Ferraris line up to spoil Vettel’s party (German Grand Prix pre-race analysis)

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2010

Red Bull have their tenth pole position of the year but they’ve only managed to convert them into five wins so far.

Sebastian Vettel will have to resist the fast Ferraris and his team mate if he’s to win on home ground. Take a look ahead to the German Grand Prix below.

The start

So Sebastian Vettel starts on pole position once again. But he’ll need to do better than he did at Silverstone, where first place became 24th by the end of lap one.

With a large amount of rain this weekend starting from the racing line side of the grid may not be that great an advantage. In the Saturday afternoon GP2 race the drivers starting second and fourth were both able to overtake those who started first and third.

But keep an eye also on the McLarens starting from row three. Their straight-line speeds in Q3 were at least 5kph faster than all the other cars, and Jenson Button was 9kph quicker than Mark Webber, who starts in front of him.

The opening lap will be critical as ever and keep an eye out for drivers making use of the tarmac run-offs, particularly at the exit of turn one and the turn six hairpin.

As we’ve seen in the past, notably at Spa last year, stewards are happy for drivers to use run-off on the outside of the track to gain an advantage.


The teams have had little experience of dry running this weekend. Even in second practice the track wasn’t fully dry, and it only really began to rubber-in during qualifying.

Tomorrow’s race is expected to be dry, but the teams have limited knowledge of how the super-soft and hard tyres are going to perform – how well will they last, and how soon will they start to degrade?

Significantly, none of the top ten drivers chose to gamble on starting on the hard tyres. They will all start on the super-soft tyres having qualified on them.

Michael Schumacher, starting 11th, may well gamble on the hard tyres and stay out longer in the hope of gaining some places.

Also keep an eye on the two Force Indias who will be starting further down the field than usual.

Adrian Sutil has made some excellent passes in the last two races and has a lot of ground to make up after his gearbox change penalty. As we saw with his team mate at Silverstone, his progress could play an important role in determining when the leaders make their pit stops.

It’s a short lap at Hockenheim as well, raising the possibility of traffic causing problems among the leaders. Going off the times from practice this morning the front runners could catch Sakon Yamamoto as early as lap 12.

Over to you

How do you expect the German Grand Prix to unfold? Can Vettel score a home victory, or will Ferrari net their first win since Bahrain? And what can the McLarens do from the third row?

Have your say in the comments and join us for the race live blog tomorrow.

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79 comments on Ferraris line up to spoil Vettel’s party (German Grand Prix pre-race analysis)

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  1. Icthyes said on 24th July 2010, 19:25

    I foresse a good start by Massa to take the lead from Vettel and Alonso squabling, and Webber to be behind both McLarens at the end of Lap 1. Or maybe some shock rain at the time Schumacher has to come in for tyres ;-)

    • johnno said on 24th July 2010, 21:51

      I agree, massa’s starts have been awesome :D

      • F1Fan said on 25th July 2010, 1:20

        I have not kept score of Massa’s starts this year, but if they are good, you have to factor in that he is starting from way back and the cars in front of him are generally slower.

        • Eric said on 25th July 2010, 6:09

          IF everyone makes it around the first corner and down the back straight watch out for McLaren.
          they are going to pass some of the cars in front of them.
          low down force kept them behind in qualifying but high speeds will allow them to pass on the straights.
          BUTTON 317.5 km/h
          HAMILTON 316.7 km/h
          VETTEL 311.9 km/h
          ALONSO 308.5 km/h
          WEBBER 308.5 km/h
          MASSA 308.3 km/h
          you cant beat speed when it comes to passing.

          • Enigma (@enigma) said on 25th July 2010, 8:13

            You can beat the speed when you have way more downforce…

          • Dev said on 25th July 2010, 8:47

            the top speed is of no use if you are going to be slow coming out of the corner & if you need to brake from a longer distance cause you are carrying higher speed…. meaning advantage Ferrari & Red Bull…

            But if McLaren gets ahead on the opening lap then it’s going to be pretty hard for Ferrari or Red Bull to overtake em.

