Until 1966 Hockenheim was a very fast 4.78-mile circuit in the rough shape of a kidney bean. It had opened in 1939, 15 miles from Heidleberg, and was used for German national car and motorcycle racing. In 1965/6 it was uprated to a design by John Hugenholz because one end was needed when an autobahn was built. The resulting 4.206-mile circuit remained blindingly quick for most of its length, with a slow section in the 'stadium' (ie grandstand) area.
Hockenheim achieved notoriety in 1968 when, at one of the first major races held at the circuit, Jim Clark was killed in a Formula Two race. While the exact cause of Clark's accident has never been established with 100% certainty, it is almost certain that he crashed as a result of tyre failure. His death was caused, however, by the fact that his car was not restrained from hitting a tree.
While the Nurburgring was being made safe, Hockenheim staged the 1970 German GP with a layout made slower by the construction of three chicanes. It was not a popular choice of venue but, following Lauda's accident at the Nurburgring in 1976, Hockenheim became the home of the German GP apart from 1985 when the new 'Nurburgring' had the race.
The Hockenheim circuit was radically updated – read, made TV friendly - ahead of the 2002 German GP, and in the opinion of many the legendary track has lost all its character.
The super-fast runs out into the country, and back again, have been lost. Although they looked impressive on TV, the thick forests meant that it was not feasible to build grandstands. Therefore, the track was effectively cut in half and a new section added, linking the (now) heavily shortened straights.
It goes without saying that Hermann Tilke was responsible for the 'new' Hockenheimring, just as it goes without saying that the new layout is not popular. That said, it looks OK on TV and the race promoters have been able to add more grandstands, which means more money.
The true, modern, face of F1.
Since 2007, organisers elected to alternate the German round of the world championship between the Nurburgring (organised by ADAC in odd-numbered years) and Hockenheim (organised by AvD in even-numbered years). Due to a disagreement over naming rights, 2008 saw the first German Grand Prix to take place since 2006; 2007’s Nurburgring race was called the European Grand Prix.
Ongoing deficits on the Grands Prix, amounting to up to 5.3 million euros per race that had to be covered by the local communities, made it likely the contract between the Hockenheimring and Formula One Management would not be extended after the Grand Prix of 2010. However, in October 2009 the contract for the circuit to hold the German GP was extended to 2018, with Formula One Administration agreeing to cover any losses the event incurred.
Consequently, the alternating pattern continued, with Hockenheim hosting the race in even years, and the Nurburgring hosting the race in odd years.
However, the agreement was put in doubt once again in 2015 when the official calendar for the 2015 Formula One season did not specify the host circuit for Germany.
According to the alternating agreement, it should have been held at the Nurburgring. However, under new ownership - Bernie Ecclestone having failed in his bid to buy the track - the Nurburgring was unable to host the event. Due to the lack of notice, and with an eye on the poor attendance in 2014, Hockenheim was unable to assist, consequently, Germany was missing from the world championship for the first time since 1960.
Hockenheim hosted the 2016 event also before it dropped off the calendar again 2017. Having hosted the race once more in 2018, a new deal saw the race retained for 2019, the first time since 2005/2006 that the event has been held at the same track for two consecutive years.
Fast Facts - Provided by the FIA
2018 will be the 63rd edition of the Formula One World Championship German Grand Prix. The race was not on the calendar in 1950, 1955, 1960, 2007, 2015 or last year. This is the 36th German GP to take place at the Hockenheimring.
In addition to the Hockenheimring, the German Grand Prix has been held at two other venues. The Nurburgring has hosted the race 26 times (from 1951-'54 1956-'58, 1961-'69, 1971-'76, 1985 and most recently in 2009, 2011 and 2013). The four-corner, 8.3km AVUS circuit in Berlin hosted a single race, in 1959.
Despite recent biennial appearances, Hockenheim remains the seventh mostvisited venue in F1 history. Only Monza (67), Monaco (65), Silverstone (52), Spa Francorchamps (50), the Nurburgring (40) and Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villenueve (39) have hosted more races.
Ferrari are by far the most successful constructors at the German Grand Prix, with a massive 21 wins. Eleven of the Scuderia's win have come at Hockenheim, including it's most recent German Grand Prix win, courtesy of Fernando Alonso in 2012.
Williams are next on the list of most successful constructors, with nine German Grand Prix wins. All were scored at Hockenheim, with the first being delivered by Alan Jones in 1979 and the most recent being scored by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2003.
Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the German Grand Prix, winning in 1995, 2002, 2004 and 2006. All his victories came at the Hockenheimring.
Two current drivers have the opportunity to this weekend match Schumacher's benchmark. Lewis Hamilton and Alonso have three German Grand Prix wins apiece. All of Alonso's wins (2005, 2010 and 2012) were scored in Hockenheim, while Hamilton has two wins at the Baden-Wurttemberg circuit (2008 and 2016) and one at the Nurburgring, in 2011.
The only other driver on the current grid with a German Grand Prix win to his name is Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari driver's home win came at the Nurburgring in 2013 when he was driving for Red Bull Racing.
Only four German drivers have won their home Grand Prix. Apart from Michael Schumacher and Vettel, Nico Rosberg won in Hockenheim in 2014, while in 2001 Ralf Schumacher took the final win on the old 6.8km Hockenheimring before the circuit was reconfigured to it current 4.574km layout.
Six drivers are set to make their first German Grand Prix starts this weekend - Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly, Stoffel Vandoorne, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin. Ocon took part in the 2016 grand prix weekend here, driving in first practice for Renault, He also raced at Hockenheim in DTM and was a race winner here in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Leclerc drove in FP1 in 2016 for Haas, won here in European F2 in 2015 and was on the podium at this track in GP3 in 2016. Gasly raced here most recently in GP2 in 2016, finishing sixth in the sprint race, while Vandoorne finished on the podium in both GP2 races here in 2014. Stroll raced here most recently in European F3 in 2016, winning all three final weekend races. Finally, Sirotkin won the GP2 feature race here in 2016 and was second in the sprint race.