The fight continues at Hockenheim

The fight continues at Hockenheim

Hockenheim is apparently famous for cigars and asparagus but for racing fans it is the circuit that is better known. The Hockenheim Motor Club was founded in 1931 and construction of the Triangle track began in 1932. Motorcycles were the first ...

Hockenheim is apparently famous for cigars and asparagus but for racing fans it is the circuit that is better known. The Hockenheim Motor Club was founded in 1931 and construction of the Triangle track began in 1932. Motorcycles were the first vehicles to race there and in 1938 the track was transformed into the huge circuit familiar until 2002.

After the war, racing resumed in 1947 but it wasn't until 1961 that the 'Motordrom' concept was worked on. In 1966 the Motordrom was opened and in 1970 the first Formula One race was held. F1 was absent from Hockeneheim after that until 1977 and the German Grand Prix has been held at the track ever since. The German GP was previously hosted by the N?rburgring. In 1995 Michael Schumacher was the first German to win the Hockenheim event, with Benetton.

The re-designed part of Hockenheim’s Grand Prix circuit.
Photo by DaimlerChrysler.
In 2002 Hockenheim was restructured, which many feel was a terrible shame, but the 6.8 km track was considered too long and many parts of the circuit were out of sight to spectators. The track was shortened to 4.5 km and modified at a cost of around 60million Euros, retaining seven of the original turns as well as the Motordrom.

The likes of Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell were successful at Hockenheim and in more recent years Mika Hakkinenen was a winner although Michael Schumacher has only won his home race twice. Rubens Barrichello took his first F1 victory at the track in 2000.

The new layout is less demanding and medium downforce is probably the norm. Previously a hard track for engines, Hockenheim is now only about 60% full throttle but the weather is frequently hot which needs good cooling systems. There is a combination of slow and medium speed corners and the emphasis is on traction and grip.

With the new layout and resurfaced track last year, tyre choice was a bit of a gamble. The temperature also has a bearing on which compound to use but the track is generally not very abrasive so a softer tyre is likely.

Schumacher took his second Hockenheim victory last year, his first in a Ferrari, leading from pole position to the chequered flag. Kimi Raikkonen suffered from tyre problems, as did Jarno Trulli who eventually crashed out. BAR, Jaguar, Arrows, Minardi, none of them finished the race, only nine cars made it over the finish line.

Things remain close at the top of the standings, both in the Driver's and the Constructors'. Seven points between leader Schumacher and young contender Raikkonen and ten points between Ferrari and Williams. Williams has been putting the pressure on in the latter half of the season but McLaren is only 13 points behind.

There's a big gap of 40 points to Renault but the team is fairly secure in its fourth place -- next is BAR, nearly another 40 points down the road. The fight is still between Michael and Raikkonen but the Finn is falling away slightly. Kimi needs a good result in Germany to keep his title challenge alive; there's only five more races after Hockenheim.

Of course, a lot can happen in five races, but Michael is not known for making mistakes and the Ferrari is reliable. The work falls to Raikkonen and McLaren to keep the fight going. It's unlikely that Hockenheim will produce a spectacular race such as we saw at Silverstone but it will hopefully provide some more entertainment.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Michael Schumacher , Mika Hakkinen , Kimi Raikkonen , Nigel Mansell , Alain Prost , Ayrton Senna , Nelson Piquet
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Minardi