F1: German Grand Prix liveblog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, July 12th, 2009

 
 

Sebastian Vettel scored his first ever win last year on a soaking-wet track in Italy. This year he’s got the prospect of rain, possibly the best car in the field and a home crowd egging him on – but he hasn’t got pole position.

That honour goes to his team-mate Mark Webber who has waited seven years for a car good enough to propel him to the front of the grid. And a winter recovering from injury has only increased his determination to win.

Next to Webber on the front row is another man with something to prove – Rubens Barrichello. Having made a success of his Brawn GP drive in the face of ranks of nay-sayers writing off his career pre-season, he lacks only a race win to put the seal on a resurgent season.

Behind them are team-mates Button and Vettel, likely to be focused on the German’s campaign to kick-start a mid-season title challenge, and both hoping for the kind of start that could get them past their colleagues and set up for a race win.

Who are on the third row? Why, it’s the McLaren boys, Hamilton enjoying a set of factory upgrades that Kovalainen doesn’t have, which made a difference of a second between them in qualifying. Still, it’s been their first venture into Q3 for a while, and can only be positive for fans.

Hamilton, of course, is a noted wet-weather performer and another man with something to prove. All this and rain too, plus a tricky first corner in the shape of the Nurburgring’s Castrol-S curves.

Should make for a great afternoon’s entertainment. And we’ll be liveblogging it all the way. Stick with us, watch the telemetry in the widget on the right by choosing menu/drivers – and don’t forget to keep refreshing to make sure you’re seeing the latest.

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Post-race: DC on Webber’s victory yell: “Bit of a Harry Met Sally moment there.”

Webber must have bust the eardrums of whoever was on the other end of that radio. Perhaps he’s finally got that unlucky monkey off his shoulder now. Huge cheer from the team as he gets out of the car and kisses the nose. He’s the first Aussie GP winner since Alan Jones in Las Vegas in 1981 and it’s 50 years since Sir Jack Brabham was taking F1 championships with Cooper.

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Lap 60: And it’s over. Webber takes his first race win in seven years and doesn’t help Vettel’s chances of a title by doing it. Vettel, however, does pick up eight points in second. Massa occupies the last podium slot. A nice drive from Rosberg to fourth. Five and four points respectively to Barrichello and Button which means Vettel has cut Button’s championship lead by three points and has gone past Barrichello, just. Final points go to Alonso and Kovalainen.

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Lap 59: Barrichello’s tyres have gone the same way as Button’s. The latter is pulling away a bit. Will Alonso try anything? Brundle says the famous dirty air will stop him.

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Lap 58: Button’s tyres are horrible. Red Bulls 11 secs down the road from Massa, then five to Rosberg.

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Lap 57: Hamilton is likely to finish unclassified and get a free engine and gearbox change for the next race.

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Lap 56: Button appears to have backed off from Rosberg. Alonso, bottled up behind the two Brawns, is the fastest car of the three. A shot of Button’s tyres shows they have completely gone. Can he hold station to the end?

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Lap 55: Button is currently 2.2secs behind Rosberg. Alonso 0.8secs behind Barrichello. Camera is fixed like glue to Nakajima struggling behind Heidfeld. Why? National interest? High percentage chance that Nakajima will crash?

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Lap 54: Alonso now nine tenths of a second behind Barrichello.

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Lap 53: Alonso is catching the Brawns rapidly and may get past. Glock challenging Kovalainen for the last point. Button catching Rosberg at a second a lap.

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Lap 52: Jense pits. Soft tyres go on. He beats Barrichello back out. He is now fifth, Barrichello sixth with a smaller dose of fuel going in and his frantic in-lap. Points-paying positions at the moment are Webber, Vettel, Massa, Rosberg, Button, Barrichello, Alonso, Kovalainen. After them come Glock, Heidfeld, Nakajima, Fisichella, Piquet, Kubica, Sutil, Buemi, Trulli, Hamilton. – – – –

Lap 51: All eyes on the Brawn fuel hose. All is well, Barrichello emerges in sixth some way behind Massa. Jense is going like stink.

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Lap 50: Rubens comes into the pits and uncorks Jense.

