The Team Round 12 of the 2002 Formula One World Championship takes place at the legendary Hockenheimring in the woodlands of western Germany this weekend. Thanks to a radical new track layout, this year's German Grand Prix is expected to throw...
Round 12 of the 2002 Formula One World Championship takes place at the legendary Hockenheimring in the woodlands of western Germany this weekend. Thanks to a radical new track layout, this year's German Grand Prix is expected to throw up one of the most interesting races of the 2002 season as the teams struggle to come to terms with their foray into the unknown.
Last year, Hockenheim saw Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's second podium finish in the team's brief history, so the old circuit holds fond memories. This year's race brings a whole new set of challenges, not least of which will be extracting the optimum set-up from a combination of last year's track data and software simulations of the new circuit.
Despite the fact that the team haven't run at the new circuit, the engineers have been pre-empting and debating its revised characteristics for some time in preparation for this weekend. Amongst their conclusions, they predict that tyres will probably an important factor as the manufacturers have not tested on this circuit yet. Now that the long straights have been lost there will be less heat in the tyres so a much softer compound will be required. There will also be fewer overtaking opportunities. Where previously there were three or four good spots, this has now been reduced to two.
The new Hockenheim will also be quite a high downforce circuit while in previous years it was the lowest downforce track. The removal of the long straights will mean that the stadium section should be much faster because of the high wing levels the car is carrying. B.A.R expect the new characteristics to be reasonably demanding on power. With its mix of slow and fast corners, it will be challenging on the car's performance but not particularly demanding on aerodynamic efficiency.
David Richards, Team Principal
"With only a week between these two races, we've put a disappointing French Grand Prix behind us and focused all our attention on doing a better job in Hockenheim this weekend. Teamwork will once again be critical here and with the new circuit representing something of an unknown quantity, we expect a tougher challenge than usual for the drivers, the engineers and our partners Honda and Bridgestone."
"The same is true for all of the teams however so we'll be doing the best job we can and keeping a close eye on any opportunity to get a step ahead of our competitors. I see no reason why a positive Friday shouldn't lead us to top 10 grid places for both cars on Sunday."
"We had a podium in Hockenheim last year so we go back to the track with good memories. That always sets a positive mood going into the weekend. This year, however, we have a new layout to contend with so it will be like starting from scratch."
"I don't know what I make of the new layout. I've just seen it on a piece of paper at the moment. It looks like there are some good braking zones but then you can see that some corners have been added in the section that's just before the stadium. That seems to be because someone decided that there aren't enough corners and that's always a shame. It's not a low downforce track anymore and it's like many of the circuits we race at. It had a unique character and it's lost it now."
"The French Grand Prix last weekend was a tough race for us and, realistically, we have to expect the same for this weekend. We'll have our work cut out for us getting to know the circuit and working with the tyres, so first practice on Friday will be a critical day in determining the rest of the weekend."
"We had a disappointing French Grand Prix last weekend. I was very angry at the way I was taken out of the race but with only a week between races, I've had to put it behind me and move on to the next one."
"A disappointing race only motivates me to work harder and that will be the case in Hockenheim this weekend where we have to get to grips with a new circuit. I thought the old circuit was fantastic. I finished on the podium here in 1994 - my first season in Formula One. I had a points finish again in 1999 and narrowly missed out last year. This year, I'm sure it's going to be a tough challenge but it's the same for everyone so we have to be optimistic."
"The tyres will be a major factor here. It used to be a fast circuit and tyre wear was high but this year, the manufacturers have only been able to simulate tyre requirements so Free Practice on Friday should be very interesting."
Re-opened in 1966 after the original oval was cut in two by the construction of an autobahn, Hockenheim has been radically changed again for 2002. The legendary sweeping forest straights have been removed in place of a tighter, more modern layout which boasts a much larger spectator capacity. The result is a track that is almost unrecognisable from its predecessor with dramatic reductions in both speed and length, but improvements in safety.
As the new layout will be an unknown factor for all of the teams, opening practice will provide the first opportunity to research their set-up and the emphasis will be on gathering as much data as possible for the race itself.