After a one-year absence for the calendar, the German GP in Hockenheim returns for the 2016 season. Lewis Hamilton has finally snatched the championship lead from Nico Rosberg, following the British GP and Hungarian GP.
After Hamilton got booed in Austria, the British fans got their own back by booing Rosberg despite Lewis’ best efforts. Hungary was… a snooze-fest if I do say so myself. The Hungaroring is a circuit that offers very few overtaking opportunities.
McLaren exploited this feature and the weather to their advantage to sneak both cars into the top 10 at the expense of Kimi Raikkonen. The race, however was a different story because Jenson Button developed a brake issue and had to receive emergency assistance by the mechanics over the radio.
Race Direction however, were unimpressed and penalized the Briton with a drive-through even though the ailing McLaren-Honda had already penalized itself by dropping him dead-last. An extremely grouchy Button remarked that Charlie Whiting needed to differentiate between an instruction to coach a driver and an instruction to fix a safety issue.
Heading into the German round here is the lowdown.
Located in the Rhine valley near the town of Hockenheim, the circuit was first built 1932 and was nearly 8 kilometers long. After far too many fatalities including Jim Clark, Patrick Depailler and others, the circuit went through a number of alterations. Here we see a comparison between the old layout and the current layout.
Former F1 driver and current Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle didn’t like the old layout because the long straights took a toll on the engines. Going on a flying lap around the current layout, the driver brakes hard for the Nordkurve and accelerates before braking again for turn 2 which is nearly 180 degrees.
He flies down the long Parabolika before going hard on the anchors for the Hairpin which is the slowest corner. a short straight before banking it right and left which leads him on to a left-right sequence and another short straight.
Braking again for the Agip Curve (Mobil 1) and that spits the car out onto the Sachs Curve. Another left-right sequence followed by a right-hander and another right-hander called the Opel Curve and that brings us to the start-finish straight.
If using the old layout the track extends way past Turn 2 and heads deep into the forest before meeting the first of 3 chicanes namely Clark Chicane, named after Jim Clark who tragically lost his life there, another burst of speed and the second chicane looms namely the Ost Chicane.
Yet another flat out stretch and hard on the anchors for the Senna Chicane and a short straight before meeting the Agip Curve, the Sachs Curve and the Opel Curve and the start-finish.
Team by team Tire Strategy
As seen above the Medium tires, the Soft tires and the Supersoft tires are available for this weekend. Ferrari, Sauber and McLaren have stocked up on 9 sets of Supersofts(SS) each, Mercedes, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Manor have selected 8 sets of SS, Haas, Renault and Williams have selected 7 sets of SS and Force India have audaciously elected to go for 6 sets and that will be a very interesting strategy.
As for the Soft tires, Williams, Renault and Haas have decided to go for 5 sets, Mercedes, Red Bull, Force India, Toro Rosso and Manor opted for 4 sets, meanwhile Ferrari, Sauber and McLaren elected for 3 sets.
As for the Medium tire choice, it isn’t the most popular choice with majority of the teams opting for just a single set of Medium tires, with the exception of Force India who have opted for 3 sets which is for obvious reasons, all part of a huge gamble in terms of strategy. Given that Perez and Hulkenberg are adept at making the tires last, this strategy could be one to watch out for.
The gloves are off between the two Mercedes drivers as they battle for supremacy. Hamilton has admitted that he is still the hunter despite taking the lead because he believes that Rosberg will not back down.
Nico knows that his qualifying pace is on point so he will definitely use that to his advantage, another added bonus is that Rosberg will be hungrier than ever after coming ever-so-close for two years in a row. Meanwhile Red Bull has declared war over Ferrari over second place in the constructor’s standings.
Ferrari had all their aces in the hole in the first few races of the season, but Red Bull has caught up with consistent performances by both drivers and a reliable car. Williams has consolidated fourth in the standings even though their pace has been inconsistent.
McLaren have been declared a threat by the likes of Force India and Toro Rosso, although reliability still haunts the Woking squad. Sauber have been boosted financially after ownership changed hands but it has yet to be seen on the track.
After a strong start to the season, Haas F1 has settled on being midfield runners. Former World Champions Renault’s comeback has been anything but a fairytale because the team has yet to score points as we approach the halfway stage of the season.
Manor F1 has been officially labeled the perpetual backmarkers but thanks to the sensational efforts of Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein, the British team has found itself leapfrogging Sauber and Renault.
But in the other camp it isn’t all roses and chocolates, Indonesian rookie Rio Haryanto has run out of sponsorship it seems and according to a little bird, he will be racing in Germany with no sponsors backing him. Meanwhile, there are a few drivers eyeing Haryanto’s seat. McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne is one of the names dropped to replace the Indonesian.
What will happen in Hockenheim? Who knows but one thing is for sure, the competition has become fiercer. Stay tuned this weekend to find out.