Clip The Apex
Start spreading the news, they're racing today! Yes it's the New York E-Prix; so good they race here twice. It's also the championship show down between Jean Eric Vergne and Sam Bird. In what is horrendous poor planning for a start up sport that needs all the viewers it can get, the final probable championship deciding race will take place on Sunday at the exact same time as the world cup final. The race on the Saturday also has it issues in the UK as it clashes with the England game. Sometimes this sport doesn't help itself. Oh well I guess that's what TVO was invented for.
JEV is the overwhelming favourite for the title going into the weekend and on balance probably the driver very much deserving the title. We all know deserving doesn't mean much. Last time out in Switzerland JEV claims he has the best Formula E race he'd ever done, however a whole host of penalties for drivers under the safety car meant he was shuffled down the order and Bird gained ground on him. Vergne described the penalties as 'very covenient for Formula E' and left it at that. Since that took place JEV won the LMP2 catogry at Le Mans...........only to be DQ'd after it finished. They say things come in 3's but let's hope not for JEV's sake.
What of Sam Bird? Well it's going to an uphill struggle where he basically needs to win both races. Fortunately for Birdy he did exactly that at New York last year. Yes Sam Bird is currently the undisputed King of New York (cue that Fun Lovin Criminals song), however Sam has pointed out that they have changed the circuit this year and he claims it will not suit his DS Virgin car as much. Sam Bird is one of those blokes its very hard not to like and cheer on so if he does take the title I think nearly all will be happy for him. I'd love to see him do it but I think the gap is too far.
This E-Prix marks the end of an era for Formula E as we say goodbye to the Gen 1 car that has given us such good action. It will also be the last time we see car changes in Formula E which no one will miss. We will miss the EDAMS team though who will disappear off the grid to be replaced by their sister outfit Nissan next year. They take with them Nico Prost who no one will miss in the slightest. It looks like the end of the electric journey for a few actually as its suggested Nick Heidfd won't be back which is a shame. Also Alex Lynn could be on his way out which is no big surprise as he has been completely useless this season.
For what it's worth I expect bumper to bumper action with Audi winning the races and JEV winning the title. I have been very wrong in the past though.
This is based on each driver's fastest lap in any part of qualifying, converted to a percentage from the fastest of all. If a driver didn't set a representative time at all his average is just taken from those races when he did:
Other than confirming the very big gap between the big 3 teams and the rest, there were a few surprises:
- Grosjean's problems are all in races, not in qualifying
- After being outqualified in the first four races, Sainz has asserted himself at Renault
- Like Grosjean, Hartley is doing better in qualifying than races
- Sauber 0.85% (very impressive for a rookie; Ericsson virtually dead-heated with both Nasr and Wehrlein)
- McLaren 0.45% (Vandoorne was 0.37% behind over the full season in 2017)
- Ferrari 0.32% (Despite all the - justified - criticism, Raikkonen was 0.36% slower than Vettel last season, so is doing no worse on this measure at least. For what it's worth, in 2014 Alonso was 0.44% faster than Kimi on average)
So after an exciting British GP we move on to Germany. The Hockenheimring, where hopefully the excitement will continue.
It really is the home race of Mercedes, as the original circuit was used by Mercedes Benz to test their cars, but that was a very long time ago and the circuit then was nothing like the current, and in my opinion, strangely shaped circuit of today. Seen from the air it's a sort of square shape with a protuberance shaped like" Pinnochio's nose" coming off one side. Much has changed since the large triangular circuit that Mercedes Benz used. At one point the circuit became a large oval shape and ran through the forrest, and the race could be dry in the Stadium section and wet through the trees, which was always an interesting situation. However Herman Tilk got his hands on the place, and now the circuit is 4.75Km long and the forrest section is gone for ever.
It 's not a track with a lot of fast corners and it's quite slow through the twisty stadium section which is one of the original parts of the track that remains, and, where they have built a large number of grandstands. Obviously a good place to watch the race from.
The last race here was in 2016, and it was won by Lewis Hamilton in ... A Mercedes...But they haven't had it all their own way. Ferrari have had the most wins at Hockenheim over the years, so both teams will be going there with Huge expectations. I'm not about to pretend that I have any idea which car will be well suited to the track, or indeed which tyres should do well, the tyre choices are, I believe, Soft, Ultrasoft and Medium. But our CTA tyre expert will reveal all, I'm sure.
Qualifying at Hockenheim is quite important, as in, you qualify well, you do well. Although some of our younger drivers may not have got that point, I'm Sure Max will give it a go wherever he qualifies. Vettel now has 171 points to Hamilton's 163. Raikkonen is on 116 and Bottas is on 104. Obviously Ferrari are ahead, 287 to 267. Red Bull are doing their best but on 199 points total they are really going to have to hope for a miracle. The race is between the top two teams at the moment, and for once it really is a race. Lets hope it remains exciting in Germany. Lets hope Romain has a weekend where he doesn't hit anything or anyone. And lets hope for a miracle for McLaren as well as for Red Bull.
For anyone who is going to the race, if you walk through the old forrest section you will find a wooden cross a memorial to Jim Clark. There is a plaque behind turn 2 of todays circuit for him, but it's only there because the forrest section is no longer part of the circuit. One of the F1 greats.