Hamilton-Vettel battle to resume at the Nurburgring

2013 German Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2013It’s lap seven at the British Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton is leading the field as he bids to win his home race.

Sebastian Vettel is just starting to edge into the two second margin the Mercedes driver has built up. The scene is set for a finely-poised battle between the pair of them over the remaining 53 laps.

But Hamilton’s tyre explodes on the Wellington Straight and the contest is over far too soon.

Happily that battle is about to resume, for the same two drivers share the front row for the German Grand Prix. And this time it’s Vettel who’s bidding to win his home race – for the first time in his career.

The start

The run to the first corner at the Nurburgring is one of the trickier starts on the F1 calendar. The first corner is tight, slow, the apex is blind at it comes up quickly – the run from pole position to the corner is just 260 metres.

It can be the scene of incidents, as Sunday’s pole sitter knows well. Hamilton took the lead at the start of the 2009 for a brief distance but clipped Mark Webber’s front wing and picked up a puncture which ruined his race. He collected a puncture in the opening moments of the 2007 race as well.

Starting from his first pole position at the Nurburgring for an F1 race, Hamilton can expect to come under pressure from Vettel soon after the start as we have seen happen several times already this year.

Mark Webber starts third and will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the awful start that almost ruined his race at Silverstone. The Lotus pair line up behind him.

Strategy

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Nurburgring, 2013F1’s last visit to the Nurburgring saw chilly temperatures that struggled to reach the mid-teens. Today the track was bathed in sunshine and exceeded 40C during qualifying. But despite that and some rapid lap times the tyres held up with no sign of a repeat of the problems seen at Silverstone.

It was clear from practice that race strategies will be about minimising the time spent on the soft tyre: It may but up to 1.5 seconds per lap faster but it doesn’t last. This will be a particular concern for the six drivers at the front of the grid who have to start on it, having already put at least three laps on their tyres.

After qualifying Hamilton said he was wary of Red Bull’s pace over a race stint, believing it still to be better than Mercedes’. But Silverstone showed Mercedes have made strides in this area.

Mercedes have other doubts about Hamilton’s pace, Ross Brawn explained: “We go into the race with some question marks, as we haven’t done any representative running with the set-up we now have on the car.”

The cars to watch in this group are the Lotuses, who ran better on the soft tyres than their rivals on Friday. That may give them a greater opportunity to pick the right moment to change tyres without coming out in too much traffic.

Row four belongs to the Ferrari pair who will start on medium tyres. Although unable to match Mercedes’ single-lap pace Fernando Alonso believes they will be more competitive than they were a week ago: “We seem to have made a step forward and returned to the level of competitiveness which we had prior to Silverstone,” he said.

Explaining Ferrari’s choice of strategy, he said: “Maybe here it?s not too important to start from the front because the soft tyre shows very high degradation and so, from lap eight onwards the run of pit stops will begin and traffic will build up. At that point we will have to push like if they were all qualifying laps.”

Jenson Button, ninth, and the rest of the field have a free choice on what tyres they will start on. That includes Nico Rosberg, who qualified well out of position in 11th, and has some ground to make up.

Here’s all the data from qualifying:

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’31.131 1’30.152 (-0.979) 1’29.398 (-0.754)
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’31.269 1’29.992 (-1.277) 1’29.501 (-0.491)
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’31.428 1’30.217 (-1.211) 1’29.608 (-0.609)
4 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’30.676 1’29.852 (-0.824) 1’29.892 (+0.040)
5 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’31.242 1’30.005 (-1.237) 1’29.959 (-0.046)
6 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’31.081 1’30.223 (-0.858) 1’30.528 (+0.305)
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’30.547 1’29.825 (-0.722) 1’31.126 (+1.301)
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’30.709 1’29.962 (-0.747) 1’31.209 (+1.247)
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1’31.181 1’30.269 (-0.912)
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1’31.132 1’30.231 (-0.901)
11 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’31.322 1’30.326 (-0.996)
12 Paul di Resta Force India 1’31.322 1’30.697 (-0.625)
13 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’31.498 1’30.933 (-0.565)
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’31.681 1’31.010 (-0.671)
15 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’31.320 1’31.010 (-0.310)
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’31.629 1’31.104 (-0.525)
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’31.693
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’31.707
19 Charles Pic Caterham 1’32.937
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’33.063
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1’33.734
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1’34.098

