Formula 1: Round 10 Preview – It’s Tight at the Top

Ben AutySenior Writer IJuly 9, 2008

Some say, that when training at the gym, instead of energy drinks, he chugs down diesel, and instead of a pedometer being attached to the waistband of his shorts, he has a speedometer, all we know is, that he’s called Ben Auty. Here is Ben’s round 10 preview:

Lewis Hamilton has definitely thrown down the gauntlet for drive of the season at the midway point in the 2008 season. Please circle the appropriate word / words to best describe his performance:

  • Incredible
  • Dominating
  • Majestic
  • Awesome
  • Outstanding
  • Exceptional
  • Dazzling
  • Special
  • Extraordinary

I think you get where I am coming from. To lap everyone up to third place and then be 1 minute, 22 seconds ahead of that third-placed man, in the wet, on scrubbed intermediates at your home Grand Prix, is nothing short of breathtaking.

With the win, Hamilton plonks himself at the top of the Drivers Championship level on points with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, edging the lead only based on head-to-head victories.

So as we approach round 10, our traditional visit to Deutschland, Hockenheim will be the venue for what promises to be truly a clash of the titans. The same old incentives for the wins are there. Of course it is their job to win but now it’s all about who stays consistent first.

Normally the phrase would be “Who cracks first?” but it seems to be that a lot o the top drivers are making small mistakes that are proving to be quite costly. Whoever can be consistent will start to pull away from the pack.

So far this season, no driver has strung together back-to-back wins, as it stands these are the race wins:

  • Lewis Hamilton (48 Points) – 3 Wins (Australia, Monaco, and Britain)
  • Felipe Massa (48 Points) – 3 Wins (Bahrain, Turkey, and France)
  • Kimi Raikkonen (48 Points) – 2 Wins (Malaysia, Spain)
  • Robert Kubica (46 Points) – 1 Win (Canada)


Lewis Hamilton has a LOT of critics on his case wanting him to fail at every opportunity and is desperate to prove them wrong. He managed to get his campaign back on track last weekend, and I am sure he is in the mood for more of the same.

Felipe Massa is pretty much in the same boat. He wants to put his terrible weekend behind him and get his championship back on the rails. He spun five times in Britain, had a problem with his nuts in qualifying and a poor practice where he managed to put his F2008 into the tyre wall.

Kimi Raikkonen is having a somewhat torrid season and as reigning WDC, he needs to start stamping some authority. Only two wins and a few very dodgy displays aren’t exactly getting the job done.

Finally the young Pole, Kubica, got his maiden win in Canada. He has been consistent, but a spin last week at Silverstone and a poor weekend at Magny-Cours didn’t exactly continue that run of form. He will be looking to re-establish himself with the front runners.

Going into Round 10, Lewis Hamilton no doubt will be aiming to be the first to get back-to-back wins this season and by doing this will increase his lead to a minimum of a huge two points. I told you it was tight at the top.

Traditionally, Hockenheimring is a Ferrari track. They have won five of the last eight. We have to go back 10 years since McLaren won here with a dominant weekend display by Finn, Mika Hakkinen.

That weekend, Ferrari had a miserable race. The saviour, Michael Schumacher, finished in a dismal fifth place due to a comedy of errors over the whole weekend. Where shall we start? With a failed long wheelbase chassis, he spun off in practice session 1, suffered engine failure in session 2 and qualified in ninth. McLaren will be hoping Ferrari have another weekend like in Old Blighty, where everything went wrong apart from the wheels falling off.

Hockenheim is a town in southwest Germany with a population of almost 21,000. It hosted its first GP in 1970, and has been sharing the spoils with the legendary Nurburgring since taking 28 GP’s over the last 35 years. It has solidly been the host to the German GP since 1986 and they continue the tradition this year. It’s going to be some show.

Legendary Formula 1 driver Jim Clark lost his life at this track while driving a one off GP2 race for his Lotus team. The crash was caused by a deflating rear tyre, forcing his car off the track and into the trees. He suffered a fractured skull and a broken neck and died before leaving the track.

Here is a quick breakdown of the track details as found in all of my race previews:

  • Built in - 1932
  • Laps – 67
  • Distance – 2,842 Miles (4,574 Kilometres)
  • Corners - 17
  • Lap Record – 1:13:780 (Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren-Mercedes, 2004)

Peak of the circuit for me is a huge back straight where those 750bhp cars will get up to speeds of 326 kmph. That's some speed to be going when only 100 yards away is a hairpin taken at only 59 kmph. That's some heavy braking, folks.

I believe this is the hairpin where most of the overtaking will take place: a nice long straight, get the slipstream and then brake a bit later and take that inside line. It's a risky one, but there is a bit of a straight after before turn 7. If the driver goes into it fast enough he should keep the place without losing it on the racing line on the next corner.

So… how will the race go down?

Judging by Tuesday’s testing session 1 at Hockenheimring, it seems that the early pace and round 1 go to:

Drum roll please...

McLaren, Lewis Hamilton; he managed a 1:15:483. Next up was Raikkonen in his F2008 and he was right on the rear wing of Hamilton with a 1:15:803.

