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A trip into the unknown: How the F1 teams will approach the German Grand Prix
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Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Jul 2013   |  9:38 am GMT  |  77 comments

Nurburgring hosts the German Grand Prix on alternate seasons with Hockenheim. So the read across on data is two years old. Some fundamentals about strategy planning do not change, such as the circuit characteristics and the pit lane loss time, which are unchanged, but the cars themselves are two years more advanced and the tyres are a different story altogether.

After the series of tyre failures at Silverstone last weekend, Pirelli has been forced to come up with a short term solution for this weekend, which is a revised rear tyre construction, tested briefly by teams at the recent Canadian Grand Prix. Because of the weather in Montreal, there was very little running on the tyre, but teams have a basic understanding of the dynamics.

However the whole weekend is going to be a learning experience for everyone and the strategy will unfold as the track mileage increases and teams learn more about the performance of the stop-gap tyres. Pirelli is bringing soft and medium compound tyres, as it did at this track in 2011.

The Nurburgring circuit has a range of corners which test the car, from a low speed hairpin to some fast corners. There are a couple of overtaking places. The weather can change quickly and wet races are common.

The start is always crucial at Nurburgring, as the first corner is very wide with many possible lines and the run down to it is quite long; from pole position to the braking point before Turn 1 is 515 m.


Track characteristics

Nurburgring – 5.148km kilometres. Race distance – 60 laps = 308.623 kilometres. 15 corners in total. A cut down version of a classic circuit. Offers a mixture of corners without having any particularly striking feature. Only used on alternate years.

Aerodynamic setup – High downforce. Top speed 313km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 303km/h without.

Full throttle – 64% of the lap (medium). Total fuel needed for race distance – 150 kilos (average/high). Fuel consumption – 2.5kg per lap (high)

Time spent braking: 18% of lap. Brake wear- Average.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 17 seconds (average)
Total time needed for pit stop: 21 seconds

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.35 seconds (high)

Two DRS zones 1) After Turn 11; 2) After Turn 15


Form Guide

The German Grand Prix is the ninth round of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned; Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton have won the German GP at the Nurburgring. Fernando Alonso has won three times at Hockenheim and Hamilton has also won there. Alonso also won a European Grand Prix twice at the Nurburgring.

Sebastian Vettel has never won his home Grand Prix. He turned 26 this week.

The momentum is with Mercedes and Nico Rosberg, who has won two of the last three Grands Prix and described himself as the “favourite” going into this weekend.

Weather Forecast

The weather at Nurburgring can be very unpredictable, as it is close to the Eiffel Mountains. It can be cold and rainy or hot and humid.

The forecast is for dry conditions with temperatures around 21-23 degrees.


Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Nurburgring: Soft (yellow sidewall) and Medium (white sidewall) This is a similar combination to what we saw in China, although the construction has been changed, due to the changes in specification of the rear tyres.

It is likely that the new tyres will be more durable than the old ones, but how much and how this affects the performance gap between soft and medium only practice mileage will tell.


Number and likely timing of pit stops

With so much to be learned about the new Pirelli tyres it is hard to make predictions before any running has been done in practice.

Last time the F1 cars raced at the Nurbrurgring, Lewis Hamilton won the race with a three stop strategy, pitting on laps 16, 31 and 51.

Chance of a safety car

Safety cars are rare at Nurburgring. However extremely wet weather has been a cause of Safety cars there in the past with the 2007 race an extreme example. In dry conditions it is an open circuit with lots of run off areas. So for marshals it’s relatively safe to recover a broken car.

The chances of a safety car are only 20% and 0.4 per race.


Recent start performance

As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows –

Gained

+13 Massa



+12 Van der Garde*****


+12 Gutierrez


+11 Perez


+10 Sutil***


+7 Maldonado


+7 Di Resta


+4 Chilton


+3 Button


+2 Vettel


+2 Hulkenberg**

+1 Pic

+1 Alonso



Lost



-2 Raikkonen

, Rosberg

-3 Bianchi******

-5 Bottas


-5 Hamilton


-8 Ricciardo


-8 Grosjean

-13 Vergne ****


-16 Webber*



*Webber dropped from second to seventh after a clutch problem in Australia
** Hulkenberg did not start in Australia *** Sutil suffered puncture from contact with Massa in Bahrain ****Vergne retired following collision. *****Van der Garde and Maldonado made contact in Monaco. ******Bianchi started from pit lane in Monaco after stalling

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. The performance gap is shrinking at the front: there were less than 1/10th of a second between the second and fourth fastest stops in Silverstone.

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.