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton 29.264 (2) 37.273 (4) 22.817 (2)
Sebastian Vettel 29.478 (7) 37.204 (2) 22.813 (1)
Mark Webber 29.402 (4) 37.230 (3) 22.976 (6)
Kimi Raikkonen 29.253 (1) 37.448 (6) 22.915 (4)
Romain Grosjean 29.444 (5) 37.162 (1) 23.063 (9)
Daniel Ricciardo 29.593 (11) 37.594 (9) 22.886 (3)
Felipe Massa 29.358 (3) 37.435 (5) 22.991 (7)
Fernando Alonso 29.488 (9) 37.452 (7) 23.022 (8)
Jenson Button 29.482 (8) 37.647 (10) 23.140 (12)
Nico Hulkenberg 29.580 (10) 37.534 (8) 23.117 (10)
Nico Rosberg 29.448 (6) 37.911 (15) 22.967 (5)
Paul di Resta 29.789 (13) 37.779 (11) 23.129 (11)
Sergio Perez 29.784 (12) 37.998 (16) 23.151 (13)
Esteban Gutierrez 29.874 (15) 37.903 (14) 23.179 (15)
Adrian Sutil 29.855 (14) 37.805 (12) 23.281 (18)
Jean-Eric Vergne 29.999 (16) 37.867 (13) 23.175 (14)
Valtteri Bottas 30.025 (17) 38.222 (17) 23.203 (16)
Pastor Maldonado 30.206 (18) 38.242 (18) 23.259 (17)
Charles Pic 30.643 (20) 38.698 (19) 23.571 (19)
Jules Bianchi 30.601 (19) 38.752 (20) 23.710 (21)
Giedo van der Garde 30.856 (21) 39.037 (21) 23.640 (20)
Max Chilton 30.909 (22) 39.150 (22) 24.011 (22)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Paul di Resta Force India 303.4 (188.5)
2 Sergio Perez McLaren 302.6 (188.0) -0.8
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 302.1 (187.7) -1.3
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 302.0 (187.7) -1.4
5 Jenson Button McLaren 301.8 (187.5) -1.6
6 Adrian Sutil Force India 301.3 (187.2) -2.1
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 300.3 (186.6) -3.1
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 300.3 (186.6) -3.1
9 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 300.1 (186.5) -3.3
10 Charles Pic Caterham 300.1 (186.5) -3.3
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 300.0 (186.4) -3.4
12 Max Chilton Marussia 299.6 (186.2) -3.8
13 Pastor Maldonado Williams 299.2 (185.9) -4.2
14 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 299.2 (185.9) -4.2
15 Jules Bianchi Marussia 299.0 (185.8) -4.4
16 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 299.0 (185.8) -4.4
17 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 298.8 (185.7) -4.6
18 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 298.7 (185.6) -4.7
19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 297.9 (185.1) -5.5
20 Mark Webber Red Bull 297.7 (185.0) -5.7
21 Romain Grosjean Lotus 297.6 (184.9) -5.8
22 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 294.1 (182.7) -9.3

Over to you

Will Hamilton score the win that got away from him at Silverstone? Will Vettel finally triumph on home ground? And will Ferrari’s strategy gamble pay off?

Share your views on the German Grand Prix in the comments.

2013 German Grand Prix

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58 comments on Hamilton-Vettel battle to resume at the Nurburgring

  1. carbon_fibre (@carbon_fibre) said on 6th July 2013, 17:17

    It’s clear that Ferrari is going for the win tomorrow. Actually scratch that, they ‘re going for the 1-2 tomorrow. No way they would take such a risk for a place on the podium other than P1.

    The medium tyres last so much longer than the soft and their performance in the long run is extremely consistent.Ferrari should do more than twice the laps than the rest in the first stint. They will choose a two stop strategy ,using the softs in the last stint.

    The fact that both Massa and Alonso are on the same strategy, shows how confident the team is. I’m optimistic!

