Formula One moves to Germany this weekend for the fifth round of the Championship, the European Grand Prix. Sunday’s race marks the 36th occasion that the Nürburgring has hosted a Formula One event since the legendary Nordschleife was first used as a race and test track in 1927.
Following a major overhaul of safety standards in Formula One, the original circuit has experienced several facelifts over the years, the last of which was completed in 1984. Today’s configuration is considerably shorter than its 22kms predecessor, stretching through just five kilometres of the picturesque Eifel region. Located 80kms south-west of Cologne, the Nürburgring will provide the stage for Nico Rosberg’s first home Grand Prix and, together with his team mate, Mark Webber, both drivers are looking forward to racing at one of the more traditional venues on the calendar.
A change in date for this year’s British Grand Prix forced the teams into an early test session at the Northamptonshire circuit after the Grand Prix at Imola. Both the team’s race drivers, together with Alex Wurz, were on hand over the three days during which a series of tyre compounds and casings were evaluated in preparation for the June race, while a number of revised mechanical and aero components, including a new rear wing geometry and brake materials, were track tested. Just over 2,800 kilometres of data was recorded over the three day period. Rosberg and Wurz returned to Silverstone on Friday for a filming day for Allianz’s “Inside Grand Prix” series.
As part of the team’s on-going development programme, both race FW28s will be rolled out with various aerodynamic upgrades in Germany in a determined effort to further improve overall competitiveness.
As a rhythmic, undulating track, each 5.148 kilometre lap of the 60 lap European Grand Prix will see the drivers negotiate eight left and eight right hand corners, a complete mix of slow, medium and high speed turns, joined by several straights. Following the extensive re-modeling, the Nürburgring invariably promotes some great overtaking, particularly in the stadium section and at the exit of the final chicane upon entering the first corner. Unpredictable weather conditions common to the mountainous Eifel region can also impact the outcome of the European Grand Prix.
“Although our qualifying and race pace at Imola was not particularly strong, the most positive outcome from the weekend was that we managed to get some reliability back into the car. Bridgestone has made good progress since the winter, but one of the biggest challenges we still face is getting the tyre selection correct for every event. We will have to wait and see how we fare against our main opposition at the Nürburgring, but we will, of course, look to optimise our strategy and tyre usage over the course of the weekend to get the best possible result. The weather at the Nürburgring can be very unpredictable at this time of the year, so the race can sometimes be very mixed.”
“It’s going to be great driving at one of my “home races.” I’ve enjoyed some success at the Nürburgring in the past so I’ll be drawing on that in my first Formula One outing. The circuit is good fun; it’s nicely flowing and has various types of corners. As a team, we’ll be looking to improve upon the recent progress that we’ve made, particularly at the Silverstone test this week.”
Sam Michael, Technical Director
“The Nürburgring is a high downforce circuit with a couple of good overtaking opportunities over the lap, particularly at the chicane before the pit entry. With a lot of continuous lateral loading on the car, the toughness of the tyres is important. The Nürburgring is a track at which Williams has traditionally performed well at and we are looking forward to a competitive weekend.
“Following our continual development programme, we will have some aerodynamic upgrades on the FW28 at this race to improve the cars’ competitiveness again. Strategy will involve either a one or two stop race due to the current qualifying format, which means another reason to look after the tyres during the race. Bridgestone have bought two known casings and compounds here and they should work well regardless of the weather. We will be increasing our Friday afternoon programme with both the race drivers to give them more track running and set-up time at this GP.”
Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth
“Mark and Nico’s Cosworth CA2006 engines will be on their second race events at the Nürburgring. This race is typically unpredictable due to the nature of the track, and the notoriously changeable weather conditions, it will therefore be an advantage for both drivers, Nico in particular, to be able to run more laps on the Friday and we’ll be working with Williams to support this.”
Wiliams F1 Team