As the 2012 Formula One season hits its mid-point, round 10 of the championships sees the teams head for the German Grand Prix and the Hockenheimring, which returns to the calendar after its now traditional
It’s been 10 years since a redesign saw the circuit change from a flat-out blast down two massive linked straights to a circuit offering perhaps a more complex challenge, although possibly a less viscerally exciting one.
Modern Hockenheim is a tricky race to set-up for. While the forest straights are gone, it’s still a relatively fast circuit and drivers will be on full throttle for upwards of 64% of the lap. The high-speed early part of the track, particular from turns two to six should call for a medium to lower downforce set-up but the circuit also features a tight stadium section where high downforce is needed, so a balancing act is required. Given the quick changes of direction encountered in the stadium section and through turns three and four, a stable car is also important.
For F1 tyre supplier Pirelli, this is something of a trip into the unknown. The only recent experience it has of the track is from a GP3 race in 2010 and that weekend was often wet. As such the tyre company is bringing its medium and soft tyres, believing that the adaptable medium will cover most bases on a track defined by compromise.
Five German drivers will start this weekend: Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock and Nico Hulkenberg. Of the five, only Schumacher has won here before (in 1995, ‘02, ‘04 and ‘06). All will be keen to put in good performances on home soil, though for Vettel, who has 100 Drivers’ Championship points, this weekend may be particularly important in his efforts to keep pace with championship leader Fernando Alonso (129 points) and second-placed Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber (116 points).
Length of lap
4.574km Lap record
McLaren-Mercedes, 2004) Start line/finish line offset 0.000km Total number of race laps
67 Total race distance
306.458km Pitlane speed limits
60km/h during practice,
100km/h during qualifying and race
CHANGES TO THE CIRCUIT SINCE 2010
►The drag strip around the outside of turn 16 will have all the rubber removed before the Grand Prix.
►Better quality artificial grass will be used on the exit of turn 1, it will be three metres in width and extended to ensure drivers have to cross it to get back on the track.
►An additional conveyor belt will be fitted after two rows on all six row barriers, these barriers will then comprise, conveyor, two rows, conveyor, four rows and then wall.