With seven days of unprecedented tyre dramas, the Formula 1 field heads to the Nürburgring this weekend.
After all the discussion and fall-out over an incredible Grand Prix at Silverstone last time out, the field will no doubt be hoping for plenty of thrills and spills – minus major tyre failures, of course…
Let’s take a look at our 2013 German Grand Prix Preview…
|Date:||05-07 July 2013|
|Race Lap Record:||1:29.468, Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) – 2004|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:00-11:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:00-15:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 11:00-12:00|
|Race (60 laps, 308.623km)||Sun 14:00-16:00|
|Past Ten Winners:||Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-26)||2011|
|Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault RB5)||2009|
|Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes MP4-22)||2007*|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari 248 F1)||2006*|
|Fernando Alonso (Renault R25)||2005*|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004)||2004*|
|Ralf Schumacher (Williams BMW FW25)||2003*|
|Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari F2002)||2002*|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2001)||2001*|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2000)||2000*|
All event times are quoted in CEST (GMT +2).
* Between 1998-2007, the event at the Nürburgring was known as the ‘European Grand Prix’, while the German Grand Prix was held at Hockenheim
The autodrome – better described as a ‘Tilkedrome’ – version of the Nürburgring offers nothing like the challenge of the original Nordschleife, a 14-mile monster that was finally taken off the F1 calendar after 1977, when the sport moved to Hockenheim.
The high-speed blast through the forests at the Hockenheimring was already well-known as the place where Jim Clark lost his life in 1968, and it would face further tragedy when the popular Patrick Depailler did in a testing crash in 1980.
A new Nürburgring was created alongside the original Nordschleife, and it staged a couple of races in 1984-5, although it wasn’t on-par with the well-attended race at the Hockenheim.
But when Schumacher started his winning ways and picked up his first title in 1994, the circus returned to the Nürburgring in 1995 – under the auspices of a ‘European Grand Prix’ – and Schumacher delighted his home fans with a great win.
Recent years have seen the German Grand Prix alternate between the two circuits, and in 2002 the track featured a new Hermann Tilke-designed infield loop to add more corners in the opening sequence of the lap, kicked off with a handbrake-turn right-hander that sees plenty of damage at the start of every race.
Nürburgring Talking Points
So what are this weekend’s critical talking points? Let’s see what our expert analysts have to say…
“The urge to talk tyres is strong, but there is a lot more happening in the lead up to the famous Nürburgring race! Lewis Hamilton was the last winner at this track, preceded by Mark Webber in 2009. The scene was quite different back then, however, but given the form of Mercedes at Silverstone, perhaps with a bit of extra luck the Silver Arrows can give us a good showing! It would be a boon for them to win at their home ground… but given this is also Vettel’s home ground, it might make things a bit difficult. At the other end, Ricciardo’s movements in the Toro Rosso will be important to watch given his positioning for Webber’s seat. To be honest, I’ve almost forgotten about McLaren’s dramas… and what a shame that is…” – Yassmin Abdel-Magied, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“Felipe Massa is a confidence driver. At his very best, he is among the top echelon of current Formula One pilots. At his very worst, it’s difficult to defend his position in one of the fastest cars on the grid. The Brazilian started the 2013 season in impressive fashion, out qualifying team-mate Fernando Alonso in Melbourne and Malaysia as well as netting two top-5 finishes in the opening rounds. A podium finish in the Spanish Grand Prix appeared to signal a return to the bold and confident Felipe Massa who narrowly missed the 2008 driver’s championship. However, in recent rounds, Massa has come under increasing pressure after making a string of basic mistakes rarely seen in the world’s top motorsport category. The 32 year old made an inspiring comeback from a puncture at last weekend’s British Grand Prix; however as the Formula One circus descends on the Nürburgring, one can’t help but question whether the Brazilian has truly shaken his demons.” – Tristan Clark, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“Paul di Resta has been on a charge this year and eyeing off his first podium in F1. Despite being denied a career best fifth place start at Silverstone, Di Resta impressed the team and many others by putting his penalty behind him and cut through the field to finish a notable ninth, under two seconds behind his teammate Sutil in seventh. Di Resta’s surge of performance can be put largely to Sutil re-joining the team. It would look poor on the Scot if Sutil came back after having a year away from the sport and started out performing him. This weekend at the Nurburgring, expect another strong performance by both drivers, who are encouraged by McLarens problems and are eager to stay ahead of them in the championship.” – Josh Kruse, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“After the PR disaster that was the British Grand Prix, we head straight into Germany and and everyone is talking about the possible instability of the tyres, and not the fact that Sebastian Vettel’s championship lead has reduced due to his DNF last weekend. As we saw in Japan