ROUND 10 - Germany 20-22 July 2012
Circuit Length: 4.574 Km
Lap Record: 1:13.780 = 223.182 km/h - K. Raikkonen (McLaren) 2004
2011 Results (race held at Nűrburgring)
Pole Position: Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault); 1:30.079 = 205.739 km/h
1st: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) 1:37.30.334
2nd: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3rd: Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault)
Fastest Lap: Hamilton, 1:34.302 = 196.526 km/h on lap 59
2010 Results (last time held at Hockenheim)
Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault); 1:13.791 = 223.149 km/h
1st: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1:27.38.864 (av. speed 209.788 km/h)
2nd: Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
3rd: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault)
Fastest Lap: Vettel, 1:15.824 = 217.166 km/h on lap 67
THE HOCKENHEIMRING: ‘QUITE SHORT, NOT TOO COMPLICATED, VERY STOP AND GO!’"
That’s Narain Karthikeyan’s view of the setting for Round 10 of the 2012 World Championship, the Hockenheimring. The HRT driver is one of many who would have preferred to retain the old lay-out, almost seven kilometres long, with its high-speed stretches through the forests, but the current 4.574km design has been in use since 2002 and they should all be used to it by now.
Hockenheim itself sits in the densely populated Rhein-Neckar corner of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, a short drive away from such popular tourist destinations as the old university town of Heidelberg to the north-east and roughly halfway between the major centres of Mannheim to the north and Karlsruhe to the south. It can get very hot in the summer although there is apparently a chance of rain – though nothing like Silverstone! – this weekend.
Hockenheim is the home race for the five German drivers in the current field: Vettel, Schumacher, Rosberg, Hülkenberg and Glock, while the Sauber team is based not all that far away in Switzerland and their driver Sergio Perez spent two years in Germany in his earlier racing career.
Michael Schumacher sums up the emotions for a ‘home’ driver nicely: “People often ask me whether there is any such thing as a home advantage in such an international sport as ours and my answer is: perhaps not a home advantage, but certainly a home-race feeling. As a German driver, you naturally have a different sense of excitement when you arrive at the German Grand Prix and know that all the spectators in the grandstands are supporting you. That makes you proud, and always boosts your motivation even higher. This year is the first time that our Mercedes works team has been capable of racing right at the front, and because of that, we're hoping for lots of support from the fans and to reward them with our performance.”
Michael’s teammate Nico Rosberg may have a Finnish father but he knows which is his fatherland: “Hockenheim is always very special for us, and especially for me. I was born in Wiesbaden, near Hockenheim, and I have really good memories of the previous Hockenheim races. Before my Formula One career, I won quite often at this circuit, and I will never forget my father's last DTM race in 1995. I joined him on the roof of his car driving through the Motodrom - and that was the moment when I thought to myself ‘How cool is that?!’ and decided to become a racing driver like him.”
Breaking down Narain’s comment, the `Ring has 17 corners, 10 right-handers among them. It’s a circuit of the proverbial two halves: the first part, which unusually boasts a very quick first corner, is high-speed, culminating in a great overtaking opportunity at the hairpin, then the second half is slower with the Sachskurve, the Stadium section and the Südkurve leading on to the straight.
It’s new territory for Pirelli, since F1 was last at the Hockenheimring two years ago – it alternates now with the Nürburgring. The Italian firm will bring a slightly conservative-looking choice of the P Zero White (Medium) and Yellow (Soft) tyres to a track which is reasonably smooth.
This is the 33rd Grand Prix to be staged at Hockenheim since its introduction to the World Championship in 1970, when Jochen Rindt was the winner for Lotus. Ferrari have 10 wins to their credit here, including five of the last seven visits, while Williams have nine. Sir Frank’s team needs to recover its promising early-season form and goes to Germany with Bruno Senna buoyed by receiving the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy to mark his own promising start to his career.
Notable landmarks: Heikki Kovalainen, whose F1 career started with Renault in Australia in 2007, will take part in his 100th Grand Prix weekend at Hockenheim. He did 17 races with Renault, 35 with McLaren Mercedes, and is in his third season with Caterham (formerly Lotus), for whom he has competed in 46 races so far. Yes, that adds up to 98, not 99: Heikki’s gearbox failed on the grid of the 2010 Spanish GP and he didn’t take the start.
No such arithmetical problems for Lewis Hamilton: while the 2008 World Champion ponders his current McLaren’s lack of performance and his future with the team, the 27-year-old Briton (“I’m not so young any more,” he said in midweek) will definitely be racing in his 100th Grand Prix for the team this weekend.