Hamilton needs help from the weather – or Williams

2014 German Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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At best, Lewis Hamilton will start the German Grand Prix from 15th on the grid.

But depending on the extent of the repairs Mercedes deem necessary after his crash, including replacing the failed brake disc that caused it, he may end up having to start from the pit lane.

That would turn the already very difficult task of catching his pole sitting team mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg into a near-impossible one. But there are two things which could work in his favour.

The start

As we’ve noted several times here this year, the Williams drivers are the ones to watch on lap one. Valtteri Bottas has made up 13 places at the start this year, Felipe Massa 12, and they are lined up right behind Rosberg at the start.

If Hamilton’s got any hope of catching his team mate, seeing either or both of those Williams cars get ahead would be a big help. Massa may prove just as big a threat as Bottas from third on the grid – he took the lead from there four years ago while pole sitter Sebastian Vettel was preoccupied covering off an attack from second-placed Fernando Alonso.

The run to the first corner is short – 260 metres – and the stewards generally turn a blind eye to drivers abusing the wide tarmac run-off area at the exit. From there the cars are soon on the long run towards the Spitzkehre – and as Austria showed Williams have the straight-line speed to put Mercedes under pressure when they start within range.

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At the beginning of the weekend it looked as though we might see out first wet race of the year – and the first rain-hit race on the Hockenheimring since ins 2002 redesign. However the chances of that are fading at the moment.

This is bad news for Hamilton, who would have welcomed the added variable of wet conditions. The prospect of having to start a dry race from the pit lane is about as bad as it could get for him.

However conditions are expected to cloud over at the track, reducing the air temperature by around five degrees. It will likely have a much greater effect on track temperatures, which hit a year-record high of 58C during practice.

It’s still going to be a warm race, though not one which would place as severe demands on Pirelli’s aggressive choice of soft and super-soft tyres as it might have done.

“I reckon in the race we will suffer more because of tyre degradation,” said Fernando Alonso, who will line up seventh on the grid. “With such high temperatures, the rear tyres slide a lot and it will be really important to choose the right number of stops to make.”

Alonso doubts he has a car to rival the Mercedes and Williams, but he may be able to take the fight to the Red Bulls ahead of him and Kevin Magnussen, who put his McLaren an excellent fourth on the grid.

The top ten qualifiers as usual all used the softest tyres in Q2 – in this case the super-soft – so that’s what they will start on. Rosberg used an extra set of super-softs during Q1 – something which could have cost him had he expected to face a straight fight with his team mate at the front, which now looked very unlikely.

Just about the only saving grace for Hamilton is that he has plenty of fresh tyres for tomorrow’s race. Even so, it looks like being a damage limitation exercise for him.

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’17.6311’17.109 (-0.522)1’16.540 (-0.569)
2Valtteri BottasWilliams1’18.2151’17.353 (-0.862)1’16.759 (-0.594)
3Felipe MassaWilliams1’18.3811’17.370 (-1.011)1’17.078 (-0.292)
4Kevin MagnussenMcLaren1’18.2601’17.788 (-0.472)1’17.214 (-0.574)
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’18.1171’17.855 (-0.262)1’17.273 (-0.582)
6Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’18.1941’17.646 (-0.548)1’17.577 (-0.069)
7Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’18.3891’17.866 (-0.523)1’17.649 (-0.217)
8Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’18.5301’18.103 (-0.427)1’17.965 (-0.138)
9Nico HulkenbergForce India1’18.9271’18.017 (-0.910)1’18.014 (-0.003)
10Sergio PerezForce India1’18.9161’18.161 (-0.755)1’18.035 (-0.126)
11Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’18.4251’18.193 (-0.232)
12Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’18.5341’18.273 (-0.261)
13Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’18.4961’18.285 (-0.211)
14Esteban GutierrezSauber1’18.7391’18.787 (+0.048)
15Romain GrosjeanLotus1’18.8941’18.983 (+0.089)
16Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’18.683
17Adrian SutilSauber1’19.142
18Jules BianchiMarussia1’19.676
19Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’20.195
20Kamui KobayashiCaterham1’20.408
21Max ChiltonMarussia1’20.489
22Marcus EricssonCaterham

