Preview: Why Hockenheim could set the tone for second half of the season
Hockanheim GP 2014
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Jul 2016   |  7:52 am GMT  |  94 comments

The German Grand Prix makes a welcome return to Hockenheim this weekend after missing off the calendar in 2015 due to financial difficulties at the Nurburgring.

And the way the race unfolds this weekend will give some strong indications for the rest of the 2016 season, as after this race the F1 teams will take a well-earned summer break and most will throw their effort behind the 2017 cars when they come back.

That much was clear from the timing of the announcement yesterday that Ferrari is replacing its technical director James Allison with engine chief Mattia Binotto. Coming in now, in late July, Bintotto can make decisions which will have material effect on the 2017 car, when Ferrari has to be competitive and not tread water.

There will be scheduled updates to the cars in the second half of the season, but the bulk of the development work is now going to switch to the radical new design rules for next season. And if the F1 Strategy Group decides this week to go ahead and introduce the halo for next season, then the 2017 work load goes up exponentially.

Incidentally, there is a school of thought that the halo would be for a single season only, with the aeroscreen being developed for long term use from 2018.

Hockenheim is to some degree a power circuit, so it will flatter the more powerful engined cars – so we will likely see McLaren Honda slide back from where they were in Hungary, for example.

German GP 2014

It is a good racing circuit, with two overtaking spots and there were 67 overtakes the last time F1 raced there. What is intersting about these hybrid turbo cars is that they have so much punch out of slow corners, we now see overtaking moves starting on corner exits, rather than always the traditional moves under braking along a straight into a corner.

THe hairpin at Hockenheim lends itself wonderfully to this and we should see cars side by side on the exit there and the ones with the more worn tyres will certainly get punished at that point. It should create some good racing.

We have a carry over of Pirelli tyre choices this weekend from Hungary: the supersoft, soft and medium tyres. There are a couple of high energy corners at Hockenheim, but it is not especially stressful on the tyres. The medium was not competitive in Hungary and is likely to be the same here, so we will see a combination of supersoft and soft tyres in the racs. Kimi Raikkonen made a reverse strategy work very well last weekend, starting on the soft tyres, so fast cars out of the top ten may well come through on the same basis.

Hockenheim 2016
Hockenheim – the key numbers you need to know

This weekend’s race at Hockenheim will be the 35th F1 World Championship race to be held at the venue, which is just 28 miles from Sebastian Vettel’s hometown of Heppenheim. But despite its close proximity to where he grew up, the Ferrari driver is yet to win at Hockenheim and has never finished in the top two at the track after a post-race penalty dropped him to fifth from second in the 2012 race. Vettel has also only ever led three laps at this track in his F1 career so far.

Rubens Barrichello German Grand Prix 2000

The race winner at Hockenheim has only ever come from lower than the front row on three occasions since the 1987 German GP. Eddie Irvine won for Ferrari in 1999 from fifth, while a year later Rubens Barrichello did likewise from 18th, and Fernando Alonso took the win for Renault from 3rd in 2005 – which is the only time any driver has won from below the first two positions since the current layout was introduced in 2002.

Although Ferrari heads to the German Grand Prix without a win so far in 2016, the Italian team has won the race 21 times overall (11 times at Hockenheim, which is the circuit record), an all-time record for an F1 constructor in any one event.

Lewis Hamilton, who won at Hockenheim in 2008, goes to Germany leading the world championship for the first time this season. His Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who has seen a 43 point lead slip since the Spanish Grand Prix, claimed pole and won the last race at Hockenheim in 2014, which is his only time he has started and finished higher than eighth at the circuit in his F1 career.

Lewis Hamilton German Grand Prix 2008

After Hungary, Rosberg has qualified first or second for the last 17 straight races (he started sixth after a gearbox penalty in Austria), while no Ferrari driver has qualified on the front row so far in 2016.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo will make his 100th F1 start this weekend, and will become the fourth Australian to reach that milestone after Sir Jack Brabham (126), Alan Jones (116) and Mark Webber (215).

