This weekend’s German Formula One Grand Prix will mark the halfway point of a fascinating 2014 season.

While it’s been a two-way battle for championship honours, it’s been a year of twists and turns so far, and this weekend’s visit to the Hockenheimring will mark another exciting chapter and plenty of talking points as we approach the mid-season summer break.


The Circuit

FORMULA 1 GROßER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND 2014

Hockenheim Circuit

Date: 18-20 July 2014
Lap Length: 4.574km
Free Practice Session 1 Fri 10:00-11:30
Free Practice Session 2 Fri 14:00-15:30
Free Practice Session 3 Sat 10:00-11:00
Qualifying Sat 14:00-15:00
Race (67 laps) Sun 14:00-16:00
Lap Record 1:13.780 (2004)
2012 Winner Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

* All session times are quoted in Central European Summer Time (UTC +02:00 hrs)

The original Hockenheim was a banana-shaped circuit that cut through the tall pine forests. It was essentially was a series of massively long straights interrupted by bumpy, clumsy chicanes, and aside from Monza it was one of few true low-downforce circuits on the calendar.

A stern test on engines and aerodynamic efficiency, the cars handled terribly with trimmed out front and rear wings, particularly at the chicanes and through the twisty stadium section which was always chock-a-block full of flag-waving German fans.

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 a number of ‘Tilkedromes’ – was actually conducive 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 NurburgringNordschleife, 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 Nürburgring circuit.

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 Nürburgring, 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 shortened layout doesn’t quite get pulses racing.

Fernando Alonso, 2012 German GP winner

Fernando Alonso claimed victory in Formula 1’s last hit-out at Hockenheim.


The Form Guide

Just when it looked like Nico Rosberg was getting the upper hand in his quest for the Drivers’ Championship, fortune finally went against him last time out at the British Grand Prix when he registered his first DNF of the season.

Heading into the race, it looked like being back-to-back wins at Silverstone for the German. Teammate Lewis Hamilton had made another qualifying misstep, while Rosberg claimed pole and led the race from the outset. But his gearbox failed and a popular home victory went to a charging Hamilton, who slashed Rosberg’s 29-point lead down to just 4 points.

If a home crowd advantage favoured Hamilton a fortnight ago, Rosberg will be hoping that the sun shines on him this weekend. He’s coming into his home event with plenty of vigour, having married long-time girlfriend Vivian Siebold and signed a contract extension to remain with the Silver Arrows. Added to that, Germany won the FIFA World Cup – what better than a German winning his Grand Prix?

The series’ last visit to Hockenheim featured a battle between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button – all three will be hoping that they could feature at the sharp end of the field this weekend.

The Hockenheim circuit’s shorter layout places less of an emphasis on hosepower, which should compress the battle among the frontrunners and the midfield.

Williams and Red Bull Racing both featured on the podium last time out – McLaren was also in the mix – so we should expect more of the same, along with Force India (who had a poor race at Silverstone, by their usual standards) in the mix as well.

The Renault runners will have a performance boost courtesy of some new fuel from Total, along with a raft of engine software upgrades that were successfully tested in the post-British GP in-season test. Insiders from Renault Sport F1 are predicting that the Red Bull Racing pair of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo will be podium contenders this weekend.

The entire grid will have other serious challenges to contend with as well this weekend. Pirelli is bringing an aggressive tyre selection this weekend – its Soft and Super Soft compounds are on offer – which will see a race of multiple pit stops and plenty of overtaking. The teams that can save their tyres (and tyre sets) will thrive on Sunday.

That’s assuming that the weather remains dry, however. The forecasters are predicting warm temperatures on Friday and Saturday, while there’s a high probability of rain showers hitting the circuit for Sunday’s race.


Don’t forget to enter your German Grand Prix Predictions!

Round 10 of the 2014 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your German Grand Prix predictions 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 predict:

  • 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! Click here to see the current points’ standings.

To enter your German Grand Prix Predictions, click here.

Images via Sutton Images

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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.
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