Reports

German F1 Grand Prix

2016 GERMAN GRAND PRIX – PREVIEW

Circuit stats
2014 winner Nico Rosberg, 67 laps, 1:33:42.914s
2014 pole position Nico Rosberg, 1m16.540s
2014 fastest lap Lewis Hamilton, 1m19.908s (lap 53)
Name Hockenheimring
First race 1970
Circuit length 4.574km/2.842 miles (15th longest of the season)
Distance to Turn One 260m/0.162 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)
Longest straight 1.14km/0.708 miles, on the approach to Turn Six
Top speed 350km/h/217mph, on the approach to Turn Six (fastest of season: Monza, 360km/h/224mph)
Pitlane length 300m/0.186 miles, estimated time loss 22s (longest of season: Silverstone, 489m/0.304 miles)
Full throttle 60 per cent (highest of season: Monza, 75 per cent)
DRS zones Two, on the approaches to Turns Two and Six
Key corner Turn Two, where entry and exit are equally important. The cars approach this second-gear corner at 325km/h (202mph) and then accelerate up to 350km/h (217mph) along the following straight, so braking on entry and getting the power down cleanly on exit are vital
Fastest corner 290km/h (180mph), Turn Seven
Slowest corner 60km/h (36mph), Turn Six
Major changes for 2016 None, except for a few changes to kerbing and Astroturf
Fuel consumption 2.1kg per lap, which is relatively high
ERS demands Medium. The sharp bursts of acceleration from low speed are demanding on ERS, but there are several opportunities around the lap to harvest energy under braking – into Turns Two and Six in particular
Brake wear Medium. There are some challenging braking zones, but the long straights provide opportunities to cool the brakes
Gear changes 49 per lap /3,283 per race

Circuit facts
History lesson Hockenheim was built in 1929 as a test track for Mercedes Benz. It first hosted the German Grand Prix in 1970, although it only became the permanent home of the race in ’77, following Niki Lauda’s accident at the Nürburgring Nordschleife the previous year.
What makes the track unique The long straights, although the high-speed character of the circuit changed irreversibly in 2002, when it was shortened and re-profiled by Hermann Tilke. It’s now more of a classic stadium circuit, requiring less extreme car set-up parameters.
Grip levels Medium. Most of the asphalt dates back to 2002, when the track was re-profiled. It’s a very smooth surface, similar in micro-roughness to the Red Bull Ring, but a number of fast corners means Pirelli have elected not to bring their Ultrasoft compound to the race.
Run-off Part of Hermann Tilke’s remit when re-designing the circuit in 2002 was to increase the run-off area at the fastest points on the lap, such as Turns One, Two and Six.
Watch out for… Turn 12, a sixth gear right-hander taken at 210km/h (130mph). The asphalt falls away at the exit, inviting the cars to run wide if their line isn’t perfect. Added to the driving challenge is the electric atmosphere of Hockenheim’s Motodrom, with its huge grandstands, at this point on the track.

The drivers on: the circuit

#14 Fernando Alonso

“Hockenheim is quite a technical circuit which requires fairly high downforce, and although most of the corners are relatively low-speed, they come after long, power-hungry straights, so the set-up of both the power unit and chassis for both eventualities can be quite tricky. For this kind of circuit, you need a car with which you can push, and I feel we’re making improvements in that area.

“For sure it will be different to Hungary – we can’t expect to be the number four team there, and our midfield rivals will be stronger, but we’ll try to maximise everything we have in our armoury and give it our best shot. The whole team has worked incredibly hard over the first half of the year, so it’ll be great to be able to have some luck and bring both cars home without any major issues.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Although Hockenheim has had two different configurations over the years, there’s a lot of history there and the fans love their racing. Our car is strong under heavy braking, but despite the long, sweeping corners and fast straights, this isn’t as much of a necessity there as in Hungary. We’re expecting it to be a tricky weekend as the best-placed cars are the ones with the highest straight-line speeds, but we’ll see what we can do. The MP4-31 is well balanced and has good traction out of the corners, so we might be able to make up some time around a lap.