Several drivers are enjoying strong streaks heading into the German Grand Prix. Sauber’s Felipe Nasr has reached Q2 twice in the last four races (at Baku and Hungary), and although Jolyon Palmer hasn’t reached Q2 since Melbourne, in Hungary he out qualified his Renault teammate Kevin Magnussen for the 3rd time this season. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz has scored points in six of the last seven races, and the Spaniard has finished in the top eight on five occasions in 2016.

Carlos Sainz

What are you expecting from the German Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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I was at this race last time they had it. Quite the small crowd. While bad for the organizers I quite enjoyed it because there was literally zero traffic coming and going but I must admit the crowd was very low energy. Was cool to see Lewis come through the field but the Nico walk away was quite boring.


Fully expecting to see some problems with Hamilton’s ICU, leading to a well deserved penalty; Rosberg to drive into the sunset, never to be seen again – retaking the lead in the Championship, giving the german supporters something to cheer about.*

Hopefully this year the front row winner “rule” will be broken; I am praying for rain, but only for the second 1/2 of the race, to mix up a bit the field – expecting a SC, due to some mid-corner missunderstandings :).

*tinfoil hat on


With the rules adjustments by the F1 Strategy Group today Hockenheim will definitely set a new tone for the rest of the season!!!


Oh Hockenheim…..What have you done? The engine breaker that was neutered into a horrible Tilkedrome.


will be another MB snoozefest unless something goes wrong. No reason to watch the race unless you enjoy the competition for third. At least this track allows for some honest overtaking so that should be better than Hungary.

Time to start looking forward to next year when the cars are fast again. Will be glad to say goodbye to tire management, fuel saving and all of the other nonsense that has made F1 a farce the last few years. I think Alonso is spot on in calling the sport out.


James, did Hamiltons over management in Hungary restrict Nico strategies options? if Nico had a buffer behind he could have opted for the off set strategie? Deliberate or not from Lewis!


The only thing he could have done is go longer on one of his stints, to build an offset. Suppose he could have tried to go 35-40 laps on his softs to then take SS’s at the end. Always susceptible to losing out with a SC though.


Traffic and the inability to pass on fresher tyres made the offeset a poor choice.


Nico could have tried to pass if Lewis was holding him up. And he wasn’t talking to his pit crew saying “I’m driving like a grandma”!

Personally, I didn’t like the comment to Lewis telling him to speed up. Not because I’m a Lewis fan. I’d have been annoyed if they told Daniel to speed up too.

Guy in front not fast enough? Go and pass him. That’s what it’s all about no?

But yeah, I think if it didn’t affect Nico’s race, it certainly came close to it.


Why is there a belief that the field will be more evenly matched next year? For every HP squeezed out of a Ferrari or TAG Heuer motor, Merc will squeeze out the same to maintain their advantage and Merc is pretty good with aero too. I reckon it will be more of the same (except of course Lewis will retire after winning his 4th WDC this year and Vettel will take his seat.)


OR, Lewis and Seb could just swap seats. I’d love to see Lewis winning in a Ferrari and it would add some unarguably impressive gloss on top of his already considerable legacy.

Or even better Seb stays and Lewis takes Kimi’s seat. I wouldn’t even care if it never produced a championship win, I’d just love to see them both go at it in the same car.

Never going to happen I know. Seb is too scared of a proper team mate!



Thinking on the same lines?
I could see Lewis going to Ferrari after 2018. That is if Lewis is still hungry and Ferrari have a half decent car.
Your right, it would be a great end to a fantastic racing career??


Also, as several people predicted (including me) now the teams are used to the tyres the 3 compound rule is kind of redundant, you rarely see strategies that are competitive and incorporate different compounds yet span the range of all three, and certainly not at the front.


