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Patriotic Nico Stands Up To Lewis Challenge



31 MAR - 03 APR 2016


Round 10 of 19


Hockenheimring, Hockenheim


July 18 - 20
Qualifying • Saturday July 19
Race start • Sunday July 20

Track records:

Best record:
Ferrari: 12 victories here
M. Schumacher: 4 victories

Lap record: 1:13.780 = 223.182 km/h • K. Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes) 2004

2012 pole: Alonso (Ferrari) 1:40.621 = 163.647 km/h

2012 results: 1 Alonso (Ferrari) 1:31.05.862 = 201.843 km/h
2 Button (McLaren Mercedes)
3 Raikkonen (Lotus Renault)

Key Moments

1970: the first F1 race at Hockenheim goes to Lotus, with Jochen Rindt at the wheel. The Austrian will go on to win the World Championship – F1’s only posthumous title-winner.

1982: kick-boxing comes to F1 as an enraged Nelson Piquet aims both fists and feet at Eliseo Salazar after seeing his Brabham taken out by the Colombian back-marker’s ATS.

1994: Jos Verstappen carves his own niche in F1 history for the wrong reasons when his Benetton erupts in flames during a pit stop, from which the Dutchman thankfully escapes with relatively minor facial burns.

2010: another piece of F1 infamy: Felipe Massa’s engineer Rob Smedley comes on the radio to tell the Brazilian “Fernando is faster than you” as Ferrari team orders kick in again. Given Williams’ current form against Ferrari’s, Felipe may have the last laugh this time…

Man of the Moment

Lewis Hamilton: the Briton drew level with Sir Jackie Stewart’s tally of 27 Grand Prix victories by winning at Silverstone and is now only four behind British record-holder Nigel Mansell. More importantly, he is only four points adrift of teammate Nico Rosberg. “I feel like I’ve been on the back foot all year,” says the Mercedes man, “only briefly leading the Championship despite taking the wins I’ve had, so to have got myself just about level was exactly what I needed. It’s almost a fresh start heading into the second half of the season and it’s going to be a really close battle between us. Of course, you never want to see your team-mate fall away, but hopefully we can now strike a line under the retirements and push each other all the way on track.”

Big issues

Nationality – especially if it’s German! Hamilton has been winding Rosberg up ahead of Mercedes-Benz’s home race, joking that his teammate is not really German at all but ‘Finnish-German-Monaco-esque or whatever’.

Nico, meanwhile, heads for the Hockenheim forests armed with the most German symbol he could possibly use right now: a new helmet adorned with the Jules Rimet Trophy (that’s the soccer World Cup) and four stars to highlight the fact that ‘his’ country, Germany, just won it for the fourth time.

Women drivers: Susie Wolff gets another chance, after her Silverstone disappointment, to show what she can do in the Williams. Will Sergio Perez go anywhere near her?

On a more serious note, the Hockenheim weather: it’s almost always hot at a circuit where the engines are at full throttle for two-thirds of the lap.

Quotes of the week

“The re-designed circuit could never be as mighty as the old Hockenheim, but it’s a fun little track, and it’s been purposely designed to encourage racing. The long, curved straight up to Turn Six is tailor-made for slipstreaming – you force the car ahead to be defensive, so it’s actually on the run to Turn Seven that you usually try to overtake, because you’re capitalising on the other car’s slower exit. Turn Eight is another place where you can try to make a move – because it’s possible to get into the corner side-by-side with another driver, and then make the position stick.”

Jenson Button, the only current driver to have raced on the old and new Hockenheim layouts

“The new Hockenheimring is a very nice track. It was also great a few years ago: in fact it was epic, with some flat-out straights that went on forever, together with the twisty Motodrom. Back then you used to have to go either one way or the other with the set-up: there was no room to meet in the middle. Now, with straights that are shorter, finding a compromise set-up is easier – and overtaking isn’t as difficult too. The track surface is very smooth, and the key to good tyre management is looking after the rears: there’s lots of acceleration out of slow corners, so keeping those rear tyres in good condition is absolutely crucial to a competitive performance. And let’s not forget the weather: we’ve seen both torrential rain and bright sunshine at Hockenheim in the past. That always introduces an element of unpredictability, both for qualifying and the race.”

Pirelli’s Jean Alesi offers a more detailed reading of the circuit

Off the record

Rosberg, buoyed by Germany’s Brazil success, to win whether we call it his home race or not, with Hamilton second-best in another Mercedes 1-2 and our man Ricciardo up there in third.

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