Michael Schumacher may be long gone from F1 racing, but his lasting impact in increasing the number of German drivers in the sport is clear to see. Five of the 20 drivers in F1 this year have their home race at the Nurburgring this weekend.
And one of them is hotly tipped for victory following his runaway Silverstone success: Sebastian Vettel.
After the British Grand Prix there were two competing explanations for how Red Bull had managed to beat Brawn so comprehensively, and what might be in store for the rest of the season.
One holds that Red Bull have made a major step forward in performance that Brawn will struggle to match. The other claims Silverstone was a one-off; a freak of low tyre temperatures which exposed one of the BGP001’s few weaknesses.
There’s probably an element of truth in both explanations. But Ted Kravitz’s story about Christian Horner congratulating Adrian Newey on the Red Bull pitwall – and Newey bursting into tears – suggests Vettel’s team believe they have cracked the performance secrets of their RB5.
That would fit a pattern we’ve seen before with other Newey cars, particularly the 2005 McLaren MP4/20, which hit their stride once the teams had nailed their sweet spots.
Brawn, meanwhile, have a stockpile of new parts to throw at the BGP001 in an effort to stay ahead in the championship. These include the unused development parts from Silverstone (left on the shelf as the team grappled with its grip problems) as well as freshly-designed components for this race.
The other Germans
Timo Glock stands out as the next best chance of a home win for the German crowd. He led at Bahrain and was in scintillating form in the rain in Malaysia. But since then he’s often lagged a little too far behind his team mate.
Nico Rosberg has started to find consistency with the Williams, scoring in the last four consecutive races. But despite the promise the FW31 shows in practice, it has rarely looked like getting on the podium.
BMW’s Nick Heidfeld goes into the weekend with hopes that the team’s new developments for the F1.09 will pull the car further up the grid. They include revisions to the teams ‘double diffuser’ – a development BMW were among the last to introduce in the first place.
As discussed here last week Adrian Sutil’s Force India team are on a definite upward trajectory. A win may be out of the question – but their first ever points might well feel like a victory.
In the years since Michael Schumacher left F1, Germany has lost its privilege of having two rounds per year, and now the future of the Hockenheimring as an F1 venue is in doubt. Crowd numbers have inevitably suffered.
But this weekend Sebastian Vettel races at home for the first time since becoming a Grand Prix winner – and off the back of his last win. Will he become Germany’s new F1 superstar?
35 comments on “Will Vettel become the new home hero? (German Grand Prix preview)”
6th July 2009, 8:37
Yes i believe Vettel is Germany’s best chance of having a new world champion, in which year i don’t know. But if Sutil can get a top drive then he could give Seb a run for his money.
6th July 2009, 11:00
I’d have to agree, currently Vettel is Germany’s best chance at a WDC.
I think Button will win the WDC this year, by how big a margin I’m not sure. But I think Newey has got the RB5 sorted, to the point where Vettel should make the Brawns sit up and take notice for certain from here on.
And one can’t write off Rubens at all. In this decade he’s been a solid contender for the WDC in 6 of 10 years(counting this season).
As I said, I think Button will win, but not in the runaway fashion his early season performance may have indicated.
6th July 2009, 13:42
Out of all the Germans, Sutil probably ranks the lowest. He was annihilated by Hamilton as teammates in F3, and can barely beat Fisichella. Glock, Rosberg and Heidfeld could all do a much better job, although Vettel is the only one who I think can become WDC.
6th July 2009, 13:54
can we consider rosberg to be a german? he doesn’t even understand or speak german. i saw one of his interviews years ago, a german reporter asked him a few questions & he didn’t seem to understand & ran away from the scene.
6th July 2009, 17:23
lol, really? I didn’t know that..
6th July 2009, 20:29
Well, exchange “German” with “Finnish” and you have the actual truth…
8th July 2009, 13:17
Well that’s bizarre as apart from the 4 other languages he speaks perfectly, German is his 1st language.
Ironically he doesn’t speak such good finnish.
Nico Rosberg is indeed of German nationality.
6th July 2009, 9:12
I don’t think it’s going to be a case of Brawn and Red Bull having their positions dramatically reversed. Rather, I think they’re going to be pretty evenly matched. If Silverstone was indeed a one-off because of the prevailing conditions, the Nurburgring will paint a better picture, assuming the weather remains consistent with the other races this year like Spain, Monaco and so on. Red Bull may have the upper hand, but I doubt it’s going to mean Vettel will win the next five races unchallenged.