    • scuderia_fan85 (@scuderia_fan85) said on 6th July 2013, 17:32

      ur forgetting how kind Lotus’ cars are to their tires. and no doubt the top five will push hell outta their tires to open up a reasonable gap not to fall too far down the grid and if they come out behind the Ferraris, not to be too far from them.

    • Jake (@jleigh) said on 6th July 2013, 17:37

      I find this a very strange comment. Ferrari are obviously going for the best result possible for them, which, whatever that is, they believe will be achieved by starting on the mediums… But every team does the exact same thing (going for the best possible result) every weekend so I don’t really see what you’re getting at.

      • vanja said on 6th July 2013, 19:17

        actually, i find your comment rather strange. it’s quite obvious that not every race one will go with a strategy to win the race, especially that far behind. normally one would try to limit the damage, of course trying to do the best, but that best is not always aiming for the win…
        and i do concur with carbon_fibre that ferrari came up with a strategy to win, and not to get a podium or just “do the best they can”

        • Ali Karami (@mwarden) said on 6th July 2013, 19:26

          I also cant find any logical reason how u come up saying Ferrari’s are seeking a 1-2, its already proved in free practices that their pace is way worse than RedBulls or even Mercedes’ (in case they don’t face any tire problem), I just feel Alonso’s gonna make up some places due to having Ricciardo and Grosjean in front of him but predicting a podium having any cars except Merc and RedBulls seems illogical.

    • ngwe23 (@realstig) said on 6th July 2013, 18:25

      Of course they are going for a win, they are just going in the wrong direction.

    • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 6th July 2013, 19:35

      @carbon_fibre
      I think you’re assuming a bit too much. Ferrari weren’t likely to qualify better than Mercedes, RBR or Lotus anyway, so they could just as well do their Q3 lap with the harder compound, which is a better tyre to start with.

      So I agree with @jleigh , obviously Ferrari chose the strategy that they thought would give them the best possible result even if it isn’t a 1-2. Unless Vettel and Hamilton run into trouble, I doubt Alonso or Massa will be able to challenge them.

      • Antonio Nartea (@tony031r) said on 6th July 2013, 20:20

        @hotbottoms

        Ferrari weren’t likely to qualify better than Mercedes, RBR or Lotus anyway

        Their times in Q2 (provided there was room for at least another half a tenth-a tenth or so in Q3) actually suggest they would have beaten Lotus fairly easy.

        Ferrari were on a clear route to P4 & P5 on the grid if you ask me. That’s what makes the strategy call even weirder.

        • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 6th July 2013, 20:34

          @tony031r
          Ok, their times were almost identical with Lotus’, so maybe my word of choice “likely” was a bit wrong. But as Grosjean and Räikkönen, I believe Alonso and Massa also gave their best performance in Q2. Alonso was 4 tenths from dropping out, so I don’t think he was holding back at all. They could have reached 4th and 5th, but 6th and 7th were at least as likely, so their strategy call makes sense in my opinion.

    • DeadBull said on 6th July 2013, 20:05

      Optimistic, very. But crazy, not quite. Might be starting from behind with the primes is the way to win this one. But don’t forget Nico Rosberg. By force, not by choice, but he’ll be in the same strategy. I can easily think of a podium with this trio on top tomorrow, we’ll see.

    • I don’t think that Ferrari is gonna last quite as long on those mediums as they hope.And it’s not only how long they will last,it’s what pace they will have.I remember Massa starting on primes couple of races back,Bahrain GP maybe,and the tyres didn’t last too much longer then the options.It seems that primes get shoot quickly when you start on them,full tank of fuel,greenish track,dirty air …Prognosis not good for Ferrari …

  2. Jake (@jleigh) said on 6th July 2013, 17:40

    Lets not forget that the main problem with the softs on Friday was front graining. If the temperatures are a lot hotter like they were today, this probably won’t be as much of a problem.

  3. ASN (@ninefiveasn) said on 6th July 2013, 17:41

    I remember the 2011 race was all about limiting the amount of time on the prime tyre; The last stint for most was around 5 laps and I also remember Vettel and Massa pitting with one lap to go!