1. Red Bull 24.092 secs
2. McLaren 24.357s
3. Ferrari 24.400s
4. Lotus 24.428s
5. Mercedes 24.635s
6. Force India 24.807s
7. Sauber 24.863s
8. Williams 25.244s
9. Marussia 25.701s
10. Caterham 26.191s
11. Toro Rosso 26.229s


The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli

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77 Comments
  1. Jock Ulah says:

    ‘Can’t wait’ to see how the Tyre Lottery unfolds –
    More exciting than EuroMillions – just.

    1. All revved-up says:

      Agree it’s a lottery to some degree. Wonder if Lotus will be able to get the Kevlar belted rear tyres up to temperature. If not, they may suffer graining.

      Mercedes should benefit from the kevlar belted lower temperature rear tyres.

      Can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

    2. Doug says:

      I can’t wait for this race weekend. In fact I was thinking about taking Friday off, just to watch the practice sessions. This may be more exciting than the race itself.

      I was fortunate enough to have attended the 2009 race. Mark Webber destroyed the field. He was running in front of the pack, controlling the race the whole time even with a drive through penalty – 3 stops instead of 2 for everyone else.

      I will be watching Mark for a replay.

    3. Jake says:

      Longer to heat up = more running in qualifying. :-)
      In the race cars that have just pitted will be vulnerable for a few laps until the tyre temps come up. Expect more passing. :-)
      Merc’s tyre disadvantage will be reduced. :-)
      Red Bull’s tyre disadvantage will also be reduced. :-(
      Should be a fun weekend.

  2. Angus Cheng says:

    Alonso won at the Nurburgring in 2007.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, but it wasn’t a German GP, it was a European GP..

      1. Horno says:

        “Different name, same animal”..

      2. John Gibson says:

        I think that, by 2007, the Hockenheim and Nurburgring race-sharing agreement had come into force, no? I’m fairly sure that when Alonso won in ’07 it was the German GP – unless the race retained the title “European GP” for contractual reasons? But we definitely didn’t go to Hockenheim in 2007.

      3. KRB says:

        It hadn’t come into force, and Hockenheim owned the rights to the name “German Grand Prix”. Originally the race at Nurburgring in 2007 was supposed to be the 2007 German Grand Prix, but they (Nurburgring and Hockenheim promoters) couldn’t agree, and so it changed to the “2007 European Grand Prix”.

        The original race calendar from the FIA before the 2007 season had it as the German Grand Prix.

    2. Tomby says:

      Alonso won in Nurburgring twice 2005,2007
      and three times German Gp 2005,2010,2012

      1. AlexD says:

        Why name matters? He won 5 times on this track….

      2. Tomby says:

        I have to specify it :
        he won at Nurburgring in 2005,2007 (European Gp)
        and in Hockenheimring in 2005,2010,2012 (German Gp)

      3. Andrew M says:

        No he only won twice on this track (2005, 2007). He won at Hockenheim three times (2005, 2010, 2012).

      4. Anop says:

        Not at this track. Fernando has won 5 times in Germany. He has won 2 times at Nurburgring and 3 times at Hockenheim.

      5. hero_was_senna says:

        No he hasn’t, 5 times in this country!

      6. F1interested says:

        Alex, he won twice on this track. Tho other 3 wins on German soil were at the Hockenheimring, including the famous ‘Fernando ist faster than you, do you unnderstand the message, Felipe’ win.

      7. Alastair says:

        No. The German GP was at the Hockenheimring ’05,’10,’12. That’s why Tomby makes the distinction. Nurburgring was the European GP in ’05,’07.

      8. kfzmeister says:

        Zo for the upset win in 2013!!!

  3. Glennb says:

    Interesting to note that Alonso has made only 1 place (aggregate) in 2013. Seems Felipe is the start king in that team. Lewis finds himself near the bottom of the table. That also surprised me. According to the table Webber seems to be a little tardy also. Someone should investigate that ;)
    Go Webber!

    1. Tomby says:

      Alonso start statistic are wrong.
      Before China it was +3 (he gained there 1 place)
      Before Bahrain +4 (gained 1 place but lost after T5 to Vettel so 0)
      Before Spain +4 (gained +2 there)
      Before Monaco +2 (gained/lost 0)
      Before Canada +2 (gained/lost 0)
      Before GB +1 (gained/lost 0)
      = +6

    2. treeFog says:

      I can’t see the point of the start statistics, they really don’t point to anything.

      1. Glennb says:

        That’s what Mark Webber says.

      2. Jake says:

        Think like it is odds.
        If a driver has a negative start statistic he/she is more likely to loose places at the start. While a driver with a positive stat is likely to gain places. The higher the value the more likely the outcome. Nothing is set in stone, it is only the odds based on past performance and is relative to their grid position. If Massa, who has a very high probability of making up places, starts on pole he can’t make up any places.