I can see the rest of the season playing out as a battle between Button and Vettel to see how many points Button can bank before the German catches him up. Rather than being a series of one-off races, the remaining rounds in the championship become a meta-race; Button needs about thirty points before he’s untouchble (I think … maths isn’t my best subject by a mile), which means the next three races are critical because Vettel needs the same amount to catch him.
6th July 2009, 9:18
I did some rough math. If Button won every remaining race while Barrichello, Vettel, and Webber crashed into each other every time, Button would clinch the championship in Round 12 in Spa.
If in the remaining races, the podiums were always Button, Barrichello, Vettel, then Button would win the race in Round 14 in Singapore.
6th July 2009, 9:14
I still find it remarkable that a full 25% of the current F1 drivers are from Germany. I do think that if a German was to win the German GP, Vettel is the most likely driver to do that.
However, while I do think the Silverstone setup for the RB5 is a definite performance upgrade, I find it hard to believe that they are suddenly that much faster than the BGP 001. In the closing stages of the race, Jenson was lapping near to Vettel’s pace. Now, we don’t know to what extent either of them was pushing, but I think that this is evidence that the performance gain was not as great as the British GP made it seem. My hope is that the two cars are now at some kind of parity and we can see good racing between the two teams instead of simply alternating shows of dominance.
6th July 2009, 11:31
I think when we look back at the end of the season we will see Silverstone as an anomoly as oppossed to a change in any teams fortunes. Not only did the fast circuit compliment the Red Bull, it also negated the Brawn. The factors which benefit the Brawn are going to be more prominent in the second half season circuits.
I think it was fairly conservative of Ross Brawn to hold the development of the Brawn car at Silverstone, but I think this demonstrates how severe those tyre temp problems were.
As for the German drivers, I think Seb Vettel obviousley holds the most promise for this season, but Nick Heidfeld has out performed his team mate Kubica consistently this season, and like most people I would like to see Adrian Sutil in a competitive car to see what he could do. Timo Glock needs to put a whole weeekend together, for me he is still far too inconsistent (as is the Toyota).
Will Seb Vettel become the new star in F1? taking his young age into consideration you would think the answer would be enevitably, but there is an awful lot of young talent now, and his career on the track will have more to do with his decisions off of it. He wouldn’t want to find himself in a number 2 seat next to Mr Alonso in a red car now would he!!!!!!!
8th July 2009, 9:59
Since when Nick has outperformed Kubica consistently? oh, I see… in Australia Kubica was clipped while fighting for 2nd place and didn’t finish.It’s clear Nick was better because he came 13. Kubica didn’t finished neither in Malaysia due to engine failure yet on an outlap nor in Monaco /technical problems with brakes/.
No driver in BMW has an upper hand this year. It’s the car that is crap and Nick’s podium in Malaysia was very lucky, due to circimstances.
6th July 2009, 13:29
My mum went to Germany last year and despite Heidfeld and Rosberg being in top teams it was Vettel that got all the media in the Toro Rosso.
I really really hope he wins, would be so happy :-D
6th July 2009, 13:47
This 3-week long break has to be the most boring time of my life.Earlier,before the testing ban was introduced, one could atleast follow the testing data & time & judge the progress made by teams during the 3 week break, but now there is nothing for F1 fans to do. The FIA could have easily slotted 2 races into this gap. What is the point of having such a long gap after all? the teams aren’t allowed to test, so no chance for a team like mclaren to make up lost ground on brawn and red bull. again they have to depend & keep their fingers crossed that their crappy simulator gives out accurate data, which it doesn’t. this 3 week gap has been a waste of time imo. they should atleast have allowed teams to test during this gap.they could have broadcast testing on TV & earned in millions if they wanted to. its very funny how this season resembles the 2005 season. even in 2005 mclaren had won the british gp in the hand of jpm & martin whitmarsh understandably got emotional & fired a warning at renault that they must not expect anymore race wins that year!guess what happened in the next race in germany?kimi retired with a hydraulic problem while leading the race by over 30 sec from alonso. but after germany mclaren went on to win 6 consecutive races that year. so i hope red bull do they same to brawn, eat into their lead every race.
6th July 2009, 13:53
The main reason for the 3 is not an FIA rule as such. It is to give members of the teams other than managers and drivers a time to rest and be with their families. Rememebr not everyone can go to each race in private jets and Helicopters. And some of the fly away races mean that some members don’t even go home between races.
6th July 2009, 15:31
I was happy for the break. It gave me a chance to catch up on other things around the house and I couldnt use the race as an excuse. (The wife follows it also). But I am ready for the season to get back on.
9th July 2009, 13:26
Imagine if there was a race last weekend, I would have missed federer winning no. 15
6th July 2009, 13:50
I think Vettel is brilliant.
