Lots of question marks as F1 teams head to Hockenheim
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jul 2014   |  4:48 pm GMT  |  90 comments

This weekend is the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, which alternates as host of the race with the Nurburgring. The last time the F1 teams raced there in 2012, HRT was still an active competitor, which shows how much has changed since the last German GP at Hockenheim.

The shorter Hockenheim track was inaugurated in 2002, but this is only the second time that Pirelli has raced on the circuit. The last time the race was held there, it was a two-stop strategy that won, but the tyres are very different and more robust today. Against that, the likely removal of the Front-Rear interconnected suspension systems (FRIC), due to a mandate from the governing body the FIA, is likely to impact on the strategy with more stops likely as the tyre wear will be less consistent across the four corners of the car. This could force an extra stop. It is one of a number of big question marks hanging over the F1 teams as they embark on this important race.

It is a short lap at Hockenheim, the cars come around every 76 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 for a qualifying lap on a cool day.

Pirelli has chosen the Supersoft and Soft tyres this year.


Track characteristics

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 320km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 310km/h without.

Full throttle – 65% of the lap (medium).

Time spent braking: 15% of lap. 7 braking zones. Brake wear- Heavy.

Total time needed for pit stop: 16.8 seconds.


Form Guide

The German Grand Prix is the tenth round of the 2014 FIA F1 World Championship.

It has been dominated by the Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton so far; they have won eight of the nine races with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo taking his first Grand Prix win in Montreal.

Ferrari is still some way off, but the trend is improving as they have reduced the performance gap to Mercedes, Red Bull also. Williams has had a driver on the podium for the last two races and a pole position in Austria, so they are also a form team, expected to go well again in Germany.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned; Fernando Alonso has won the German Grand Prix three times, all at Hockenheim, Lewis Hamilton twice (including once at Hockenheim) and Sebastian Vettel once.

Weather Forecast

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 very warm weather, in the high 20s and low 30s

Pirelli F1 tyres

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Hockenheim: Soft (yellow markings) and supersoft (red markings). This is a similar combination to what we saw in Monaco, Canada and Austria.

Pirelli predicts a difference in performance between the two tyre compounds of around 0.8 seconds per lap, enough to make the crossover in strategies interesting, with a number of possible ways to divide up the race.

With high temperatures forecast this weekend we are likely to see some thermal degradation, which means that the tyres overheat and suffer a sudden drop off in performance beyond a certain point, usually when they are around 70% worn.

This effect will be exacerbated by the removal of the FRIC suspension systems. Friday practice will be more essential than ever for the teams to do their homework and establish the fastest tyre strategy combination for Sunday’s race.

Hockenheim 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.


Number and likely timing of pit stops

Depending on the thermal degradation and the effect of the removal of the FRIC suspensions, it is likely to be a two-stop race, possibly a three stop if the negative effects are significant. A two stopper would pit around Lap 18 and again around Lap 41.

Chance of a safety car

Since the new Hockenheim track was opened in 2002 there have been two safety cars in eight Grands Prix.

There was a safety car in 2004 for a crash at the start, another in 2008 due to an accident.


Recent start performance

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 2014 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate (taking away positions lost from positions gained), as follows –

Net gained positions

17 Gutierrez
14 Bottas
13 Kobayashi
12 Massa
11 Maldonado, Ericsson
10 Bianchi
9 Chilton
8 Hulkenberg
7 Sutil
6 Raikkonen, Hamilton
2 Alonso

Net held Position

Net lost positions

20 Vergne
6 Button, Grosjean
5 Kvyat, Ricciardo
3 Vettel, Perez
1 Magnussen

Melbourne Notes: Kobayashi, Massa eliminated in a first corner accident; Perez, Gutierrez pitted at the end of Lap 1; Bianchi, Grosjean started from pit lane.
Malaysia Notes: Perez started from pit lane, Bianchi pitted at the end of lap 1
Bahrain notes: Vergne pitted at the end of lap 1 after contact
China Notes: Sutil lost power at start and dropped 8 places, retiring soon after.
Monaco notes: Maldonado did not start, Ericsson started from pit lane, Perez crashed Lap 1.
Canada Notes: Gutierrez started from pit lane; Bianchi and Chilton crashed lap 1; Ericsson pitted lap 1
Austria Notes: Grosjean started from pit lane
GB Notes: Raikkonen and Massa eliminated in 1st lap accident

