Circuit Profile: 2016 German Grand Prix – Hockenheimring – Round 12

F1 Championship betting at William Hill

The dust hasn’t settled around the Hungaroring and the teams are already off to Germany. Nico Rosberg arrives for his home Grand Prix trailing Lewis Hamilton for the first time this season, and badly needs to get a result to dent Hamilton’s momentum prior to the break. William Hill have given Lewis as odds on favourite for victory so clearly the momentum is with Hamilton in the bookies eyes.

F1 Championship betting at William Hill

Mercedes continue to look to be well ahead of the rest of the field, and once again can be expected to have their own private duel for the first corner/race barring misfortune.

The battle between Ferrari and Red Bull should provide plenty of interest, with the pressure beginning to show at Ferrari, and a resurgent Red Bull looking to lock horns with the Prancing Horse for second place in the constructor’s championship. With just one point between the two (that’s barely the width of Kimi’s front end plate), and a long run down to that hairpin, there should be plenty of excitement come race day.

Michael Schumacher holds the record for most German Grand Prix wins (4) in the modern Formula One era, with Fernando Alonso the best of the active drivers with 3. While Alonso is unlikely to add to his victories, he could well be joined on 3 wins by Lewis Hamilton, who won here on his way to his first title in 2008 as well as taking a victory at the Nurburgring in 2011.

Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel have both won a single German Grand Prix each.

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There was no German Grand Prix last year, the last time the race was held was at Hockenheim in 2014, producing a cracking race. A brake failure in qualifying left Lewis Hamilton stranded down in 20th place on the grid, which gave the neutral fan plenty of excitement as Lewis carved his way through the field. Williams lined up as best of the rest thanks to their Mercedes power, but Felipe Massa was eliminated in spectacular fashion at the start, with Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren launching the Williams into a roll at turn 1.There was plenty of action in midfield, with some great battles providing plenty of excitement in a highly entertaining race. Up front Nico Rosberg coasted unchallenged to victory, with Valtteri Bottas proving to be one car too far for Lewis, with Hamilton making it through to field to finish on the podium behind Bottas.

History:

The first German Grand Prix was held in 1926 at the AVUS track in Berlin. The track was a public road (AVUS is an acronym for Automobil-Verkehrs und Ubungs-Strasse – Automobile Traffic and Practice Street), and when in use for racing consisted of two long parallel straights connected at either end by two curves, giving an ultimate high speed track. The first race was won by Germany’s Rudolf Caracciola in a Mercedes.

The German Grand Prix moved to the newly opened Nurburgring circuit in 1927. The race was again won by Mercedes, with Otto Merz taking the victory. The Nurburging layout used for this race, the Gesamtstrecke or full course, would be used for the initial few German Grand Prix, with the Nordschleife (North course) being used from 1931 onwards. The first German Grand Prix to appear in the Formula One World Championship was held at the Nurburgring (Nordschleife) in 1951, with Alberto Ascari winning for Ferrari.

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The German Grand Prix returned to AVUS in 1959, the track having been modified to include serious high banking at the north curve (an incredible 43o!), with Tony Brooks claiming the win for Ferrari, with the race being run in 2 heats and aggregate times used to determine the result due to fears for the tyres at the ultra fast circuit. The Grand Prix returned to the Nurburging in 1960.

The Nurburgring, dubbed the Green Hell by Jackie Stewart, was one of the truly iconic tracks in Formula One’s history. The Nordschleife layout was almost 21km long, with 73 turns, and the track had a massive 300 m in elevation change. A supreme challenge for the drivers, but also a dangerous one, with numerous fatalities at the venue. In 1970, the drivers came together to demand improvements to safety at the Nurburgring, forcing the race to be moved to the new Hockenheimring for that year while modifications were made to the Nurburging. That first German Grand Prix at Hockenheim was won by Jochen Rindt in a Lotus. The Grand Prix returned to the Nurburgring in 1971, and continued on there until 1976, with James Hunt winning there for McLaren in a race marred by a crash for runaway championship leader Niki Lauda that saw the Austrian great trapped in his burning Ferrari and suffering serious burns, before heroically returning to action just 6 weeks later to try to win the championship, which would be taken at the last race by Hunt.