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Lap 49: Brawn mechanics are out. You’d be a fool to bet against Barrichello coming in first, wouldn’t you. But wait! Both Brawns drive past the pitlane entrance.

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Lap 48: Rosberg, up to second in the pitstop confusion, pits himself. Jenson Button on the radio saying that Barrichello is slowing him having calculated that Massa might catch him on the final stops. Brundle says he is tremendously impressed to hear he is thinking like this.

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Lap 47: Alonso pits.

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Lap 46: Massa emerges seventh behind Alonso. Button currently faster than Barrichello and both are having to weave to keep the heat in their tyres. Not a common sight during a race…

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Lap 45: And still they are talking about rain, although the forecast says none. If it does come the tyre to be on will be the softer one. Vettel pits and comes out in sixth behind the Brawns. Massa pits.

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Lap 44: Webber’s stop is 7.1 seconds and scrubbed tyres go back on. He comes out behind Vettel who has yet to stop. Massa is on his tail. Mark Webber has done his team-mate a huge favour as now Vettel is far more likely than the Brazilian to be on the second step of the podium.

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Lap 43: Button is weaving around trying to keep the heat in their tyres. Webber’s not really opening a lead over Vettel. Webber pits for his final stop of the race.

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Lap 42: Rougly two-thirds through. Brundle is wondering whether Barrichello will end up having to give up his place to Button. Raikkonen interviewed by Lee McKenzie. He doesn’t seem particularly interested in what went wrong with his car, and says the clash of heads with Sutil was “a racing incident.”

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Lap 40: Fairly quiet at the moment as Kovy pits. To summarise so far: Hamilton got over-ambitious at the start, Vettel is sleep-walking, Brawn’s strategy is awry and so is its fuelling rig, and Webber (though he’s slowing now) has survived everything including a drive-through to build a potentially winning lead.

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Lap 39: Quick change of narrator here as the kettle goes on. The main action is Alonso monstering Kovalainen. Webber running away with it at the moment – subject to the possibility it might rain.

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Lap 38: Alonso up on the back of Kovalainen and commentators mentioning that the sky is clouding up.

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Lap 37: Sky is exceedingly black but whether the weather will hit the circuit is another matter. Vettel told that he has to get some clean air between himself and Massa.

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Lap 36: Brundle pointing out that Webber is nearly a pitstop ahead of Vettel, even allowing for his drivethough. His dad Alan is in the Red Bull garage and holds up crossed fingers. Order is Webber, Vettel, Massa, Rosberg, Barrichello, Button, Kovalainen, Alonso, Glock, Fisi, Kubica, Heidfeld, Buemi, Piquet, Nakajima, Sutil, Trulli, Hamilton.

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Lap 35: Looking increasingly like Webber’s race. Raikkonen pictured in the garage.

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Lap 34: Lewis Hamilton is in 19th, if you were wondering. Jense blasts past Raikkonen as if he wasn’t there. Raikkonen seems to be slowing in a way that suggests he might have a problem. Smoke spotted from the back of the car? Oh, for Christ’s sake. Brawn report a fuel rig problem during Barrichello’s long stop. Arse. On the bright side, Raikkonen is slowing to a halt.

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Lap 33: Barrichello pits and Webber is back in the lead. Hard tyres, 11.4sec pitstop. He comes out in fifth under immediate pressure from Raikkonen who, nonetheless, does manage to avoid shunting him off the blasted track. Has he switched to a two-stopper? Brawn being fingered for bad tyre management by the commentators. Due to wet-weather setup considerations?

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Lap 32: Raikkonen and Sutil under investigation for that incident – after the race! They must want to talk to the drivers, then. Button pits. 6.7sec stop, hard tyres and he comes out seventh ahead of Kovy. Webber on the back of Barrichello, having caught up a second and a half on the last lap.

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Lap 31: Webber 3.8 seconds behind Barrichello and gaining. Button third, Vettel fourth then Massa, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Kovalainen.

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Lap 30: Half-way stage. Race leader is currently Barrichello and, according to the radio, he doesn’t like his tyres and wants to change. Rosberg pits.

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Lap 29: Unbelievable! Bloody Kimi Raikkonen has bloody well hit Sutil. This is *not* bloody touring cars! Sutil will have to go in for a new nose. And bloody Raikkonen is unscathed. DC wondering out loud about drive-throughs.