“It is a good racing circuit, with two overtaking spots and there were 67 overtakes the last time F1 raced there.”

The 2014 cars were much easier to overtake with though, plus Hamilton starting from the back, doubt we’ll get close to that number this year.


Amused by your first photo where you try and make it look like a Merc is in fourth place. You are a bunch of comedians!

Renault, Ferrari & Honda for the love of all that is good and holy and my sanity PLEASE find some horsepower.

Alex Kalinauckas

The Mercedes was in that position – Hamilton started towards the rear of the field in 2014 due brake problems in qualifying…


True but a leetle bit sneaky!

I think he ran into Jenson as well that day.

*highlight of my day to get a direct response from the JamesAllen@F1 overlords*


Look at the noses of the Toro Rosso and Force India cars in the second image! What an absolute fiasco. Do we know whether the 2017 rules will finally rid us of jigsaw piece noses, or are they with us for keeps?

Ricki Sanguinetti

Another Mercedes win here.There is no way any one can take them on here.I am guessing at least, 0.8 sec between them and the closest.
I hope there are no desperate and ridiculous moves here by …… well, you know!
I hope the expected boos will spur Lewis on to victory.


It’s a good thing for the other teams that this track got altered years ago, else none of them would see the Mercs by the end of lap 2. It used to be a mighty power circuit, lapping around 1 min 45 secs, similar to Spa.
There’s been some good races in Hockenheim, hope this year is too, with a decent crowd. Force India and Williams to go at it, McLaren to fall a bit behind maybe.
Lewis obviously has the momentum, he’ll be odds on favourite. Nico needs the win for a morale boost heading into the break. It’ll be tough for him if he doesn’t, he’ll start to doubt himself more and more.
To be honest, I’m not particularly keen on who wins the title. If we’re going to have a one team Championship, then by all means let it be two drivers battling, not one running away with it. It’s fantastic that Lewis has come back in the title race, Nico running away with it would have been a disaster. Now I’d love to see the lead keep changing hands, and hopefully go down to the wire. I know Lewis won’t ever stay down, not sure about Nico.


James said “Incidentally, there is a school of thought that the halo would be for a single season only, with the aeroscreen being developed for long term use from 2018.”

I don’t understand the clamor to introduce the Halo for 2017 if an aeroscreen, or alternative solution, if the long term aim from 2018. Don’t get me wrong I fully understand tactical vs strategic solutions but I see no reason for a tactical Halo introduced for a single season.

Recent messages from some team bosses suggest they are reluctantly accepting the Halo because the FIA have presented a strong case for safety which appears to back teams into a corner legally. ie. If the FIA have made public the safety benefits and there is a fatality due to the device not being introduce I’d imagine the potential lawsuit would be sufficient for much of the large corporates in F1 to be reluctant to carry that risk and therefore will run with a Halo.

But If Todt and the FIA are planning to force it’s introduction on the grounds of safety and the view that something is better than nothing then it flies in the face of the recent response to double waved yellows.

Mixed messages and inconsistency from the FIA yet again and all for a bit of political point scoring for Todt.


“I don’t understand the clamor to introduce the Halo for 2017 if an aeroscreen, or alternative solution, if the long term aim from 2018. “

Joe Saward actually made an unfortunately valid point that it would be hard for the FIA to back away from the Halo at this point due to liability issues.

They have promoted it as a device that can mitigate the risk of head injury, and they have done studies to verify its effectiveness, which means if next year they don’t have the Halo, and someone suffers head trauma that could have been prevented with the Halo, they could face legal action as a result.


Think your last para answers it mate. Todt has to be seen to be doing something for safety so he can cover his backside over the Bianchi tragedy.


no mention of manheim, a city built on proceeds from photographic film alone?
nice cathedral surrounded by a plain green park of grass. oh yeah and the water fountain.


Please tell us more.


2hr drive from the black forest where you can try a real black forest gateaux..excitingly winding roads around the black forest itself.


