2010 German Grand Prix
|Race 11 of 19 in the 2010 Formula One season|
|Date||25 July 2010|
|Official name||LXXI Großer Preis Santander von Deutschland|
|Location||Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
4.574 km (2.842 mi)
|Distance||67 laps, 306.458 km (190.433 mi)|
|Weather||Mainly cloudy, dry|
|Driver||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|Driver||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|Time||1:15.824 on lap 67|
|Third||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
The 2010 German Grand Prix (formally the LXXI Großer Preis Santander von Deutschland) was the eleventh round of the 2010 Formula One season. It was held in Hockenheim, Germany on 25 July 2010. The race was won by Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso after Felipe Massa controversially slowed to let Alonso through into the lead on lap 49. Ferrari were subsequently fined $100,000 for breaching the rule forbidding team orders.
This was Michael Schumacher's first race in his home country Germany since the 2006 German Grand Prix after coming out of retirement earlier in the year. This was also Mercedes GP's first home race as a works team since returning to the sport after a 55 year absence and buying out the Brawn GP team.
After the success of the Canadian Grand Prix, tyre supplier Bridgestone announced their intentions to increase the difference in the tyre compounds supplied for the race. Instead of bringing compounds "one step" apart – such as the soft and hard variants – the company elected to bring the extremes in rubber compounds – super-soft and hard – citing the properties of the Hockenheim circuit as being ideal for creating a situation similar to the race in Montreal.
Bruno Senna returned to Hispania Racing after being sidelined in favour of test driver Sakon Yamamoto at Silverstone. However, Yamamoto continued driving duties for the German Grand Prix, with Senna's team mate Karun Chandhok being stood down for the race at Hockenheim.
The first session was declared wet, after the lead-in to the race weekend was dominated by heavy rain. This produced unexpected results, with Adrian Sutil setting the fastest time of the session, with drivers including Vitaly Petrov, Sébastien Buemi and Nico Hülkenberg all spending significant time at the front end of the field while other, more fancied contenders struggled in the conditions. Michael Schumacher in particular struggled, setting the second-slowest time of the session ahead of Sakon Yamamoto, while the championship contenders – including Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso – also appeared on the bottom half of the time sheets. The session was marked by an accident by Lewis Hamilton, with the 2008 World Champion losing control in the slippery conditions whilst nagivating the Parabolika and impacting with the tyre wall. Although the damage was serious, McLaren were able to repair the car in time for the second session.
The rain had stopped by the time the second session began, and a dry line began to emerge as the drivers started to put in more laps to make up for the lack of running in the first session. Some, including the Toro Rosso of Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, Rubens Barrichello and Kamui Kobayashi covered enough laps to equal equivalent of a full race in the ninety minute session. The drier conditions produced a more accurate form guide, with Alonso and Sebastian Vettel leading from Felipe Massa and Webber respectively. Despite his accident in the first session, Hamilton recovered to set the seventh-fastest time behind the two Mercedes drivers. In the race to catch up with the established teams, Virgin led the charge of the new teams, with Timo Glock finishing just two hundredths of a second behind Alguersuari in dry conditions.
The first qualifying period was stopped when Vitantonio Liuzzi experienced a heavy accident on the main straight. Running wide out of the final corner, he crossed onto the astroturf lining the outside of the bend – put in place to prevent drivers from ignoring the confines of the circuit and using the outer edge of the corner to take the turn faster – and lost control, veering across the circuit and into the pit wall. The force of impact obliterated the front end of his car, though Liuzzi was unharmed. Unable to take part in the rest of qualifying, his time was not enough to promote him out of the first elimination zone. Joining him were the Q1 elimination regulars from Virgin, Lotus and Hispania. Alonso topped Q1 with a time of 1:14.808, with the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber being split by the second Ferrari of Massa.
The second session was much more orderly and showed Ferrari to be a genuine contender with both Massa and Alonso setting fastest times. Alonso himself threatened to break into the 1:13 range, but had to settle for a fastest time of 1:14.081 instead. The session claimed the scalps of Buemi and Alguersuari, de la Rosa and Kobayashi, as well as Sutil, Petrov and Schumacher. Sutil was given a five-place penalty after his team changed his gearbox, meaning both the Force Indias would start the race at the very back of the grid, along with the new teams.