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Nico Rosberg16.680 (1)35.755 (2)24.100 (1)
Valtteri Bottas16.837 (3)35.545 (1)24.377 (5)
Felipe Massa16.843 (4)35.812 (3)24.423 (6)
Kevin Magnussen16.931 (7)36.035 (4)24.248 (2)
Daniel Ricciardo16.813 (2)36.149 (5)24.311 (4)
Sebastian Vettel16.907 (5)36.311 (10)24.248 (2)
Fernando Alonso16.927 (6)36.260 (8)24.462 (7)
Daniil Kvyat16.973 (8)36.405 (13)24.576 (8)
Nico Hulkenberg16.988 (9)36.235 (7)24.776 (11)
Sergio Perez17.062 (12)36.190 (6)24.782 (12)
Jenson Button16.996 (10)36.322 (11)24.735 (10)
Kimi Raikkonen17.049 (11)36.486 (14)24.671 (9)
Jean-Eric Vergne17.125 (14)36.373 (12)24.787 (13)
Esteban Gutierrez17.222 (16)36.576 (15)24.864 (14)
Romain Grosjean17.204 (15)36.581 (16)24.964 (16)
Lewis Hamilton17.072 (13)36.290 (9)24.975 (17)
Adrian Sutil17.294 (18)36.709 (17)25.058 (18)
Jules Bianchi17.473 (19)36.865 (18)25.338 (19)
Pastor Maldonado17.243 (17)37.272 (21)24.891 (15)
Kamui Kobayashi17.613 (20)37.266 (20)25.529 (20)
Max Chilton17.621 (21)37.142 (19)25.680 (21)
Marcus Ericsson

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes332.5 (206.6)
2Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes331.5 (206.0)-1.0
3Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes330.6 (205.4)-1.9
4Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes328.9 (204.4)-3.6
5Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault326.2 (202.7)-6.3
6Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes325.7 (202.4)-6.8
7Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes324.7 (201.8)-7.8
8Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault324.7 (201.8)-7.8
9Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes322.7 (200.5)-9.8
10Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault322.3 (200.3)-10.2
11Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes322.2 (200.2)-10.3
12Max ChiltonMarussiaFerrari321.9 (200.0)-10.6
13Jules BianchiMarussiaFerrari321.8 (200.0)-10.7
14Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault321.6 (199.8)-10.9
15Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari320.1 (198.9)-12.4
16Adrian SutilSauberFerrari320.0 (198.8)-12.5
17Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari319.9 (198.8)-12.6
18Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari319.9 (198.8)-12.6
19Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault319.2 (198.3)-13.3
20Pastor MaldonadoLotusRenault318.9 (198.2)-13.6
21Kamui KobayashiCaterhamRenault316.5 (196.7)-16.0

Over to you

How do you expect the race to unfold? How far apart will the Mercedes drivers be at the chequered flag?

Share your views on the German Grand Prix in the comments.

2014 German Grand Prix

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Images © Williams/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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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28 comments on “Hamilton needs help from the weather – or Williams”

  1. I don’t think that Hamilton needs rain to capitalize from it.
    He only needs to survive in the first lap and then it will be extremely easy to overtake each and every rival between him and his main target. If Lewis will be able to produce the same swift start as it was in Austria, than he will need up to 10 laps to become 2nd. In the next 57 laps he will have a ton of time to reach and overtake Rosberg. Moreover, the Briton has an advantage of unused tyres.
    It will be interesting to watch his race. There is no need to cry and be angry as Hamilton fans suggest:-)

    1. I fully agree

      1. You really expect him to catch Rosberg while passing all those cars ? I’m sorry but there’s no way ! He will be at least 20-30 seconds down by the time he’s got through all those. Even if he does do it in 10 laps, it’s not crazy to think Rosberg can lap 2-3 seconds a lap faster in clear air. Usually after one lap 10th place is at least 10 seconds behind. The gap will surely be too big to have a race with Rosberg unless he gets a safety car or something to help him.

    2. Not that easy if he starts from the pitlane.

    3. Well, I agree that he can probably catch up to 2nd, but without an SC Rosberg will build enough of a gap by that time for him to secure victory.

  2. It can be done. Vettel did that pit lane to podium drive in Abu Dhabi in 2012, in a car much less dominant than this years Mercedes. So I would not be at all shocked to see LH on the podium tomorrow.

    Speaking of Vettel, that’s quite a large discrepancy in top speed between him and Ricciardo. I guess he didn’t get the new and improved fuel?

