The German Grand Prix was a regular feature on the F1 Calendar and produced some memorable races. The track where this race was hosted alternated between the legendary Nurburgring and Hockenheim circuits. Nurburgring couldn't host more events post 2013 ( due to financial woes ) and Hockenheim became the permanent abode for the German Grand Prix ( 2014 onwards ). The country, home to multiple F1 greats, be it drivers or constructors like Mercedes has seen some incredible racing over the years.
The 2019 German GP was voted as the "Race of the Decade" by the fans!
However, citing financial issues, the race was sadly taken off the calendar for 2020. The season hasn't kicked off yet due to the Covid-19 pandemic and after the cancellation of many races from this year's calendar, there is a glimmer of hope that this circuit might make an unlikely return.
I had the honour of attending the 2014 and the 2018 editions. 2014, was my first as a guest of Scuderia Ferrari F1 team while 2018 saw Vettel make an uncharacteristic error and crash out of the lead. Kimi Raikkonen was the saving grace that day after he finished P3 with a very compromised strategy. Who can forget how the heavens opened after the race came to an end!
The circuit is located at a short distance from the town of Hockenheim in the Rhine Valley inthe Baden-Württemberg region. The circuit is well connected by road ( thanks to the high-speed Autobahns of the country which run into the neighbouring countries as well ), rail ( DB Bahn ) and even air! It is also close to bigger towns like Mannheim and Heidelberg and cities like Frankfurt and Stuttgart!
Closest Airports :
The Closest Airport is Mannheim City Airport but it is used majorly for Chartered Travel.
Frankfurt Airport ( FRA ) is the airport of choice for almost all F1 travellers. The busiest airport in Germany caters to a large number of International Carriers bringing in flyers from all habitable continents. It is also the main hub for the National Carrier Lufthansa. Lot of low - cost European carriers offer connections to Frankfurt from major European cities.
Stuttgart Airport ( STR ) is another point of entry, albeit further away and caters to several European and a couple of Asian Carriers.
I chose to fly on Emirates to Frankfurt via Dubai. The 2018 Experience is featured here :
Accommodation options in the town of Hockenheim are limited and tend to get sold out early in the year.
Walldorf is another town which offers a few options and its a 10-minute drive to the circuit. However, most of the hotels are occupied by the teams over the weekend. One can still try and book a room at inflated non-refundable rates and probably meet someone famous from the paddock at one of these properties.
I chose to stay in Frankfurt during the 2014 race weekend; the commute was good on Friday but come Saturday and Sunday, an early departure ( around 7 pm ) was advisable to make it in time for the morning sessions.
In 2018, I considered staying in the town of Heidelberg, a city well frequented by other tourists as well. However the options there were quite expensive; besides the "touristy" element, a lot of F1 Media and Personnel choose to stay there which explains the inflated pricing and limited availability. Heidelberg is situated on one side of Autobahn 6 while on the other side is the city of Mannheim!
Mannheim is the third-largest city of the region and one of the important commercial and economic hubs. The accommodation options are many and prices are relatively cheaper than those on offer in Hockenheim or Heidelberg. Mannheim is also the only city which offers direct connections to the circuit via rail ( more on that later ). This is the city of choice for me if I were to make plans in the future. I chose the Radisson Blu which is close to the city centre and also used by the FIA and the Safety car Drivers over the weekend!
The ones who plan to rough it out would be glad to know that the circuit offers some great camping facilities! A lot of fans flock to Hockenheim from all over Europe over the weekend.
The circuit is extremely well connected to various cities of Germany and beyond by their efficient road networks and the Autobahns. The commute from Frankfurt can vary between 60 to 90 minutes ( depending on the traffic over the weekend ). The commute from Mannheim ( via Autobahn 6 ) and Heidelberg ( via Autobahn 5 ) is about 30 minutes. It is best to opt for car hire and buy parking passes over the weekend. There are a couple of taxi drop-off points but they can be a considerable walk if one doesn't opt to use the circuit shuttle. Taxis are sparse on the return journey as well so its advisable to wait longer at the circuit post-race.
