German GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

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And so ends another grand prix weekend. Just like that, we’re already halfway through the 2014 Formula 1 season, and we’re still no closer to knowing who will be crowned world champion at the end of the season.

Today, Nico Rosberg capped off a near-perfect two week period by winning his home grand prix in Germany, but the real star of the race was Lewis Hamilton. His charge from 20th to third was a joy to watch, but going by his reaction on the podium and in the post-race press conference, you would have been forgiven for thinking he’d crashed out. Clearly, losing more ground to Nico has perturbed him.

Here’s the final round-up from the paddock at the Hockenheimring.

RACE REPORT

  • Nico Rosberg was the man to clinch victory in the German Grand Prix today, but it was a very entertaining and interesting race away from the front. Bottas, Hamilton, Alonso, Ricciardo and Vettel all gave us some great action on track.

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

It’s quite hard to believe that we’re now closer to the end of the season than we are to the beginning. Ten races down, nine to go, and just 250 points left on offer (and yes, that does include Abu Double – I mean, Abu Dhabi).

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are set to continuing tussling at the top of the standings until the end of the year, and the internal battle at Mercedes is certainly an interesting one. Both drivers have the bit between their teeth, but Rosberg has the slender points advantage. Lewis called his crash in Q1 a “gift” for Nico, and maybe he was right; maybe it did gift him the win.

However, Lewis shouldn’t been disheartened by his performance today. He was in supreme form, and it is probably one of his best ever drives. His overtaking moves reeked of desperation – ‘you will move or we will crash’ – but it was still mightily impressive. Damage well limited.

Mercedes’ strategy in the final stages of the race with Lewis was interesting. The decision to go option-option and pit three times instead of going with one prime third stint at the end was a surprise, but it did have the effect of piling the pressure on the leaders. Come the end of the race though, he didn’t have enough life left in the Pirellis; Bottas had done 40 laps on his tires, and was fine. Anticipating the safety car in that fashion – which Lewis of course lamented not doing in Monaco – backfired.

But then again, it should have been a safety car. Had it come out, Lewis could have won the race; it would have essentially been a 15 lap race to the flag against Nico. Adrian Sutil’s Sauber was in a dangerous position, and seeing the marshals running across the track to recover it was bizarre. Of course, the cynics will cry conspiracy and note that a German driver was leading the German GP at the time. (For the record, the driver steward was Danish this weekend).

We were also treated to another fine Red Bull versus Alonso battle. Fernando went into battle with both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo; it was a masterclass of wheel-to-wheel racing. Sheer joy for the F1 fan.

And to finish, a big well done to Valtteri Bottas for another fine performance. There is no doubt that we’re watching a future grand prix winner, if not a future world champion.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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