The German Grand Prix then headed to the Hockenheimring from 1977 to 1984. In 1985 the race returned to the Nurburgring, but on a new much shorter course. From 1986 to 2006 the race was staged back at the Hockenheimring, but in 2006 it was agreed to alternate future German Grand Prix between the Nurburgring and Hockenheim. The Nurburgring had been holding the European Grand Prix since 1999, but due to a disagreement over commercial rights the event held at the Nurburgring in 2007 was still named the European Grand Prix, so there was no official German Grand Prix that year. The race continued to swap between the tracks as the German Grand Prix from that point on, with first Hockenheimring in 2008 and continuing up until the race in 2014. Last year the German Grand Prix fell from the calendar, as the Nurburgring was unable to host due to financial difficulty, and while the Hockenheimring initially looked to fill the gap, it was unable to come to an agreement with the commercial rights holder (ie it couldn’t come up with the money to stage the event) and the race was cancelled.

Hockenheim will sadly always be remembered as the track where the great Jim Clark tragically lost his life 1968 while competing in a Formula Two race. The circuit has gone through a number of incarnations since it was originally constructed. The track was built back in 1932, initially featuring a triangular layout, with the track blasting from the town of Hockenheim out into the woods and back, the track running in an anti clockwise direction opposite of that run today. In 1938 the track was modified, widening the straights and giving it the familiar oval shape we saw up until the track saw a major redesign in 2002. The original circuit was shortened by adding the new Ostkurve and cutting back to rejoin the old track through the woods.

The next major modification to came about due to construction of the Mannheim- Waldorf section of the A6 motorway – the route cutting across the Hockenhim track. This gave birth to the ‘Motodrom’, the twisty stadium section of the track providing a contrast to the vast open stretches into the forest. With the addition of the stadium section the revised lap was altered to run in the clockwise direction we have today. Two chicanes were added prior to the first German Grand Prix being staged in 1970, one on each of the long straights either side of the Ostkurve. The Ostkurve itself was given a chicane in 1982, which was revised in 1992. The two chicanes on the straights were then revised in 1994 in the safety blitz following the tragic weekend in Imola earlier that year that took the lives of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger.

2002 saw the next major change in the track, giving us the layout we have today, when Hermann Tilke was called in to create a new and more manageable circuit – removing the long blasts out to into the forest and back through the Ostkurve. There was a small bit of Tilkering with the stadium section, but the main change was in adding a whole new section to the track, starting with the new turn 2 and bringing the track across through the forest to rejoin the old track at the stadium section in turn 12.

 

Circuit Characteristics

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The track is one that looks for a compromise setup, with the twisty stadium section challenges preferring a high downforce setup while the long straight down to the main overtaking spot at the hairpin puts a premium on straight line speed.

From the grid the cars accelerate down the straight, winding slightly left as they prepare for a quick flick to the right to Turn 1. There’s plenty of run off on the outside so don’t be surprised to see some cars wind up going off if they overcommit. From there the cars blast down a short straight past the pit exit into the next group of bends, braking had into the right hander turn 2 (Lewis Hamilton eased past Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) on the inside here during his charge though the field in 2014), curving around right through turn 3 before exiting a left hander (Turn 4) onto a long straight.The straight curves leftwards at turn 5 (Parabolika), where the drivers can go wheel to wheel as they try to gain position for the run in to the tight right hand hairpin turn 6 – (this part of the track was the scene of numerous overtakes prior to the hairpin at the last race in 2014, including among other’s Alonso getting a run on Vettel as the German was on his out lap, so expect to see cars trying to run side by side here to get position for the hairpin). With the long run in this curved straight and hairpin are the most likely overtaking spots, and have seen many a bump and scrape over the years. It was here that Lewis Hamilton finally passed both Raikkonen and Ricciardo as the cars ran three-abreast into the hairpin (albeit with the aid of a slight nudge on Kimi) in 2014, after being bottled up behind them for a number of laps. The hairpin also offers the opportunity for drivers to take a wider line and try to gain momentum on the exit to pass further on (being mindful of the track limits, which saw Vettel penalized in 2012 after passing Button off track around the outside of the hairpin for second place in the closing laps), so expect to see plenty of jostling for position at this part of the track. The cars slowly work their way around to the exit of the hairpin and blast onto another short straight, flicking right at turn 7 (Alonso nipped past Ferrari team mate Raikkonen here in 2014 after getting a better exit from the hairpin, as did Hamilton on Ricciardo later in the race) into a short run up to the left hander at turn 8 (Daniil Kvyat in a Torro Rosso got himself into a spin here in 2014 as he tried to go around the outside of Sergio Perez Force India, but Daniel Ricciardo in the senior Red Bull team showed him how it’s done with two well-executed moves down the inside on Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button’s McLaren at the same spot later on in the same race), careful not to get the power down too early as the cars slowly wind left again through turn 9 leading into a long right hander at turn 10/11 (Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus went toe to toe with Paul Di Resta’s Force India all the way from the exit of the hairpin in Turn 6 before finally sealing the move here in a wonderful encounter in 2012). Exiting turn 11 there is another short straight leading to the exciting turn 12 (Mobil 1, which witnessed a great scrap between Kimi and Lewis in 2014, going wheel to wheel with Lewis attempting to pass on the inside, but Kimi kept his foot in on the outside and retained the position into the next turn)a long right hander that feeds into another short burst into turn 13 (Sachs), a left hand hairpin followed by a left right flick thru turns 14/15 before arriving at the last section, a pair of slow right handers first into turn 16, past the pit entry on exit and a quick stab on the throttle into the final bend turn 17 leading back onto the start finish straight.

