Whether it’s held at the Nurburgring, or here in Hockenheim, the German Grand Prix is always a special and significant event, particularly for Mercedes. The motor manufacturer built the circuit as a test track in 1929, but the German GP didn’t come to this part of the Rhine basin until 1970.
The old layout was a fabulous, flat-out blast through the forest, but the track was remodelled in 2002 and the only noise coming from the woods these days is from the fans who camp out under the trees, listening to loud music, drinking beer and eating barbecued food.
But it’s not just the fans that get to enjoy a traditional sausage and stein of beer at this race. With Mercedes’ Stuttgart base just down the road, it has become a German GP tradition that, on Thursday night, the Three Pointed Star lays on a celebratory barbecue. Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn and a whole host of other drivers and team principals attend the bash, which is open to everyone in the paddock.
There’s no doubt that MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS would desperately love to win their home race. Michael Schumacher – a victor here on four previous occasions – said today that he buzzes off the energy of the crowd, which here at Hockenheim is usually enormous, particularly in the atmospheric stadium section that ends the lap.
Unfortunately for Michael, the statistics tell us that a Ferrari victory is more likely than a MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS one. Of the 58 editions of the German GP, the Prancing Horse has won 20 races, an all-time F1 record for any constructor at any one event. World championship leader Fernando Alonso is also on a bit of a roll at the moment. Not only is the Spaniard the only man to score points in every race this year, but with 21 consecutive points-scoring finishes he’s also closing in on Schumacher’s record of 24.
Alonso and Schumacher will both be hoping to pick up trophies on Sunday, but one man who has already been awarded a gong is Sky TV cameraman Dave Stanford. At the Spanish GP in May, Stanford selflessly dropped his camera to help Williams mechanic Martin Betts out of the garage following the team’s devastating post-race pitlane fire. To praise him for his efforts, Williams Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan and Sky commentator Martin Brundle presented him with a richly deserved Guild of Cameramen award. It just goes to show that there are heroes throughout the F1 paddock, not just on the racetrack.