Ferrari pit stop F1

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 two seconds this season by some F1 teams. Ferrari’s 2.0s is the fastest stop so far.
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. Mercedes 28.329secs
2. Red Bull 28.483
3. Toro Rosso 28.575
4. McLaren 28.645
5. Lotus 28.831
6. Williams 29.104
7. Caterham 29.507
8. Force India 29.579
9. Sauber 29.956
10. Marussia 30.353
11. Ferrari 34.410

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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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kenneth chapman

i believe that mecedes will not be running FRIC at this race. so what does that mean? it means that they are not going to risk any possibility of a protest which would eat into their massive points advantage. a risk averse strategy.

however as i said in another thread, if all teams race sans FRIC then the status quo will remain unaltered and MB will still be proverbial streets ahead of anyone else.


They should run it on one car and not the other. A buck each way.


Should the other teams close up to Merc I don’t mind, but what next if FRIC does not affect them and they are now 2 secs ahead in Germany. What’s the next step then? It could backfire.


If that williams rumour is true, good on him. Alonso’s a good driver. About time he got a drive with a top team.


Supersoft and Soft, bit ambitious isn’t it…?


No not really, considering Pirelli’s rock hard spec of tyres this year. Possibly the worst tyres in terms of grip ever in F1. They should use the supersoft and soft every race. Look at last race Lewis could have easily 1 stopped at silverstone! one of the most demanding tracks on tyres on the calendar.

Stephen Taylor

New Hockenheim is a shadow of the old one. It lacks charm and character. It is totally unworthy of the

Hockenheimring name.


James Williams F1 just tweeted that they are delighted to welcome Fernando Alonso to Williams factory to meet Frank… is this the silly season?


willing to see new driving difficulties

and pilots dealing with them


Its all speculation, we won’t know until the weekend. I’m going to guess that the team who caused the stir is fezzavile. They are the only ones with enough clout to get the little monkey to do what is required for them. I’m going to guess that the system is far more complicated than we know. Think about our understanding of the blown diffuser. We though it was worth a few tenths and it turned our the bullies had in fact designed their whole car round it and it was worth over a second at some circuts. It will come out over the weekend what has been going on. The mercs are still way way ahead, I will eat my hat if it has a significant effect on their relative performance.


Hi James,

From your article on FRIC a while a go:


“If through the FRIC system you could minimise the pitch in the car under straight line braking manoeurvre, that would help the stability and thus ease the driver’s insecurity. So FRIC suspension may well be a pre-cursor to the introduction of the passive DRS system in races.”

Does this mean there may be safety concerns for the drivers related to FRIC and the use of DRS?


Are there different systems of FRIC James?


from what i can gather one of the teams submitted a new system which not only allows for control of left/right front/rear suspension but now a system that is even more extreme which helps removes the down force in high speed straights,

hence the reason it had to come to a head, it has gone too far and Whiting had to put at stop to it,

so there will be no agreement,

wounder who needed more speed down the straight and had the know how to alter it?

Adrian Newey maybe…

kenneth chapman

@ eric morman, could you point me to where this info came to light as i would like to read more about it?


The teams need to tell FIA, FRIC off.


Oddly enough that is what the FIA are hoping the teams will team them 😉


“teams will team them”

Good grief… 🙁


I recall watching the thermal vision/race cam on one of the Redbull cars and seeing the inside front tire getting hot through a high load corner when intuitively you would expect the outside one to be taking most of the load and thus generate more heat. I suspected then that a FRIC type suspension was responsible, so I now expect the Redbull to suffer somewhat more significantly with the removal of this technology than other teams due to the fact that they seem to have taken advantage of the technology very well.. It will be interesting to see who suffers increased tire wear issues this weekend, especially with uneven wear.


The rule under which FRIC might be considered illegal is just a catch all clause.

It could also be argued engines are illegal since they affect the aerodynamic performance of the car as it is propelled forwards. Ok that was tongue in cheek, to illustrate how ridicules the rules actually are.

Go Caterham, protest that you slow pokes…

kenneth chapman

This FRIC nonsense just gets sillier and beyond ludicrous. if, as whiting says, some teams have gone over the top with the ‘fric’ application and that they are now illegal then how can whiting say, ‘hang on chaps’ if you all agree not to protest you can keep these illegal options on your cars until the end of the season?’ if they are ‘illegal now’ then how can the FIA continue to knowingly allow them to compete irrespective of how the teams vote?

james. i have requested quite a few times that you approach the tech chappies and see if we can get some detail of just what has happened. who are the culprits? what was the ‘tipping point’? etc etc etc. seeing as this debacle could possibly change the final half of the season and influence the championship for some players ‘ surely it would be vital to clear up the details!


