Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2018

Vettel’s pursuit of redemption and five more German GP talking points

2019 German Grand Prix

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Will Sebastian Vettel put the memories of his disastrous 2018 home race behind him? And could this be his last chance to drive in front of his home crowd?

Here are the talking points for this weekend’s race at the Hockenheimring.

Can Vettel redeem himself?

Ferrari’s team leader has been through some tough times in the last 12 months, but crashing out in front of Hockenheim’s vast Motodrom stand has to have been one of the most painful. His championship bid never recovered after Lewis Hamilton stormed through to win a race which Vettel seemed to have under control.

This year the championship is already no longer a realistic consideration, though he is putting a brave face on it. Ferrari believes it is making progress with its SF90, but they now have a resurgent Red Bull to contend with too.

Vettel’s expectations for his home race therefore need to be realistic. A podium may be the best he can expect. Out-qualifying his increasingly impressive team mate Charles Leclerc for the first time in four races would be a good start.

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Does Hockenheim have an F1 future?

It’s no secret that the Hockenheimring does not yet have a place on the 2020 F1 calendar. However that was true of Silverstone before the last race weekend began, and everything turned out well.

The future of Germany’s world championship round hinges on whether a title sponsor can be found for next year. Liberty Media holds an option to keep the race for another year, but either this year’s backer Mercedes needs to commit for another season or a replacement must be found.

Too hot for Mercedes?

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2019
Mercedes did not like a hot track in Austria
Mercedes wilted in the heat – and altitude – at the Austrian Grand Prix. This weekend’s forecast indicates more hot weather is on its way, though the silver team can draw some relief from the fact Hockenheim is much closer to sea level.

Will this be enough to spare them from the kind of performance-sapping lift-and-coasting which hampered Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in Austria? The team has had four weeks to work on the problem, but the opposition will be scenting the opportunity for a rare win.

Will Williams and Racing Point find much-needed gains?

While Mercedes have been almost unbeaten this year, their customer teams are having a much tougher time of it. Racing Point are lumbered with a conservative chassis which was penned back when the team was in administration and didn’t know whether they’d ever have the money to build it. And Williams are slowly rebuilding after a disastrous start to the season.

Both have struggled to make it beyond Q1 this season. Williams hasn’t managed it once, and it is probably expecting too much of their anticipated upgrade to think they might this weekend. Still, the modest signs of progress are there, and if any team is going to find substantial chunks of performance with one upgrade it must be the one lagging over a second behind the rest of the field.

Racing Point’s situation is more complex. An update introduced in Spain hasn’t delivered the expected gains, and there hope is the new aerodynamic parts they will bring this weekend will help correct that mis-step.

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Has Gasly finally cracked it?

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2019
Gasly was on it from the word go in Silverstone
Pierre Gasly went from being lapped by his team mate in Austria to finishing one place off the podium in Britain. Yes, he had a little luck on the way, but it was a thoroughly deserved result after what was undoubtedly his most convincing weekend of the season so far.

If he can repeat that performance in the back-to-back races before the summer break, Gasly’s chances of holding onto his place at Red Bull will look a lot better than they did two weeks ago.

Any relief at last for Haas?

The British Grand Prix couldn’t have gone much worse for Haas. As if the Rich Energy situation wasn’t humiliating enough, their drivers went and took each other off on the first lap of the race.

Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen had stern words from Guenther Steiner after running into each other at Silverstone. Woe betide them if they happen across each other again in Germany.

The only upside to Silverstone was that running the old-spec VF-19 did seem to give them some insight into what had gone wrong. Grosjean will continue with the experiment this weekend.

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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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22 comments on “Vettel’s pursuit of redemption and five more German GP talking points”

  1. Richard Cantelo (@)
    24th July 2019, 8:33

    Hockenheimring is honestly one if worst circuits. Would difficult to design something worse!

  2. Weather report is showing rainfall on both Sat and Sun at the circuit, really curious to see how 2019 cars react to rain. Last few years it has been only RBR and Merc’s who excelled in wet weather conditions with Ferrari’s limping towards the midfield.

    1. rain will surely spice things up, interesting to see how the ‘Charles vs. Max’ fight pans out in wet conditions. Also, a bit of rain might bring the McLarens into the mix.

      1. Wasn’t Leclerc lucky to keep going last year in the rain. Off the track by a long way at one point followed by a complete 360 degrees at another point? Not sure he is that good in the rain. Certainly not at Max/Lewis level.

        1. @riptide it’s hard to tell how good a driver is in the rain if he doesn’t have a car with proper downforce underneath him. And last year’s Sauber certailnly wasn’t it. I’m not yet ready to put Leclerc on the ‘average in the rain’ list, we’ll just have to see but I’m hopeful for a good showing.

