Will Vettel finally be victorious in his home race?

2012 German Grand Prix preview

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hockenheim, 2010The days of Germany holding two rounds of the world championship are behind it. But a rotation deal between its two tracks means the Hockenheimring, scene of this year’s race, and the Nurburgring, are only seen every other year.

Barring a single visit to AVUS in Berlin in 1959, these two tracks have shared the history of Germany’s round of the world championship.

The Nurburgring Nordschleife was the first home of the race on the championship calendar, but in 1970 Hockenheim appeared on the schedule for the first time as safety-conscious drivers forced a temporary relocation of the race.

They went back to an upgraded Nordschleife the following year but after Niki Lauda’s horrific crash in 1976 F1 never again raced at the Green Hell.

The new, shortened Nurburgring first appeared in F1 in the mid-eighties and became a regular fixture a decade later when the country went Schumacher-crazy. But even with Schumacher back in the sport, Sebastian Vettel winning the last two championship and Mercedes as potent a force as ever, Germany’s days of holding two rounds of the series are over.

Hockenheimring circuit information

Lap length4.574km (2.842 miles)
Distance67 laps (306.5km/190.4 miles)
Lap record*1’13.780 (Kimi Raikkonen, 2004)
Fastest lap1’13.306 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
TyresMedium and Soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Hockenheimring track data in full

Hockenheim has always been the lesser of the two venues when it comes to quality of the circuit. And so it remains: once a hair-rising high-speed blast through the forest, it was chopped into a spiritless but slightly more overtaking-friendly form a decade ago.

Ferrari’s preview optimistically asserts that “the Motodrom section is the nearest thing Formula 1 has to an Indy-style oval”. It’s a nice idea but of course the cars don’t come past nearly as often, nor as quickly, nor are seen for as long as on an oval track.

Sauber’s head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara thinks the tyre compound selection for this race could have been more aggressive: “Pirelli has allocated the soft and the medium compounds, which at first glance, look like a conservative choice.

“But temperatures can be high in Hockenheim in July, so we will see how this affects the tyres.”

Red Bull

After a slow (by their standards) start to the year, the season is coming to Red Bull. But at the moment it’s Mark Webber, not Sebastian Vettel, who’s spearheading their championship assault.

Silverstone was his second win of the season and it was swiftly followed by the extension of his contract with the team for another year. Webber will be emboldened by that vote of confidence, but he needs to consistently beat one of the toughest team mates in the business if he’s going to challenge for the championship.

For all of Sebastian Vettel’s success since joining the team, victory in his home race has eluded him.


This is an important weekend for McLaren as they are bringing what they describe as a “visible” upgrade. The MP4-27 worked well out-of-the-box but the team failed to get the most out of it with a string of pit lane and ‘operational’ errors for which the drivers were largely blameless.

Now those problems appear to be licked – the silver crew were the slickest operation in the pits in the last two races – but Red Bull and Ferrari have closed and overcome the performance gap.

This race will be Lewis Hamilton’s 100th career start.


Ferrari have emerged from their defensive, damage-limiting phase of their championship campaign and are increasingly confident in their predictions about their performance.

Fernando Alonso is clearly revelling in the F2012. Each of the last three races have seen him leading in the closing stages but struggling with tyre degradation – only in Valencia did he hang on to win.


Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2012It’s the home race for Mercedes and they can count on significant support around the track, not least at the Mercedes grandstand.

Nico Rosberg is optimistic about how the W03 will perform: “I think our car should suit this track much better than Silverstone. Hockenheim has long straights and short corners, which will be good for the Silver Arrow.”


The eternal question of 2012 is when will Lotus make good on the potential of their E20 and finally win a race. The car clearly had the pace to challenge the Red Bulls and Ferraris at Silverstone but Kimi Raikkonen ended up stuck behind Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean had a few stumbles on his way to sixth.

Qualifying remains the team’s key weakness but if either of the E20s can make it onto the second row their excellent tyre preservation may make them strong candidates for a victory which is starting to look overdue.

Force India

Force India have been chipping away at the advantage of their midfield rivals, but came away from Silverstone empty-handed.

Paul di Resta knows this track well having raced on it twice per year during his DTM career: “It?s a fun circuit with some challenging corners and it?s good for overtaking, especially the slow hairpin at turn six.

“My favourite part of the lap is the stadium, where you can really feel the energy of the crowd. The double right-hander onto the start/finish line is another special corner and it?s difficult to get it right. If you have lots of experience on this track you can gain a little bit of time through this corner.”