 

TYRES WITH PIRELLI:

Going back to Hockenheim isn’t exactly like visiting a new circuit – as the German track is an established venue – but this year that is almost the case, as the last time an F1 race was held there was in 2014, the first season of the new hybrid era. Since then, there has been plenty of car evolution. As a result, we can expect lap times that are considerably quicker than they were two years ago, with a consequent increased demand on tyres. Pirelli has nominated the medium, soft and supersoft tyres for Germany (the same as for the previous weekend in Hungary): introducing a harder option compared to Hockenheim in 2014, when just the soft and the supersoft compounds were chosen.

 

THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:

There’s a bit of everything, with fast straights as well as a more technical stadium section.

Weather is hard to predict: on Saturday in 2014 ambient temperatures peaked at 38 degrees.

There’s a very smooth track surface in Hockenheim, which helps to limit wear and degradation.

It’s important to look after the rear tyres, as there is lots of acceleration out of slow corners.

As well as traction, braking is another key aspect: tyres are subject to maximum deceleration.

Turn 5 puts a lot of energy through the tyres: a fast left-hander taken almost as a straight line.

 

THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:

White medium: a mandatory set that must be available for the race, low working range.

Yellow soft: another mandatory set whose versatility will make it a popular race tyre.

Red supersoft: will be used for qualifying and the early part of race: again low working range.

 

HOW IT WAS TWO YEARS AGO: 

Nico Rosberg won his home race with a two-stop strategy. He started on supersoft and then changed to soft on laps 15 and 41. The supersoft was around a second per lap faster than soft.

Best alternative strategy: His team mate Lewis Hamilton finished third with a three-stop sprint strategy, making up 17 places after starting 20th on the grid following an accident in qualifying.

 

PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:                      

“Hockenheim will be a bit of an unknown quantity: we’ve not raced there for two years, and even before then it was a race that alternated with the Nurburgring, so everybody is lacking historical data compared to other venues we visit. The cars are obviously going a lot quicker than they were in 2014, which is why we have introduced a tyre nomination that is a step harder compared to last time. The most notable feature of that 2014 race was the variable weather: on race day track temperatures were 20 degrees cooler than they had been on the very hot qualifying day. With the German Grand Prix taking place at the same time of year again, there is obviously the potential for similar variation.”

WHAT’S NEW? 

There have been no significant alterations to the track and infrastructure since 2014.

The day after the German GP, testing of tyres in 2017 size starts with Ferrari at Fiorano.

For the rest of F1, the summer break begins with a two-week factory shutdown.

 

OTHER THINGS THAT HAVE CAUGHT OUR EYE RECENTLY:

Ferrari has chosen more supersofts for Germany than Mercedes and Red Bull.

 

 

Form Guide:

The Hungarian Grand Prix should finally have dispelled the myth of a championship challenge from any of the non-Mercedes drivers. When push came to shove at the Hungaroring Mercedes simply seemed to have an extra gear up their sleeves. Lewis Hamilton is clearly on a roll, and with his confidence sky high will no doubt be looking forward to increasing the gap over his team mate before the summer break. Nico Rosberg can draw inspiration from the fact that he won the last time there was a Grand Prix in Hockenheim, but again needed a touch of misfortune for Lewis to get that result. As Mercedes look to be running in a different class to the rest of the field, if we are to have a fight for the drivers title rather than a coronation procession (All Hail Lewis the Third In A Row!) over the second half of the season then Nico has to show he can beat Lewis on merit, and if he can’t beat Lewis in his own back yard then where can he do it?