    • Dev said on 25th July 2010, 9:09

      Massa will be having to defend his place from McLaren specially on the straight line in sector 2… and also Webber.

      McLaren have only chance to overtake in first few laps where they can use their top speed advantage.

      if it rains then things will be more interesting which i would like to see.

  2. DaveW said on 24th July 2010, 19:30

    I will be shocked if there is not one red or blue car in the fence at the first corner. Massa has made some desperate starts lately, and Vettel and Alonso have made some terrible ones. The McLarens start really well, and they will be doing steady business at the Spitzkurve.

    Hamilton has been quicker than Button at every stage except Q3 and I expect there may be some issues if it starts to look like Webber/Massa is pulling away from them and Hamilton is still behind his teammate.

    • Nick F said on 24th July 2010, 20:01

      yes. i was thinking this too. it may be the best chance yet to see hamilton and button having a true on track battle.

      note: “true” means both of the participants know they are having a race. ;-)

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 24th July 2010, 22:11

      The thing is thought that Hamilton has been faster than Button on light fuel/qualifying because the McLaren isn’t as stable or predictable in those conditions. In race trim, Button is at least as fast as Hamilton, although he does tend to start cruising as though there’s a long-term catchup option in the races. In Prost’s days that was certainly true, as drivers made more errors and cars failed more often. These days, I’m not so sure that’s a strategy that’ll work.

      Button needs to keep Hamilton behind, but being honest I can’t see it happening. Even in clear air, but I can see Hamilton hanging back and taking both Webber and Button when they’re battling for position.

    • 17 points in two races said on 24th July 2010, 22:29

      Í´m sure Charlie Whiting, LH´s first fan, is thinking something new for stop Ferrari drivers.

      Stewards are happy for drivers to use run-off on the outside of the track to gain an advantage. Do you really think that Charlie (how old is he?) is going to penalize LH if in an agressive move he takes any advantage.

      I don´t think than ca be posible with Charlie Whiting!!!

      • sato113 said on 25th July 2010, 0:36

        whiting has given Hamilton a few debatable penalties in the past. he doesn’t favour anyone.

      • Timm said on 25th July 2010, 2:14

        Charlie L.H fann…. i see what u want too say. But at least this year we can see real racing and duels between the drivers. Fiarari days are over we all know that.

      • tharris19 said on 25th July 2010, 2:30

        If it’s legal Lewis will go for it and let FIA make the call. If he is penalized he will accept it and be about his business. He has had as many, or more, calls against him as he has been found in compliance.
        You know, I could say the same about Fred.

        • 17 points in two races said on 25th July 2010, 9:20

          Come on, all of you know Charlie is Charlie, he needs five o ten laps to penalized Fernando Alonso, and he needs two laps to get sure the safety car block someone race… as he did in the last GP

          Take it easy, the FIA has decided to penalized in less than 1 lap!!!! So if LH take some advantage, he will be penalized in less than 1 lap, and no with a drive trhough like he penalized FA for overtaking Kubica. He needed 4 laps to know what to do…. How old is he? Do you really think he is doing a good job? Did your see the famous overtaking of SC by LH without penalty?

          • sasbus said on 25th July 2010, 12:16

            Can’t agree with you more. Charlie has been quite biased lately and I fear that Ferrari will again be dealt with the wrong end of this stick this week-end.

            Someone said that we are seeing more passing nowadays. Where exactly? in the front or in the middle of the field. As far as I’m concerned we are still lacking spectacular passes as the one by Hakkenen in Spa on Shumi.

      • Hairs said on 25th July 2010, 10:01

        This is the sort of Ill-informed rambling I avoid the Planet F1 forums for.

        Charlie Whiting makes all sorts of debatable decisions sometimes. He’s in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position. I’m sure if you take the time to look back over the decisions, there are as many that go against your position as there are to support it.

        The idea that race control favours McLaren, or Hamilton, over Ferrari, when everyone from the bottom to the top of F1 referred to the FIA as “Ferrari International Assistance” for years, and they have admitted they negotiated special treatment in 2004, is utterly laughable.

        If you want to spout stream of consciousness opinion, please do so in the appropriate vessel – Youtube comments or PF1.

