Will Vettel finally be victorious in his home race?

2012 German Grand Prix preview

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hockenheim, 2010The days of Germany holding two rounds of the world championship are behind it. But a rotation deal between its two tracks means the Hockenheimring, scene of this year’s race, and the Nurburgring, are only seen every other year.

Barring a single visit to AVUS in Berlin in 1959, these two tracks have shared the history of Germany’s round of the world championship.

The Nurburgring Nordschleife was the first home of the race on the championship calendar, but in 1970 Hockenheim appeared on the schedule for the first time as safety-conscious drivers forced a temporary relocation of the race.

They went back to an upgraded Nordschleife the following year but after Niki Lauda’s horrific crash in 1976 F1 never again raced at the Green Hell.

The new, shortened Nurburgring first appeared in F1 in the mid-eighties and became a regular fixture a decade later when the country went Schumacher-crazy. But even with Schumacher back in the sport, Sebastian Vettel winning the last two championship and Mercedes as potent a force as ever, Germany’s days of holding two rounds of the series are over.

Hockenheimring circuit information

Lap length 4.574km (2.842 miles)
Distance 67 laps (306.5km/190.4 miles)
Lap record* 1’13.780 (Kimi Raikkonen, 2004)
Fastest lap 1’13.306 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Tyres Medium and Soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Hockenheimring track data in full

Hockenheim has always been the lesser of the two venues when it comes to quality of the circuit. And so it remains: once a hair-rising high-speed blast through the forest, it was chopped into a spiritless but slightly more overtaking-friendly form a decade ago.

Ferrari’s preview optimistically asserts that “the Motodrom section is the nearest thing Formula 1 has to an Indy-style oval”. It’s a nice idea but of course the cars don’t come past nearly as often, nor as quickly, nor are seen for as long as on an oval track.

Sauber’s head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara thinks the tyre compound selection for this race could have been more aggressive: “Pirelli has allocated the soft and the medium compounds, which at first glance, look like a conservative choice.

“But temperatures can be high in Hockenheim in July, so we will see how this affects the tyres.”

Red Bull

After a slow (by their standards) start to the year, the season is coming to Red Bull. But at the moment it’s Mark Webber, not Sebastian Vettel, who’s spearheading their championship assault.

Silverstone was his second win of the season and it was swiftly followed by the extension of his contract with the team for another year. Webber will be emboldened by that vote of confidence, but he needs to consistently beat one of the toughest team mates in the business if he’s going to challenge for the championship.

For all of Sebastian Vettel’s success since joining the team, victory in his home race has eluded him.

McLaren

This is an important weekend for McLaren as they are bringing what they describe as a “visible” upgrade. The MP4-27 worked well out-of-the-box but the team failed to get the most out of it with a string of pit lane and ‘operational’ errors for which the drivers were largely blameless.

Now those problems appear to be licked – the silver crew were the slickest operation in the pits in the last two races – but Red Bull and Ferrari have closed and overcome the performance gap.

This race will be Lewis Hamilton’s 100th career start.

Ferrari

Ferrari have emerged from their defensive, damage-limiting phase of their championship campaign and are increasingly confident in their predictions about their performance.

Fernando Alonso is clearly revelling in the F2012. Each of the last three races have seen him leading in the closing stages but struggling with tyre degradation – only in Valencia did he hang on to win.

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2012It’s the home race for Mercedes and they can count on significant support around the track, not least at the Mercedes grandstand.

Nico Rosberg is optimistic about how the W03 will perform: “I think our car should suit this track much better than Silverstone. Hockenheim has long straights and short corners, which will be good for the Silver Arrow.”

Lotus

The eternal question of 2012 is when will Lotus make good on the potential of their E20 and finally win a race. The car clearly had the pace to challenge the Red Bulls and Ferraris at Silverstone but Kimi Raikkonen ended up stuck behind Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean had a few stumbles on his way to sixth.

Qualifying remains the team’s key weakness but if either of the E20s can make it onto the second row their excellent tyre preservation may make them strong candidates for a victory which is starting to look overdue.

Force India

Force India have been chipping away at the advantage of their midfield rivals, but came away from Silverstone empty-handed.

Paul di Resta knows this track well having raced on it twice per year during his DTM career: “It?s a fun circuit with some challenging corners and it?s good for overtaking, especially the slow hairpin at turn six.

“My favourite part of the lap is the stadium, where you can really feel the energy of the crowd. The double right-hander onto the start/finish line is another special corner and it?s difficult to get it right. If you have lots of experience on this track you can gain a little bit of time through this corner.”

