The German Grand Prix had a brief hiatus in the mid-2010's but the event is now firmly back on the Formula 1 calendar. The Hockenheimring had alternated with the Nurburgring as host of the GP, but Hockenheim is now the sole host.
The track has changed significantly from its original configuration, being more akin to Monza than Austria, like it is today. The circuit has retained its "stadium" section, though, and the shorter lap has made it safer and easier for spectators to view the action.
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The car always feels on edge here, as you need low wing angles to defend in the DRS zones but require downforce to get around the fast corners without spinning around.
The Nordkurve begins your lap with a bang as you're thrown into the deep end.
You'll be arriving in eighth gear and 190 mph (300 kph) after a short DRS straight. This is an overtaking opportunity if you can get down the inside of your opponent, but it'll more than likely end in accident, as there's only one quick line through here.
You have to dab on the brakes at around 75m and drop down a gear into seventh for this one. Cutting the corner is a must here, place the front-right wheel over the blue and white inside kerbing and don't be afraid to use some of the orange, it doesn't unsettle the car much.
You can use the blue and white kerbing on exit, but no more, as your lap will get invalidated if you stray into the green area.
There's another DRS zone on exit that begins immediately after Turn 1, so ensure that the car is straightened up ASAP.
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The first heavy braking zone of the track is Turn 2, where you'll again be arriving at 190mph but have to slow to third gear beginning at the 100m board. Get as far to the left as you can on entry, as a good exit here is vital, due to the longest straight on the circuit following this complex.
As this follows a DRS zone, this is another overtaking opportunity, but it's usually wise to hold back, as you'll be vulnerable down the back-straight.
For Turn 2, you can be liberal with the kerb cutting, even the orange sausage kerb isn't off the table. Keep the lock as far to the right as you can through Turn 3 to maintain a constant radius. As soon as you straighten up, it's back on the power through Turn 4, you don't even need to feather here. Cut the inside kerb to avoid the exit kerb, as this can unsettle the car, especially while using DRS.
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Parabolika & Hairpin
Parabolika is ironically more like Italy's Curva Grande than the Parabolica, the latter of which it is named after. It's easy-flat, but it's crucial to stay as close to the inside as possible, as that's where the next braking zone is located.
The Hairpin is exactly that, a hairpin and you'll have to brake earlier than you expect to make it around this one as fast as possible. You'll be arriving at just over 200 mph (320 kph) and need to brake just before the 100m board down into second gear. Crank on the right lock and cut the inside kerbing a little, just as you do when rounding China's hairpin.
Avoid the outside kerbing on exit, as there's very little traction here and it will leave you open to attack into Turn 8. This is the main overtaking opportunity on the circuit and move down the inside or outside is always a possibility.
Turn 7 is a right-handed kink before the Turn 8-10 complex but it shouldn't be underestimated. You need to be as far to the left on entry but ensure that you avoid the kerbing on the outside. You'll be in seventh gear, so as keeping the steering wheel as level as possible will save you time. Using a little inside kerb is fine, but avoid putting a wheel onto the grass and don't run over the exit kerbing.
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You'll be topping out seventh gear approaching this complex and the sea of run-off on the exit of Turn 8 can trick you into braking too late. You need to deploy the anchors just after the 50m board and go down into third gear, clipping the inside kerb as you do so.
Turn 8 is one of the more unorthodox overtaking opportunities and the last of the lap. You can throw the car up the inside here but it makes the radius you need to take for corner incredibly tight, so I'd avoid it unless you're already ahead.
Like with Turn 3, maintain a constant lock on the steering wheel through Turn 9, but get back on the power when you see a clear line to Turn 10. Clip in the outside kerbing of Turn 9 before turning into Turn 10. Be sure to avoid all the kerbs, the car's adhesion is on an absolute knife edge here, your left tyres are working overtime. You don't have to lift for T10, just hold on in there with the peddle to the metal.
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Another big test of your front wing is Turn 11, a fast right-hander that punishes the left tyres. Before turning in, dab on the brakes just like Turn 1 and stay in seventh gear throughout. The point at which you turn in is just before you'd normally shift up to eighth, or when the "P-zero" hoarding begin to disappear in T-cam view.
Get on the power straight away and run the right-front over the inside kerbing but don't use any on exit, as this will likely result in a spin.
Another hairpin is the Sachkurve. The cambered nature of it means you can carry a lot more speed than you'd expect through it. You'll be arriving in seventh gear and need to brake at the point where the orange barrier on the right ends in T-cam view (or when the DHL hoardings begin.
Go down into fourth gear to aid traction on exit and avoid the inside kerbing, it might as well be an auto-spin one. Avoid the exit kerbs and get ready for Turns 13 and 14, which follow right after.
Turns 13 & 14
These corners are easy-flat, but you have to be on your toes, as you need to use the unsettling kerbs due to their tight nature. Run the left-front over the Turn 13 kerbs and clip the T14 kerbing. This is essentially a slalom and on worn tyres, it's a handful to keep the car pointing in the right direction.
Turn 15 & Sudkurve
The most difficult corners on the circuit are the final two to complete the lap at Hockenheim. The car is unsettled after Turns 13 and 14 and you have to brake while cornering for Turn 15. A braking marker is difficult to find here, you'll be in sixth gear and be well past the kerbing on the right of Turn 14 before slowing to fifth gear.
The best way to approach these corners is to treat them as one long corner that tightens on exit. Rumble over the inside kerbing of T15 and get on the power again mid-corner, but avoid the outside run-off, you'll lose a heap of time out there.
To take the final corner with enough speed, you need to fully cut over the inside kerbing to the point where only the edge of your outside wheel is within the white lines. There's no penalty for doing this and it's the fastest way around the corner. Don't break, either, you only need to lift off the throttle for this one. Completely avoid the exit corner, as it's narrow and ends abruptly.
Get the car straight ASAP on exit, as the DRS is available again soon after the corner.
You need a lot of downforce for Hockenheim, especially on the front, as it's vital for turn-in. I went with 8/6 wings, I've tried less but that's the lowest you can get away with while keeping the car on the track.
Tyre wear is a challenge around here, so the differential needs to more unlocked than usual at around 65/80. Likewise, the camber and toe angles, get both close to the central values without compromising your grip too much.
The suspension needs to be soft, as despite the kerbs not being harsh, they do have a tendency to spin you out if you get greedy with them, 2/3. The anti-roll bar has to be softer than normal too, as the transition between left and right can be very harsh around here and you'll be braking while turning sometimes, 6/3. The ride height should be low as normal, to help you down the straights and limit the damage done by the front wing angles, 4/3.
To help with the big stops, the brake pressure should be relatively high at around 85%, with the bias around 53%. Tyre pressures should be near standard, with 23.4psi and 21.5psi being the max you can get away with, without overheating.
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