2008 German GP

With six of the grid’s 24 drivers hailing from Germany, the nation fields the largest contingent of any country on the 2010 grid – of these, five could realistically (sorry, Timo Glock!) achieve a points’ finish as F1 makes its return to the Hockenheimring, near the city of Heidelberg.

Here’s a recipe for a good German Grand Prix:

Combine the meteoric rise of one wunderkind called Sebastian Vettel. Add the well-matured vintage of Michael Schumacher. Mix vigorously with the return of the Mercedes-Benz ‘silver arrows’. Spice up the dish with doses of ever-ripening Adrian Sutil. Gently stir in doses of the two Nicos: Rosberg and Hülkenberg. Garnish with a bit of Timo Glock. Season as appropriate with a mix of baking hot temperatures and heavy showers. Combine with a side order of heavy tyre wear. Serve on an overtaking-friendly – albeit heavily emasculated – Tilkedrome.

Voila! You have a German Grand Prix!

The Circuit

Date: 25 July 2010 No. Laps 67
Lap Length: 4.574KM Race Distance: 306.458km

Lap Record: 1:13.780 – Kimi Raikkonen (2004, McLaren)

The original Hockenheim was a banana-shaped circuit that essentially was a series of massively long straights interrupted by bumpy, clumsy chicanes. A stern test on engines and aerodynamic efficiency, the cars handled terribly in low-downforce trim at the chicanes and through the twisty stadium section, which was always chock-a-block full of flag-waving German fans.

A lap of Hockenheim with Juan Pablo Montoya

In a bid to give trackside spectators more opportunities to see their heroes whiz by their grandstands, the circuit’s traditional long straights were cut and the forest section was turfed in favour of a new Hermann  Tilke designed infield loop.

While this completely ruined a classic circuit in many senses, it was saved by the fact that its new layout – a feature atypical of most Tilkedromes – was actually condusive to overtaking.


The History Bit

The addition of the Hockenheim circuit to the F1 calendar was initially not a popular move.

Then known as the location where the seemingly invincible Jim Clark lost his life in a curious little Formula 2 race in 1968, the high-speed circuit offered little in the way of resemblance or driver challenge of the might Nurburgring Nordschleife, which the Hockenheim succeeded as the host of the German Grand Prix after the former was declared too dangerous for further F1 competition.

The circuit has continued to hold a reputation for tragedy, with Patrick Depailler being killed in a testing accident in 1980, and Didier Pironi suffering career-ending injuries in 1982 in a wet-weather practice accident.

Over time, however, the F1 circus grew to enjoy the circuit – as the F1 circuits became more similarly-appearing autodromes, the four-mile blast through the pine forests in Germany stood out as more of a unique challenge distinct from the other events on the calendar.

The rise of Schumacher’s popularity in the mid-1990s saw a second German circuit added to the F1 calendar under the banner of the ‘European’ Grand Prix, held at a heavily truncated Nurburgring circuit.

2004 German GP Indeed, Schumacher has four times at the Hockenheim, once on the old configuration, and three times on the new layout since it was introduced in 2002.

In recent Grand Prix seasons, the venue for the German Grand Prix has alternated between the Hockenheimring and the Nurburgring, in the interests of both venues’ financial longevity.

But with such a host of German drivers in the field, perhaps the atmosphere this year will be even more electric, even if the circuit hardly gets pulses racing.


What to expect?

The return of Schumacher and the continual rise of Vettel – a man who will be extremely keen to do well here after a comparatively disastrous weekend in Britain – will make this year’s event a special weekend.

Their stories are just two subplots in what is turning out to be an increasingly fascinating season. The building in-fighting within Red Bull has certainly held everyone’s attention in the last fortnight.

The other story specifically concerns Schumacher who, after ten races back in the saddle following a three-year hiatus, hasn’t exactly set the F1 world alight. He sits miles behind his team-mate Nico Rosberg in the championship standings, and despite briefly assuming the lead driver mantle in Spain, Monaco and Turkey, he hasn’t yet discovered that sparkling pace we were all hoping to see.

How much of that is down to the car, or him, or both, is something for debate in another article. Will a home race help to give him that extra boost he needs? Here’s hoping so…

At the pointier end of the field, Vettel will be desperate for a good weekend to get his championship challenge back on track after a turbulent British Grand Prix. The fury of Mark Webber over the ‘Wing-Gate’ fiasco mightn’t have been directed specifically at the young German, but it still seemed to rattle his cage after being perceived as the unfairly favoured driver.

The best thing Seb can do is to win on home soil, beating his team-mate and both McLarens in a clean, fair fight without the clouds of intrigue hanging over their heads.

McLaren will again be looking to run its blown diffuser iteration that failed rather spectacularly at the last round at Silverstone, and the Woking team will be hoping that the last fortnight spent in the factory will have fine-tuned the concept better.

Perhaps Ferrari, Mercedes or Renault may have found a sweet spot for Hockenheim? That seems unlikely, and it means that Red Bull should have an easier time of it this weekend.

Hockenheim doesn’t have the high-speed sweeps that typically favour the RB6 chassis, but it won on circuits like Monaco and Valencia where no high-speed curves exist. What is clear is that the RB6 has been exquisitely designed to maximise its chances within the technical regulations, making it quicker – but perhaps not much quicker – than its rivals. It can ill afford yet another round of inter-team bitching.

Don’t forget to tune into the Richard’s F1 ‘As It Happens’ commentary feed live during the race and to check us out throughout the weekend for the latest news from Germany!

[Original images via AUTOSPORT and The Cahier Archive]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.