Sauber

Silverstone was Sauber’s third no-score of the year. There were opportunities missed in all areas of the team’s performance, from the error of sending Sergio Perez out to qualify on intermediates to Kamui Kobayashi parking on his pit crew.

There are only minor modifications to the C31 for this year’s race but there’s plenty of gains for the team to find in other areas of its operation at present.

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne held the upper hand in the opening races of the season but Daniel Ricciardo has been gradually taking the initiative of late. But as the German Grand Prix changes venues each year he won’t be able to rely on experience from 2011 to gain an upper hand.

Williams

Pastor Maldonado’s driving has been under scrutiny as a series of collisions and penalties have kept him from scoring in every race since his breakthrough Spanish Grand Prix victory.

He’s clearly quick enough to deliver podiums for Williams but the team came close to falling to eighth in the standings behind Force India in the last race. With the FW34 they should have more than 47 points on the board.

Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Silverstone, 2012The miserable British weather hampered Caterham’s efforts to realise the gains made with their latest aerodynamic upgrade. Their developing contest with Toro Rosso is one to watch this weekend.

HRT

Dani Clos will be back behind the wheel of an F112 once again during practice only. Narain Karthikeyan will take over the car for the rest of the weekend as usual, but he admits to preferring the old Hockenheimring:

“The new Hockenheim circuit is quite different to the old one, which for my liking was more exciting. Before it was quick but now it is slower and a high-downforce track, it is also quite short, not too complicated and very stop-and-go.”

Marussia

Timo Glock is the fifth home driver on the grid this weekend. Marussia’s Silverstone upgrade showed enough progress to give the team a more comfortable margin over HRT but not enough to make them a serious threat to Caterham.

2012 driver form

Q avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 5 4.5 1 11 8/9 Form guide
Mark Webber 6.11 4.44 1 11 9/9 Form guide
Jenson Button 7.78 10.44 1 18 9/9 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 5.56 6.44 1 19 9/9 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 6.67 3.89 1 9 9/9 Form guide
Felipe Massa 11.22 11 4 16 8/9 Form guide
Michael Schumacher 7.67 7.5 3 10 4/9 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 5.56 7.44 1 15 9/9 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 8.56 6.11 2 14 9/9 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 5.89 4.2 2 6 5/9 Form guide
Paul di Resta 12 9.25 6 14 8/9 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 12.44 10.38 5 15 8/9 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 11.11 9 5 13 6/9 Form guide
Sergio Perez 13.33 7.86 2 11 7/9 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 13.44 13 9 17 8/9 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 17.11 12.75 8 16 8/9 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 12.22 11.71 1 19 7/9 Form guide
Bruno Senna 14.33 12.13 6 22 8/9 Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen 18.33 17 13 23 8/9 Form guide
Vitaly Petrov 18.67 16.5 13 19 6/9 Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa 21.13 19.67 17 21 6/8 Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan 23 19.83 15 22 6/8 Form guide
Timo Glock 20.63 17 14 19 7/8 Form guide
Charles Pic 21.56 18.17 15 20 6/9 Form guide

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50 comments on Will Vettel finally be victorious in his home race?

  1. Alexander (@alexanderfin) said on 18th July 2012, 11:28

    Heikki Kovalainens 100th GP weekend, not Race. He was sick at one event…

    And hopefully this will be Lotus time to shine!

    • Jayfreese (@) said on 18th July 2012, 11:35

      Hopefully a win for Lotus – if it’s neither VET, MSC OR ROS – as J.Stewart would like to have a chat with (coaching?) Grosjean at home.

    • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 18th July 2012, 20:40

      I thought he had a Did Not Start with Caterham in the last 3 seasons (car packing up before start a la Petrov at Silverstone)
      Hamilton’s 100th GP. Congrats, although I’d rather him coming at best 2nd to Vettel.

  2. snowman (@snowman) said on 18th July 2012, 11:36

    I love it on the extremely rare occasion a F1 driver actually says what they think concerning a circuit rather than the usual PR crap. Pat on the back for Narain Karthikeyan.

  3. Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 18th July 2012, 11:52

    Just like how Webber won’t win the Australian GP, I don’t see Seb winning the German GP. Even in 2010, Vettel got pole by only thousands of a second and got swamped by the Ferrari’s at the start falling behind them. I don’t expect Vettel to get on the podium with the current car. On the other hand Webber is in omnious touch, another victory for him would brighten his championship choices and would put Sebastian on the backfoot and would spice up the intra-team battle. Afterall RedBull is one of the two teams which has two decent drivers for a top team, the other being Lotus

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 18th July 2012, 18:37

      But historically, Webber hasn’t gone well at Hockenheimring; he hates it pretty much, and he doesn’t do so well there.
      Same at valencia.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th July 2012, 23:56

      Thanks for the nice words about Webber but both McLaren and Mercedes have a pair of excellent drivers also, Button is not performing this year but the same could be said of Mark last year, Nico has a win and MS is MS.

