[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] GERMAN GRAND PRIX: RACE PREVIEW

One of the most iconic locations on the calendar, Germany returns to F1 after a two-year absence, to classic track Hockenheim – near Heidelberg.

Despite races first held there in 1932, the track made its Formula 1 debut in 1970 after safety concerns with rival circuit the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with Austrian Jochen Rindt taking his final win, his fifth for the season, with Lotus – less than a second ahead of rival Ferrari’s Jackie Ickx.

German native Michael Schumacher remains the most successful at his home Grand Prix, with four victories. But six drivers have three, including Lewis Hamilton – who can equal Schumi’s record this year.

The event’s golden era was during the seven-time F1 World Champion’s reign with the grandstands awash with his supporters…

… including a young Sebastian Vettel, who first saw his hero racing at the track in 1992 for Benetton – inspiring his own career.

SOUNDBITE (English) SEBASTIAN VETTEL,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"When I started karting, Michael [Schumacher] won his first world championship, so it has always been Michael [Schumacher]  that I have been looking up to.”

Vettel has never won in F1 at Hockenheim, his German Grand Prix victory coming at the Nürburgring in 2013 for Red Bull Racing… 

But Vettel has won at the Hockenheimring in the junior categories, shown here in Formula BMW ADAC. The German taking 18 victories en route to the 2004 title, establishing his trademark victory salute.

Fast forward to 2018, and Germany will be the first round after F1’s inaugural triple header… 

… which began with round eight in France, held for the 15th time at the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet on June 24. The track, near Marseille, hosted its first Grand Prix since 1990, Lewis Hamilton taking his 65th win and a 14-point lead in the championship.

One week later, the sport moved 1000 kilometres north-east on to Austria - and Spielberg, in the Styrian mountains, home to the Red Bull Ring – Max Verstappen taking his first win for 2018, while Vettel re-gained the championship lead by 1-point, after Mercedes’ double DNF.

F1 then travelled another 1500 kilometres to the United Kingdom, and the historic Silverstone Circuit, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Vettel winning and extending his lead in the drivers standings, following a thrilling pass on Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas five laps from home.

The sport now moves onto Germany, and to the 4.57-kilometre Hockenheimring, which has 17 turns and a top speed of 313 kilometres an hour. Kimi Räikkönen set the lap record back in 2004. While there are now three DRS activation zones: one between Turns 1 and 2, another between Turns 4 and 6 and a new one on the pit straight.

Nico Hülkenberg is the only other German on the grid this year and will make a proud return to his home track at Hockenheim, this time for manufacturer squad Renault. The 30-year-old raced for Force India at the last German GP in 2016 – even getting a chance to test Mercedes’ 1954 and 1955 world title winning car, the W196 in the lead-up.

Mercedes remains a favourite, given the importance of power but Ferrari may again outperform the Silver Arrows. Making this a battle for the ages, with F1’s titan manufacturers duking it out - and Vettel high on confidence given his win at the last race.

Fast, flowing, with plenty of history. It’s time for the German Grand Prix.