The F1 German Grand Prix – Who are the Main Contenders?

July 20, 2018

- Grant Whittington

Following the excitement of Formula 1’s first ever triple-header, this weekend’s German Grand Prix will see two back-to-back races before the drivers’ well-deserved summer break. We can expect some fierce competition, with Sebastian Vettel looking to build on his Silverstone win and Lewis Hamilton hoping to eradicate Vettel’s eight-point championship lead.

Here, we’ll take a look at the races worth watching and ask who the key contenders are.

The Form Guide

Ferrari will undoubtedly enter the weekend on a high following Vettel’s triumph at Silverstone earlier this month. Eleven of the Scuderia Ferrari’s twenty-one wins at the German Grand Prix were at Hockenheim – a circuit record that nobody else can match.

Ferrari achieved their last three one/two finishes here in Germany, the most recent of which was back in 2010 when Fernando Alonso and Filipe Massa topped the podium with Vettel in third.

Mercedes head to their home Grand Prix in disappointing form, with Lewis Hamilton failing to secure a victory in two races since his France win in June. The team recorded their last two wins on this track in 2014 and 2016 and will be hoping for a fourth victory total in Germany.

Hamilton also dominated the race with an impressive win back in 2016, achieving victory at this track three times throughout his career and assuredly hoping to equal Michael Schumacher’s four-win record.

Red Bull will also fancy their chances here despite never winning at Hockenheim and only boasting two wins in Germany on the whole since 2007. Still, Daniel Ricciardo has won two Grand Prix’s this season in China and Monaco, while Mark Verstappen was victorious in the Austrian Grand Prix at the start of the month, so let’s not count them out just yet.

The Key Stats

While Vettel’s personal record in Germany might be a cause of concern for Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton has consistently delivered a brilliant performance. He led the race from start to finish back in 2016 and has led more laps here (121) than any other driver to date.

Conversely, Vettel has only ever led three laps on this track during his entire career, despite leading 3,235 across all circuits combined since his debut. This arguably puts him at a disadvantage on his home soil from the perspective of his ongoing dual with Hamilton and the question remains whether the Ferrari team can compensate for this, or not.

The Track and Tyres

Hamilton has a known preference for certain circuits that allow his natural talent to shine through and Hockenheim embodies this perfectly. The new circuit has proven good for racing and has introduced a number of overtaking spots, as well as a third DRS zone. This replicates the combative and wheel-to-wheel racing that Hamilton thrives in and he’ll revel in the hostile atmosphere of Vettel’s home country.

With numerous long straights and a handful of tight and challenging corners, the choice of tyres will be key. Pirelli has nominated the white-marked medium, yellow-marked soft and purple-marked ultra-soft tyre compounds for the race – the precise selection that contributed to a superb race in China. Red Bull’s Ricciardo walked away victorious in Shanghai, so this type of race could undoubtedly level the playing field and allow their team strategy to overcome individual shortcomings.

The Last Word

Admittedly, it’s hard to envisage anyone other than Hamilton or home-favourite Vettel taking first place on the podium this weekend. The real question is whether team strategy and precise tyre selection can overcome individual talent or not, as this will prove crucial in determining who will cross the finish line first.

We predict that Vettel will emerge victorious and extend his championship lead. However, Hamilton’s natural ability and affinity for the Hockenheim circuit could prevail, stunting Vettel’s lead and granting him a much-needed win.

One thing’s for sure: the race will be one of the most keenly-contested this season and whoever wins will carry some coveted momentum into the Hungarian Grand Prix later this month.

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