Hockenheim: Meet me halfway

Hockenheim: Meet me halfway

19 July 2012 – The German Grand Prix marks the midway point of the 2012 Formula 1 season. Yes, you read that right – how time flies. Last time we visited Hockenheim was two years ago, when Ferrari infamously switched their two cars around. This time, the legendary venue will be greeted by one of the sport’s best ever title battles.

Things are tightening up at the top, with Mark Webber’s Silverstone victory having reduced the 20-point gap to Fernando Alonso to just 13. With the next two races running back-to-back, everybody is striving to be the championship leader when boarding their departing flight from Budapest - it’s always a nice confidence boost ahead of the summer break. Curiously, though, even Sebastian Vettel is now over one race win away from the title lead. He and others need to get on with it.

Ahead of the weekend, the German Grand Prix has been making headlines for the wrong reasons. The Nürburgring is bankrupt. This raises questions over next year’s race, as the alternating pattern continues. Hockenheim could host events consecutively although, also strapped for cash, it would rather not do so. Bernie Ecclestone has already offered to help the Nürburgring and, with Germany being the home of the current World Champion and of powerhouse Mercedes, you can be sure that Bernie will ensure that the country will remain firmly on the schedule next year.

Staying on the subject of deals, the 2013 grid is finally taking shape. Mark Webber has signed a further one-year deal with Red Bull, having proven to himself that he does still very much have what it takes to beat Sebastian Vettel; who would have believed, at the end of last season, that the Aussie would have out-raced the German on six out of nine occasions so far this season? This leaves Lewis Hamilton in the spotlight, but it really should not. The media likes to raise question marks but, with Webber having got himself sorted out, McLaren is the only option for Hamilton. As Lewis said, long-term is the way to think; Ferrari is out of the question because of Alonso and Enstone’s Lotus has shown a number of peaks and troughs over the years.

It will be somewhat compelling to see who comes out on top this weekend. If the weather is anything like it was in 2003, when that scorcher of a summer helped Juan Pablo Montoya to an absolutely dominant victory for Williams, then Lotus could be the ones to watch out for. Between then, Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean have sealed five podium finishes so far this season; three came in the hot surroundings of Bahrain and Valencia, although those of Montreal and Silverstone were further proof of just how strong a base chassis that E20 is. I should also point out to further F1 trivia lovers that, after Britain, Grosjean is one of only two drivers to manage Q3 qualifying at all circuits so far this year. Hamilton is the other.

Let us not forget María de Villota, though. Her name may have disappeared from news bulletins as quickly as it got there, but María remains in hospital after losing her right eye in that freak testing accident. Marussia must be credited for their handling of the situation, not least how they broke the news that the car was not responsible for the incident; sadly, that had to be said to avoid a huge legal situation. It very much suggests that driver error caused the incident. The questions which remain unanswered are: was María driving too close to the team hospitality unit and the stationary truck, with its tail lift in the lowered position? Or should the truck have been parked there in the first place, tail lift down or not? The responses to those two queries will have huge relevance when it comes to apportioning blame but, at the end of the day, María remains in a bad way and our thoughts are still very much with you.

At a glance:

- Hockenheim pole position sitters
- Hockenheim Grand Prix winners

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The facts: Hockenheimring
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Laps 67

Direction Clockwise

Corners 17

Length 4.574 km / 2.842 mi

First championship race 1970

First winner Jochen Rindt – Lotus-Ford

Lap record 1:13.780 / K. Räikkönen / McLaren-Mercedes / 2004

Local start time 2pm (BST +1)

Slick Pirelli tyre compounds
Medium (white markings) & Soft (yellow markings)

DRS zone

Detection: Exit of Turn 4
Activation: 260 metres after Turn 4 until braking zone of Turn 6 Hairpin

FIA driver steward
Derek Warwick

2010 pole position sitter
Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault

2010 Grand Prix winner
Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
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Circuit changes for 2012
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- New, higher quality artificial grass has been installed on the exit of Turn 1; three metres in width, it has also been extended to make sure drivers who run wide must cross it again in order to rejoin the track (deterring corner-cutting)

- An additional row of conveyor belt has been installed after the first two rows on all six-row tyre barriers. This leaves a composition of: conveyor layer, two rows of tyres, a second conveyor, four rows of tyres and finally the wall

- All rubber will be removed from the drag strip, located on the outside of the final two corners, before the Grand Prix takes place
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Gregory Haines
GPUpdate.net Editor

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