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German and Hungarian GP: Last big push before the summer break


By Berthold Bouman

Everything is ready for round 10 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the German Grand Prix — this year at the Hockenheimring. With two back-to-back races before the summer break — the next round is the following weekend at the Hungaroring — teams want to end these two races on a high before they leave for a well-deserved vacation.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

Red Bull is currently comfortably leading the Constructors’ Championship, 64 points ahead of Ferrari, and 72 points ahead of Lotus. McLaren is fourth and thus has some catching up to do, and Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is aware of that. “There is a huge resolve within the operation to ensure that our aggressive development strategy is upheld across the summer: we are determined to narrow the gap to the championship leaders before the start of the summer break,” said the Briton.

Sauber, Williams and Force India are still battling for sixth place, currently occupied by Sauber, but the Swiss outfit is only 13 points ahead of Williams, and 16 points ahead of Force India, so for them there is a lot to win — or to lose. Replacing Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne hasn’t done Toro Rosso any good, they are ninth in the championship with only 6 points.

Surprisingly, Fernando Alonso is leading the Drivers’ Championship with 129 points, despite the fact the Ferrari F2012 did not perform well at the start of the season. Alonso however, is a smart guy and has once more shown his Spanish magic at Silverstone, and with his dogged determination he was able to win two Grands Prix, while his team colleague Felipe Massa is again under fire for his by now usual far under-par performance.

Due to his win at Silverstone, Mark Webber is now second, and his team colleague back-to-back World Champion Sebastian Vettel has thanks to his consistent driving, taken third place in the Drivers’ Championship. Vettel has never won his German home Grand Prix, and will be extra motivated to win the race this year, and almost shouted, “I haven’t won the German GP before and of course, I would like to!”

But Vettel is 16 points behind Webber, and one can be certain the Australian is not going to let Vettel take over his second position without a fight, while Webber himself is 13 points behind Alonso and in his turn will be looking to take over first place from the Ferrari driver.

For the McLaren drivers, the season is not going as planned, especially Jenson Button, eighth in the championship, seems to be completely lost in the McLaren MP4-27, and has huge problems getting his tyres up to racing temperature. Lewis Hamilton is in fourth place thanks to his Canadian victory, but is nevertheless 37 points behind leader Alonso.

The 2008 World Champion will celebrate his 100th Grand Prix this weekend, and said, “Unbelievably, next weekend will mark my 100th Grand Prix. That’s incredible, because I still remember my first as if it were only yesterday — I guess Formula One has that effect on you!”

Next on the list is Kimi Raikkonen, who has scored an impressive three podium places since his Formula One return, but the Finn is still chasing that elusive first win for Lotus. He has retired from the German Grand Prix six times in the past, but the Iceman is determined to change that. “In the past, the races I’ve contested in Germany have never gone as I had been hoping for. Obviously both circuits — Hockenheim and the Nurburgring — have not been very kind to me. I like them both and I have always been very competitive there. Maybe it will all come together this year,” he said.

There will be five German drivers contesting this year’s German Grand Prix, Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Timo Glock. Rosberg is the second highest ranked German, he currently is sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, and he thinks this circuit will suit the Mercedes better than the Silverstone circuit. “I think our car should suit this track much better than Silverstone. Hockenheim has long straights and short corners, which will be good for the Silver Arrow,” said Rosberg.

Schumacher is 12th in the championship, and after his first podium place since his return, he will be looking to finally take possession of the top step of the podium. Next is Hulkenberg, who likes the challenges of Hockenheim, “The most challenging corner to get right is turn one. It’s a quick right-hander that we take at well above 200 km/h and there is a tricky curb on the exit. Another important part of the lap is getting the hairpin right. If you get your braking wrong it’s easy to run wide and it’s the main opportunity for overtaking.”

Last German is Marussia driver Glock, “I have achieved some good results in this race in the past and it is always good to have some friends and family around me to share the experience.  I think we made a good start with our new package in Silverstone two weeks ago and I hope we will see a further small step with it.”

Sauber’s Sergio Perez has been on the podium twice, and is also poised to score his maiden win. The Mexican thinks a better qualifying pace is key to score points this weekend, “For us it remains important to do better in qualifying, so our Saturday performance is what we have to focus on first. Our car is quick and if we could just get everything right this time we have good chances for a nice race result.”

Sergio Perez, Sauber

Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix, but has gone downhill ever since, and on top of that was handed a 10,000 Euro fine and an official reprimand for his collision with Perez at Silverstone, about time Williams’ mentor Alexander Wurz has a few words with the Venezuelan, he is certainly fast, but is a bit too hot-headed as well. Also time for Bruno Senna to start scoring points, he has accumulated 18 points so far, neither Williams nor Senna cannot be satisfied with such a lean result.

Force India is also on a quest for their first podium finish of the season, and Team Principal Vijay Mallya thinks his team just needs more luck. “It’s satisfying to see that we are consistent top ten performers. We need that little bit of extra luck to get on the podium,” Mallya said.

The lap record of the Hockenheimring is in the hands of Raikkonen, he lapped the circuit in 1m13.791s in 2004 for McLaren. Raikkonen’s last win was at Spa in 2009, Schumacher’s last win was in 2006 when he won the Chinese Grand Prix.

The weather will play an important role at Hockenheim, the weather is very unpredictable at the moment, it has rained for almost one week on end in Western Europe, but drier weather and higher temperatures have been forecasted for the weekend.

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