So as we move into the 10th round of this, the most fascinating of F1 season’s, the previously unpredictable procession of winners is beginning to feature some familiar faces on a more regular basis. Mark Webber has shaken off some early-mid season demons and has his Red Bull purring around the track, with his teammate also looking in imperious form. Those Italian artists from Maranello have transformed their early season monstrosity into a thing of beauty over recent weeks, darting and prancing across the tarmac once more in the unquestionably talented hands of Fernando Alonso. Even Felipe Massa is starting to look back to his pre-crash best. As for McLaren, they’ve got some catching up to do, and they better do it fast. Bring on the German GP.
To Win Outright
Sebastian Vettel 9/4
Fernando Alonso 9/2
Lewis Hamilton 11/2
Marc Webber 6/1
Kimi Raikonnen 11/1
Jenson Button 11/1
Romain Grosjean 18/1
Nico Rosberg 18/1Michael Schumacher 18/1
Mark Webber catapulted himself back into title contention by picking up his second victory in 3 years at Silverstone. Having trailed Alonso for much of Sunday’s race, the Australian managed to take advantage of a different tyre strategy as the rain failed to materialise, helping him to sneak past the Spaniard and onto the top step of the podium with 4 laps to go. It was another torrid day for the English contingent as McLaren continued to slide helplessly down the field with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finishing 8th and 10th respectively. They were overtaken in the constructors’ by Lotus, whose two runners were left with another case of “what might've been” as both Kimi Raikonnen and Romain Grosjean showed stunning pace, but their chances of podium finishes were undone in unfortunate incidents.
In recent years the German Grand Prix has jumped between two tracks, with this year’s edition being held at the Hockenheimring. A previous favourite of many of the drivers, Hockenheim had an almost mystical atmosphere surrounding it, as cars spent half the lap whipping through forests at unimaginable speeds. That though has all changed, with the long straights gone in favour of a more technical circuit. This heady mix of fast straights and slow, technical corners has been lauded for being more “spectator friendly”, but in all honesty, I miss the power circuit of old.
Woefully off the pace in the last two races, the alarm bells are well and truly ringing at McLaren. Having arrived at Silverstone full of optimism, their new aerodynamic package failed to fire, leaving team bosses scratching their heads as to where the problem lay. Sure, they can take something from Ferrari’s impressive turnaround, but whereas Ferrari understood why the F2012 was flawed, McLaren are baffled by their loss of performance. They are losing the development war and are helpless to stop it at the moment. How can you fix something, when you don’t know why it’s broken? So forget about putting any money down on Hamilton or Button this weekend, unless of course you’d like to add to the Commodore’s Christmas bonus fund.
Felipe Massa, Podium Finish 9/1
Felipe Massa must’ve breathed a sigh of relief as the news of Mark Webber’s contract renewal at Red Bull filtered through, as he continues to rebuild his confidence, following a torrid start to the season. He has been on a constant upward curve, with his fourth place at Silverstone all the more impressive, given that he only finished 6.5 seconds behind his esteemed teammate. He finished 2nd here in 2010 and 3rd in 2008, so it’s fair to say that he does fancy this new layout a fair bit. With a bit of luck (it’s bound to come his way sometime) the Brazilian could find himself on the podium, and you could find yourself with a little bit of spare cash.
|The flamboyant Frenchman is certainly one to watch.|
Given what we saw at Silverstone, Lotus should be right up there on Sunday, should they manage to sort out their qualifying issues. While Kimi Raikonnen is undoubtedly the better driver in the team, his poor record at Hockenheim (5 retirements) has persuaded me to look at his teammate. Had Grosjean not dumped his car into the gravel during Q2, he may well have been challenging for the race at Silverstone. Having recorded the fastest lap, along with his teammate, there may be some value in tipping him to do so again. Alternatively a podium place beckons for the Frenchman, especially if he manages to get through qualifying unscathed.
BEST BET: Fernando Alonso, Podium Finish 8/10
Having served me well in the last race, albeit at a better price, it would be foolish now to change a winning formula. Fernando Alonso is the best driver in the world, of that I have no doubt. His consistency is unparalleled, and now that he finds himself in a genuinely quick vehicle, the podium finishes will begin to pile up. While he will certainly have plenty of competition, his win here in 2010 is enough to convince me that he is worthy of another punt, even at 8/10.
VERDICT: Sebastian Vettel 9/4
Sebastian Vettel may have been well and truly beaten by his teammate at Silverstone, but he is a double world champion, and this is his home grand prix. Following his third place finish in Britain, the German lamented a “tough day” at the office, before concluding: "I would be a bit happier if we had won today". But Red Bull had won, although it felt like a loss to Sebastian. I expect to see the World Champion back to his mesmerizing best this weekend, and in the dominant RB8, we may just see him drive off into the distance as we’ve seen so many times before. Yes, it may not be the best thing for racing, but who cares when you’re bank balance is going up.
Commodore Vegas watches a lot of sport and then writes about it. It's a compulsion, and he needs help desperately. If you like his advice you can take a bet here, or you can follow him on Twitter here. Actually, why not do both?
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