2010 German GP Preview For round eleven of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship the Formula One circus has arrived at the Hockenheimring in Germany. The Hockenheimring has a rich history of ...
2010 German GP Preview
For round eleven of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship the Formula One circus has arrived at the Hockenheimring in Germany. The Hockenheimring has a rich history of motor racing, the first Formula One race at the venue was in 1970 and was won by Germany's, posthumous 1970 World Champion, Jochen Rindt. The famous Motodrom area was built in the 1960s after 30 years of racing on the local roads. The circuit offers spectators an unique view on the track and they can watch their favorite drivers pass the enormous grandstands. From 2002 to 2003 the circuit was completely rebuild because the track was too long (6.8 km), and vast sections of the circuit ran through dense woods which were inaccessible for the public. The new design was shorter and additional grandstands were build which can now accommodate up to 120,000 spectators.
This year's Grand Prix will be special for the German spectators, no less than six German drivers will be present at Hockenheim, and for the first time ever, an all German Mercedes GP team will make its debut on the German track which is located 20 km from the historic city of Heidelberg. During 60 years of Formula One, a total of 110 Grands Prix have been won by Germans, Michael Schumacher won 91 races, Sebastian Vettel 7, Ralf Schumacher 6, Heinz-Harald Frentzen 3, Wolfgang von Trips 2 and Jochen Mass won one race. Although Rindt officially had the German nationality, he always drove with an Austrian license, and therefore his win in 1970 is not included in this list. Also because of that, Schumacher remains as the only German who won the Formula One Championship.
The FIA has appointed four stewards who will make up the F1 Stewards Panel for the race in Germany: Mexican Jose Abed and Swiss Paul Gutjahr will represent the FIA, Mrs. Waltraud Wunsch will represent the hosting country Germany, and ex-Formula One and CART driver American Daniel John (Danny) Sullivan III will represent the drivers.
The 60-year old Sullivan enjoyed a short career in Formula One when he in 1983 joined the Benetton Tyrrell team. He returned to the US in 1984 to compete in the CART championship, and in 1985 he won the Indy 500. His 'spin and win' Indy 500 victory made him famous. He overtook Mario Andretti on lap 120 while fighting for the lead, but made a 360 degree spin at full speed, went off the circuit between turns one and two, but he managed to recover from his spin without hitting anything or anyone. He then went into the pits to replace his flat-spotted tyres and overtook Andretti again 20 laps later, thus winning one of the most prestigious races in motorsports. He won the CART championship for Penske in 1988 and retired from racing in 1994 after a big crash at the Michigan International Speedway, which left him with a broken pelvis.
Six Germans at Hockenheim
Six Germans will be present at this year's German Grand Prix, one of those six drivers is seven-time world champion Schumacher, who has vowed to turn the season around in front of the German crowd. Schumacher has been under fire because of his poor results, and team colleague Nico Rosberg has outperformed him this season by scoring three third places. It was a disappointing comeback for Schumacher, and many are speculating whether he will still be racing in Formula One next year.
Schumacher is optimistic about his home Grand Prix, "At Hockenheim I will definitely try my best for my fans who give me such a lot of support, especially over the race weekend." He also hailed the German fans, "The German Grand Prix is very special for any German driver, and there are very few areas on any race track worldwide comparable to the Motodrom. As a driver you feel that energetic atmosphere when entering [the Motodrom]. Driving in front of our grandstand in front of all the employees, members and friends of Mercedes-Benz will be an emotional moment. I will therefore be extra motivated to give them a weekend to remember. No matter how long you have been around, it is always special to race in front of your home crowd."
His team colleague Rosberg is the second German on the list, he scored 90 points this season including three third places and is sixth in the championship. He is also looking forward to his home Grand Prix, "It's fantastic to see their [fans] support for the German drivers." He is also a fan of the circuit, "I love the track itself as it's quite challenging with some good overtaking opportunities and the races here can often be quite exciting. Going into one of the team's home weekends with the podium finish from Silverstone is a real boost for us, and we will be working hard to continue our improvement in performance and have a strong weekend."
Vettel, who gave a demonstration with the Red Bull show car in his home town Heppenheim in front of 120,000 fans earlier this week, is strongly motivated to win his home race. Will there be extra pressure for him? "It's definitely something special, I wouldn't say pressure, it's a little bit of extra motivation, and you probably find this extra tenth [of a second] when you're going around the track.", the 23-year old German told. He also talked about the German fans, and urged them to respect all drivers, including Webber, "I hope that at Hockenheim all the drivers are welcomed with respect. I know that I will never lose respect for other people. We are all sportsmen and should be treated in such a way."
Force India driver Adrian Sutil about the circuit said, "I've raced at Hockenheim a lot of times with many different cars: in Formula Ford, Formula BMW and now F1 and I've had some of my strongest races there." And like all the other German drivers he thinks racing for the German fans is a plus, "Ever since I've been in F1 there has always been a large German contingent in F1 and now with six, and one of them being Schumacher, I hope we'll get an even bigger crowd and more atmosphere."
Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg is looking forward to the 'buzzing atmosphere' of the Motodrom and aims to score points this weekend. "Hockenheim is actually one of my favourite tracks on the calendar. The track layout is quite interesting and the Motodrome is the best part of it. Scoring a point at Silverstone was satisfying and motivating, but I am hungry for more and want to improve upon that result in Hockenheim." But he is a bit worried about the extreme tyre allocation, "We have to be careful with the tyres because the track can be quite hard on them."
Virgin's Timo Glock also has a special bond with the circuit, "As always, I'm really looking forward to my home Grand Prix at Hockenheim, which is around 30 minutes from my front door, so it really is a home race for me. With so many German drivers competing in F1 this year the feeling we will get from the crowd will be incredible I'm sure." And his goal for this weekend? "It goes without saying that I aim to achieve the best result possible and with the progress we have made in terms of the mechanical and aero upgrades to the car over the last two races I am feeling optimistic."
