Motorsport Tech Monday – five things we learned from the German Grand Prix

After one of the most topsy-turvy, wacky races seen in Formula One for many a year, it’s hard to know exactly where to start in summing up a chaotic, but highly entertaining German Grand Prix from a spectator perspective.

No fewer than six safety car periods, and cars changing tyre sets with alarming regularity due to the wet/dry nature of the race meant spins aplenty and a regular shuffling of the race order. That Lewis Hamilton likened it to a game of ‘snakes and ladders’ is to sum it up quite well.

Here, then, are some of the key talking points from a quite incredible race.

 

Mercedes is fallible, after all

The 2019 German Grand Prix weekend was supposed to be a celebratory weekend for the Silver Arrows, from start to finish, as the famous manufacturer celebrated 125 year of motorsport with a one-off livery.

Things initially looked to be going well, with Lewis Hamilton turning his pole position into a healthy lead, first on wet tyres and then in the switch to intermediates, teammate Valtteri Bottas in close attendance. But a gamble to switch to the red-banded soft tyre in still wet conditions cost him dear as others pitted for fresh intermediates, Hamilton spinning at the treacherous final corner, damaging his nose and losing more time in entering the pit lane the wrong side of the bollard.

Mercedes’ misery was compounded when Valtteri Bottas crashed out at the same point when attempting to pressure Racing Point’s Lance Stroll. That Hamilton still scored points due to both Alfas being penalised for running illegal clutch settings was scant consolation for the championship leader, after what he described as a ‘disastrous day’, although he will surely still win the title.

 

Rain makes for brilliant races

This was the first wet race of the 2019 season, and it produced an absolute cracker for fans of the sport. Many rookies had never experienced driving an F1 car in such conditions and most acquitted themselves brilliantly, putting some of their more experienced colleagues to shame. Most of all, however, the nature of a wet-dry-wet track leads to an intriguing guessing game of risk vs reward for the team tacticians calling the shots in the pit lane. An no matter how accurate the weather radars or how good the driver, even the very best can be caught out, as Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas discovered to their cost.

Redemption stories for Vettel and Kvyat

Every so often, a race will throw up a story or two that will leave even the most biased of race fans with something of a warm glow. At Hockenheim, that was provided by a couple of drivers.

A year ago, Sebastian Vettel was seemingly in command of his home grand prix until a loss of concentration saw him make a mistake and slide out of the race and into the barriers, the German pounding his steering wheel in frustration. Initially, it looked like it may be a similar weekend of frustration after a disastrous qualifying saw him start dead last on the grid.

But a quite superb drive through the field saw Vettel grab second on the final lap after his rivals slid by the wayside. Finishing behind Vettel on the podium was a certain Daniil Kvyat. Axed by Toro Rosso towards the end of the 2017 season, Kvyat changed his focus and attitude and forced his way back into the team, capping a fairy-tale 24-hours that saw him become a father with a stunning drive to third.

Red Bull talent pool paying dividends

It must be lovely for Red Bull to have such a rich pool of driver talent to choose from, and their junior programme has produced world champions in Sebastian Vettel and certainly a future one in Max Verstappen.

With a sister F1 team in Scuderia Toro Rosso, drivers Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon are now giving the senior team a headache approaching the second half of the season as Pierre Gasly has so far failed to live up to expectations. If it happens to Gasly, it certainly won’t be the first time a driver has stepped up then stepped down again. Just ask Daniil Kvyat.

Haas are back fighting for points – with one another!

Anyone who has seen the popular Netflix documentary series, ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’, will know that the outspoken Haas team boss Guenther Steiner is one of the real characters of the sport.

Never one to hide his emotions, Steiner wears his heart on his sleeve and was outspoken in his disappointment at Silverstone, when drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean crashed into one another whilst fighting for position.

Fury at Silverstone turned into despair at Hockenheim, where Magnussen and Grosjean were at it again, making contact when scrapping for position at the Turn 6 hairpin. Understandably, both drivers blamed one another for the incident after the race and Steiner himself told Motorsport.com that team orders may be the only solution going forward.

“I need to think about it but there are not many options, Said Steiner. “I think at some stage something needs to be done. I normally try to avoid it, as you guys know, I like racing, I think that’s what we should be doing – but if it works always against us, I can’t keep it happening. We got lucky that nothing happened, that they both were there, but it could affect them again.”

For the moment, though, all’s well that ends well with both drivers coming home in the points.

Fraser Masefield

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.

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