Hockenheimring: The Ultimate Track Guide

Hockenheimring: The Ultimate Track Guide

The Hockenheimring may be a shadow of its former self since its radical transformation in 2002, but Formula One still loves bringing the sport to the German fans every other year.


FIRST F1 RACE 1970
TRACK LENGTH 2.842 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS 67
NUMBER OF TURNS 16
MOST POLES Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost (3)
MOST WINS Michael Schumacher (4)

TRACK MAP


A SHORT HISTORY OF THE HOCKENHEIMRING

The Hockenheimring was the brainchild of Ernst Christ, who received support from Hockenheim’s mayor Phillip Klein when he suggested that a race track should be built in the town in 1930. After the plans were approved by the council on Christmas Day in 1931, construction of the circuit began in 1932 and it opened just two months later to hold its first motorcycle event. The original track was triangular in shape, and was twelve kilometres long. It was amended in 1938 when it was shortened to almost half of its original length, and changed from a triangular shape to an oval shape. The infamous Ostkurve corner was also added. The track surface was badly damaged by tanks over the years of the Second World War, but racing returned to the circuit in 1947; albeit at only a national level for many years.

Germany’s history with Grand Prix racing harks back to the 1920s, with the AVUS track hosting the German Grand Prix in 1926. The race was marred by an accident in which three people were killed when one of the cars hit a marshal’s hut. No further Grands Prix were held at that track until 1959. Instead, the race moved to the Nurburgring – also known as The Green Hell due to its long and unforgiving nature. The Nordschleife track, which was over seventeen miles long and featured 174 bends, was deemed too dangerous by Formula One’s standards in the 1970s and the German Grand Prix moved to Hockenheim.

The Hockenheimring first hosted the German Grand Prix in 1970 and it attracted 100,000 spectators. The event was set up with short notice, as the drivers had agreed to boycott a potential race at the Nurburgring due to its safety standards. The Hockeheim track had recently been altered after a motorway was planned to be built right through the circuit in the 1966. This led to the organisers receiving compensation money to alter the track, adding the ‘Motodrom’ stadium section. Two chicanes had been added in 1970 to slow the drivers down on the straights following the death of Jim Clark in a Formula Two event in 1968.

However, with safety requirements at the Nurburgring being carried out, F1 moved back to that track for 1971, and remained there until 1976. Following Niki Lauda’s near-fatal crash on the Nordschleife track though, the sport never visited the full version of that circuit again. For 1977, the Grand Prix circus was back at Hockenheim and this track remained the home of the German Grand Prix through to 2008 – except for 1985 when it was run at a renovated Nurburgring circuit. The Nurburgring itself hosted the European Grand Prix on a regular basis up until 2007.

Another chicane was added to the layout following the death of Patrick Depailler in a crash during testing in 1980. Rain and spray was an issue here, with the cars reaching 200mph maximum speeds on the straights which were surrounded by trees. This limited visibility as there was nowhere for the spray to go. Didier Pironi suffered a career-ending accident here in 1982, in part due to that exact issue. The track has always evolved when an incident has occurred. Further changes were made to the Ostkurve in 1992 following a crash for Érik Comas there in 1991.

The track was radically shortened by Herman Tilke’s design company in 2002 following pressure from F1 officials for the track to meet modern day F1 standards. The shortened track was not particularly well favoured when compared to the old layout, but it was more compact, increased spectator capacity and, most importantly, was safer. While the stadium section was largely unchanged, gone were the long straights and the infamous Ostkurve.
In 2008, Hockenheim and the Nurburgring were scheduled to begin alternating hosting the German Grand Prix on a yearly basis. This carried on until 2014, when the Nurburgring organisers hit financial trouble. The German Grand Prix is now held every other year solely at the Hockenheim track, though the Nurburgring does have hopes of fulfilling its contract in the future. The Hockenheimring’s contract to host the German Grand Prix ends in 2018. The future of the event is uncertain.


🇩🇪 DID YOU KNOW?

Aside from being a race track, Hockenheim also occasionally hosts music events. The Sonisphere Festival was held here in 2009 and other acts to have performed here include The Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams and Michael Jackson, who brought his mammoth Bad World Tour here in 1988.


FAST FACTS

  • The drivers are on the throttle for 60% of the lap, with a top speed of around 217mph just before Turn 6.
  • Nico Rosberg and the Schumacher brothers are the only German drivers to have won at Hockenheim.
  • The fastest turn on this track is Turn 7, which is taken at 180mph.
  • The track is located in the Rhine Valley and as such is very flat. The highest part of the track sits 152.5m above sea level while the lowest part is 148.2m above sea level.
  • The drivers make 49 gear changes per lap here – that’s 3,283 in total over the Grand Prix.
  • The 2000 event was interrupted by an intruder on the track – a disgruntled former Mercedes employee. The event, and the timing of the Safety Car, handed Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello the first win of his F1 career.
  • There have been just 3 safety car periods since the track was re-profiled in 2002.
  • The second chicane was re-named in Ayrton Senna’s honour following his death in 1994.
  • When the track was redesigned in 2002, the old forest part of the circuit was torn up and had trees planted on the land, ensuring F1, or any other category of racing, would never race on the iconic and historic sections of track again. The move was met with much controversy.
  • With the circuit being a long way from the nearest city, most of the fans who attend the race use the camp sites around the track. It’s always a party atmosphere.

🇩🇪 WHY WE LOVE THE HOCKENHEIMRING

Germany has produced some of F1’s highest achievers – from Michael Schumacher to Mercdes Benz. Though the Hockenheim track is nearly unrecognisable from its earliest form, it’s great that the passionate German fans still come out in force for Formula One’s biennial visit.


POLESITTERS AT THE HOCKENHEIMRING

Poles Driver
3 Ayrton Senna
3 Nigel Mansell
3 Alain Prost
2 Damon Hill
2 Gerhard Berger
2 Mika Häkkinen
2 Juan Pablo Montoya
2 Michael Schumacher
2 Kimi Raikkonen
2 Nico Rosberg
2 Sebastian Vettel
1 Jacky Ickx
1 Jody Scheckter
1 Mario Andretti
1 Jean-Pierre Jabouille
1 Alan Jones
1 Didier Pironi
1 Patrick Tambay
1 Keke Rosberg
1 David Coulthard
1 Lewis Hamilton
1 Fernando Alonso

GRAND PRIX WINNERS AT THE HOCKENHEIMRING

Year Winner Team
1970 Jochen Rindt Lotus-Ford
1977 Niki Lauda Ferrari
1978 Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford
1979 Alan Jones Williams-Ford
1980 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Ford
1981 Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford
1982 Patrick Tambay Ferrari
1983 René Arnoux Ferrari
1984 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
1986 Nelson Piquet Williams-Honda
1987 Nelson Piquet Williams-Honda
1988 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
1989 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
1990 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
1991 Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault
1992 Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault
1993 Alain Prost Williams-Renault
1994 Gerhard Berger Ferrari
1995 Michael Schumacher Benetton-Renault
1996 Damon Hill Williams-Renault
1997 Gerhard Berger Benetton-Renault
1998 Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes
1999 Eddie Irvine Ferrari
2000 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari
2001 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW
2002 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2003 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW
2004 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2005 Fernando Alonso Renault
2006 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2008 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2010 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2012 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2014 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2016 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2018 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes