The Hockenheimring in Germany will host the 10th round of the 2014 Formula 1 season. It will be the 61st time that the German Grand Prix has appeared on the F1 calendar. The sport last visited the circuit in 2012, with Fernando Alonso winning from Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen (Sebastian Vettel finished second but a time penalty dropped him down the order), as it currently alternatives hosting the race with the Nurburgring.
It is a home race for four drivers – Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil – as well as one team (Mercedes).
The current shorter, safer and slower layout was introduced for the 2002 event and replaced the fast, tricky and more dangerous 4.24 mile version that was raced on by some of the greatest drivers in F1 history.
A lap of the 2.842 mile circuit starts on the medium-length start/finish straight, which leads on to the high-speed right-hander of turn one. It features plenty of run-off area (expect the stewards to be keeping a very close eye on this corner) and is followed by a short straight, with the pit exit to the right.
Turn two is a slow right-hand hairpin that provides drivers with a good overtaking opportunity – particularly in the opening few laps. Turn three leads on to turn four, which is a fast left-hand kink that takes the drivers on to the start of the second sector and the longest flat-out section on the circuit.
The gently curving turn five is followed by the very heavy braking zone for the sixth corner, which is the best spot on the track to complete an overtake – helped by the position of the first DRS zone. After another short straight is the flat-out kink of the seventh corner, before the tricky medium-speed left-hander of turn eight.
The ninth corner leads on to the double-apex right that makes up the 10th and 11th turns. A relatively short straight follows before the track re-joins the old stadium section, with huge grandstands sweeping around this part of the track. The 12th corner kicks off sector three and is a fast right-hander that is very tricky to master, particularly in wet conditions.
Turn 13 is a long left-hand hairpin and is a potential overtaking spot, with turns 14 and 15 making up a fast left-right chicane. Next up is the medium-speed left of turn 16 and the final corner, which is a slightly faster left-hander. It will be even more challenging this year with the added torque of the 2014 cars. The pit lane entry is to the right and cuts inside the last turn.
The track requires a medium downforce set-up, due to the need for less of it in the first sector (with the long straights) and more of it in the twisty second and third sections. Drivers usually test different levels of downforce in Friday practice.
It isn’t necessarily a ‘power’ circuit, but it features several long flat-out sections that should benefit those with Mercedes power. Corner wise, there is a mix of everything, with braking stability being important for the heavy braking zones for turns two, six, eight and 13.
There is no denying that Mercedes will be the team to beat once again, but will Nico Rosberg bounce back from his Silverstone retirement to take a home victory, or can Lewis Hamilton take back the championship lead? There is also the question of who will be best of the rest.
Williams and Force India should go well at the circuit. Red Bull Racing and Ferrari will be in the mix too, as will McLaren – the midfield battle continues to be hugely competitive, with Toro Rosso also entering the fight for minor points as well.
The German Grand Prix has a tough act to follow after the drama that took place at Silverstone, but the Hockenheimring always puts on a good show in front of the fanatical home fans