In Class 2 Red Bull are within a point of Ferrari, and certainly look like an outfit full of confidence. Ricciardo will have gotten a lift from actually beating Verstappen in a race, while Verstappen will have to feel confident because, well, he’s Verstappen. The Hockenheimring with its mix of twisty stadium section and long straights will provide an interesting test for both outfits, highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of both teams, but Ferrari continue to have the feel of a team one race away from a crisis. Sebastian Vettel will be hoping for at least some home town marshalling to provide the blue flags he dearly craves, but failure in Hockenheim will surely lead to Ferrari switching focus to 2017, and the eternal promise of next year (ref. Alonso, Fernando and the quest for the Ferrari title circa 2010-2014).

In Class 3 Williams desperately need to rediscover form if they are to keep Force India at bay, but recent form has done nothing to suggest they can produce a result like Bottas 2nd place in 2014. The long straights of Hockenheim should handicap McLaren and Torro Rosso, so maybe providing an opportunity for Haas to sneak back into the minor points placings.

 

Memorable Moments

2008 – Hamilton does it all again after safety car

Coming into the German Grand Prix in 2008 three drivers, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) shared the lead in the drivers’ championship, with Robert Kubic (BMW-Sauber) only a further 2 points back. Hamilton led from the line from Massa, with Hamilton’s McLaren team mate Heikki Kovalainen harrying Massa around the lap but failing to make a move. Hamilton pulled clear from Massa who in turn built a gap back to Kovalainen. There was action behind, with Kubica gaining places at the expense of Raikkonen at the start and passing both Trulli (Toyota) and Alonso (Renault) as Alonso tried an ambitious move around the outside at the hairpin, Kubica accelerating past on the exit as the former team mates held each other up. The battle between Alonso and Trulli continued to provide the early drama, Alonso having a look into Turn 1 at the start of lap 4, but had to check out, allowing Raikkonen to get a run of him into turn 2 forcing Alonso to take a defensive line, with Kimi getting a better exit and cutting across him through turn 3 to take the place exiting turn 4. Up front Hamilton was disappearing into the distance, building up a lead of 11 seconds by the time he came in to make his first pitstop on lap 18. Hamilton was fuelled for a long stint and came out again on the hard tyres. Lewis emerged just ahead of Trulli but Trulli managed to get past him into turn 2. Hamilton was all over Trulli though Turns 8 and 9 without finding a way past, but the Toyota crew were now out in the pit lane, and Lewis backed off, with Trulli and Alonso behind coming in at the end of the lap. Massa was in next lap. When the pit stops had shaken out Raikkonen was ahead of Trulli and Vettel (Torro Rosso) and Glock (Toyota) had emerged ahead of Alonso. Hamilton was out to 12 s ahead of Massa on lap 36 when Timo Glock’s suspension failed coming out of the final corner, Glock spinning back across the track and smashing into the wall. Out came the safety car, and here the story of the race was made. Nelson Piquet, who had qualified down in lowly 17th place, had just pitted prior to the safety car, and with enough fuel on board to make the end of the race he was now in third, with only Hamilton and Heidfeld, who would both have to stop again ahead of him. All the other leaders pitted so they would all be going the distance without another stop once the safety car came in, Kimi Raikkonen being the big loser as he lost time having to come in behind Massa. So had McLaren mad a bad decision? McLaren were worried to try to go the remaining distance on the soft tyre, and were confident Lewis could build a gap to retain the lead when he pitted again, but the safety car stayed out longer than they had anticipated – could Lewis make up the time?

On the restart Kovalainen made a lovely move to pass Kubica going into Turn 9 having stayed with him around the outside of turn 8, while Raikkonen started to recover some places. Hamilton needing to build up a lead to be able to stop and come back out again in the lead. With 17 laps remaining Hamilton pitted, and emerged in fifth. That was soon 4th as Kovalainen let him past into the hairpin. Heidfeld led from Piquet then Massa and Hamilton, but Heidfeld needed to pit, and the following lap he was in. Leaving Piquet leading the race from Massa, then Hamilton. Hamilton on fresh soft tyres was now a man on a mission and tearing up the track – he caught Massa on lap 57, and dived down the inside into the hairpin, bumping Massa off the track as Massa tried to stay with him on the outside. But Lewis was through! Massa tried to come back, tailing Hamilton through turn 7 and trying to go around the outside into turn 8, but again Hamilton was having none of it, running him wide off the track. Massa dispatched, Hamilton quickly hunted down Piquet, catching him a few laps later, and again took the position from him at the hairpin, diving down the inside into the hairpin and edging Piquet wide off the track as Piquet desperately tried to hang on around the outside at exit. The comeback was complete and Hamilton coasted to the finish. Massa was unable to make any inroads on Piquet, rather spending the final laps ensuring he held third from Heidfeld, while Raikkonen continued to salvage what he could from the race, and managed to take Kubica for 6th at Turn 7 on lap 60. So Hamilton won from Piquet, with Massa third, Raikkonen 6th and Kubica 7th. A crucial race in the 2008 championship, giving Hamilton a boost against his rivals in his quest to claim his first World Drivers crown!

