German GP Preview

n7The midway point of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship arrives next weekend with Round nine, the German Grand Prix, to be held at the historic Nürburgring circuit in the Eifel Mountains.

The venue for the German Grand Prix alternates between the Nürburgring and Hockenheim, with the last Grand Prix taking place at the Nürburgring in July 2007.

Today’s Nürburgring is much shorter in comparison to the famous Nordschleife, its intimidating 22.5km and 172 corner predecessor, however the current 5.148km layout, which dates from 1984 with further reprofiling in 2002, still poses some significant challenges for the cars and drivers. The lap has a good range of low to high speed corners and significant undulation change which is unusual for most modern circuits.

German Grand Prix Tickets

German

Vital Statistics:

  • Date: 12/07/09
  • Circuit Length: 5.148km
  • Race Distance: 308.863km (60 laps)
  • Winner 2008:

Drivers Eye:

JENSON BUTTON: “The Nürburgring is a tricky circuit but there are two key characteristics which should be good for our car. It is a relatively slow circuit with a lot of medium-speed corners which are one of the strengths of the BGP 001. The Nürburgring is also one of the heaviest braking circuits on the calendar so you need a car which will be good through the four heavy braking zones.”

LEWIS HAMILTON: “It s a fantastic circuit, a little older than a lot of the current tracks we currently visit and with quite a different feel to what we re used to: it s fast and flowing with some good spots for overtaking. And it s in a fantastic part of the world too; deep in the forests of western Germany, where the fans seem to live and breathe Formula 1. It s always an amazing party atmosphere whenever we race in Germany.”

NICK HEIDFELD: “I have many happy memories of the Nürburgring. I went there a lot with my parents when I was a child and the ‘Ring is only an hour away from my home town of Mönchengladbach. In winter we went sledging on the Hohe Acht slopes, I learnt to ride a bicycle at the Nürburgring and this was also where I sat in a kart for the first time with a tyre and a blanket wedged behind my back so that I could reach the pedals.

“Since then I ve competed in races at the ‘Ring in Formula Ford, Formula 3 and Formula 3000 and celebrated many victories there. My best Nürburgring result in Formula One was in 2005 when I took pole position and finished second in the race itself.

“For me, the Nordschleife is the most sensational race track in the world. In April 2007 I drove our Formula One car on the circuit, which was just brilliant! It was amazing to turn off the grand-prix course onto the Nordschleife and drive along this huge race track all alone in front of all those people.”

Technical Insight Willy Rampf “The characteristics of the Nürburgring track mean the cars have a tendency to understeer here. The critical question is therefore: how to set the car up to stop it pushing over the front wheels? That can be resolved by achieving the right aero balance, combined with mechanical modifications to the set-up. The large number of slow and medium-speed corners require a healthy dose of downforce. The track offers good levels of grip, which allows us to run soft tyre compounds.”

German Grand Prix tickets


History and background:

The first version of the Nürburgring was opened on 18th/19th June 1927. On 29th July 1951, Formula One made its first appearance in the Eifel for the German Grand Prix. In the late 1950s and early 1970s, the German GP temporarily moved to the Berlin Avus track and to Hockenheim respectively. 2007 marks the 38th Formula One grand prix to be held at the Nürburgring. Niki Lauda s horrendous fireball accident on 1st August 1976 spelt the end of the legendary Nordschleife s career as a Formula One circuit. Today the winding track that stretches for more than 20 kilometres still hosts numerous touring car races, and on many days of the year visitors can pay to take their own car or motorcycle out for a few laps of the circuit.

The new Nürburgring was opened on 12th May 1984, since when the Eifel has played host to Formula One for 12 European Grands Prix, two Luxembourg GPs (1997 and 1998) and one German Grand Prix (1985).

1999 to 2001 saw the modernisation of the start/finish area, including the erection of a new pit building and press centre. 2002 marked the opening of the Mercedes Arena, a stadium-like section which extended the circuit by some 600 metres.

Even more sweeping changes have been carried out since the visit of Formula One in 2007. The old main stand was dynamited and has been replaced by a new grandstand entitled the “BMW M Power Tribüne” with seating for 5,000 fans. The project list for the expansion is long and ambitious. While work on the “ring°werk” experience park has not yet been completed, the “ring°boulevard”, “ring°arena”, another event centre, two hotels and the “Eifeldorf Grüne Hölle” offering a gastronomic experience and discotheque will be opened on the Thursday before the grand prix weekend.

With thanks to: McLaren-Mercedes, BMW Sauber, and Brawn GP