2012 German GP Preview

July 26, 2012 10:09 am

The beer is piled high, the bratwurst is sizzling on the barbecue and the Schumacher flags are dominating the skyline. It must be German Grand Prix time! Since arriving on the Formula 1 calendar in 1970, the Hockenheimring has hosted 32 race weekends and, although it does not hold the same historic prestige as the Nurburgring, a greater number of overtaking opportunities guarantees another thrilling race.

Coming up to Grand Prix number ten means we are now half way through one of the most exciting and unpredictable seasons in the history of this magnificent sport. After seven different winners from five different constructors in the first seven races, half the spectators wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if a HRT driver had taken one of the chequered flags! But since the beginning of the European leg of the season, two men have started to shine through as the favourites to take the 63rd Formula 1 driver’s championship. Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber are the only two drivers to have won more than one race this season. Alonso is currently ahead in the points and Webber is the only person within 25 points. This may not seem like a lot, especially when you think back to this time last year when a dominant Vettel was nearly 80 points ahead of his team-mate. But when you consider the closeness of the racing this season, a gap like that could make all the difference come the end of November.

No doubt Alonso will be looking to extend his lead in the championship, and he will certainly be the favourite to take victory having been the last person to do so at this track back in 2010. But if he thinks he’s going to have an easy time of it, he’d better think again! As well as all the usual competition from the likes of Webber, Hamilton, Button and Raikkonen, a quarter of the field is made up of some very fierce German racers who are determined to perform on home soil. To make things even more interesting, each home driver is generally from a different part of the grid so we are going to have close racing up and down the field. At the top end of the grid is double and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel who, after dominating the sport for the last couple of seasons, will want to collect his first home victory and prove to Alonso and Webber that they are going to have to give push even harder to steal his F1 crown. Then there’s Nico Rosberg who, despite continually being dubbed as a ‘star of the future’, is now in his 7th season with only one win under his belt. One hit wonder? Only time will tell. Another German driver who certainly is not a one hit wonder is seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher. After breaking nearly all the records there are to break, including 91 race wins, his comeback stalled slightly in the previous two seasons. But if there’s one race to show that he’s still got it, the German GP is definitely that place. The home support that Schumacher receives is unprecedented, beaten only by the legacy of Ayrton Senna in Brazil. Even during the years he was in retirement, the campsites surrounding the track were awash with Schumacher memorabilia. The thousands of flags and t-shirts adorned with his face meant there was not one moment during the entire weekend when Michael Schumacher’s eyes were not watching you. This level of adoration and support could help him to a podium or even victory this weekend. Further down the grid is an underdog who could definitely surprise with a strong result: Nico Hulkenburg. After his shock pole position for Williams last season, Hulkenberg has not enjoyed much more of the limelight. But after convincingly winning both the A1 series and GP2 championship at his first attempts, there is undoubtedly a bright future ahead for this young man. Bringing up the rear is Marussia driver Timo Glock. Despite scoring two podium finishes will driving for Toyota, the Marussia team, formerly known as Virgin, have yet to earn a single point in Formula 1. For now, their goal is just to make it out of the first qualifying session and keep up with HRT and Caterham in the race.

So with Alonso trying to extend his Championship lead, Webber trying to catch him, Button and Hamilton trying to make up for their disastrous BritishGP, Massa fighting for his seat at Ferrari and Schumacher trying to regain some of the old magic, the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim looks set to be a pivotal and exciting race where careers can continue to be made or broken.

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