be great for Lotus to pick up a point in the rain! :D

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