    3. Hugy says:

      Well, it’s surely easier to make places up if you qualify so low that you start next to the saubers or williams, and drive the best starting car, which is the case for massa.

    4. Quade says:

      Yes, Massa is a demon starter and king of the pack. There is no one that can get off the line the way he does, in the last last, he made 7 places off the line (Alonso was among those he passed), he took off from 12th to 4th.
      Massa is F1′s mighty starter, the best by a long shot.

  4. AuraF1 says:

    James you should have scrapped your usual strategy format and just put a giant ? In bold 70point font…

    What’s the betting teams run at least 19psi pressures this weekend?

  5. Anil Parmar says:

    Looking forward to seeing how much the new tyres affect the pecking order, however I expect Merc to go forward and Ferrari to ball back along with Lotus.

    Also James, you mention in the piece that their was a safety car in the 2008 race; I think you meant the 2007 one? 7 cars went off at turn 1!

    1. NickH says:

      Kimi said when he used these tyres in Canada they felt better

    2. Jake says:

      There is no reason to believe the tyres will cause any issues for Ferrari or Lotus. If they are good on tyres now they will still be good on the new tyres.

  6. AlexD says:

    I think Vettel will have it in the bag.

    1. Anil Parmar says:

      Really? He’s been pretty poor the last 2 times we raced at this track. I think Merc will be very strong, especially with the new rears. Heatwave or not, they will be strong.

      1. KRB says:

        A 2nd and 4th is poor?

    2. Mon Pen says:

      Insightful.

    3. Get Well Soon Murray says:

      Ferrari seem to have given it up recently

    4. F1interested says:

      Tere’s a course, he never won in Germany nor in the month of July.

    5. Clear View says:

      If you notice the stats say only 18% of lap is on the breaks, Lewis has been good on circuits with low breaking as that’s the main thing he is struggling with. Don’t count him out, I think we will see Vettle, Hamilton and Rosburg on the podium but I’m not sure what the order will be. It’s gonna be exciting that’s for sure.

    6. Jake says:

      Red Bull and Merc to lead the also rans home.
      Take you pick on the order, they are all on reasonable form. Ferrari an outside chance of an upset, perhaps Massa can sneak a podium.

  7. goferet says:

    It’s a shame really that the likes of Valencia had to be included on the calender for the Nurburgring is a real race track and so should have remained as the European Grand Prix.

    Right, so this weekend we shall find out whether we will having a power shift in terms of which teams will enjoy the new tyres and if one of those teams happens not to be Red Bull, we might have a fight on our hands after all.

    And if the tyres prove to be bullet proof, I think we may have a two stop race because the 2011 rubber were also notorious for their degradation.

    Meanwhile, am not sure if Mclaren have an upgrades in the pipeline for this race for seasons gone by, it was usually at the German race that we would see the marked improvement e.g 2009 and 2012.

    Anyway, hopefully we shall talk about this race for all the right reasons. Good luck

    1. BW says:

      /should have remained as the European Grand Prix/

      Just give ‘em money.

  8. Rich C says:

    The Big Questions will be “are the dolts running left-side tires on the right again?”
    And who will they blame *this time?

    1. Quade says:

      All the teams do it, and have done similar from the depths of time. It is standard practice thats allowed by the rules, it is not illegal.

      Calling the teams dolts is quite shortsighted, especially as the brains in a single F1 teams (even Caterham and Marrusia) can power the lights in a small town. You’ve gotto be something special to call F1 staff dolts.

    2. Clear View says:

      Pirelli have said they are going to impose tighter restrictions on tyre swapping, presures and camber, also the are demanding access to rep time data to the Pirelli engineers allocated to each team so the fan be sure the the correct tyres are on the correct side and pressures are on or above specified and the cambers meet spec too as they sighted these three things along with the high energy corners and running the curbs as the combined reason for the failures.

  9. Phil Glass says:

    Hi James,
    weather forecast on several UK channels is for a heat wave to sweep across Europe this weekend. Does that favour RB and Lotus most, or do you think Mercedes have sorted out their fast deg in high temp issues [along with all their other issues]?

    1. James Allen says:

      Tyres are different so we’ll have to see.

      On paper it favours Lotus and Ferrari, yes.