The final session started with nine cars taking to the circuit almost immediately, as the anticipation of rain grew. The odd man out was Nico Hülkenberg, the Williams drive electing to start out of sequence and take to the circuit when it was empty. While on a flying lap on the super-soft tyres, the young German overdrove the car, his aggression leading to an unforced error in the stadium section that compromised his lap. Rather than pit and conserve his tyres, Hülkenberg decided to complete two more flying laps, and while he briefly claimed ninth place from Rosberg, his second lap was once again laden with errors, leaving his tyres in poor condition.
At the front, it quickly became a fight between Vettel and Alonso. The Spaniard set a lap time that was nearly half a second quicker than anyone else and look set to claim his first pole in a year and Ferrari's first since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, with Massa's form setting Ferrari on-track for their first one-two in qualifying since the 2008 French Grand Prix. However, Sebastian Vettel was able to better Alonso's time, and while the Ferrari driver pushed hard to reclaim pole, he ultimately missed out by just two thousandths of a second, one of the closest qualifying results in the sport's history. Massa claimed third, while Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber struggled to find a balance with the car all session and had to settle for fourth. Jenson Button out-qualified Hamilton by one place for fifth, with Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello denying Rosberg and Hülkenberg a higher starting position in their home race.
Sebastian Vettel attempted to pin Alonso to the pit wall on the run down to the first corner, but the Spaniard held the racing line and edged ahead. Neither driver, however, took the lead, as Felipe Massa seized the opportunity to slip around the outside and set the pace. The McLarens of Button and Hamilton settled into sixth and fourth position as Mark Webber struggled to retain fifth. The first lap was not a clean one, with the Toro Rossos of Buemi and Alguersuari colliding at the bottom hairpin. The incident was a result of driver error, with Alguersuari committing to the braking zone too late and ramming Buemi in the process. The Swiss driver was forced to retire after the collision obliterated his rear wing and part of the engine cowling; while teams can change a front wing with relative ease, the rear wing is mounted to the bodywork in several places and thus is considerably harder to replace. Elsewhere, Force India committed a grievous error when bringing their drivers in early. The team had been expecting Vitantonio Liuzzi to pit before Sutil, but Sutil was the first to arrive in pit. It was only after both drivers had returned to the circuit that the team realized they had accidentally placed Liuzzi's tyres on Sutil's car and Sutil's tyres on Liuzzi's. The FIA have made rules regarding tyres allotment very explicit, stating that a driver may only ever use tyres from his allocation, thus necessitating a second round of pit stops to allow the team to switch the tyres back.
Jarno Trulli became the second victim of the race on lap three, falling prey to a gearbox fault that meant his Lotus T127 was unable to find second gear, and the Italian was forced out. Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing gambled on an early pit stop strategy, bringing Sebastian Vettel in to release him into clear air in the hopes that he could make up some time on the leading Ferraris. Ferrari responded by bringing Alonso and Massa in for their stops in quick succession, handing the lead to Jenson Button, who continued to put in fast laps eventually coming out ahead of Mark Webber when he did pit. McLaren attempted a similar strategy to Red Bull with Lewis Hamilton, but the plan backfired when Hamilton rejoined the circuit in the thick of a fight between the Mercedes drivers and Robert Kubica, although he lost no places after they stopped. At Hispania Racing, Sakon Yamamoto bowed out on lap nineteen with an engine fault.
Hockenheim became the scene of Formula One's third controversy in as many races as the race passed the two-thirds mark. Although Felipe Massa was leading the race, he was not doing enough to keep Alonso at bay despite the difference between them having been as many as four seconds. A radio transmission from Massa's race engineer Rob Smedley was intercepted, with Smedley telling Massa that "Okay... so... Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?". Based on Smedley's tone, commentators surmised that it had been a coded message from engineer to driver telling Massa to move over and allow Alonso through. Massa was slow to accelerate on the way out of the hairpin, giving Alonso the opening he needed to take the lead. Smedley was later heard apologising to Massa over the radio, though he would go on to claim that he was sorry Massa had been overtaken.
The race was also the scene of Bridgestone's attempt to re-create the conditions at Montreal, where extreme tyre degradation had made the racing closer. However, the plan to bring tyres at the opposite ends of the spectrum – super-soft and hard – had little effect. Nico Hülkenberg was able to do almost forty laps on the super-soft tyres, while Pedro de la Rosa – the final driver to complete his mandatory pit stop – was able to do a similar number on the hard tyre. Hülkenberg, who had been running seventh at the time, dropped out of contention for the points with his stop, but Sauber attempted to re-create Kamui Kobayashi's late surge at Valencia by giving de la Rosa the super-soft compound. Whatever chance de la Rosa had of shooting through the pack was negated when he made contact with Heikki Kovalainen at the hairpin. The contact forced Kovalainen out, and damage to his front wing meant that de la Rosa required a second stop. Kovalainen's retirement meant that Timo Glock and Virgin Racing would take line honours as the best of the new teams, despite Lucas di Grassi's gearbox seizing up on lap fifty.
