Hockenheim's slow and medium speed corners require good traction from F1 cars and rear tyre wear will be crucial in this weekend's German Grand Prix.

Hockenheim's slow and medium speed corners require good traction from F1 cars and rear tyre wear will be crucial in this weekend's German Grand Prix. On-track battles in Germany will again focus on Renault and McLaren-Mercedes. It's possible that another team may spring a surprise and challenge for the victory and podium places, but although a lot of testing went on last week it would be a surprise if any other team matched the pace of the frontrunners.

Since being redesigned by Herman Tilke, Hockenheim is not quite the power circuit it used be a couple of years ago... The need for downforce is higher than it was previously at the old track and teams will opt for medium settings, but it depends if the respective squads favour straight-line speed or grip in the corners.

"For ideal lap time, we would run medium downforce levels but the requirement to achieve competitive top speeds on the long straight and to be able to overtake or defend a position into Turn 6 means we run medium-low downforce - similar levels in Canada," said Renault's Rod Nelson, Fernando Alonso's chassis engineer.

Hockenheim is still a circuit that demands a good engine, however. "Although the long forest straights of Hockenheim were removed from the layout in 2002, the circuit remains a challenging one for the engines," said BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen. "In 2004, the full throttle percentage per lap was 62 per cent, while the longest full throttle section was 1 047m."

Juan-Pablo Montoya finally took his first win for McLaren in Britain and, naturally, is hoping for another good result this weekend. "I am really looking forward to racing again this weekend in Germany," the former German Grand Prix winner said. "I enjoy racing at Hockenheim, I have performed well here and won in the past and I am aiming for a strong result like at Silverstone."

"The battle for the championship is still on and I am determined to get a good result and work on closing the gap at the German Grand Prix," Montoya's team-mate, Kimi Räikkönen, said this week. "The MP4-20 has good speed, and we need to make the most of it this weekend."

His rival, championship leader Fernando Alonso, performed well at Silverstone, which Renault considered one of its least-favoured tracks. But the Spaniard knows that Hockenheim won't be any easier: "McLaren will be very motivated to succeed at one of their home races, so we know it will be a big fight. We just need to do the maximum possible."

BAR Honda and Toyota performed well in practices and qualifying last time out, but don't seem to have staying power over a race distance. Jenson Button's BAR was best-of-the-rest at Silverstone behind the Renaults and McLarens and the Englishman, who finished second in Germany last year, is hoping for a strong performance at Hockenheim, where he finished second last year.

"I think that we will face the same challenges that we experienced at the British Grand Prix, but having completed two days testing in Jerez where the car felt good, I'm looking forward to the race and hope to be more competitive and have both cars finish strongly in the points," Button was quoted as saying.

For Toyota's Ralf Schumacher, his brother Michael and Williams-BMW's Nick Heidfeld, Germany is a home race. "Hockenheim is my home Grand Prix so I would love to pick up another good result after my points in the last two races," said Ralf. "I'm a fan of the revised track they introduced three years ago, so I'm looking forward to another race there," Ralf said this week.

Ferrari got both cars in the points in Britain, but sixth and seventh was hardly where the Scuderia wanted to finish. "We're not trying to hide the fact that we're a little bit on the hunt for our performance right now," he conceded. "We're taking it step by step now, and are working as best we can," Schumacher said.

Jacques Villeneuve believes Hockenheim should suit the Sauber better than some other tracks. "I am looking forward to racing there because the revised layout will suit our car better," said the Canadian. "The C24 is currently at its best in slower corners and Hockenheim hasn't really got any fast corners anymore."

Robert Doornbos, who up until now was third driver for Jordan, has replaced Patrick Friesacher at Minardi and will make his F1 race début this weekend. "I can't hardly wait to get started on Friday," said the Dutchman. "This is the chance I've hoped for... I feel fit and ready to make this next step in my career."

McLaren has the speed at the moment but Renault has the consistency, both of which have been keeping the gap between Alonso and Raikkonen fairly static. With two more races in quick succession, will the status quo at the top of the standings be disturbed? We'll find out the answer soon enough.

Original article from Car