Nurburgring set for a close race even without rain

2011 German GP pre-race analysis

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2011

The stars seem to be aligning for Mark Webber to score his breakthrough success of 2011.

He’s on pole position for the third time this year, he’s usually been quicker than Sebastian Vettel this weekend – and he’s doing it all at the track where he scored his first F1 triumph two years ago.

But with Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and, of course, Vettel lined up behind him, it’s not going to be an easy run for Webber.

The start

Webber’s immediate priority will be getting to the first corner first. Which could be easier said than done: this may be his third pole position of the year, but he’s yet to lead a single lap.

Webber has gained just one place in starts this year and has given away 11.

However he will be less vulnerable at the start than he might have been. The run to turn one at the Nurburgring has been shortened by 240m as the grid has been moved forward to accommodate the extra cars added since 2009.

He made a controversial getaway from pole position here two years ago, banging wheels with Rubens Barrichello and being handed a drive-through penalty.

It would not have been a surprise to see Lewis Hamilton qualify second on the grid a few races ago. But McLaren came into this weekend with low expectations after under-performing at Valencia and Silverstone.

Hamilton credited several car upgrades for his fast lap in qualifying. But the 1.1s gap to his team mate shows Hamilton is on top form at a track where he has gone well in the past, but never had the results to show for it.

Alonso, fourth on the grid, is another driver to keep an eye on – he took the lead from this position at Barcelona, another track with a long drag to the first corner.

Ferrari showed good race pace in practice and Alonso was in scorching form at Silverstone.

The strategy

Assuming the race stays dry the good durability exhibited by Pirelli’s tyres this weekend should mean drivers have to make only one or two stops for tyres.

With the soft tyres proving very durable, and the medium quite slow, expect to see drivers leave the medium tyre for a very short stint at the end of the race.

Pirelli’s tyre mix of medium and soft compounds seems to be on the conservative side, especially given the cool temperatures. At the last race here Bridgestone brought their medium and super-soft compounds.

Of course all this will go out of the window if the anticipated rain finally makes an appearance this weekend.

The weather

This morning’s GP3 and GP2 races were run in mixed conditions, the latter seeing drivers switch from wets to slicks as the track dried out.

There are further showers in the area which could hit the track before or during the race.

But even without it today’s race promises to be an exciting encounter.

How do you think the German Grand Prix will unfold? Who do you think will win? Have your say in the comments.

2011 German Grand Prix

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23 comments on Nurburgring set for a close race even without rain

  1. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 24th July 2011, 11:05

    For me the most exciting thing would be to have Hamilton take Webber in the first corner. However, I think Webber would still win the race. He seems on it this weekend.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th July 2011, 11:46

      That would indeed make for an exiting scenario. And we might have Massa and Alonso get Vettel at the start only to see him get ahead during the race.

      Also something to look forward to is Buemi working his way up from the end of the grid.

      • unocv12 said on 24th July 2011, 11:58

        An exciting scenario for me includes Webber going away, followed by Hamilton, neither fighting, hence being able to get away without losing precious time defending.

        Alonso does a typical Ferrari start and bounds into 3rd. Massa as well holding up Vettel for the next 50-60 laps depending on how many laps are in the GP.

        Vettel gets anoyed and DNF’s while Webber, Hamiltona nd Alonso end up on the Podium in that order, making the title fight a bit more interesting.

    • F1fan55 said on 24th July 2011, 11:51

      Essentially a repeat of 2009, without the drive through hopefully! Mark looks very fast, so it’s very possible.

  2. badger (@badger) said on 24th July 2011, 11:06

    Everything is in place for a great afternoon of racing, im hoping for a race with no penalties lots of wheel to wheel racing and a sprinkle of rain.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th July 2011, 11:47

      +1 very important that. Especially with already having 2 starting grid changes due to penalty for Liuzzi and time scrapped for Buemi.

  3. Darren said on 24th July 2011, 11:18

    Good luck to Mark today, would be a great day for Australia with Cadel Evans getting set to win the Tour De France and Mark winning in Germany!

  4. I really wanted Mclaren to be slow as I feel Ferrari’s best chance of the title isn’t to get tied up in a fight with Mclaren. It’s great if Lewis can take some points off Seb but Fernando really has to finish a few positions ahead of Vettel. I can’t believe I’m actualyl daft enough to believe that Fernando can still win the title but that’s how crazy F1 makes fans I suppose!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th July 2011, 11:48

      But they could use one of the Mclarens being in front of Vettel as well, if they can’t take him themselves here for the cold temperatures.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 24th July 2011, 12:09

      So Alonso needs to be ahead of the McLarens which need to be ahead of Vettel, and then there’s Webber which would benefit from this situation: if all this happened, great, but it’s very difficult!

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 24th July 2011, 12:39

      I hope both the McLarens and Ferrari’s and maybe Rosberg too, manage to get in front of Vettel – few points for him also works,

      With this weather I can’t see Ferrari as the best candidate for the win; Alonso will be able to do something still, but a win will be hard. For WCC it would be good to see the McLarens then do well, for WDC maybe Webber winning would be better.

  5. sato113 (@sato113) said on 24th July 2011, 11:26

    Alonso, fourth on the grid, is another driver to keep an eye on – he took the lead from this position at Barcelona, another track with a long drag to the first corner.

    but the run down to T1 today is now very short don’t forget.

  6. ChrisR said on 24th July 2011, 11:37

    I predict an Alonso win, then Hamilton, Vettel & Webber

    • infy (@infy) said on 24th July 2011, 11:43

      I predict Alonso, Web and then Vet. I dont think Ham’s qualy time was their real race pace. He has good mechanical grip, which means they had to compensate for their lack of down-force. As a result his car will eat the tyres quicker than the rest.

  7. mikeycool said on 24th July 2011, 11:38

    Does anyone know what set ups the front runners have for the race? Apparently, someone explained that hamiltons 1.1sec lap difference to buttons was that he has a dry setup whilst button has a wet setup. Any truth in this peeps?

  8. Hamish said on 24th July 2011, 11:40

    Me thinks Mark Webber will be the only driver at the end of this race to complete every lap this season.

  9. brum55 said on 24th July 2011, 11:51

    I think Hamilton and Vettel will take Webber at the start and Vettel will take the lead through the pits and win.

  10. Bigbadderboom said on 24th July 2011, 11:57

    I’m just hoping they get through the first lap without incident. Vettel must be really annoyed about losing the front row run, he is an absolute statistical nut and this will have got to him. Alonso and Hamilton still believe they have the WDC to fight for but they know they must have an all out style to stay in it…..I predict fireworks!

  11. Rahim.RG (@rahim-rg) said on 24th July 2011, 12:39

    Just hoping it rains

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