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Mat Coch writes:
Hockenheim is an evocative place. For decades cars blasted out in to the forest, flanked by trees along a slim ribbon of tarmac, the driver's foot planted as firmly as the surrounding shrubbery.
All that is gone now, the tarmac removed and saplings planted in its place. Instead, at the point where drivers would tighten their belts and their knuckles would go white, they turn right along a long gentle curve which dissects the old circuit in two.
The forest section has been consigned to the history books, just like front-engined racing cars. Yet still, somehow, the history hangs in the air like a blanket, smothering it with a charm the likes of Abu Dhabi and Singapore simply cannot match. The grandstands which engulf the final sector of the lap have stood the testament of time, their peeling paint and faded seats having borne witness to the likes of Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna.
Although emasculated in recent years Hockenheim remains fundamentally the same. It is one of the centres of world motor sport, and while it will perhaps always be the Nurburgring's poorer cousin it does not detract from the history and atmosphere of the venue.
Hockenheim is an amphitheatre of motor sport, an example of the sport's progress as it developed from amateur and gentleman racers in to the multi-billion dollar monster it is today.
For those reasons, after two days travel and more than a little jet lag, my hair stood on end when I drove in. Hockenheim is no ordinary circuit; it has history, presence and a soul. It is like no other circuit in the world, and I've been to a few.
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