Formula 1: 2013 German Grand Prix Preview
The German Grand Prix comes just a week after the drama at Silverstone. Held at Hockenheim in 2012, this year's race will be at the Nurburgring. The circuit last hosted the race in 2011.
With the exception of three years, there has been a German Grand Prix on every Formula One calendar since 1951. This will be the 62nd World Championship race to bear the name.
Michael Schumacher has the most victories in his home country, with four. Of the current drivers, Fernando Alonso has three wins and Lewis Hamilton two.
After the somewhat embarrassing and extremely dangerous tyre situation last week, Pirelli are supplying tyres with different construction this weekend. They've also issued stricter instructions on their use, as it seems the teams had been misusing the other ones.
That should hopefully avert any tyre failures this weekend.
As It Stands
Sebastian Vettel's retirement at Silverstone has opened the championship battle up a little. Had he won, his lead would have been 49 points over Fernando Alonso. Instead, it's 21.
But his rivals can't rely on failures. Ferrari and Lotus need to make their cars go a bit quicker too. The two Mercedes drivers might be back in the hunt if their better form continues.
The current Top 10 are:
|01||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||132|
|05||Mark Webber||Red Bull||87|
|08||Paul di Resta||Force India||36|
Mark Webber coming home in second salvaged valuable constructors' points for Red Bull. Mercedes lie in second, having overtaken Ferrari with a big score at Silverstone. Lotus are losing ground in fourth.
Williams have now gone eight races without scoring—the worst start to a season in their history as a constructor.
The teams with at least one point are:
The GP-Strecke (Grand Prix Course) was opened in 1984. The biggest change to the layout was made in 2002, when the opening corner sequence was modified to create a better overtaking opportunity into Turn 1.
Much has been said about what a poor relation this circuit is to its older brother the Nordschleife. This is a nice picture to illustrate the difference. The modern circuit is the little bit in black.
Kind of like comparing the Beatles to Justin Bieber.
But while the new layout lacks character and seems awfully plastic, it at least has some nice corners along with some dips and rises, and it's certainly better than it used to be.
Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4
A lap begins on the pit straight, with a long run down from towards the first corner. The track widens and curves slightly to the right before braking for Turn 1, the slowest corner on the circuit.
It's a right-hand, slightly downhill hairpin (with a quite sharp dip at the apex) and it presents the best overtaking opportunity Nurburgring has to offer.
Again, it's wide on the exit and the cars drift to the outside, then flick back across the circuit for the best line into Turn 2, a fairly long and medium-speed left.
The track seems to want to push the cars off to the right at the exit and they remain on the right-hand side of the track before braking for Turn 3, a much tighter left.
As soon as they're out of 3, the track widens significantly for the entry to the tricky right-hander of Turn 4. It's tight and the drivers can run quite wide on the exit.
Turns 5 and 6
A short straight follows, and next up is the fast, slightly-banked left of Turn 5. The track always seems very narrow here, but that could just be an illusion created by the surroundings.
Turn 6 follows immediately; this a tighter and slower right. A good exit out of here is important, as there's a short straight coming up.
The drivers head downhill to the far end of the circuit, home to a rounded hairpin. It's a right-hander with a little bit of banking.
This isn't a classic overtaking spot because it's easy to defend the line, but someone might try a move into here on Sunday.
Turns 8 and 9
Out of the hairpin, it's uphill towards Turns 8 and 9 (Schumacher S), a very fast left-right chicane. In the dry, this section is taken flat-out.
The name of these corners is the Schumacher S, and in 2011 Michael became only the second driver in F1 history to drive through a corner named after him. Ayrton Senna was the first (Senna S at Interlagos).
Turns 10 and 11
After a short uphill straight it's braking for Turns 10 and 11, another left-right combination. This one is slower than the first.
The left-hander lies upon a crest, then it's downhill through the faster right-hander and out onto the longest "straight" the new Nurburgring has to offer.
It isn't a proper straight because of Turn 12, a right-hander which is easy flat-out. The first part of the straight is downhill, with the track rising again after the cars exit the curve.
Turns 13 and 14
At the end of the straight the cars brake heavily for the final chicane. This is the second good overtaking spot on the circuit, a tight left-right.
But it's quite easy to get a move wrong into here, especially if your victim doesn't see you coming.
The final corner is a medium-speed right-hander. Overtaking into here isn't unheard of, especially if a rival had to defend through the chicane.
The exit out of here is critical because it leads onto the long pit straight, and the corner seems longer than it really is as the drivers are waiting patiently to get the power down as early as they can.
The pit lane entry is just before Turn 15, with the exit on the pit straight a reasonable distance before Turn 1.
Tyres and DRS
Tyres have been quite a touchy subject in the F1 world over the last few days. Multiple failures at Silverstone have prompted action on the grounds of safety, and the rear tyres used in Germany will be of a different construction to those used so far this year.
It's highly unlikely the Silverstone issues would have surfaced here as well, but it's good to see Pirelli erring on the side of caution.
The teams are now also banned from switching the tyres from left to right - all the "left rear" tyre failures at Silverstone were actually right rears being run on the wrong side.
The Nurburgring isn't especially hard on tyres. Most of the wear comes as a result of heat build-up from lateral energies put through the tyres in the faster corners.
It's perhaps marginally a front-limited track - few big traction zones and some fast and lengthy corners, meaning the fronts take more punishment than the rears.
The tyres being brought to the German Grand Prix are the yellow-marked soft and white-marked medium compounds. Pirelli believe this is a perfect mix of durability and performance, and expect three stops to be the norm.
The soft was vastly superior in 2011 - so much so that some drivers avoided the medium until Lap 59 of 60. There should be a smaller performance gap this year.
There'll be two DRS zones at the Nurburgring this weekend, each with its own detection point. They're quite close together, so we might see a bit of passing and re-passing going on during the race.
The first zone's detection point will be just before Turn 10, with the zone running the length of the straight (through Turn 12) and ending at the final chicane (Turns 13 and 14).
The second zone will have its detection point just after Turn 14 (the second part of the chicane). It will run the length of the pit straight, ending with braking for Turn 1.
This circuit has seen a lot of wet races, but this year Saturday and Sunday look like being dry.
While rain is a possibility on Friday (just for a change), the rest of the weekend looks bright and sunny with pleasantly warm temperatures.
Accuweather, Weather Online and the German Climate Atlas will have the latest.
Interestingly (well, I thought it was), this is the first time the all-powerful BBC Weather has failed to provide a forecast for one of these previews. Nurburg is seemingly too small to warrant one.
As always the German Grand Prix weekend will consist of three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race.
The sessions times are as follows.
All are given in German local time (CEST). Formula1.com has a handy one-click tool (right side of the homepage) to convert them to your own timezone.
Enjoy the weekend!