German GP: thoughts on the start

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

McLaren are out to convert Lewis Hamilton\'s pole position into victory in front of the Mercedes fans
McLaren are out to convert Lewis Hamilton's pole position into victory in front of the Mercedes fans

McLaren’s strong qualifying positions puts them in the perfect place to take control of the German Grand Prix.

What can Ferrari do to stop them? Here are some thoughts on how the first corner might play out.

Massa crucial to Ferrari hopes

McLaren may not have locked out the front row of the grid but with Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen both starting on the clean side of the track they have the potential to take control of the race early on.

Whether they choreograph a move or the advantage of being off the dirty line allows Kovalainen to pass second placed Felipe Massa, McLaren have an excellent chance of completing the first lap with the cars in the first two positions. From that position they should at least be able to count on winning the race.

So what Felipe Massa can do at the start is vital for Ferrari. Unless Hamilton makes a bad start (which did happen in Bahrain, of course) it looks like the best he can hope for is to split the McLarens.

Raikkonen must make up places

Kimi Raikkonen, sixth, also starts on the dirty side of the grid and he too will be worrying about the driver one place behind him on the clean side – Robert Kubica.

In front of Raikkonen are Jarno Trulli, fourth, and Fernando Alonso, fifth. Alonso has not had great starts in the Renault this year – remember Barcelona and Magny-Cours – and Raikkonen should at minimum expect to get past the Renault at the start

Nor is Trulli likely to defend too strongly on the opening lap against an attack from a Ferrai he’s unlikely to beat to the flag. The danger for Raikkonen is that if he doesn’t pounce on Trulli right away he might not be able to get close enough to pass later on. From where he starts, getting on the podium would be a result for Raikkonen.

Incident potential

Five years ago three of the front-runners wiped themselves out at the first corner – Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen. With several front runners starting behind slower cars a repeat could be on the cards.

Another potential problem to keep an eye on at the Hockenheimring is the use of run-off areas. At Magny-Cours we saw Hamilton penalised for using the run-off area to pass Sebastian Vettel.

Hockenheim has many such run-off areas that could be used in such a way, particularly at turn one and the Spitzkerve hairpin. Drivers who use the run-offs to overtake a rival may be penalised if they don’t give their places back.

2008 German Grand Prix grid

1 Lewis Hamilton
2 Felipe Massa
3 Heikki Kovalainen
4 Jarno Trulli
5 Fernando Alonso
6 Kimi R??ikk??nen
7 Robert Kubica
8 Mark Webber
9 Sebastian Vettel
10 David Coulthard
11 Timo Glock
12 Nick Heidfeld
13 Nico Rosberg
14 Jenson Button
15 Sebastien Bourdais
16 Kazuki Nakajima
17 Nelsinho Piquet
18 Rubens Barrichello
19 Adrian Sutil
20 Giancarlo Fisichella

From the forum: 2008 German Grand Prix weather watch