Round ten of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix. The 4.574km (2.842-mile) circuit is situated on the banks of the River Rhine, between the cities of Frankfurt and ...
Round ten of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix. The 4.574km (2.842-mile) circuit is situated on the banks of the River Rhine, between the cities of Frankfurt and Stuttgart, and is making a return to the F1 calendar after sitting out 2007.
The track was built in 1939, but racing only took off at the venue in 1964 when Dutch circuit designer John Hugenholz, who also penned the Honda-owned Suzuka Circuit, created the 6.8km (4.2-mile) layout that was to remain largely unchanged until 2001. It was on this track, which had an average speed in excess of 242kph (150mph), that the Honda Racing F1 Team's driver Rubens Barrichello scored his maiden F1 victory in 2000.
Hockenheim was re-designed by Hermann Tilke in 2002 when the circuit was shortened and safety improvements were made. The mix of long straights and a twisty infield provides the teams and drivers with an interesting technical challenge and the 67-lap race is sometimes incident-packed.
HOCKENHEIM - THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE
The new Hockenheim is a very different challenge to the old layout. What was once a flat-out blast through the forest is now a modern stadium circuit, but the old Motodrom section, with its testing mix of elevation changes and double-apex corners, has been retained in the new layout.
Car set-up is a compromise between this very twisty infield section and the straights at the back of the circuit. The teams spent last week's three-day test session at the track trying to establish good levels of mechanical grip with their cars, while minimising the amount of aerodynamic downforce in order to be fast in a straight line.
Stability under braking is also important because there are a number of heavy braking areas on the lap, particularly at the Spitzkehre hairpin (Turn 6) where the cars slow from 310kph (193mph) to 60kph (37mph). It's one of the slowest corners on the Formula One calendar and the best overtaking point at Hockenheim.
With only two high-speed corners on the lap, into and out of the Motodrom, tyre wear is not such a factor at this race, but the high track temperatures sometimes witnessed in late July can create large fluctuations in grip.
Full throttle: 65%
Brake wear: Medium
Downforce level: Medium - 7/10
Tyre compounds: Hard / Medium
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 215kph (134mph)
HONDA TEAM TALK
Ross Brawn, Team Principal
Q. How much of a morale boost was Rubens' third place in the British Grand Prix two weeks ago?
"The wet race at Silverstone gave us the opportunity to combine driver experience and team performance to achieve a very well deserved podium finish for Rubens. The team worked extremely well throughout the race to take advantage of the opportunities which opened up, aided by an excellent drive and outstanding tyre feedback from Rubens. Our first podium of the season was of course a big morale boost, however it would be unrealistic to expect a repeat of this result in dry track conditions."
Q. How do you expect the Honda Racing F1 Team to perform at the German Grand Prix?
"Following the test at Hockenheim last week, we will be introducing the next step of aerodynamic, mechanical and engine performance upgrades for the RA108. The test allowed our engineers to gain a better understanding of our recent lack of qualifying pace, so we will be aiming for an improvement on our grid positions as the foundation for a strong race performance. With changeable weather predicted for the weekend, it could be an interesting race."
Q. What are your hopes for the German Grand Prix weekend?
"Our aims for Germany are as always to get the best out of the car and hopefully achieve a good result. It is so incredibly competitive in the midfield pack at the moment that it is almost impossible to make predictions. Our test at Hockenheim was successful, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that relates to our performance this coming weekend."
Q. What are your thoughts on the Hockenheim circuit?
"I have always enjoyed racing at Hockenheim and I have some great memories from previous races here after finishing on the podium in 2004 and 2005. There are good overtaking opportunities and you can see some great battles, which makes the racing exciting for the fans who always pack the grandstands here. The track can be quite a challenge if the heat and humidity levels are high, and the medium to slow speed corners put quite a bit of stress on the tyres."
Q. Following your podium finish at Silverstone, what do you hope to achieve at Hockenheim?
"It was fantastic to wake up on the Monday morning after Silverstone and see the trophy! To step onto the podium again was an unexpected but deserved outcome to our British Grand Prix weekend and I was so pleased to have achieved the result for the team. However we have to keep our focus and continue to improve the performance of the RA108 as we are fully aware that our result at Silverstone was assisted by the wet conditions. We made a small step at the test so it will be interesting to see how the car performs against our midfield competitors this weekend."
Q. Does the track provide a similar challenge to the old layout, on which you scored your first win?
"My first victory in Formula One came at Hockenheim back in 2000 so this circuit is very special to me. The layout changes mean that it is a different venue now from the track that I used to enjoy so much, however it's still a good circuit. Overtaking is possible, particularly under heavy braking, and with changeable weather, this can make for an exciting race."
Honda in Germany
When Honda began operations in Germany in 1961, it became the first Japanese automobile importer in Europe. Since then, the country has remained at the centre of Honda's European business and is home to its R&D centre in Offenbach.
Germany has consistently been one of Honda's biggest European markets. More than 42,000 units were sold in 2007, placing the country second to the UK in terms of volume, and like the UK, the biggest-selling model was the Civic with sales of 14,000 units. The Honda Civic Hybrid is now the most affordable Hybrid car in Germany and sales were up 68 percent in 2007.
New to HondaRacingF1.com
New on Honda Racing TV this week will be the German Grand Prix preview and the latest instalment of Ask The Driver, where Jenson and Rubens answer questions from the team's fans, plus a special message from Rubens following his podium finish at Silverstone.