Penalty shoot out – GERMANY 2011

The Nurburgring was a cold, damp place this weekend and there was no warm glow for Scuderia Toro Rosso come the end of the German Grand Prix. For Sébastien Buemi it was a weekend in which he must have felt like a not very good goalkeeper, constantly letting in penalties. The first came on Saturday night, when contamination from a cleaning product in the fuel pump system – definitely not the driver’s fault – led to the post-qualifying fuel sample not complying with the regulations and pushed him to the back of the grid.

Penalty shoot out – GERMANY 2011

 

Then, to continue the goalkeeper analogy, you could say he had the wrong gloves on, as his car had been set up predominantly for the wet, as the decision had been taken to gamble on rain coming on Sunday afternoon. A few drops raised hopes just as the cars formed up on the grid but then, cruel irony, no more rain was seen until a short while after the chequered flag. Hang on, Buemi’s woes are not over yet: he and Nick Heidfeld were called before the race stewards after the event, to explain their coming together on lap 9 and the officials decided the incident had been Seb’s fault and he now has to deal with a five place grid penalty at next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Jaime Alguersuari had a less troubled time, but there were no points awaiting him this weekend. Starting from sixteenth on the grid, he made up a couple of places as soon as the red lights went out. Then, with others around him running a different strategy and stopping earlier, he found himself as high as eleventh on lap 21, making his first tyre change two laps later, dropping back to fourteenth, making up two places to come home twelfth at the flag after the 60 laps. As for Sébastien, after making up six places from 24 to 18 on the opening lap, his strategy had to be changed when he had to pit as early as lap 10, after the Heidfeld crash had punctured his right rear tyre. Given all that happened to our Swiss driver, fifteenth was about the best we could have hoped for come the chequered flag. There’s nothing worse than having too much time to think about a disappointing race weekend and at least this time, we only have a few days to wait before trying to get back in points scoring mode. As from next Friday, the cars will be back on track, over a thousand kilometres from the Nurburgring at the Hungaroring, outside Budapest for Round 11 of the world championship.

Here at the ‘Ring, there were signs that some of the teams are edging closer to the previously all-conquering Red Bulls, with Lewis Hamilton taking the win for McLaren, which was built on getting past pole man Mark Webber at the start. The Australian actually came home third, as Fernando Alonso proved the Silverstone win was no fluke, by bringing his Ferrari home in second place. It was very strange seeing Sebastian Vettel in the “interview square” for the non-podium drivers for the very first time this year. He took a last-gasp fourth place, when he and eventual fifth finisher Felipe Massa dived into the pits on the very last lap to switch to Prime tyres (the rules say you have to use both Prime and Option during every race) and the Red Bull man just got out of pit lane ahead of the Prancing Horse.