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2000 – Barrichello’s moment finally arrives

In a wet qualifying session, David Coulthard stormed to pole position for McLaren, with Michael Schumacher alongside him on the front row. Giancarlo Fisichella lined up in third for Benetton with Mika Hakkinen fourth for McLaren. The second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello was down in a lowly 18th spot, having had to use Schumacher’s car after his own developed a problem (Michael qualified in the spare car after his own car had been damaged in a crash during practice).

The race started under dry conditions. When the lights went out Coulthard veered aggressively across the track to the inside to cover off Schumacher. Hakkinen made a lightning start from the inside on row 2, cutting across the track in the opposite direction to Coulthard and taking the outside line ahead of Fisichella. Mika had the lead into the first corner, but it all went wrong behind for Schumacher, as Michael tried to switch back to the outside line after Coulthard blocked him off on the inside, he collided with Fisichella who was also trying to follow in Hakkinen’s wake around the outside. Both Schumacher and Fisichella were out on the spot. Barrichello meanwhile, starting the race on a light fuel load to aid him in coming through the field from his poor grid slot, was in a determined mood. He was 13th into the first corner, benefitting from his team mates collision and the vacant spot on the grid ahead of him, left by Jenson Button’s Williams which had to start from the back of the grid after developing a problem on the formation lap. Barrichello was pushing hard, quickly getting to 12th past Nick Heidfeld in the Prost, then taking Alexander Wurz’s Benetton into the chicane for 11th, and moving up to 10th past Ralf Schumacher’s Williams as they came into the stadium section. On lap 2 he lined up the Riccardo Zonta in the first of the BARs into the first chicane, then managed to get by the second bar of Villeneuve to rise to 8th place. Barrichello was storming, and he passed Irvine next coming into the stadium to take 7th on lap 3, and by the time the cars crossed the line to complete the third lap he was already on the tail of Jos Verstappen’s Arrows. Verstappen was quickly dispatched on lap 5 into the chicane, and Barrichello was past Herbert a lap later, the lightly fuelled Ferrari able to blast past his opponents at the end of the straights. Barrichello now hunted down de la Rossa, and by lap 10 he was on his tail. De la Rossa proved to be a tougher challenge, but on lap 12 Barrichello was through and off up the road chasing Trulli, and he soon took third from the Jordan, squeezing past him into the Senna chicane.

All things being equal this would be as good as Barrichello could hope for, as the McLaren due of Hakkinen and Coulthard were some 14 seconds up the road, and Barrichello would need an extra stop. Sure enough Barrichello came in on lap 17, and emerged in 6th place. But all things are rarely equal in F1, and the race turned with a pair of safety car periods, first on lap 25 caused by an intruder getting onto the track (which would play a role in forcing the redesign of the track to eliminate the forest section). As the drivers all dived into the pits, the order when the stops had shaken out was Hakkinen leading from Trulli, followed by Barrichello, de la Rossa, Frentzen in the Jordan (who like Barrichello had a poor qualifying session and had worked his way through the field on a lighter fuel load), and then the unfortunate Coulthard in 6th, with the Scot having lost out by pitting a lap later than the other drivers under the safety car.

The safety car pulled in on lap 29, but was back out a lap later, when Pedro Diniz in a Sauber moved across Jean Alesi (Prost) coming into the Jim Clark chicane, the cars interlocking and the Prost having it’s left wheels ripped off, spinning into the barriers and rotating along the grass, Alesi fortunate not to be struck by a flying tyre as it bounced over the battered remains of his spinning Prost chassis. Racing resumed on lap 31, with Coulthard getting by Frentzen. The two BARs came to blows at Turn 1, Villeneuve spinning wildly around but managing to avoid being collected by anyone and continued. Rain was falling, and the race was entering its decisive moments. Hakkinen, knowing a win would put him into the championship lead following Michael Schumacher’s retirement, played it safe and dived into the pits followed by Trulli to take on wets, but Ferrari and Barrichello rolled the dice by staying out. The track being so long, conditions varied over the lap, with the stadium section the worst affected by the rain, while the long straights still suited the dry tyre. Barrichello was in the lead, followed by Coulthard, Frentzen, Zonta and Ralf Schumacher who had also not stopped, then came Hakkinen and Trulli on the wet tyres.