        • zecks said on 25th July 2010, 10:35

          well said! It seems as though a large proportion of ferrari ‘fans’ are whiners, who only started following F1 when the only question each race was “how many seconds will schumacher win by?” I wouldn’t be surprised if the very same people are man utd supporters.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2010, 12:01

        Charlie Whiting, LH´s first fan

        Oh please. He hardly did Hamilton any favours at Spa in ’08 did he?

  3. Ral said on 24th July 2010, 19:30

    The stewarts might be happy for drivers to use the runoff area, but especially if the astro-turf is still wet, or wet again, it won’t do anyone any good at all.

    I can’t help myself kinda hoping the Ferraris will be fast enough to spring a surprise on Vettel, but I don’t think that will happen. Let’s just hope Alonso doesn’t get caught up again behind a safety car, or we’ll never hear the end of it ;)

    • Let’s just hope Alonos doesn’t get caught again behind Massa.. The would be the worst possible scenario. A good start for Massa will lose Ferrari the race..

  4. PT (@pt) said on 24th July 2010, 19:32

    Ferrari could win, but judging by their inability to convert practice and qualifying form into a strong result coupled with Alonso’s slow starts have left me wondering whether this would be another of those “what if” races.

    But what’s encouraging for Ferrari fans is that Red Bull’s advantage has been almost nullified by the scarlet beasts, particularly that of Alonso. Had Webber got a clean run Massa would not qualified 3rd, but still a great comeback performance from the Brazilian. He could give Alonso a hard time in the race. If so, would Ferrari’s team tactics come to play, with the championship in mind?

    • Nick F said on 24th July 2010, 20:08

      Hockenheim is quite a good track for overtaking these days so it may not be easy for Massa to keep Webber behind him if Webber is faster than him in the race.

      I’m assuming Massa will get dropped by Alonso and Vettel, but i have just been thinking. He is a confidence driver. Being so close to the front might inspire him to keep up with Alonso. He seems fairly withdrawn to me at the moment. I don’t suppose it’s much fun being out qualified by so much each race.

      • bosyber said on 25th July 2010, 7:27

        Well, Massa finally showed good pace in Q2, although like Webber, his Q3 lap wasn’t the best. So I have good hope that we can see Massa finally getting back to Bahrain speeds and following, if not leading Alonso in the charge to Vettel.

        If everyone has an okay start, and given that RBR still has the slight slump in race pace – unless Ferrari inherited that with the retarded ignition trick and McLaren is all over the RBR and Ferrari in race trim – I expect Ferrari to be very much onto Vettel, with Webber struggling to keep up while being chased hard by the McLarens.

    • tharris19 said on 25th July 2010, 2:40

      I think team tactics have already come to play. I find it difficult to believe Alonso is .497 seconds quicker than Massa in the same car in qualifying trim. Race maybe, qualifying, no.

      • bosyber said on 25th July 2010, 7:27

        Massa made some mistakes, he said, in his final run, or he would have been a lot closer to Alonso.

  5. Chris said on 24th July 2010, 19:32

    We’ve seen Vettel be a bit impetuous when things don’t go his way already this year. If Alonso gets the better of him off the line, there’s a better than even chance of sparks flying. During that time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Webber and either or both McLarens squeezing through. Perhaps Massa, too. He’s not the man he was in 2008 and early 2009, so if he falls back, I’ll not be too surprised.

    I may not be a particular fan of either man on the front row, but I’d say Alonso will get the drop on Vettel…

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th July 2010, 20:59

      It might be Massa punting Vettel off in the first corner though. Would be a good strategy for Alonso to get a head start as well.

      And both McLarens will be very eager to get a good start and have a go at Webber.

      • bosyber said on 25th July 2010, 7:29

        Although the WDC needs Alonso winning, I would like to have a Massa win, to have yet another driver on the GP-winners list for this year, so I would prefer Massa to finally have a problem free first lap again. For the WCC Ferrari need Massa to score.

