After the odd case of not having a German Grand Prix last year, Formula One gets a welcome return to Hockenheim for the final race before the summer break.
Hockenheim has changed a lot over the years, it used to wind it’s way through the forest must like Spa but these days it is a sharp burst around a shortened track. However it still retains some hallmarks of the old track – the final stadium section in a challenge and the first corner can be home to some spectacular incidents.
Turn one has a very narrow exit and can be taken at good speed, meaning it is one of the few first corners on the F1 calendar that is not a primary overtaking place.
Turn two has a decent braking zone and is tight enough to create opportunities, but a dive up the inside at two can leave you on a poor line through the kink of turn four which is full throttle. The long burn down to the hairpin is also a DRS zone, making the tight hairpin at turn six the primary overtaking spot. The exit is not as wide as desired which means you may see the overtaker run wide and have to give back the place, but the next chance is just down the road at turn eight, with nine and ten leaving openings as well. The rest of the lap is very narrow as it winds through the old stadium area, making an passing tricky, though not impossible.
It’s tough to know how teams will play the pitstops at Hockenheim. Two years ago the majority of runners had a 3 stop race, but the Pirelli compounds have changed a lot since then and so have the cars.
The 3 compounds available are the same as they were last week in Hungary, but it is surprising that only the Force Indias have selected additional medium tyres. The selections made imply that teams simulation data would favour a two stop race. With track position not as vital as it was last week teams could be a little more liberal with their pitstop timing as well.
Ferrari have selected very few of the soft tyres, which is unsurprising given their issues with getting them into an operating temperature so far this year. They have had good success dragging extra laps out of the supersofts though. That ability served Kimi Raikkonen well around the Hungaroring and aided his rise from 14th to 6th.