The drivers’ championship race is perfectly poised with the top three drivers tied on 48 points.
But Ferrari has been ahead in the constructors’ championship race for almost all the season. At Silverstone McLaren finally arrested their progress but are still 24 points behind with eight races remaining.
If Ferrari can add to their lead at the Hockenheimring they will have taken a major step towards securing an 16th constructors’ title.
24 points might not seem a large lead. A team can score a maximum of 18 points on a Grand Prix weekend, so a one-two for McLaren with Ferrari not scoring would cut the Scuderia’s advantage to six.
But that doesn’t happen very often. With increased reliability Ferrari and McLaren can expect to fill the top four places at Hockenheim unless something goes wrong for one of them or BMW are especially fast.
A team that finishes one-two with its rivals three-four only takes seven points off them on the day. McLaren have struggled to get one car home in front of one Ferrari this year – never mind both in front of both – and are still behind BMW in the championship. Ferrari are rapidly approaching a point where betting against them would be unwise.
Kimi Raikkonen reckons Ferrari have the advantage if the weather at the Hockenheimring is hot as usual:
I hope it will be hot, as it usually is at Hockenheim. Our car goes really well at high temperatures and also the tyre-wear is not too high. So I really hope it will be hot.
But early indications show the possibility that the weather might be wet again – or at least cooler than usual, either of which would play into McLaren’s hands.
And while we’re taking about Ferrari’s chances in Germany we cannot ignore Raikkonen’s appalling fortune at German tracks in recent years:
2003 Nurburgring – engine failure while leading
2003 Hockenheimring – eliminated in start line crash
2004 Nurburgring – engine failure while fifth
2004 Hockenheimring – rear wing wailure
2005 Nurburgring – flat spots tyre causing suspension failure on final lap while leading
2005 Hockenheimring – hydraulic failure while leading
2006 Nurburgring – fourth
2006 Hockenheimring – third
2007 Nurburgring – misses pit lane during rain shower, retires while third