Round 11 on the revised calendar of the 2020 Formula One World Championship takes us this weekend to the legendary Nürburgring, for a special Eifel Grand Prix.
The race won’t be held on the long and bumpy Nordschleife located in the Eifel mountains that we all know and love. Since 1984, F1 races held at the ‘Ring have taken place on the smaller and safer grand prix circuit adjacent to the Nordschleife. The last was in 2013, as the traditional German Grand Prix has exclusively taken place at the Hockenheimring since then.
The Nürburgring grand prix circuit’s layout is a demanding test of car and driver due to its range of corner types and top speeds approaching 186 mph. It stretches 3.2 miles and is known for its aggressive curbs in the chicanes and a particularly tricky hairpin at Turn 7. There is a big deceleration heading into the hairpin and the front-left tire has to do a lot of work to compensate for the unusual camber here.
One other major issue, particularly at this time of year, is the weather. It’s forecast to be cold, rainy and windy throughout the weekend, which could make the race very unpredictable. As a result, the tires will be more vital than usual. Pirelli has nominated its middle of the range compounds, the C2, C3 and C4.
Poor weather on Friday has already seen the first of the practice sessions canceled.
Going into Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race, Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton leads the 2020 Drivers’ Championship with 205 points. Fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is second with 161 points and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen is third with 128 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 366 points versus the 192 of Red Bull and 106 of McLaren.
The last winner of an F1 race at the Nürburgring was Sebastian Vettel driving for Red Bull in the 2013 German Grand Prix.
In related news, Mercedes announced Thursday that at least one of its team members had contracted the Covid-19 coronavirus. The entire team has been tested and one member tested positive while another returned an inconclusive result. The two members plus four others who had close contact will sit out this weekend.