Text: Alex Yoong / Photos: | posted July 07, 2013 08:24
2013 German Grand Prix Preview
The British GP was truly a public relations nightmare for Pirelli as we saw tire failures over the weekend. The ones in the race were especially outrageous and almost caused the cancellation of the race.
The explanations behind the failures have been seemingly vague and unsatisfactory of late. Their latest press release seemed to have also put the responsibility on the racing teams, implying that they were running tires under-inflated and with too much camber.
This is a weak excuse because Pirelli technicians support each team every time they go out and it's inconceivable to me that teams would try to run something outside the parameters of Pirelli's advice.
There was then another release sent out later that day quoting Paul Hembrey, who said: "Contrary to the impression that some people have formed, I would like to underline the collaboration and support that we are receiving from the teams, drivers, FIA and FOM."
Thousands of tires are made in a Formula 1 season and 10 to 20 punctures or 'debris' induced failures do not represent a huge percentage of the total. This seems to be more of a quality issue.
For their sake I hope they get it right. Overall, they have done a great job in spicing up F1 and I want them to be remembered for the positive aspects that they have brought to the sport.
Back to the race - Mercedes did a great job in grabbing pole with Lewis Hamilton and then backing it up with Nico Rosberg's win the next day. Clearly, they will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season.
My heart goes out to Sebastian Vettel, who was perfect on Sunday and deserved the win before a mechanical failure denied him of that victory. He has been the standout driver this year and has not made one mistake on the track. Despite not finishing the race, he still leads the championship by 21 points. Although it's still early in the season, it is hard to see anyone halting him from his quest to championship.
With everyone so far behind, Fernando Alonso seems to be the best bet to challenge Vettel. But with Ferrari's shocking pace on a circuit which they were supposed to be strong at, it seems they are starting to lose their way. It is imperative for them that this does not happen and they need to improve, especially in qualifying. Unless they start consistently putting their cars on the front two rows within the next few races, they won't be able to challenge for the driver's championship.
As much as it is up to Ferrari to improve the car, Alonso also has to improve. I don't feel he has gotten the most from his car in qualifying this year. Certainly in China and Spain I thought he could have put his splits together better. Up until now, Vettel and both Mercedes drivers have been better on being able to maximize performances from their cars on Saturdays.
Could Mercedes become the team to beat? Their bug this year has been race pace and at Silverstone they showed great improvement. Although they still don't quite have the best race pace, they may be good enough to bag several more wins if they keep putting both cars on the front row provided Pirelli continue to bring tyres to races that are not so sensitive to tire degradation.
This weekend, it's off to a medium speed track that doesn't have any stand out features. It's also Vettel's and Mercedes' home track. With Ferrari and Lotus having had such a torrid time in qualifying, I think it is going to be down to the hometown heroes to battle out for the win.
Catch Alex Yoong on Star Sports' coverage of this weekend's F1 German Grand Prix on Formula Fridays, Race Day and Chequered Flag. For the most immersive experience of the F1, log onto www.racematelive.com, the ultimate online companion site.