German Grand Prix – Preview

By on

After the thrilling triple-header of races, Formula One field took a week off to recharge its batteries ahead of the German Grand Prix which returns to the calendar after a year-long absence.

With Sebastian Vettel leading the Drivers’ Championship by eight points ahead of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, the action can’t be any more exciting in the last leg of races before the summer break and factory shutdown. Ferrari took over the lead from Mercedes following the Austrian GP which ended in tears for the Anglo-German manufacturer. The Italian squad managed to extend its lead with its win and third place at Silverstone.

History of the German Grand Prix

The German Grand Prix is one of the oldest and most historic races in Formula One history, having first been held in 1951. The event has long been a staple on the F1 schedule, although it was absent from the calendar in 2015 and 2017.

The track was originally built in 1939 as a high-speed Mercedes test track, before a new Autobahn was built and a new circuit was created – featuring long straights cutting through the forest. Over the years, chicanes were added to improve safety, before it went through a complete redesign in the early 2000s, with the new layout debuting in 2002.

Ernst Christ is the true father of the Hockenheimring: It was in 1930 that this young assistant timekeeper came up with a plan to build a racetrack in his home town of Hockenheim. In 1932, the building work began and two months later, the first motorcycle race was held on the new circuit. Six years later, the track was totally redesigned and the new famous oval form was created, and the track became a genuine high-speed circuit.

The Second World Was saw Hockenheimring being seriosly damaged. In 1947, the Hockenheim-Ring GmbH was established which started looking atfer the economic matters. That year, cars reappeared on the track for the first time after the war.

In the early sixties, changes to the Hockenheimring became unavoidable. Following Ernst Christ's motodrom concept, the Hockenheimring was rebuilt to make it more safe and more spectator-friendly.

On August 2, 1970, the first Formula 1 race was held in Hockenheim. More than 100,000 spectators witnessed Jochen Rindt's victory in a Lotus-Ford. In 1971, Formula 1 returned to the Nürburgring, but in 1976, Niki Lauda had a serious crash on the Nordschleife. After that, Formula 1 came back to Hockenheim in 1977. There was one interruption – in 1985 for the opening of the new Nürburgring. Ever since then, the German Formula 1 Grand Prix has been held at the Hockenheimring.

Since the old track with its width of 6.8km was too long and because various sections of it ran through dense woods where it was inaccessible for spectators, plans were forged in 1999 to design a shorter circuit with more possibilities for overtaking.

The rebuilding work cost some 62 million euros. Two kilometres shorter, the new circuit guaranteed plenty of exciting overtaking manoeuvres, and, with the new stands, the capacity increased from 83,000 to 120,000.

Most successful drivers and teams

Michael Schumacher is the king of the German Grand Prix history. The great driver has four victories to his name, having won on home soil in 1995, 2002, 2004 and 2006. Among the three-time German GP victors are Juan Manuel Fangio, Jackie Stewart, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Alberto Ascari, Tony Brooks, John Surtees, Nigel Mansell, Gerhard Berger, Alain Prost and Jacky Ickx have all two triumphs on their tally.

Of the constructors, Ferrari has a demoralizing statistic. The Italians were victorious during the history of the German GP a stunning 21 times, followed by Williams which scored nine victories. McLaren took victory on eight while Brabham on five occasions. Lotus has four wins. Tyrell, Benetton and Red Bull are all three-time GP winners.

Circuit facts

The current configuration of the Hockenheim is 4.574km long. To complete the full distance of the 2018 German Grand Prix, drivers have to circulate 67 times around the Ring, covering a total of 306.458km.

The circuit has a minimum width of 15m. It is made up of 17 bends, of which eleven are right-handed ones. There are six longer straights on the track. The track in its current layout lost its old high-speed character, steps to make the circuit safer deprived the Hockenheimring of its never-ending straights. The first part of the track is still characterized by two long straights, but the last part of the circuit is an arena with tight, slower bends and short straights. It did not only make the track safer, but its offers a splendid viewing opportunity for spectators sitting around the motodrom.

2002 saw the last big revamp of the track. The state government of Baden-Württemberg secured the financing for the redesign by Hermann Tilke. The circuit has a seating capacity of 120,000, due to new large grandstands sponsored by Mercedes-Benz.

Kimi Räikkönen holds the track record of 1:13.780, having set that time during the 2004 German Grand Prix in his McLaren-Mercedes.