This is the only way of a commute if one chooses to stay in Walldorf for the weekend.
By Rail :
DB Bahn is a great way to travel across the country. Major Cities are well connected to the station in Hockenheim. There are circuit shuttles which ply from the station to the circuit, the distance is about 3 km. Commute time from Mannheim to Hockenheim is about 20 minutes, from Heidelberg &Frankfurt is about 45 minutes & 75 minutes respectively. All connections run via Mannheim.
The F1 Village is located behind the Main Grandstand and has a semi-modern feel to it. There are a plethora of merchandising outlets ( the Official F1 Store included ) selling different team merchandise. Outlets selling Michael Schumacher Merchandise are always crowded and there are some unique items on sale at the Official Circuit Merchandise outlet as well.
The Village is also a hub for off-track activity, be it Simulator Experiences or Fan Q&A sessions or Pit Stop and Reaction Time ( Batak ) Challenges. Food & Beverage options are pretty good with the "Frankfurter" outlets being the most popular. The village is well planned and I never came across the issue of over-crowding on any of the days.
There are smaller merchandising and F&B outlets behind other grandstands as well.
Fan Experiences :
The circuit is home to some of the most passionate fans and the Mercedes Grandstand is one of the star grandstands. It offers some of the best views of the track and its popularity has increased all the more, thanks to the dominance of the Three-Pointed Star in the Turbo Era.
Friday is an open-access day to most of the grandstands so fans can take in views from different sections of the track!
3-day Ticket Holders can enjoy a Pit Lane Walk, Driver Autograph Sessions and a Track Walk on Thursdays. There is trackside commentary in English and German.
It is advisable to carry rain gear as torrential rain isn't uncommon. The drainage facilities need to improve though; a lot of the access tunnels and roads got flooded after the race in 2018.
The circuit changed in 2002 and although a part of the old circuit layout is now a forest, it is a nice walk in the woods for race fans.
VIP Guests, Paddock & Paddock Club Guests can avail of Pirelli Hot Laps Experience around this iconic track.
F1 Experiences offers upgrades for standard tickets with experiences such as Guided Track Truck Tour, Guided Paddock Tour, Support Race Paddock Visit, Podium Visit and Photo-op with Race Winning Trophy!
The Hockenheimring Museum is a must-visit for those who love racing history. There are also track days organised for those who wish to hire supercars or bring their own for a round of the track; for those who want to indulge in some racing, there are go-karting facilities in and around Hockenheim!
Hockenheimring has so much history about it and Germany has contributed so much to the world of F1. It is unfortunate to not see this track on the F1 Calendar anymore but I still believe that it might make a return either this year or the next and if it does, then one must draw up plans to be at the legendary German Grand Prix!
The Big day had arrived. It was the day of the 2018 German Grand Prix. Ferrari had one hand on the winner's trophy after Sebastian Vettel's brilliant pole on Saturday. So did they? Lets relive the day!
The Paddock on a Sunday Morning. The Place is abuzz with activity!
I went for a walk and bumped into some F1 Fraternity!
Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :
Alexandre Molina, the man who is a regular feature at the podium ceremonies :
Antonio Giovinazzi, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Reserve Driver :
I headed back to the Paddock Club and was just in time for Maurizio Arrivabene, the Team Principal's interview in the club :
Video Link of the Interview :
A Moment with the man, cordial and friendly as always :
I then ran across to the Club Suite and met Brendan Hartley, the WEC Champion and Toro Rosso F1 Driver!
Brendan Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :
I got myself some lunch and as I walked back, was shocked to see Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari F1 Club. He had come to see us before the scheduled time.
Video Link of the Interview :
Digging into some food :
I was one of the winners of the Golden Ticket, a Ticket that is placed in some F1 Race Programmes, the ticket enables you to be on the Truck Tour at the same time as the Drivers' Track Parade!
We waited for the truck to arrive and had front row seats as the Drivers headed out for the Track Parade.
