The Infiniti Red Bull Racing team arrive at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix on the back of a podium finish last time out at Silverstone for Daniel Ricciardo, while Sebastian Vettel ended the race in fifth. It was a stark improvement from the Austrian event two weeks previous, and the two drivers will want to continue the improvement this weekend.
For Vettel, it is his home Grand Prix, and he is looking forward to getting to the track and experiencing the support of the crowd that is always enthusiastic and full of encouragement for the German, and he hopes to repay them with a good result on Sunday.
“I always enjoy the atmosphere at the Hockenheimring,” said Vettel. “When you arrive at track in the morning the circuit’s already filled with fans and when you’re in the car you can see lots of German flags in the grandstands. The signing session is always very busy too. It’s those little things I really enjoy about Hockenheim.
“We get a lot of encouragement. During practice you know that the fans in the grandstands are there to support you and stand by you, no matter what. Of course, you want to give as much as possible back to the fans, but sometimes it’s not in your hands. However we will attack at the weekend and give everything.”
Team-mate Ricciardo admits some bravery is required to be quick at Hockenheim, but admits a balanced car is a must with the layout of the track offering many different challenges to a driver.
“Hockenheim’s quite a short track but it’s another of those with a little bit of everything,” said Ricciardo. “I don’t think the track asks particularly big questions of the driver, though it requires you to be quite brave through the fast Turn One and the right-hander into the stadium – that’s largely about having the confidence in the car to get you through those corners quickly.
“The other thing you need is good stability under the heavy braking for the hairpin. All in all it’s a balancing act. You’d like to have the downforce for the stadium and to keep it steady on the brakes but equally you don’t want too much drag on the straights.
“There are a few long straights there and on paper it’s probably not the circuit that suits us the most to be honest. “We’re constantly trying to find more, [but] we’re not going to find tonnes of horsepower overnight. All the improvements we get will be subtle.
“The third sector will be good for us, but the first two I think we’ll leak a bit of time. I think we can be more optimistic for Budapest.”
Talking to reporters after the Silverstone tests last week, Ricciardo has said that team-mate Vettel will rediscover the form that took him to four consecutive Drivers’ Championships.
“I don’t know if the word is ‘improve’ or ‘get better’, because he is very good, but I’m sure his form is going to come,” said Ricciardo. “I’m sure he’s going to be really hungry to show his home [crowd] that he’s ready to take it on.
“I’m excited if there’s a bit more in him because that will bring a bit more out in both of us. [In] Germany he’ll be hungrier than ever, so it will be a good battle.”