Sebastian Vettel’s non-finish at the British Grand Prix last weekend allowed his main rivals to close in the drivers’ championship, but the Red Bull driver remains bookies’ favourite to reassert his authority with victory at his home German Grand Prix (Sunday, 13:00 BST, Sky Sports F1).
Gearbox problems saw Vettel retire from the lead at Silverstone, allowing Nico Rosberg to take victory for Mercedes. Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikonnen all closed in on Vettel’s championship lead after finishing third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Vettel’s lead is now just 21 points over Alonso, with Raikonnen a further 13 points back and Hamilton another nine behind, but hopeful of getting involved in the championship fight after witnessing vastly improved race pace from his Mercedes in recent Grand Prix.
Further back, both Force India cars finished in the points for the third consecutive race, while Daniel Ricciardo secured eighth place for Toro Rosso after a stellar qualifying performance that saw him start fifth. With a better race strategy he might even have finished in the top six.
The race at Silverstone was blighted by several spectacular tyre failures, which brought about the deployment of the safety car for a number of laps early on. Pirelli will introduce new Kevlar-belted rear tyres for this weekend’s race, and wholly new tyres from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.
The teams will be provided with soft and medium compound tyres for this weekend’s trip to the Nurburgring. Current weather forecasts suggest both will get a workout, as despite the threat of rain for Friday practice, qualifying and the race appear likely to be dry.
The German Grand Prix is shared between the Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring on a year on, year off basis, so there is limited recent historical data as regards the performance of certain teams and drivers at the Nurburgring.
What we can surmise from previous events in this year’s championship is that the battle for pole on Saturday will again be fought out between Mercedes and Red Bull, the only two teams to qualify on pole position so far this season.
The Nurburgring is Mercedes’ home track and they will be determined to put in a strong performance. At Silverstone it was home favourite Hamilton who secured first on the grid and it would not be at all surprising to see his teammate Rosberg put another home driver at the head of pack in Germany this weekend.
Rosberg is tied with Vettel for most pole positions this season (three) and comfortably out-qualified his then teammate Michael Schumacher at the last German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in 2011. High on confidence following his victory at Silverstone, Rosberg has to be considered favourite for pole position in Germany.
Another German driver currently enjoying a good run of form is Adrian Sutil, who has been very impressive since returning to Force India at the start of season following a year out of the sport. He has qualified in the top ten in each of the last three Grand Prix, including a superb sixth on the grid in Great Britain.
Sutil has also performed strongly in previous races at the Nurburgring, qualifying eighth in 2011 and seventh in 2009, comfortably out-pacing his teammate on both occasions. He can be strongly fancied to reach the top ten shootout again this weekend.
Rosberg’s victory at Silverstone, combined with Hamilton’s charge through the field to fourth after suffering an early tyre failure, showed that Mercedes are starting to get on top of the tyre wear issues that restricted their race pace in the early part of the season.
Both drivers have spoken confidently about their hopes for the rest of the year in the build-up to this weekend’s race and the team are putting everything into fighting for the championship. Recent technical recruit Paddy Lowe is set to work on further development of the 2013 car rather than assist with the 2014 edition, as had been expected.
With Vettel not enjoying a strong history at the Nurburgring – or indeed generally in German Grand Prix – and Ferrari and Lotus struggling for pace, Mercedes look the most likely team to secure victory on Sunday.
Daniel Ricciardo rightfully took the plaudits in Great Britain for a superb performance in qualifying and the race, but his Toro Rosso teammate Jean Eric Vergne has generally achieved better results than the Australian at the tighter, more technical circuits so far this season.
Vergne finished 10th in Malaysia, 8th in Monaco and 6th in Canada, showing that both he and his car are capable of mastering difficult and varied circuits. Providing he can qualify in reach of the top ten he is certainly capable of taking home some points on Sunday.
F1 German Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Nico Rosberg to qualify on pole position @ best odds of 9/4 at Betfred, BetVictor or William Hill.
- Bet on Adrian Sutil to reach qualifying session three @ 4/6 with Ladbrokes.
- Back Mercedes to be the winning car / team @ 2/1, which is biggest with Paddy Power or SkyBet.
- Bet on Jean Eric Vergne to finish in the points @ best odds of 5/4 with BetVictor.