PREVIEW: 2018 Formula 1 German Grand Prix – Hockenheimring


Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 2016 - German GP
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Round 11 of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship takes the series in the Rhine Valley for the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring. After a year away, Germany returns to the F1 calendar with the popular circuit, home to two drivers on the grid. With two races to go before the summer break, here is what to expect in Germany this weekend.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME OUT IN GERMANY?

Last action that was seen at the Hockenheimring was in 2016, where Nico Rosberg started on pole position but was quickly swamped at the start by team-mate Lewis Hamilton and both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Rosberg fought his way for the podium position, but after forcing Verstappen off-track at the exit of the Turn 6 hairpin, Rosberg was given a five-second time penalty to take for his next pit stop. As the German took his penalty, Mercedes waited for more than five seconds to serve Rosberg, which would ultimately cost him a podium finish.

Lewis Hamilton claimed victory as he won all four races in July of 2016 whilst the Red Bull’s of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen rounded off the podium. This race would the last race for Rio Haryanto, who was replaced by current Sahara Force India driver Esteban Ocon.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BRITISH GRAND PRIX?

Lewis Hamilton started on pole position for his home race at Silverstone, but it was Sebastian Vettel who led the race going into Turn 1 after a bad start for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver. Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Räikkönen made contact with Hamilton going into Village, sending the Brit into a spin and in last place. Räikkönen was given a ten-second penalty for his action whilst Hamilton fought his way back up the field.

Two safety cars came out following Marcus Ericsson heading off at Abbey and Carlos Sainz Jr. & Romain Grosjean crashing into each other at Copse, which set up an intense finale between both Mercedes and Scuderia Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel passed Valtteri Bottas for the lead of the race, as the Finn tyres started to wear out. Lewis Hamilton ended his comeback drive passing his team-mate for second place. Vettel won at Silverstone ahead of Hamilton and Räikkönen.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR THIS YEAR?

Formula 1 will race around the 2.8 mile circuit of the Hockenheimring under the wider, faster and more aerodynamic cars introduced in 2017 for the first time. The new cars have broken track records around the circuits on the calendar, so expect the same here in Germany. Corners such as the NordKurve could be taken flat out by some teams during their qualifying runs. For this weekend, a third DRS zone will be placed at the start-finish straight to promote more overtaking opportunities. Two remaining zones are placed after Turn 1 that leads into Turn 2 and down the long kink straight towards the hairpin which will be a favourite spot for overtaking.

Two German drivers will have the privilege of racing on homesoil this weekend at the Hockenheimring. Vettel will be hoping to make it two a row having won at the last round at Silverstone. The current championship leader has won in Germany before, winning in 2013 at the Nürburgring with Red Bull, and the Ferrari driver has started on pole here before back in 2010.

As well as being two drivers’ home race, Mercedes are the only German team and engine manufacturer to be competing in Formula 1 today. They have won the last two Grands Prix here with Nico Rosberg winning in 2014 and Lewis Hamilton in 2016. Hamilton will be looking to bounce back after losing the victory at Silverstone and to close the gap in the championship to Vettel, who is only eight points behind.

Pirelli will be bringing the Ultrasoft, Soft and Medium tyres to this weekend, skipping the Supersoft tyres which was similar to the Chinese Grand Prix. The final sector of the track, which leads into the stadium section, is expected to push the tyres to the limit when completing a qualifying time according to Renault Sport Formula One Team‘s Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbean. The gap between the Ultrasofts and Softs should create some interesting strategy calls in the race with a choice of a possible one or two stop on the cards.

This weekend will see two drivers making Free Practice 1 appearances for Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team and Force India. Antonio Giovinazzi will replace Marcus Ericsson for the first practice session, whilst Nicholas Latifi will make his second of three practice runs of the season.

A few drivers on the grid will be racing around the Hockenheimring for the first time in an F1 car this weekend. Stoffel Vandoorne hasn’t raced here since 2014 when he was in the GP2 Series, along with Pierre Gasly and Sergey Sirotkin. Charles Leclerc last drove the track in 2016 when in GP3. Brendon Hartley last raced there in 2009 with the Formula 3 Euro Series, while Lance Stroll raced in 2016 in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, winning all three races.

WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEKEND?

FRIDAY 20TH JULY

Free Practice 1: 10:00AM (UK Time)/11:00AM (German Time)
Free Practice 2: 2:00PM (UK Time)/3:00PM (German Time)

SATURDAY 21st JULY

Free Practice 3: 11:oo AM (UK Time)/12:00PM (German Time)
Qualifying: 2:00PM (UK Time)/3:00PM (German Time)

SUNDAY 22nd JULY

Race: 2:10PM (UK Time)/3:10PM (German Time)

WHERE CAN I WATCH FORMULA 1 IN GERMANY?

Sky Sports F1 will be showing all sessions live in the UK and Ireland. Channel 4 will be broadcasting qualifying and race highlights after the race.

You can watch the weekend’s action via F1 TV but are only available in selected countries around the world.

HOW CAN I KEEP UP TO DATE WITH ALL OF THE ACTION OVER THE WEEKEND?

The Checkered Flag will provide you the latest news, updates and reports over the weekend’s action and throughout the 2018 FIA Formula 1 Championship.