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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Button back on form - Champions show their class as German GP is a day of redemption


Well, it took a whole week for Sebastian Vettel to slam shut the door that was opened just a crack by his gearbox failure at Silverstone. Vettel also broke the home-race hoodoo, which by the way affects most drivers (see Messers Webber, Button and Hamilton, among others), as well as breaking his July duck. All in all, it was a great weekend for the German, but he knows that the hard work is still to be done, despite opening up his championship lead above the crucial 25 point - one race win - mark.

McLaren stop development, start improvement

Button and Pérez circulate together
Credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

I had been campaigning for a couple of months for McLaren to move their priorities to 2014. As soon as they understood the flaws of this year’s car, because aerodynamic changes aren’t the main focus next year, they should scrap 2013 and put it down to a character building experience. There is one word that explains why they should move on to the ’14 car: Brawn.

After the British GP, McLaren finally saw sense and what happens on their next outing? They go and produce their best showing of the year, which was slightly marred by Hamilton and Webber producing last lap moves to demote Button and Pérez a place each. Both were through unfortunate incidents as Jenson was held up by the Caterhams, putting his former teammate in range for a last lap lunge. As for Pérez, he was the final victim of the decision to allow Mark Webber to catch the back of the pack under the safety car (which is still a stupid rule that costs us several laps of actual racing).

But Button is my choice for driver of the day. So many times, when a team returns to form for one race, something small costs them big, such as a faulty wheel gun costing Williams their first points of the season after a great drive from Pastor Maldonado. Jenson Button didn’t let that happen. McLaren weren’t drawn into going for a higher grid position which would have damaged their tyre strategy in the race. He pitted just before the safety car, which probably cost him as others got a ‘free’ pitstop, but other than that poor luck, he extracted the maximum he could from the weekend, until the Caterham battle cost him fifth place to Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel impresses on his big day

I’m happy to admit it, I am a Vettel cynic. I don’t think he’d have won a single one of his championships without the considerable help of Adrian Newey. But that doesn’t mean that he’s a bad driver, and when the pressure was really on for Vettel to perform in front of his home fans, he did it. Not only that, he fought off both Loti in a race long battle for victory.

Vettel eases himself into his home race
Credit: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Unlike so many of Vettel’s 30 victories, this race wasn’t won in turn one. Although it has to be said, some of his best racecraft was required to fight past Lewis Hamilton and hold off teammate Mark Webber. Then he had to control the siege laid on him by the Aussie in the first stint, which he did, though he may have lost the lead had Webber had a clean first pitstop. But then came a new attack from an unfamiliar face as Romain Grosjean made a long first stint work on the soft tyres and appeared right behind Vettel after his pitstop.

Lotus tried to force Red Bull’s hand, and did. And yet with Vettel snookered by a dual attack from Lotus, he held off Grosjean, and controlled the gap to Räikkönen so that when the Finn pitted, Vettel was in the pound seats for a huge victory.

Grosjean's day of redemption

After such a seesaw season last year, Romain Grosjean has struggled to match Kimi Räikkönen's speed this year. But at the Nürburgring, on sheer pace alone, Grosjean outdid Räikkönen with ease. While the safety car made for a good race, it cost Romain Grosjean heavily as he was forced to surrender the advantage of his long first stint as he was forced to pit under the safety car, in order to not lose track position. Without the safety car, Grosjean would have been able to fully benefit from a six lap overcut on Vettel, which would surely have come into play at the end of the race.

The mistake that Lotus made as a team was to pit Räikkönen in strategic no man’s land

As it was, Lotus played it well. The safety car closed Grosjean that bit closer to Vettel and brought Kimi Räikkönen back into play after a slow first stint. They had no option but to pit on lap 24 in order to not lose the race under the safety car. They then pulled a master stroke by splitting their strategy to force Red Bull into a decision of which driver to cover. They chose to go conservative and defend against Grosjean and not risk a long third stint costing them big championship points.

The mistake that Lotus made as a team was to pit Räikkönen in strategic no man’s land when a two stop strategy could have paid off with victory. As for Grosjean, he showed impressive speed, and had his teammate, who is in the championship fight, not been behind him in third, he would have finished in a well deserved second place. His job now is to keep up this form.

Hamilton continues damage limitation

You have to give credit to Lewis Hamilton for his determination this season. Nico Rosberg has two victories to his none and did have three pole positions to his one (by the way, only three men, including Sebastian Vettel, have been on pole this year) until last weekend’s British GP. But he has fought back and dealt with serious issues in his personal life without letting it affect his performance on the track. He has finished in the top five in every race but Spain and qualified in the top four in every race, with the best average qualifying performance of anyone.

In Germany, he provided a great qualifying lap to hold off the Red Bulls and put his Mercedes on pole. He did all that he could going into turn one and still ended up third. And from there, he fought for everything, losing out to the Loti and Alonso. He undoubtedly benefitted from the safety car allowing him to make an extra stop for tyres without tumbling down the order. Despite his good fortune, he deserves credit for a strong drive for ten more championship points.

With three weeks to fill before the Hungarian Grand Prix, there's time for the drivers to train and rest, ready for one more push before the summer break.