Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2004

Schumacher’s 2004 Hockenheim F1 track record smashed

2018 German Grand Prix

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The wider, faster post-2017 Formula 1 cars have claimed another track record.

Michael Schumacher’s 14-year-old benchmark at the Hockenheimring has not only fallen, it has been smashed. Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari SF71-H was over two seconds quicker than Schumacher’s F2004 around their home track.

On the face of it, Vettel’s pole position is further proof of Ferrari’s mid-season surge and a serious step forward with their power unit. Prior to today they had only taken one pole position from the previous six races.


However Lewis Hamilton’s technical problem in qualifying meant Mercedes went into Q3 without the sport’s most successful qualifier. Could he have found the two-tenths of a second Valtteri Bottas was missing for pole position?

While Ferrari asserted themselves at the front of the field there was a change at the back as well. For the first time in five races Williams were not the slowest team.

A new front wing, billed as a “big step” by chief technical director Paddy Lowe, helped Sergey Sirotkin grab a place in Q2.

In raw performance terms this didn’t look like a great gain from Williams. They were 3.5% off Ferrari’s pace, which matches their average deficit to the front-runners over the season prior to this race.

But the spread of the field varies from race to race. At Silverstone they were in limbo: 3.9% off the pace-setters while the next-slowest team was 2.8% off. Here Toro Rosso are slower and McLaren are only slightly quicker.

Nonetheless Williams has a long way to go to recapture even its recent highs. In 2014 they were just 0.29% off the pace-setting Mercedes, and their driver Bottas was able to hold off future team mate Hamilton’s W05 for second place.

Despite being concerned the slow final sector at this track would play against them, Haas continues to lead the midfield quite comfortably. In fact they are increasingly on their own in the space between the front-runners and the rest of the field. The problem for Haas has been converting that pace into points.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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3 comments on “Schumacher’s 2004 Hockenheim F1 track record smashed”

  1. And little over three seconds faster than the last time F1 raced in Hockenheim. Everyone except Vandoorne managed to beat the 2016 equivalent pole time. Yes, Vandoorne has been struggling, but still, I would’ve thought that everyone would be able to be able to do it, him as well.

  2. Ferrari really got the act together. Or perhaps Mercedes just didn’t improve enough. Same result though.

  3. If Lewis was in it, he’d be right there to challange seb.

    Pretty sure Ferrari and Mercedes are now equally fast. Mercedes has a slight chassis advantage and Ferrari a bit more grunt. But overall super close.

    Unreliability might decide the championship. Also Lewis is prone to off weekends. This one fairly firmly one of them so far.

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