    1. Or, he is carrying more downforce.

      1. No evidence of that based on the sector times.

    2. ResultantAsteroid
      19th July 2014, 20:38

      Yes, same as yesterday. Yesterday I thought maybe he’s preserving his engine (since he’s on the 4th ICE and 4th TC as well), but it doesnot make sense to do it during qualifying.

    3. Rocky told him after his first run in Q3 that the energy management was not optimal and that they would change it for the second run. This could have affected his top speed (and overall speed) in the first run. Since his second run was slower for some reason (haven’t seen the lap), the first run is the one reflected in the numbers above.

  3. Another race where Jenson is out in Q2 while his teammate is at the front. McLaren under Ron really won’t be as tolerant of that sort of performance as Whitmarsh was.

    He’s racing well, and getting McLaren points where they really don’t deserve them. But I think if there was another driver available who they thought was front row material, Jenson would be gone already…

    1. @hairs I’m not so sure, I thought the reason why they took the option of a longer contract last time round was to sweeten the deal in the negotiations with Honda. But maybe now the deal is done, there is nothing binding them to Jenson.

      1. Jensens style is very much poor qualifying whilst very good at strategy in the race.In the British Grand Prix he qualified well and finished well.To be fair he has always set the car up for race pace which will get the points. Other teams set the car up for fast single lap for qualifying and loose position in the race. Both Kimi,Lewis and Jensen are all out of their true potential positions but the wet and race pace will even them out by lap 38.

      2. @ady I’m still not sure the deal with Honda was worth doing, even for the benefit of “factory team” status.

        1. @hairs, we can see the advantages of a tightly integrated works team with Mercedes this year. As Honda are not constrained by the engine development rules they can take the information that McLaren have gathered this year and develop further.

          However it still depends if they can build a decent car. With all the staff changes that have been happening recently it is unlikely they will have one for 2015, but maybe they can find their feet and pick themselves up the following year.

  4. We saw how quickly Alonso and Bottas moved up through the field during their amazing first stints at Silverstone, and theoretically Hamilton’s in a more competitive car. And this track’s as wide as a wide thing, so working his way up to second should be a lot of fun for him, and for us the viewers. Even if it’s from the pit lane it shouldn’t take too long.
    But I think Lewis will need Bernd Maylander to be his friend to have any chance of catching Rosberg.

  5. Look what I’ve found in my account of Daylimotion. I’ve made it 6 years ago, but still perfectly valid for this site!

    1. i remember 5 yrs back i googled out for sites with hardcore f1 fans, discussion to keep in touch with f1 madness & i got up here; since then i never lost in touch during both off & in season.. its a really blessing to have this platform .. thanks keith.. thanks all d rest 2.. for the overall experience..

  6. Hamilton is starting from pitlane.

    1. @tino852 is it confirmed??

      1. Not at this point.

    2. Autosport says he has to revert to carbon industries brakes and this requires a pitlane start.

      1. No. It says he could be forced to if he switches. He will probably switch, but Mercedes will argue its on safety grounds, as it is and hope he can still start 15th. I’m not sure which way it will go, but nothing’s confirmed yet.

  7. Love the ending of this Mercedes commercial, do watch it…


    1. Nico is in the driving seat of the championship too.

    2. pastaman (@)
      20th July 2014, 13:48

      I love how they used the sound of V8 engines instead of this year’s…

  8. I missed qualifying today, so it was with some apprehension (given Hamilton’s recent Saturday troubles) that I ‘fired up’ F1Fanatic during a quick dinner tonight. A headline along the lines of “Rosberg on pole as Hamilton crashes out” did in fact cross my mind, though a pitlane start exceeded even my worst fears.

    I’d like to believe those who say he’ll be second in no-time, but I think it’s going to be a bit more difficult than that. If the Williams drivers have a normal race, they will be difficult to catch (they seem to be closer to their Austria form than their Silverstone form, which was still good of course). It should make for an interesting race, of course, but for the championship it looks like Rosberg will cruise to victory with his engine turned down, while Hamilton has to take risks and tax the engine to make it into the top 5.

  9. Given Mercedes’ superiority, I think it’s perfectly possible for LH to finish on the podium, he has to aim for that, not winning the race.

Comments are closed.