With barely a chance to take a breath, Formula One moves on from Germany to the forests of Budapest, and the Hungaroring. As the final race before the summer break begins, we are tasked with making the most of the weekend to tide us over the August drought. Hungary doesn't always deliver cracking races, but this year has been set to surprise from the outset and as is the case with F1, anything could happen.
Formula One's summer break is looming, with teams and drivers facing an enforced two week shutdown in August, and plenty of time off before the next race. That leaves us with the task of making the most of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, and as a back to back with Germany, the anticipation is rising. The eleventh round of the 2014 season is unlikely to make any big impact on the fight for the title, but it can still deliver in many ways.
If you're missing the track and field events from the Olympics, then look no further, the Commonwealth Games have arrived. Their tagline: "17 sports. 11 days. 1 place to be." With similar events such as gymnastics, cycling and badminton, the games provide for all kinds of tastes, although there are fewer than in London and other Olympic schedules. Glasgow presents a great opportunity for smaller nations to have their chance in the spotlight, including the dissolution of Team GB into England, Scotland and Wales. If you're looking for a place to hang out during the week and a bit of Commonwealth action, then you've found the spot!
This week, the drivers settled in very quickly at Hockenheim to complete the tenth round of the F1 season. Off track, they were just as busy with dancing, singing, showing us round the motorhomes, apologising, getting into trouble with the fans, and fashioning as many burgers as possible in a given amount of time. It can only be Germany!
The racing in Hockenheim was dramatic and frantic, leaving plenty for us to take away and think about in the few days before Hungary. Now is the time then, whilst it's fresh in your mind, to cast your vote on the race itself, the driver of the day, and a couple of racing events that caught our eye.
The talk of rain ahead of the German Grand Prix came to naught, and the weather held off for the racing to continue unhindered. Despite that, there was still chaos and we saw a first lap crash, a fire, plenty of overtakes, lots of side by side action and a couple of three-way fights going into tight corners. It was a hectic race, ending in perhaps an expected result, but one that was a joy to behold.
Esteban Gutiérrez continues his chain reaction of penalties, with one leftover from Silverstone. Having been found guilty of causing the incident with Pastor Maldonado, the Sauber driver drops three places on the grid. Lewis Hamilton has also taken a five place grid penalty for changing the gearbox after his crash during qualifying. He may opt to start from the pit lane, however.
Nico Rosberg starts from pole position for his home Grand Prix, but all eyes will be on Lewis Hamilton who crashed out of qualifying after a brake failure. The Brit will no doubt be able to sweep through the field with the superior Mercedes engine, but how far can he get? Two Williams drivers feature in the top three hoping to put a stop to the German domination, and having their own inter-team battle for supremacy. Further back, Jenson Button and Kimi Räikkönen have work to do to get into the top ten and fight for points, whilst Kevin Magnussen will look to defend his second row grid slot once the race is underway.
Daniel Ricciardo was caught trying to entertain his race engineer during free practice in Germany, but the expression on Simon Rennie's face would suggest he wasn't in the mood for dilly-dallying about. In fact, it's impressive that Rennie isn't bothered at all because those are some impressive moves Ricciardo has broken out. Potentially there's a post-engineer career as one of those Buckingham Palace guards in Simon's future.
The middle of a race weekend is an unusual time to announce a driver contract extension, but Lotus have revealed Pastor Maldonado will remain with them for the rest of the season and 2015 as well. In a Q&A posted on the official Lotus website after qualifying in Germany, team principal Gérard Lopez spoke of their plans for next season.
Lewis Hamilton crashed in the first session of qualifying at Hockenheim, after a brake failure sent him spinning into the tyre barriers. After a quick check up at the medical centre, the Brit was safe and well, and fired up to race through the field on race day - although it’s unclear at this point if he’ll start from the pit lane or not.
Lewis Hamilton gained the wrong sort of headlines after qualifying at Hockenehim. The Brit suffered a hefty brake failure that careered the Mercedes off track and into the barriers. Nico Rosberg was the sole Mercedes but continued their good form by taking pole position for his home race. The two Williams drivers were close behind, showing good pace once again.
The temperatures were soaring at Hockenheim ahead of the qualifying session, and the battle at Mercedes was about to get even hotter. With an hour of qualifying, stopped only by a brief red flag, the fight for pole position was well and truly on. Having said that, several of the top drivers found themselves out of place, either through crashing, running wide, or generally not getting a fast lap when it mattered.
Mercedes continued their domination at their home circuit, with Ferrari improving to best of the rest in final practice. Fernando Alonso was third ahead of the two Williams drivers, with Kimi Räikkönen down in eighth. The Finn suffered a fuel system problem that kept him in the garage. Further back, the Red Bull duo were down behind Kevin Magnussen, whilst Toro Rosso are firmly in the midfield - their drivers just three tenths apart.
Mercedes continue to rule the roost, with one or other of their drivers leading all three free practice sessions. Pole position may be important at Hockenheim, but with the weather forecasts still suggesting rain for Sunday, it may be more of a lottery than a procession. Still, Rosberg will be looking for pole at his home race, whilst Hamilton will be looking to stop him. And further back, McLaren have shown increased pace, Ferrari want to improve, and Williams aim to continue their success. It's all to play for as the hour of reckoning awaits - who do you think will get into the top ten today?
No teams ran the front and rear interconnected suspensions at Hockenheim during Free Practice on Friday, but it seemed to make little difference. Mercedes still topped both sessions - Nico Rosberg the first and Lewis Hamilton the second.
Mercedes did the double today, with Lewis Hamilton locking out P1 for the second session at Hockenheim. Nico Rosberg led for much of the session, but fell behind his teammate by the end of the day. He was also behind his teammate during a pit stop practice, ending up staring at the rear wing of Hamilton whilst the team scrabbled for tyres. His brakes started smoking due to soaring temperatures, but he avoided a fire.
Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets for first practice, edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes pair continued their reign at the top despite all of the field removing their FRIC suspension packages. Susie Wolff was back in the car, but must have had a sinking feeling of déjà vu when the Williams slowed with a problem after just a couple of minutes. This time, though, she got back to the pit lane, and recommenced running to complete 22 laps. Hoorah!
With three practice sessions available to the drivers and teams before the serious action gets going this weekend, we've got something of an idea what they might be concentrating on. Suspension systems have been removed from some of the cars, perhaps all, and they'll be adjusting to life without them. We'll also get a chance to see Susie Wolff's second attempt at participating in a proper F1 session, after her first opportunity was foiled by a broken car. Hockenheim is a track that only gets visited once every two years, so making the most of practice will be a key task for everyone involved.
We've seen a couple of ten place grid penalties handed out to drivers this year after teams were found to have released cars in an unsafe manner (ie. the wheels fell off). Esteban Gutiérrez was the most recent driver on the receiving end of just such a sanction, and the Sauber driver complained that it was too harsh.