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!
I believe I belong to the club of "Self-appointed" Emirates Airlines Ambassadors! July 2012 was the first time I had the opportunity of flying with the airline and as they say..the rest is history. The quality of service has been impeccable, the staff always welcoming and one always yearn for more at the end of each journey.
Frankfurt was the first destination I flew to with the airline in 2018. I stayed in Mannheim ( since I was attending the F1 German Grand Prix )for the first leg of the trip and then in Frankfurt.
The First Leg of the Journey was in the Airbus A380 with switching of planes at Dubai. The return leg was an Airbus A380 until Dubai and then the Boeing 777-300ER to Mumbai.
The Outbound journey was on 18th July and return journey on 27th July.
Let us go back in time and refresh our memories!
Mumbai - Frankfurt ( First Class ) ( 18th July 2018 ) :
The Bags ready for the Journey :
My ride to the airport ( Emirates Chauffeur Service ), the Mercedes C Class in its final few months of service with Emirates :
All Airport formalities completed briskly and it was time to enjoy the services on offer in the lounge!
An elaborate menu :
Time to binge. First Class fliers have the privilege of ordering from an A-La-Carte Menu as well :
Both legs were in the Airbus A380 and this was my First Class Private Suite, so comfortable!
Emirates have revamped the goodies, amenities and accessories on offer. Bowers and Wilkins headphones offer amazing audio quality!
Breakfast menu onboard :
Heading towards the runway for takeoff :
Takeoff Video :
Coffee, Poha and some Idli ( Rice Cakes ) for Breakfast :
The Emblem of Emirates glowing in the First Class Cabin :
Landing into Dubai :
Landing Video :
Dubai International Airport in the early hours of the morning, busy onground and in the terminals :
Security check complete, inter-terminal transfer done and it was time to catch up on some sleep in the lounge :
The First Class Suite on the Airbus A380. So Beautiful!
The Aerobridge withdraws as we get ready for pushback :
The busyness of the Airport in the morning. Emirates flights flying to multiple destinations across the world :
ICE, Emirates in-flight entertainment system offers onboard camera feed on all flights :
Takeoff from Dubai :
Video Link :
The Breakfast and Lunch menu. Dine on demand service offered in First Class :
I was in the mood for an early lunch, placed my order and then decided to head to the Onboard Lounge at the back of Business Class.
Snacks on offer in the Onboard lounge :
Small bites on offer in the Onboard Lounge :
Lunch, Carrot and Ginger Soup, followed by Chicken Cacciatore and Pear and Chocolate Crumble :
I had a good rest and was woken just in time before landing :
Touchdown in Frankfurt ( Video Link ) :
Frankfurt International Airport on a beautiful summer afternoon :
A BMW 730Ld to take me to Mannheim from Frankfurt, Emirates has top class cars for transfers in Europe :
Frankfurt - Mumbai ( First Class ) ( 27th July 2018 )
The Audi A8L to ferry me to the airport! Luxury is an understatement for this car :
Frankfurt Airport is a busy but efficient airport. Check-in, Security and Immigration was a breeze and I had the chance to relax for sometime in the lounge :
Some more stunning shots of the First Class Suite, my seat up until Dubai :
A relatively empty First Class enroute to Dubai, a rare scenario :
The Flight Map being displayed on ICE, Emirates On board Entertainment system :
Preparing for Takeoff :
Takeoff from Frankfurt ( Video Link ) :
Some shots of the Onboard Lounge again :
Ginger Ale and some crisps before the start of Dinner Service :
The Dinner Menu :
Roasted Tomato Soup, Roasted Chicken and Deconstructed Black Forest Cake for Dinner!
A hearty meal and it was time to head to bed. I would eventually be woken 45 minutes before touch down in Dubai. It was a short but very comfortable siesta.
Nearing touchdown at Dubai :
Landing at Dubai ( Video Link ) :
Dubai International Airport :
A couple of shots of the lounge just before leaving for boarding :
The Dubai-Mumbai leg was on a Boeing 777-300ER, frankly speaking I find the First Class Suite in this a bit more comfortable than the one in A380.
My Suite for the last leg of the trip :
The Lunch Service on offer :
Taxiing to the runway :
Up in the air, homebound :
Video of the Takeoff :
Paneer Tikka Masala and Shahi Tukra for Lunch :
The Dubai Mumbai flight only lasts 2 hours and 50 minutes. A hour of slumber and we were on our final approach into Mumbai.
The Final Approach :
Touchdown Mumbai :
Video Link :
It was a great experience flying with Emirates to Frankfurt! I would like to thank Emirates for their hospitality.
The new Boeing 777-300ER will feature in the next post of the Flying Diaries..so watch this space!
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.