After one year break German Grand Prix returns to the Formula 1 calendar. Well there was F1 race in Germany last year at Nurburgring – but called the European GP (called European due to the dispute over the German GP name ownership). This year the race is back at Hockenheim with its proper name.
The German GP kicks off the second half of 2008 F1 season. We have 3 drivers tied at the top at 48 points and 4th is only 2 points behind.
Testing at Hockenheim last week did not reveal much about what to expect from the teams coming weekend. Two more teams tried out the shark fin engine cover. Unlike their predecessors however neither Toyota nor McLaren plan to use it this weekend in Germany.
Two years ago the weather during the German GP weekend was extremely hot. This is something that Ferrari team would prefer again for this year. Quick check of weather forecasts for the area however suggests the weather to be cool, barely reaching 20 degrees Celsius. And yes, there are chances of rain again. These would be conditions that may favour McLaren and also may help BMW Sauber to close the gap to Ferrari. Both Massa and Raikkonen would probably want the clouds to stay away after their Silverstone experience.
Kimi Raikkonen is a special driver when it comes to racing in Germany. Out of his 9 races (Nurburgring and Hockenheim) he only finished 2 – both in 2006. The most spectacular retirement was probably his tyre failure back in 2005 (Nurburgring) on the last lap, while leading the race. But Ferrari finished 1-2 (Schumacher, Massa) in the last F1 race on Hockenheim track in 2006 ahead of … Kimi Raikkonen (see below).
The German GP is home race for 5 drivers – Nick Heidfeld, Adrian Sutil, Timo Glock, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg (see the last 2 in the preview video).
Track technical info (ING Renault data):
The revisions to the Hockenheimring in recent years have transformed what was once a flat out burst through the forests into a medium downforce circuit, with a need to balance the demands of a long back straight and a low-speed stadium section at the end of the lap. The benefit of such a diverse track usually gives an exciting race with plenty of overtaking opportunities.
Like the latest generation of Tilke tracks, Hockenheim is characterised by long straights followed by slow corners and hairpins, designed with overtaking in mind. With such a long back straight, a good top-speed is essential to fend off competitors in the race, but this has to be balanced with the grip needed in the medium and low-speed parts of the lap. Downforce settings are therefore a compromise, requiring the team to adopt a medium downforce set-up and leaving the drivers short of grip in the low-speed stadium section, but allowing a reasonable top-speed on the straights.
The circuit is one of the hardest tests of the year on brakes, being similar to the demands of Bahrain. Braking stability is vital, especially into the hairpin at turn 6, where it is easy to lock a wheel, and even more challenging following the removal of electronic braking assistance.
The long straights and low-speed corner mix of Hockenheim requires contrasting suspension set-ups. Mechanically, the cars can run quite soft as there are no significant high speed changes of direction on the circuit. With the braking zone into turn 6 being the main passing opportunity, braking stability is something we work hard to get right.
The demands on the tyres are quite severe and so Bridgestone will supply the hard and medium options from its range. The stress does not come from the lateral load of the corners, but is due to the traction zones and heavy braking required at this circuit. It will be the first time racing in Hockenheim with this generation of Bridgestone tyres. Hockenheim in July is also a place where high track temperatures can be expected and, coupled with the heavy traction demands, the teams have to keep a close eye on wear rates for the rear tyres and beware of blistering which will make the car unstable.
The engine requirements at Hockenheim are not as demanding as in the past, but, with 63% of the lap spent on full throttle, it’s still a challenging workout and about average for the season. With a lack of high-speed corners, the main demands come from the long back straight. Good torque is essential and so the engine needs to work well at low revs to help the cars get a good exit out of the low-speed corners. The potential for high temperatures in Hockenheim also means attention must be paid to cooling to avoid overheating, but the latest generation of V8 engines are capable of running at peak revs in high temperatures.
2006 German Grand Prix (Hockenheim) Result:
1. Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:27:51.693
2. Felipe Massa – Ferrari +0.7 sec
3. Kimi Raikkonen – McLaren +13.2 sec
4. Jenson Button – Honda +18.8 sec
5. Fernando Alonso – Renault +23.7 sec
6. Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault +24.8 sec
7. Jarno Trulli – Toyota +26.5 sec
8. Christian Klien – Red Bull +48.1 sec
9. Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +60.3 sec
10. Vitantonio Liuzzi – Toro Rosso +1 Lap