This could well be the last German Grand Prix for many, many years but for me it is my first. I spent much of the day walking around the track which is located in the heart of the town of Hockenheim but is, well, somewhat run-down as this shot of one of the marshal’s huts in the “stadium” section of the track shows. Unfortunately the German government is not willing to invest in the event like many other countries (e.g. Azerbaijan, Abu Dhabi, China etc.) so coming up with the money required to run the event looks like being too tall an order for the organisers.
The German flag is, however, painted on the run off areas in a couple of spots with the area around the flag at the first turn (below) being carpet not grass. Sadly, there is little green grass anywhere around the track, most of it is dead-brown or yellow as this part of Germany area has seen little rain in the past month. Workers were toiling under the hot sun putting the final touches on the kerbing.The main straight looked a little strange as the final touches of paint were added to the starting boxes. As the sun got towards midday a number of drivers could be spotted around the 4.6km-long track. Below is Charles Leclerc with his posse, inspecting the kerbing on the outside of turn 1. He’s tipped to end up replacing Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next year although Seb said in today’s press conference that he really likes Kimi as his partner, not that he gets a say in in it, so he stated. German Nico Hulkenberg chose to ride the track instead of walking it. He does this often and here he is is pipping his trainer to the finish line. Just prior, he dropped his bike on the main straight to pose for a portrait shot with the empty, last corner grandstand in the background. Stoffel Vandoorne didn’t walk or ride the track, he ran it with his trainer. Monsieur Gasly from Torro Rosso walked it along with this similarly bearded associates. I like Pierre, he’s always good for a smile and seems genuinely happy to be a part of the big show. Of course, when it comes to ‘the big show” there is no bigger name than Lewis Hamilton. Catching a photo of the man though is tough as he is rarely seen outside his motor home and when he arrives he doesn’t always enter the main gate like almost all of the other drivers (or pilotes as the Europeans call them).
Today was a big day for him as Mercedes announced he’d re-signed with Mercedes, reportedly for more than £40 million per year. That’s a heck of a lot of brass isn’t it.
Early on in my wander around the track, fellow snapper James Bearne, suggested we go and find the memorial to Jim Clark which is situated just outside the track on the exit of turn 3.We found it.
At the 3pm press conference we had these four cheery characters.Brendon Hartley was asked about his soreness after the big crash he had in the British GP to which he responded that he was all good to go the next day with little sign of any real soreness. Not a bad result after such an impact.
Seb was in a happy mood, laughing and smiling throughout the near-hour long press conference. Being his home GP and having been born just 30 minutes away from the track, he has a real affinity for the event and while he is not as big in Germany as Michael Schumacher, he is no doubt the home favourite and is partly responsible for a sell out this weekend. After the press conference finished I waited just inside the paddock gate knowing Seb would have to walk in via this gate and underneath the German flag resulting in this shot. Tomorrow sees the cars on the track and we’ll get an idea of who’s likely to be the fastest car around the aging Hockenheim circuit. Until my post-race wrap, it’s “auf wiedersehn”.