Much of the 2019 Formula 1 season has been incredibly positive for both avid fans of the sport and the neutral, yet there have been moments where the excitement of racing simply hasn’t been present. At Silverstone, we saw some quite astonishing racing, be that the battle at the front of the grid between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, or the high-speed collision between Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel that ultimately damaged both driver’s chances of a podium finish.
If Britain played host to one of the more memorable races of the season, then those in charge at the Hockenheimring will be hoping that this weekend the high intensity of race action continues
The relaying of the circuit in Britain shortly before the race played into the hands of the racing purists, it made for quick, exciting racing no matter which position of the grid you were focused on, and whilst the Hockenheimring hasn’t had the same luxury, you can still expect a classic event on Sunday.
Don’t rule out ROKiT Williams Racing taking their first points of the season: Expectations were low for the ROKiT Williams Racing team this season. They were halfway through a two-year process where it was expected that their car would be way below the standard set by other teams around them on the grid. This was partly due to an exchange of personnel within the team, as well as a fundamental change of direction which is hoped will kickstart the team’s revival in Formula 1.
Thus far we have seen the team struggle tremendously in 2018 and fail to secure a point in 2019, as yet. However, we’re seeing signs of progress with each race and the vibes coming out of the team’s garage are very positive indeed, in contrast to where they were at pre-season testing in Barcelona.
Strides still need to be made if the British team are to improve and become regular challengers, but with an agreement with Mercedes on the horizon, as well minor upgrades which continue to be made behind the scenes between races, there is every sense the team are moving forward.
George Russell and Robert Kubica may not be long-term solutions, especially the latter, but they both have the talent in them to secure a points finish before the end of the season. Will Sunday’s trip to the Hockenheimring be too soon for that? Perhaps, but don’t rule it out completely.
A Vettel home victory to raise his spirits?
Sebastian Vettel has often cut a forlorn figure around the 2019 Formula 1 season, be that because of the emergence of his teammate, Charles Leclerc, the bad luck he is having in races, or the inability for the Ferrari car to regular contend with the might of Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport. Yet nothing would return the smile to the former World Champion’s face quite like a victory in his home grand prix.
The truth is, Vettel should have won in Canada but only a decision by the sport’s governing body prevented him from claiming the top spot on the podium. At Silverstone, his exuberance got the better of him as he careered into the back of Verstappen’s Aston Martin Red Bull Racing car and he’ll be hoping to put on a better show in front of his own fans.
You’d be hard-pressed to find the last time an F1 season entered July with Vettel having yet to record a victory, and surely it will come sooner rather than later. There have been glimpses of the old brilliance which carried Vettel to successive championships during his time with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, but unfortunately, they have been just that.
With the exception of Canada, we’ve yet to see the German at full flow, although there won’t be a better scenario for him to turn on the old charm that on Sunday at the Hockenheimring, especially with his last home victory coming in 2013 at the Nürburgring.
Beware of the weather:
Rain is expected at the Hockenheimring on Sunday, and this could have a huge influence on the race, more-so than at other circuits. We’ve seen how Turn 11 at the Hockenheimring can be devastating to a driver’s chances of success, with Vettel himself even falling victim to it in 2018, and drivers will have to be wary of the forecast in order to avoid a repeat for themselves this weekend.
Wet weather not only damages visibility, but also tyre grip, and whilst there isn’t a suggestion of a biblical downpour on Sunday, the tyre choices will be of vital importance to avoid going off track at Turn 11.
You’re going to hear the term ‘Ground Effect’ an awful lot more than usual:
As is the norm whenever we reach July and August in a Formula 1 season, attention somewhat turns to the future. What car development will look like for the next campaign and beyond, and what rules the powers that be at the FIA are looking to change to improve competition for the future.
Sunday’s trip to southwest Germany will be no different, especially with reports coming out that Formula 1 could well be set for a throwback rule change which will reintroduce ‘Ground Effect’ to cars. Now for younger viewers and the less mechanically aware of F1 fans will probably not be familiar with the concept that has been outlawed due to the perceived level of risk which comes along with it.
Essentially, ‘Ground Effect’ is the ability to influence a car’s speed through a specific aerodynamic skirt design. The first of its kind in Formula was the majestic Lotus 79 car and it was hoped the increased level of downforce would in turn increase the speed. It was a lightbulb moment for F1 as the Lotus 79 dominated the field, however tragedy would follow with the death of Ronnie Peterson later that season.
Eventually ‘Ground Effect’ aerodynamics were deemed too dangerous with the speed they allowed cars to reach in corners bordering on the ridiculous, yet ahead of the 2021 rule changes, early designs of the car specifications have leaked and ‘Ground Effect’ could be set to be reintroduced. There is a lot of time still to go before a final decision is made but expect to hear it debated at length on Sunday.