“There are a couple of decent overtaking opportunities there, so you don’t just need to rely on DRS and a good slipstream on the straights, and it’s an enjoyable challenge. The asphalt is smooth which will hopefully rubber in nicely over the course of the weekend, as you need good grip to have any chance of making up ground. I remember the craziness of the old configuration – huge straights and fiddly chicanes, which made set-up a tricky compromise – and this layout is very different, but you can see they’ve designed it to promote close racing.”

Event stats
Start time 14:00hrs local/13:00hrs BST
Race distance 67 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/51 laps)
Safety Car likelihood Low. In nine races at the re-profiled Hockenheim there have been just three Safety Car periods, most recently in 2014 following a collision on lap one
When to press record Lap three, when, in dry conditions, the Drag Reduction System is enabled for the first time. The predominance of short-radius corners allows the cars to follow each other closely and when you factor in DRS, the racing can get very exciting
Don’t put the kettle on Nico Rosberg won the last race at Hockenheim, in 2014, on a two-stop strategy. But only three drivers inside the top 10 two-stopped; the rest three-stopped due to higher than expected rates of tyre degradation. With the Supersoft tyre in use this weekend, expect to see the first stops on or around lap 15
Weather conditions now 26 degrees and cloudy
Race forecast 29 degrees, but there are expected to be showers in the area
Tyre choices Supersoft/Soft/Medium, the same combination that was used at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix

Event facts
First German Grand Prix 1951
Slogan There is no official slogan, but the organisers use the line ‘more than just a race’ in their advertising.
Germany’s F1 heritage The German Grand Prix is one of the most iconic races in Formula 1. It first appeared on the calendar 65 years ago, with much of its legend built around the notorious Nürburgring Nordschleife. The 22km (14-mile) circuit was dropped from the schedule in 1977 for safety reasons, since when Hockenheim has by and large been the home of the race.
Smallest winning margin 0.427s, in 1998. The McLarens of Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard were a class apart. They lined up 1-2 on the grid and finished in the same order, separated by little more than a car length after 45 laps of racing. Häkkinen slowed during the closing laps with an oil pressure problem, but Coulthard did likewise and that allowed Häkkinen to win the race and extend his lead in the world championship.
Sporting legacy Given the history of the German Grand Prix and the perennial success of German car manufacturers in F1, it seems extraordinary that the country had to wait until 1994 for Michael Schumacher to become its first world champion. But success has come thick and fast since then, with Schumacher winning a total of seven world titles and Sebastian Vettel four.
Did you know? No-one has won at Hockenheim from outside the top three on the grid since the track was re-profiled in 2002.
Don’t forget McLaren has won the German Grand Prix eight times, with one of those wins (2008) coming on the short Hockenheim layout.
Fan zone: Ralf, aged 32, from Mannheim, asks: “Germany is the final race before the mid-season factory shut-down. Why does F1 do this?”
McLaren’s answer: “Everyone needs a holiday, Ralf! This year is the longest season in F1’s 66-year history, with 21 races, and the four-week summer break is the only time in the year that F1 physically stops for a breather. There isn’t such a thing as an ‘off-season’ anymore because everyone is busy preparing for the following season during the winter months.”

The drivers on: the event

#14 Fernando Alonso

“I’m pleased to be heading back to Hockenheim after we missed a race in Germany in 2015. It’s been a good circuit for me in the past – I’ve had three victories on this circuit, and five in Germany, so there’s lots of happy memories. There’s usually a good atmosphere there and there’s something special about the feeling of it being the last race before the summer break – everyone is upbeat and pushing hard because they want to finish the first half of the season on a high.

“The weather is always a factor in Germany – this time of year tends to be hot, but you can never be 100 per cent sure, so even a little bit of rain could mix things up a bit, which might help us. We’re know it’ll be a tough race, but after Hungary – even though the characteristics are very different – I’m pleased with the progress we’re making and I’m definitely up for the challenge.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Last Sunday in Hungary was a big disappointment on my side of the garage – we showed a lot of promise throughout the weekend leading up to the race, but on Sunday it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did. Still, that’s part of racing and Fernando has had his share of bad luck over the past few races, so it was good he was able to get some points and maintain a good pace.

“I hope we can regain our form in Germany and enjoy a positive race for both cars before the summer break. After last weekend, the main thing we need to focus on is reliability. If we have that, it at least puts us in a position to see where we are on track and be in the hunt for points. Hopefully the weekend will throw up a surprise or two, and we can both have a smooth weekend.”

