Saturday, 21 July 2007

Shaken but (not) stirred?

Lewis Hamilton is a lucky boy. It was a pretty big impact and the car even looked to be slightly airborne when it dived into the middle of the tyre wall. He was lucky the bump or whatever it was that caused the elevation didn’t lift him any higher.

I have to say I am slightly sceptical about the news being fed to the public. There seems to be a general feeling that he will be ok to start tomorrow’s race. I hope this is true but I can’t help feeling this is wishful thinking. The way he stumbled and collapsed after leaving the cockpit suggests to me that his legs aren’t 100%. Even if it’s just a case of swelling, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is told to avoid the risk of a secondary impact.

It really is unacceptable in my view that an accident like this should be caused by a faulty wheel gun. Modern F1 cars undergo lengthy and rigorous safety tests and all this is for nothing if the same courtesy isn’t extended to the assembly equipment.

Anyway, if Hamilton is to start tomorrow’s race he is going to have is work cut out to limit the damage on his championship lead as all his challengers are well placed with plenty of pace.

Raikkonen once again looked stunningly fast to take pole and you can’t help but feel is carrying a decent load of fuel as well.

Alonso, who takes the second spot, came alive in qualifying confirming his tendency to sand-bag in practice. Again, I think he’ll have a fair bit of fuel on him. He must know this is an opportunity and I’m looking forward to see him have one of his first corner goes, Raikkonen this time the Ferrari prey.

If past form is anything to go by Hamilton tends to run a bit lighter in qualifying than Alonso which will compromise him in the race given his grid position.

The BMW Saubers are looking pretty decent on home turf with the home-boy Heidfeld getting the measure of his Polish rival Robert Kubica. BMW really have a cracking driver line-up in my view and it is an absolute pleasure to follow this rivalry on track and in the sector times as a second qualifying ‘story’ after the Mclaren-Ferrari battle.

Nurburg 1997 always stands out for me as the race when we got our first glimpse into the future dominance of Mclaren. The silver cars dominated the early stages of the race only to suffer embarrassing engine failures in front of the Mercedes-Benz home crowd. The damage was done though and in 1998 they were doing the same but without the reliability problems.

I wonder if BMW can give us a similar insight tomorrow. They have a tendency to struggle in the race and I always think this is partly to do with putting too much fuel in for qualifying. I’d like to see them run Kubica light for once and give him a shot at a front slot.

Webber (6th) and Kovalainen (7th) are the other session impressees; let’s hope the Red Bull holds out beyond the few laps this time.

And further down the grid I thought Alexander Wurz did a pretty good job to get so close to Rosberg. Rosberg has been one of the stars of the 2007 championship I think and he is a good benchmark for Wurz.

Picture: BBC Sport

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