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Hockenheim - Blast From the Past

One the classic tracks -in spite of having a redesign in 2002- still evoques the memories of the times where the thrill of driving a F1 car at full throttle for a long straight was the ultimate gift.
Sunday, July 22, 2012

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1979 German GP start at Hockenheim.

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July 21th, 2012 (F1plus - Chitra Subramanyam).-Finally, it’s F1 time. Excitement galore! I know, I know, we are all excited. Everyone does tend to get a tad grumpy when there’s too much of a break between races. Lord only knows how I will survive the one-month long annual F1 summer holiday. It’s coming up soon and I am going to be decidedly grumpy.

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But, the excitement is not just because it’s race weekend. Uh-huh. We are now heading to one of my favourite circuits: Hockenheim. That name itself, gives me the goose bumps. F1 was last here in 2010. Before I dive into and wax eloquent on Hockenheim (yes, I am saying it so many times, because I love the way it rolls off my tongue: Hock-en-heim), I must briefly tell you about ‘favourite circuits’. No, I insist.

My list isn’t that long, but you will notice that they are all classic circuits. (You see where I am going with this one, aren’t you?). So there’s Monaco, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Spa, Monza and Suzuka. No, you can’t ask me to rate them. That’s like asking children who they love more: mom or dad. Anyway, I love these circuits for many, many reasons, but truth be told, they appeal to the romantic in me. They call out to that part of me that thrives on history.

I think of the greats that raced these circuits, the legends that were born here and wish the tarmac could talk. The stories it would tell us. These circuits open the doors to my imagination, set it free, and allow it walk down so many different times. I told you I was a romantic. It’s perhaps one reason why I start literally frothing when I hear things like: Spa’s going off the calendar (It isn’t any more. I did sign the petition to save it, and heaved a huge sigh of relief when I heard that it’s going to be around). Hermann Tilke too sets me off on a rant (the less I say about that, the better). Here’s an interesting take on Tilke. Do read the comments as well.

But then, think Hockenheim and somehow I do think Tilke (I promise not to rant). The new design completely ruined (yes, that’s the politest I can get) the circuit. But, that’s one circuit where history still speaks loudly through those uprooted trees. What I would give to listen to the cars screaming down those long, forest straights. Sadly too, this is where the great, great Jim Clark fatally crashed into the trees during a Formula Two race.

Yes, this track could tell us stories.

So, the Ice Man still holds the lap record of 1:13.780 at the 4.574km-long circuit. It will be good to see Kimi Raikkonen back on the circuit pushing for a podium finish. He has been in good form since his return from retirement. But the chances of a home victory are high.

This time, Michael Schumacher isn’t the only German vying for a podium. Giving him company will be Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg, and Timo Glock. And considering this season has been nothing short of unpredictable, chances are we will be pleasantly surprised at the end of the race. While Vettel and Rosberg will certainly fight for a second victory, Schumacher will be determined to break his run of bad luck.

The Mercedes has shown immense potential, it remains to be seen how far the former world champion can actually push for a win. The pressure will certainly be on as this will be the team’s second home race, and as the team will be celebrating 111 years of Mercedes Motorsport. Force India and Hulkenberg are also trying hard to better their standings. They are currently on the 8th spot with 44 points. But then, this is the crazy 2012 season and Alonso, Hamilton, Button, and Webber will also be a part of what promises to be an interesting battle.

This year, the growl of F1 cars will ring through Hockenheim once again. I bet the circuit has craved to hear those engines work their magic, to listen to cheering fans, and to see a winner open a bottle of champagne at its podium. Here’s to Hockenheimring, a circuit you can never forget.

The "stadium" area as it is today at Hockenheim.

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