James Allen's German GP verdict
Sunday, 12 July 2009 22:11
James Allen's German GP verdict - Feature - F1 | ITV Sport
Red Bull Racing’s second dominant win on the trot established Mark Webber as a grand prix winner and also confirmed a shift in momentum at the top of Formula 1.
James Allen says the Nurburgring proved that RBR now has the fastest car on the grid, considers whether the pendulum might swing back to Brawn in the coming races, and highlights the other key points of note from an intriguing German GP.
This was a very popular win for Mark Webber, who dominated qualifying and the race this weekend in much the same way as Sebastian Vettel did at Silverstone.
The 32-year-old Aussie has always been fast but he’s had a lot of bad luck and also made his fair share of errors in races in the past which have made it hard to be consistent.
This season he started gingerly as he recovered from his broken leg but he’s been increasingly strong in the past few races.
Since Silverstone he has had the metal removed from his leg and here he delivered a virtuoso performance.
The team helped a lot by making the right call on the tyres – putting both drivers onto the hard tyre for the middle stint, something Brawn were not able to do.
Red Bull have made a huge step with their car, there is no doubt about that.
We saw it at Silverstone, with what was almost a new car. It had 67 new parts on it, including the revised double-deck diffuser.
But it was hard to be sure of the significance there because RBR had always enjoyed an advantage on tracks with fast corners – although their speed in the final slow complex of corners suggested that they had improved in all areas.
This weekend we learned that the car is greatly improved and is now clearly the fastest in F1.
We still cannot be sure how much faster it is than the Brawn because here the Brawn was very limited by its use of the tyres on offer.
The Brackley squad had to go with three-stop strategies on both cars because they couldn’t get the hard tyres to work and they were limited to short stints on the softs because they were graining so badly in the cold conditions.
So Brawn were sitting ducks to some extent here. They could have done with the wet and messy race the forecasters promised us.
In Hungary we expect Brawn to be stronger as the track temperatures are always high there, but it looks like they have lost the initiative to Red Bull and, what is more, they are caught in a tricky situation now on the development side.
They would like to be able to save some money for next season as they are not sure of their budget yet for 2010, but they no longer have the car advantage to be able to afford to do that.
Red Bull are aware of this and are pressing hard on development with further steps coming at each of the next races and a big step coming in Singapore for the final push.
They have increased their manufacturing capability and taken on new staff on contract, many of whom were laid off by Brawn earlier this year.
It’s hard to see how Brawn can compete with that and it may well be the story of the second half of the season.
Their situation is not helped by the internal row with Rubens Barrichello getting very annoyed by the refuelling problem which cost him a shot at the win and at the way the team switched the order of the final stops, bringing him in first when all through the race he had been pitting after Button.
Jenson was quicker at that stage of the race and it meant that he jumped Rubens at the final stop to gain what may turn out to be another vital point.
Button has scored just seven points in the past two races, where prior to that he was averaging eight per race.
This weekend we also saw big steps from Renault, McLaren and Force India.
Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap of the race at the end on the hard tyre.
This shows you how hard it is to read the performance of the various cars; depending on tracks, tyres, conditions and even different days, cars can perform really well or really poorly.
It was good to see Felipe Massa and Ferrari back on the podium.
Massa made maximum use of his KERS button at the start and in his battle with Sebastian Vettel, which Vettel was not shy about pointing out afterwards.
They had a great scrap throughout the race and it is a positive sign for Ferrari that they could do that.
There is some more development to come for them, but I think that after Valencia they will put most of their effort into the 2010 car.
For the third race in a row, Nico Rosberg managed to fight his way up through the field to get a strong result. He has now finished fifth, fifth and fourth in the past three races.
It was achieved here by running a very long first stint and capitalising on the problems the Brawns were having with the tyres. He jumped both Brawn cars when they made their third and final stops.