Germany is one of the heartlands of Grand Prix racing, the nation hosting events pre-war, with the history of the German Grand Prix dating back to the early days of the sport.
The first race, in Berlin in 1926, won by Mercedes’ Rudolf Caracciola, who took victory at his home Grand Prix six times… with five at the fearsome Nürburgring across its Gesamtstrecke and Nordschleife layouts.
In the Formula 1 era, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, 12 World Championships between them, each have four wins in Germany, with the Brit able to take a record-breaking fifth this year.
And Hamilton is re-writing the history books with each new step, making his own path in the sport rather than just following his idols.
SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON,
5-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“I've never really had the dream to chase Michael [Schumacher] or chase other people titles.”
In 2019, there will be just two German drivers on the Hockenheim F1 grid, with Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari who has won there just once with Red Bull in 2013. Despite dominating in the junior categories.
Vettel will want this year to be better than 2018’s effort, when he clumsily speared into the Sachs curve barrier on Lap 53, in wet conditions. Hamilton taking advantage, winning from 14th on the grid…
… and turning an 8-point standings deficit to a 17-point lead. That race a watershed moment in what had been a hard-fought title race.
And forced Ferrari to defend its driver, Vettel under fire for too many mistakes. Germany arguably the biggest of his career.
SOUNDBITE (Italian) MAURIZIO ARRIVABENE,
FERRARI TEAM PRINCIPAL 2014-2019:
“He does it with an incredible passion that builds up in Ferrari. This is good but on the other hand sometimes it can cause problems. I honestly find it positive, but then you have to guide him.”
The other German on the F1 grid is at Renault - Nico Hülkenberg fighting for a contract extension into 2020 and beyond, against ever-stronger top-tier teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
It’s likely he would find another drive if he was dropped, but one contract that is unlikely to be renewed is Hockenheim’s with two new events coming onto the calendar to fill the space in 2020, in the Netherlands… and Vietnam.
So it’s a race and track to savour…as the European season approaches its conclusion, just four races left before Singapore.
Hockenheim is a 20 minute drive from Heidelberg, with the 4.57-kilometre circuit featuring 17 turns (six left and 11 right) for a top speed of 313 kilometres per hour. Kimi Räikkönen’s 2004 lap record for McLaren remains. While there are three DRS activation zones: with one on the long back straight between Turns 4 and 6, one on the pit straight and one that follows on to the next straight between Turns 1 and 2.
The track is, naturally, used year-round - not just for the junior categories, but also for special events like the American fan fest - and drag racing on the main straight. Both day and night.
The heartland of Grand Prix racing comes alive… for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.