Ferrari failures open the door for another Hamilton win

2019 German Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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After setting the pace at the Hockenheimring on Friday, Charles Leclerc feared falling track temperatures and a sprinkling of rain on Saturday would help Mercedes turn the tables on them.

But though Mercedes did prevail on Saturday, it was for entirely different reasons to those Leclerc foresaw.

Yes, the track was cooler, but it was still warm and dry. Up until Q3 Leclerc looked a serious contender for pole position.

But Ferrari haven’t missed a bunker so far this season, and in qualifying they hit two of them. Technical gremlins sidelined Vettel before he’d completed a single lap, then more problems prevented Leclerc from running in Q3. Yet again Ferrari snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and yet again the prime beneficiary was Lewis Hamilton, who poached his fourth pole position of the year.

Following an overnight shift in the weather forecast, the rain failed to materialise. And the prospects of rain on Sunday have receded, though not completely. At the time of writing there is still a decent chance the race will at least start on a wet track.

If it does rain, we could be in for a real treat, as two of the sport’s most celebrated wet weather exponents are sharing the front row. Hamilton demonstrated his tremendous skill in damp conditions at this track last year as he won from the seventh row of the grid. As for Max Verstappen, who starts second, his bravura performance in the soaking wet 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix had the touch of true greatness.

The forecast rain brings with it the possibility we may see F1’s wet weather standing start regulations pressed into use for the first time since they were introduced at the beginning of 2017. This allows the race director to send the field away from the grid behind the Safety Car before ordering the race to begin with a standing start.

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If we get a dry race but a further drop in temperatures, Mercedes and Hamilton are going to look strong. However the ever-improving pace of the Red Bulls is not to be discounted. Verstappen, despite continuing turbo lag problems, was only three-tenths away in qualifying and the RB15 has been consistently stronger over a race stint compared to qualifying.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Hockenheimring, 2019
Can Verstappen get ahead of Hamilton at the start?
Verstappen may be compromised by his enforced switch to soft tyres following his lag problems in Q2. Starting on the soft tyres instead of the mediums will boost his chances of attacking Hamilton at the start, but could compromise his opening stint. Even so, merely holding on to second place and making an early first pit stop to attempt an ‘undercut’ could give him a shot at the race lead.

As for the Ferrari drivers, they can throw caution to the wind as they bid to climb the order. Leclerc is locked in to starting on mediums (assuming it stays dry) so he will have to make progress as best he can from 10th. Vettel, set to start last, has more options.

The midfield fight has been exceptionally close all weekend. However Kimi Raikkonen drove superbly in qualifying to lift his Alfa Romeo clear of it and come within a hundredth of a second of displacing Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull from fourth place. These two head a queue of seven different cars in as many positions, which bodes well for a fantastically close scrap for the second half of the points places, though the midfielders are unlikely to prevent the Ferraris sailing past in the DRS zones.

Whether Ferrari can do much better on that will depend on the weather. Last year Hamilton won from 14th after the rain came down.

Perhaps the fates are conspiring to allow Leclerc to avenge that lost Ferrari win? Or, in what would be the ultimate poetic justice, Vettel? But even if that was the case, Ferrari’s performance today gives little reason to believe the team wouldn’t find some way to squander the chance.