last year, if you’re the championship leader, one DNF can lead to a shattering of any points lead. On that occasion, Fernando Alonso had worked all season long to build up a sizeable points lead, and in one fell swoop, Vettel came in, won Japan and shattered the lead down to nearly nothing. Unfortunately for Alonso, the inabilities of this year’s Ferrari prevented him from being able to capitalise on his arch-rival’s non-finish in full. Don’t get me wrong – he finished third and took a bite out of Vettel’s lead, but not as big of a bite that the now three-time champion did to him at Suzuka 2012. Back to Pirelli though, and the tyre manufacturer will want the on-track action to come quickly so that they can put the work they must surely have done this week on their rubber construction to the test. Having said that, and keeping in mind that the safety of the drivers does supersede the fans’ entertainment, the multiple tyre blowouts did make for fantastic viewing, so although I don’t really want to see four of them this week and subsequent safety car periods to clean up debris… But one or maybe two minor ones (particularly on whoever is leading at the time!) wouldn’t exactly be unwelcome…” – Matt Lennon, RichardsF1.com IndyCar Series Journalist
“The Nürburgring is one circuit that occasionally throws up a significant result, or re-sooolt as Fernando Alonso would say. Take this for example – Johnny Herbert’s win in 1999 in crazy rain conditions, Alonso’s victory in 2005 in crazy tyre conditions, Alonso’s victory in 2007 also in crazy rain conditions, and Mark Webbers debut win in 2009. Not to mention Kimi Raikkonen’s umpteen near misses at the venue. I’m tipping another funny one this weekend on the back of the strange British Grand Prix re-sooolt. And it doesn’t get more strange that tipping a podium finish for Adrian Sutil. The bloke is primed for a good re-sooolt, and what better place for it to happen at his home race. Big race for the Toro Rosso drivers as well; good re-sooolts in the 3 or 4 races could catch the eye of Red Bull; re-sooolting in one of them taking over from Mark Webber. Good performances from Webber a few years ago re-sooolted in him taking the drive back in 2007.” – Samuel McCrossen, The Qualifying Lap radio show host
“I miss the days of two German races, and to me the Nürburgring was always generally the ‘European Grand Prix’ or even the ‘Luxembourg Grand Prix’ for a brief period of time. I miss the long Hockenheim circuit, and I miss seeing all those German flags out in force for a certain M.Schumacher. But the flags are still out in force for another multiple World Champion, and another driver who seems to always struggle when it comes to his home race. I’m sure Sebastian will be purely focused on a win this weekend, not only because he is in desperate need for one after his retirement at Silverstone, but also because he is desperate to taste the winners champagne in front of his adoring fans. And I’m sure going from the cheers of Silverstone at him retiring to the cheers of the Nürburgring to him winning will be one big change of fortunes for the World Champion as the season heats up.” – Ben Waterworth, The Qualifying Lap radio show host
The Form Guide
With the Nürburgring now only a biannual feature on the F1 calendar, this weekend will see three drivers – Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton – aiming to notch up another win at the circuit.
What is just as interesting is that, outside of this trio, no other driver on the grid has won at the Nürburgring’s sister host of the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheim circuit.
What’s also quite incredible is that local hero Sebastian Vettel has never won on home soil. Nor has he ever won a Grand Prix in the month of July. His best finish at home is a second-placed finish behind teammate Webber at the 2009 race. Can he bounce back from his Silverstone retirement and finally break that duck this weekend?
After claiming pole position and victory last time out, Mercedes is well-placed to claim back-to-back wins, which would be a huge result for the team at its home event. The F1W04 has shown much better tyre management and pace at recent events, and given the typically cooler conditions seen at the Eifel circuit, expect the team to feature at the sharp end of the field once again.
After their Silverstone struggles – well, comparatively anyway – Ferrari and Lotus will be looking for strong results this weekend. Fernando Alonso netted a podium finish and Kimi Raikkonen was unlucky not claim the spot himself after a bungled strategy decision by Lotus. Both will be champing at the bit to take more points off Vettel and keep their title hopes alive once again.
Don’t forget to enter your F1 Predictions!
This weekend’s round of our 2013 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your predictions for the 2013 German Formula 1 Grand Prix right up until five minutes before qualifying!
Entry is open to all of our readers, and it’s so easy to submit your predictions! All you’ll need to do is correctly guess:
- which driver will win pole position and the race
- which two teams will earn the best finishes in the race
- which eight drivers will finish in the top-eight positions
- who will post the fastest lap of the race
- who will gain the most positions relative to their starting position
You can also choose to ‘double up’ your points tally for the German Grand Prix – but be careful, you can only do this twice per season!
To view the current points standings, click here.
To enter your 2013 German Grand Prix Predictions, click here.
As always, RichardsF1.com will be bringing you the best of the on- and off-track action this weekend, so make sure we’re your first port of call for your German Grand Prix fix!