The Big Preview: German Grand Prix at Nürburgring

Just days after an exciting and incident-strewn British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Formula One heads high into the Eiffel. The teams will regroup at another of the sport’s ancestral homes with F1 resuming at the Nürburgring and the German Grand Prix – round nine of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship.

Opened in 1984, the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit doesn’t present quite the challenge offered by the revered Nürburgring-Nordschleife but over the years it has proved itself to be a stern examination of a Formula One car and its driver. The narrow, flowing circuit demands a compromise in set-up: the twisty, low-speed first sector contrasts the high-speeds reached later in the lap, while the chicanes demand soft suspension to allow drivers to really attack the kerbs.

Nurburgring from the air

Nurburgring from the air

True form ahead of the race is difficult to predict, given that the German Grand Prix comes after a series of atypical circuits and – in the case of Silverstone – an atypical race. That the Nürburgring demands a little bit of everything frequently ensures that it is a race which finds out any weaknesses in the technical package. Car performance can be rendered less-relevant, however, by the stormy weather that often afflicts the region – though the forecast is currently for a a dry German Grand Prix.

After 14 consecutive scoring finishes, Sebastian Vettel’s race-ending gearbox malfunction denied the World Champion a likely 25 points at Silverstone. His failure to score, combined with a gutsy drive to third from Fernando Alonso sees the drivers’ championship battle intensify, with Vettel (132), having his lead over Alonso (111) cut to just 21 points. Meanwhile, in the constructors’ table, Mercedes (171) has moved ahead of Ferrari (168) and is closing on championship leaders Red Bull Racing (219).

Lewis Hamilton won the 2011 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring

Lewis Hamilton won the 2011 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring

Nürburgring Circuit Data

  • Length of lap: 5.148 km
  • Lap record: 1:29.468 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)
  • Start line/finish line offset: 0.257 km
  • Total number of race laps: 60
  • Total race distance: 308.623km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 60 km/h during practice. 100 km/h during qualifying and the race

Changes to the circuit since 2011

  • The circuit is fundamentally unchanged since 2011.

DRS Zone

  • There will be two DRS zones in Germany. The first is situated between turns 11 and 13 (The NGK Chicane) with a detection point 45m before turn 10 and an activation point 55m after turn 11. The second is located on the start-finish straight with a detection point 40m before turn 15 and an activation point 135m after turn 15.
Mark Webber won his first grand prix at Nurburgring in 2009

Mark Webber won his first grand prix at Nurburgring in 2009

German Grand Prix Fast Facts

  • The GP Circuit at the Nürburgring has held grands prix under three different names: in 1984, 1995-96, 1999-2007 it hosted the Grand Prix of Europe; in 1985, 2009 and 2011 the German Grand Prix and 1997-98 the Grand Prix of Luxembourg.
  • Johnny Herbert’s final F1 victory came at the Nürburgring in 1999. It was the first and only win for Stewart Grand Prix. After being sold to Jaguar and then Red Bull Racing it won at the circuit again in 2009. That victory was Mark Webber’s first in F1.
  • Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel has a rare blind spot when it comes to his home race. He has yet to win a German Grand Prix. He also has yet to win in Hungary and the United States. At the season start Canada was the only other race on that list, and Vettel won that comfortably in June.
  • Finishing fifth in the British Grand Prix last week established a new record for Kimi Räikkönen. The Finn has now scored points in 25 consecutive races, beating the 24-race run Michael Schumacher set between the Hungarian Grand Prix of 2001 and the Malaysian Grand Prix of 2003. Räikkönen’s last failure to score was the Chinese Grand Prix of 2012. It is his only failure since coming back into F1. His record, however, has been set in an era where points are awarded down to tenth. Schumacher’s sequence started with points to sixth, and finished with points to eighth.
  • Ferrari have an impressive German Grand Prix record with a mighty 21 victories, well ahead of nine wins for Williams and eight for McLaren. Perhaps surprisingly, Ferrari’s longest winning sequence was three consecutive races between 1951-53: two for Alberto Ascari followed by a final F1 victory for Nino Farina.
  • Michael Schumacher, with four, has the most German Grand Prix wins of any driver in the F1 World Championship era. Schumacher’s victory in 1995 was the first for a German national at his home grand prix since Rudolf Caracciola’s final win. Caracciola won the German Grand Prix six times between 1926-1939. Five of Caracciola’s wins came on the Nordschleife. The first, however, was on the AVUS circuit.
  • In the World Championship era, the race was held at AVUS in 1959. That apart, the Nürburgring-Nordschleife (1951-54, 1956-58, 1961-69, 1971-76), Hockenheim (1970, 1977-84, 1986-06, 2008, 2010, 2012) and the Nürburgring GP Circuit (1985, 2009, 2011) are the only circuits to host the Formula One World Championship German Grand Prix. In 1950 and 1960 the German Grand Prix was a Formula 2 race (the latter held on the Nürburgring-Sudschleife circuit), and there was no race in 1955, following the Le Mans disaster. Officially there was no German Grand Prix in 2007. This was the first year of the race being alternated between Hockenheim and the Nürburgring and for legal reasons it retained its former title as the Grand Prix of Europe.
Niki Lauda airborne during the 1976 German Grand Prix

Niki Lauda airborne during the 1976 German Grand Prix at the fabled Nordschleife layout on the weekend he crashed with near tragic consequences

Race Stewards Biographies

  • Swede Lars Österlind is a highly experienced FIA steward who has officiated at more than 100 grands prix and a similar number of World Rally Championship rounds. A social sciences graduate and lifelong motor sport enthusiast, Österlind was President of the Swedish Rally Commission from 1978-1982, then President of the Swedish Automobile Sport Federation from 1982-1996. He became Honorary President in 1996 and has been a member of the FIA World Council since 1984. Outside motor sport Österlind has specialised in management, working as a consultant and pursuing his own business interests. He is also experienced in local government at city council level.
  • Radovan Novak has been actively involved in motorsport since 1963 and rose to become Secretary General of the ACCR in 1990.Since 1991 he has held the role of President of the FIA Central Europe Zone and over the past two decades he has acted as a steward and observer in WRC and ERC rallies, EC autocross and rallycross events and WTCC and GT races. He has been a Formula One steward since 1994. From 1994 to 2006, he was a member of the FIA Off-road Commission and was made a member of the World Motor Sport Council in 1998. In 2000 he became a member of the Sport Commission at the Ministry of Sport of the Czech Republic. An avid racer and co-driver, Novak has won a number of Czech rallying events.
  • During a motor sport career spanning almost 40 years, Emanuele Pirro has achieved a huge amount of success, most notably in sportscar racing, with five Le Mans wins, victory at the Daytona 24 Hours and two wins at the Sebring 12 Hours. In addition, the Italian driver has won the German and Italian Touring Car championships (the latter twice) and has twice been American Le Mans Series Champion. Pirro, enjoyed a three-season F1 career from 1989 to 1991, firstly with Benetton and then for Scuderia Italia. His debut as an FIA Steward came at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and he has returned regularly since.