When the chequered flag fell on lap sixty-seven, Fernando Alonso was declared the winner, with Massa fending off a late charge from Vettel for second. Hamilton and Button had swapped places at the start and remained that way until the finish, with Mark Webber – struggling with an oil pick-up problem – hung on for sixth and the final driver to be classified on the lead lap. Robert Kubica led the two Mercedes drivers home for seventh, eighth and ninth, while the final points-scoring position went to Vitaly Petrov in the second Renault, who had been unaware he was finishing inside the points when he crossed the line.
Ferrari took their 20th German Grand Prix victory.
Towards the end of the 2010 German Grand Prix the incident occurred when Felipe Massa was leading the race and then received a message from his race engineer Rob Smedley stating that "Fernando (Alonso) is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?" Shortly later at the exit of a hairpin Massa slowed down and gave the lead to Alonso. Just after the overtake was made, Smedley came onto the team radio and said "Ok good lad, just stick to it now. Sorry" which is either referenced to the use of a team order or as Smedley said it in a later interview that he felt sorry for Massa that he had been overtaken.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali defended the incident while talking to the BBC with former team-owner Eddie Jordan who stated that it was an obvious team order. Domenicali stated that "Massa wasn't going quick and Alonso overtook him" and Jordan countered this statement by saying "That doesn't mean Alonso can't overtake Massa". Former Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher stated that "Despite Felipe [Massa] being a good friend of mine when you look at the championship Massa is way behind Alonso and Ferrari felt Alonso needed to win the championship". Other people disagreed with statements saying nine races were left and Massa could still overturn the difference between the two by out-racing Alonso and not relying on Alonso having mechanical failures or other related mishaps.
Reaction of the stewards
Ferrari were fined one hundred thousand dollars by the stewards for violating Article 39.1 of the rule book, which forbids the use of team orders, and were summoned before the FIA World Motor Sport Council on charges of manipulating the outcome of the race. The result stood, however the WMSC has the right to overturn the result. Ferrari's apparent use of team orders to manipulate the race result triggered a backlash from media and fans alike. Although Ferrari moved to defend their position and their decision, parallels were drawn between the race and the infamous 2002 Austrian Grand Prix.
|Pos||No||Driver||Constructor||Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Grid|
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1:15.152||1:14.249||1:13.791||1|
|4||6||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1:15.334||1:14.340||1:14.347||4|
|12||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:15.951||1:15.084||12|
|14||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.220||1:15.467||191|
|15||22||Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:16.450||1:15.550||14|
|16||17||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:16.664||1:15.588||15|
|17||16||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:16.029||1:15.974||16|
|22||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:18.952||21|
|24||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||no time||241|
- ^ – Adrian Sutil and Lucas di Grassi were both given a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
- ^ – Timo Glock was given two five-place grid penalties for a gearbox change, and for fitting a seventh-gear ratio that was not declared on Friday.
- 1.^ – Ferrari were called before the Race Stewards after the race, and were found guilty of breaching Article 39.1 of the FIA Sporting Regulations, in relation to team orders and Article 151c of the FIA International Sporting Code for bringing the sport into disrepute. The result stood, although Ferrari were fined US$100,000 and the matter was referred to the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
Standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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- Noble, Jonathan (2010-07-25). "Ferrari fined, referred to WMSC". autosport.com (Haymarket Publications). Archived from the original on 28 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
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- Noble, Jonathan (2010-07-24). "Glock handed 10-place grid penalty". autosport.com (Haymarket Publications). Archived from the original on 27 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
- "2010 F1 Sporting Regulations – published on 23.06.2010" (PDF). fia.com. Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. 2010-06-23. p. 24. Retrieved 2010-07-25. "39.1 Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited."
- "2010 International Sporting Code (English version) – published on 15.01.2010" (PDF). fia.com. Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. 2010-01-15. p. 19. Retrieved 2010-07-25. "151. Breach of rules; c) Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally."
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