by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte
e-mail: mercedesbenzblog@gmail.com

German F1 Grand Prix 2012 - Hockenheim: Preview (VMM)

Given that Hockenheim was built in 1932, it was a relatively late addition to the Formula 1 calendar. It staged its first German Grand Prix in 1970, since when it’s been a semi-regular fixture for motor racing’s top echelon.

Initially the track was a flat-out 6.7km loop, upon which Mercedes-Benz – McLaren’s engine partner of 18 years – tested its road and racing cars. A slower, stadium section was built after the Second World War and chicanes were added in 1968, following the death of double world champion Jim Clark in a Formula 2 race. The circuit was completely redesigned by Hermann Tilke in 2001 and it now stages the Santander German Grand Prix on a biennial basis, sharing the race with the Nurburgring.

The new track is 2.3km shorter than its predecessor and the average speed has dropped significantly, but the races are usually exciting. The track has two inviting overtaking places [Turns Six & Eight] and it’s wide enough in places for cars to run two abreast. Extensive Tarmac run-off also stimulates adventurous racing.

This year’s Santander German Grand Prix carries extra significance for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Not only is it the home race of our engine partner, it’s the 100th race of Lewis’s Formula 1 career. The 2008 world champion has driven all of those races for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, winning 18 of them, and he’ll look to celebrate the milestone with a second victory at Hockenheim next Sunday.

Race distance - 67 laps (190.414 miles/306.458km)
Start time - 14:00 (local)/13:00 GMT
Circuit length - 2.842 miles/4.574km
2010 winner - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 67 laps in 1hr27m38.864s (209.788km/h)
2010 pole - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) 1m13.791s (223.149km/h)
Lap record - Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes MP4-19) 1m13.780s (223.182km/h)

McLaren at the German Grand Prix

- Wins: 8 (1976, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1998, 2008, 2011)

- Poles: 12 (1976, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008)

- Fastest Laps: 7 (1984, 1985, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005)


Car 3: Jenson Button
- Age: 32 (January 19 1980)
- GPs: 217
- Wins: 13
- Poles: 7
- FLs: 7
- 2012 points: 50 (8th)
- British record: 2011 Q7 R-; 2010 Q5 R5; 2009 Q3 R5; 2008 Q14 R17; 2006 Q4 R4; 2005 Q2 R3; 2004 Q13 R2; 2003 Q17 R8; 2002 Q13 R-; 2001 Q18 R5; 2000 Q16 R4


“The final back-to-back before we head into the summer break will be important for the whole team: coming off the back of a couple of disappointing weekends, it’s important that we capitalise on the opportunities available in Germany and Hungary.

“I’ve always enjoyed Hockenheim: I raced here when it blasted through the forests – a long time ago! – and I had a great race here in 2004, finishing second, despite starting back in 13th after a penalty for an engine failure in practice. It’s a circuit where you can attack; it’s good for racing and the newer layout is better for the spectators, too.

“Performance-wise, I still think it’s difficult to accurately predict where we stand in the competitive order – Valencia and Silverstone were certainly difficult races for us, but I don’t think they were truly representative of our pace. This year, you really need a problem-free build-up to the race if you’re going to maximise the car’s potential – and that’s exactly what we’ll be hoping for in Germany next weekend.”


Car 4: Lewis Hamilton
- Age: 27 (January 7 1985)
- GPs: 99
- Wins: 18
- Poles: 21
- FLs: 11
- 2012 points: 92 (4th)
- British record: 2011 Q2 R1; 2010 Q6 R4; 2009 Q5 R18; 2008 Q1 R1


“I was quick to get over our disappointing weekend at Silverstone, running with the Olympic flame on the day after the race and then quickly turning my full attention to Hockenheim. Unbelievably, next weekend will mark my 100th grand prix. That’s incredible, because I still remember my first as if it were only yesterday – I guess Formula 1 has that effect on you!

“It’s always been a regret of mine that I arrived in Formula 1 too late to race on the classic, old Hockenheim layout, where the track disappeared for miles into the forests and was only broken up by a couple of relatively high-speed chicanes. It must have been incredible battling round that track with minimal downforce, locked in a slipstreaming battle with another car and waiting for just the right moment to pounce and overtake.

