German Grand Prix – Preview

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After the Mercedes-dominated, but otherwise exciting British Grand Prix, teams and drivers head to Hockenheim, Round 11 of the 2019 FIA Formula One Championship.

The field returns to a dramatic venue this weekend. Last year’s German Grand Prix saw Sebastian Vettel controlling his home event while his championship rival Lewis Hamilton struggled for pace and made a crucial mistake in the qualifying session, damaging his car and suffering a hydraulic failure as a consequence. On Sunday, however, after dominating the majority of the race in front of his fellow countrymen and his fans, Sebastian Vettel made a mistake when a rainshower arrived in the dying phase of the Grand Prix, crashing out from the lead.

At this time of the year in 2018, Ferrari was enjoying a very competitive form. This season, however, Mercedes is seemingly unstoppable almost regardless of the track layouts and conditions. If the weather is scorching hot, Ferrari can possibly mount a slight challenge on its fierce rival Mercedes and Vettel will be without any doubt adamant to bounce back from last year’s disappointing result in what could be the last German Grand Prix for the near future.

Nürburgring, Berlin and Hockenheimring

The German Grand Prix is one of the oldest and most historic races in Formula One history, having first been held in 1951. However, the history of Grand Prix racing in Germany goes back even further.

The first ever German Grand Prix was held at the AVUS circuit at Berlin in 1926 and was won by Mercedes’ Rudolf Caracciola. The next years saw Nürburgring playing the hosting role until 1939 with Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Auto Union dominating the period. The world war put racing to a stand for a couple of years. In 1950, Grand Prix racing returned to the scene, albeit Germany only joined the Formula One Championship in the following year. Nürburgring hosted the races until 1969 with the exception of 1959 when AVUS Berlin was the hosting scene.

Hockenheim first hosted the German Grand Prix in 1970 and enjoyed long stints as the race venue from 1977-1984 and 1986-2006, before entering an agreement to alternate putting on the event with the Nürburgring.

Hockenheimring 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. It retained the main straight, first corner and final stadium section, but added a new, twisty infield.

Ferrari is unbeatable

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton share the title of the most successful driver on German soil with both having claimed four victories. However, Schumacher scored all his triumphs in Hockenheim while Hamilton’s 2011 victory came at Nürburgring when the German Grand Prix was held at the legendary circuit.

A number of drivers have been victorious in the German Grand Prix three times including Fernando Alonso, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Jackie Stewart and Juan Manuel Fangio. Two-time race winners in Germany are Tony Brooks, John Surtees, Jacky Ickx, Gerhard Berger, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell.

Ferrari is the most successful constructor in history of the German Grand Prix. The Italian outfit has won 21 races, scoring its last triumph with Fernando Alonso in 2012. Williams is the second most successful outfit with nine triumphs, followed by McLaren with eight wins. Brabham has collectected five victories while Mercedes and Lotus both have proved to be the best on four occasions. The only other repeat winners are Tyrell, Benetton and Red Bull.

A tricky last sector

The 4.574km-long Hockenheim circuit incorporates a total of sixteen corners. After the relatively short main straight, drivers dive into the very fast first corner with a sudden move. The outside kerbs invite them to carry incredible speed though the first bend and still have a good exit for another straight. After the complex of Turn 2 and 3, where the back end of the cars is usually nervous, drivers arrive to the next bend where the second sector of the track starts.

The Parabolica which bears an identical name to the famous last corner of the Monza Circuit is the fastest part of the Hockenheimring. The long full-throttle section ends in Turn 6 where the track offers its best overtaking opportunity. A good acceleration is vital out of Turn 6 as it leads onto another high-speed part. Despite to Turn 7 which is a kink in this section drivers refuse to lift off for some seconds. Turn 9 and 10 present a real test for the aerodynamic balance of cars. They require a huge amount of downforce while drivers complete quick changes of directions at medium speed.

The rundown to Turn 11 is the start of Sector 3. Drivers have to turn into this fast corner almost blind. The next bend, the Sachs is a 180-degree corner, taken at medium speed. The next three corners inside the Stadium section are also medium-speed bends where a good balance and a right response from both the rear and the front of the car are also critical. Leading onto the main straight of the track, Turn 16 intive drivers to take a wide exit line to complete the lap.