McLaren are testing a new aerodynamic development on the MP4-23 over this three-day session. It's what they are calling a “top body dorsal fin.” Yes, you heard it here first. McLaren jumps on the bandwagon and develop their own fin just like Red Bull did first, then everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. I have seen the pictures and it looks sexy. It also works too; the time sheets show that. Interesting stuff.

We have two days left of testing. Lewis is in the car Wednesday and Heikki gets behind the wheel on Thursday. Can they continue with that form carried from Silverstone, or will we see Ferrari find that line round those 17 corners and start to show some pace?

I quite fancy McLaren again. Heikki is looking great on a dry track and of course Lewis was supreme last weekend. He seems to still be on a high and has carried that over to Germany.

Ferrari are nursing a bloody nose from a standing eight-count in Britain. We all know they will bounce back, but will it happen immediately or in a couple of races' time?

This comes from my head and not my heart. Ferrari will have to pull it out of the bag in a big way to get close to McLaren. They hit a groove from that first day in the Silverstone testing session. The MP4-23 looked hooked up. I think it might have been Martin Brundle who said it looked like it was on rails. He couldn’t have been more right. McLaren will upstage Ferrari race weekend again.

BMW also looked pretty fast, and I think that if Robert Kubica could have kept his car on the track he would have finished a lot higher in the points.

He looked very fast, as did Heidfeld. Watch out for this come race weekend, unless they have a nightmare in testing and practice, failing to get the car set up correctly like they did in Magny-Cours.

So let’s get to my predictions.

Last week, I only managed to predict the race winner correctly. I predicted Hamilton and as you ALL know by now, he did win it. So well done me, can I repeat the feat?

I think qualifying will be an interesting one, throwing up some surprises again. I quite fancy Vettel to be starting high up the grid, and Webber could put another superb time in and establish himself as the one-lap master.

Alonso could be another shock, but all in all when we look at the top of the grid its going to be red and silver, now comes the tricky part, what order?

Pole for Hamilton, joining him on the front row will be Raikkonen. Expect these two to have a very heated race, especially down to that first corner.

Massa pulls third, Kubica fourth, Kovalainen in fifth and finally Webber in sixth. That's my qualifying prediction and if it’s wrong, then so what! It doesn’t mean anything.

I know I keep on putting Heikki Kovalainen into my top predictions but I have to be hopeful. He is one of my boys in the Silver Arrows, so I have to have faith in him. After last week's maiden pole position, why not? Maybe he has found his groove. Here’s hoping.

Okay, now the big one, race prediction:

I think its going to be a varied affair with a lot of position changes. That back straight is going to be the main overtaking point, and there is no reason as to why any driver on a dry track will not gain places in the slipstream of the car he is following.

Strategy will play a massive part, even more so if the rain features as it has so far in testing. Will we see the wet-weather master Hamilton playing it cool on his inters? How about Felipe “The DJ” Massa, spinning around. It could certainly throw up some surprises?

  • 1st– Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes
  • 2nd– Felipe Massa, Ferrari
  • 3rd– Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  • 4th– Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
  • 5th– Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren Mercedes
  • 6th – Fernando Alonso, Renault

It’s a tough one and I wish I was writing this on Friday so I could take all the testing data into consideration. But I am not, so I can't. I am going to have to go on gut feelings.

See whether you agree with me, maybe I won’t even agree with me. By Friday when I know how the three testing days have turned out, my personal opinion might have completely changed, we will have to see.

Comments please fellow Bleacher Creatures, leave me nice ones, or nasty if you disagree with me. Either way, I want to know your thoughts on my prediction at this vitally important time of the season.

Also… DON’T FORGET, give me stars, just below where you are reading you will see a 5 star rating system, please select a score to rate my article, leave me a comment and then if you like it why not give me pick of the day, there is a button up top next to the picture. Thanks guys.

Ben, Over and Out!

Update - Wednesday Testing Session - Day 2

Guess who tops the bill, yes, that man again, Lewis Hamilton, topping the time sheets with a fast 1:14:872, a half a second ahead of second-place Nico Rosberg.

Kimi Raikkonen brings it home in third place, four one-hundredths of a second behind that. So with or without the dorsal fin, McLaren are on the pace and the Ferrari seems to be struggling to keep up.

Is it really sandbagging? I don't think so, surely you wouldn't sandbag a whole race weekend and then the first two testing days, so for everyone who said that, ha ha ha ha ha, I apologise but you were wrong.

Things are looking just rosy in the McLaren camp right now and it excites me. Roll on tomorrow to see if we can make it a hat-trick?

Update - Thursday Testing Session - Day 3

Ohhhh and the river runs red, Massa in the F2008 storming ahead of the field and scratches up the top time today, the time posted was 1:14:989, only 1 tenth slower than the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton yesterday.

It is wide open now at the top and again the flags are flying in Silver and Red, Heikki Kovalainen came 3rd today just 3 tenths of a second off Massa furthering the evidence that its game on for round 10. We are going to have a VERY close one on our hands, who will have the final word?

Qualifying will be a good one, miss it at your own risk, its going to set the tone for the battle. I can hardly contain myself. Enjoy.


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