Pit stops and tyres
Expected pit stop schedule for Hockenheim:
For 1 Stop - between laps 32-37
For 2 Stops - between laps 22-26 and 43-46
For 3 Stops - between laps 10-21, 27-32 and 45-49
Bridgestone tyre report
Bridgestone opted for a radical tyre allocation for the first time this season, the Japanese company will bring the Hard and Super Soft compounds to Hockenheim. It is expected the extreme tyre choice will spice up the race, but others fear it might lead to problems for teams who in the past heave been struggling to get the tyres working properly. It will also be the first time drivers will use the full slick tyres at Hockenheim, instead of the grooved tyres which were used during the last race in 2008.
Hirohide Hamashima about the tyres and circuit, "The circuit layout features a long left hander before the hairpin where it is important to have good stability. After the hairpin, there are strong traction demands on the rear tyres. Elsewhere, a good overall balance is required. We have a unique opportunity with the nature of the Hockenheim circuit allowing us to bring the softest and the hardest tyres from our range. This should provide a challenge for everyone and should be interesting."
And tyre-wise the race could become even more interesting, although warm summer weather is expected, there are also predictions of heavy downpours for Saturday and Sunday. In that case drivers will have to use the intermediate or full wet tyres, which would force teams to adapt an alternative tyre strategy, as there is no mandatory tyre pit stop during a wet race.
Red Bull drivers reunited?
In his column for the UK Telegraph David Coulthard warned Mark Webber that "airing dirty laundry in public is a risky strategy" and could backfire on the Australian. Webber now seems to realize this as well, and has admitted he had said too many things in public. "Formula One is a highly charged and fiercely competitive arena where emotions and adrenaline do run high from time to time like in many sports.", Webber said on his website. "My comment on the radio after the race was an example of Australian sarcasm -- either at its best or worst depending on how you choose to take it.", he explained.
Team owner Dieter Mateschitz has promised both drivers will be given equal opportunities. Mateschitz, "We do not have a number one and a number two driver. Both drivers have cars to exactly the same standard. The problem with the new wing at Silverstone was the first exception." He also didn't criticize Webber for his public outburst at Silverstone, "It was unnecessary, but on the other side, Mark has done nothing wrong." He also admitted he didn't care who will win the title this year, as long as it is a Red Bull driver. Mateschitz also doesn't believe in team orders or in number one or number two drivers, he believes it simply doesn't fit the Red Bull philosophy and style.
Vettel has more worries than his friendship with Webber, he is now fourth in the championship, 24 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton and another disaster like in Silverstone could cost him more points. But Vettel thinks Red Bull is the team to beat, and therefore it is inevitable he will have to focus on beating Webber as well. "The team mate is the first you want to beat because he has the same equipment.", he explained in the German magazine Der Spiegel. Both Webber and Vettel are now concentrating on winning the title, which could lead to more tensions in the future. But Webber warned the future could look different for Vettel, as he believes now he is leading Vettel in the championship, he will get the new parts, and not Vettel.
McLaren is currently leading both championships but team principal Martin Whitmarsh told the media "there is no room for complacency". He also rejected claims his team is behind with the development of the car. Whitmarsh, "We've come off an extremely successful run of recent races, but we're nonetheless under no illusions that we need to bring further performance to the MP4-25 if we are to remain at the forefront of this championship battle."
According to Whitmarsh the team as adapted an aggressive approach to develop updates to enhance the performance of the car. After Silverstone the team has spend much time on rig tests, dyno running and development work in the wind tunnel. On Friday they will run an extensive test program to evaluate new floors and updates on the blown diffuser, when the results are positive they will run these updates during the race as well.
Ferrari again had another disastrous race at Silverstone, and after Fernando Alonso's drive-through penalty Ferrari is now again pushing the FIA to change the rules. Team principal Stefano Domenicale came up with a proposal: "We will discuss an amendment to the regulations: if the race directors are not involved within 3-4 corners afterwards, the [overtaking] maneuver is considered to be correct." It seems Ferrari wants to change the rules every time they are not convenient, perhaps they are not familiar with the wise words of the great Italian writer and poet Cesare Pavese: "Lesson are not given, they are taken".
Felipe Massa is not happy with this season's Bridgestone tyres. Massa has been struggling to get enough heat into the tyres, and it will be even more difficult to get the hard tyre compound up to the right temperature this weekend. "On tracks that were a little bit cold and not as abrasive, I was always struggling in qualifying with getting the tyres up to temperature." the Brazilian explained. He was positive about the updates for the Ferrari F10, "I think they were a good improvement compared to the previous races. But it's also important that you keep a big motivation to keep the car growing and for the next race you have an even better car."
The extreme tyre allocation will be the key factor during this weekend's German Grand Prix, while the prospect of rain could force teams to change their tyre strategy just before or during the race. Some teams are versatile enough to deal with changing weather conditions, while others are not, but during extreme rain the factor luck will also come into play. If the weather is hot, drivers will have to preserve their Super Soft tyres, or they will have to make an extra tyre pit stop.
With six Germans competing in this race the competition will be though, all six of them are looking for a maximum performance during their home Grand Prix. McLaren is hoping to capitalize on the internal struggles Red Bull has been going through for the past few weeks, but the Red Bull team knows what is at stake and will hopefully be able to get Vettel and Webber working together to make the most of the German Grand Prix.
With the top four leaders of the championship, Hamilton (145), Button (133), Webber (128) and Vettel (121), less than 25 points apart of each other, one of these four drivers will be leading the drivers' championship after this weekend's German Grand Prix.