Sunday, 22 July 2012

2012 German Grand Prix Review

Another victory for Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, and the Spaniard may be slowly and imperceptibly taking control of this year's world championship.  His cause in the points standings was aided further by the penalty imposed on Sebastian Vettel following his late-race passing manoeuvre on Jenson Button. Indeed, many of the other potential title candidates had days which they would rather soon forget.

I have seen today's race at Hockenheim described as "tense".  In motor racing parlance, this is often a euphemism for "quite close but processional".  However, in this case that would be inaccurate, as there was plenty to hold the interest, with the outcome in doubt until the very end, and the now customary wheel-to-wheel dicing throughout the rest of the field.

Even though Alonso won by a meagre margin in terms of time, he managed largely to keep his rivals at arm's length, assisted by the Ferrari team's efficient pit-stops and a sound strategy.  In addition, the driver proved adroit and calm in dealing with traffic, especially in the closing stages.

For me, the other major story of the race was the continuing restoration to eminence of Jenson Button.  The early signs of a recovery were already evident, and he exuded cautious optimism before the race.  In the contest itself, he was looking to be aggressive, as his moves on Schumacher and Hulkenberg amply demonstrated.  Also, he showed steel and resolve in his dealings with Vettel, before the contentious late incident.  It is unclear whether something has "clicked" with Jenson recently, but there appears to be more direction and purpose there.  Things bode well for the second half of this season.

Vettel did look a little ragged at times.  Trying too hard in front of the home crowd?  Probably not. It may have just been a case of seeking to overcome a marginal deficit to the Ferrari, and trying to withstand the challenge of Button.  As for the move which caused the German to incur a twenty second penalty, it seemed warranted, with all four wheels off the track proper.

Regrettably, Lewis' Hamilton's 100th Grand Prix did not give him much cause for celebration.  A poor getaway at the start, and a puncture shortly afterwards, set the tone for the afternoon.  "DNFs" could prove very costly for drivers this year.

The Saubers were both in sprightly form during the race.  A charging drive (again) by Sergio Perez, admittedly to make amends for a mediocre grid position.  These surges from the young Mexican are standing out even amongst the frantic level of competition which this season has witnessed.  Racing hard and fast, but also fitting this into the framework of a strategy.  The sort of things which tend to be noticed by potential employers?

I was going to describe Kimi Raikkonen's drive as "solid", but that would be doing him an injustice.  Even though he inherited his podium position, it was the kind of pacy display which he can produce almost effortlessly.  Just driving quickly and bravely.

Of the rest, it was good to see the Force India cars involved in some spirited dices on the periphery of the top 10, with the drivers proving difficult to shake off.   Schumacher held his ground resolutely, but did not seem to have the outright pace, whilst team-mate Rosberg conducted a decent damage-limitation exercise in the wake of his troubled qualifying.

Will Alonso continue to apply the pressure in Hungary?   We await the next gripping instalment in the saga!

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