Yes, the lack of details about who’s doing what with this FRIC business is very strange. The teams obviously know what’s going on, and they are not very good at keeping secrets (in fact they love telling tales about one another) so you’d imagine the press knows as well. But the fans are still in the dark.


Mr Allen thank you for a superb inlook in forthcoming F1 race this weekend in Germany.

As always precise and to the point,

Some may disagree with your coments,but in my book you call a spade a spade and that is all about it that matters.

Thank you

Joachim Breire

Oh Dear…… This system was introduced by Renault in 2009 it has been steadily taken up by most of the other teams, some make it work well others fail miserably as usual lately.

However to declare it illegal half way through the season almost 5 years later is more than a little odd. Conspiracy theories? Well Ferrari and Red Bull may feel the need to complain for their own, obvious reasons. It’s quite similar to the mass damper ban half way through 2006 Which if i remember correctly was an attempt by Ferrari (through the FIA) at stopping what Ferrari thought was Renaults biggest advantage. Again that team changes the rules to enable it to win? *Question*

I think so but again, there is no proof.


James Allen introduced FRIC to his readers last season as a new technology.


“After the first two Grands Prix (of 2014) the teams have had a couple of weeks to prepare for the next pair of races in China this weekend and then Bahrain the following week.”

“In terms of development, new parts will be coming to many of the cars for these races, but one innovation which many will be working to perfect is the FRIC suspension system, which has helped Lotus and Mercedes for far.”

It doesn’t sound like five year old technology to me.


It is 5 year old technology that Renault/lotus/team enstone whatever they’re called pioneered in 2009. This has been widely reported by pretty much everyone that covers F1. Maybe read more before making statements.

Those quotes don’t suggest whatsoever that it wasn’t old technology. You can still have old technology that is continuously developed and improved, like FRIC suspension for example.


“The Motor magazine” has a feature on it!


Fraid It is! Renault were using it 5 years ago.

…….I’m off to look.

Ok for a forum maybe try: f1technical.net forum and search.

For a magazine article try “Autosport”, Try “Motor”


From what I heard , only Torro Rosso, Caterham and Force India have refused to agree on a postpone ban so I doubt its any of the big teams trying to get one over the other. My guess is its Caterham – getting upset that they are getting beaten by Marussia and causing all this turmoil for the sake of a point here or there.

Of course it could be Force India who are the only team not running FRIC. Strange that TorroRosso is not doing what RedBull want though.


I saw an interview with Force India on the sky F1 show last weekend and they were saying that they had been testing their system at the Silverstone test and it had worked really well and it would have put them much further up the grid. For a team that doesn’t have ‘loads’ of money it would be silly to develop a new suspension system then try and ban without even using it in a race. Maybe it was a load of misdirection to take the heat off of them but I can only repeat what I heard and anything else is just speculation.


Wonder how the teams will fare with the 1st corner run off – it’s always been acceptable to run wide there( natural racing line)

Also wondering if Mercs tyre eating problems will return without FRIC.

Use to love this track in TOCA race driver, nice fast sweeping corners with the big breaking zone at the end of the racing straight. The main overtaking place – remember Hamilton on Massa.

Hopefully a good race.


James are there any drivers that could be affected more by FRIC ban?

I noticed a improvement for Alonso and Vettel in regards to tyre degradation and handling over the last few races?



We will see at the weekend. Clearly the ones who are better at looking after their tyres..


Strange moment to pick for the Nico nuptials.

Surely a distraction that could have waited.

Unless it is designed to make Lewis dwell on his lonely longings for Nicole….


Who could blame him. I bet he had a very good ‘twerking’ display as a reward for silverstone!


What lonely longings? If his Twitter feed is anything to go by they seem to be very much a couple once again.


Presumably Ferrari’s pit-stop time includes Fernando’s 5 second penalty ! Not very useful as a from guide …


Wow… how did Ferrarii get themselves into that position on the pit stop table !!


Because they have Alonso in the team.


Didn’t realise Alonso jumped out of his car to fit new tyres.


Remember alonso had a 5 seconds stop and go penalty last race.

H.Guderian (ALO fan)



Why so many pictures of Ferrari, I wonder….. as it seems this track requires speed and good traction out of corners.

Continuing the summer theme of german world domination I’m going for Vettel to trounce one or both mercs. I’m putting the holiday money on it !


Better start saving for next year Phil… 😉


Pity me, Random.