“Still, I very much enjoy the updated track – it’s a place that’s built for racing: the hairpin at the end of the back straight is a classic overtaking spot, and the whole layout seems to make it more inviting for a following car to attempt an overtake. This is the first time we’ve been to Hockenheim since introducing DRS, too, so it should make for an even more exciting race.”


Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Silverstone was a difficult weekend for us – made better by observing at close-hand the depth of loyal support all around the circuit for Jenson, Lewis and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Indeed, it was extremely heartening that, even after what was a disappointing result, their enthusiasm and support remained undimmed. They are a constant motivation for me, and for everybody at McLaren.

“Of course, after Silverstone, our focus immediately turned to Hockenheim, which, along with the Hungaroring in Budapest, will bring the curtain down on the first half of the season at the end of the month. There is a huge resolve within the operation to ensure that our aggressive development strategy is upheld across the summer: we are determined to narrow the gap to the championship leaders before the start of the summer break.

“We have many happy memories of racing in Germany with our friends at Mercedes-Benz. This year, while we remain rivals on the track, I’m sure there will be opportunity to catch up with old friends and enjoy some famous Mercedes-Benz hospitality.”


McLaren has won the German Grand Prix at two different venues: the Nurburgring and Hockenheim. Here’s how the team defined eight days in the history of the race:

1. August 1 1976
James Hunt starts the race from pole position, with arch-rival Niki Lauda alongside him in second place. Both are slow away at the start, but the race on the Nordschleife is stopped during the early stages when Lauda crashes heavily at Bergwerk. At the re-start Hunt asserts himself at the front and wins by half a minute, with McLaren team-mate Jochen Mass coming home third.

2. August 5 1984
Alain Prost starts from pole position at Hockenheim, but drops to third at the start. Early leader Elio de Angelis slows with engine problems, handing the lead to Nelson Piquet, and Alain inherits the lead when Piquet retires with gearbox trouble. Niki Lauda climbs through the field from seventh on the grid to make it a McLaren one-two at the flag.

3. July 24 1988
A McLaren one-two on the grid, Ayrton Senna ahead of Alain, is repeated in the race. Ayrton is never headed all afternoon, but Alain makes a bad start and has to pass Alessandro Nannini and Gerhard Berger to regain second place. It’s McLaren’s sixth 1-2 finish in eight races.

4. July 30 1989
Another all-McLaren front row, Ayrton ahead of Alain. Berger leads into Turn One after making a brilliant start from fourth on the grid, but the Ferrari driver is promptly overtaken by Ayrton and Alain – who grabs the lead during the pitstops. Gearbox problems slow Alain in the latter stages, handing victory to Ayrton. They’re separated by 18s at the finish.

5. July 29 1990
Another victory from pole position for Ayrton, but he’s made to work for it when Nannini takes the lead during the pitstops. Only when the Italian suffers tyre wear problems late in the race does Ayrton take the lead and he wins by 6.5s. Team-mate Gerhard Berger comes home third in the sister MP4-5.

6. August 2 1998
A McLaren one-two executed to perfection. Mika Hakkinen takes pole position and leads from start-to-finish; David Coulthard starts second and finishes 0.4s behind his team-mate. The result extends Mika’s lead in the world championship to 16 points over Michael Schumacher, who finishes fifth.

7. July 20 2008
Lewis has a comfortable lead for two-thirds of the race, and then the Safety Car comes out. The field closes up and Lewis drops to fifth when he makes his second and final pitstop 16 laps from the finish. A late-race charge sees him regain the lead in spectacular style, winning the race by five seconds.

8. July 24 2011
Lewis puts in “a wicked lap” during qualifying to line up second on the grid, alongside pole-sitter Mark Webber. Lewis beats Webber into Turn One at the start, but he’s far from home and dry. He races wheel-to-wheel with Webber and Fernando Alonso on two separate occasions to beat Alonso by four seconds.


~ Official photo and details courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ~

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