#TheXtraLap: Gasly didn’t deliver and other Hockenheim stories

This edition of #TheXtraLap provides insight into the #GermanGP on Twittersphere, his take on one of the craziest races in memory, definitely worthy of Race of the Century – here are the extra bits you might have missed out in the aftermath of an epic weekend at Hockenheim.


When the weekend started on Friday, I thought Ferrari would be the team to beat and Mercedes could be in a bit of trouble while Red Bull stayed in the mix. Saturday morning came and my first indication got confirmed when Ferrari topped all 3 practice sessions.

Saturday afternoon and it was game on but many, including myself, were shocked by the outcome as Ferrari had one issue after the other in qualifying and Mercedes took yet another pole position with Hamilton while Bottas lined up in 3rd.

Red Bull’s Verstappen took 2nd and Gasly took an impressive 4th. A few other surprises went through to Q3 so the Sunday would prove to be a great day. Sunday came and it was wet. This would be the “extra” ingredient the race needed to make it something spectacular.

For the full length of the race, something happened up and down the grid with Verstappen to be the winner so I will try to give my low-down, team by team, in this week’s episode of #TheXtraLap.

Is Mercedes making mistakes under pressure?

In the last few races, it became clear that Mercedes wasn’t bulletproof but in Germany, it went from bad to worse. During the race, although in wet conditions, both Hamilton and Bottas made a few mistakes but the team really messed up during one of their pitstops.

It was disorganised and it showed that, if things don’t go exactly as planned, they are also human and make mistakes. On track, Hamilton made an error behind the safetycar, went off and damaged his front wing. If that wasn’t bad enough, he came across the track to enter the pit entry on the wrong side of the bollard which earned him a 5 second time penalty.

Could it get worse?

Yes. Bottas, on podium course, dropped it on the kerbs and spun into the wall, damaging his car to the extent he had a DNF. All in all, Mercedes can call themselves lucky to salvage 2 points because due to the Alfa Romeo penalties, Hamilton got P9 as a gift. A weekend to forget.

Did Ferrari show they still have it?

With Leclerc starting in 10th and Vettel in 20th position, it all looked like Leclerc would be the one scoring good points and hopefully Vettel could make it into the top 10. Nothing was further from the truth as the race unfolded.

Both Ferrari men had a good start and at one point, Leclerc was up to P4 while Vettel battled his way up to P10. With everything that was going on around them, Ferrari made the right strategic calls and both Leclerc and Vettel looked like they would end up with some great points.

Then disaster struck and Leclerc went off into the wall and it was a DNF for him. Vettel meanwhile, kept picking off drivers left and right and at the finish, found himself in 2nd position. A race with 2 sides but all in all, a great weekend for the men in red.

Is Red Bull a contender for 2nd or even 1st in the WCC championship?

Looking at how Verstappen is performing this season, he does have a shot for second in the drivers’ championship BUT to get second in the constructors’ championship or even first, you need both cars to get as many points as possible. We just finished the 11th race of the season and while Verstappen is third in the WDC with 162 points, he is just 22 points behind Bottas.

Gasly once again didn’t deliver and is still on just 55 points, 7 points ahead of Sainz. Starting the race, both Red Bull cars got off to a bad start, dropping Verstappen from 2nd to 4th at turn 1 but Gasly dropped even further from 4th to 11th.

As Verstappen worked his way back up, and with a great strategy, eventually taking the lead, Gasly couldn’t manage to make up enough ground and while being in 7th, tried a move on Albon that didn’t work and he damaged the car and went off. Another bad result for the Frenchman.

Again, talks about replacing Gasly resurfaced but I think, although he’s not delivering for the team, he will remain for this season. That said, if Gasly doesn’t turn the switch, I’m not sure if he’s in the RB16 in 2020.

Can McLaren keep the momentum going?

What to say about McLaren? Again, they did better than the factory team and even though Norris pulled over on lap 25 with an issue (no power), both cars were running quite high. At one point, Sainz was even battling with Hamilton for positions. At the finish line, Sainz was 5th and that was a great result for the team. If McLaren keeps up their rate of progress, they can keep 4th position in the WCC and be best of the rest.

Have Toro Rosso found a solution?

During the last few races, Toro Rosso have been there or thereabout but couldn’t make that final push to get some good points. In Germany however, the weather gods helped them a bit and it resulted in Kvyat coming home in 3rd and Albon fighting to a well earned 6th position.

In all honesty, if Leclerc and Gasly didn’t go off and both Mercedes cars weren’t having the issues, we would never have the podium we saw on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoyed every single minute of the race and feel that both Kvyat and Albon got what they deserved. Kvyat, who just became a dad on Saturday night, had an awesome race, defended where needed and was smart not to defend too hard when it wasn’t the time or place to do so.

Then there’s Albon who, before Sunday, had never driven an F1 car in the wet. Albon held his ground and together with a great strategy from the team, both men earned a great haul of points for the small Italian team. So have they found a solution? I hope so but if they can keep finishing inside the top 10, they would be doing an awesome job.

A weekend to forget for Renault.

From Friday onwards, Renault had trouble finding the pace needed to be on the front end of the midfield. With Hulkenberg starting in 9th and Ricciardo in 13th, the surprises came throughout the race.

