Flashback: Ferrari have history in Germany

Niki Lauda during the 1976 German Grand Prix weekend

Niki Lauda during the 1976 German Grand Prix weekend

Sunday’s race will be the 61st German Grand Prix as a world championship event. It’s been run at three tracks, Avus, Nurburgring and Hockenheim, although it’s more like five as the last two venues have changed considerably. Scuderia Ferrari have won this race 21 times, a 35% success rate.

The 50s: The first F1 race was held in 1951 on the old 22.8 kilometre Nurbugring known as the “Green Hell,” a truly difficult test for the greatest drivers. That year it was won by Alberto Ascari driving for Scuderia Ferrari. The Italian driver did it again the following year, while the Maranello marque made it three in a row in ’53 courtesy of Giuseppe Farina in a Ferrari 500.

The next win came in 1956 with Juan Manuel Fangio. The race was only held once at Avus and Ferrari won that too, with the track made up of two long straights joined by completely parabolic curves at each end which destroyed tyres. The race therefore had to be held in two legs, both of them won by Tony Brooks in a 246.

John Surtees on the way to victory in the 1963 German Grand Prix

John Surtees on the way to victory in the 1963 German Grand Prix

The 60s and 70s: Four years later in 1963, John Surtees won in the 156 and he did it again the following year in a 158, a victory that would be key to his taking the title come the end of the season. These two wins earned the Englishman the soubriquet of Ringmeister. Ferrari won again at the Nurburgring in 1972, courtesy of Jacky Ickx and in 1974 with Switzerland’s Clay Regazzoni.

It was here too that, on 1 August 1976, Niki Lauda had the terrible accident which left him with the scars he bears to this day. Lauda nearly died as a result, but came back to be the first winner at the new venue, the original Hockenheim with its six kilometres of straights through the Black Forest, the lap ending in the tricky Motodrom section, a serious of testing corners which required a lot of aero downforce.

The 80s and 90s: In 1982, Patrick Tambay won in a 126 C2, but there were no celebrations. In Qualifying the day before, the Scuderia’s Didier Pironi, in the running for the title, had a terrible crash, which put an end to his racing career. It came just months after the tragic death of Gilles Villeneuve.

2002 German Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher

2002 German Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher

The following year, Rene Arnoux won in the 126 C3. In 1985, the race was held at the brand new modern Nurburgring, which lacked the fascination of the older venue. Michele Alboreto won in a Ferrari 156-85 and took the lead in the championship. Nine years would pass before a Ferrari driver stood on the top of the podium again: it was Gerhard Berger, who in the 412 T1, ended a 59 race drought.

The Noughties: Five years later, Eddie Irvine won, while in 2000, Rubens Barrichello got the benefit of the Safety Car, but also drove very well to stay on track in the closing stages on dry tyres, while half the track was hit by a rain storm.

Michael Schumacher won in 2002, the debut of the new Hockenheim, with a completely different layout, as the long straights in the forests had gone, while the first and last sections of track were now joined by a long linking corner the Parabolika.

The historic Motodrom was kept, but since the track now required a higher level of aerodynamic downforce all round, it was a less taxing challenge than in the past. The German won again in 2004 and 2006, while the last two victories for the Scuderia came courtesy of Fernando Alonso, who starred on German soil in 2010 and 2012. (Ferrari)