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GP Week : Issue 20
While practice failed to highlight a single technical issue, both Massa and Raikkonen found themselves trailing in Lewis Hamilton’s wake. The Ferrari duo were happy nevertheless and hoped for a surprise in qualifying. They got it as Raikkonen could only muster sixth, and Hamilton relegated Massa to second. Come the race itself, the team simply didn’t have the pace to compete. Massa left Hamilton a gap the size of Russia to pass at the hairpin and was then kept at bay by Piquet’s Renault on knackered tyres. At least Raikkonen put up a fight, but it was from too far back to make much of a difference. The Finn finished the day in sixth, while Massa came home third. Not the best of starts as Robert Kubica finished practice in the barrier on Friday morning, after getting caught out in the damp conditions. Come qualifying it was Kubica who again out-drove his team-mate, with Heidfeld admitting he’d screwed things up all on his own. The team had expected more from the session, but had to be happy with seventh and 12th. Come the race, and it was Heidfeld who finished as the stronger driver, taking fourth position on Massa’s rear wing, having made up eight places from the start. The German set the fastest lap of the race and a slightly different strategy to his rivals showed his potential. Kubica struggled with grip to finish where he’d started, in seventh. Fernando Alonso led the way with top 10 times in practice, while Nelson Piquet appeared to be somewhat slower than his team-mate as he learned the track. Come Saturday it was a complete disaster for the Brazilian. While the FIA didn’t happen to agree with him, Piquet believed he had been blocked in Q1 as he tumbled out of the session in 17th. Alonso stormed to fifth. Putting Piquet on a one-stop strategy for the race, Renault told him to jsee how things panned out. As it happened, the Safety Car came out just at the right time for Piquet to take second place. Alonso had a dog of a day, and after getting frustrated by Vettel made a number of errors and finished out of the points. Williams felt confident coming into the German Grand Prix, and Rosberg had good pace on Friday, finishing well within the top 10 in both sessions, while Nakajima lost time with a misfire. Qualifying became a bit of a nightmare for the team as Nakajima failed to make it out of Q1 and Rosberg fared only slightly better. They would line up in 16th and 13th for a race they now accepted would be tough. It was. Nakajima got stuck in traffic early on, and wasn’t helped by spinning. Debris under his car caused understeer in his final part of the race leaving him frustrated. Rosberg had similar frustrations, but only because he’d had such a good race for ultimately no reward. With Nakajima 15th and Rosberg 10th, the team needs to turn a corner soon if it is to have any hope of fighting for points which don’t seem too likely a possibility at present. Red Bull began its weekend by confirming Sebastien Vettel would be driving for it next season, and then made bold strides to show why as the German wunderkind did his best to embarrass the big boys. Webber suffered an electrical problem in the afternoon practice but otherwise there were no major issues. Come qualifying it was a good afternoon’s work. Coulthard set the 10th fastest time and Webber the eight. In the race itself Webber was unfortunate and retired with an oil leak. Coulthard lost places at the start but battled on until, not for the first time this year, he failed to check his mirrors and turned in on someone. This time it was Barrichello and that pretty much did for his race. He finished 13th. 30