Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hockenheim, 2012

Alonso ahead but wary of McLaren’s dry-weather pace

2012 German GP pre-race analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hockenheim, 2012Fernando Alonso starts from pole position for the second race in a row.

But it’s not just fellow front row starter Sebastian Vettel he’s keeping an eye on.

“McLaren was a bit quicker than everyone else in the dry,” said Alonso after qualifying. “So I expect a strong race from them tomorrow.”

The start

As happened on F1’s last visit to the Hockenheimring, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel share the front row of the grid. But this time it’s Alonso on pole position.

Last time Vettel swerved across the track to keep Alonso behind – and in doing so let Felipe Massa through into the lead. As we saw at Silverstone, Alonso has no qualms about using such tactics, and Vettel can expect immediate attention from the Ferrari if he makes a better start.

Hockenheim has an unusual first corner with a vast tarmac run-off on the outside which drivers often use to gain an advantage. Massa did so at the start in 2010 and escaped attention from the stewards.

From a standing start turn one is taken flat-out – the drivers don’t get on the brakes until turn two, and the jostling for position usually continues on up to the Spitzkehre hairpin and beyond on the first lap.

If lap two begins and Alonso isn’t leading it’ll be a first – he hasn’t lost a place on the first lap all year. But Michael Schumacher, who starts third, hasn’t gained a place in the last four races.

The start is especially important for those needing to make progress from lowly grid positions. Keep an eye on Lewis Hamilton and, much further back, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg.

Strategy

After two days punctuated with occasional, sharp showers, tomorrow is expected to be dry and warm. Track temperatures peaked at 29C in final practice but should be even warmer than that tomorrow.

The limited dry running will mean teams have to feel their way with strategy a bit. “Not all of us have done runs on heavy fuel,” said Sebastian Vettel. “I think the McLarens did but I don’t think Ferrari and us did this morning, so we will see, but it shouldn’t be a big problem.”

Lewis Hamilton indicated that, despite McLaren’s poor qualifying, they could be in a strong position for the race: “We?re in a better position for tomorrow: although we?re not starting from the best positions, our car certainly looks better in the dry and, with dry weather predicted tomorrow, I definitely think we can have a good race.

“On Sunday, I plan to hunt everyone down from behind. The great thing at Hockenheim is the great big DRS zone along the back straight ?ǣ so hopefully Jenson [Button] and I will be doing lots of overtaking there tomorrow.”

Lotus also have high hopes for their performance in the race. Track operations director Alan Permane Tweeted: “I keep reading about how well others are going to do tomorrow… Here’s a prediction for you: Kimi [Raikkonen] will be on the podium…”

Hockenheim has usually been a track where drivers can pass quite easily. The DRS zone leading into the hairpin should make it even more straightforward.

Another feature of practice was that the soft tyre seemed to offer little of a performance advantage over the medium. This will most likely lead teams towards starting on the soft and attempting to run the race with two stops for medium tyres. Because Q3 took place in wet conditions, all the drivers have a free choice of tyres for the start of the race.

Here’s all the data from qualifying.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’16.073 1’38.521 (+22.448) 1’40.621 (+2.100)
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’16.393 1’38.309 (+21.916) 1’41.026 (+2.717)
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’16.686 1’38.010 (+21.324) 1’42.459 (+4.449)
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1’16.271 1’39.467 (+23.196) 1’43.501 (+4.034)
5 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’16.181 1’38.731 (+22.550) 1’43.950 (+5.219)
6 Jenson Button McLaren 1’16.507 1’38.659 (+22.152) 1’44.113 (+5.454)
7 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1’16.221 1’37.365 (+21.144) 1’44.186 (+6.821)
8 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’16.500 1’39.382 (+22.882) 1’41.496 (+2.114)
9 Paul di Resta Force India 1’16.352 1’39.703 (+23.351) 1’44.889 (+5.186)
10 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’15.693 1’39.729 (+24.036) 1’45.811 (+6.082)
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’16.516 1’39.789 (+23.273)
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’16.481 1’39.985 (+23.504)
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’16.265 1’40.212 (+23.947)
14 Bruno Senna Williams 1’16.426 1’40.752 (+24.326)
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’16.741
16 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1’17.620
17 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’15.726 1’39.933 (+24.207)
18 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1’18.531
19 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’16.685 1’40.574 (+23.889)
20 Charles Pic Marussia 1’19.220
21 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’15.988 1’41.551 (+25.563)
22 Timo Glock Marussia 1’19.291
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1’19.912
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1’20.230

