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German GP predictions by the Quali-flyer  

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Hockenheim is a power circuit, with it's low downforce long forest straights it will suit Williams and we will see another Williams 1-2 this year. Nope, sorry this is the new and improved Hockenheim, the longest straight isn't (straight that is) and top speed will be down by about 30 kph. Simulations liken the track to the Nurburgring for average speeds.

This new track will favour a good chassis with high downforce and lots of grip as much as a powerful engine. Look for a super effort from those drivers who can set a car up and adapt quickly to new circuits. That means strong performances from Schumacher (the world champion, not the also ran), Massa (if he keeps it pointing straight), Raikkonen, Button and of course our reigning qualifying champion down the back. Look too for a whitewash by a tyre manufacturer. No one knows what the grip characteristics of the new surface will be but it should favour one of them. If it's Bridgestone we'll have a red front row and Massa stirring up the big names behind them. If it's Michelin then it will be a M Schumacher/Montoya front row, Barrichello 3rd or 4th besides Raikkonen and Michelin shod cars from there to obscurity.

I had an interesting exchange with our Editor about Alex's chances of qualifying. He said

"� he has been qualifying (barely) on tracks that others know almost by heart, this one they all don't know it so even the best learner will not get the best out of his car (driving and setup) so Yoong will qualify."

That makes a lot of sense �. but Yoong couldn't set up a car to drive to the shops, he has been reliant on historical set-up data plus a detuning of Webber's set-up till now. He can't just copy Webber because he can't handle the more aggressive characteristics that Mark favours. At Hockenheim he starts with a clean piece of paper, and no lead in his pencil. If he does qualify it will be at the extreme limit of the 107% rule. Michael and Monty will set a blistering pace (given the lack of history) and Yoong will really struggle to make it (doesn't he always?).

Few real races allow as much driver influence as this one will. A new circuit, and this is a new circuit, means no history. No history means drivers are reliant on their own devices (plus a few million pounds worth of simulations) to set-up the car, pick braking points and racing lines that work best with their car's set-ups. Hockenheim in the future may not prove a 'technical' circuit, on Saturday it will be. Drivers with good memories and long careers, like David and Ralf, will not be able to rely on past experience to provide optimum lines and set-ups. JPM will heap the same indignities on Ralf here that Button did in the first Indy when they were team-mates and Kimi will again have more than the measure of his vastly more experienced team-mate.

The one sure thing, there will be lots of prime candidates for the 'new' Hockenheim's first Also Ran.

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