F1 German Grand Prix: five things we learned from Hockenheim

German Grand Prix 2016

Britain’s talented former GP2 champion is one of the most popular drivers in the paddock but Jolyon Palmer is struggling to hang on to his drive for next season now, after two disappointing back-to-back performances in Hungary and Germany.

1) Palmer’s days at Renault look numbered

He was 14th on the grid in Hockenheim and was running 11th when he crashed into Felipe Massa, eventually coming in 19th. In Budapest Palmer, 25, was in line for his first points of his career when he spun off and finished 12th, a result he described as “disaster”. He now has to do something exceptional to keep his seat. The top teams have kept the same drivers for 2017 but there is still likely to be plenty of movement involving Williams, Renault, McLaren and Force India.

2) Alonso seeks a rebrand

Before the race Fernando Alonso complained that only his negative radio messages were being broadcast on TV. “I don’t complain as much as people think, and I hardly talk on the radio,” he said.

But then he didn’t help himself come race day. After a slow first pitstop he told his engineer, in a voice dripping with sarcasm: “Yeah, don’t worry, I will lose another position in the next stop and I will recover it later on.”

And given Alonso’s default expression makes him appear as happy as Les Dawson used to look when his mother-in-law was coming to stay, maybe the driver himself needs to work on projecting a more positive image.

3) Mercedes need a new stopwatch

When you think of the multimillions they spend on Formula One it’s amazing that a simple stopwatch malfunction resulted in Nico Rosberg serving more than his five-second time penalty when he came into the pits.

The team’s motorsport boss, Toto Wolff, said it was not a human error: “It was a stopwatch failure. The damn thing failed, it didn’t function like it should have done. We could have counted, one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, but we relied on the stopwatch, and it let us down.”

4) Drivers know best

Mutinous drivers are often proved right when they ignore instructions from their pitwall. Both Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button – admittedly very experienced former world champions – were vindicated by their refusal to come in to change their tyres late in the race on Sunday.

Button told McLaren: “This could be tricky, guys, this could destroy both [me and my team-mate Fernando Alonso] our races.” Button was right, and finished eighth. Vettel said: “Negative, negative,” when told to come in, questioning who his engineer expected him to come out ahead of, and finished fifth.

5) Retirement beckons for Massa

Felipe Massa, 35, said back in May that he was already looking around – and so are Williams now, after a run of poor results. Button and Sergio Perez are among a number of drivers who have been linked with the team. Massa has never looked comfortable in wet conditions and lately he has looked equally troubled in the dry. In Hockenheim, he started 10th on the grid, but was already looking out of sorts when the early contact from Palmer on his right-rear tyre damaged the car. The impact left it “undriveable” in Massa’s words and the team retired him when he was making no headway.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Paul Weaver, for The Guardian on Monday 1st August 2016 12.35 Europe/London

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