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Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’12.852 1’12.149 (-0.703) 1’11.767 (-0.382)
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1’12.593 1’12.427 (-0.166) 1’12.113 (-0.314)
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’13.075 1’12.424 (-0.651) 1’12.129 (-0.295)
4 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1’12.991 1’12.385 (-0.606) 1’12.180 (-0.205)
5 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1’13.066 1’12.519 (-0.547) 1’12.538 (+0.019)
6 Romain Grosjean Haas 1’13.146 1’12.769 (-0.377) 1’12.851 (+0.082)
7 Carlos Sainz Jnr McLaren 1’13.221 1’12.632 (-0.589) 1’12.897 (+0.265)
8 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1’13.194 1’12.776 (-0.418) 1’13.065 (+0.289)
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’13.186 1’12.766 (-0.420) 1’13.126 (+0.360)
10 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’12.229 1’12.344 (+0.115)
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1’13.170 1’12.786 (-0.384)
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1’13.103 1’12.789 (-0.314)
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1’13.131 1’12.799 (-0.332)
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1’13.278 1’13.135 (-0.143)
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1’13.256 1’13.450 (+0.194)
16 Lando Norris McLaren 1’13.333
17 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso 1’13.461
18 George Russell Williams 1’14.721
19 Robert Kubica Williams 1’14.839
20 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton 15.411 (1) 34.572 (3) 21.665 (1)
Max Verstappen 15.444 (2) 34.713 (6) 21.859 (2)
Valtteri Bottas 15.494 (4) 34.701 (5) 21.909 (3)
Pierre Gasly 15.458 (3) 34.715 (7) 21.954 (4)
Antonio Giovinazzi 15.710 (9) 34.777 (8) 22.249 (13)
Romain Grosjean 15.736 (13) 34.877 (11) 22.027 (6)
Carlos Sainz Jnr 15.658 (6) 34.886 (12) 22.069 (9)
Sergio Perez 15.763 (15) 34.579 (4) 22.277 (15)
Nico Hulkenberg 15.718 (11) 34.824 (9) 22.067 (8)
Charles Leclerc 15.597 (5) 34.515 (1) 22.033 (7)
Kimi Raikkonen 15.689 (8) 34.545 (2) 22.183 (10)
Kevin Magnussen 15.730 (12) 35.001 (14) 21.985 (5)
Daniel Ricciardo 15.664 (7) 34.836 (10) 22.184 (11)
Daniil Kvyat 15.791 (16) 35.039 (15) 22.248 (12)
Lance Stroll 15.712 (10) 34.886 (12) 22.548 (17)
Lando Norris 15.762 (14) 35.279 (16) 22.261 (14)
Alexander Albon 15.816 (17) 35.341 (17) 22.292 (16)
George Russell 16.176 (18) 35.640 (19) 22.810 (18)
Robert Kubica 16.200 (19) 35.548 (18) 22.841 (19)
Sebastian Vettel 57.411 (20)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Engine Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso Honda 340.9 (211.8)
2 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 332.1 (206.4) -8.8
3 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 330.6 (205.4) -10.3
4 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 330.4 (205.3) -10.5
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 329.2 (204.6) -11.7
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 329.1 (204.5) -11.8
7 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 328.4 (204.1) -12.5
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault Renault 328.4 (204.1) -12.5
9 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 328.4 (204.1) -12.5
10 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 328.0 (203.8) -12.9
11 George Russell Williams Mercedes 327.9 (203.7) -13.0
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 327.7 (203.6) -13.2
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 327.3 (203.4) -13.6
14 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda 327.3 (203.4) -13.6
15 Carlos Sainz Jnr McLaren Renault 326.9 (203.1) -14.0
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 326.5 (202.9) -14.4
17 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 325.5 (202.3) -15.4
18 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 325.5 (202.3) -15.4
19 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 323.2 (200.8) -17.7
20 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 171.9 (106.8) -169.0

Drivers’ remaining dry weather tyre sets

Driver Team Hard Medium Soft
New Used New Used New Used
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 0 1 1 0 3
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1 0 0 2 0 3
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 0 2 0 3 1
Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1 0 1 1 3 0
Max Verstappen Red Bull 1 0 0 1 1 3
Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1 0 1 0 0 4
Daniel Riccairdo Renault 1 0 1 0 1 4
Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 0 1 0 0 4
Kevin Magnussen Haas 1 0 1 0 1 4
Romain Grosjean Haas 1 0 1 0 0 4
Carlos Sainz Jnr McLaren 1 0 1 0 0 4
Lando Norris McLaren 1 0 1 0 3 2
Sergio Perez Racing Point 1 0 1 0 0 4
Lance Stroll Racing Point 1 0 1 0 1 4
Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1 0 1 0 0 4
Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1 0 1 0 1 4
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 0 1 0 1 4
Alexander Albon Toro Rosso 1 0 1 0 3 2
George Russell Williams 1 0 2 0 1 3
Robert Kubica Williams 1 0 1 1 1 3

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Over to you

Will anyone prevent Lewis Hamilton from taking his eighth win of the season? Where will Leclerc and Vettel climb to from 10th and 20th respectively on the provisional grid? And who will win one of the closest midfield battles we’ve seen all year?

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

2019 German Grand Prix

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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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29 comments on “Ferrari failures open the door for another Hamilton win”

  1. Adub Smallblock
    27th July 2019, 23:21

    What are the Vegas odds on Vettel taking himself, and at least one other car, out of the race in his frustration to get to the front?

    1. After Monaco, I’d say both red drivers are susceptible to red mist in Scuderia Red.

      1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
        28th July 2019, 9:00

        I agree with you both and think that the red mist is down to the culture at Ferrari and the insane pressure the drivers get from the Italian press and the Scudaria. IMO.

        At Ferrari you can’t criticise the team no matter how blatantly incompetent they are – if you do you’re sacked. The press/Scudaria also blame it on the drivers, no matter who they are. The drivers carry the entire load so I can understand their frustration. By contrast, at Mercedes, they compete, win and fail as a team – the burden is shared and it clearly shows in their work ethic and resulting performances.

