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

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

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.

Strategy

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.

2010 German Grand Prix

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Images (C) Ferrari spa, www.mclaren.com