Ah, race day. The last day before the summer break. Where do I even start?
Quick qualifying recap: N. Rosberg on pole, followed by Lewis Hamilton (to lock up the front row), the Red Bulls on the second and the Ferraris on the third.
Well, the start. What a start for Nico Rosberg. He blames it on “a lot of wheel spin”, but really? It seems like a more often occurrence that he can’t maintain his pole. Lights out, and Lewis takes off and the Red Bulls from behind just come ahead of Nico. Oh man, the Red Bulls. Max comes from the inside and goes out, around Daniel to get in front of him into P2. It became very clear by Turn 2, that this was Lewis’ race to lose while Nico fed off the Ferraris to defend his P4. As the race went on and the gap between Lewis and various P2 holders grew greater, it became clear that he would never lose the lead (unless there was a pit stop error/mechanical failure -hats off to his engineers!).
I must say, I was impressed with N. Rosberg’s resilience and determination to regain the places he lost, but of course, something had to go wrong right? In something quite potentially controversial, he gets slapped with a 5 second penalty for pushing Max off the track on lap 30 at the hairpin (Turn 6). Max complained on the radio that he got pushed off the track which the FIA promptly investigated – and came the penalty. Now, the problem I have with this (and I’m sure people will disagree with me), is that Nico well deserved that penalty. Looking back at the lap, and the closeups, he did nothing until coming to that white line to turn. Yes, he wouldn’t deserve it if he turned earlier and Max drove past the track limit. He had a steering lock-up? Well, from what I see, he didn’t. I’m not a Hamilton fan, probably will never be (similar incident [in Austin, I think] last year – which he didn’t get penalised for). However, I will call out dirty racing tactics, and this is one of them. Nico, corner ahead! Please turn. Finally, he served it on lap 44 and dropped back to P4, which was the story of the rest of his race.
I noticed something today, which has been quite a trend these past few races. Ferrari. When I hear Ferrari, I think of the glory days where strategists and engineers alike come together and deliver flawless pitstop strategies and excellent pace during the races. They were (probably still are) one of the more prominent and successful teams in the industry as a whole. You know what, I didn’t see that today. Both the Ferraris were not on form, at all. “Negative, negative” – Sebastian (Vettel)’s response to boxing in the following lap, he overruled the pit wall. I’ve been watching Formula 1 from the time I was small, and the probability of a driver ignoring team order/strategist is smaller than any driver replying you on Twitter. For someone smart like Sebastian to call out on his own team and tell them that he is not following their call, rings quite a few alarm bells. I agree with Sebastian when he says they are not there to finish 5th and 6th and to have Mercedes and Red Bull Racing beat them by a comfortable margin. We all know, what Ferrari is capable of. We have seen the pace and performance it has demonstrated in past years. What we see now, is a sad sorry excuse. Food for thought, those heading to Maranello? It says a lot when your driver doesn’t even want to listen, let alone follow the proposed race strategy. I think Sebastian had every right to stay out and keep his pace instead of coming in and losing valuable time gap between him and the guy at the back.
Another side note that I know wasn’t mentioned on TV, was team orders. I’m not sure if you were paying attention but in the earlier part of the race, Max was ahead of Daniel. At the bottom you could see the comparison table and who clearly was ahead. Commercial break (Petronas, you devil) and boom, Max slows down and lets Daniel pass. I don’t need to see what happened while commercial break happened, but I know that a team order was passed. Max isn’t one to readily give up his position, especially if he feels he is faster and therefore more deserving than his team mate to be in front (Singapore 2015, Canada 2016 – prime examples). His face on the podium, I could not help but notice, he didn’t seem to be as joyous as he was. Coincidence? I don’t know, but it seems to link to me.
However, I cannot discredit Daniel Riccardo for he did drive an awesome race. He never gave up, he kept pushing and he kept his head held high. He never lost hope that he could catch up, he kept charging. That is the spirit I love to see, and he never stopped smiling. He was fantastic on track, how can anyone fault him for his race? Truly, the Honey Badger deserved it. I would have loved to see him win, but getting on a podium knowing he drove his best and knew what he was doing – that’s enough for me.
One more thing that I have to add, which has been bugging me since qualifying yesterday: Daniil Kvyat. He hasn’t been doing great, and understandably so. You don’t have to be a fan to see what a broken man he is. I don’t even think calling him a man would be appropriate. Not many people know how belittle he feels right now, ever since that demotion which I still feel was unfair, harsh, and insulting. Yes, he is young. Yes, he is going to be aggressive. Yes, he wants to win. He is going to make mistakes, it’s only humans. I know, and I am very well aware that he is paid handsomely to race and get the best possible points for the team. But, I am also well aware that it is the responsibility of the management to look out for the welfare of their drivers, and stick with them through thick and thin. You see Toto Wolff defended Nico and Lewis, Maurizio Arrivabene slamming the media for shaming Seb and Kimi. But when it comes to Dany, silence. Dr Marko just brushes it off and said he has to find his feet. You don’t need to be someone experienced to know that Dany’s mental health is crumbling, and he is not ok. His body language, the way he expresses himself actually worries me – and I know I’m not the only one who can see it. So from P18 on the grid and to P15, he may not be in the points but he fought and drove to his best. I could see it when he overtook Kevin (Magnussen) that he is a brilliant driver. He can race like anyone on that grid, and not to mention, was on the same pace as Carlos (Sainz). He is just as good as Max, but he needs proper guidance, like how Red Bull is treating Max right now. I understand that Formula 1 is very “cut-throat”, there will be times where things need to be down and dealt with that will upset many. But at what cost? I’m happy to see Dany still giving his hardest, and I can only hope that there is a support system that will get him out of the gut that was created by the mismanagement of the team.
Right, that concludes my review of the German Grand Prix. I hope those in Europe/America reading this, have a fantastic day. Also, a goodnight to those in Asia/Australia. I’ll still be writing during the summer break, so please come back for more. 🙂