For Team and Country - the five Germans vying for home glory 18 Jul 2012
Formula One racing has never been short of German drivers wanting to test their mettle, but ever since Michael Schumacher burst on to the scene back in 1991 there have been legions of his young countrymen hoping to follow in his footsteps. As a result, the crowds in Hockenheim this weekend will have not only the seven-time champion to cheer on, but four members of this Generation Schumacher. No country boasts as many home drivers on the grid, so how likely is a Germanic victory this weekend? We take a look at how each man may fare
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
Drivers standings: 3rd
Best Hockenheim result: 3rd, 2010
He may not have won since April, but after making it to a century of points after his third-place finish at Silverstone, Sebastian Vettel arrives at his home race in robust form. Confident in his updated car, but hungry to make as much of it as his team mate (and British race winner) Mark Webber, Vettel will be keenly pursuing his second victory of the season this weekend, at a track which is less than half an hour from his hometown. Interestingly, for a driver who has beaten so many records in his short career, the 25 year-old is yet to win his home Grand Prix. Although his back catalogue features a great deal of German success in other series, including Formula BMW, Formula Three and World Series by Renault, an F1 victory on home soil has - so far - eluded him. In 2008 he finished eighth at Hockenheim for Toro Rosso, in 2009 he took second at the Nurburgring behind Red Bull team mate Webber and in 2010 he was third at Hockenheim after starting from pole. Even in the midst of his superlative 2012 season, he was a relatively lacklustre fourth in Germany. It was the first time that year hed failed to make the podium. This event is undoubtedly unfinished business for Vettel.
What he says: I havent won the German Grand Prix before and of course, I would like to!
What we say: A victory on home turf is clearly on the ambitious Germans to-do list, but having not won a race in three months, winning anywhere could be paramount if he is to remain in the hunt for a third successive title.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
Drivers standings: 6th
Best Hockenheim result: 8th, 2011
On paper, Rosberg is once again leading Mercedes charge, having scored their first win in China back in April and 75 of the teams 98 points. But with Schumacher as a team mate the 27 year-old will have to fight for attention from the packed Mercedes-Benz grandstand this weekend. Thats not to say Rosberg hasnt impressed his countrymen with the excellent way he has handled having the illustrious seven-time world champion alongside him for the last three seasons. But Schumachers star quality pushes even that achievement into the shade. What should stand Rosberg in good stead is that he has a relatively sound track record at Hockenheim. The Wiesbaden-born driver may have spun off into retirement on his first appearance for Williams at the circuit in 2006, but in 2008 he finished 10th from 13th on the grid and in 2010 he finished eighth from ninth. He also won fairly often at the track in his formative years, including his 2005 win in GP2.
What he says: I will be pushing really hard to perform well in front of our fans in the Mercedes Grandstand, so we can hopefully celebrate a good result together.
What we say: This is arguably the first time in his F1 career that Rosberg has a car under him capable of winning his home race. At most, hell be targeting a second 2012 victory. At the very least, hell have his sights set on a podium.
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
Drivers standings: 12th
Best Hockenheim result: 1st, 1995, 2002, 2004, 2006
Schumachers trials since he decided to return to Formula One back in 2010 are well documented. But after two very difficult seasons, and a herculean effort from everyone at Mercedes, things are finally starting to look up. Even though that first victory was clinched by his younger team mate Rosberg, this years silver arrow has already demonstrated it is a race-winning car. And while the once mighty Schumacher has struggled against poor luck and Pirellis tyres this season, hes been looking a lot chipper thanks to some choice qualifying performances (see his third-place on the grid at Silverstone) and his podium return in Valencia. The next target for the unstintingly-ambitious German must be a Mercedes win to match his younger colleagues achievement. In his favour is his excellent history on German soil - victories in four races at Hockenheim (in 1995, 2002, 2004, 2006) and five European wins at the Nurburgring in (1995, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006). Another success on home ground would be just the boost the 43 year-old needs ahead of any 2013 contract negotiations with Mercedes.
What he says: As a German driver, you naturally have a different sense of excitement when you arrive at the German Grand Prix and know that all the spectators in the grandstands are supporting you. That makes you proud, and always boosts your motivation even higher.
What we say: They may have a new champion to cheer courtesy of Vettel, but the German crowds are just as smitten with Schumacher as they were 10 years ago. What better way to thank them for their support than giving them something tangible to shout about?
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
Drivers standings: 16th
Best Hockenheim result: 13th, 2010
After winning there in Formula BMW in 2005, in German Formula Three in 2006, and in the Formula Three Euroseries in 2007 and 2008, it is clear Hulkenberg learnt much of his race craft at Hockenheim. But while he may know the German track well, he has raced a Formula One car there just once, back in 2010, when a poor start turned his reasonable grid position of 10th into a disappointing 13th. However, given the ever-improving pace of the Force India and the fact that hes largely kept pace with team mate Paul di Resta, who has had the benefit of an extra season with the Silverstone-based squad, 24 year-old Hulkenberg is expecting a much brighter Grand Prix this year. Hes already qualified as high as eighth (in Valencia) in 2012 and has scored points in four of the nine rounds to date. Theres no doubt hell be looking for more of the same at a track he enjoys so much.
What he says: Its fair to say that Michael and Sebastian are the main attractions, but the fans always show their support for all the German drivers.
What we say: As arguably the least high-profile of all the German drivers, Hulkenberg will be under the least amount of pressure at his home event. But after enjoying such success there in other series, Hockenheim seems to like the Emmerich-born driver as much as he likes it.
Timo Glock, Marussia
Drivers standings: 21st
Best Hockenheim result: 18th, 2010
Driving for a team not yet three years-old, Glock will have the toughest time of the Germans at Hockenheim this weekend. This season hes yet to qualify higher than 19th and hasnt finished a race above 14th, so to expect much more could be asking for disappointment. In other series, the Lindenfels-born racer has won twice at the German track - in 2006 in GP2 and in 2003 in the Formula Three Euro series. But he has never come close to claiming a Formula One victory there, even during his time nearer the front of the field with Toyota. His best result in a home race - ninth - came in 2009 at the Nurburgring, but a year earlier he retired at Hockenheim with suspension issues after qualifying in 11th. In 2010 at Hockenheim, driving for Virgin, he qualified 23rd and finished 18th, whilst last year at the Nurburgring he fared slightly better, qualifying 19th and finishing 17th.
What he says: With five different German drivers there is plenty for the fans back home to support. It will be a very special weekend for me, taking place just 30 minutes from my family home.
What we say: As difficult as it may seem, with the MR01s upgrade working well at the last round in Silverstone, Marussia and Glock will be pinning their hopes on a marked improvement in form in Germany this year.
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