Ralf Schumacher pitted for wets the next lap dropping down the order. The Jordan’s seemed to enjoy the wet conditions, Frentzen was all over the back of Coulthard while Trulli was harrying Hakkinen, but Trulli’s hopes were dashed when he received a stop and go penalty as he was judged to have passed Barrichello under yellow flags (something Jarno denied as he felt he had always been ahead of the Ferrari!). Zonta went off on lap 37 as the conditions continued to be treacherous in the stadium section. Coulthard had had enough of the conditions and now came in from second to change to wets, rejoining behind Mika Salo’s Sauber in fifth, and as Hakkinen coasted past Frentzen into second conditions definitely seemed to favour the wet tyre at this stage. Or did they? Frentzen was soon back past Hakkinen, the long straights still favouring the dry tyre! But not for long, Frentzen unable to keep his car on the track, cutting the chicane and having to let Mika back through. Frentzen was out soon after, his great drive from the back unrewarded as his Jordan suffered electrical problems. Barrichello had a lead of about 10s, but could he avoid trouble and hang on to the finish on his dry tyres? Hakkinen pulled time back in the stadium section, but then lost it all again on the long straights which remained dry. Hakkinnen could get no closer than 9 seconds to the leading Ferrari, and Barrichello kept his composure and managed to stay ahead to the finish without problem in the difficult conditions to record a famous victory, his first in F1. Coulthard recovered to third by passing Salo, which left the drivers championship nicely balanced, with Michael Schumacher still leading both McLaren’s by 2 point, thanks to the wonderful performance of his team mate Barrichello in denying them victory!

1994 – Berger ends Ferrari drought in hectic race

The build up to the race was dominated by the news that local favorite and runaway championship leader Michael Schumacher would be banned – having been handed a two race suspension for ignoring black flags in the previous Grand Prix in Britain.

With its long straights and demand for out and out power the Hockenheim track would be one of Schumacher’s Benetton team’s weakest tracks on paper, and if they were resigned to accepting a ban it would be a good track to get it out of the way on.Nonetheless, Benetton decided to appeal the ban, so Schumacher was allowed to race pending the appeal, much to the delight of the event organizers, who had feared trouble should Schumacher not be permitted to start his home Grand Prix. The wisdom of that decision would be called into question after qualifying. Ferrari, while much improved in 1994 over the shambles of the previous few seasons, had generally not looked at match for the Benetton or Williams teams so far that year. But on the power hungry Hockenheim they rode to the front row of the grid on the back of their powerful V12 engine, with Gerhard Berger taking pole from Jean Alesi. Title rivals Damon Hill and Schumacher were next up – it was Scumacher’s worst qualifying of the season in fourth place!

Berger got away cleanly to hold first with Alesi slotting in behind him. Off the line, Ukyo Katayama, starting an excellent fifth in his Tyrrell, got off to a flyer and managed to squeeze down the middle between Schumacher and Hill, getting the jump on both down into the first corner. Hill was backed up on the outside behind Katayama, and Schumacher pounced, diving up the inside to take fourth place from his title rival.But behind there was mayhem. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) lined up on the grid in 8th place, directly behin David Coulthards Williams in 6th. Mika made a clean start and jinked first to the outside of the slow starting Williams before cutting back to the very inside of the track. Hakkinen seemed oblivious to Coulthard’s position and he cut back across the track to get into position for the first corner, clouting the front wheel of the Williams, and spearing across the trackand off into the barries at the outsde of Turn 1. This caused a chain reaction that took out several cars trying to avoid the McLaren. There was a secondary coming together further back the grid, when Andrea de Cesaris (Sauber) got caught up with Michele Alboreto (Minardi), the pair colliding and taking out Alessandro Zanardi (Lotus).All told 10 cars from the twenty six starters were out, and Coulthard was driving with a badly damaged front wing drooping off the front of his car, necessitating a trip to the pits. Jean Alesi’s hopes were soon up in smoke, his Ferrari engine giving up the ghost on the opening lap. Schumacher quickly nipped past Katayma, but it all went wrong for Damon Hill as he tried to follow Schumacher past the Tyrrell, the Briton colliding with Katayama as he attempted to pass him into the Senna chicane, leaving his Williams badly damaged and Hill crawling back to the pits. So now Berger led from Schumacher with a gap back to Katayama, Olivier Panis next up in his Ligier.

