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Paddock Postcard from the Nurburgring 07 Jul 2013

Formula One and German Flags.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Nurburgring, Germany, Thursday, 4 July 2013 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg drive the Nurburging's old Nordschleife layout in two historic Silver Arrows The helmet of Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams looks at the 600 races logo and factory workers names on the Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 6 July 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari and Rodolfo Gonzalez (VEN) Marussia F1 Team cycle the track.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 6 July 2013 Jessica Michibata (JPN).
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 6 July 2013 Race 1 podium and results: 1st Marcus Ericsson (SWE) DAMS, centre. 2nd James Calado (GBR) ART Grand Prix, left. 3rd Stefano Coletti (MON) RAPAX Team, right. GP2 Series, Rd6, Nurburgring, Germany, 5-7 July 2013.

With the German round of the championship alternating between the Nurburgring and Hockenheim, it’s been almost two years since the paddock last visited the picturesque Eifel mountains and everyone has been making the most of the change of scenery.

The Nurburging’s old Nordschleife layout once again provided an excellent backdrop to pre-race activities with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg getting the chance to take to the legendary circuit in two historic Silver Arrows. Rosberg drove a Type W196 and Hamilton a Type W154. Juan Manuel Fangio (1954) and Richard Seaman (1938) respectively drove the same models to victory at the Nurburgring.

Thoughts were also with those affected by June’s floods in Germany, with helmet manufacturer Schuberth deciding to hold a charity auction of Formula One helmets to raise money for victims in their home town of Magdeburg. Ferrari team mates Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Marussia’s Jules Bianchi have each donated a helmet worn at a 2013 race to the cause.

“Thousands of personnel from the fire service, the relief agency THW and the German army as well as great numbers of volunteers fought against the floods,” explained Marcel Lejeune, CEO of Schuberth GmbH. “For the first time in company history we were forced to stop work. Many of our employees took a volunteer position at the dams themselves to lend a hand or tried to save their own possessions. We soon realised that we did not just want to thank people for what they had done but also give something to those who had suffered losses from the disaster.”

Williams, meanwhile, are running with a special livery at the Nurburgring to mark their 600th Formula One world championship Grand Prix. Although the team chose to celebrate the achievement at their home race in Silverstone, they actually reach the landmark figure this weekend in Germany. The sidepods of their Renault-powered FW35s feature a large number 600, whilst the names of each of the team’s 691 current employees are listed on a white strip underneath.

The Nurburgring’s paddock has been full of familiar racing faces. Stefan Johansson once again visited a Grand Prix, as did fellow former F1 racers Jos Verstappen (with kart-winning son Max), driver steward Emanuelle Pirro, and Hans Stuck, while former team bosses Mario Theissen and Norbert Haug were there together with Rush movie director Ron Howard, former Lola and Aston Martin boss Robin Brundle and historic car dealer Paul Osborne.

On track there was plenty of action in the GP2 races. Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson finally scored his first win of the 2013 season after starting his DAMS car from second place alongside team-mate Stephane Richelmi in Saturday’s feature race. Ericsson started on Pirelli’s medium tyre but after leading away he headed the field behind the safety car after Kevin Ceccon dramatically rolled his Trident car after touching ART’s Daniel Abt and Trident’s Nathaniel Berthon and landing on Adrian Quaife-Hobbs’ stalled MP machine.

As the race restarted Ericsson opened a three-second lead by the time he made his mandatory pit stop. Behind him, Richelmi’s chances evaporated in a pit stop snafu as Carlin’s Felipe Nasr, ART’s James Calado and Hilmer’s Robin Frijns locked in a tight battle for second. In a race in which tyre degradation was the most sudden of the season, Calado drove an excellent race to pass Nasr and came through to finish 7.8s behind Ericsson, after catching him initially.

Nasr dropped to ninth as his tyres went off, leaving Frijns to head late-stopping series leader Stefano Coletti into the final lap. But as Richelimi also attached, the Dutchman was overwhelmed in the final corner and dropped to sixth behind Rapax’s Coletti, Richelmi and Racing Engineering’s Fabio Leimer. Hilmer’s Jon Lancaster and Russian Time’s Tom Dillmann finished seventh and eighth, putting Dillmann on pole for Sunday’s sprint race.

Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he wasn’t able to hold off Lancaster at the start of Sunday’s race and then lost another place when James Calado passed him with a brave lunge at Turn 4. Dillman then lost more ground to Fabio Leimer before dropping out with transmission issues. With the podium settled it was left to Nasr to come through to fourth, ahead of Johnny Cecotto, Alex Rossi and Mark Webber’s protégé Mitch Evans. But the day belonged to Lancaster; the Briton claiming his second sprint victory in a week after his win at Silverstone last weekend.

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