Team

The Race that Was: Europe 2007

July 22, 2020
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2007 was a challenging season for the team from Silverstone and after a fruitless first half, there were no points on the board. But things were made even trickier ahead of round 10 when Christijan Albers left the team. There was no option but to find a new driver.


That replacement was reserve racer Markus Winkelhock, who had been with the squad – formerly Midland – since 2006. His experience in the car, however, was limited.


The F8-VII had been a backmarker all year, and a strong result wasn’t expected. What was clear at the end of FP1 though was how far off the pace Markus was, 0.8s adrift of team-mate Adrian Sutil.


The second practice session showed the same gap as well, with a four-second deficit to the leaders on the 3.2-mile Nurburgring circuit.

An excursion into a gravel trap an hour in meant the end of the session for him, and even less time to prepare for the Grand Prix.


Things were even less promising in FP3 and the gap to Sutil had grown to 1.6s with an overall deficit of 4.5s to the front of the field.


The weather for Qualifying was warm and dry, and without any change in the weather to shake things up, expectations were low. Sure enough, both cars were at the back of the grid. 


Sutil lined up in P21, 3.5s off the fastest time in Q1, and Winkelhock was a further 1.5s behind that. 


It was a disappointing performance, but things were set to change with storm clouds on the horizon.


As the cars sat on the grid, fitting the usual dry tyres was the obvious choice. It was a warm, dry day, and although there were clouds around the circuit, no rain was falling.


Halfway through the parade lap things started to change. A shower was on its way, and drops were starting to fall. The weather radar confirmed it. What no one knew was how severe it would be.


As the cars started to line up on the grid, the rain got worse. At the very back though, Markus saw an opportunity. With nothing to lose, he jumped into the pit lane at the last minute, crossing the kerb to make the switch onto Inters.


It was a masterstroke.


The rain continued and the track got slippier. At Turn 2 the BMWs came together, and as the laps wore on, the drama unfolded. Halfway through the lap, it was clear that Intermediate tyres were the only choice.


Markus held back. The others had to change tyres and he was already on the right ones. All he had to do was stay out of trouble. 


Sure enough, everyone headed for the pit lane. Kimi Raikkonen was leading the race and was the first person to head in, only to misjudge the entry, sliding back onto the track.


With the rest of the field in the pit lane, Markus was now battling with the Ferrari and was soon enough in the lead, building a remarkable 19s gap.


By now the heavens had opened, and he continued to make his way around cautiously. Behind him, the field was caught in the spray and struggling with aquaplaning. Sutil was one of six cars stranded in the gravel at the first corner. 


The safety car was deployed and Winkelhock headed for the pits to change to extreme Wets. Everyone else followed suit. 


With so many cars stranded and conditions deteriorating, the race was red-flagged. Markus was on pole for the restart but the huge advantage he formerly held was gone, and he was back in P3 after the first corner on what was still a damp track upon the restart.


He continued until lap 18 when a hydraulic issue forced him into retirement. 


His one and only F1 race was over, but his heroic home performance and inspired strategy calls have ensured this plucky underdog a place in the history books.

2007 was a challenging season for the team from Silverstone and after a fruitless first half, there were no points on the board. But things were made even trickier ahead of round 10 when Christijan Albers left the team. There was no option but to find a new driver.


That replacement was reserve racer Markus Winkelhock, who had been with the squad – formerly Midland – since 2006. His experience in the car, however, was limited.


The F8-VII had been a backmarker all year, and a strong result wasn’t expected. What was clear at the end of FP1 though was how far off the pace Markus was, 0.8s adrift of team-mate Adrian Sutil.


The second practice session showed the same gap as well, with a four-second deficit to the leaders on the 3.2-mile Nurburgring circuit.

An excursion into a gravel trap an hour in meant the end of the session for him, and even less time to prepare for the Grand Prix.


Things were even less promising in FP3 and the gap to Sutil had grown to 1.6s with an overall deficit of 4.5s to the front of the field.


The weather for Qualifying was warm and dry, and without any change in the weather to shake things up, expectations were low. Sure enough, both cars were at the back of the grid. 


Sutil lined up in P21, 3.5s off the fastest time in Q1, and Winkelhock was a further 1.5s behind that. 


It was a disappointing performance, but things were set to change with storm clouds on the horizon.


As the cars sat on the grid, fitting the usual dry tyres was the obvious choice. It was a warm, dry day, and although there were clouds around the circuit, no rain was falling.


Halfway through the parade lap things started to change. A shower was on its way, and drops were starting to fall. The weather radar confirmed it. What no one knew was how severe it would be.


As the cars started to line up on the grid, the rain got worse. At the very back though, Markus saw an opportunity. With nothing to lose, he jumped into the pit lane at the last minute, crossing the kerb to make the switch onto Inters.


It was a masterstroke.


The rain continued and the track got slippier. At Turn 2 the BMWs came together, and as the laps wore on, the drama unfolded. Halfway through the lap, it was clear that Intermediate tyres were the only choice.


Markus held back. The others had to change tyres and he was already on the right ones. All he had to do was stay out of trouble. 


Sure enough, everyone headed for the pit lane. Kimi Raikkonen was leading the race and was the first person to head in, only to misjudge the entry, sliding back onto the track.


With the rest of the field in the pit lane, Markus was now battling with the Ferrari and was soon enough in the lead, building a remarkable 19s gap.


By now the heavens had opened, and he continued to make his way around cautiously. Behind him, the field was caught in the spray and struggling with aquaplaning. Sutil was one of six cars stranded in the gravel at the first corner. 


The safety car was deployed and Winkelhock headed for the pits to change to extreme Wets. Everyone else followed suit. 


With so many cars stranded and conditions deteriorating, the race was red-flagged. Markus was on pole for the restart but the huge advantage he formerly held was gone, and he was back in P3 after the first corner on what was still a damp track upon the restart.


He continued until lap 18 when a hydraulic issue forced him into retirement. 


His one and only F1 race was over, but his heroic home performance and inspired strategy calls have ensured this plucky underdog a place in the history books.

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