With its three long straights penetrated by quick chicanes, followed the tight and twisty stadium section, the German Grand Prix would often be one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, slowed only by the extremely nervous machines as they tiptoed around the stadium with next-to-no downforce.
The current layout cuts across the forest and links up not far from the stadium, whereby a couple of short chutes make up the link to the old circuit and while it occasionally delivers some decent racing in its latest format, it is impossible to ignore that the once great circuit has lost a good deal of charm in its modernisation. If anything, the Hockenheimring was the closest Formula 1 had to Le Mans and it leaves Monza as the last truly fast circuit on the Formula 1 schedule.
Suitably the last German Grand Prix at the old Hockenheimring was won by a Schumacher; albeit Ralf, not Michael and after a year break, Formula 1 returns to the Baden-Württemberg circuit for the eleventh round of the 2010 season. However it is not the latest German wunderkind that is leading the way, but 2008 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel lost out at the previous round in Silverstone following on from some front shenanigans within the Red Bull camp, leaving his Australian teammate, Mark Webber suitably and publicly irritated. Losing out to a first lap puncture, Vettel secured seventh place, but it dropped him behind Webber in the title hunt. Two top four finishes for Hamilton and Jenson Button in the McLaren’s shored up their lead in the Driver’s Championship, but with Webber once again on a roll and full of confidence, he may be difficult to beat. However, it is best not to count out Vettel – will his home crowd lift the young Red Bull driver to victory or will the pressure see him drop the ball?
Expect also support for the other German drivers too, especially Michael Schumacher – taking part in his first race at the circuit since he won there in 2006. It is highly unlikely that he repeat that result in his “difficult” Mercedes; however at this rate, the veteran may well be happy with just some points.
Just for this race, here’s the Hockenheimring circuit in German from a bedraggled Mr Vettel.