There’s no time to rest for the Formula 1 Paddock as the Championship resumes this weekend at Hockenheim, after a thrilling British Grand Prix and some long working days during the Silverstone test last week.
The German Grand Prix joined the Formula 1 calendar back in 1951, with races being held at Nürburgring (26), Avus (1) and Hockenheim (33). Hockenheim’s first appearance came as a ‘last minute’ addition in 1970, when drivers boycotted the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife due to safety concerns. For more than 10 years from 1995 there were two Grand Prix every year in Germany: the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, plus either the European GP or the Luxembourg GP at Nürburgring. Starting from 2007, Nürburgring and Hockenheimring alternate on hosting the German GP.
The Hockenheimring was built in 1932 and had almost eight kilometers length. The track has been redesigned many times since, with the biggest modifications coming in the early 2000s when it had become clear that the circuit was no longer suited to modern racing. The circuit - which used to be one of the fastest in the world - was dramatically shorted for the 2002 German GP, when the long straights where replaced by some tight corners. Safety and security at the track, as well as spectator viewing, were greatly improved.
Hockenheimring is a 4.6 km track which figures five high speed stretches, four slow turns and three ideal spots for overtaking. Its final, narrow section is quite challenging for the drivers with the corners coming quickly after each other. They can easily gain time here by carrying the speed from one corner to the next, but if they mistake in one turn, that will negatively influence the remainder of the sector.
F1Zone.net sat down with Daniel Juncadella who explained the key areas in Hockenheim in terms of a quick lap time. Force India’s reserve driver only made his Formula 1 practice debut at the British GP two weeks ago, but has raced at Hockenheim during his Formula Three and DTM career.
“The first corner is a high-speed corner, fourth or fifth gear,” he said. “It’s really easy to go wide. There’s a lot of run off area on the outside but the green astroturf limits you and you need to try to avoid it because is very slippery. You go into the next straight, not a very long one, and you’ll brake soon into turn two, which is very bumpy.”
“Then you have a low-speed corner, which you need to take care with in the beginning and not go too quick because you need to get a very good exit to get maximum speed on the straights. Through turn three and four you need to get a very clean exit onto the kerb, on the outside, and then maximum speed through the longest straight on the track.”
“You arrive to the hairpin, which is the slowest corner on the whole track, probably in first gear, and it’s very important to brake late here because you can gain a lot of time. The exit is not that important so you try to gain all the time in the braking in this corner.”
“Turn seven is a flat right kink, not really a corner, only if it’s wet you maybe have to lift a little bit. Then you arrive into Mercedes corner, a low-speed corner, second or third gear. Here you need to focus on not having a very bad exit because the kerb on the outside is very rough so if you take it you lose a lot of speed for the next corner. Turn 10 is a high-speed corner, so you need to try and bring maximum speed through the entire corner and then to exit as much as possible on the outside, over the kerb.”
The 23-year-old Spaniard says the final sector is probably the most interesting for the drivers.
“After the second sector finishes you arrive into the emblematic part of Hockenheim. Turn 12 is a high-speed corner as well. Try to get really close to the kerb in the inside, but not touching it, and then on the outside you go all over the astroturf, which is quite slippery but you can use it to gain a lot of speed.
“You can really go very quickly into the next corner, Sachs, always next to the inside kerb but also not touching it, and you can get a very clear exit on the outside. Turns 14 and 15 are very quick chicanes, very easy flat, and then you go into the last two corners which are very tricky for the front tires. Turn 16, near the kerb on the inside, then you go outside and try to slow down a bit and get a very quick exit because then you gain all the speed through the last corner into the finish line,” concluded Juncadella.
There will be two DRS zones for this weekend's race - the first between Turns 1 and 2 and the second between Turns 4 and 6, along the curving Parabolika.
The German Grand Prix will mark the halfway point of the 2014 Formula 1 season, which has so far been dominated by Mercedes, who now lead Red Bull in the Constructor’s Championship by 158 points. Nico Rosberg is still on top of the Driver’s Standings but his lead over Lewis Hamilton was trimmed to only four points following his retirement at the British Grand Prix.
There are four German drivers on the grid this weekend keen to win their home Grand Prix, although Fernando Alonso has won the last two races in Hockenheim, in 2010 and 2012.
Teams will have a lot of work to do this weekend as the newest data they have at this track is from 2012, when both the cars and the tyres were very different from today. Pirelli has nominated its soft and supersoft compound for this race, same as in Monaco, Canada and Austria.
Hockenheim is quite a mixed track where you need as much power as possible for the straights as well as strong traction for the slow corners.
Friday 18 July
- Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
- Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 19 July
- Practice Three: 11:00 – 12:00
- Qualifying: 14:00
Sunday 20 July
- Race: 14:00 (52 laps or two hours)