  4. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 6th July 2013, 17:43

    I love strategy, and I think with Ferrari starting on mediums, and presumably Rosberg as well, we are set for a great battle. I don’t think Ferrari took a huge risk qualifying with the mediums; they are now 7 and 8 and would have been 4 and 5, at best, if they had qualified on softs.

    In China, starting on the mediums worked well for Vettel and would have worked better if he hadn’t been stuck behind Hulkenberg in his first stint. For tomorrow, it is no great stretch to imagine Alonso leading after 8 laps. Also, by leaving the soft tyres for last, they may not be a hindrance at all. After all, Vettel closed a 17-second gap to Hamilton and Raikkonen in the last five laps in China, so if saved for the final stint they may actually be great tyres.

    As for the Hamilton-Vettel battle, I’m certainly not ruling out a Hamilton win, but so far only Red Bull have demonstrated great race pace.

    • Sankalp Sharma (@sankalp88) said on 6th July 2013, 18:53

      @adrianmorse

      I’m frankly not sure about Ferrari’s strategy. A lot of negatives are running around for them to contend with.

      First, the medium tyre strategy that they have chosen could backfire. I believe the right strategy is to pump in the lap times on soft for the first 8 laps or so and discard them for good as was the case in China. The soft guys could actually get more out of their tyres due to the higher temperatures ,which would leave the reds in trouble later on with the second medium stints.

      Second, judging by the long run pace demonstrated by RB, Lotus, Ferrari and Merc, RB clearly has the edge but there is very little to choose between the rest. Even if I assume Ferrari are on par with Lotus and Merc, Alonso and Massa will have there work cut out. Considering there are only three podium spots and quite literally 8 genuine contenders for those spots, the guys with the better qualifying should have the edge. Add to that, the fact that the run to the first corner is short and really dangerous for the all the drivers positioned 6-13, it’ll be hard for Ferraris to make up ground. Or even worse come away with a puncture.

      The only positive I could think of is that the softs may have more longevity in the final stint, which may allow for more windows of opportunity to switch tyres.

    • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 6th July 2013, 18:59

      Webber’s medium stint in FP2 was great, as was Massa’s very consistent run on the softs. If Ferrari get into contention tomorrow, with a light Ferrari going for a shorter stint on the softs against a Red Bull on a longer medium run at the end of the race it will be very exciting!

      Conversely I could be completely wrong and it will be Mercedes versus Lotus come the end of the race! Very hard to see how each team will hold up on degradation: Will Mercedes have higher degradation than Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull? Or will Hamilton be able to control from the front?

    • Knoxville said on 7th July 2013, 11:55

      Ferrari started on mediums because it was their best bet. they are well off the one lap pace of mercedes, redbull and lotus. clearly portrayed in qualifying. so having a good grip position is not in the cards here. So the best bet would be to do something different from the rest.

      It is not because they are confident that starting on the primes will yield a greater result in terms of race strategy.

  5. FS (@vfftw) said on 6th July 2013, 17:46

    Kimi is very, very slow through the speed trap. That’ll be interesting to see in the race…

  6. Divye (@ironshirt) said on 6th July 2013, 17:48

    i feel its also high time Alonso did something about Saturdays !! It been a looong time i have seen him do well in qualifiers !….always ends up blaming the car !

    • Manule said on 6th July 2013, 19:57

      The only thing he can do is to push the team to break another seal on Massa’s gearbox. Alonso is the worst qualifier of the three top-drivers these days (or, to be more precise, top-billed drivers, as I am still not sure Hamilton could have outqualified Rosberg without an enormous Merc blunder). Particularly funny was his comment on why Ferrari went out on mediums, he said ‘it was either 5th and 6th on the softs or 6th and 7th on mediums.’ But he is not starting 6th or 7th tomorrow (i.e. he once again underperformed in qualy), unless he knows something we don’t. Normally, I would say there is a certain difference between starting 5th and 8th at the Nurburgring, with its tight first corner. We’ll see if everyone keeps their front wing intact.