  6. Steven said on 24th July 2010, 19:35

    Alonso will win, and then go on to win his 3rd WDC \o/

  7. Bleu said on 24th July 2010, 19:55

    The start straight is quite short, so there shouldn’t be too much changes into first corner. But the hairpin will be interesting during the first lap. I think one of the Force Indias will be involved in a crash on the opening lap while trying to recover from the bad starting position. Schumacher has been very good at the starts so I would expect him to be ahead of Rosberg again.

    The tyre thing is interesting, especially as there hasn’t been too optimal conditions to test the tyres this weekend.

    • US_Peter said on 25th July 2010, 3:45

      Yeah Schumi has been very impressive in the starts. Just look at the aerial replays of the Montreal start. Very impressive driving watching him just rocket past half the field weaving in and out of quite a number of cars. If he can make a start as well as that and somehow do it on hard tires allowing for a late Kobayashi-in-Valencia-style pitstop he could make up a lot of positions.

  8. Nick F said on 24th July 2010, 19:59

    If Vettel can beat Alonso now that they seem to have fairly equally matched cars it will do wonders for his reputation. He’s great at driving fast, but I’m not sure about his race craft and temperament yet. I think Alonso is hungry for the victory and if Vettel gets off the line first he’ll be under a lot of pressure in the race.

    I hope the Mclarens have better race pace than qualifying pace and can mix it with the Ferrari’s and Red Bulls. I was hoping this season would be a true 4 team battle. I’ll be happy to accept a 3 team battle though. That would be great.

    • David BR said on 25th July 2010, 3:42

      I agree, I’d like to Alonso testing Vettel. However, I think there’s absolutely no way the top 6 cars will all still be there, never mind in the same order, by the end of the first lap. It’s gonna be messy…

    • bosyber said on 25th July 2010, 7:38

      It would be great to see a Turkey like battle but now with six cars. Maybe with Alonso being already ahead of Vettel, and Webber at least a car behind, to avoid that RBR own-goal from Turkey, so that we can enjoy it until the finish. Wouldn’t mind seeing some more overtaking during it, now the Ferrari’s are matching RBR well in corners, and McLaren beat them all in straight line this race.

  9. BBT said on 24th July 2010, 20:07

    German — 1:13.791 — 1:14.427 — +0.636
    British — 1:29.615 — 1:30.556 — +0.941
    European — 1:37.587 — 1:37.969 — +0.382
    Canadian — 1:15.420 — 1:15.105 — -0.315
    Turkish — 1:26.295 — 1:26.433 — +0.138
    Monaco — 1:13.826 — 1:14.432 — +0.606
    Spainish — 1:19.995 — 1:20.829 — +0.834

    I don’t think its all doom for Mclaren, look at Silverstone and the Spainish GP, in both Hamilton ran comfortably 2nd even though he was over 0.83 behind in qualifying, and Jenson was only 0.636 behind today.

    Looking at Ferrari and their first attempts with the EBD and today them running with the engine retardation thingy, plus RBRs general pace in qualifying against race pace (and FP low fuel pace) it seems this trick is worth about 0.4 in qualifying but not run in the race.

    Mclaren are stronger on full tanks as well so it could be very interesting tomorrow, a three team race?

    • sumedh said on 24th July 2010, 20:12

      The Silverstone track is 90 seconds long, Hockenheim is just 73 seconds, that is why the gap is lesser.

      It would be easier to compare if the times were mentioned in percentages instead of seconds.

      • BBT said on 24th July 2010, 20:16

        Agreed and I mentioned the shorter lap in another post but forgot to include it above.

        I still stand by the general point that it is very much a three horse race, with Mclaren only very slightly on the back foot but not by as much as it looks at first sight.

        • Jhonnie Siggie said on 24th July 2010, 23:10

          Ferrari have complicated things from Lewis. While being able to get an easy 3rd (15pts) in a RB & Mclaren horse race, he is looking at getting only 8 pts in 6th place. The RB drivers can easly eat away at his lead now. The best result for Hamilton tomorrow would be a Massa win followed by a win by Alonso. That will help him preserve his lead till Mclaren sort out the EBD in future races.

