The Nurburgring is one of the most iconic circuits in motorsport. Situated deep in the Eifel mountains, the modern grand prix track lies adjacent to the original 14-mile Nordschleife that was a regular fixture on the Formula 1 calendar between 1951 and ’76.
The circuit – nicknamed the ‘green hell’ by drivers – was eventually deemed too dangerous for F1 and today’s ’Ring was built in time for the European Grand Prix of 1984.
Since 2008, the German Grand Prix has been shared between the Nurburgring and Hockenheim, 100 miles to the south. Each circuit hosts the race in alternate years, the Nurburgring last hosting the event in 2011, when Lewis Hamilton dominated proceedings to give McLaren its eighth German GP win.
The Nurburgring’s modern layout has remained largely unchanged since ’84. The first sector was tweaked in ’02 to promote overtaking into Turn 1, but the track has retained its technical challenge and is quick to highlight any weaknesses in car or driver. The predominance of slow and medium-speed corners encourages the cars to run with maximum downforce and the smooth track surface allows Pirelli to use its Medium and Soft rubber compounds in an effort to maximise mechanical grip.
As is the norm this season, there are two DRS zones at the Nurburgring. One is on the start-finish straight and the other on the approach to the chicane, Turn 13. On both occasions the cars are expected to exceed 300 km/h, which should provide good slipstreaming opportunities during the race.
- Race distance:60 laps (308.623 km/191.778 miles)
- Start time: 14:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)
- Circuit length: 5.148 km/3.199 miles
- 2011 winner: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren MP4-26) 60 laps in 1hr37m30.334s (189.911 km/h)
- 2011 pole: Mark Webber (Red Bull RB7) 1m30.079s (205.739 km/h)
- Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m29.468s (207.144 km/h)
McLaren at the German Grand Prix
- Wins: 8 (1976, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1998, 2008, 2011)
- Poles: 12 (1976, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008)
- Fastest laps: 7 (1984, 1985, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005)
Car 5: Jenson Button
“Of course, the Silverstone result wasn’t where we want to be, but there were some reasons to be encouraged by last weekend. Our car is now better balanced and more driveable, so we’re hoping for a rain-free practice day in order to further develop the set-up during Friday’s two free practice sessions.
“The Nurburgring is a track that seems to encourage close racing and plenty of overtaking. The combination of low- and medium-speed corners tend to allow cars to run quite closely, and there are a couple of big braking zones, where it’s quite easy to get alongside and steal the inside line. However, it’s got some nicely designed sections, which mean – equally – that you can lose out on the entry and yet still regain position if you have better traction and track position on the exit.”
Car 6: Sergio Perez
“I’ve already put the disappointment of Silverstone behind me. In fact, I was more encouraged by the positives: I demonstrated strong pace all weekend, was having a good race and looked set to finish in the points, until my tyre failure in the closing laps.
“Naturally, these setbacks happen in motor racing, so it’ll be good to get back in the car just a few days after Silverstone and get back to business.
“I started my single-seater career in Germany, so it’s a place with lots of positive memories for me. I enjoy racing at the Nurburgring, it’s a place where you need to attack to get the best from the lap, so I think it’s well suited to my style. Of course, I’d have loved to have raced on the old track, the Nordschleife, that must have been an incredible place for a grand prix, but I’ll be happy with a positive result on the new circuit.”
Martin Whitmarsh Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“After a difficult weekend at Silverstone, it’s a motivation for the whole team to return to the track just a week later for the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. It’s a very difficult technical challenge to the flat-out sweeps of Silverstone, requiring a higher downforce set-up to get the most from the twisting infield sections and high-traction corner exits from which much of the laptime is derived.
“Our aim for Germany will be to get our cars into the points after two successive failures to finish inside the top 10. Despite those disappointments, both Jenson and Checo have driven faultlessly, and both are relentlessly positive and upbeat. They have been a strong unifying force for the team as we continue to address the issues we’ve encountered with this year’s MP4-28.
“With more, uninterrupted mileage, we will be better placed to add performance to the car, so we’ll be hoping for good weather and the opportunity to learn as much as we can.”
A McLaren 50 moment
Santander German Grand Prix, 24 July 2011
- Lewis Hamilton is in stunning form all weekend. He qualifies on the front row of the grid, just 0.055s behind pole-sitter Mark Webber, and drives a determined race to come home 3.9s ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
- The MP4-26 arrives at the Nurburgring – race 10 of the season – with a host of aerodynamic upgrades and they prove effective from the outset. Lewis is immediately on the pace during practice and he drives arguably his best qualifying lap of the whole season to start on the front row, setting a time 1.5s faster than team-mate Jenson Button.
- Lewis then makes a great start to beat Webber into Turn One, but he’s unable to pull a gap to Webber and Alonso during the early stages of the race. Little more than a couple of seconds separates the top three and they all complete laps in the lead during the pitstop sequence. But whenever Lewis finds himself on the back foot, he muscles his way back to the front with some audacious overtaking manoeuvres.
- It’s a sublime performance by Lewis, for whom this is win number 16 of his career. Perhaps it’s best summed up by third-placed Webber after the race: “Lewis was unbeatable today.” (McLaren F1)
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