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Will Hakkinen continue his run ? 
28 July 2000 Volume 2 - Issue 22 

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Hockenheimring, near Heidelberg was built in 1939.

Jim Clark died here as a consequence of sliding off on a wet track at the beginning of Ostkurve in 1958, during a Formula 2 race, and it was two years later that the first Grand Prix was held in Hockenheim because Nurburgring was under construction.

As it was such a boring circuit expectations were very low but after an exhilarating battle between Jacky Ickx and Jochen Rindt (won by Rindt) Hockenheim was viewed in a different light.

Several changes were made (chicanes were added in the long, fast sections through the forest) but it was not until 1977 before Formula One returned, the year that Patrick Depailler died in almost the same spot as Jim Clark.

Another chicane was added to Ostkurve.

In 1982 Didier Pironi’s racing career ended when he ran into the back of Prost’s Renault. Although he survived the accident he never returned to racing.

Regardless of the changes that have been made over the years Hockenheimring is still a very dangerous and fast track. Even after negotiating Senna Kurve, speed on the approach to Agip will exceed 200mph (320km/H) and I am expecting modern aerodynamics to facilitate speeds of even more than that on the long sweeping sections of the Ostkurve.

Average speed will be around 145mph (233km/H) second only to Monza (150mph/240km/H), but even that is deceptive as it is only faster because it does not have any corners under 100mph (160km/H). Hockenheim has several corners below 100km/H (60mph) but three sections where maximum speed will be over 200mph (320km/H) compared to the fastest section at Monza which is at least 20mph slower.

This circuit will suit McLaren best as they will be able to carry just a little more wing than Ferrari, giving them a huge advantage on the slower corners.

I expect to see both McLarens on the front of the grid with the Ferraris relegated to the second row and unless something dramatic happens I expect them to stay there. Ferrari just will not have the grunt to stay with the McLarens.

If he can set his car up well, Hakkinen may surprise us all by qualifying on pole again and winning the race. He seemed excited and motivated after winning two weeks ago but then again, Hakkinen excited means that he looks almost awake.

On the other hand Coulthard has been very fast in Hochenheim in the past and is just as determined to win. It could go either way but if I was a betting man I would put my money on Coulthard – Hakkinen could go funny again.

BAR should do well at Hockenheim. They have another engine improvement and now Honda are working wonders with the chassis as well. Villeneuve will not be far behind the Ferraris and Zonta will not be far behind Villeneuve.

Williams may do better than they have for the last few races but I feel that we are going to see both retire with blown engines. The huge speeds at Hockenheim is too much to ask of a motor that made it’s debut this year.

Although fast during last weeks testing, Benetton (or Fisichella seeing that we cannot expect much from Wurz) just do not have the legs to do well here and that applies to Arrows as well (although they will probably break down again).

Jordan will be racing with an improved chassis. This may make them faster (it is unlikely to make them slower) but there is no guarantee that they have managed to also overcome the gearbox problems that have plagued them so far this year. They may finish in the points – if they finish.

People don’t like Schumacher. The press gives him a much harder time than any other driver and many people regard him as arrogant.

He also has a huge following. Mainly people who recognise his ability and are less concerned with personality.

Currently he is being criticised for dangerous blocking. He maintains that this is within the rules and it has been confirmed by the FIA. Strangely enough one of his biggest critics is David Coulthard who, in my opinion, was driving far more dangerously last year.

I am always amazed that so many find him arrogant (and I am not denying it) but do not see any arrogance in Hakkinen. Hakkinen is scathing and talks down to the press yet they never criticise. I wonder why that is?

Having long straights, Hockenheimring has more opportunity for overtaking for those cars that have a greater straight-line speed. At these speeds overtaking will be dangerous and not for the timid.

We will however see very little overtaking as I am expecting the cars to qualify pretty close to their ultimate finishing positions (discounting retirements of course) and unless we see drama at the start or in the pits again it should be a little processional.

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