Williams German Grand Prix Preview

Hockenheim takes over from the Nurburgring this year to host the German Grand Prix on Sunday 20 July. Hockenheim was originally built as a test track in 1939 but only hosted its first Formula One race in 1970.

The track became a permanent fixture on the Formula One calendar in 1978, since which time it has been the venue for all but two German Grands Prix. Now in its 31st year, the German track has undergone considerable modifications over the years in an effort to improve safety standards, but has lost none of its original charm, weaving through the forest and out into the dramatic stadium section where some of the most enthusiastic of the sport’s fans lie in wait to cheer their heroes. With a quarter of the grid anticipating their home race this weekend, including AT&T Williams’ Nico Rosberg, the German Grand Prix always proves to be one of the most atmospheric of the season.

In the break between the British and German rounds, AT&T Williams have had two teams out on two very different tracks. Last week, the test team headed to the Hockenheimring for a three day test, during which Nico and Kazuki focused on set-up work on their FW30s, aero level testing, brake package evaluations and prime and option tyre compound testing in preparation for Sunday’s race. Breaking new ground in Formula One, the team then took an FW29 to the streets of Russia for the Moscow City Racing event last weekend. Nico Rosberg’s demonstration laps in front of hundreds of thousands of Russians captured a whole new audience of Muscovites for the sport.

Nico Rosberg

Firstly, I’ve just returned from our trip to Moscow and to say it was awesome is an understatement! The city itself was fascinating, and the Russian people made us feel really welcome and seemed to love seeing our sport which is good for everyone. To drive through Red Square and around the Kremlin was an experience I’ll never forget. On to this weekend, I’ve had a lot of great experiences at Hockenheim, and it’s been the scene for quite a few of my past victories, so I’m looking forward to going there. As it’s my home race, it will be nice to have the support of the German fans, but they really provide a great atmosphere for everyone as they are so enthusiastic. In terms of the track itself, I really love it, and it should suit our car as well, but I still think it will be difficult to get into the points on Sunday considering how close the field is. As always, we will just do our best.

Kazuki Nakajima

We had a test at Hockenheim last week which allowed us to maximize our preparation time for the race weekend. We covered a lot of ground with the set-up so we should be in good shape when we arrive. I’ve raced at Hockenheim a few times already, but that was when I was in F3, so I need to draw on my experience from those races as this will be my first Formula One race there. The test helped me get used to the circuit, and I’ve also spent some time in the sim at the factory to help me prepare. It’s a great track, but quite challenging. It’s quite similar to Silverstone and Magny-Cours in that sense. I’m looking forward to it!

Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1

Hockenheim’s layout mainly consists of slow and medium speed corners, although there are two high speed corners but they do not dominate the lap. As a result, we tend to head towards a softer set-up for this race. The track layout and surface aspect is particularly tough on tyres, characteristics only emphasised by the high temperatures we often experience over the race weekend. To balance out these issues, Bridgestone will therefore take compounds from the harder end of the scale to Hockenheim.

We had the opportunity to test at Hockenheim last week, with both Nico and Kazuki getting cockpit time. We progressed through a detailed set-up programme which puts us in a good position going into this race.

Most teams tend to go for a two stop strategy at Hockenheim. The race itself normally provides some great action as the long straight leading into the hairpin, which has plenty of tarmac run-off area, offers a good overtaking place.

Many would argue that the major facelift in 2002 left the 2.8 mile Hockenheimring a bland expanse of tarmac. The passage through the heart of the Rhine forest may have been re-engineered, but that which remains still demands exacting standards of driving and engineering precision.

Like so many of the tracks on the calendar, the circuit is a conundrum, one at which the drivers and their engineers spend most of the weekend searching for an often elusive set-up which can accommodate the low and medium speed corners as well as the high speed straights. Measuring 1.25km, the sweeping Parabolica is the longest straight of the lap and will see the engines rev at full throttle for 14 seconds at speeds of 315kp/h. With the cars running at full throttle for up to 65% of each lap, Hockenheim ranks only second to Monza in the speed stakes and demands engine durability.

Located in the southern part of Germany, ambient temperatures are predictably high and promote track temperatures in excess of 50°C. As a result, the thermal loads placed on the tyres, particularly the rears, will be especially high at this race, while the physical pressures exerted on the drivers are as equally demanding.

Online this week at attwilliams.com: The AT&T Williams British GP podcast, the German GP Flyby, Nico Rosberg’s British GP Column, Kazuki’s GP Blogs, iWitness and a new Meet the Team feature.