Hear from the management

Eric Boullier

“After a long and gruelling first half of the season, culminating in six races in seven weeks, the whole team is preparing for the final push at the German Grand Prix before a well-deserved summer break. Despite the drama and poor luck Jenson suffered on Sunday at the Hungaroring, our pace as demonstrated by Fernando was encouraging. Although not as a high a finishing position as last year, we showed form and consistency throughout the weekend, and in a race of very low attrition except Jenson’s unfortunate retirement, we were able to maintain our position on merit and keep our nearest midfield rivals firmly behind us.

“Now, we head to Hockenheim, which certainly offers a very different challenge to test our package. We are under no illusions that we’ll enjoy the same levels of pace that Fernando could exploit in Hungary, but nevertheless we’ll strive to set-up our package to enable our strengths to shine and outweigh the more difficult elements. With the support of the 50,000 plus fans in the stadium section alone, and our usual grit and hard work, we’ll do everything we can to finish the twelfth race of this 21-race season on a positive note.

“I’d also like to thank all our team members in Woking, Milton Keynes and Sakura for their admirable stamina, unwavering determination and unflappable perseverance throughout the first half the season. We’ll be giving it our all over the weekend to maximise our chances and give both cars the best opportunity to push for points. Both our drivers have a lot of experience fighting on this circuit, too – and have both enjoyed victory there – so they’ll certainly be taking the battle to the track this weekend in the hope of sharing some of the spoils on offer at this most historic of venues.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

"Though Hockenheimring is another power oriented circuit, McLaren-Honda has continued to show progress and strength through every race of the European leg and we believe that we can once again perform to the best of our abilities at the German GP this weekend. 

“As a team, this will be our first race at this track so it will be a busy weekend to fine-tune and set-up both the power unit and the chassis. It will also be important for us to fix any reliability issues that we have had over the past race weekends, and face the last race before the F1 summer shutdown with a positive outlook. Hopefully we can repeat the good points finish that we had in Hungaroring with Fernando’s car and score more championship points before the second half of the season."

2016 GERMAN GRAND PRIX – PRACTICE

“A pretty good baseline to carry forward”

In terms of car development, it was a fairly routine first day of practice at the Hockenheimring today. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, celebrating his 35th birthday today, undertook some aero work during FP1, and worked hard to dial-in the balance of their MP4-31s. 

In the afternoon, Jenson was forced to finish FP2 early after getting something in his left eye while in the middle of a run. He went to a local hospital for a precautionary check-up, where a foreign body was removed.

FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-02
FP1 1m17.183s (+1.666s) 18 laps 7th
FP2 1m17.225s (+1.611s) 21 laps 10th

“It was a nice way to celebrate my birthday here with the team – we spend 200 days a year alongside each other, so that was a fantastic feeling.

“I now need to focus on the weekend and help improve our pace a little. We felt competitive straight away in the first session – more than in the second, where we lost some performance. But we might need to go back on some set-up changes and find a way to improve the car for tomorrow.

“For this weekend, we need to be realistic: there are three teams that are a little bit quicker than everyone else, then, behind them, there’s a close fight. If we want to beat our direct competitors, we need to get everything right – but that’s likely to prove a little more difficult than it did in Hungary.

“Still, I’d hope and expect that we can score points on Sunday.”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
FP1 1m17.612s (+2.095s) 15 laps 8th
FP2 1m17.087s (+1.473s) 16 laps 8th

“I was driving down the pit straight when I got something in my eye. It wasn’t stuck in my eye, but it was a foreign body, which the hospital washed out and removed. It scratched my eye, so I’ve been given some eyedrops – but all is good. I don’t know what it was – maybe a piece of carbon dust, which has happened to me before.

“The session was okay – the car didn’t feel too bad at all – but I had to stop early because of the problem. The aim for the remainder of the weekend is to be up there behind the top three teams.

ERIC BOULLIER

“It’s not been the smoothest of days for us today. Neither Jenson nor Fernando really found the perfect balance, and there were a handful of minor issues that affected progress on both sides of the garage.

“Nevertheless, we think we’ve found a pretty good baseline to carry forward for the remainder of the weekend, and we’ll be digging through the data this evening to ensure that we hit the ground running tomorrow morning.

