After a weekend off, it’s back to action with another back-to-back fortnight of racing before the summer break. Formula One arrives in Germany for the eleventh round of the 2018 championship with the title battle reaching its mid-season climax. Here are your reasons to watch all of the action this weekend!
One last Hockenheim hurrah?
Hockenheim is back on the calendar for the first time since 2016, and while the re-profiled track lacks a lot of the flair of the old Hockenheim circuit, it’s great to have Germany back on the schedule. Last time, there were stands of seats which had failed to sell, though ticket sales seem more promising this year. Nevertheless, it could be the final time F1 visits the track, as the biennial contract ends after this year. Whether or not Formula One will return to Germany in the near future remains to be seen. Sean Bratches has expressed a desire for the sport to remain visiting the country but a solution with the current track and a potential deal with any other tracks is proving elusive.
Only eight points in it
Things started to get personal last time out as Ferrari were accused of underhand tactics by both Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was spun on the opening lap as Kimi Raikkonen tagged the rear of his Mercedes. The four-time champion fought back to second in the race, but couldn’t stop Sebastian Vettel from re-taking the championship lead.
Toto Wolff remains adamant that despite Mercedes losing the championship lead over the triple-header of races and scoring 37 points less than Ferrari over the three events, the team ‘did bring the quickest car to all three races’. With two races left before the summer break, the title races are still too close to call with just eight points separating the two World Champions and twenty points separating Ferrari from Mercedes for Constructors’ honours. Heading into the summer break with the lead will surely give a psychological advantage – but who’ll come out on top over the next two races?
Based on Qualifying pace, Mercedes are correct in their assertions that they had the fastest car, with them taking pole position on all three weekends. They only managed to convert one of those poles into a win though.
The margins have been mightily tight this season, and Saturday could be crucial at this weekend’s German Grand Prix. The pole to win conversion rate is quite high here, with six of the ten past races having been won from the front. A front row start seems key to victory based on past races at the re-profiled Hockenheim track, with all but one since 2002 being won from the front row of the grid.
The only driver who has won from behind the front row on this track configuration is Fernando Alonso, who took victory from third on the grid all the way back in 2005. Speaking of Alonso, somewhat unbelievably, Saturday will mark exactly six years since the Spaniard’s last pole position, which came at the 2012 German Grand Prix.
A home victory?
In stark contrast to Hamilton’s five previous home victories, Vettel has only ever taken the win at his home event once. The Ferrari driver has never won at Hockenheim during his time in Formula One. His only German Grand Prix victory came at the Nurburgring in 2013.
The two championship rivals’ home races follow on from each other, and it was Sebastian Vettel who rained on Lewis Hamilton’s parade at Silverstone. Hamilton could be out for a little revenge this weekend at what is a second home race in a row, of sorts, for his Mercedes team.
The last time a German won a Grand Prix at Hockenheim was back in 2006, when Michael Schumacher took his final home victory. Will Vettel be able to extend his championship lead with a home win this weekend?
More woes for Romain?
Romain, Romain… just as you thought Romain Grosjean’s season was on the up with a fourth place finish in Austria, he follows it with a race-ending collision with Carlos Sainz at Silverstone. It was his fourth retirement of the season and the thirteenth time from the past fourteen Grands Prix where he’s come away with no points. The Frenchman has raced at Hockenheim three times previously in F1, yet has never scored a point at the circuit. Will he have something to smile about as the season reaches its halfway point?
With the summer break edging ever nearer, the driver market continues to provide interesting theories about who is heading where next season. It may well be that we hear news of Daniel Ricciardo re-signing with Red Bull this weekend or next, as he and the team have previously mentioned the summer break as the deadline for their contract talks.
Perhaps of interest is the fact that Antonio Giovinazzi will be getting an outing in Free Practice with Sauber at the German Grand Prix. Giovinazzi previously drove for Sauber at the start of the 2017 season, when he stood in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein. With current Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc seemingly on his way to the Prancing Horse in 2019, are Sauber readying another Ferrari youngster to replace him next season?
The 2018 German Grand Prix gets underway at 2:10pm BST on Sunday. In the UK, coverage is exclusively live on Sky Sports F1.