The tenth round of this year's world championship takes place on Sunday at the Hockenheimring, with Formula 1 visiting the famous track for the first time since 2006. Technically, it is also the first German Grand Prix for two years, as last year's only German race at the Nurburgring was known as the "European Grand Prix" for contractual reasons. Last week saw another unusual statistic, as it was the first time an official F1 test session had taken place at Hockenheim since the Nineties and only one member of the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro test team had been present back then! Technically, the three day test went reasonably well, with the squad completing its entire planned programme: this included testing some minor aero updates as well as new mechanical components. Bad weather followed the teams from the British Grand Prix the previous weekend, but only really affected the first day. After poor weather over three days of Silverstone testing and then the British event, summer finally made an appearance on the F1 European calendar, with temperatures eventually reaching their usual levels for the last day in Germany. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were happy with the balance of the F2008, feeling they had established a good basis from which to start work this coming Friday morning.
"Now we embark on the second half of the season, after a positive first half, given that our two drivers, along with one another, are jointly leading the Drivers' classification, while the Scuderia heads the Constructors' Championship," said Team Principal of the Gestione Sportiva, Stefano Domenicali. "However, while we can only be happy with this situation, we know we missed several opportunities to score more points. In pure performance terms, the team, the drivers and the car have proven to be competitive at all circuits and in every track condition, but for a variety of unusual reasons, we have not always found ourselves in a position to capitalise on this. With this in mind, we have analysed all those reasons and reached the conclusion that we have to pay even closer attention to ever single detail. Methods for doing this have occupied our time in Maranello since the last race."
Up until 2001, Hockenheim along with Monza was the highest speed track on the calendar, but since then the new layout presents different parameters, even if it still has a very long quick section from the exit of T1 to the hairpin at Turn 6. And of course, the famous Motodrom section still conveys the excitement of racing in a stadium where the cars get close to one of the most enthusiastic crowds of the year: even without the presence of Michael Schumacher, Formula 1 is still extremely popular here. In fact, the last time the grand prix was held here was an excellent day for the Scuderia, as it secured a one-two finish with Michael and Felipe Massa (current driver Kimi Raikkonen was third.) It goes without saying that the target for this weekend is to repeat that result.
In terms of engine cycle, after Kimi's unit was changed, using the penalty-free "Joker" as a precautionary measure prior to the British Grand Prix, the two drivers are on different cycles, as Felipe gets a new unit for this race. However, this has no effect on how the team operates.
Germany is the biggest European market for Ferrari and since it first staged a World Championship race in '51, the team has recorded no less than nineteen victories, more than at any other event. Neither of our current drivers has ever won here, although both have recorded one podium finish and Raikkonen has started from pole position on two occasions, in '05 and '06.