Hailed as the next Michael Schumacher and with what is currently the quickest car on the grid to boot, Red Bull ace Sebastian Vettel is Germany’s best hope for victory when the Formula One circus re-descends on the NÃ¼rburgring this week for the German Grand Prix.
And with four of his fellow countrymen also gunning for success on home soil it is little wonder why this year’s trek to the Eifel is a sell-out. Forumula1.com looks at the German formbook…
SEBASTIAN VETTEL (Red Bull)
We say: Young, likeable, and blindingly quick. Fresh from a dominant victory at Silverstone in which Red Bull established their superiority over rivals Brawn GP Vettel is the man Jenson Button fears most in this year’s title battle, and he arrives at ‘the ring’ as race favorite – though he won’t admit it.
A 25 points deficit to Button in the championship standings means that Vettel has his work cut out to keep the Briton in touch, but the superiority of what is a significantly revised Red Bull package featuring the most effective front and rear wing components on the grid and a patiently-designed double diffuser should bring Vettel right into the mix in due course.
He says: “I am always happy when I have won a race but, listening to the German anthem in Germany when you are a German, then it is definitely something very special, “I like it that there are so many fans of motorsport [in Germany] and that these people are cheering and support you with horns, flags and stuff like this. That influences your mood in a positive way. There is nothing better than the in-lap in front of your home crowd after winning a race.”
“I have a lot of good memories of the NÃ¼rburgring, and I’d say it’s like a soccer match when you play on your home ground – you always give 100 per cent. In a home race, you’re even more motivated because, at home, you feel comfortable. During the 90 minutes of the race, I do not think about which country I’m in, because I am concentrated on racing but, before and after, this is special because being at home is the best place to stay. It’s not far from the NÃ¼rburgring, in Kerpen, that I got a lot of kart experience which is why I have many friends in this region.”
NICO ROSBERG (Williams)
We say: Time is running out for Williams to provide this masked talent
with the machinery needed to keep him in blue and white overalls. That said, the Grove-based outfit impressed at their home race at Silverstone and a similar performance at the NÃ¼rburgring could put Rosberg in the mix for another solid points haul.
He says: “Going to Germany is a bit special for me as it s my home Grand Prix and the circuit, together with Hockenheim, is the one that I know the best. Racing in front of your home crowd is a real buzz and the German fans in particular are really passionate about the sport, so there ll be a good atmosphere. After a long break since the last race, I can t wait to get back out on track now and getting another good result would make the weekend perfect for me.”
“The NÃ¼rburgring is a very different track to say Silverstone because the average corner speeds are a lot slower. This means car set-up needs to be quite different so we will have a lot of things to test on Friday in order to find the right direction and to get the best out of the car. The FW31 has been very consistent and relatively quick on every track this year so I have high hopes that we can continue our good form.â€
Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber)
We say: Could have been at Brawn this year, reportedly, but instead finds himself battling to save face at the rear of the grid. BMW Sauber are bringing a significantly revised F1.08 to their home circuit which should help Heidfeld escape another Q1 qualifying nightmare – but only just.
He says: “I have many happy memories of the NÃ¼rburgring. I went there a lot with my parents when I was a child and the â€˜Ring is only an hour away from my home town of MÃ¶nchengladbach. In winter we went sledging on the Hohe Acht slopes, I learnt to ride a bicycle at the NÃ¼rburgring 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.”
“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.â€
Timo Glock (Toyota)
We say: Has yet to demonstrate the potential he showed last year and has consistently been beaten by teammate Jarno Trulli. Toyota have taken a climb down since their impressive 1-2 qualifying in Bahrain. The NÃ¼rburgring is unlikely to suit the TF109, but they should take up their usual place in the top ten qualifying, which will provide Glock a slingshot for points.
He says: “I feel a lot of support from the German fans. It’s good to have a lot of fans in the grandstands; it’s a nice feeling to see people wearing Toyota caps and shirts. With five German drivers on the grid the German fans have a lot of guys to support and we all feel very much at home at the NÃ¼rburgring or Hockenheim. Toyota is the local team for the NÃ¼rburgring so we will have plenty of support and I hope we can give them the result they expect.”
“It is a great feeling to race at the NÃ¼rburgring because I am in my own country, with lots of my fans in the grandstands and some family and friends around as well. It’s also one of Toyota’s home races so that makes it special for the team too. But I have to say until I started competing in Formula 1 or GP2 it wasn’t unusual at all to be racing on home ground because I grew up in German racing so every event was a local one! Once I moved into international competition I only raced in Germany once or twice a year, if at all, so then it became a really special thing for me.
“I don’t feel any extra pressure at my home race; everything is positive. From track to track my motivation doesn’t really change; I always give my all and do my very best to get a strong result for the team. Sure, it might be a bit more enjoyable to succeed in my home race but it doesn’t make any difference to my lap time – or to the number of points given out at the end. Every race is important so if you’re not giving 100% you are not doing your job properly.”
Adrian Sutil (Force India)
We say: Another German to have taken a battering from his more experienced Italian teammate this year. Outshone by Giancarlo Fisichella at Force India’s home grand prix at Silverstone, Glock must get back on level terms with the Italian veteran if he is to restore his reputation and market value to the level he enjoyed after Monaco 2008.
He says: “Q2 would be very nice and hopefully it would be enough for some points. It’s definitely time to get a few. Let’s see what the other teams have update-wise as I expect maybe one or two to move a bit to the front and we don’t have a major update this time round. But we were pretty strong in Silverstone and I expect to be similar in Germany.”
“The German Grand Prix is always a special event for me and to race at the Nurburgring has a great feeling. The atmosphere is really special there as the big Nurburgring, the Nordschleife, has so much racing history, it’s perhaps one of the most famous circuits in the world. Everywhere around the circuit is just about racing – go into a restaurant and you see a lot of pictures of cars or drivers. It’s a great place to be, and to race there as a German gives a special feeling, like you’re stepping into the history.”
“I’ve driven round the Nordschleife a few times: normally you go on the Wednesday before the race in a normal road car. It really opens your eyes as it’s just an incredible circuit. It gives you ultimate respect for the people who did drive it. You can really compare it to a rollercoaster going up and down – it’s just unbelievable. It doesn’t matter which car you use, the track is just really impressive. Unfortunately we only drive on the small circuit now but still there is a special something you can feel even on this version.”