Hockenheim alternates as host of the German GP with Nurburgring and the last event in 2010 was famous for Ferrari’s notorious team order, “Fernando is faster than you” to Felipe Massa.
This should be an interesting race from a strategic point of view as Pirelli has never raced in F1 at the new Hockenheim and so the teams will be working hard during the practice sessions to figure out the best strategy for the weekend. The temperature will be critical to the outcome.
The shorter Hockenheim track was inaugurated in 2002 and is well known to the F1 teams, but the last time the race was held there, it proved quite tough on the Bridgestone tyres and it is expected to be the same this year.
It is a short lap at Hockenheim, the cars come around every 73 seconds or so. The first part of the lap has two long straights and only two corners and it is notoriously difficult to warm the tyres up on a cool day.
Pirelli is bringing its soft and medium tyre compounds to the race this year, the sixth time this combination has been seen in ten races so far this season. The last occasion was Valencia.
Read our guide and then try out various strategy options yourself using our Strategy Calculator
Hockenheim – 4.574 kilometres. Race distance – 67 laps = 306.458 kilometres. 17 corners in total. A shortened version of the classic Hockenheim track, the circuit has a mixture of all types of corners.
Aerodynamic setup – Med/High downforce. Top speed 326km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 312km/h without.
Full throttle – 65% of the lap (medium). Total fuel needed for race distance – 150 kilos (average/high). Fuel consumption – 2.33kg per lap (ave)
Time spent braking: 15% of lap. 7 braking zones. Brake wear- Heavy.
Loss time for a Pit stop = 12.8 seconds
Total time needed for pit stop: 16.8 seconds.
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.31 seconds (ave)
The German Grand Prix is the tenth round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship. It has been a very open championship so far with seven different race winners in nine races. Only Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber have won twice and they are the leading championship contenders.
Red Bull and Ferrari are the two form teams at the moment. McLaren dropped back in the last two races and are in need of an upgrade, while Lotus has been threatening to win a race, but lacks the qualifying pace to get control of a race from the start.
As far as drivers’ form is concerned; Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have won the German Grand Prix twice, Mark Webber has won it once and Michael Schumacher has won it four times.
The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim is often held in warm conditions, although there have been some wet races too. This year’s forecast is for warm weather, in the mid to high 20s, but some thunderstorms are possible.
Pirelli tyre choice for Hockenheim: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings). This is a similar combination to what we saw in the first four races of the season and again at Valencia.
If it is hot the tyres will suffer at Hockenheim with thermal degradation, which means that they have a sudden drop off in performance beyond a certain point, usually when they are around 70% worn. It has several slow corners and the acceleration out of these causes longitudinal sliding, while some of the medium and higher speed corners put a lot of energy into the tyres and increase the degradation.
It’s important to prepare and warm up the tyres properly for a qualifying lap and it’s tricky to do that on the first part of the lap, which has few corners and it’s easy to get understeer.
Our tyre model based on the previous races where soft and medium were used, indicates that the medium tyre could be the preferred race tyre with two stints on new medium tyres following an opening stint on used softs for the leading cars.
It is likely to be a two or three stop race, depending on the temperature. If the temperatures are high (35 degrees or more of track temperature) then the tyre degradation could be severe, as it was in Bahrain on these tyre compounds. That race was a three stopper, but some teams like Lotus and Sauber, which are more gentle on tyres, might manage to do one less stop in that scenario.
It’s likely that we will see soft/medium/medium as the preferred strategy with the first stops around lap 15 to 17, opening up a window for a two stop race.
Chance of a safety car
Since the new Hockenheim track was opened in 2002 there have been two safety cars in seven Grands Prix.
There was a safety car in 2004 for a crash at the start, another in 2008 due to an accident.
The start of the Grand Prix is absolutely vital in terms of executing the ideal race strategy. A few places gained means a team has more options, while a few places lost usually means switching to Plan B and being more aggressive to make up ground.
As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows –
+11 Raikkonen, Kobayashi****
+10 Maldonado****, Pic
+6 Di Resta *****, Karthikeyan
+5 Schumacher*, Hamilton,
+ 1 Vettel
Held position: Button
-1 Hulkenberg , De la Rosa ****,
-3 Grosjean** ****
* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap in Australia
** Schumacher and Grosjean collided on Lap 1 in Malaysia, Senna and Perez pitted for wet tyres on opening lap
***Perez punctured on lap 1 in Spain and went to back of field
**** Eliminated by or involved in first lap accident in Monaco
***** Di Resta eliminated lap 1 at Silverstone, Petrov did not start
(This is an aggregate figure – intended for guide purposes only – for places gained off the line, less places lost. Anomalies like first corner eliminations are not included)
Pit Stop League Table
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams.
It is clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the British Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. The positions from previous race are in brackets.
Worth noting is that McLaren has been working on its pit stops and they now have the fastest stops of all the teams, by some margin. Also Marussia’s sixth place in the table is significantly higher than their position in the championship.
1. McLaren 2.6 secs (1)
2. Ferrari 3.2s (2)
3. Red Bull 3.2s (3)
4. Mercedes 3.2s (4)
5. Sauber 3.2s (8)
6. Marussia 3.3s (11)
7. Lotus 3.4s (6)
8. Force India 3.5s (5)
9. Toro Rosso 3.7s (9)
10. Williams 3.7s (10)
11. Caterham 4.2s (7)
12. HRT 6.8s (12)
Now you’ve read our guide, try out some strategy options yourself using our Strategy Calculator
The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli