The circuit: Along with Monza, the Hockenheimring is one of the two fastest circuits currently visited by the Formula One teams. Main features are a pair of dauntingly fast straights, now interrupted by chicanes, which hurtle off into dark ...
Along with Monza, the Hockenheimring is one of the two fastest circuits currently visited by the Formula One teams. Main features are a pair of dauntingly fast straights, now interrupted by chicanes, which hurtle off into dark coniferous forests, plus the so-called "stadium" section, best described as a large, natural amphitheatre. Chassis set-up is actually more complicated than it may at first appear. The long straights, where cars can reach speeds of up to 360 km/h, dictate a low-downforce chassis set-up, but the second-gear chicanes require good braking and chassis stability, as does the fast, fourth-gear corner that leads into the stadium section. As a result, the optimum chassis set-up for the current, narrow-track Formula One cars at a circuit like the Hockenheimring is to run them with some downforce. This is at the cost of a slight increase in drag, but on balance, a driver can actually gain more time under braking through the tight corners than he loses through marginally lower maximum speeds on the straights.
British American Racing will definitely be looking to improve on its performance in the 1999 German Grand Prix when it arrives at Hockenheim next weekend. Having qualified 12th and 18th last year, Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta were hoping for a competitive race. Unfortunately, though, the 1997 World Champion was eliminated at the first corner after he was hit from behind by Marc Gene''s Minardi, while Zonta had to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 15, to replace the damaged front wing of his car, and was eventually forced into retirement six laps later with engine failure. The race ended up as a Ferrari benefit, Eddie Irvine and Mika Salo taking the top two podium spots for the famous Italian marque, with Jordan''s Heinz-Harald Frentzen claiming third place.
"Hockenheim is a quick, bumpy circuit that becomes very narrow after the first corner. Straight-line speed is important, but there is also heavy braking for the chicanes. On a fast lap, you touch the curbs, but you don''t use them as much as at, say, Monza. As a driving challenge, Hockenheim is okay, although it''s maybe a little boring with long straights and not many corners. Our car is strong on fast, low downforce tracks, so I''m expecting to go well in Germany and hopefully make up for the disappointment of the Austrian Grand Prix."
David Lloyd, Race Engineer:
"First and foremost, Hockenheim has a reputation as a bit of an ''engine breaker'', mainly because of the amount of time engines spend at high revs and on full throttle in the course of a lap. The layout of the circuit, with its long straights and relatively tight chicanes, plus the stadium section, makes for a very different technical challenge from the previous two races, in France and Austria. Ricardo ran on the last day of this week''s Silverstone test with a low-downforce version of the new aero kit we had at the A1 Ring, and was positive about the results. That, plus this week''s encouraging Silverstone test results, give us optimism for the German Grand Prix. The aim is to continue the team''s recent run of competitive form."