The revised circuit, overlaid on the original.
Originally built as a Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union test track, Hockenheim hosted its first German Grand Prix in 1970. At that time (and until 2001), the circuit was a series of long straights through a dense forest, connected by fast chicanes, starting and finishing in the familiar stadium section.
After the 2001 race, to increase safety and enhance the spectator experience, the track was significantly shortened. A long, fast curve was built to connect the first and last straights, cutting off the long forest section and reducing the circuit length from nearly seven kilometres to four and a half.
Hermann Tilke oversaw the redesign, telling the official F1 website that, "The original idea was just to broaden the existing track according to current safety regulations, and to keep the track to its original length."
When that proved impossible, "The task became to design something new, on the existing site, and make it more interesting and accessible for visitors, all without impacting upon the woodland."