Silverstone was Sauber’s third no-score of the year. There were opportunities missed in all areas of the team’s performance, from the error of sending Sergio Perez out to qualify on intermediates to Kamui Kobayashi parking on his pit crew.

There are only minor modifications to the C31 for this year’s race but there’s plenty of gains for the team to find in other areas of its operation at present.

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne held the upper hand in the opening races of the season but Daniel Ricciardo has been gradually taking the initiative of late. But as the German Grand Prix changes venues each year he won’t be able to rely on experience from 2011 to gain an upper hand.


Pastor Maldonado’s driving has been under scrutiny as a series of collisions and penalties have kept him from scoring in every race since his breakthrough Spanish Grand Prix victory.

He’s clearly quick enough to deliver podiums for Williams but the team came close to falling to eighth in the standings behind Force India in the last race. With the FW34 they should have more than 47 points on the board.


Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Silverstone, 2012The miserable British weather hampered Caterham’s efforts to realise the gains made with their latest aerodynamic upgrade. Their developing contest with Toro Rosso is one to watch this weekend.


Dani Clos will be back behind the wheel of an F112 once again during practice only. Narain Karthikeyan will take over the car for the rest of the weekend as usual, but he admits to preferring the old Hockenheimring:

“The new Hockenheim circuit is quite different to the old one, which for my liking was more exciting. Before it was quick but now it is slower and a high-downforce track, it is also quite short, not too complicated and very stop-and-go.”


Timo Glock is the fifth home driver on the grid this weekend. Marussia’s Silverstone upgrade showed enough progress to give the team a more comfortable margin over HRT but not enough to make them a serious threat to Caterham.

2012 driver form

Q avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Sebastian Vettel54.51118/9Form guide
Mark Webber6.114.441119/9Form guide
Jenson Button7.7810.441189/9Form guide
Lewis Hamilton5.566.441199/9Form guide
Fernando Alonso6.673.89199/9Form guide
Felipe Massa11.22114168/9Form guide
Michael Schumacher7.677.53104/9Form guide
Nico Rosberg5.567.441159/9Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen8.566.112149/9Form guide
Romain Grosjean5.894.2265/9Form guide
Paul di Resta129.256148/9Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg12.4410.385158/9Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi11.1195136/9Form guide
Sergio Perez13.337.862117/9Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo13.44139178/9Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne17.1112.758168/9Form guide
Pastor Maldonado12.2211.711197/9Form guide
Bruno Senna14.3312.136228/9Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen18.331713238/9Form guide
Vitaly Petrov18.6716.513196/9Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa21.1319.6717216/8Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan2319.8315226/8Form guide
Timo Glock20.631714197/8Form guide
Charles Pic21.5618.1715206/9Form guide

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    Keith Collantine
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    50 comments on “Will Vettel finally be victorious in his home race?”

    1. Alexander Jansson (@)
      18th July 2012, 11:28

      Heikki Kovalainens 100th GP weekend, not Race. He was sick at one event…

      And hopefully this will be Lotus time to shine!

      1. Jayfreese (@)
        18th July 2012, 11:35

        Hopefully a win for Lotus – if it’s neither VET, MSC OR ROS – as J.Stewart would like to have a chat with (coaching?) Grosjean at home.

        1. @alexanderfin Your correct he has not started one event, but he was not sick, he failed to start the 2010 Spanish GP (I think) because of a gearbox problem.

      2. I thought he had a Did Not Start with Caterham in the last 3 seasons (car packing up before start a la Petrov at Silverstone)
        Hamilton’s 100th GP. Congrats, although I’d rather him coming at best 2nd to Vettel.

    2. I love it on the extremely rare occasion a F1 driver actually says what they think concerning a circuit rather than the usual PR crap. Pat on the back for Narain Karthikeyan.

      1. Hear, hear.

      2. He’ll just have to suck it up and get used to it since the Nurburgring just folded yesterday. All German GP’s will be at Hockenheim unless they’re bailed out, which is increasingly unlikely.

    3. Just like how Webber won’t win the Australian GP, I don’t see Seb winning the German GP. Even in 2010, Vettel got pole by only thousands of a second and got swamped by the Ferrari’s at the start falling behind them. I don’t expect Vettel to get on the podium with the current car. On the other hand Webber is in omnious touch, another victory for him would brighten his championship choices and would put Sebastian on the backfoot and would spice up the intra-team battle. Afterall RedBull is one of the two teams which has two decent drivers for a top team, the other being Lotus

      1. But historically, Webber hasn’t gone well at Hockenheimring; he hates it pretty much, and he doesn’t do so well there.
        Same at valencia.