“Obviously, it was the right decision that Jenson went for a check-up on his eye. He complained of an irritation in his left eye during one of his FP2 runs, and chose to visit the circuit medical centre for a check-up. He was then transferred to a local hospital for a more detailed analysis, and it’s there that the doctors removed a small foreign body from his eye.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“Today’s free practice sessions ran smoothly for the most part. Jenson had a minor eye irritation during FP2, but thankfully after a precautionary hospital check a foreign body was removed.

“Our testing programme today focused on both the power unit and chassis set-ups to suit the nature of this power-orientated track. It is Honda’s first outing at the Hockenheimring so our engineers were busy in both sessions to fine-tune the power unit’s characteristics, but thanks to some trouble-free running, we were able to accumulate and refine a good amount of data.

“As usual, Fridays are busy for the team to ready the car for tomorrow’s qualifying, and we look forward to what the engineers will bring to the table.”

2016 GERMAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING

“Points are a real possibility tomorrow”

Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso will line up 12th and 14th respectively for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.

After being forced out of yesterday’s FP2 midway through the session in order to attend to an eye complaint, Jenson’s programme was also cut short this morning. He had a left-rear brake assembly issue midway through FP3 which meant he was unable to run the Option tyre and find an ideal balance before qualifying.

Nonetheless, he recovered well in both Q1 and Q2, setting 10th- and 12th-fastest times respectively. Fernando enjoyed a smoother day’s running, setting 14th-fastest time in Q1 – a position he maintained in Q2.

#14 Fernando Alonso, MP4-31-02
FP3 9th 1m16.916s (+1.178s), 11 laps
Q1 9th 1m16.338s (on Options)
Q2 14th 1m16.041s (on Options)

“It’s a bit disappointing not to be in Q3 today: 14th position isn’t great, but we’re not as competitive at this track as we were in Budapest. 

“This afternoon, I didn’t put a lap together as I had some traffic, which is why I didn’t finish a little bit higher up the order. Additionally, Hockenheim’s long back straight and big acceleration zones don’t really suit our car.

“On the positive side, we have plenty of new tyres remaining, which will give us an advantage at the start and allow us to be a little more creative with strategy.

“It’s going to be tough tomorrow, but hopefully we can recover some positions because points are a real possibility.”

#22 Jenson Button, MP4-31-03
FP3 19th 1m18.093s (+2.355 s), 6 laps
Q1 10th 1m16.172s (on Options)
Q2 12th 1m15.909s (on Options)

“This weekend has been pretty tricky for me. I’ve missed having time with the car, which doesn’t make for the easiest preparation, and this is a tough circuit if you haven’t had any mileage.

“I had a few issues yesterday – I stepped out of the car early because of my eye – then, this morning, we had a couple of problems, so I didn’t run the Supersoft in FP3 at all. It was all a bit of an unknown going into qualifying. 

“Still, 12th position is reasonable, and it’s always nice to be in front of your team-mate, but we’re still not quite there yet with the balance of the car. Even if we’d got everything together and beaten Williams today, getting into the top 10 was always going to be tricky.

“There’s a possibility that we’ll get into the points tomorrow. The race should be pretty interesting; the start and the strategy will be important, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

Eric Boullier

“It’s a sign of the progress we’ve been making recently that we’re disappointed that neither driver was able to make it into Q3 this afternoon. However, looking beyond the timesheets, it’s apparent that we’ve not had the smoothest of runs into qualifying – Jenson took a trip to the local hospital yesterday afternoon, and had his morning’s progress put back by a brake component assembly issue in FP3. 

“Nonetheless, we’re well placed for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix, and will start with the added benefit of a free choice of tyre strategy for both cars. There’s plenty left to play for, and we’ll be looking to push both drivers into the top 10 and score some valuable world championship points ahead of the summer break.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

"It was quite a difficult Saturday here at the Hockenheimring, where neither driver could find the perfect balance of the car and struggled to find the best power unit modes throughout FP3. 

"We were able to improve our performance for qualifying, but we were unable to continue our run as the fourth-quickest team, losing both cars in Q2. 

"Both Jenson in P12 and Fernando in P14 will be able to start on fresh rubber, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage and gain some ground with good race management tomorrow."

