13th European Grand Prix - Nurburgring 25 Jun 2003
The European Grand Prix has been held at four different venues over the years, including Brands Hatch, Donington and Jerez. However, by far its most popular home has been Germany's Nurburgring circuit, which has staged the event seven times since 1984 and every year since 1999.
Weather is often the most important variable at the Nurburgring, where changeable conditions mean the teams must keep one eye on the sky with the other on the track. Set in the Eifel mountains, the circuit's high-altitude location also means the cars are down on power by an estimated five per cent.
The famous circuit has undergone numerous changes over the years. Last season's race saw major revisions, adding a slow hairpin and over half a kilometre to the lap. For 2003 the alterations are limited to a small modification to the NGK Chicane, which has been tightened slightly.
With its relatively short straights, but numerous corners, the Nurburgring calls for a high-downforce set-up and a car that is extremely stable under braking. And with almost three quarters of the lap spent at full throttle, a flexible and powerful engine is a must-have.
Good traction is also essential, as there are several slow corners where maximum exit speed is crucial. A prime example is the distinctive Dunlop-Kehre, a right-handed downhill hairpin. Taken in second gear, it leads uphill into two fast fifth-gear kinks followed by a sixth-gear, 305km/h straight. A slow exit out of here and a driver's entire lap time is compromised.
Strategy is always difficult to call here, especially given how quickly conditions can change. And this year the revised qualifying regulations will make predicting the teams' race tactics even more of an art.
The man who has got it right most often here in the European Grand Prix has been Michael Schumacher, with victories in 1995, 2000 and 2001. Other current drivers to have triumphed are Rubens Barrichello last year and Jacques Villeneuve in 1996.