Formula 1 is set for a record-breaking weekend when the Nuerburgring hosts the first Eifel Grand Prix on Sunday and one of them at least will not have Lewis Hamilton’s name on it.
While the six times world champion has a second go at matching Michael Schumacher’s 91 career wins at the German’s home circuit, Kimi Raikkonen will line up for his 323rd grand prix start after equalling Brazilian Rubens Barrichello’s record in Russia two weeks ago.
The Finnish ‘Iceman’, who made his Formula One debut with Sauber in 2001 and is now 40 and the oldest man in the race, is unlikely to give much more than a shoulder shrug at the achievement.
“Record or not, I am approaching this weekend as any other because once you´re in the car, it´s pretty much the same,” said the Alfa Romeo driver, 2007 world champion with Ferrari.
“I´ve raced here quite a few times, I think I should have won a couple of races but we´ve been a bit unlucky at times, but this is how racing goes.”
All eyes will also be on Alfa Romeo on Friday when Mick Schumacher, 21-year-old son of seven times world champion Michael and leader of the Formula Two feeder series, makes his practice debut.
The session has an added poignancy, Mick lapping at the German circuit closest to his father’s boyhood home in Kerpen and one where Michael — who suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in 2013 — won five times.
Britain’s Callum Ilott, another promising Ferrari junior vying with Schumacher for the F2 title, will also be taking part in practice with the Haas team.
Hamilton won at the Nuerburgring with McLaren in 2011 — the 16th of his 90 victories to date — and the race, brought back to fill gaps in a COVID-19 ravaged calendar, is a home one for his Mercedes team.
Even if the 91st win proves elusive, the Briton can be expected to stretch his records for successive points finishes (43) and podiums (159) and maybe also poles (96).
The Nuerburgring has not hosted a Formula One race since 2013, when Sebastian Vettel won on his way to a fourth championship with Red Bull, and this will be the latest ever at the circuit.
That means cold, and potentially rainy, conditions to add some uncertainty.
Hamilton has always gone well in the wet, however, and Mercedes have been on another level to the rest this season with eight wins from 10 races and every pole.
The Briton also took the last F1 pole to date at the Nuerburgring.
Mercedes had a shocker on home ground last year at Hockenheim, however, with Hamilton ending up ninth and team mate Valtteri Bottas spinning out.
The Briton has a 44 point advantage over Bottas after 10 races and will be fancied to extend that if he can stay out of trouble with the stewards after being punished in Sochi for his practice starts.
Reuters Facts & Stats for Sunday’s Eifel Formula One Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring in Germany, the 11th race of the 2020 season:
- Lap distance: 5.148km. Total distance: 308.617km (60 laps)
- The last F1 race at the Nuerburgring was in 2013.
- Race lap record: Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari one minute 29.468 seconds. (2004)
- Start time: 1210GMT (1410 local)
- Formula 1 has raced at the circuit, in Germany’s Eifel region, twice before in October (in 1984 and 1995) and conditions are likely to be cold and wet.
- The last time F1 raced at the Nuerburgring, there were four German drivers on the grid. This time there is only one — Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
- Michael Schumacher won five times at the circuit and his son Mick makes his F1 weekend debut this weekend, taking part in first Friday practice with Alfa Romeo.
- Lewis Hamilton won there in 2011, Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
- Six times world champion Hamilton has 90 victories from 260 starts and can equal Michael Schumacher’s record 91 on Sunday. Vettel is the next closest on 53.
- Hamilton has won six of 10 races so far in 2020 and Mercedes eight of them. Team mate Valtteri Bottas has won two, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly one each.
- Ferrari have won 238 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 110 and Red Bull 63. Former champions McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.
- Hamilton has a record 96 career poles.
- Mercedes have started every race on pole this season.
- Hamilton has a record 159 career podiums.
- Hamilton has a record 43 points finishes in a row, which is also the record for successive classified finishes.
- The Briton, who races with the number 44, leads Bottas by 44 points. The Finn is 33 ahead of third-placed Verstappen (number 33). Bottas’s racing number is 77, the gap between Hamilton and Verstappen.
- All of the 10 teams except Williams have scored points this season.
- Kimi Raikkonen is set for a record 323rd F1 start, one more than Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.