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PREVIEW: 2020 Formula 1 Eifel Grand Prix – Nürburgring Circuit

5 Mins read
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

The Formula 1 circus arrives at the Nürburgring circuit in the Eifel mountains in Germany for the eleventh race of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The Eifel Grand Prix was added to the newly created Formula 1 calendar after the Covid19 pandemic disrupted the original calendar.

Nürburgring GP-Strecke as the modern circuit is called was built in 1984 to replace the full Nürburgring circuit, nicknamed ‘the Green Hell’ by Jackie Stewart.

The original track was 28.265 kilometers long and consisted of the Nordschleife (North Loop, 22 kms), Sudschleife (South loop, 7.74 kms) and Zielschleife (Finish Loop, 2.28 kms).

The Grand Prix was originally held on the Nordschleife part of the track with narrow mountain roads and big elevation changes. The long track became increasingly dangerous for modern Formula 1 cars and despite numerous changes, safety concerns started to mount during the 1970s.

In 1976, Niki Lauda crashed in his Ferrari on lap 2 and suffered serious burn injuries. From 1977 the German Grand Prix was moved to Hockenheim, before returning to the new custom-built Nürburgring circuit in 1984 as the European Grand Prix.

The modern circuit has held the German Grand Prix, European Grand Prix and even the Luxembourg Grand Prix (1997 and 1998) at various times.

The last time Formula 1 raced at this track was in 2013 when the race was won by Sebastian Vettel. Since then the race was not held here because of the financial difficulties faced by the promoters.

What happened at the 2020 Russian Grand Prix?

Valtteri Bottas won the 2020 Russian Grand Prix comfortably from Max Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton managed to fight back to take the final podium place after he was given two 5-second penalties for practice start infringements.

Hamilton started from pole position and led into Turn 1 at the start. But two penalties for the same infringement set him back. The Briton had to fight his way from eleventh position after he served his penalties at his first pit stop.

Bottas scripted a comfortable win, only his second win of the season. Bottas won the race with the extra point for fastest lap.

Verstappen split the two Mercedes cars yet again as he finished in a comfortable second-place. Hamilton had to be content with third position on a day of mishaps that denied him a record-setting 91st win.

Sergio Pérez drove a solid race for fourth position and finished “best of the rest”. Daniel Ricciardo managed to overcome the 5-second time penalty he was given to take fifth position.

It was another good Sunday for Charles Leclerc as he took sixth position. Esteban Ocon, Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon rounded off the top 10 positions.

What happened at the 2019 German Grand Prix?

A wet 2019 German Grand Prix was chaotic, incident packed and produced a thrill a minute for the Formula 1 fans. With Safety Cars galore and the cars diving in and out of the pits, it was hard to keep track of what was happening from lap to lap.

Max Verstappen eventually emerged the worthy winner of a classic German Grand Prix. It was redemption time for Sebastian Vettel after the crash from the lead at the 2018 German Grand Prix. The German finished in second position after starting dead last in his home Grand Prix. Daniil Kvyat was back on the podium for the first time since the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix.

Many of the leading contenders including then race leader Lewis Hamilton came to grief on the penultimate corner. The standing water on the slick tarmac in the run-off area of this corner created a skating rink across which the cars slid into the barriers.

Hamilton had several mishaps and pitted six times. Bottas, Leclerc, Nico Hulkenberg were among the drivers who came to grief at this corner.

Lance Stroll finished in fourth position after a bold strategic gamble. Carlos Sainz finished in fifth position after surviving a spin. Albon, Romain Grosjean, Kevin Mangnussen, Hamilton and Robert Kubica completed the top 10 positions.

Hamilton and Kubica were promoted into the point positions after Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi were penalized for using driver aids at the start.

The Circuit

The 5.148 km Nürburgring track with 15 corners (slow and medium-speed corners) with four fast straights is one of the slower tracks on the calendar with an average speed of only 190 km/h.

The circuit demands a medium downforce setup and has lot of directional and speed changes creating high brake-wear. The high altitude (above 700m) and variable weather, with the threat of rain never far away puts a premium on the aerodynamic setup of the car.

Credit: Pirelli Media

Sectors, Corners, and DRS Zones

Sector 1 from Turn 1 to Turn 4 starts with a slow right-hander (T1), leading into the Mercedes-Arena. After a series of slow corners, the sector ends at Turn 4 which leads into the first long straight.

Sector 2 from Turn 5 to Turn 11 starts with a long straight leading into the Mullenbach loop and into the Dunlop hairpin leading into the Schumacher-S and the second straight of the track and the sector ends with the Warsteiner-Kurve

Sector 3 from Turn 12 to 15 starts with a long straight leading to the ADVAN arch followed by the NGK-Schikane leading to the last right-hand corner (T15) which takes the cars into the start-finish straight.

There are two DRS zones, with the first detection point before Turn 10 and first activation point after Turn 11. The second detection point is before Turn 15 and the activation point is after Turn 15 on the start–finish straight. There are good overtaking opportunities going into Turn 1.

Tyre Strategy

The white-striped hard tyres (C2), the yellow-striped medium tyres (C3) and the red-striped soft tyres (C4) nominated for this race is in the middle range of Pirelli tyres.

All the drivers have eight sets of the soft compound tyres (C4), three sets of the medium compound tyres (C3) and two sets of the hard compound tyres (C2) in the thirteen sets allocated to them. 

The race has been held this late in the season only twice before when the conditions are likely to be wet and cold. The very cold temperatures can lead to ‘cold cracks’ in the tyres according to Pirelli.

There is scant data from this track as the last race was held in 2013 before the start of the hybrid-era.

What should we look out for this year?

Hamilton is on the threshold of a major record if he wins this race. The Briton will tie the great Michael Schumacher for the most Grand Prix wins in Formula 1 with ninety-one wins.

Verstappen as usual will be ultra-competitive and ready to seize on any missteps by the Mercedes drivers. The Dutchman will be looking to repeat his win in an epic German Grand Prix last year.

Hamilton (205 points) is now leading Bottas (161 pts) by fourty-four points in the drivers’ championship. Verstappen (128 points) is in third position

Lando Norris (65 points) is well-behind the leading trio in fourth position. Ricciardo (64 points) is now in fifth position after good results in recent races.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (366 points) lead the constructors’ championship by 174 points over Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (192 points). McLaren F1 team (106 points) is just ahead of BWT Racing Point Formula One Team (104 points). Renault DP World F1 Team (99 points) is now in fifth position.

What’s the schedule?

Friday 09 October

09:00 GMT / 11:00 Local Time – Free Practice One
13:00 GMT / 15:00 Local Time – Free Practice Two

Saturday 10 October

10:00 GMT / 12:00 Local Time – Free Practice Three
13:00 GMT / 15:00 Local Time – Qualifying

Sunday 11 October

12:10 GMT / 14:10 Local Time – Race

How can I keep up with the action?

Follow all the action at the Checkered Flag with our extensive coverage, quotes and analysis of every session of the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix.

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