Jenson Button: “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 German Grand Prix is one of the most iconic races in Formula 1. It was first included on the world championship calendar in 1951, when it was held at the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife, and hosted its first race at Hockenheim in 1970. When Niki Lauda’s fiery crash ended the Nordschleife’s reign, Hockenheim became the race’s permanent home in 1977. Its long, wide straights usually produce entertaining racing, which the drivers and fans enjoy in equal measure.
Hockenheim facts and stats
Hockenheim was built in 1932. Initially, it was a flat-out 6.7km loop upon which Mercedes-Benz – McLaren’s engine partner for the past 20 years – tested its road and racing cars. A stadium section was constructed after the Second World War, and chicanes were added in 1968, following the death of world champion Jim Clark in a Formula 2 race.
The layout then remained largely unchanged for more than 30 years, the track becoming a semi-regular fixture on the Formula 1 calendar from 1970. It has staged the German Grand Prix on a biennial basis since 2007, sharing the race with the new Nurburgring.
Jenson Button is one of only three drivers on this year’s F1 grid to have raced on the old Hockenheim layout (the track was shortened and re-profiled after the 2001 grand prix). The modern circuit is 2.3km shorter than its predecessor and the average speed is significantly lower, but it promotes overtaking and provides good viewing.
The asphalt at Hockenheim is very smooth and the absence of any high-speed corners will allow Pirelli to take their two softest compounds to the race, as they did in Monaco, Canada and Austria earlier this season. The Supersoft is expected to give more performance over one lap in qualifying, the Soft providing better consistency in the race.
McLaren has a good record at the German Grand Prix. The team has won the race eight times, and twice at Hockenheim since it was re-profiled. Jenson finished second on F1’s last visit to the track in ’12, while Kevin Magnussen has previous racing experience at the track, but he will be tackling it for the first time in an F1 car this weekend.
Age 34 (January 19 1980)
“I remember racing at the old Hockenheim – four 200mph straights, a couple of fiddly chicanes and a stadium section where you held on tightly because the car didn’t have any downforce. It seems like a different level of craziness compared with today, but it was a lot of fun.
“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.
“There are a couple of high-speed corners, but the circuit is largely made up of low-speed turns, so our car shouldn’t be too disadvantaged. It’s a race that often throws up a surprise or two, so I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
Age 21 (October 05 1992)
“I’ve raced at Hockenheim before – back in 2010 when I was in German Formula 3 – and it’s a circuit that I enjoy. It has a good mix of corners, it’s a mid-speed track, it’s a place where you can spend a lot of the lap fighting other drivers, so it’s important to have a car that you feel comfortable pushing and which has good traction out of the corners – which is where a lot of overtaking moves tend to start around here.
“It’s a circuit which should hopefully suit us a little bit better than some of the faster, more aero-dependent tracks that we’ve visited recently. I don’t think that will significantly change the competitive order, but it would be good to get some more points under our belts as we push to move up both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.”
Eric Boullier - McLaren racing director
“It says a lot about the strength of our race team that we’ve recently managed to achieve some respectable results at circuits where we perhaps didn’t expect to shine. We’re aware that those results weren’t fully representative of the pace of our car, but were achieved because our race team has the experience and commitment to make things count when it really matters.
“Even if, on paper, the track in Germany suits us better than it seemingly did in Great Britain, we still need to maximise everything to be in a strong points-scoring position on Sunday afternoon. There are no short-term answers: we’re still pushing the development of MP4-29, and are hopeful that the lessons we learn during this season will have a positive effect on the development of next year’s car.
“In Jenson and Kevin we have two fantastic racers – both of whom have shown this year that they’re always pushing. When racecraft comes to the fore, they’ll be striving hard for some good results this weekend.”