As Ricciardo experienced an exhaust issue and had to pull out of the race in a cloud of smoke, it was Hulkenberg who at one point, found himself in 2nd position and his first ever podium in 169 races could be on the cards.

It wasn’t meant to be as he went wide in turn 16 and couldn’t recover enough and hit the wall. Both Renault cars scored zero points in Germany and they need to work hard to defend their 6th position in the WCC with just 39 points out of 11 races with Racing Point on 31 behind them in 7th.

Is the B-spec car for Racing Point an improvement?

On Friday, Racing Point came out with a car full of upgrades and updates and straight out of the block, it showed potential. During qualifying, Lance Stroll managed to get out of Q1 for the first time this season and with the Canadian starting from 15th, points were possible.

Sergio Perez did it better and he found himself in 8th on the grid. As with (almost) all teams, Racing Point came across some issues during the race but it was Perez who made the mistake of getting on the power too soon on a wet kerb which made him spin around and his race ended up in the wall.

All was not lost as Stroll was in a groove and thanks to a bold move during one of the pitstops, it was the Canadian who went out on slick tyres first. This ultimately meant he could make up ground and when the other drivers went in to pit, Stroll found himself in a podium position. In the end, he couldn’t hold on but came across the finish in 4th position, earning himself and the team 12 strong points.

Which path will Haas go towards the future?

Like the last race, Haas opted to put Grosjean in a car that was set up with the Australia specs while Magnussen had all upgraded parts on his car. From Friday onwards, Grosjean looked to have the better car. At least Grosjean felt better in his car and could push a bit more without having too many issues.

Grosjean started 6th with Magnussen 12th but after lap 1, both cars were inside the top 10 and all looked good for the team. While both drivers are known for making contact with each other, it seemed to be going well in Germany.

But somehow, they couldn’t behave again as Grosjean tried a move on Magnussen by going around the outside and steered in too early and again, there was contact. Fortunately, this time, it wasn’t a race-ending contact so both drivers could continue. Grosjean ended up 9th and Magnussen 10th but due to the Alfa Romeo penalties, they both moved up two spots and bagged 10 points for the team.

Not knowing if Grosjean actually raced with the Australia spec, it is hard to say how they need to move forward but at least they managed to have a solid race.

A great result out of the window for Alfa Romeo.

With a 5th place on the grid for Raikkonen and a 11th for Giovinazzi, Sunday promised to be a great day for the Swiss team. Although Raikkonen stayed more or less out of trouble, it was Giovinazzi who had some great battles left and right to end up right behind his teammate.

It turned out to be a strange Sunday as after the race, it became clear that both Alfa Romeo drivers were reported to the stewards for a “false start”. (The investigation related to the driver’s getaways from the starting grid, specifically how the torque demand from the driver matches the actual torque in the clutch.

The FIA demands that the output from the clutch matches the driver input within a 70 millisecond time frame. At the start of the race, the Alfa Romeo cars took 200 and 300 milliseconds to match the output with the input.

This regulation exists to prevent teams using their ECUs as a form of traction control and, whilst Alfa Romeo argued that this occurred because of the lack of wet-weather practice, the only course of action was to issue a ten-second stop-and-go penalty.

As this stop-and-go penalty cannot be served after the race (because the issue was not spotted in-race by the stewards), the penalty is converted into a 30-second post-race time penalty. / explanation thanks to Thomas Maher)

This all meant that Raikkonen dropped to 12th and Giovinazzi dropped to 13th. HOWEVER, Alfa Romeo is planning to appeal the decision so we have to wait on the official outcome of the German GP.

Is Williams slowly getting their act together?

Williams came into the weekend on Friday with an update for Kubica, with Russell getting it on Saturday so that data could be compared. To the outside, it was hard to tell if it all worked as both cars remained in 19th and 20th position but it had to be said, they were closer to the rest of the midfield so the first signs were good. On Sunday, Russell lined up in 18th on the grid while Kubica was behind him in 19th. During the early stages of the race, both drivers kept their noses clean and they could keep up with the rest of the field. A large part of this was because of the wet track and the multiple safetycars that bunched up the field. Everybody needs a bit of luck and no matter what happened during the race, Russell and Kubica did very well and at 1 point Kubica was in front of Russell. At the finish, the Williams team established a new record because after the German GP, they are the only team that had both cars finish every race in 2019. And to top that off, due to the Alfa Romeo penalties, Kubica was pushed forward to 10th position and 1 hard earned point in WDC and WCC. Russell just couldn’t manage to be close enough to Kubica at the finishline so he ended up in 13th position. That said, with the appeal of Alfa Romeo, the outcome might change again.

Social media went crazy on Sunday.

It wasn’t just the on-track action that was massive but also on social media, things went crazy as soon as the lights went out. A lot of positive feedback came for the German GP as a whole but some negative comments were thrown at Mercedes and Renault.

Gasly also got his portion of internet trolling but at the end of the day, social media was an awesome place to be as it provided so much info, so much fan footage and so much pleasure to read everything. Now we head off to Hungary this weekend as it is a back-to-back race weekend for F1.

As @MsportXtra , I already have the Weekend Outlook updated and ready for the fans to enjoy. Looking forward to doing the 12th #TheXtraLap in 1 weeks time.

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