You know how they say things come out of the blue, well Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Nurburgring certainly was unexpected.
Hamilton had written off McLaren’s chances of challenging Red Bull at the German Grand Prix and yet in qualifying, Lewis only found himself five-hundredths of a second behind pole sitter Mark Webber on Saturday.
The 2008 World Champion put in a sensational lap in Q3 and things were about to get a whole lot better for him on race day. No doubt Lewis will have been on a high come the end of Saturday and that was without doubt Hamilton’s best qualifying performance of the season. Managing to split the Red Bull’s as well was a fine effort from Lewis.
The Brit was able to leapfrog Webber at the start and then went onto drive a faultless race. You could argue the turning point came on lap 33 when Hamilton pulled off a tremendous move on Fernando Alonso by taking the outside line at Turn 2 to get past the Spaniard. That has to be a contender for overtaking manoeuvre of the season so far.
But on the other side of the coin, Jenson Button had yet another weekend he will want to forget. After only being able to qualify 7th and a full second behind his team-mate, qualifying did not go to plan for the 2009 World Champion. And on Sunday, Button made a poor start and was then later forced to retire due to hydraulics problems.
It was not the best of weekends for Jenson and he will be hoping for a strong weekend in Hungary. Being a whole second behind Hamilton in qualifying will have been a concern for Button.
I’ve said this time and time again but Button does need to improve his qualifying to give himself a chance of at least challenging Red Bull and Ferrari. But Lewis’ performance in Germany will give Jenson hope that McLaren are getting closer to Red Bull.
Despite not winning the race, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso put in another strong performance to finish the race 2nd behind Hamilton. Alonso may have been slightly disappointed to have only managed to qualify 4th. But as we have seen in 2011, both Alonso and Felipe Massa have made flying starts in the majority of races.
Since Monaco, Ferrari and Alonso have been pretty impressive and for me it was no surprise the Spaniard won at Silverstone. But its just frustrating that Ferrari seem to get into their stride during the middle part of the season and not at the beginning of the season as we have seen this year and in 2010.
Make no mistake though Ferrari are back and don’t underestimate Fernando Alonso. Fernando’s team-mate Felipe Massa came home 5th after losing out to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel on the final lap in the final pit stop. Massa was in front of Vettel heading into the pit lane on the final lap but Sebastian left the pit lane ahead of Felipe after the Ferrari pit crew were slow to release the Brazilian.
Massa for me has made a solid start this year and I would love to see him win another race. Felipe is the No.2 driver at Ferrari but there have been occasions where the Brazilian has finished in front of Fernando so Alonso has not had it all his own way in 2011.
Sebastian Vettel is still 70+ points clear of the second placed man in the Drivers standings but Sunday’s race was not a walk in the park for last years World Champion.
It was the first time really where we saw Vettel making rare mistakes although he did make an error on the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix to allow Jenson Button to take the chequered flag.
For sure Vettel is in the box seat even though he finished the race 4th. And the likes of Hamilton, Webber and Alonso would like to be where Seb is in the Drivers standings. I still fancy Vettel to take the 2011 crown but the last two Grand Prix’s have given McLaren and Ferrari hope that they can take the fight to Red Bull.
As for Mark Webber he put in a fantastic lap on Saturday to qualify pole. But on Sunday, the Australian was unable to capitalise and finished the race 3rd.
It was another missed opportunity for Webber to convert pole into a race win. Just how many chances does he need to try and win his first race of 2011?
Mark did finish the race ahead of Sebastian so that will be a huge boost. But yet again Mark did not make the best of starts to the race. Like Massa, I would love to see Webber win a race this year but he needs to convert pole into race victories.
Along with Lewis Hamilton, Force India’s Adrian Sutil will have been a contender for driver of the day after the German finished the race in a superb 6th place. Sutil was able to make his two stop strategy work and he even beat both Mercedes drivers.
Sutil had a good solid weekend and he will be hoping for more of the same at the Hungaroring. The battle for 6th in the Constructors between Sauber, Force India and Toro Rosso might just go down to the wire and I would not like to call who will come out on top.
There has also been speculation about Nico Hulkenburg wanting a Force India race seat for next season so it will be interesting to see driver line-up at the team next season.
Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finished Sunday’s race 7th and 8th for Mercedes. It was a double points finish for the team but this was supposed the season where we saw both drivers challenging Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren on a regular basis. But it has not panned out like that.
I’m one of those who still feel we have yet to see the best of Nico Rosberg. This is Rosberg’s 6th season in Formula One and some will argue he should have won a race by now.
But to be fair to him he has not been given a car in which he can challenge for race victories. Look at how long it took for Jenson Button to record his first victory.
Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi finished in the points yet again as he finished 9th. And Lotus Renault’s Vitaly Petrov picked up the final point as he came home in 10th.
HRT’s Daniel Ricciardo finished the race in what was only his second start in Formula One. And well done to Karun Chandhok who managed to finish the race. The Indian driver replaced Jarno Trulli for the German Grand Prix weekend and I suppose the best he could have wished for was to finish the race.
The German Grand Prix Podcast will be uploaded tommorow so watch this space.