The excitement is building at the BMW Sauber F1 Team ahead of its home GP at Hockenheim on 20th July. The team has conducted three days of testing at the circuit in the state of Baden-Württemberg in preparation for the race.
Formula One welcomes back the German Grand Prix following an absence of two years. 2008 also sees the return of Hockenheim to the calendar, after the Nürburgring hosted a round of the 2007 World Championship under the banner of the European Grand Prix. Five of the 20 drivers on the F1 grid hold a German passport, with Nick Heidfeld by far the most successful of the group.
Currently lying fifth in the Drivers' Championship on 36 points, Heidfeld recorded his third second-place finish of the season at Silverstone last time out. The German is 10 points behind his team-mate Robert Kubica in the standings, the Pole – on 46 points – trailing the leaders by just two points. Going into round 10 of the 18-race season, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) and the Ferrari pair of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are level at the top on 48 points. In the constructors' standings, the BMW Sauber F1 Team remains in second place at the half-way point of the season.
The German Grand Prix programme will see the revival of the most spectacular single-make competition in motor racing history. The BMW M1 Procar series will be back at Hockenheim on Saturday and Sunday as a field of ten cars.
Nick Heidfeld: "I'm really looking forward to my home grand prix. Hockenheim is a very special race for the whole team, while a lot of Swiss fans have traditionally made the trip across the border to give their support. I personally have a lot of good memories of the Hockenheimring, especially the old circuit with its long straights through the forest. Those sections were really unmistakeable, but the new track is, of course, significantly safer and better for the spectators – and I appreciate it for those reasons. Plus, a good overtaking opportunity has been created in the Parabolika. I've driven at Hockenheim in Formula Ford, Formula 3, Formula 3000 and Formula One, and can't wait for this grand prix."
Robert Kubica: "In 2006 I had the opportunity to drive at Hockenheim in free practice on Friday, but this will be my first Formula One grand prix there – although I did race at the circuit in F3. We weren't there last year so I think it will be a very special weekend for our team and especially for BMW and all the BMW fans. We always try our best. It is the kind of track with different kinds of corners, although not really high-speed corners. The only one that is quite quick is when you enter the stadium, where there is always a special atmosphere. I know corner one is pretty quick but not really a long corner. There are some quite short corners with only one line you can take through them."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "This is the only F1 race being held in our home country in 2008 and naturally we're very much looking forward to it. However, you can't afford to let that disturb your concentration – after all, we don't get any more points here just because its our home GP. The circuit has lost some of its allure since they cut out the straights through the forest, but the atmosphere should be fantastic after a year without Formula One. It is sure to be an extremely exciting race. Three drivers are tied at the top of the drivers' standings, while Robert is only two points behind them. Nick is not far away either, and his strong performance at Silverstone has given him an extra boost. You could not have written a better script for our home GP.
"Hockenheim takes us into the second half of the season. The nine races so far have brought us 82 points and seven podiums, and we have scored points on every occasion. All of which means we are in second place in the Constructors' Championship, 14 points behind Ferrari but 10 ahead of McLaren Mercedes. The highlight of our season so far has, of course, been the one-two in Montreal. Fastest race lap, pole position, race victory – in all the categories where there was a zero next to our team in the statistics not so long ago, there is now a 1. And that has, of course, given the team members in Munich and Hinwil even more confidence. Everybody in the team can see that we are on the right path.
"We set out to turn the two-horse race at the top of the standings into a three-way battle and to win our first race, and we have achieved this goal. Two teams are still a touch faster than us when you look at the lap times. However, as far as the reliability of our cars and the work of the pit crew and race strategists are concerned, we are already a top team. We will now make every effort to keep our chances alive this season, while not neglecting the development of the F1.09. That is a big challenge, especially given the radical rule changes due to come into force next year."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Needless to say, Hockenheim is a very special race for us, and there is an extra buzz of anticipation within the team. The circuit is characterised by slow and medium-speed corners, where you need a lot of downforce. More than any other part of the track, the Motodrom is a key section when it comes to the lap time. However, you can't afford to ignore top speed altogether, as the best overtaking spot is going into the hairpin after the long Parabolika, which is taken flat-out. Here, as well as a good top speed, the most important thing for the drivers is high braking stability and optimum traction on the exit from the corner."