  4. JCost (@jcost) said on 18th July 2012, 11:55

    For the sake of the hyped-up the 2012 title fight, I’d like to see Lewis Hamilton as victor in Germany and Vettel gaining ground on both Webber and Alonso.

  5. Nick.UK (@) said on 18th July 2012, 12:35

    I hope Webber wins.

  6. suka (@suka) said on 18th July 2012, 12:44

    I hope Kimi wins this one. Long time overdue for Lotus. Now or never.

  7. Nige.B (@nigel2509) said on 18th July 2012, 13:01

    It seems i am not the only one hoping for a lotus win! Grosjean even with the grid penalty? Either way come on the Black & Gold.

  8. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 18th July 2012, 13:21

    I have a feeling Lotus might finally have it their way this weekend!

    • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 18th July 2012, 15:47

      Sadly, I disagree.

      Sauber said the tyre choice of Pirelli is a bit conservative. The crew member hopes for high temperatures which could alleviate the problem, but they may not arrive: according to Formula1.com the weather will be overcast with rain precited for Friday earlier, Saturday later, and now for both days.

      Consequently, I don’t see Lotus – very very kind on its tyres – to have that much of an advantage, when others will probably not need to worry overusing their tyres.

      This is unfortunate, I’d also like to see a Lotus – preferably a Kimi – win sooner than later. Maybe in Spa. If it will be hot for once for the Lotuses, Kimi will be in a privileged position: no-one, barring Schumacher, is more successful on that majestic track than him…

  9. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 18th July 2012, 13:42

    Expecting strong pace from Force India this weekend, looking at the nature of circuit, temperature and tyre choices, which closely resembles Bahrain and Valencia, the two places where they had strongest results.

  10. Slr (@slr) said on 18th July 2012, 13:46

    I really hope Sauber don’t throw away more points this weekend. Sauber need to get their strategies right, Kobayashi needs to stop having accidents whilst looking good for points, and Perez needs to sort out his qualifying performances.

  11. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 18th July 2012, 13:54

    Home victory for Mercedes or first win for the E20 would be good I think. It would also keep the championship nice and open. The stadium section of this circuit is fantastic. It’s like it’s built around the cars with the good levels of camber making for some sweeping corners. It’s a fun little circuit which might make for some headaches when the leaders come to lap the backmarkers.

    I’m hoping that Caterham can evaluate and display their Silverstone upgrades a little better this weekend and I’m interesed to see what McLaren have done at the MTC.

  12. Sumedh said on 18th July 2012, 14:05

    I would tip Vettel or Alonso for the win. Only Webber, Kimi and Grosjean are the other possible winners. Grosjean has a penalty. Webber has usually trailed Vettel at Hockenheim. Kimi is too tentative at the starts which compromises his race.

    For the sake of the championship, I hope Vettel wins. Another home winner would also do good to the popularity of F1.

  13. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 18th July 2012, 14:21

    The form guide for this race is interestingly similar to the 2010 Hockenheim race, with Ferrari and Red Bull clear of McLaren, and Felipe putting in performances that are respectably close to Alonso. I therefore do not rule out a repeat of the 2010 Grand Prix, with Massa leading the race after a fast start. If the situation does occur again with Felipe leading Fernando, then on the one hand Ferrari owe it to Massa to let him defend his position this time around, but on the other hand it’s more clear than ever than Fernando is their driver in the championship.

    Personally, I hope Webber can maintain his strong momentum, and that Hamilton will be on the podium to celebrate his 100th race.

  14. Yobo01 (@yobo01) said on 18th July 2012, 16:52

    If the weekend goes smoothly and the weather is stable, I think that Vettel will win his home GP.
    He’s not suffering Mark’s form, even in the podium at Silverstone he seemed quite relaxed, I think that he has everything under control. Two years ago Mark wasn’t too impressive either, so I think that Seb will be better this weekend.

    It remains to bee seen wether Red Bull can be as strong as Silverstone or Valencia. I definitely think so, but you never know.

  15. Mainly hoping the BBC coverage won’t be god-awful like Bahrain (30 minutes of build-up/analysis vs 50 minutes of racing, for those of you who weren’t subjected to it). I see they’ve got 1.5 hours for the replay, here’s hoping they learnt their lessons and will have very short bookends and show most of the race. I couldn’t follow Bahrain at all, particularly strategy-wise, drivers just kept popping up in different positions with zero explanation. (This is the first non-live race in a “European” time zone other than Bahrain, right?)

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