          1. That’s why I put ‘Not sure’. No idea what he was like in the rain before coming into F1. But the various issues he has faced within F1 have been rectified pretty swiftly; whether its planning the qually session better, up against Vettel, better planning for the build up to the race, dicing with Max. So here’s hoping.

          2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            24th July 2019, 13:24

            Ericsson handled that car perfectly and climbed up into the points in the rain on the same tyres Leclerc spun twice on. I think Ericsson finished over a minute ahead of him too. I personally think this showed that on this occation, either Ericsson was excellent or leclerc was really poor in these conditions. Which is mre likely? Ericsson never used to look good in the rain, but as well as this race, he outqualified Leclerc in Brazil and (Hungary was it?). Both times were wet or changing conditions anyway.

            I think this sort of backs up that Leclerc obviously struggled in the wet last year. I’m not convinced it was the car to blame if Ericsson got a decent result out of it.

    2. @Chaitanya According to Not for the qualifying day, though,

      1. Did they update it? When I saw it showed some rain for afternoon to late afternoon. Still lets hope the forecast for sunday comes true.

        1. I live in Bavaria and use the German Weather Service (DWD) App Radar View, which at the time of writing has a prognosis of rain for all sessions on Saturday and Sunday. I hope so for two reasons – one to spice up the race, and two to give me a good excuse to stay in and watch it! With it being so hot this week, the rain won’t cool things down so much though, so Mercedes may not have it all their own way.

  3. Silverstone will likely be Gasly’s Bahrain 2018, I reckon he is more of a Grosjean (good peak performance, but rarely reaches it) than a Leclerc or Max, who seem to find a groove and stay within it.

    Seb has an ENORMOUS amount of pressure on him this weekend, I really hope he doesn’t buckle under it while trying to be a hero – just have a clean race, put it on the podium and use it a reset.

  4. Vettel’s been exposed as a fraud.

    There were always doubts over his ability – they’ve been answered.

  5. In a way Vettel can relax a little now. The pressure of a championship fight is gone. He still has the fight with Leclerc to contend with for who is supreme at Ferrari, but with all the rumours of retirement even if they aren’t accurate it still points to him having lost a little love with the sport.

    He should wind back a little and just try to enjoy each race as an event in it’s own right. Choking under pressure seems to be his Achilles heel, if he just forgets about the championships and instead chases results as the opportunities present I think he could get back to his 2015 form.

  6. Hilarious some of the excuses and pleas to stop mentioning Hockenheim 2018 by the Sebfosi on Twitter.

    Sky actually put up a pretty complimentary article about how the past year hasnt been indicitive of his level of talent and the outrage regardless of the content and words says it all.

    1. Sky sports F1 have consistently been huge Ferrari supporters, and seemingly by default, a fan of Vettel. In fact, if you were new to F1, you would be forgiven for thinking Ferrari were World champions in 2017 and 2018 considering their preeminent feature in those new season promotions. It perhaps puts into perspective their over the top defense of Ferrari and Vettel over the penalty in Canada. I’m sure they are convinced that an overt support of Ferrari, Redbull and frankly any team that is not Mercedes or Lewis Hamilton is good for their ratings. However, their output is less professional and more like a fan TV. Since Mercedes have dominated the early 2019 season, their previous subtle anti Mercedes/Hamilton has become strident, petty and morphed into full-blown hostility. I suspect the reason they use Rosberg less than one would expect, from the most recent non-Hamilton winner, is because, he has shown to be a big supporter of Hamilton not fitting their strategic bias towards Hamilton.

  7. Can Vettel redeem himself? – No.
    Does Hockenheim have an F1 future? – No.
    Too hot for Mercedes? – Too early to judge.
    Will Williams and Racing Point find much-needed gains? – I doubt it.
    Has Gasly finally cracked it? – Hopefully.
    Any relief at last for Haas? – No.

  8. Vettel will redeem himself by finishing 4th or 5th..

  9. Seb can add a nice posy of flowers on the top….. but I’m afraid the coffin is all nailed up!

    That disastrous Ferrari demo in downtown Milan in the lead up to Monza 2018, when Seb crashed the car going round a tiny roundabout: that should have told him it was curtains for his career in this team. And so it is proving to be.

    Fun fact: Kimi remains the last Ferrari race winner!!

    1. Let’s not forget the last Champion too !!!

  10. Fun fact: Ferrari haven’t built a dominant car since the 2nd half of 2006.

    1. And even that might be a stretch, might have to go back to 2004.

  11. “Vettel will redeem himself by finishing.”


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