The Formula 1 World Championship faces a mid-season double-header ahead of its four-week summer break, with the German Grand Prix this weekend.
|Location||Hockenheim, Germany||Circuit Length||4.574 km / 2.842 mi|
|Opened||1932||First Grand Prix||1970|
|Lap Record||1:13.780 – Kimi Räikkönen – 2004||2018 winner||Lewis Hamilton|
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 whizz 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.
|Formula 1 Mercedes-Benz Groβer Preis von Deutschland 2019 – Schedule|
|Event Dates||26-28 July 2019||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 11:00-12:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 15:00-16:30||Free Practice Session 3||Sat 12:00-13:00|
|Qualifying||Sat 15:00-16:00||Race (67 laps)||Sun 15:10-17:10|
Session times quoted in Central European Summer Time (GMT + 02:00)
Rewind to 2018
An extraordinary German Grand Prix delivered action in spades and another change in the lead of the Formula 1 World Championship standings. Ultimately it will be remembered as the weekend that began the end of Sebastian Vettel’s 2018 championship challenge.
Pole-sitter and crowd favourite Vettel was seemingly in control of proceedings at the front of the field ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen, while Lewis Hamilton gave chase in his Mercedes after starting from fourteenth on the grid. The Englishman had carved his way inside the top six by Lap 11.
Hoping that the forecasted rain showers would coincide with his need to make his compulsory pit stop, Hamilton drove a long opening stint but eventually had to peel into the pits and his rubber finally gave out. He rejoined in third place, behind the two Ferraris, but now Räikkönen was in front of Vettel after the Finn made his ‘undercut’ strategy pay dividends to leapfrog his teammate.
That would come at the expense of his tyres in his second stint, and with Vettel zeroing up to the back of the Finn on tyres that were 10 laps newer it was no surprise to see Räikkönen get the telephone call from the pit wall instructing him to move aside.
That put Vettel back in the lead and he looked on course to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
On Lap 44, the rain came down, but it only hit half the circuit. As the field grappled with whether to switch to intermediate tyres – with those doing so quickly realising their error – Vettel stayed out until he had a wobble approaching the Sachskurve, slid across the gravel and into the wall. He’d thrown away 25 vital championship points and the lead of the Drivers’ Championship standings.
The Safety Car was called, offering the field a free pit stop. Dithering by Mercedes ultimately saw Hamilton kept out on track while Bottas – who had slipped past Räikkönen trying to lap the wayward Kevin Magnussen – was called into the pits.
That gave Hamilton track position at the front of the field. Hopes of a grandstand battle to the finish line between the Mercedes drivers were thwarted when more team orders came through, instructing Bottas to hold station in second place after he briefly challenged Hamilton at the restart. A disbelieving Hamilton took the victory and reclaimed the lead of the Drivers’ Championship standings, a result few would have considered possible on Saturday evening.
Räikkönen would finish third ahead of Max Verstappen, who had a fairly quiet race en route to fourth. His Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo – starting from the back of the grid after swapping a number of power unit elements – struggled to emulate Hamilton’s early-lap overtaking and retired just past one-third distance with a sudden loss of power.
Nico Hülkenberg claimed his and Renault’s best finish of the year in fifth place, crossing the line ahead of a charging Romain Grosjean who hustled his Haas from outside the points to sixth place over the final laps of the race with a succession of brave overtaking moves.
Tyre Compound Selections
Once known for its massively long straights and high speeds, the now cut-down version of the Hockenheimring provides a rather more balanced prospect for Formula 1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli. Track evolution of the course of the weekend is generally quite low, with the 4.5-kilometre circuit not considered particularly abrasive on tyres.
The Milan-based company has opted for the three middle compounds of its five dry-weather compound range: with its C2 (Hard), C3 (Medium) and C4 (Soft) rubber on offer for Sunday’s 67-lap race.
Below shows the complete grid’s tyre choices for this weekend’s German Grand Prix. Of the top three teams, Red Bull Racing’s drivers are the only ones to make identical tyre choices: the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers have all picked something different, with Ferrari opting for the biggest quantity of soft tyres.
- This will be the 64th running of the German Grand Prix as a round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The race made its championship debut in 1951 and has been a relatively consistent presence on the Grand Prix calendar ever since, however it was not run in the 1955, 1960, 2007. 2015 or 2017 seasons.
- Among the three circuits to have staged the German Grand Prix, the Hockenheimring is the most visited venue. The circuit has hosted 36 German Grands Prix to-date, with the Nürburgring and AVUS circuits previously playing host. The Formula 1 World Championship first visited the Hockenheimring in 1970 and it has largely been the host venue ever since, aside from sporadic visits to the Nürburgring’s shortened Grand Prix layout in 1985, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
- Scuderia Ferrari is the most successful team at the German Grand Prix, with 21 victories which include eleven at the Hockenheimring. The Italian team has the distinction of having won a Grand Prix at all three German circuits across their five collective circuit configurations.
- With four German Grand Prix victories apiece, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher jointly hold the record of being the German Grand Prix’s most successful drivers.
- Five drivers – Alberto Ascari (1951), John Surtees (1963), Patrick Tambay (1982), Rubens Barrichello (2000) and Mark Webber (2009) all claimed their first career Grand Prix victories at the German Grand Prix.
- Mercedes-AMG will celebrate its 200th Grand Prix appearance as a constructor this weekend, with the occasion coming at the team’s home event. The ‘Silver Arrows’ have won 96 Grands Prix to-date, with 59 coming at the hands of Hamilton – it claimed the honour of a 1-2 finish on its debut race at the 1954 French Grand Prix, with Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling lapping the field en route to a formation finish.
- Sebastian Vettel will make his 230th Grand Prix start at his home event. The Ferrari driver will move to eleventh on the overall list of all-time starts ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella.
- Daniel Ricciardo will make his 161st Grand Prix start this weekend. The Renault driver will equal the number of Grand Prix starts made by Ayrton Senna, Johnny Herbert and Mika Häkkinen.
The Germany Form Guide
Mercedes-AMG’s 1-2 finish last time out at Silverstone has increased its already huge advantage in the Constructors’ Championship standings to 164 points over Scuderia Ferrari. With the ‘Silver Arrows’ marking its 200th Grand Prix outing this weekend, nothing short of victory at its home event will do.
Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton heads into this weekend’s race looking to become the most successful German Grand Prix driver, beating his and Michael Schumacher’s record of four race wins. The Briton’s victory last time out over teammate Valtteri Bottas at Silverstone sees his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings stretch to 39 points. Behind the two teammates, there’s an ever-intensifying scrap for third place headed by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen (the only non-Mercedes race-winner this year) and the Ferrari pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc – all three are covered by just 15 points.
On paper, the Hockenheimring should provide an even match between the ‘big three’ teams. The first half of the lap that rewards straight-line speed is likely to favour Ferrari, while the twistier motodrome sections in Sectors 2 and 3 will better suit the traction-advantaged Mercedes’ and Red Bull runners. With baking conditions forecast on Friday before a cooler change that is expected to bring wet weather, fans could be in for an exciting and unpredictable weekend.
|2019 German Grand Prix Weather Forecast|
|Friday||22°C – 39°C||Saturday||19°C – 29°C||Sunday||17°C – 25°C|
Images via FIA, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Pirelli Motorsport Media