  10. sumedh said on 24th July 2010, 20:22

    I don’t think Massa is going to try any daredevilry at the start. He cannot afford to have a 4th consecutive non-points finish. So unless Vettel and Alonso have really horrible starts, I expect him to just stay 3rd.

    He should be able to stay there, I hope. Red Bull is one of the more sensitive cars to dirty air which will make Mark’s job of overtaking him tougher, although, Massa isn’t the best defensive driver, Vettel made him look pedestrian at Silverstone.

    I think its unlucky for Mclaren to have Lewis starting on the dirty side. He could have mounted a successful challenge to Mark on lap 1 and picked off Felipe easily as well. Can Jenson do the same to Mark from P5, I doubt.

    Alonso’s best chance to get Vettel will be at the hairpin after parabolica. Even otherwise, he can stick close to Vettel for long times and wait for a mistake.

    Vettel just needs to maintain a cool head. All the team-politics affected him more than Webber at Silverstone. He just needs to drive fast without thinking about whatever media backlash he might face.

    Come to think of it, Vettel is becoming the next Schumi for the British media. They just love to disparage him. Schumi similarly was the target for British media throughout his ‘first’ career.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th July 2010, 21:01

      But the dirty side doesn’t make a lot of a difference after the loads of rain coming down the last couple of days. I think Lewis will have a serious go at Webber.

      For sure the hairpin will see some action this year. I remember seeing Lewis there live in GP2, that was great.

      • bosyber said on 25th July 2010, 7:41

        I am worried a bit that if Webber is stuck behind Massa, he could have a bit of an Australian GP-type race, taking them both out. But maybe Massa is hoping Hamilton gets into a scrap with the two of them and is the one taken out again?

  11. gabal (@gabal) said on 24th July 2010, 20:24

    I’m not sure how much Ferrari has managed to close the gap in race-pace.
    Red Bull had dominant qualifying times so far seemed to be connected to blown diffuser and now that other teams are also implementing it they got closer. We’ll see tomorrow I guess, one thing is certain – Ferrari are keen to wipe out worst result in decades by a strong race tomorrow.

    • bosyber said on 25th July 2010, 7:43

      But on race pace Ferrari were, like McLaren, already a lot closer as long as there is no large parts of high-speed cornering, so all they had to do is maintain that. I don’t see why they would have lost much of that pace with the EBD.

  12. I’m suspecting Vettel to do something dumb at the start, although he will get a good start as the RB is better at traction off the line. But Massa could cause trouble from 3rd as he’s been seen making wild starts recently. Webber or Alonso would be my pick for the win tomorrow. One of the McLarens could very well be on the podium with the help of a good strategy. Behind the top 6, its very difficult to say. The Williamses might have a good race and end up at good positions, at least Rubens. Rosberg can haul some points if his car allows him and Schumacher, well, I can’t really say! Kubica will look to do well again and it will be good to watch the Force Indias make their way through to get closer to the point scoring positions.
    All that said, if it rains, then the whole thing could be a lot different.

  13. George said on 24th July 2010, 20:58

    i know that it may seem a little bit of a wild prediction, but im thinking that mclaren will get a very good result tomorrow. I reckon that alonso will take vettel out at the hairpin (or somewhere else on the first lap), and the maccas will get off the line very well. Both will hoefully cruise past webber and massa as they are over 5ph quicker on the straights which will become even more in the slipstream. Even if this doesnt happen, its all set for a good race tomorrow. Anyone else agree with my prediction ;)

  14. Flippy PK said on 24th July 2010, 20:59

    I, on the other hand, don’t think that Massa will make a desperate start. He made a terrific start in Melbourne. Alonso will definitely tangle with Vettel in the beginning, and this could play out very well for Felipe. Watch out for a Prancing Horse vs Bull battle; rain will make this otherwise dull circuit come to life, and keep an eye on Rubens Barrichello and Kamui Kobayashi, who have had solid perfirmances the last two races. Who knows what could happen- remember Markus Winklehock leading on his F1 debut here three years ago?

  15. George said on 24th July 2010, 21:01

    @flippy pk… that race with wink;ehock leading was an amazing race, one of the best in recent times :)

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