Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, Hockenheimring, 2001

‘We wanted to keep old Hockenheimring’ – Tilke

2014 German Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, Hockenheimring, 2001Ahead of this weekend’s race at the Hockenheimring, Formula One circuit designer Hermann Tilke has given rare insight into why the circuit was drastically altered in 2002.

The original Hockenheim included two long, flat-out sections leading into and out of a forest. Its high-speed nature was retained despite the addition of chicanes on safety grounds following accidents which claimed the lives of drivers including Jim Clark (1968) and Patrick Depailler (1980).

However in 2002 the track was shortened to two-thirds of its previous length and its long straights largely replaced with slow corners – a move which proved unpopular with some drivers and fans at the time.

In an interview for the official F1 website, Tilke described the reluctance to replace the old Hockenheimring layout.

“There was something very special about it, about how rare its layout was, so we wanted therefore to keep as much as possible of the old track,” he said.

“The original idea was just to broaden the existing track according to current safety regulations, and to keep the track to its original length. At that time the restrictions and possibilities the site offered were not clear however and the idea eventually proved unfeasible.”

A chief obstacle to retaining the old track was the need to avoid cutting down trees and even to “merge the enclosed section of trees with the adjacent forest”.

Start, Hockenheimring, 2002This coupled with the time pressures involved in altering the new circuit between consecutive races in 2001 and 2002 meant efforts to preserve the old track were abandoned. The eventual 4.5-kilometre circuit used little of the original track bar the twisty ‘Motodrom’ section at the end of the lap.

“The new shape followed the obligation of sparing the existing woodland and reducing the area used, while creating a fantastic track popular with drivers and also visitors,” said Tilke.

Another disadvantage of the original layout which the circuit owners wished to address was the high costs of maintaining such a large area of land compared to the limited revenue from spectator admissions. This was also addressed by the revised track.

“With the new layout, we built a new grandstand where one can oversee 90 percent of the new section, with fantastic views of the Parabolika, hairpin and chicane,” said Tilke. “In comparison to the original design, there is an increase in capacity of 37,000 now.”

Read more: Changing tracks: Hockenheimring

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Images © BMW ag, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

80 comments on “‘We wanted to keep old Hockenheimring’ – Tilke”

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  1. adrianwason
    15th July 2014, 20:17

    I think that the old circuit always through a spanner in the works.
    I think these comments by Tilke are faintly ridiculous.
    Of course everyone wanted the old circuit, of course everyone wanted the the old nurgburgring.
    I think Tilkes’s comments are made for the public, but we have kept bits of the old spa why not Hockenheim, from a construction point of view I can understand timescales but once again too little too late from Tilke

  2. “The new shape followed the obligation of sparing the existing woodland and reducing the area used, while creating a fantastic track popular with drivers and also visitors,” said Tilke.

    And I say to Tilke: stop talking rubbish. The new track is the very opposite of fantastic and unpopular with the majority of fans in every poll ever made about the issue of the old vs new Hockenheim

    Just say the truth: the tree huggers have a very strong political influence in that part of Germany so we had to give in to their demands in order to keep some of the track operational. THAT I can understand, even if I will forever hate the new track layout

  3. While I rationally understand why they had to build the new section and Tilke does come off as having looked into options that were less drastic, I really do miss the old track. The races I saw there weren’t all that (but then, few were between 1998 and 2001) but I really miss having a unique track on there. I personally feel it’s different to Monza because of the chicanes and the stadium section, while Silverstone had even more corners and wasn’t really a low downforce track in my eyes.

    Having to re-plant trees reminds me of the situation at Zandvoort, where the 1999 track actually had a lot of costs going into the re-placement of dunes. Basically every scoop of sand/earth they moved had to be put somewhere else. This is also believed to be the reason they haven’t invested in a new pitlane, because there isn’t any money to remodel the Hugenholz/Hunserug part of the track.

    My head gets it, but my heart surely doesn’t!

  4. The Hock today feels more like an overblown go cart track or an industrial site were there happens to be some asphalt to drive around on. No personality at all. And the short Nurburgring is just as boring.

  5. One big issue (among others) with Tilke is that he can’t build a real fast track. Every track is a mix-up between slow, medium and fast corners. Too many slow ones, not enough fast ones.
    He could build something like the old Silverstone (the one used until 1990): 90% ultra fast corners. He could have done that in Bahrain for example, with all the room they had for run-off. He even could have made an ultra fast (yet safe) track with only very fast corners ! But no, again an “average” track.
    There is always a straight, an hairpin, another straight, etc… And maybe 2-3 real fast corners in the middle of that crap.
    In the case of Hockenheim, why did he add this stupid Mercedes complex after the hairpin ? He could have kept a long straight up to Stadium. Why is turn 2 so slow ? He could have made a fast corner, like Copse for example. Ok, he had constraints. But nobody obliged him to make slow corners/complex.

    And why always 4-5km tracks ? Can’t he build a 3,5km short track ? Or a long 7km one ? We need some VARIETY in all of this. All Tilkedromes look like each other: average.

    1. Agree. Generic garbage.

  6. Boring track. Generic at best. Only real part of his comments are more spectators and more money. The only part that I read which had any enthusiasm in it. Rest of it had to be said to preempt the money bit.

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