2018 German Grand PrixView

By on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The 2018 Formula One Season hits the halfway mark at Hockenheimring this weekend. It’s also the start of another back-to-back, as one week on comes the race in Hungary.

The 17-turn track in Baden-Württemberg has hosted Formula One since 1970, with this year’s event serving as the venue’s 36th grand prix. Hockenheim is an historic track that has many tales to tell. Some of them are great, such as Berger’s win in ’94 and Irvine’s five years later, and the unbelievable 2000 race when Barrichello won after Schumacher crashed out. Others were tinged with sadness, such as the deaths of Clark and Depailler and Pironi’s career-ending crash. But that was all on the old, uncompromising circuit, of which very little remains. Speed down the straights was everything and, in the pits, even in the Nineties, inventiveness reigned supreme. Teams improvised solutions such as cutting down the pillars of the front laps, so that they ran lower to the ground, or even fitting (in free practice) four front tyres to reduce aerodynamic drag! Then it fell to the driver’s talent to make up for the lack of downforce in the Motodrom , the twistiest and most evocative section of track.

The Hockenheimring of today is very different from the one first visited almost 50 years ago. Gone are the incredibly long straights through the forest, consigned to history via a redesign in 2002. The current circuit, however, is still plenty fast, with drivers reaching speeds in excess of 335 kph in the opening section alone. Drivers are at full throttle for more than half of every lap, putting exorbitant stress on engines and the fuel they consume. Fuel management is of utmost importance, and with the right application, can be achieved without sacrificing lap time. Efficient corner approaches can lead to fuel efficiency and overtaking, particularly at the hairpin in turn six and the tight turn eight. The juxtaposition of speeds between the straights and corners gives this revamped Hockenheimring plenty of character and plenty of sight lines for fans in attendance. There’s hope of a large crowd for this race, back on the calendar after skipping 2017 and maybe we might even see a return to the large queues of fans, who would wait at the circuit exit late into the night, hoping for a glimpse of the drivers. Legend has it that, back then, some drivers would hide in the boot of the car or wear fake wigs and beards to avoid being mobbed.

Facts and stats

The original Hockenheimring was built in 1939 as a high-speed test track for Mercedes-Benz, which needed a venue to test for the Tripoli Grand Prix. It was almost eight kilometers in length, nearly twice the distance of the track’s current layout. The track first used in 2002 has little of that left: the straights that tore through the forest have gone and today the circuit comes in at under five kilometres in length, but still offers a combination of slow, medium and high speed corners. The last sector is the one that can give the tyres a hard time, while the three DRS zones could make for some interesting data in terms of top speeds. 

Kimi Raikkonen holds the race lap record at the Hockenheimring (1:13.780), set in 2004 with McLaren. Michael Schumacher holds the qualifying lap record (1:13.306), set in 2004 with Scuderia Ferrari.

Circuit length: 4.5 km

Turns: 17

Direction: clockwise

Race laps: 67

First Grand Prix: 1970

Weather prediction: lows will range from 16-17 degrees Celsius to highs of 24-27 degrees Celsius.

Tyres: medium, soft, ultrasoft

Timetable (GMT +2):

Friday 20 July

Practice One: 11:00 – 12:30

Practice Two: 15:00 – 16:30

Saturday 21 July

Practice Three: 12:00 – 13:00

Qualifying: 15:00

Sunday 22 July 

Race: 15:10


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