Drivers' Track Parade Video Link :
Still waiting for our truck. The main truck developed a technical snag so had to wait for the back-up :
On our way! The Track is ready for some action!
A special mention to the fans of Max Verstappen ( mainly Dutch ), better known as the Orange Army seated in the "Max Verstappen Stand".
I had the privilege of taking a Friend along on the Truck Tour. Some photos shot from the GoPro with my dear friend Jos Matthews!
The Truck tour ended and I just about had time to take some pictures before the Pit Lane shut for the guests.
The Drivers heading back to the Garage for the final time after bringing their cars on the grid.
Grid Kids make their way to the front :
National Anthem time :
Getting ready for the Formation lap :
Formation Lap Video Link :
The 5 red lights illuminate and as they go out, the 2018 German Grand Prix is a go!
A light drizzle caused a lot of unrest. Sebastian Vettel crashed into the barriers while leading the race while Lewis Hamilton stormed from P14 to take an unlikely victory. A massive blow to Vettel's titlechances.
I got the chance of being at Parc-Ferme below the podium and was able to see the Interviews up close. Lewis Hamilton took victory from Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.
Parc Ferme :
Podium Interviews :
The Drivers headed for the Podium and the heavens opened. It was quite a challenge to take photos in the pouring rain but it didn't come off as bad as expected.
Mechanics busy covering the cars as the rain got harder :
Some more shots of a rainy evening in Hockenheim :
The Paddock Club was going to shut for the weekend and Ferrari were kind enough to give me Paddock passes for the rest of the evening!
Kimi Raikkonen also sent me a special gift, an autographed mini-helmet! Thank you Iceman!
Photos with the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Club Team! Great hosts!
The Paddock after a race Sunday, tear-down, pack and head out :
Sunday evening is another great time to meet the famous faces from the world of F1.
Grace Capristo, German Artist who had the honour of singing the National Anthem before the Race.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :
Robert Kubica, reserve driver for Williams Martini Racing F1 Team :
Paul Ripke, Photographer for Mercedes AMG F1 Team :
Matteo Bonciani, head of F1 Communications for FIA :
Riccardo Adami, Sebastian Vettel's Race Engineer in Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :
Rosanna Tennant, presenter and host for F1 :
Lance Stroll, Williams Martini F1 Racing :
Nico Rosberg, 2016 F1 World Champion :
Will Buxton, Broadcaster and Journalist in F1 :
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team :
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 :
Bye bye Paddock, see you in Belgium :
Time to head back to Mannheim :
The German Grand Prix was a great experience. Sebastian Vettel's mistake which cost him a certain victory was a sad sight to behold, however a lot of races still remained to turn the tables. Kimi Raikkonen, my favourite stayed consistent as ever and I was happy to be under the podium under the pouring rain and celebrate his P3.
Belgian Grand Prix was the next race that I got a chance of attending. The experience will be documented soon. Once again, thank you to the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team and the hosts in the Ferrari F1 Club for the all the love and hospitality. Thank you to Edge Global Events for ensuring that nothing was out of order over the weekend.
Saturday morning at the 2018 German GP began at 7 in the morning. I got out of my room, rushed to the Elevator and bumped into Bernd Maylander, the Safety Car Driver!
Soon enough, I hailed a taxi for Hockenheim and I was on my way.
Way to the Circuit :
I was in time for the Saturday Morning Paddock Club Track Truck Tour! Our guides all suited up for a hectic day :
Shots from the Truck Tour :
Some stills with the GoPro Hero 5 Black :
The Truck Tour done, it was still a bit early for the Paddock Club to open and welcome its guests. I chose to stand outside the Paddock Entrance where Mechanics were waiting for the FIA Curfew to be lifted.
Beat Zehnder of Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team ( Kimi's close friend ) :
Peter Bonnington, Race Engineer for Lewis Hamilton :
Norbert Haug, a legend from the Kimi years in McLaren and Former Vice President of Mercedes Motorsport :
Mattia Binotto of Scuderia Ferrari, Gene Haas ( Team Owner ) and Guenther Steiner ( Team Principal ) of Haas F1 Team :
Shots from the Pit Lane in the morning :
Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team Mechanics doing some stretching exercises before practicing some pit-stops.