As the cars returned to the start finish line to complete the first lap they were greeted to waved yellows as the marshals tried to clear the wreckage from the first corner wipe-out. In spite of the debris and the presence of marshals and recovery vehicles, the safety car was not deployed and the race continued with only waved yellows at the affected location. Schumacher was all over the back of Berger’s Ferrari and the race seemed set to be a straight fight between the two, with both Williams well down after having to pit side by side to repair the damage from the first lap. Coulthard managed to get back to the pits first, and Hill had to wait to be served while Coulthard received a new front wing. Indeed by the time Hill managed to return to the action he was already a lap of the massive track down on Berger, and would not feature in the race, coming home outside the points.

Schumacher harried Berger, but couldn’t manage to get by, the Benetton drawing right up to the Ferrari through the twists and turns, but the Ferrari’s huge power advantage on the long straights allowing Berger to maintain position. Berger and Schumacher continued to draw away in front like this, while the gap to the cars behind grew. Ukyo Katayama’s plucky drive ended in disappointment on lap 6 as his Tyrrell expired. Schumacher continued to harass Berger, but the experienced Austrian was able to deny Schumacher room. Schumacher dived into the pits on lap 13, emerging in 5th place behind his team mate Jos Verstappen. He was soon past Verstappen at the end of the second straight as they returned to the stadium, and now had his sights on the Liger of Eric Bernard.

Schumacher had a great run on him coming around the final corner and pulled out of the slipstream and passed him going into Turn 1. By the end of the lap Schumacher had caught and passed the second Ligier of Olivier Panis in the Sachs curve in the stadium section and now had his sights set on catching Berger. The drama heated up on lap 15, when Verstappen pitted. As the pit crew rushed tried to connect the refuelling hose, fuel sprayed back from the hose, showering the car and pit crew, and the car driver and pit crew were quickly engulfed in a ball of flame as the fuel igniting, a thick plume of black smoke was rising above them into the air.

The flames were quickly extinguished, with Verstappen fortunate to escape with only minor burns to his face, but several crew members needed treatment. Coulthard’s race was also soon over, the Scot being forced to retire with an electrical problem. The race up front continued with Schumacher tracking down Berger, but soon the challenge was over, Schumacher dropping out of the race with an engine failure.

Berger was left to canter home to the win heading the two Ligier’s of Panis and Bernard, for the first win for Ferrari since Alain Prost led Nigel Mansell home for a 1-2 for the Scuderia in the Spanish Grand Prix in 1990, ending a 58 race win drought (the longest in the team’s storied history).

5

1957 – Fangio’s final win seals his 5th drivers title

In 1957 46 year old Juan Manuel Fangio sealed his fifth Formula One World Drivers title with his last, and what most regard as his finest, victory. The scene was the Nurburging, the Nordschliefe layout, with 22 laps to be covered. Fangio in his lightweight Maserati 250F took pole, his lap taking 9 mins and 25 seconds. The field was swelled with Formula 2 cars, and with over 500 km to be covered the race almost had the feel of an endurance race. Lined up side by side on the front row of the grid alongside him were his team mate Jean Behra in the sister Maserati and Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn in the Ferrari’s. The Ferrari’s would be running the race without stopping, but the Maserati’s would be running light on fuel on softer Pirelli tyres, and would need to stop to refuel and take on fresh rubber. Off the line, the 2 Ferraris streaked ahead, with Hawthorn leading from Collins, followed by the Maserati’s of Fangio and Behra. After what seemed like the age it took to register the first lap, the Ferrari’s returned the start finish line with a small gap to Fangio. Fangio had been careful to bed in his tyres, but on lap 2 he began to push, and as they returned to the line to begin lap 3 he was on the tail of the two Ferrari’s. He passed both over the course of lap 3 and proceeded to pull away. But with a pit stop to come could he open up a big enough gap? At the end of lap 10 the Maserati of Behra came into pit, Behra hopping out with time to remove his goggles and wash his face while the mechanics changed his tyres and filled up the car! Fangio would need to push to build a big enough gap! And push he did, recording new lap records as he built up a lead of almost half a minute ahead of the 2 Ferrari’s before pitting at the end of lap 12. But the pitstop was a disaster, with the right rear wheel nut rolling under the car as the old tyre was thrown off by the mechanic, and in the confusion another half minute was lost until the car was ready to go. When he emerged, he was 45 seconds down on the Ferraris, and all seemed lost. In the days before pit to car radio the long lap around the Nurburgring meant keeping the drivers up to speed on what is going on around them was an impossible task. The Ferrari’s out front were shown steady as they pass on their pitboards, Fangio well back, and taking it easy on his out lap to bed in his tyres again. But from here Fangio, the four time champion, found a new level of form, raising his game to a level even he didn’t know existed. Fangio started to absolutely carve the track apart, not just breaking lap records, but smashing them in his pursuit of the two Ferrari’s. Fangio would end the race with a fastest lap some 8 seconds faster than his pole positon time! Fangio managed to catch and overhaul the Ferrari’s on lap 21 of 22, with Hawthorn dogging him to the end, as Fangio struggled to the finish with his seat having come loose! But hand on he did, and secure his fifth drivers title with it. Fangio would admit he had driven at a level that he had not ever reached before that day, and would not ever be able to match again. The ‘old man’ as his young rivals referred to him, retired at the end of the season (though he would return make a couple of appearances in 1958). Having seen more than 30 of his contemporaries killed while racing, the great Fangio had managed to retire at the very peak of his ability.

