Mercedes' Ross Brawn thinks opposing tyre strategies will serve to create tense German GP
Team boss also admits tyre degradation still Merc question mark
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 07/07/13 8:05am
Mixed day for Mercedes
Mercedes boss Ross Brawn is expecting the German GP to prove an absorbing slow-burner with the success - or otherwise - of opposing tyre strategies not becoming clear "until the last five laps" of Sunday's race.
While the top six runners on the grid are locked into starting the 60-lap grand prix on the less durable soft tyres, the majority of the remaining drivers in the top ten and those immediately outside - starting with Brawn's own driver Nico Rosberg - are likely to run longer first stints on the medium compound.
Both Ferraris will definitely start on the more durable white-marked rubber having accepted in Q3 that the F138 wasn't quick enough to challenge for the front two rows and Felipe Massa has suggested that the Scuderia could achieve a "really fantastic result" from the fourth row should their reverse tyre strategy succeed.
Although not achieved intentionally, after a misjudgement meant they didn't send Rosberg out for a second run in Q2 run, Mercedes are effectively running split strategies across their two cars with Lewis Hamilton starting from pole on the softs and Rosberg from 11th on the mediums.
Team made mistake – Rosberg
Teams are only expecting the starting stints on the soft tyres to last around five to seven laps which raises the spectre of the leaders after their first stops dropping behind potentially fast cars on longer medium stints, thus mixing the race up from there.
Asked by Sky Sports News how Rosberg had reacted to his shock Q2 exit, Brawn replied: "He's gutted because he knows he had a good car, but he's recovered and now looking at what positives we can get from it.
"We've got freedom of tyre choice tomorrow, we've got a good car and there's a little group of cars at the back of the top ten - and Nico will be P11 - who will all be running on the hard tyre I'm sure.
"So there will be a little bit of a different race going on and I've a feeling this race won't become clear until the last five laps.
"So it's going to be very interesting."
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With Hamilton, Mercedes start in the best position to claim their second victory inside two weeks with the polesitter himself confident that he can give the two Red Bulls, which start second and third, "a run for their money".
Mercedes look to have got a handle on their tyre-degradation Achilles' heel over recent races but with the hottest temperatures of the week expected at the Nurburgring on Sunday, and the race debut of Pirelli's revised tyres, Brawn is reserving judgement.
Hamilton delighted by turnaround
"That's still a question mark," he said when asked about tyre degradation.
"With the tyre we had over the last few races, we managed to get that to work a little bit better, but tomorrow's forecast is for it to be very hot here and it's a different tyre which none of us have raced on.
"I have to say Red Bull's long runs on Friday were pretty ominous, but tomorrow is a different day, the track's changed, it's hotter and I hope we can get the car in the right place."
Mercedes' long-standing tyre-wear woes have always become more pronounced in warmer conditions and Brawn added: "We're expecting ten to 15 degrees more track temperature than we saw on Friday so it will make a difference - but it will make a difference to all the teams.
"I hope we've made some progress in that respect and we can compete in those conditions. But we won't know until tomorrow."
Remember you can watch the German GP live from the Nurburgring with a Sky Sports Day Pass from NOW TV. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/19YBfbx