A Manor 1-2.

“May the odds be forever in your favor.”


You forgot to mention that Toto is concerned that Red Bull and Ferrari will be much closer here and may challenge for the win. : )


@ axel knutt…yes, you have pre empted the usual wolffie ‘cry wolffe’. oooh ah they are getting close again…….


Some Hockenheim stats:

Begun racing in 1970 and from 1977-1984 and 1986-2006 the German Grand Prix was solely held at Hockenheim

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

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

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

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

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

6) Piquet, Prost, Berger, Schumi &
Alonso won the race in 2 different

7) On the new shorter
Hockenheim circuit which opened in 2002, 6 out of 9 have won from pole but as a whole 18 out of 34 winners have emerged from pole.

8) Senna has the record of 3
wins from pole

9) Red Bull’s two wins came at the Nurburgring whereas Ferrari has never gone more than 2 seasons without a win at Hockenheim since 1999

10) The track has seen 15 one time winners in 34 events

11) Prost has the record of having gone 8 seasons before notching his second win whereas Schumi took 7 seasons


Berger was always faster here than usual.


@ LagunaSeca

Probably due to the fact he used to race on the track a lot in junior formula considering Austria is a neighbouring country



Great reading as always mate. Always love a bit of history.

Sky (bless them) replayed the race from 2000 the other night. What an absolutely fantastic race that was! Stunning drive from Rubens, amazing slipstream battles, noise, pretty much no rear wing… Just thoroughly exciting and entertaining.


@ The Exigency

Oh yes the 2000 race was a cracker. As always rain affected races produce drama hence good viewing for the fans


Great race back in 2000, a shame Jenson ran out of laps…


Ha! I watched that the other night. Great track and brilliant drive from Rubens.


WHAT a way to win your 1st GP.

Stunning drive of the likes we don’t see very often. And that Ferrari looked and sounded fantastic. I miss the old Hockenheimring dearly.


‘And that Ferrari looked and sounded fantastic.’

Yes it did, wailing its way through the forest!


Wailing around the bends in the absence of a track through the forest doesn’t cut it.


Plus 1 Feret.. Keep it up!


@ Sarsippous

Roger that


Oh yes, Hockenheim grid may indicate the running order for most teams as they switch focus to 2017

However, it appears Red Bull may still continue working on their car as Horner says the team will be stronger in the second half

Meanwhile it’s great that the race makes a return considering the number of German drivers on the grid not to mention German team, hopefully the fans will come out to support the event

As for what I expect from the weekend is a cracking race with lots of incidents that will keep the fans talking throughout the summer break


RedBull will benefit from Renault’s continued development. Chassis dev. might drop away but you can betcha boots the manufacturers will be throwing all they have at the PUs this year. Gains in that area still count next year…


@ Sir Tease

Oh I see, yes that would explain it


Except McLaren Honda still have more low hanging fruit with improving their PU.


Good build up there James. I’m looking forward to this one.

Hoping for a Lewis win obviously but if that does happen it’s going to really hurt Nico. He was looking decidedly rattled during the post race presser after Hungary. In fact he was looking very much on the edge of losing it. If Nico can’t do something to halt his team mate’s form this weekend then I honestly think his only hope is that the engine penalties affect Lewis’ championship.

Although that would be a very poor way to win a title.

Finally, let’s hope that the German public see the event as something worth visiting. They need 60k to break even and last German GP got what, 52k? Could well be the end of the event there if they don’t do well. No France, no Germany. Italy next? Belgium?

More Tilkedrome hell on the way it seems.


‘his only hope is that the engine penalties affect Lewis’ championship.
Although that would be a very poor way to win a title.’

Alonso won his first title that way.


True enough Nick. It should have been Kimi’s championship in my opinion, although it has to be said the engine penalties back then were not as daft as they are now. But then we know the folks in charge love to get one over on Ron.

In the end I was just happy that the Schumacher domination was over.