  7. Rahim.RG (@rahim-rg) said on 6th July 2013, 18:10

    i know the hype is about battle between Lewis and Vettel…but i think tomorrow Webber is gonna be a factor against lewis…mixed strategies is gonna make this race a real excitement…

  8. Raveendhana (@raveendhana) said on 6th July 2013, 18:16

    seems like the tyre change has not helped force india. they are very slow and sauber has found some pace suddenly.

  9. Tariq Patel (@mdtariqp) said on 6th July 2013, 18:16

    Seeing the speed trap, the Red Bull is less than 5 kph slower than the fastest car. Is this due to the nature of the circuit or is it that Red Bull have made some gains in straight line speed (could the gain have been helped by the use of the Kevlar belt instead of the steel belt)

    • Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 6th July 2013, 18:33

      Yes, because ACCELERATION prevails in the Nurburgring instead of top speed. Normally, cars with higher top speed have slower acceleration than cars with low top speed. Red Bull also has a higher downforce… (I think compared to Mercedes) but 5KPH slower, probably 1-2 tenths lost to the car who is at front.. At this track, the straights aren’t that long, and the back straight isn’t long either, so you would be better setting the car up for ACCELERATION, than top speed. And some commentators debate that THE TYRE SWITCHED BENEFITS RED BULL MORE THAN OTHER TEAMS.

  10. jpowell (@jpowell) said on 6th July 2013, 23:10

    Should be an intreresting race for strategy fans ,unless Vettel confounds you all and dissapears off into the distance with Webber in tow. Lewis should go backwards on this type of tyre ,but that should surprise no one. I’m going out for the day in my boat ,will check out the result on this site.

  11. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 6th July 2013, 23:34

    What I find enticing is the sector times: A Lotus set the best time for the first and middle sectors and Kimi was only a tenth off the best final sector time set by Vettel. Had either Kimi or Grosjean hooked it all up, we may well have had a Lotus on pole today and a different picture shaped up for the race.

    Perhaps it’s a bit of an insight into the Kimi-Grosjean lineup missing that one who can extract the most of the car over a single lap.

    • Postreader said on 7th July 2013, 0:19

      Pretty sure Kimi committed some slight error on his sector two, looking at the sheets it definitely isn’t normal to have a three tenths gap between pilots of the same team on a single sector.

      Anyways both the Lotuses used scrub tyres on Q3, otherwise they’d have been up there with RBR and Mercedes for the pole, even clearly ahead, perhaps. Same for Ferrari.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 7th July 2013, 6:45

      @younger-hamii, those sector are a little misleading, as they are from all qualifying sessions, not just Q3. At the end of Q2 the track was suddenly much faster than at any other time during qualifying, catching Rosberg out, and allowing Lotus to set fast sector times. In Q3, they were simply half a second off.

      As it is, they are starting much higher up than they have done recently, and could be contenders for victory.

  12. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 7th July 2013, 0:22

    Um, @keithcollantine, I know a couple of sources, like F1Technical states that it’s a pretty short run of 260m from the pole to Turn 1, but I found an other source (ManipeF1), which says it’s actually one of the longest in the calendar with 500m. (Only Barcelona, Sepang and I think the Hungaroring is longer than that.) Difference is pretty big and it has obvious consequences on the challenge a start holds here – which is already big enough as you well described even without a long run full of jostling for position.

    I took a fairly loose measurement on Google Maps and I think it’s 500m.

    What do you think?

  13. Vic (@hendrix666) said on 7th July 2013, 2:04

    Great to see all the comments about the tyres! This is the way we should be discussing them, the strategic element! I think this race has great potential for the best of the season. Quite a mixed bag for the top 10. Top 6 on softs, next 5 on mediums. For once I don’t want a wet race!

  14. William (@william) said on 7th July 2013, 4:48

    Bernie has his eye on Thailand,Azerbaijan, Long Beach and New Jersey. I wonder where this leaves Mexico?

  15. Putti SPIII (@veldaarf1) said on 7th July 2013, 5:42

    Ahh… Germany vs Britain Part 2. The Germans had the upper hand in part 1 so what’s it going to be this time?
    Watch out for Webber, if he gets a good start he could possibly win.
    The Ferrari’s are on an interesting strategy. It could be a stroke of genius or backfire spectacularly!
    All said it has the right ingredients for a classic!

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