Take the chequered flag at Hockenheim with Betsafe and PlanetF1
Going. Going. Gone. Nico Rosberg’s seemingly strong 43-point championship lead has now turned into a six-point deficit to his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who is now a record five-time winner at the Hungaroring.
The action continues to come thick and fast before the summer break with the German Grand Prix taking place this weekend, and Betsafe have linked up with Planet F1 to bring you quickly up to speed ahead of Round 12 in Hockenheim.
Hammer Time In Hungary
Following the historic win at his home British Grand Prix, Hamilton said he was looking forward to riding the crest of another “good wave” heading into Hungary. He did exactly that, with team-mate Rosberg probably feeling all the frustration of trying to build sandcastles against a strong tide.
With the Hungaroring circuit notoriously difficult to overtake on, it came as no real surprise to see the race won and lost at the first corner from the start. Rosberg, who snatched pole position away from Hamilton in qualifying in controversial circumstances, had to wait an awful long time for the back-markers to line-up on the grid and, as a result, his cold tyres and clutch allowed his team-mate to seize the initiative and the race lead after making a much better start.
Even Daniel Ricciardo got a sniff of second place before Rosberg was able to recover but, from then on, the 30th anniversary of the Hungarian Grand Prix threatened to produce a classic without ever really delivering. A little bit of traffic and a supposed pace issue saw a few minor scares for Hamilton, yet what we essentially witnessed was a controlled performance from the defending world champion who dictated the pace, kept his main title rival at arm’s length throughout and expertly managed his engine and tyres.
There were two other relatively close battles for the final podium spot and fifth place between Red Bull and Ferrari, with the former coming out on top yet again. Ricciardo kept Sebastian Vettel at bay for a third consecutive podium finish in Hungary, while Max Verstappen edged out an increasingly frustrated Kimi Raikkonen – who ran a blinder of a race after starting 14th on the grid – after some questionable defensive moves in the latter stages of the race
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was a creditable seventh, but spare a thought for his McLaren-Honda team-mate Jenson Button, who recorded a memorable first-ever career win here in 2006, as he had to eventually retire from the race due to a oil leak, which came after he fell victim to the new controversial radio rules when trying to address a hydraulic problem that saw him file all the way back to last place.
No winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix has gone on to win the world championship since Michael Schumacher in 2004, but with Hamilton now plain-sailing after negotiating choppy waters at the start of the season, that statistic may soon be a thing of the past.
What To Expect In Hockenheim
Fans of Rosberg must be praying now for a positive response. He has been presented with plenty of opportunities to arrest the slide and he will not get many better than his home Grand Prix with his compatriots fully behind him this weekend.
He was the last winner at the Hockenheimring in 2014 and if he does allow Hamilton to dominate in his own back yard then he will be heading the right way to waving goodbye to yet another world championship.
The main sub-plot now is the intriguing battle between Ferrari and Red Bull, who are separated by a solitary point the constructors’ championship and set to trade blows for the reminder of the season. Ricciardo has “the smile back” after his performance in Hungary and when that happens then he is a driver to be feared, especially after stopping the momentum of his young team-mate Verstappen and going third in the drivers’ standings.
Ferrari are in real trouble of becoming the third-fastest constructor in F1 which will no doubt dent the pride and prestige of the prancing horse. Hungary showed there is still plenty of fight left in Vettel and Raikkonen but they have to start get their act together in qualifying, starting in Germany.
After a one-year absence, the German Grand Prix and the Hockenheimring have their rightful place back on the F1 calendar. Since 2008 the Hockenheimring had been alternating with the Nurburgring as race hosts, but the latter was unable to secure the funding last year which left the former with not enough time to sell tickets.
Thankfully there are no such problems this time around and the drivers will take on the re-designed Hockenheimring for the tenth time. The track is now two-thirds the size of the original due to safety concerns and environmental pressures as it located in the heart of a wooded area.
The drivers will get a glimpse of the surrounding forest as they sweep down left-handed all the way from Turn Two to Turn Six. But, as it is the second of five high-speed stretches, the beautiful backdrop will flash by within the blink of the eye. Chuck in four slow turns, plus three ideal spots for overtaking, and you have a challenging all-round circuit.
The only part of the track that was not altered in 2002 is the final sector, with Turns 12 through to the final Turn 17 forming the famous stadium section where thousands upon thousands are packed into the grandstand which offers a fantastic view of the action.
There will be 67 laps separating the drivers between lights out and the chequered flag, with the 4.57km circuit length making the Hockenheimring one of the middle-distance races in the 2016 season at a grand total of 306.45km.
The last two editions of the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring have seen the fastest laps clock in around the region of 1:19.
Previous Winners and Track Suitability
There are four current drivers who can proudly say they are German Grand Prix winners. However, two-time winner Hamilton and Vettel both recorded their victories at the Nurburgring in 2008, 2011 and 2013 respectively.
Rosberg was untouchable in his lights-to-flag win at the Hockenheimring in 2014, while Fernando Alonso is a three-time winner at this circuit – his first coming in 2005 – which puts him joint-third on the all-time winners’ list alongside the likes of Sir Jackie Stewart, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna.
Only two Germans can boast a better record: Rudolf Caracciola who bagged six victories between 1926 and 1939, and Michael Schumacher who was in Ferrari red for three of his four career wins.
The iconic Italians have a deep-rooted bond with the German Grand Prix and have been the winning constructor on a whopping 22 occasions, 13 clear of Mercedes and Williams who both follow with nine overall victories. McLaren are on their tails with eight and Red Bull are further down the pecking order with two wins.
Ferrari also have the man who holds the fastest lap record which has stood for the last 12 years: Kimi Raikkonen. In 2004, the Finn set a time of 1:13.780 on lap 10 before finishing fourth at the Hockenheimring in his McLaren-Mercedes.
About Mark Scott
Mark Scott is a contributor for PlanetF1, the definitive site for Formula One news, features, galleries and live coverage.