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Raikkonen hoping German F1 race won’t be a washout

Finland's defending Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen is hoping the weather forecasts are wrong this weekend and that Germany will be bathing in warm sunshine and not heavy rain.

Raikkonen hoping German F1 race won't be a washout
Photo: DPA

The 28-year-old Ferrari driver from Finland knows his car will perform far better in the dry than in the wet conditions that handed his McLaren Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton a chance to shine and triumph in his home British Grand Prix at Silverstone two weekends ago.

The Ferrari F2008 car is said to be much more forgiving to its tyres than the MP4-23 car driven by Hamilton – a factor that will assist Raikkonen on the high-speed track in the forests south of Heidelberg.

“I hope it will be hot, as it usually is at Hockenheim,” said Raikkonen. “Our car goes really well at high temperatures and also the tyre-wear is not too high. So I really hope it will be hot. It’s hard to overtake, but the qualifying doesn’t determine the result as (much as) on other tracks – although starting from the first row will make life much easier.”

The flip side of Ferrari’s greater consistency in hot weather is that McLaren may be faster on a single lap before the tyre-wear hits them – and that if it is mild, or cold, that also will favour McLaren.

“I’ve always said that the championship will be very uncertain,” said Raikkonen, reflecting on his prospects for the weekend.

He, Hamilton and his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa of Brazil are all level at the top of the championship standings on 48 points.

“I had the possibility to win the last three races, but for one reason or the other things didn’t go the right way: but that’s racing and I’m sure I’ll win again soon,” he added. “Every point will be important, just like last year. Three drivers tied on the top spot and a fourth, who is two points behind: that’s a very interesting situation.”

“We’ve done some testing here and it went pretty well. We tried some new components and judging by the lap times there is still a great balance, but I think that Ferrari will be very competitive and fight for the win,” he said. “I had some really good impressions of the F2008: I’m convinced that we’ll be at the max.”

While Raikkonen remained determined to lead Ferrari on a charge for glory, McLaren’s chief executive Martin Whitmarsh was whipping up his men for even greater efforts in the second half of the 18-races season. “We’re leading the drivers’ championship, with Lewis, and we’re third in the constructors’ championship,” he said. “And while we remain encouraged by the pace we’ve recently shown and the victories we’ve achieved, there’s a feeling that we could still be doing more to consistently score strongly.”

He said several opportunities for victory, most notably in Istanbul and Montreal, have slipped through his team’s fingers and that they’ve suffered a few penalties.

“So as we head into the second half of the season, our primary objective must be to work harder to iron out these imperfections, to provide our drivers with race-winning machinery at every opportunity and to sharpen our focus on the world titles – both of which are still achievable for us,” he said.

Buoyed by Hamilton’s sumptuous win in the wet at the British Grand Prix, McLaren are full of confidence again. But Hamilton warned against complacency.

“Pressure always exists because you need to win consistently,” he said. “In Formula One, you’re only as good as your last race and Silverstone already felt like an old memory by the time I was testing at Hockenheim. But you can never get complacent and we’ll be pushing hard again in Germany next week.”

Like many of the younger drivers, Hamilton will be racing at Hockenheim for the first time as the race was held at the Nürburgring last year. Of the current drivers, only Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, then with Ferrari, have won at Hockenheim, in 2005 and 2000 respectively. This will be the 55th running of the German Grand Prix, and the 30th time the event has taken place at Hockenheim.

Two years ago, Raikkonen took pole position for McLaren, but the race was won by seven-times champion German Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari.

VACCINES

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg to lift priority list and allow GPs to vaccinate all adults

The two southern states are set to lift the priority order for vaccines from GPs, allowing family doctors to vaccinate everyone over the age of 18.

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg to lift priority list and allow GPs to vaccinate all adults
A GP's waiting room in Munich on May 31st. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

From next week, all adults – regardless if they are in a priority group or not – will have the chance to book a Covid-19 vaccine at a family doctor in the two southern German states.

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder confirmed the move after the CSU parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday. He said it would happen “over the course of next week” to give doctors time to prepare, reported broadcaster BR24.

Germany follows a strict priority list for who can receive a Covid vaccine first, mainly based on age, health condition and occupation.

So far, authorities have only lifted the priority list for vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The federal government plans to offer all vaccines, including the two other approved vaccines BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, to all adults in June.

However, Bavaria said it plans to offer vaccines to everyone sooner.

READ ALSO: How did Germany turbocharge its vaccine rollout – and what can it do better?

Baden-Württemberg also announced that it would allow GPs to vaccinate all adults even if they are not in a priority group from Monday. 

It comes despite the state health minister Manfred Lucha urging people to wait their turn for a jab.

According to Lucha, those most at risk from Covid need solidarity from society. “This includes waiting your turn to be vaccinated,” Lucha said in Stuttgart on Tuesday.

In both states, the offer only applies to GPs at this point; vaccination centres will still follow the priority list. 

READ ALSO: Berlin and Baden-Württemberg begin vaccinating priority group 3

Vaccine still in short supply

The Bavarian GP Association welcomed the move to lift the priority order for all coronavirus vaccines in medical practices.

“We stand for pragmatism,” state chairman Markus Beier told broadcaster BR24. He said GP patients were growing impatient as they are desperate to be inoculated against Covid.

However, Beier said there needed to be clear communication on the availability of vaccine supplies.

The German Foundation for Patient Protection slammed the planned vaccine release.

As long as there is not enough vaccine doses, politicians could cause a “rift” in society with a decision like this, said board member Eugen Brysch.

“It’s not the prioritisation that hinders vaccination progress, but rather the lack of vaccine,” he said.

The decisions in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to allow family doctors vaccinate people regardless of the risk group priority list are an example of “how you can both increase the vaccination pressure on doctors and create frustration in society,” he said.

READ ALSO: ‘Mood is getting more aggressive’: Thousands of people in Germany caught skipping line for Covid vaccine

Further opening steps for Bavaria

Meanwhile, Bavaria plans to allow outdoor swimming pools to open from May 21st with conditions including negative Covid tests (for unvaccinated guests) if the 7-day incidence stays below 100.

Likewise, outdoor cultural events with up to 250 people are to be allowed. Prerequisites are fixed seating, tests and hygiene plans.

After Whitsun later in May, Söder said, there would be a review of the possibilities for indoor dining. “All in all, we have done really well, despite one or two setbacks,” he said.

He emphasised that a cautious strategy was still needed.

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