The German Grand Prix is one of the most iconic races in Formula 1. It was first included on the world championship calendar in 1951, when it was held at the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife, and hosted its first race at Hockenheim in 1970.
When Niki Lauda’s fiery crash ended the Nordschleife’s reign, Hockenheim became the race’s permanent home in 1977. Its long, wide straights usually produce entertaining racing, which the drivers and fans enjoy in equal measure.
Hockenheim was built in 1932. Initially, it was a flat-out 6.7km loop upon which Mercedes-Benz – McLaren’s engine partner for the past 20 years – tested its road and racing cars. A stadium section was constructed after the Second World War, and chicanes were added in 1968, following the death of world champion Jim Clark in a Formula 2 race.
The layout then remained largely unchanged for more than 30 years until it was shortened to cut out the long straights for safety reasons.
The asphalt at Hockenheim is very smooth and the absence of any high-speed corners will allow Pirelli to take their two softest compounds to the race, as they did in Monaco, Canada and Austria earlier this season. The Supersoft is expected to give more performance over one lap in qualifying, the Soft providing better consistency in the race.
Front wing Set for the higher speed corners such as turns seven, ten and twelve.
Rear wing Aero-wise Hockenheim is medium to high downforce with very few genuinely quick corners after character-altering changes were made to its once unique challenge in 2001.The all-important stadium sections mean that grip levels are decisive. Compromises can be made to make the car a little slippery for the long run down from the Einfahrt Parabolika to the Spitzkehre hairpin.
Suspension Good aerodynamic balance and suspension settings are a big advantage through the ‘flick-flack’ of turns three and four before the all-important run onto the long back-straight. Kerb-wise, the suspension has a fairly comfortable time with only shallow ones being ridden at the exits of the first turn – Nordkurve and the stadium entering Mobil 1 Kurve.
Brakes The brake-by-wire systems on the 2014 cars should have a reasonably easy time of it at Hockenheim, which is not noted to be tough on braking. There is generally only one big stopping point: the Spitzkehre where the cars in 2012 were stopping from 190mph to 40mph in a matter of metres.
Tyres With relatively low energy demands, despite the brief technical stadium section at Hockenheim, Pirelli will bring the soft and super soft compound tyres to the German Grand Prix, just as they did in Monaco, Canada and Austria.
Power unit Hockenheim is yet another power track with four long straights that will see speeds over 310km/h. Unlike Silverstone, however, the straights are linked by medium to low speed corners. Energy recovery is therefore now a problem as there are plenty of opportunities, but it does mean that each part will be on the limit. With such stresses running through the power unit, the parts will get very hot – a factor compounded by the high ambient temperatures. To combat any potential overheating, teams are expected to use different cooling configurations from previous races.
Number of corners: 17 (6 left,11 right)
Distance from pole to Turn 1 apex: 260 m
Braking events 7 (4 heavy)
Pit lane length under speed limit control: TBC
Pit lane time at 80 km/h: TBC
Tyre energy: average
Brake energy: high