  10. goferet says:

    Some Deutschland stats:

    From 1977-2008, the German Grand Prix was solely held Hockenheim (with the exception of 1985 when it was held at the new Nurburgring)

    1) Most successful: Schumi 4 wins, Fangio, Stewart, Piquet, Senna and Alonso = 3 wins

    2) In the last 25 years of exclusive Nurburgring racing (1951-2011) Ferrari 9 wins, Brabham 4 wins, Lotus 2 wins, Mclaren 2 wins

    3) The only driver to have won the German Grand Prix at both Hockenheim and Nurburgring is Lewis

    4) The only driver to have won back to back races at two different tracks is Tony Brooks (1958-1959)

    5) The only back to back winners at the old Nurburgring are Ascari (1951-1952) and Surtees (1963-1964) >>> both for Ferrari

    b) The only back to back winner at the new Nurburgring (European Grand Prix) is Schumi (2000-2001)

    6) Fangio is the only driver to have won at the Nurburgring in 3 different teams >>> Mercedes, Ferrari and Maserati

    7) The only local drivers to have won in Germany are the Schumi brothers, Ralf and Michael.

    1. egoFret says:

      Yes, a serenade of statistical superlatives.

      Now, those all pale in comparison to Stefan Bellof’s 1983 assault on the Nordschleife in a Porsche 956 with a lap record of 6:11.13 set during qualifying. His race best of 6:25.91 also stands to this day.
      Proving that F1 doesn’t represent the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’?

      Ps.
      Heidfeld could easily have beaten that time in 2007 if he wasn’t obliged to slow for the video shoot and if the car hadn’t been hobbled via hard tyres and a speed limitation ‘for safety reasons’ – and if he just kept to the original 20.8km circuit…and if…and if…
      Well I guess modern F1 is all about ‘driving to deltas’ for whatever reason – so the theoretical achievable time of around 5:15 is going to remain just that – theoretical.

    2. Baghetti says:

      I think you are forgetting Rudolf in your most wins listing…

  11. Jonathan Kelk says:

    DRS up the hill to the chicane? Really not necessary, even in the most processional years there was overtaking there. I fear that is going to kill the race this year, with too many “motorway” overtakes.

    1. AndyRat says:

      I couldn’t agree more… why do they keep putting DRS zones in areas where you could always overtake anyway? It was supposed to make passing possible, not automatic. Why not save it for somewhere else in the lap to free up an extra (but tricky) overtaking possibility. THAT would be worth watching.

  12. Lee_H says:

    why do they always put the drs detection so far away from the activation?

    Been quite a few occasions of cars been behind at the detection line & getting DRS, But then overtaking the car ahead before the DRS activation & then simply using DRS to build a gap.

    Also have to say that im really starting to get fed up of how DRS works.
    I Was quite fond of it initially but its been far too effective the past 2 years, Especially this year with 2 zones & its made passing too easy which has hurt the quality of the racing.
    I also think as martin brundle said at silverstone, teams have figured out how to get the most from it so are now getting bigger speed gains which is only making things even easier.

    They Either need to change how its used, make it less effective or totally ban it from next year.

  13. Vinola says:

    My money is on Lewis this weekend; in the last race weekend on this track (2011), he out-qualified Jenson by ~1.2seconds! (yes, 1.2 seconds!!) and “drove the wheels” off his car to win, pulling off memorable overtakes. I’m predicting Nico will struggle to stay within 0.5seconds of Lewis’s qualifying.

  14. Andrew M says:

    I wouldn’t class Nico as the favourite, he was outperformed by both Vettel and Lewis at the last two races. Higher temperatures favour Ferrari and Lotus, more durable tyres favour Red Bull and Mercedes. Should be a good race.

  15. madmax says:

    I don’t like to criticize but constructive criticism!

    Rosberg:”Slowly but surely we are dropping into the role of being favourites, which is fantastic,”

    James: “described himself as the “favourite” going into this weekend.”

    From the interview I think it is clear he was talking about the Mercedes team in general (him and Lewis and encouraging back at the factory) and that they are progressing(dropping) toward favourite.

    1. madmax says:

      Not the I’m great the car is crap kind of stuff from Alonso and Hamilton.

  16. Sandman says:

    Have a funny feeling that Raikkonen will take this one. And I doubt the tyres will hinder Lotus & Ferrari. They seem to struggle only with the front tires. It will probably help Merc’s Degradation during the race.

  17. Elie says:

    Grosjeans lotus with the new slim bodywork I think was proportionally better improved over Raikkonens running the device. I hope they don’t waste too much time testing the DRD, maybe just run the same body work.

    James was the decision to run only the rears with the kevlar belt only a time constraint/ turnaround issue ? Im guessing the fronts will bed in quick but they may take a few laps to get the rears working ( except maybe Merc) .

