With the history making triple header run and done, Ferrari come to Germany’s Hockenheim circuit with chests puffed out and an assertive glint in their eye. Although Sebastian Vettel was responsible for one of the drives of the day by Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s own performance was almost flawless otherwise.
Hockenheim itself has been a happy place for the red team. Of their last 21 German Grands Prix, eleven of those have been raced and won at Hockenheim. Given that the German round is alternated with the Nurburgring track year by year that’s an astounding record.
Under scrutiny will be Red Bull. The chat about Daniel Ricciardo and his future has died somewhat in recent days so now eyes will be on him and Max Verstappen for their driving performance and standings. Although they finished fifth and fourth respectively, it wasn’t a performance that the team would have been excited about.
Mercedes comes to a home race with goals in mind. Hamilton, clearly, will be looking to back up his stellar performance at Silverstone, and with wins at Hockenheim for the 2014 and 2016 races, the team will be keen to add another one to the trophy cabinet. It was also revealed that Hamilton has signed with Mercedes on a 2+1 deal, confirming his seat for two more years and an option of another year.
“I have been part of the Mercedes racing family for 20 years and I have never been happier inside a team than I am right now. We are on the same wavelength both on and off track – and I am looking forward to winning more in the future and shining even more light on the three-pointed star.” Says Hamilton.
One driver that would love to grab the silverware here is Hamilton’s team mate, Vatteri Bottas. He’s finished no higher than second at any race this year, and racing with Williams at Hockenheim in 2014 he finished second then. Hamilton won here in 2016 and is the current laps lead “pole sitter” with 121 laps lead at this track.
The other drivers and teams come into this on, at their level, equal footing. Sergio Perez has been in the points every time he’s raced here, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean come with points in three consecutive races for the first time since 2016 (Magnussen) and reaching Q3 three times in a row for the first time in the last three races (both, and a first for Haas).
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had his last pole position here 116 races ago and is currently on the same win level here, three, with Hamilton.
The original Hockenheim circuit dates back to 1939 and holds a special place in the hearts of those that follow the three pointed star. It was a test track for Mercedes-Benz.
Tire choice is medium, soft, and ultra soft, and with the forecast expected to be mild, some light showers, and a top of 28 Celsius on race day, team strategies need to be flexible.
Practice starts on Friday at 0900UTC with the race on Sunday 22 July scheduled for a 15:10UTC start time.