2009 Grosser Preis Santander Von Deutschland – German Grand Prix
This weekend’s German Grand Prix was action-packed right upto the brim, and in the end, threw-up a first-time race winner in the form of Mark Webber. Saturday’s qualifying session was full of drama, as there was a bit of rain-interruption midway through the session. Q1 was mostly dry, and with about three minutes to go, light rain began to fall on part of the track. In Q2, Felipe Massa and Kazuki Nakajima demonstrated that the track had got too wet to continue on slicks, by spinning-off track. This led to all drivers to go for inters, but the weather continued to toy with the drivers. There was no more rain and the track dried out. At this point, a few went out on slicks and set good times – Barichello, Piquet and Sutil were top three. Fernando Alonso got caught out, as it started raining again and he spun during his last run. Thus, it was the first time a Force India made it into Q3 and the occasion was extra special as it was Adrian Sutil’s home race. The McLarens had a much improved pace owing to the new front wing and a revised diffuser design. Q3 was a dry session, and Webber and Barichello locked out the front row from their team-mates – Button was in P3 and Vettel in P4. Row 3 had the two McLarens lead by Hamilton. Then came Sutil’s Force India, who was surprisingly, heavily-fueled as well – demonstrates the team’s improvement. The two Ferraris followed by Piquet’s Renault completed the top ten.
Webber, thus, had the first pole of his career. However, he was under big pressure from the KERS-enabled McLarens. And the dash into turn 1 was incident-filled. Barichello got off-to a good start and Webber had to swerve to his right to try and keep the charging Brawn behind him. There was a little brush although both cars were undamaged, and Barichello managed to get ahead. As expected, both McLarens shot-off as the lights went out, and Hamiton even got his nose ahead of Barichello into P1. Unfortunately, his McLaren’s right rear tyre got sloushed as he touched Webber’s front wing when he passed the Red Bull. Hamiton had to limp back to the pits, and that ruined his race, which was a shame as he was in with a good chance for big points. The surviving McLaren driven by Kovalainen also had a good start to move into 3rd. He then created a pile-up, as there was Button, Massa and Vettel following close behind. Both the KERS runners were able to hold-off the faster cars behind them. This is how the race progressed for some time until the stewards decided to punish Webber for his aggressive start – which was a bit too harsh by our reckoning. Webber served his penaly on lap 14, and did his first pit-stop on lap 19.
Where the front-runners came-out after their pit-stops was what affected the race results. Webber was briefly delayed by Robert Kubica. However, Barichello was stuck behind Massa, and had to wait for him to come in on lap 25. And, there were more problems for the Brazilian as his team muffed-up his second stop. The refueling rig failed, and the team had to go for the backup, which cost him dear. This also meant that Barichello didn’t get enough fuel to run a two-stop, and had to come in once again. Understandably, he was furious with his team at the end of the race. Interestingly though, this ‘unfortunate incident’ also allowed Button to get ahead of him. Perhaps, this sealed the race for Webber. The Australian, anyway, was consistently delivering quick lap times, and was the fastest man on track.
Meanwhile, Sutil was having the time of his life in front of his home fans. At one point, he even ran as high as P2. However, (like in Monaco last year)it was again Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari which blew his chances for his second and his team’s first points-finish. As Sutil came out of the pits, he found the Finn alongside going into turn 1, and the two collided which damaged his front wing and his chances. However, there was no action taken against either driver. Fernando Alonso was flying in his last stint and even set the fastest lap of the race , and then bettered it on the next lap. He caught the struggling Brawns effortlessly, but couldn’t manage a pass. The Brawn cars struggled to get heat into their tyres all day, and Button in particular, was doing a lot of weaving around on the straights, desperate to warm-up his tyres. In the end, it was another 1-2 for the Red Bull, this time led by the Australian. Mark Webber also clinches the record for ‘maximum GPs before first win’, which was formerly held by Barichello. Felippe Massa got Ferrari’s second and his own first podium of the season. Nico Rosberg, like he was in Britain three weeks back, was again heavily fueled and used a good first lap and a long first-stint to make-up a lot of places. He finally finished 4th – a great result considering he had started 15th. Then came the two Brawn cars, followed closely by Alonso. Kovalainen held-on to eight, just ahead of Timo Glock(who had started last and from the pits), Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella and Kazuki Nakajima.
With this result, Red Bull has shown the world that their wins at China and Britain were no flukes. Even though the much-anticipated rain stayed away and the temperatures were on the higher side, they left the Brawn GP cars panting. They are now very much in the fight for the team championship, as they trail by just 19.5 points. Button still leads the driver’s championship, although only by 21 points now, with Vettel second and Webber another 1.5 points behind. Since the Red Bull drivers are racing neck and neck, they could reduce each other’s points haul, and this could play into the hands of Jenson Button. But, the day definitely belonged to Mark Webber. Not even a penalty could hault his progress today, and it sure was a well-deserved win. Next race is the Hungarian Grand Prix. There, the temperatures are expected to be slightly higher, and so Brawn cars are expected to perform better.
Meanwhile, rumours are spreading that Fernando Alonso might get a seat in an ‘Italian-made scarlet car’ for the next season. Although both parties are yet to confirm the news, this has been one rumor which has been doing the rounds for far too long to be just one. Whether it materialises or not, the two-time world champion, who by our reckoning, is at the peak of his powers, sure does deserve a better car. Let’s wait and watch! For now, it’s over to the Hungaroring!