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Lap 28: “Incidents and accidents, hints and allegations” – Brundle finds himself inadvertently quoting Paul Simon. Sutil and his heavy fuel load finally pit. He’ll have to stop again since he has put hard tyres on.

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Lap 27: Barrichello leads from Sutil by about one and a half seconds. Brundle thinks the damage has been done and it’s Webber’s.

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Lap 26: Massa pits – and Rubens Barrichello must drive his socks off to save this race. So obstructed was he that Sutil was catching him at the rate of a second and a half a lap. Massa comes out behind Vettel where he meets his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

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Lap 25: Raikkonen pits, leaving Massa, Barrichello, Sutil, Rosberg at the front.

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Lap 24: Brundle points out that Massa is bringing Webber and Button right back into the race by holding up Barrichello. Kubica pits to uncork Webber and Button who was between them and Massa. Shots of Sebastian Bourdais being hugged in the Toro Rosso garage aren’t a good sign for him, are they?

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Lap 23: Vettel comes out ahead of Kovalainen in 11th. Jenson Button currently eighth. Bourdais is out.

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Lap 22: Webber is 11 seconds off the lead of Massa and Barrichello with largely unpitted people in front of him. He’s going to be in second when it all sorts itself out following the stops. Vettel pits from third.

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Lap 21: Hamilton asks on the radio if he should retire to save the engine and gearbox! Team say er, no, and suggests the weather might still cause unpredictability.

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Lap 20: Webber pits and rejoins seventh on hard tyres. Red Bull convinced that he can still win. Currently Massa, Barrichello, Vettel at the front. Barrichello urgently has to pass if he is to keep himself in contention.

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Lap 19: Those drivers who have stopped are sorting themselves out after the pitstops. Button has picked up another place and is tenth. Bourdais is off but his car is still running.

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Lap 18: Button has just intimidated Sebastian Buemi out of his way as he works to make up places after his pitstop.

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Lap 17: Now it’s the unpitted Webber from Massa then Barrichello at the front. His rear tyres are reported to be in a horrible state. Martin Brundle salutes quick thinking from Red Bull.

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Lap 16: Webber’s rejoined at the front but has to do his regular pitstop. Kovalainen pits. Barrichello has tried to pass Massa but could not make it stick. Kovy comes out in 15th, goes wide, gets out of shape. It seems to be a beast for him to handle – cold tyres? Fuel load

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Lap 15: Barrichello pits and Webber takes his penalty so Kovalainen is at the front. Rubens’ stop is 6.6secs and he comes out between Massa and Vettel in fourth place. He is thought to have gone onto hard tyres.

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Lap 14: Barrichello is now 14 secs clear of Kovy. Jense is getting worried about his tyres and wanting to come in early. The team turns him down, seemingly, but the next minute he is in the pits for a splash and dash. He comes out in front of the lapped Hamilton in 14th.

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Lap 13: “The way the stewards have been this weekend, that was a foregone conclusion.” Fisi takes Alonso and holds the place for 11th or so. That’s satisfying for all those fans of Fisi that remember what he had to put up with at Renault.

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Lap 12: Webber has a drivethrough for causing a collision! That’s about 25 secs. His race is fucked. DC doesn’t like it much but Webber is his former team-mate. Brundle calls it ‘marginal’ Personally we think it’s all wrong when questionable penalties have a major impact on the race outcome.

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Lap 11: Barrichello has a 0.9sec lead over Webber just now. Kovy 15 secs behind the leaders and is thus playing a crucial role in the outcome of this race. The Button/Massa/Vettel axis now has Raikkonen on the back thanks to Kovy. Not good for Button.

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Lap 10: Many people pointing out that the stewards have had their safety catches off this weekend.

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Lap 9: Midfield news – Fisi takes advantage of lapping Hamilton to nail one of the Beemers. It was Heidfeld. Hmmm, we need to say that again. Fisi lapping Hamilton. Vettel has a look at Massa, tries to outbrake him but Massa keeps the place, Vettel cutting a bit of track to do it. Stewards investigating cars 14 and 23 – that’s Webber and Barrichello.

