The strength of the BMW M4 Coupé is evident in every detail.
Double world champion Sebastian Vettel has never won a German Formula One Grand Prix and will be looking to redress that at Hockenheim this weekend, the halfway stage of the season.
After some bad luck this year which includes two non-scoring races, the Red Bull driver will be looking to regain his mojo on his home track, which is only half an hour away from the town he grew up in.
In contrast to his huge points lead at the same stage of the season in 2011, Vettel is third in the Driver’s championship, trailing leader Fernando Alonso by 29 points. Alonso has taken points in every race but Vettel failed to score in Malaysia after a tangle with a backmarker, and in June’s European Grand Prix in Valencia his Red Bull suffered an uncharacteristic mechanical failure whilst he was leading.
After winning the Monaco and British Grands Prix, Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber is second in the Driver’s championship and, in contrast to previous years, has not been overshadowed by the young German. There is, however, still a long way to go in the title chase, with Hockenheim only the 10th race of the 20-round season.
The Pirelli tyre-wear lottery has mixed up the field.
It has produced some unexpected podiums in 2012 but the recent trend has been for Red Bull and Ferrari to occupy the sharp end of the grid.
After their early-season blues the red team have found some real pace in the last few races, and even Felipe Massa is starting to score some points.
In contrast, early-season favourites McLaren have suffered a dip in performance, with former champion Jenson Button scoring only seven points in the past six races and dropping to eighth in the standings.
His team mate Lewis Hamilton has managed to hold onto fourth, eight points behind Vettel but, with his car seemingly unable to challenge for wins at the moment the British driver is rumoured to be thinking of quitting the team. Hamilton admitted he needs to be with a winning team and said he hopes to make a decision on his F1 future during next month’s summer break.
Webber’s decision to stay with Red Bull next year has closed that door for Hamilton, but there’s a real chance that Massa might be asked to vacate his Ferrari seat, his recent improvement in form notwithstanding. After their acrimonious time as McLaren team mates, however, expecting Alonso and Hamilton to co-exist peacefully in the same squad could be a big ask.
McLaren’s slump has coincided with an impressive performance from Lotus. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean have five podium finishes between them so far this year, and with the pace the car has shown it seems only a matter of time before a Lotus driver stands on the top step.
Mercedes, Sauber and Williams have also been strong and, as this topsy-turvy season has so dramatically underlined, things can change very quickly. Both Mercedes (courtesy of Nico Rosberg) and Williams (Pastor Maldonado) have already tasted victory and Sauber has often shown race-winning pace, particularly in the hands of Mexican sensation Sergio Perez who has already visited the podium twice during the course of this season.
After his third place in Valencia last month, his first podium since coming out of retirement two and a half years ago, Michael Schumacher is also possibly in the mix to score what would be a popular win in front of his home crowd. - The Star