      2. Thanks for the nice words about Webber but both McLaren and Mercedes have a pair of excellent drivers also, Button is not performing this year but the same could be said of Mark last year, Nico has a win and MS is MS.

    4. For the sake of the hyped-up the 2012 title fight, I’d like to see Lewis Hamilton as victor in Germany and Vettel gaining ground on both Webber and Alonso.

    5. I hope Webber wins.

    6. I hope Kimi wins this one. Long time overdue for Lotus. Now or never.

      1. davidnotcoulthard
        18th July 2012, 17:13

        It’s now or SPA!

      2. Kimi always was extremely fast here, but his luck was definitely having a drink somewhere else, he had most retirements here too.

        If he can qualify in top 4, I think he got this!

      3. Same here, I think both Kimi and Hamilton deserve a good result lately. Kimi, Hamilton, Alonso would be a great podium! :)

    7. It seems i am not the only one hoping for a lotus win! Grosjean even with the grid penalty? Either way come on the Black & Gold.

    8. I have a feeling Lotus might finally have it their way this weekend!

      1. Sadly, I disagree.

        Sauber said the tyre choice of Pirelli is a bit conservative. The crew member hopes for high temperatures which could alleviate the problem, but they may not arrive: according to Formula1.com the weather will be overcast with rain precited for Friday earlier, Saturday later, and now for both days.

        Consequently, I don’t see Lotus – very very kind on its tyres – to have that much of an advantage, when others will probably not need to worry overusing their tyres.

        This is unfortunate, I’d also like to see a Lotus – preferably a Kimi – win sooner than later. Maybe in Spa. If it will be hot for once for the Lotuses, Kimi will be in a privileged position: no-one, barring Schumacher, is more successful on that majestic track than him…

    9. Expecting strong pace from Force India this weekend, looking at the nature of circuit, temperature and tyre choices, which closely resembles Bahrain and Valencia, the two places where they had strongest results.

      1. weather forecast tells low 20s with chance of rain! how is this even close to Bahrain or Valencia??

        1. sorry haven’t read about weather forecast, but heard many drivers and team highlighting the higher temperature during this part of the year.

    10. I really hope Sauber don’t throw away more points this weekend. Sauber need to get their strategies right, Kobayashi needs to stop having accidents whilst looking good for points, and Perez needs to sort out his qualifying performances.

    11. Home victory for Mercedes or first win for the E20 would be good I think. It would also keep the championship nice and open. The stadium section of this circuit is fantastic. It’s like it’s built around the cars with the good levels of camber making for some sweeping corners. It’s a fun little circuit which might make for some headaches when the leaders come to lap the backmarkers.

      I’m hoping that Caterham can evaluate and display their Silverstone upgrades a little better this weekend and I’m interesed to see what McLaren have done at the MTC.

    12. I would tip Vettel or Alonso for the win. Only Webber, Kimi and Grosjean are the other possible winners. Grosjean has a penalty. Webber has usually trailed Vettel at Hockenheim. Kimi is too tentative at the starts which compromises his race.

      For the sake of the championship, I hope Vettel wins. Another home winner would also do good to the popularity of F1.

    13. The form guide for this race is interestingly similar to the 2010 Hockenheim race, with Ferrari and Red Bull clear of McLaren, and Felipe putting in performances that are respectably close to Alonso. I therefore do not rule out a repeat of the 2010 Grand Prix, with Massa leading the race after a fast start. If the situation does occur again with Felipe leading Fernando, then on the one hand Ferrari owe it to Massa to let him defend his position this time around, but on the other hand it’s more clear than ever than Fernando is their driver in the championship.

      Personally, I hope Webber can maintain his strong momentum, and that Hamilton will be on the podium to celebrate his 100th race.

      1. It would be quite ‘funny’ if we have a repeat of hockenheim 2010

        1. If it were to happen again, the internet community would be a storm and F1F would likely crash, I can tell you that.

    14. If the weekend goes smoothly and the weather is stable, I think that Vettel will win his home GP.
      He’s not suffering Mark’s form, even in the podium at Silverstone he seemed quite relaxed, I think that he has everything under control. Two years ago Mark wasn’t too impressive either, so I think that Seb will be better this weekend.

      It remains to bee seen wether Red Bull can be as strong as Silverstone or Valencia. I definitely think so, but you never know.