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Lap 8: Kovalainen 11 secs off the lead in third place.

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Lap 7: Has settled down into that period where every team is looking to process what happened at the start and assess their track data.

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Lap 6: Webber is cruising up behind Barrichello, presumably waiting for his early pit. Webber being told to look after his tyres rather than attacking too much now.

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Lap 5: Looks like Webber bounced off at least two other cars at the start there. Hamilton third on the track – but a lap down. A lovely queue forming behind Kovalainen and messing up the race for Button, Massa and Vettel. DC says he thinks Webber will watch the replay and wonder if he was a bit aggressive.

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Lap 4: In 9th and 10th Rosberg and Kubica have gained six places each. At the front it’s still Barrichello, Webber, Kovalainen, Button, Massa, Vettel.

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Lap 3: Replays suggest Hamilton picked up his puncture touching wheels with Mark Webber and his erratic driving was due to the fact his tyre was gone. Hamilton has just been blue-flagged at the back.

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Lap 2: Button has taken Massa for fourth and Vettel is looking at him too but can’t get past. Button now looking at Kovalainen. Hamilton now in the pits with a puncture. Vettel runs wide but hangs on. Big fight now is Button hassling Kovalainen as hard as he damn well can. The McLaren is only helping the two in front of him at present.

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Lap 1: Webber bumps wheels with Barrichello. Hamilton gets through into the lead but overbrakes and loses it. He’s now plumb last having gone off the track. Leaders are Barrichello, Webber, Kovy, Massa, Button, Vettel, Raikkonen, Sutil, Rosberg, Kubica. Button really hassling Massa but can’t get past. Kovy is getting a train.

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Parade lap: Everyone away safely. Glock starting from pit lane following his penalty yesterday. Everyone weaving around to warm their tyres. Schumi on the Ferrari pit wall. Brawn said to be on a three-stopper with first stops after 13-15 laps. Alonso spins but recovers.

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Grid walk: Christian Horner, talking to Lee McKenzie, says that he’s worried about McLaren. He says that the forecast says no rain.

Next up is the very cheerful Adrian Sutil. Great to see him in Q3 and starting seventh ahead of the Ferraris – but sadly we predict he will fade away in the race, especially if it is dry.

Brundle gets hold of McLaren’s Pat Fry who says a podium for Lewis Hamilton isn’t beyond the the bounds of possibility – and sees a distinct bit of work-in-progress fibreglass on the car’s front wing.

Brundle threatens to go into the drivers’ loos some time if he can’t find enough people for his grid walk. He spots that Webber is talking to some tyre guys right before he gets into his car, and predicts something interesting has come to life.

Button says the car feels stable and the circuit is some 10-12 degrees hotter than it was yesterday, also that his car felt good on the out lap. He’s terribly croaky again, always does seem to be at this point in proceedings. He says he is every bit as determined as Webber to win, and says the first corner should be “exciting”.

Webber is saying that he intends to fight for his win, Brundle adds that the paddock will be happy for him if he manages it. He seems very relaxed.

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Pre-race: Come on, DC! Ask him the key question. Is he The Stig or not? Interesting to hear Schumi talking about the reasons why he always appeared so impersonal during race weekends – he was applying his legendary focus and simply wasn’t thinking about anything else.

Beeb is kicking off a bum-clenchingly awkward interview with Schumi – and who blames him, faced with a rogues’ gallery that includes Eddie Jordan and his former best mate DC. Not. A notable contrast to how incredibly relaxed he was on Top Gear. DC confronts him over the Spa incident and he blames the weather. Schumi refuses to back down today as well, but at least they don’t come to blows. They show the footage of their punch-up, which always has us rolling in aisles.

Button fretting on the BBC about lack of KERS – and the presence of KERS in some of the cars surrounding him. That would be Lewis and Heikki, then?

And then they go to Hamilton, who reckons KERS should get him two places off the line if it stays dry. Jense is right in the firing line, in other words. And Eddie Jordan reckons that, deep inside, Hamilton reckons he can win this race.

Webber is saying he went into qualifying having just been watching the Aussie turning the screw in the Ashes. Thought so – it’s a conspiracy…

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