        1. @timeslides – well said.

  2. Possible. All the more reason for him to pit for the hardest tire available at the end of lap 1. With any luck, by the time he comes storming up behind Kubica, it will be time for the back markers to pit or even a safety car may appear. Hockenheim has seen some wacky races.

  3. Never underestimate Ferrari’s ability to shoot themselves in the foot the minute they have the advantage.

    1. Will they make another redemption be re-re-hire they last world driver champion?

      1. I guess Kimi wouldn’t mind being promoted back to Ferrari, after all he was their last driver to have won a race.

        1. I hope not. Kimi today seems happy and performing well at Alfa Romeo. Unless he specifically wishes to come back to the Ferrari pressure cooker, I’d say he’s better off where he is.

        2. Last world champion.
          Last Grand prix winner😎

  4. 7 cars between 1′ 12.766 and 1′ 12.799, that’s a tight midfield.

  5. A significant part of a car’s performance is its reliability. Did Ferrari forget?

    Mercedes has been almost bulletproof for years, and they’ve clearly sacrificed performance for reliability here just like in Austria.

  6. People forgetting that Lewis stood solid P1 in Q2, Leclerc couldn’t come close to Lewis’s time so even without the issues Ferrari had Lewis would be on Pole i am/was convinced.

    1. +1

      Too many and too easy jump to conclusion that Ferrari is fav just because they topped FP1, FP2. Then, to hear again the BS that it was their race… just to lose it again. When, in reality, it never was their race. They topped the times in pre-season testing too, yet they didn’t look like a title contender from 1st race. Also, their race pace is worse compared to Quali.

    2. Charles topped Q1 with a time of 1’12.229. That shows he might have beaten Lewis to Pole if he hadn’t had his fuel problems.

  7. I do not even rate Gasly interesting how close Gasly is the last 2 races to Ves. I love it, people were getting way too over there heads think Ves was the clear cut number 1 driver in F1. RedBull have obviosuly got a car that is comfortably faster than Ferrari in race trim and not much further behind Merc in the race trim. Austria proved how good Red Bull can be. Imo the best 2 drivers are Hamilton and Ves but no one could say for sure who is better.

  8. Gasly proving the Red Bull is an absoloute monster car you love to see it. He hardly smashed Hartley did he i remember after Bahrain being very underwhelmed with him he was the quicker but by no means was it crazy. And Hartley was woeful.

    1. Gasly seemed to believe he was entitled to “put the boot in” against Hartley … so I’m guessing he won’t object if Max does the same. No, Max has shown far more class and just left Gasly to flounder along.

      1. Max has shown far more class and just left Gasly to flounder along.

        Max is probably busy looking forward at his competitors (and rightly so), and not backwards at the laggards.

        It’s incredible to see how well he’s matured in his approach and mindset in such a short span of time.

        1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
          28th July 2019, 9:03

          Max has had is head seen to I think, and it’s for the better. His character is gone from petulant to relaxed and his attitude is far less aggressive and a lot more considered. Remarkable to see.

  9. I’m a long suffering Ferrari fan. I’ve been through their best and their worst times in F1. These times are enough for me to wish Max the very best of luck for the sake of the sport.

    1. @alex-bkk) Forget who crosses the line 1st my friend and watch the whole grid we have had some classics this year. Austria and Silverstone have been superb races and Reb Bull are clearly close to Merc in race pace.

  10. Is Lance Stroll the worst F1 qualifier ever in dry conditions? Usually always out in q 1 if i remember correctly Massa in his last year made him look silly aswell?. Even Sirotkin was just as good, you have to laugh really.

    1. Lance made it into Q2 … just. You have to give him credit for not being happy with his current results and getting a good coach.

    2. Stroll isn’t even close to the worst in F1 history. Back in the days of pre-qualifying, there were cars and drivers who didn’t even make it into qualy at all, plus lots who did, but weren’t fast enough to be inside the 107% cut off.

  11. Will anyone prevent Lewis Hamilton from taking his eighth win of the season? – No.
    Where will Leclerc and Vettel climb to from 10th and 20th respectively on the provisional grid? 5th and 6th or 4th and 6th.
    And who will win one of the closest midfield battles we’ve seen all year? Hopefully, Renault.

    1. Max is starting the race on Soft tyres, and he’s on the front row of the grid.

      1. Interesting how no one has mentioned Max.
        He’s good in the rain and has a lot of real estate in Hamilton’s head.
        I think he can win here.

  12. But Ferrari haven’t missed a bunker so far this season

    This is so depressingly accurate.

Comments are closed.