I never learn do I.


Some Hockenheim stats:

From 1977-1984 and 1986-2006 the German Grand Prix was solely held at Hockenheim whilst the new Nurburgring became the European Grand Prix

i) Most wins at the German Grand Prix: Schumi 4 wins, Fangio + Stewart + Piquet + Senna + Alonso = 3 wins

ii) Most wins at Hockenheim: Schumi 4 wins, Senna + Piquet + Alonso = 3 wins, Prost + Berger + Mansell = 2 wins

iii) Most successful at Hockenheim: Ferrari 11 wins, Williams 9 wins, Mclaren 6 wins

iv) Back to back winners: Senna 3 wins, Piquet + Mansell + Alonso (2010/2012) = 2 wins

v) Williams and Mclaren are the only teams with 3 back to back wins

vi) Piquet, Prost, Berger, Schumi & Alonso won the race in 2 different teams.

vii) On the new shorter Hockenheim circuit, 5 out of 8 have won from pole but as a whole 17 out of 33 winners have emerged from pole.

viii) Senna has the record of 3 wins from pole

ix) Lewis is the only pilot to have won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim and the Nurburgring.

x) On the current grid, only Lewis has been able to win both his home race and team’s home race i.e. Silverstone + Germany 2008.


I don’t understand your point ‘x’

Germany isn’t a home race for either Lewis or McLaren, and he wasn’t driving for Mercedes in 2008 mainly because there was no Mercedes F1 team that year.


@ RodgerT

You see, in the past, Mclaren was partly owned by Mercedes so the German race became the default home race of Mclaren if you will.


What does back to back winners mean? If its leading the whole race then Alonso didn’t in 2010.


Thats what I didn’t understand, thanks!


@ Mocho_Pikuain

What I meant by back to back is consecutively.

Now since these stats are only for Hockenheim, I ranked Alonso as a back to back winner at Hockenheim because the 2011 German race was held at the Nurburgring.


Kimi doesn’t seem to have much success at the new Hockenheim, does he? Massive shunt in 2003, massive shunt in 2004, dominating the race until his engine broke in 2005, could only manage 3rd from pole in 2006, off the pace in 2008 and finished 3rd in 2012 after the stewards decision but didn’t get to drink the podium champagne!

Of all the drivers, I would say good old Nando is the Hockenheim specialist, results wise.


To be fair in 2006 Kimi banzai’d that average Mclaren to get it on pole in, pretty sure he had a few wheels on the grass in the last section! The Ferrari’s were in a different league in the race, Schumacher probably had bucket loads more fuel on board as always 😉


@ Gaz Boy

Definitely Hockenheim hasn’t been kind to Kimi, I think the most painful was when his tyre exploded with one lap to go giving the win to Alonso.

As for The Stone Roses, brilliant band.


PS The Stone Roses did a song about the 2000 German GP – “Breaking Into Heaven!”


Oi, I had forgotten about the HRT team Lol…

Anyway willkommene to German Grand Prix and what a time to visit the Fatherland whilst the country in a jubilant mood after the recent success at the world cup.

Now the majority of the talk this weekend will be the effect the ban of FRIC will have on the teams but as I have read on the internet, we won’t see any changes in the grid pecking order.

Further more, thanks to Pirelli’s Duracell tyres, I doubt the degradation will be as bad as 2012.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing Kimi back on the grid and hopefully he will avoid the first turn runoff as many cars tend to go off track on the first lap >>> not forgetting Kimi’s dismal DNF record at the German Grand Prix.

Fun Fact.

The 2000 German Grand Prix was interrupted when a disgruntled ex Mercedes employee went onto the circuit.


Goferet, don’t know if you agree or not, but the 2000 German GP is to my mind still one of the best races of the New Millennium – it was one of those races that you pinched yourself and thought: “Did I just watch that??????”

Although Rubens ultimately lacked the measured consistency required of a WDC, there were days when he was simply astonishing – and 30th July 2000 was one of those days.

I bet all the Brazilians on this forum probably agree that 30th July 2000 was truly a magical day!


@ Gaz Boy

No m8, I wasn’t following F1 in 2000 as I begun watching in 2003.

But from what I have read, the 2000 race was mega for we had one part of the circuit wet and the other dry.

Rubens gambled and stayed on the dry tyres whilst Mika went for the wets.

Mika would pull up in the wet only for Rubens to bolt on the dry section i.e. Cat and mouse game.

It’s true, Rubens had inspired days but like most good number 2s, these performances were far in between.

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