Will Gray

Gray Matter: ‘Not really German’ Rosberg fails to inspire

Will Gray

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Will Gray rounds-up what we learned from the German GP, including what the poor crowds say about Nico Rosberg and what sort the future for women in F1.

ROSBERG IS NOT INSPIRING GERMANY

At Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton used a dig at team-mate Nico Rosberg to highlight his own patriotic pride, suggesting the German driver was ‘not really German’.

After low crowds last weekend he may have had a point.

Rosberg, who races under the German flag for German team Mercedes, was brought up in Monaco by Finnish and German parents and Hamilton claimed he was “not really German”

Rosberg, in response, took the opportunity to highlight his support for his country at his home race by celebrating their football World Cup triumph with a specially designed helmet (well, two specially designed helmets after his first was vetoed by football’s governing body FIFA).

Yet despite the high chance of a German winner, the race day attendance was estimated to be around 50,000 compared to the 120,000 full house at Silverstone.

Even Rosberg admits he has two home races, citing Monaco first followed by Germany, and while there is no denying there were plenty of black, red and yellow flags in the crowd, it is clear the fanaticism once lauded on multiple German world champion Michael Schumacher – and even on their most recent champion Sebastian Vettel - was not there.

Niki Lauda claimed F1’s lack of adaption to new media was the reason for fans staying away, but ultimately people need a hero to cheer. And it seems Rosberg is not that man.

SLACKENED PENALTIES ENHANCE RACING

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Lewis Hamilton made 17 different overtaking moves during the race last weekend – but in less lenient times the stewards would have almost certainly questioned his aggressive attacking style.

The FIA decided to crack down on driving standards this year but has since scrapped the move as it was criticised for making drivers too cautions and reducing commitment to genuine overtaking attempts.

Without that new assurance, Hamilton’s race could have been quite different.

The British driver was 20th on the grid after a failure in qualifying and a gearbox replacement penalty, and a poor start saw him make just two passes off the line before the safety car was deployed.

During the race, he went on to make one pass at turn one, two at turn two, three at turn eight, three in DRS zones, one just before the pits and five at the hairpin.

But it was the hairpin that caused most issues.

He had separate incidents with Adrian Sutil’s Sauber and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, both of which resulted in small collisions but neither of which damaged his Mercedes. Against his old team-mate Jenson Button, however, he was not so lucky and damaged his front wing in an attempt that didn’t come off.

Ultimately, that collision, and a subsequent judgement by the team, may have cost him second place.

Hamilton’s moves were all judged to have been fair, but some stewards may have seen things differently and had the FIA’s tighter stance still been in place he would either have been handed penalties or, more likely, not even have dared to put himself in that position.

So, thank goodness the FIA decided to change.

CATERHAM UP FOR A FIGHT

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Caterham’s new bosses sent out a rallying call in Germany, insisting a re-structure can turn it into a successful team – and beginning that process by making 40 of their 350-strong staff redundant.

Reports suggest the cull was mostly a reduction of high-salaried heads of department, and that has allowed the team to invest money in new developments for this year in a determined bid to chase down 10th place in the championship – and the crucial £10m ‘bonus’ that goes with it.

There have been critics of former racing driver Christijan Albers’ role in the team, but he responded well to questions raised about experience of management, revealing that while racing he had been a successful businessman and retired from the cockpit because he made more money off the track than on it.

STILL A LONG WAY TO GO FOR WOMEN IN F1

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Just 0.227 seconds separated Susie Wolff from Williams team-mate Felipe Massa in Friday practice, but while her pace certainly proved a point for women in F1, the chances of a race still seem a long way off.

The role of women in F1 has grown significantly in recent years, with two teams now run by women (Claire Williams at Williams and Monisha Kaltenborn at Sauber) and many female engineers behind the scenes.

When Wolff took to the track at Silverstone, she was the first woman to take part in an F1 race weekend for 22 years, but with that cut short it was her second outing last weekend that gave her the chance to shine, as she knew the track well from racing in Germany’s DTM.

She proved she had the physical capability to drive, but there are still those who argue against women in F1.

The BBC quoted Mark Webber as saying: "There are not many sports where women compete with men, so I don't know why we always have to answer this question in F1. Serena Williams doesn't play Roger Federer, so I don't think it should happen in F1."

It’s true, but other sports have their own women-only tournaments. There is no equivalent all-female F1 or motorsport series – so drivers like Wolff need to compete with the men for the same space.

The problem, as Wolff stated, is that with fewer girls inspired to go karting, the talent pool will always be smaller than that for men.

There is no space for Wolff at Williams, so her chances of getting a race role are slim, but if her practice laps can inspire more of the next generation to get out on the kart tracks and get involved, it may at least have started to pave the way for a genuine female F1 racer.

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