2016 GERMAN GRAND PRIX

“Eighth was as good as it was going to get today”

The McLaren-Honda team heads into Formula 1’s summer break having scored an encouraging eighth-place result in the German Grand Prix – the team’s seventh points-scoring finish of the season. 

Both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso ran measured races inside the top 10 for almost the entire duration, but whereas Jenson was able to capitalise in the closing laps – moving from ninth to eighth two laps from home – Fernando fell back, dropping from 10th to 12th at the chequer.

Today’s performance was a validation of the efforts of the entire team over the weekend: following two tricky days of practice, the package came together today and underlined the developing pace of the McLaren-Honda partnership.

#14 Fernando Alonso, MP4-31-02
Started 13th
Finished 12th
Fastest lap 1m20.132s on lap 50 (+1.690s, 13th)
Pit-stops Three: laps 14 (2.58s), 28 (2.95s) and 47 (2.65s) [Option-Prime-Option-Option]

“It was a very tough race, possibly one of the toughest so far this season, especially towards the end, when my tyres were finished and I had to do a lot of fuel-saving. 

“We knew before we came here that it might be a tough weekend. Ultimately, I lost 10th position at the end of the race, so we didn’t score that last point that we were hoping for. But we just didn’t have the pace throughout the entire race.

“Getting ready for the Belgian Grand Prix is our priority now – hopefully we’ll come back stronger after the summer break.”

#22 Jenson Button, MP4-31-03
Started 12th
Finished 8th
Fastest lap 1m19.781s on lap 48 (+1.339s, 9th)
Pit-stops Three: laps 13 (2.54s), 31 (2.40s) and 46 (2.74s) [Option-Prime-Option-Option]

“I made a very good start and made up most of the places there. After that, it was just about looking after the tyres, which were degrading faster than we’d expected. We also had to do a fair amount of fuel-saving, too, particularly in the last 10 laps. In fact, I went off the circuit towards the end, just because I was doing so much fuel-saving that I hit the brakes and they were just stone cold. I hadn’t even been braking hard. 

“At the end, I was able to pick off Valtteri, who was struggling on his tyres. It feels satisfying to have beaten both Williams, but eighth was as good as it was going to get today – we were 20 seconds behind the car in front, and there’s still quite a bit to go before we catch those guys.

“Still, we’ve made good progress: we’re consistently fighting in the points, and the team are doing a great job this year, bringing something new to pretty much every single race. I want to say thank-you and well done to the whole team for their efforts.

“I’m looking forward to coming back and fighting after the summer break – but, right now, I’m looking forward to a holiday!”

Eric Boullier

“Jenson drove faultlessly today, showing all his authority and intelligence to push throughout the entire race, moving into a well-deserved eighth position – after overtaking Valtteri Bottas – right at the very end. His was a fantastic effort.

“Fernando also looked set for a points finish, and was running 10th, closing on Jenson, when he began losing pace in the closing laps as he battled to save fuel and manage the tyres. His 12th position wasn’t a fair reflection of his efforts this afternoon.

“Still, after a tricky two days of practice, it was heartening to see our improved pace in the race.

“As we head into Formula 1’s traditional summer shutdown, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the hard work, dedication and efforts of the entire team. These past six grands prix have seen an unbelievable amount of work from our mechanics, engineers, hospitality team and riggers – many of those people have not seen their homes or their loved ones for many weeks. I now sincerely hope that everyone can get some well-earned rest and recuperation – well away from the Formula 1 paddock – before returning for the next race, in Belgium, in one month’s time.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

“In comparison to yesterday’s qualifying, we were able to show better race pace today, and I am happy that Jenson and the team were able to score points with a P8 finish. 

“It was a very difficult race for both the team and drivers, trying to manage on-track battles, fuel-saving and tyre management. Fernando also had very good race pace, but due to this, he was obliged to manage his fuel and pace at the end of the race while trying to hold off his rivals. He fought a tough fight, but was unable to maintain his position and finished in P12. 

“Looking back at the last few races, we are now confident that our progress is definitely headed in the right direction, and we're now aiming to make another step forward in the early part of the second half of the season.

“Last but not least, I would like to thank every member of the McLaren-Honda team for their brilliant work in this long and gruelling first half of the season. I hope everyone enjoys their time off and can come back refreshed for the latter half.”