Support Races

The standard European support line up of GP2/GP3 and Porsche Supercup will be on hand again in Germany.

In GP2, Pierre Gasly finally took the bull by the horns, winning a second consecutive feature race in Hungary to take the championship lead. He’ll be looking to further underline his credentials and impress Red Bull with a win Germany that could go some way to distancing him from the pack. Antonio Giovinazzi is hanging on in second place in the championship, and will hope to rekindle his challenge. Sergey Sirotkin’s run of bad luck finally ended with a superb drive to take the sprint victory in Hungary after claiming a podium in the feature race, and he will hope that now the monkey is off his back he can get himself back into the championship contention by taking his first feature win of the season in Germany. With only 5 race weekends to go time is running out for all those Formula One hopefuls to show that they have what it takes on the track, as opposed to the bank account.

 

In GP3 it looks to be a three way battle for the title. ART’s Alexander Albon has taken the series lead after winning the sprint race in Hungary. Charles Leclerc has been enjoying FP1 outings for Haas, but lost his lead of the championship in Hungary after a poor weekend, and will be keen to regain the initiative in Germany. Antonio Fuoco continues to keep himself in the title chase after a solid second place in the feature race in Hungary, behind Matthew Parry, who won his first GP3 race in a comfortable lights to flag victory after polesitter Nyck de Vries had to start from the back of the grid. As usual, there are plenty of points to be proven for the GP3 hopefuls in Hockenheim.

In the Porsche Supercup Sven Muller made it three wins in a row in Hungary, and has taken the championship lead, with daylight between him and his championship rivals after a poor weekend for both Mathieu Jaminet (disqualified from qualifying for a technical infringement and forced to start from the back, from where he crashed out in an attempt to make up ground) and Matteo Cairoli, who could only manage a disappointing seventh after dropping back from third on the grid. Their struggles have seen Michael Ammermuller and Jeffrey Schmidt snapping at their heels for second place in the standings.

Previous Results:

Year Winner Constructor Circuit
2014 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Hockenheimring
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault Nurburgring
2012 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Hockenheimring
2011 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes Nurburgring
2010 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Hockenheimring
2009 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault Nurburgring
2008 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes Hockenheimring
2006 Michael Schumacher Ferrari Hockenheimring
2005 Fernando Alonso Renault Hockenheimring

 

5 responses to “Circuit Profile: 2016 German Grand Prix – Hockenheimring – Round 12

  1. Thanks for the detailed analysis. Great to read up on the previous races as well. Although I regret that the old configuration is no longer there for nostalgia reasons, I must admit that the new layout has created some great races and overtaking opportunities.

    • You’re more than welcome Daniel, it’s a pleasure to write. I have to agree, while I do miss the long blast through the trees, the revised layout does offer hope for some decent wheel to wheel racing, lets hope that the race this weekend can live up to the excitement of the race in 2014!

  2. Thank you marek. I like your work. And the history of this track was really interesting to read! On Twitter there is also a bit of a debate. Many saying the old configuration is better than the new but there were some strong points for the new one. Let’s hope it gives us a good run for our money. Especially for the Germans, not much tickets sold…

  3. I’ve not seen as comprehensive a preview as this anywhere else. Thanks, Marek. +1

    For what it’s worth, I’m a fan of the old layout. It added character to the F1 calendar, along with Monza.

    • Cheers WTF, kind words always welcome 😁 I used always think if only the championship one year could have 16 rounds of the old Hockenheim then Berger would have been champion 😁 That kind of thing is what makes F1 great, more variety circuits and challenge the drivers/teams- why I always loved the calendar for example going Hungary then Belgium – two totally contrasting challenges for man and machine alike.

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