I still miss the old Hockenheim even after all these years. The new track produces some pretty decent racing (which should bode well for this weekend, especially after Hungary which turned out to be a cure for insomnia), but there’s just no character to this circuit anymore. Still, it’s better to have Butchered Hockenheim than yet another race around a giant car park with empty grandstands in some far flung corner of the world.


It was one of the greats. Used to be a mighty circuit.


Yes. Another track on the long list of ‘not as good as it was’.


It was like the Charge of the Light Brigade down into the Nord Kurve on the long run out to Clarke.

Now we have another homongised Tilke circuit.

Just another example of F1 selling its soul…sigh ?


Can’t see RB or Ferrari getting near the Mercedes on this track. Can’t really see Rosberg triumphing at his ‘home race’ either.
Scrap for 3rd place should be good again though between! The non Merc championship between RB and Ferrari is shaping up well with only 15 points separating the four of them.

The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday predicts fairly warm, muggy conditions so I expect Ferrari to have strong race pace as they did in Hungary. Ferrari should exploit their ability to run the SS for longer stints.


Sebastian Vettel finished 28 seconds behind the Mercs in Hungary after 70 racing laps – an average deficit of 0.4 seconds if my maths are correct. And that’s on a circuit where power is irrelevant and downforce, traction and suspension compliance is everything……….

It gets worse: Kimi Raikkonen set the FL, but he was on grippy super softs on light tanks. Sebastian Vettel’s FL on the softs on skinny fuel towards the end of the race was half a second slower than the similar tyres and fuel load of Lewis Hamilton, and a whopping 7 tenths slower than Nico Rosberg’s best effort. And that’s not all power related either at the tight Budapest track.

IF Lewis Hamilton wins in Germany (and he was on good form), then it will be the first time in his career he will have won four consecutive European races – despite his past success, he’s never racked up a quartet of successive victories in the Old Continent. The last time it was achieved was Schumi back in 2004 when he consecutively won in FRA, GB, GER and HUNG.

Incredibly, even Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell at their peak where not able to win 4 consecutive European events – Ayrton Senna did it in 1988 when he won GB, GER, HUNG and BEL, but otherwise winning 4 in a row in the Old World is something even the best find out of reach. Being fast and reliable on the fast swoops of Silverstone and Spa while being quick and durable in Germany and Hungary is seemingly a very difficult achievement!


True Kenneth. But I think Ferrari would have been closer if they hadn’t followed RB for practically the whole race. Kimi’s fastest lap was done on about lap 52 I think, so he wasn’t exactly running on fumes. As this circuit is a power circuit I expect Ferrari to beat RB to row 2 in qualifying.


@gazboy, are you trying to take over @goferet’s job now? nice info


I agree Hamilton is unlikely to win 4 in a row. I don’t agree that power is irrelevant in Hungary. Power always matters.

Ferrari might just have a little more power that they can put down on this track than the Red Bulls. I guess time will tell.


“And that’s on a circuit where power is irrelevant and downforce, traction and suspension compliance is everything”

So, a circuit that doesn’t favor Ferrari, which is why Red Bull did better. Ferrari are a little closer to Merc on the power side, so things should look a little better for them at this track, don’t you think?


@ nick h…now you’re making bold predictions, just like me hahaha


haha. With the imminent profits we’re set to make from these lucrative wagers, early retirement is not far away!


Some really interesting facts in this article, especially Vettels terrible record at this track. It is hard to believe that there are any circuits that he hasn’t won after his dominant time at Red Bull and considering how close he grew up to the circuit I would have imagined him mentally driving this track all of his life. I’m kind of routing for him now this weekend.

Also amazing that Ricciardo is on his 100th GP. It seems like only the other day he managed to blag his way into a HRT half way through the season. Hard to believe that that smile would ever fade. I’m glad it’s back now though.

