Can it be that we're only approaching the halfway point of the Formula One season? Approaching the tenth race of the season, we've witnessed so much already, including more winning drivers (seven) than in the last two years combined (five) -- one of them being Pastor Maldonado, who has not finished higher than eighth in his other 27 grands prix.
Yes, it's been a bizarre, action-packed season. And yet we still have 11 races remaining, counting the Grand Prix of Germany this weekend. It is being held at Hockenheim circuit this year (the grand prix races at the Nurburgring every other year). The last time Formula One raced at Hockenheim, Sebastian Vettel landed pole position for Red Bull Racing but finished third in the race behind Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa (back when Massa still had a pulse). No matter, Vettel would go on to win his first world championship.
This year, Vettel comes into Hockenheim third in the championship, 16 points behind his teammate Mark Webber, who is 13 points adrift from Alonso at the top.
Hockenheim used to be a high-speed circuit that somewhat resembled a flat oblong oval through dense woods, but it was recently re-formed (by polarizing circuit-architect Herman Tilke) for more grandstand-friendly viewing.
While not as daring as it once was, Hockenheim is nevertheless a circuit requiring a balance between speed and downforce (as with many Tilke-designed tracks). Drivers can expect to change gears 64 times a lap.
"There’s a long, long straight around the back into the hairpin, so we have a high top speed there and it’s always important to get the last sector together due to the combination of corners in quick succession," said Webber.
Pole position is vital. Of the seven races at Hockenheim since 2002, four were won by the man on pole, while two were won from P2. Of course, there are other variables, suggests Webber.
"The temperatures will be interesting as it can sometimes be a hot race," he said, "so I’m looking forward to it.”
Start time: Sunday, 8:00 a.m. EST
Lap length: 4.6 km
Race distance: 308.883 km
2010 Pole position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
2010 Winner: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen, 1:13.780s in 2004
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