Not only is he a brilliant driver, but his personality is very down to earth. He is a great sportsman, something I think schumacher was missing so from that point of view I think he could be better than schumacher.
Schumacher was brilliant aswell, don’t get me wrong, but I think over the years he had team mates that weren’t allowed to race him or were used to block other drivers etc etc. He was the number one driver every season from the very start.
Vettel is different in that regard. The races he has won, he won those on merit not just by safety car or accidents but by brilliant driving.
And he has a great teammate in Mark Webber who I think is really good too, but just a bit unlucky.
And that Red Bull is an absolute peach.
I fear I may have strayed off the point there slightly….. I seem to be making a habit of it!!!! :P
6th July 2009, 14:41
i agree, and i really think webber is a good chance this weekend. keep in mind vettel’s never been to the nurburgring in an f1 car and the last race here saw mark take 3rd place in an absolute dog of a car really. good luck to him, please for once. although, not so much bad luck this year, goes to show he has pace when his car is decent and gets to the end of races.
6th July 2009, 17:32
I agree spud, I think Vettel is such a great character always a smile on his face, and doesnt take himself too seriously which is amazing to see in f1 driver. I hope that stays with him forever, and he doesn’t lose the gift of his character as he matures. Usually drivers that get taste of wining , feel that they always need to win in order to remain happy.. hope that doesnt happen to Vettel,..
6th July 2009, 14:03
i was just watching some old f1 videos on you tube & i came across an excellent one. it was the 1984 dallas gp. amazing to see how the cars were able to follow each other so closely. it doesn’t happen anymore, this kind of racing & note the huge double rear wing on each car! was that the secret to the cars being able to follow each other so closely? if it was, then we must revert back to a similar design like 1984.
6th July 2009, 15:30
Button needs to be picking up 2nd and 3rd spots very regularly if he wants to be WDC. If he keep coming 5th or 6th then I think Vettel will overhaul him. that Red Bull never was far off the Brawn. In the early races Brawn just happened to get a mix of things right, but Red Bull could have been much much closer to Brawn at this stage. Brawn need to make forward steps, otherwise I dont think Button can get the podiums he needs to be champ.
6th July 2009, 16:02
I don’t think Jenson will have a race like Silverstone again. It was a one off. Cold temperatures would be needed to see it happen again.
6th July 2009, 15:36
On Rosberg his wiki page says “Rosberg competed under the Finnish and German flags at different times during his early career”, but he speaks little Finnish! It adds he speaks fluent German, as well as English, French and Italian.
6th July 2009, 18:37
Vettel is Germany’s best chance at a new WDC.(for sure)…but, I suspect Button will give him the fight this season.We haven’t seen the last of the Killer B’s yet.I am pulling for Heidfeld at his home G.P. too, I only wish he had a car to help him to the front of the pack.
6th July 2009, 18:54
Anybody else see Bernie’s Hitler praising/sympathising interview in the daily mail?
On a more related note, I reckon Brawn will be much more competitive at Germany.
6th July 2009, 21:43
It could all come down to weather conditions at the Nurburgring. If the current long-range forecast materializes (temperatures of no more than 21 C and light rain on race day), then I think RBR will have an advantage. If it stays dry and temperatures climb to 25 C or higher, it could help the Brawns. I don’t think the tyre temperature issue cost Brawn most of the 0.6 sec deficit to RBR, perhaps 2 tenths, 3 tenths tops. I think this will be similar to 2005, where Renault had the early advantage and McLaren dominated the 2nd half. It should be very close at the end, and this season also may be decided in the final race.
7th July 2009, 2:27
“This 3-week long break has to be the most boring time of my life”
There’s a longer break coming up :)
7th July 2009, 2:28
Oops – I mean :(
7th July 2009, 2:31
And yes, I believe Vettel will be WDC very soon.
But not this year.
7th July 2009, 9:14
I think Vettel may challenge Button for the WC.
7th July 2009, 11:23
A few more cold races and we could have a title fight back on :) *fingers crossed
8th July 2009, 0:38
I want rubens or webber to get a win this season, give the season a some more depth, im supporting webber for the german gp. Everone says vettel is so brilliant but webber is only 3.5 points off him in the same car, does’nt say much for vettel(and his two wins).
8th July 2009, 16:26
Forget about Webber winning anything. He is (and has been) utterly useless when it counts. He will have a successful race at the Ring if he doesn’t crash in the first 2-3 laps.
10th July 2009, 8:21
Webber has finished ahead of Vettel so far this year 5 times where Vettel has finished ahead of Webber 3 times. Yeap Webber shore does look “utterly useless”.
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