Another really interesting point in the article is how the new turbo hybrid engines have allowed more overtaking coming out of the corners, specifically the hair pin at Hockenheim. This does remind me of the first corner of COTAs. This corner does allow for multiple different over taking manoeuvres going into and out of the corner, due to having multiple different lines going into and out of the corner. There have been some great battles with drivers overtaking going into the corner and then getting re-overtaken coming out of the corner as well. It has fast become one of my favourite corners in F1 especially since the new turbo hybrids allow for great racing there.


I think last year Seb went to the Hungaroring without ever having won there, and sprung a surprise on Merc. I’m hoping for the same thing to happen here. That would be the shot in the arm that I think Ferrari really, desperately needs right now.


@ ben….COTA is fastly becoming one of the favourites…for me that is. it has just about everything one needs in a circuit and has a ‘spa’ feel to it…that is if you can fantasise a few forests etc hahaha


Yeah but it’s no Watkins Glen. In fact there are a couple of other old school circuits in the US that would be better than COTA but I’m just glad we have one.


@ nick H……yeah…real big. that’s what drew me in… could finish up mortgage free if this once in a lifetime chance comes to fruition… i nervous in making such a risky call? no, but then again……..


It would be great to see some real racing but once again there is nothing that i am aware of that would indicate anything else apart from ‘deja vu’. So with that in mind i will be ultra daring and throw everything including the kitchen sink into my prediction and say….wait for it!!! mercedes on pole and at least one mercedes winning or second! how is that for a gutsy call eh?


Ah come on Kenneth, it ain’t all bad. While Mercedes have pretty much sewn up the constructors cup, granted, who will finish 2nd, 3rd, 4th? That’s the real interest for the duration of the year, and that includes Force India who could relegate Williams to 5th.

I mean, IF Red Bull can finish 2nd in the WCC, they’ll get the benefit of a nice big cheque from Mr E for 2017 – more money for the “war chest” – where as IF Williams continue to underachieve and drop to 5th place, they stand to loose out on several million Euros. And money talks in racing……….

There’s a hell of a lot at stake for the second half of 2016, and not just reputation – but also the all important fiscal rewards for a high placing in the constructors. This season ain’t over – not be a long shot.


I did enjoy James trying to sell some non-specific hope with this one…

And the way the race unfolds this weekend will give some strong indications for the rest of the 2016 season…

I can kind of see James shrug his shoulders as he wrote that. As if a team has been saving 1s or two to let it loose here and now.


If you keep making extreme predictions like that kenneth we’re going have to rename you Eval Kennethel, able to skip over two Red Bulls and a Ferrari in a single comment 🙂


I will take an equally big risk & say the likelihood of a Mercedes coming lower than 1 & 2 is about as likely as any of the rest coming home better than 3rd to 22nd ?


You really are a risk taker,eh?


@ james K….yes, i know but it would be a pretty poor show if someone didn’t take the plunge and lay it all on the line despite the odds……


What’s the saying…. Who dares, wins?


Kenneth, if you are going to make predictions, then you have to say which Mercedes!


Copy and paste again Ken ?


@Sars… thanks for the advice but no, that’s too easy and i am not one for taking the easy out ! my decision to throw caution to the wind and lay it all on the line was a tough call but you do know the saying about ‘when the going gets tough etc etc etc…..


Big odds for that shout Kenneth.


Expecting Ferrari to be a bit closer to Merc this time, all going well. But think Merc will run away with this one again, again, but who knows, it’s Motorsport and anything can happen.
Said this a couple of times before, but I really think Merc will do there best to get Rosberg over the line first, but hope I’m wrong. Hopeing Lewis can extend his lead in the WDC on Sunday and ruin Nicos summer break. Come on Lewis. ????✌?️? good luck to one and all?


Yep Come On Lewis ??
Give it some Hammer.
As for Ferrari much prefer if Lewis gets engine probably having Wehrlein or Hulks or Vettel winning instead of Rosberg.

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