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Fernando Alonso 16.671 (5) 35.777 (11) 23.625 (2)
Sebastian Vettel 16.847 (17) 35.628 (6) 23.897 (12)
Michael Schumacher 16.799 (12) 35.884 (18) 23.906 (14)
Nico Hulkenberg 16.819 (13) 35.508 (1) 23.786 (7)
Pastor Maldonado 16.654 (4) 35.849 (16) 23.678 (5)
Jenson Button 16.731 (6) 35.814 (14) 23.848 (9)
Lewis Hamilton 16.737 (7) 35.516 (3) 23.810 (8)
Mark Webber 16.775 (10) 35.739 (9) 23.915 (15)
Paul di Resta 16.832 (16) 35.621 (5) 23.899 (13)
Kimi Raikkonen 16.545 (2) 35.512 (2) 23.636 (3)
Daniel Ricciardo 16.825 (15) 35.758 (10) 23.933 (16)
Kamui Kobayashi 16.762 (8) 35.777 (11) 23.849 (10)
Felipe Massa 16.775 (10) 35.631 (7) 23.859 (11)
Bruno Senna 16.821 (14) 35.842 (15) 23.763 (6)
Jean-Eric Vergne 16.893 (18) 35.673 (8) 24.095 (18)
Heikki Kovalainen 17.078 (19) 36.381 (20) 24.161 (19)
Sergio Perez 16.578 (3) 35.601 (4) 23.547 (1)
Vitaly Petrov 17.365 (21) 36.318 (19) 24.709 (20)
Romain Grosjean 16.771 (9) 35.877 (17) 24.031 (17)
Charles Pic 17.391 (22) 36.847 (22) 24.941 (22)
Nico Rosberg 16.527 (1) 35.800 (13) 23.661 (4)
Timo Glock 17.224 (20) 37.121 (24) 24.822 (21)
Pedro de la Rosa 17.479 (23) 36.776 (21) 25.195 (23)
Narain Karthikeyan 17.505 (24) 37.110 (23) 25.512 (24)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 318.1 (197.7)
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 316.6 (196.7) -1.5
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 316.1 (196.4) -2.0
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 315.9 (196.3) -2.2
5 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 315.8 (196.2) -2.3
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 315.3 (195.9) -2.8
7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 315.2 (195.9) -2.9
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 314.6 (195.5) -3.5
9 Jenson Button McLaren 314.4 (195.4) -3.7
10 Paul di Resta Force India 313.8 (195.0) -4.3
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 313.6 (194.9) -4.5
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 313.3 (194.7) -4.8
13 Pastor Maldonado Williams 312.7 (194.3) -5.4
14 Bruno Senna Williams 312.6 (194.2) -5.5
15 Sergio Perez Sauber 311.8 (193.7) -6.3
16 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 311.7 (193.7) -6.4
17 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 311.7 (193.7) -6.4
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 311.2 (193.4) -6.9
19 Charles Pic Marussia 308.3 (191.6) -9.8
20 Mark Webber Red Bull 307.6 (191.1) -10.5
21 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 307.6 (191.1) -10.5
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 307.3 (190.9) -10.8
23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 306.9 (190.7) -11.2
24 Timo Glock Marussia 306.5 (190.5) -11.6

2012 German Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 German Grand Prix articles

Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei