Pirelli, Hockenheimring, 2018

Paddock Diary: German Grand Prix day two

Paddock Diary: German Grand Prix day two

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Yesterday RaceFans broke the news that Formula 1 will have a new tyre specification in 2021. @DieterRencken explains how the story came about in today’s Paddock Diary.


Phone pings: it’s a message from a far-off land suggesting I “check out” the latest tender issued by the FIA. A bit of digging unearths a tyre tender issued for the 2020 to 2023 season. A quick glance shows big changes are planned for the second of those four seasons: 18-inch rims, narrower front tyres and a ban on the use of tyre warmers.

I head downstairs for full continental consisting of cheese, cold meats, fresh rolls and coffee topped by fresh fruit salad and yogurt. I digest this and the 19-page tender, then call editor Keith to prepare the story. For some reason the FIA kept the tender hidden from sight, so team technical directors are unaware of the contents, which will have a serious effect on future car design.


Head for circuit – arrive at 9:30 despite it being only 10 miles away, my journey slowed by tractors – and it seems the place is better organised: parking attendants take pride in straight stripes and park us up tightly. More shuttles available than Thursday, and bag checks remind of potential dangers at sports events.


Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018Watch first practice at McLaren for two reasons: to discuss various issues, and because I’ve decided to fly a kite: Could Carlos Sainz Jnr be heading to McLaren next year? I hear rumours of Esteban Ocon to Renault alongside Nico Hulkenberg as part of Mercedes’s plan to place F2 championship leader George Russell at either Force India or Williams (“Where Lance Stroll isn’t,” as my source put it), potentially leaving the Spaniard squeezed out.

Sainz is, of course, under option to Red Bull, but if Daniel Ricciardo extends his deal as expected and Ocon’s move comes to pass, Sainz needs an alternate berth. Would McLaren, where Stoffel Vandoorne is under pressure and Lando Norris loos increasingly in need of a second F2 season, consider two Spaniards? I don’t get laughed out of the place, and am told Fernando Alonso and his compatriot “get along famously”…

While at McLaren I chat with Lee Mackenzie, back in the paddock after her stint at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, about her interviews with singles finalist Kevin Anderson and how gracious he seemed in both semi-final victory and subsequent defeat. She has nothing but praise for the South African. Oh that some F1 stars take a leaf out of his book…


FIA Friday press conferences are always fun; today is no exception. The main topic is the tyre tender, which none of them had heard about. Their expressions say it all when confronted with questions, but full credit where due: all four provide lucid answers on a topic some later admitted had not previously been discussed with them in any detail.

“Yes, there was chit-chat at times, but no one told us we were going 18-inch or unheated tyres,” admits one.


Jim Clark memorial, Hockenheimring, 2018After an undramatic FP2 it’s time for interviews: I draw the Williams drivers, then during the break for drivers’ briefings, walk to Hockenheim’s museum, where a 50th anniversary photo display commemorates the life of Jim Clark, who crashed fatally at Hockenheim on 7 April 1968. 24 wonderfully “atmospheric” shots portray the Scot’s career; so if you’re in Hockenheim or passing by, it’s worth a visit.


Interview with Force India technical director Andrew Green, whose “alternate views” on the sport’s technicalities always provide good value – particularly as he seems to make a dollar go further (and faster) than most. Then it’s time for Mario Isola, Pirelli’s F1 racing manager – where, predictably talk centres mainly on the tyre tender, plus the effects of the 2019 aerodynamic regulation change on tyre performance.

The revised front wing regulations next year will deliver less downforce, so front tyres will need to be redesigned – which proves just how complex F1 really is. The teams and Pirelli are currently crunching the numbers.


Depart circuit, and head for Speyer and dinner: “Berliner” liver and mash served with sliced apples, onions and gravy, accompanied by sparkling water. Thereafter I stroll through the pedestrian mall while enjoying some sorbet balls.

2018 German Grand Prix

Browse all 2018 German Grand Prix articles

8 comments on “Paddock Diary: German Grand Prix day two”

  1. I hope this race survives beyond this year – it seems like a good one to visit. i’ve been to spa and that was a tremendous experience, the campsite was outstanding, despite the inevitable downpour (this was 2000).

  2. Why would Lance not be a desirable team mate for Mr Russell?

    1. Who suggested that?

      1. Your wording of the source…”where lance stroll isn’t”.

        Of course, now I’ve read again, could also be suggesting Lance gets first pick and Russel gets the vacant seat. My mistake if so.

        Thanks for these pieces Deiter. I really enjoy them.

        1. I read it as Dieter saying that, if Stroll went to Force India, for example, that would then free up a seat at Williams which could then be taken up by Russell – alternatively, if Stroll stays at Williams, then they could potentially move him into Ocon’s seat at Force India if Ocon moves to another team.

  3. I reckon Dieter’s really Gordon Ramsay… :)

  4. and coffee topped by fresh fruit salad and yogurt
    I usually have a flat white or a cappuccino. Each to their own I suppose ;)

  5. What’s so special about Anderson? I’d be like Ocon losing a win. Of course he’d still be happy…

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