The Badgerometer look back through the vaults to bring you the Top 5 races under the banner of the German Grand Prix. Enjoy!
Hockenheim used to be one of the most flat-out tracks on the calendar, and the 1986 event is the perfect example of all its strengths and weaknesses. That year was particularly good in the fact that you had five drivers gunning for the title all year, and any four of Mansell, Piquet, Prost and Senna could’ve won it going into the last round in Australia. The German round was full of slipstreaming and overtaking going into the chicanes from all the front runners, with Piquet taking the win from Senna and Mansell when both McLarens ran out of fuel on the very last lap. The fact that Prost pushed his car over the line for sixth shows just much every point counted that year.
Last season may be a glorious one for the Aussie charger, but the previous year’s German race held at the Nurburgring was the breakout performance his unlucky career. A scintillating fast lap on Saturday made sure of a first pole position, and heading into the first corner he clashed wheels with Rubens Barrichello, an incident that would ultimately lead to a drive-through penalty for Mark later in the race. But, even that couldn’t stop him regaining the lead over the second round of pit-stops, heading home his team mate Sebastian Vettel for a 1-2 to go with his maiden win.
There can’t be too many words to describe this entry. Nelson Piquet laps Eliseo Salazar at Hockenheim and the clash. The rest is history!
Gerhard Berger could have already made this list for the 1994 race, where he won Ferrari’s first race for four years, and also was laps from winning in 1996 before his engine gave up and handed the win to Damon Hill. As the last real driver of the 80’s left in F1 at the time, Hockenheim was the perfect showcase for a driver of Berger’s pedigree. In 1997, illness and the loss of his father meant that he missed a few races, and Alex Wurz stepped in to much acclaim. When the older Austrian returned, he showed his prowess in Germany by taking pole position and winning by a comfortable margin. It was the final victory for a driver who had driven against the best for a decade, made even sweeter by all the problems that had kept him away from the sport he loved.
A driver’s first win is always an emotional time, but for a man like Rubens Barrichello, it was plain to see at the podium celebrations just how much his victory at the old Hockenheim meant to him. Starting in 18th after a poor qualifying, he charged through the field through a combination of wet weather prowess and a safety car period brought on by a disgruntled ex-Mercedes employee wandering onto the track. It was to be the death-knell of the long straights and hard braking at Hockenheim as the track was so long parts were bone dry while other were soaked, so two years later the new, revised track was introduced.