by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

German F1 Grand Prix 2011 - Nürburgring: Preview (VMM)

The next round of the Formula 1 World Championship sees us heading to Germany’s Nürburgring for the Santander German Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton is looking to draw on past experiences at the circuit, which can be tricky to race at due to rapidly changeable weather. “Both my previous races at this circuit have been eventful ones,” said Lewis.

“The last time we were here, in 2009, it was such a mixed weekend. We’d been struggling with the car in the early races of the season and the guys back at the factory had been working around the clock to find a solution.

“From my very first lap, I could feel the difference in the car – it had been transformed. I qualified well, got a really good start thanks to the KERS Hybrid, and I was just about in front at the first corner when I was hit from behind and picked up a puncture, which damaged the car.

“In 2007 we had that crazy race with a huge downpour after just a few laps. I’d pitted for rain tyres after getting a puncture, but even with those it was too slippery. I just hit some standing water and went straight off, along with several other drivers in the same place.

“Race control made the right call to stop the race, and the Nürburgring marshals did an amazing job, in hazardous conditions, to lift me out of the gravel with the crane. Since I’d kept the engine running I was able to get back and take the restart. I was a lap down but I really enjoyed myself in the race, even though I finished just out of the points.

“The lesson to draw from all this experience is never to make predictions when you come to the Nürburgring. The current circuit may be less epic than the original 14-mile layout, and certainly a lot safer, but it can still bite you. And the weather can turn in a matter of moments – you can have all the seasons in one afternoon.

“When that happens, I know I can rely on the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team to react quickly and decisively.

“Another thing you can be sure of is that there will be a fantastic atmosphere. The local fans know how to party and they always enjoy themselves, whatever the weather!”

Jenson Button is eager to win at the Nürburgring because the circuit is steeped in motorsport history and is challenging to drive. “This is a truly historic and equally tricky circuit and not to be underestimated,” said Jenson.

“You've got the rest of the 14-mile original layout just next door and there have been some memorable moments in the sport, both good and bad, often in the same weekend. Think of 1976, where James Hunt won in a McLaren but Niki Lauda had an appalling accident, or 1968, where Sir Jackie Stewart was almost blinded by mist and spray but won by four minutes just driving from memory.

“This is a race I’d really like to win. In my championship year I finished fifth and my best position before then was third, back in 2004. To be able to say you’ve won at the Nürburgring is a major achievement because it’s such a historic and challenging location. People don’t drive around with Nordschleife stickers on their bootlids for nothing!

“There are a lot of heavy braking areas and if conditions are tricky, which they often are, you really have to get it right at every corner. The weather can change from moment to moment so you’re always on your toes.

“Perhaps we’ve lost a bit of the momentum we’d built up in previous races, but not much. Although Silverstone was disappointing, our pace has been good this year. Sometimes we’ve been quickest, sometimes we haven’t.

“The arrival of DRS and KERS Hybrid has made the racing very unpredictable, and while that’s challenging for us, it’s great for the fans, and I think we’re going to put on a really exciting show this weekend.”

Martin Whitmarsh believes teamwork is absolutely crucial to having a good race at the circuit. He said: “The Nürburgring is a circuit whose name carries tremendous resonance in our sport. The list of previous winners reads like a veritable Who’s Who of Formula 1 greats, and many of them have driven for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

“The possibility of adverse weather, and constantly changing track conditions, makes teamwork vitally important. Our most recent victory, at Montreal, demonstrated how superb reactive driving, inspired and clear-minded strategic calls, and efficient pit work can unite to deliver the perfect result.

“This is the home race for our partners at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, who have been and continue to be at the forefront of technical excellence in F1. At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes we take considerable pride in the longevity of our partnerships, and we sincerely hope to put on a good show here this weekend.

“There has been a degree of uncertainty in recent weeks, with new restrictions placed on off-throttle exhaust blowing, and our entire team has demonstrated enormous passion and commitment as they come to terms with those challenges. We missed an opportunity for a podium finish at Silverstone, and that race was a reminder that while we are always pushing to make our car even more competitive, are rivals are doing likewise with their own machinery.

“I’m optimistic that we can move forwards this weekend and be challenging at the front once again. This will be a Santander German Grand Prix to remember!”

* Official photo and details courtesy of VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES *

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