  18. Jon says:

    The teams should approach the GP by using the tyre correctly- correct side, correct pressure, correct camber. To any extent the teams are responsible for the problems of the tyres. RB were caught out a couple of yrs ago (Brazil) I think by using too much camber on the rear tyres and caused a failure. Now it is all the teams are pushing the limits too much. The drivers need to looking at themselves, keeping off the kerbs

  19. Ian Sellman says:

    James, do you know if Bernie will be in Germany this weekend as it could be a trip into the unknown for him too.

    1. Quade says:

      Bernie dare not go to Germany.

      1. Jake says:

        Doesn’t really matter, if they want him there are very few places to hide these days.

  20. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    James, why Pirelli blame teams for not using the tyres according with the specifications while McLaren -with 2 blow-ups in Silverstone- is saying they have respected those specifications there…?

    I am confused…

  21. Methusalem says:

    I’ve just read the fascinating history of Nurburgring. The original round distance was 22.7 km long. Woow! We need similar circuit. The great Niki Lauda was on fire in 1976 here, and Nurbergring was later closed for a long time.

  22. Richard says:

    I always thought Alonso has won four times on German ground. 2005,2007 at the Nurburgring and Hockenheim in 2010 and 2012, so when was that fifth victory?

    1. Sandman says:

      2005 german gp was held at hockenheim. Nurburgring 2005 was the european gp. Alonso won both races and in both of them he inherited the win thanks to a Raikkonen retirement.

  23. David C says:

    Hi all I just want to point out something very important before the next GP, Sebastian Vettel is leading the WDC by 21 points at 20:01 ET 05/07/13 the day before the fist usage of the new tyres. I’m not sure how the new tyres will effect the teams however if SV is to win the title this year it is not just because of the change of tyres mid season. He is the champion of the 2013 original Pirelli rubber.
    In other news RBR led by Christian Horner are leading the WCC by 49 points after all races completed on 2013 original rubber and should they claim another WCC title it can not be just because of the change in compound for tomorrow.

  24. Quade says:

    Merc has brought some serious looking aero upgrades. Fingers crossed for Lewis.

    Lets hope the tyres suit McLaren too, they’ve been too long in the midfield.

  25. Doug Adams says:

    Lets send them out onto the Nordschleife and really watch these tyres work ;)

  26. Rich C says:

    “With so much to be learned about the new Pirelli tyres it is hard to make predictions before any running has been done in practice.”

    Yes, we *have to know if we can run them backwards and gain any performance.

    We also have to get our story straight (know who to blame) before “it” happens.

  27. Rich C says:

    If they run the fronts on the back do you think Whiting will notice? Do they have to ask permission first?

    1. Mark says:

      Someone correct me if I am wrong.

      The rear tyres are slightly bigger than the front ones.

      Hence swapping front to back will make the rear tyres smaller than the original ones.

      This will mean that the car will run slower.

  28. Clear View says:

    James, I would once again like to let you know just how good your site is. I’m an F1 geek and find in recent years I have made this page my 1st stop then I just flick threw the other pages out there for the more “gossip” stories.
    Thanks souch for this service you provide us with, I did buy your book just before Christmas to help support your cause and as a thank you for the hard work you and your team put in.
    I think you have a good balance of articles and don’t show favor to any particular team or driver as some other F1 sites seem to, also you don’t bother with the stupid stuff when say ex-divers make silly comments etc you know what I mean, the nonsense stories.
    Please don’t stop what your doing as I just seems to get better and better also, i very much like the fact all comments are approved by a moderator and very little hate is put up in the comments. I have stopped using some other pages as every story seem to be an excuse for what can only be descibed as idiots, to post love notes or hate messages to their favorite/least favorite driver or team. It’s more like a school playground than an exchange of views by intelligent people with a shared love of everything Formula 1.

    Thanks once again,

    Olie

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks! Tell your friends

      1. Liam in Sydney says:

        James,

        From another fan of your blog, can I also request that you continue to ensure your site remains ‘gossip free’ in terms of article selection.

        Your fans come here for the facts your stories can give us – and most importantly – your own analysis. You provide us fantastic insider analysis of the teams and clear explanations of the more technical subjects. Simply brilliant website.

        Cheers, Liam.

    2. ozherb says:

      ^^^^^^^^
      This

  29. JohnBt says:

    Hoping Vettel, Alonso, Kimi, Hamilton, Webber and Rosberg be in the hunt for the championship from Nuburgring. Six drivers in the rush will be most welcomed.

    Seems like two seasons in one with the tire problems.

  30. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Just I realized that before the private test in Spain, the new driver for Merc, Hamilton, got 1 pole, 2 podiums and 2 P5 in race day. Not bad.

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