Scuderia Ferrari F1 Pit Stop Practice ( Video Links ) :
Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Pit Stop Practice ( Video Link ) :
Pierre Gasly's car being fired up before FP3 ( Video Links ) :
The Paddock Club opened for the guests and the first interview of the day was of the Honey Badger Daniel Ricciardo!
Daniel Ricciardo, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 Team :
I was trying out some simulators when I suddenly saw a legend from the corner of my eye. It was Mika Hakkinen! The man who made me fall in love with F1. The Man whom I adored before Kimi Raikkonen. It was a great conversation with him as he shared a lot from the past. One of the friendliest people in the Paddock.
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team :
The heavens opened before FP3 and we had a totally wet session before qualifying with limited running.
Some shots from FP3 :
Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team during FP3 :
Chequered Flag :
Antonio Giovinazzi, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Reserve Driver joined us after the session for a quick Q&A :
Video Link to the Interview :
Antonio returned to the Paddock Area and it was time to head down for the final pit lane walk of the day. Some stills :
McLaren 720 S, a Masterpiece on 4 Wheels, one of the cars used in the Pirelli Hot Laps Experience :
We headed back to the Paddock Club and Lunch was served.
Lunch! The Chocolate Mousse is so good!!
A quick meal and it was time to get prepped for Qualifying!
Shots from Q1 :
Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest in Q1 from Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.
Shots from Q2.
Q2 was stopped due to a Red Flag and a major upset had occurred. Lewis Hamilton suffered from a Mechanical Failure on his car during his outlap. A big blow to his chances for the weekend. He eventually started 14th on the grid alongwith Daniel Ricciardo who started at 15th.
Valtteri Bottas set the Fastest time in Q2, Verstappen and Raikkonen hot on his heels.
I spent the rest of the Q2 Session and a major part of Q3 in the Garage.
Some shots of Q3 :
Sebastian Vettel came to the fore again and grabbed pole at his home race. Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen completed the top 3. It would be a good place to start from on Sunday.
Kimi Raikkonen visited the guests in the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Club for a quick Q&A :
Video Link of the Interview :
There was no F2 in Germany and after some nice evening tea, it was time to head back.
The Paddock on a Saturday Evening after a frenetic qualifying :
I made my way back to the Transfer point and happened to meet a few faces from the F1 circus!
Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 F1 Champion and Sky Italia F1 Co-presenter :
Joe Saward, A renowned and respected F1 Reporter :
Mervi Kallio, the presenter for Finnish TV MTV F1 :
Mara Sangiorgio, Sky Italia F1 Co-presenter :
The Folks at Do&Co, offering us great hospitality always :
Federica Masolin, Sky Sports F1 Italia Presenter :
On the way back to Mannheim :
It was a long but very enjoyable Saturday at the German Grand Prix. Saturday was good, Sunday should be even better!
I would like to thank the folks at Scuderia Ferrari F1 for the Hospitality extended to me over the weekend. A big thank you to Edge Global Events for the organizing of the passes.
A lot happened on the Sunday..will be documented soon!
The German GP returned to the F1 Calendar after a hiatus in 2017. Hockenheimring, the circuit in the region of Baden-Württemberg hosted the race. I had the privilege of being there in 2014, my first race as a guest of Ferrari and with Kimi leaving for Sauber in 2019, it was befitting that I be here as a guest of the team again.
The German Grand Prix was held from the 20th to 22nd of July and this year I chose to stay in Mannheim, a city that is just a 30 minute drive from the circuit. Mannheim and Heidelberg are both great towns to stay over a race weekend. Frankfurt is a 75 minute drive from these cities / towns.
I drove to Heidelberg for my race passes.
The Race Passes for the Weekend :
An early morning start on Friday to make it in time for the First Pit Lane walk of the weekend.