Formula One: German Grand Prix preview

VettelLet’s hope there is no repeat of last weekend’s tyre failure in practice for the German Grand Prix today. If there is, there might not be a German Grand Prix at all come Sunday.

You will have heard last night that the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) issued a statement making it clear any new failures would see them boycott the rest of the weekend. Not all the drivers actually belong to the GPDA, and moreover the drivers have contracts, contracts many of them will be loathe to jeopardise, but still, the statement caps what’s been an extraordinary five days since Lewis Hamilton’s left rear let go on lap eight of the British Grand Prix.

It’s been a messy week with claim and counter claim and some very straight talking from the likes of David Coulthard, who moved quickly to stand behind an animated Lewis Hamilton about Saturday’s race. Others put the focus on the drivers – Darren Turner tweeting “#growapair”. You can tell us how you feel about it all below.

Pirelli, meanwhile, issued a statement insisting the tyre “does not compromise driver safety in any way if used in the correct manner”.  A second statement from motorsport director Paul Hembery, just 30 minutes later, said: “in no way are we intending to create arguments or attack anybody. We have taken our responsibilities upon ourselves.

“But not having full control over all the elements that impact on the use of the tyres, we need everybody’s contribution. With regard to this, we are receiving the full support of all the parties involved, for which we are very grateful.”

The bottom line seems to be Hamilton, Massa, Alonso, Verge and Perez were all affected by some pretty out-there set-ups used up by the teams, and both parties might have paid more attention to some extremely aggressive kerbs when they walked the Silverstone track in the days before the race.

The FIA have responded, changing the rules to allow this year’s drivers to take part in what was scheduled to be young drivers test in a fortnight, but will now effectively be a test of the 2013 B-spec tyre. There is talk of another ‘in-season’ test right after the end of the 2013 season with a view to the ensuring that the 2014 rubber is at least familiar when the new turbo cars fire up for the first time in January.

For this weekend we have a compromise tyre, with this year’s construction on a Kevlar and not a steel belt. A whole new phase of learning starts this morning.

And so to this Sunday. Could this be the race where Sebastian Vettel (above) gets to know how it feels to have an early season championship lead slowly evaporate? Ferrari may have been disappointingly slow at least in qualifying at Silverstone, but Mercedes flew in quali and the race and are clearly a measure for the Red Bulls right now. 43 points is a good lead, one Vettel is not so used to at this stage, but third is the best he can expect for now. A brace of Mercedes one-twos would see that lead cut to less than a win.

And remarkably, astonishingly, fantastically… it is Lewis Hamilton and not Fernando Alonson or Kimi Raikkonen that could be the man to stop Vettel. Before Hamilton’s retirement on Saturday he was two seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, well out of DRS danger. His teammate of course went on to win the race with no obvious sign of the bad tyre habit that blighted Mercedes’ early season. Quite the reverse, in fact.

Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, had been properly annihilated by Hamilton in practice the day before. Hamilton has now learned how to drive the W04, just as he said he would, and the abundant talent is there once again for us to wonder at.

And judging by the jeers Seb received when he stepped out of his knackered Red Bull on Sunday, that makes a lot of British Grand Prix fans extremely happy.

There’s no live BBC coverage this weekend, but assuming the race goes ahead highlights are at 18.00pm on Sunday. That should be just after the men’s final from Wimbledon…

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