      1. But its very unlikely the weather will be stable this weekend

    15. Mainly hoping the BBC coverage won’t be god-awful like Bahrain (30 minutes of build-up/analysis vs 50 minutes of racing, for those of you who weren’t subjected to it). I see they’ve got 1.5 hours for the replay, here’s hoping they learnt their lessons and will have very short bookends and show most of the race. I couldn’t follow Bahrain at all, particularly strategy-wise, drivers just kept popping up in different positions with zero explanation. (This is the first non-live race in a “European” time zone other than Bahrain, right?)

      1. Well if you have Virgin or SKY you can watch it on the F1 HD channel this weekend!

        1. If only… I don’t even have a TV :(

    16. I might miss this one as I’m on holiday, cant say I’ll be devastated though, the short version of this track does nothing for me.

    17. I can’t predict anything about the cars because 1/ I’m an idiot with anything technical 2/ this season is mad and 3/ F1 is even more crazy. However, if Vettel is ever going to win at home then I think it’ll be here rather than the Nurburgring as he seems to like this track better (and gets better luck here). I don’t think he’ll be happy with Mark getting the RBR glory at the moment either so if he turns up guns blazing it’ll be tough for anyone to beat him. That’s not to say I think Mark’s getting to him as I think Seb is too much of a cool character, but he’ll be ready to send everyone a reminder that he’s the double world champ.

      I like both RBR drivers but I kind of hope that Mark ends up on top this year as it would be a nice change. Obviously I hope Alonso and Massa do well here but I’m also rooting for RoGro’s first win. Oh, and I adore this track.

      1. So @Steph if I’m correct you think Seb will win, but you’d prefer Mark to win if Felipe, Fernando or Romain can’t win? I’d like to think Webber can keep his momentum going and beat Vettel and would like to see Kimi on the podium alongside Grosjean.

        1. So, we are gunning for a Massa-Kimi-Grosjean podium then @funkyf1?

          1. @bascb Somehow I don’t think so, although I can picture a podium without a Mclaren, I can’t picture one without a RedBull. It’s going to being a raffle until fp3 at least.

        2. @Funkyf1 basically, yeah but now I feel a bit mad for supporting so many :P

    18. So in his ‘nightmare season’ qualy wise, Vettel still has the best average.
      But surely that must be Hamilton’s Spain qualy result beng 24 not 1.
      Hope he can break his home duck and get back to within a win of Alonso and on terms with Webber

    19. So far Sebastian Vettel hasn’t even won a race in July.

    20. It’s interesting to note that this year, Jenson Button won Mark Webber’s home race, and then Webber returned the favor by winning Button’s home race; just as it happened in 2010. Also, Hamilton won in Canada and Webber won in Monaco; just like 2010.

      On that (rather flimsy) basis, and given the current performance of the F2012 that Alonso is driving, I am predicting another win for Fernando this weekend. I’d like to be proven wrong though!

    21. If it’s Hamilton and Kovalainen’s 100th race weekend, that would also make it Webber’s 100th race for Red Bull, right?

      Vettel and the German GP just seems destined to never happen – now I’ve said that, I’m sure he’ll go and win it! Speaking of which, I’m not sure why everyone is writing off Webber’s versus Vettel chances at Hockenheim – 2010 is just one race (hardly indicative of a pattern) and he had a great race there in 2006 I believe?

      1. Webber’s chances, that was meant to say!

      2. Webber should be in with a shout of podium at least, in 2010 he stuffed up his Q3 last run, in Q1 and Q2 he had been within 2 tenths of Vettlel. link . Then got jumped at the start by hamilton IIRC and by Jenson in the pits before having an oil problem late in the race.

    22. Probability-wise, VET may grasp victory. As ALG says in his BBC column (link), RBR seems simply the best form like they did last year. And out of VET and WEB, there will be some extra boost on VET side too. So my wild prediction is 2 RBRs and 1 Ferrari or 1 Lotus on the podiums.

    23. Rain is almost sure for friday and saturday.
      Race should be under a bright sun, but not really hot, about 20 C°.

      So, a Silverstone-Like weekend is coming

    24. More faint praise for the track, from Mark Webber (link):

      Every time I brake for Turn 2 on the new track I wish we continued in a straight line, on the route of the old circuit.
      There are a couple of overtaking places on the current track, particularly into the hairpin at the end of the back straight. But it’s not that thrilling to drive and it’s not even that technical.

      Wonder if they’ll ask him about the track during today’s press conference? It’s him and 5 German drivers in there, could be interesting.

    25. I really hope Vettel wins! kommen auf Vettel! ;)

    26. Changed one part of the text – this is Hamilton’s 100th start but not Kovalainen’s, Kovalainen did not start at Spain in 2010.

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